10 Places to Visit Around the World in 2016

More and more airlines are offering multi-stop tickets that allow you to visit multiple places for as long as you like. You can organize your stay in every country in advance or you can be a wayward traveler and just arrive and explore what the countries of your choice have to offer. It is completely up to you. Why not make 2016 the year that you take advantage of these a multi-stop journey and take a trip around the world.


This beautiful country by the sea is known for the breathtaking walled city of Dubrovnik and its architectural wonders. There are also more than 1000 islands to visit and if you are interested in sailing The Kornati Archipelago is a must on a luxury vacation to Croatia. Soak up some rays, dine on some fabulous fresh seafood and experience what Croatia has to offer.

Visit Croatia 2016


This country has only been reopened for tourism for only a few short years but the country is already becoming a top destination amongst travelers. A wildlife tour in Sri Lanka will prove to be a memorable experience. You can work with elephants, relax on pristine beaches, explore through ancient Buddhist and Hindu temples and wander through lush rainforests and tea estates.

Sri Lanka


The breadth of the cultural history in Malta will amaze Visitors to this archipelago located in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and the North African coast. You can see ancient relics from the Romans, Moors, British, French and many others. Don’t forget to visit Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum that dates back to 3600 B.C.E.



Fly into Johannesburg and visit the Nelson Mandela Museum and see where Desmond Tutu once lived. Take a safari and see the Big 5 and many other animals and relax in the serenity of unspoiled nature. Don’t forget to visit Cape Town and its beautiful Table Mountain, a jewell in the South African crown. Be sure to sample the local wines and the fabulous food that South Africa has to offer.

Cape Town


This tropical nation on the Indian Ocean is known for its beautiful beaches, its crystal clear blue water, and its extensive reefs. Relax in at one of the luxury resorts, participate in some water sports and don’t forget to head to the capital city of The Maldives, Malé, to check out Hukuru Miskiy, a mosque made of coral stone.

The Maldives


If you are looking for a vacation filled with fantastic nightlife, luxury, and shopping – Dubai is the place for you. Check out the cutting-edge architecture and the man made islands and marvel at the feats of engineering that have been accomplished here.



Singapore has made cleanliness into a business and they have taken measures to reduce their carbon footprint considerably. Experience the mingling of Asian cultures here. Visit Chinatown to see the Buddha’s Tooth Relic Temple and Little India to pick up amazing souvenirs at a great price. Check out the amazing street food and be sure to barter for your goods. Certainly worth a visit, backpacker or not.



Relax on one of the many pristine white sandy beaches and gaze at the clear blue water. Party the night away with Cuban music. Take a trip into Havana and take a step back in time in this city that Ernest Hemmingway once called home.  



Hike up The Inca Trail and marvel at the wonder of the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu – a must see attraction in Peru. This trip must be organized in advance as only a set amount of tourists are allowed on the trail each day.



Visit Dublin and have a pint in one of the many pubs after walking around this wonderful city. Don’t forget to kiss the Blarney Stone see the beautiful and take a step back in time at St. John’s Castle.



The Alternative Guide to Spain: Don’t Go There, Try Here

Spain is a buzzing tourist destination, but all too often travellers stick to the tried-and-tested locations rather than branching out and exploring somewhere else. If you fancy avoiding the usual tourist hotspots and trying something a little different, here are some options:

Not Barcelona – Girona

Long overshadowed by its big sister, Girona offers an authentic slice of Spanish life. While Barcelona can be daunting and over-hyped, this beautiful little city is relaxed, stylish and compact with a lovely old town – the Casco Viejo. Wander around the narrow streets of El Call, the old Jewish ghetto, marvel at the splendid gothic cathedral, and explore Girona’s own La Rambla – a pedestrian street where locals shop, stroll and chat over drinks in the shady cafes.


Not Valencia – Malaga

Located on the sun-drenched Costa del Sol, Malaga is often overlooked in favour of Valencia, Spain’s third city a few hours up the coast. But anybody with a passing interest in history would love it here. Malaga has been occupied by various civilisations for over 2,000 years, leaving behind some eye-catching monuments, such as the Alcazaba, a Roman fort dating to the 8th century, and Castillo de Gibralfaro. Culture vultures will love the Picasso Museum.


Not Madrid – Toledo

Located 70 kilometres south of Madrid, many tourists make a day trip here, but rarely give it the attention it deserves. Known as the ‘City of Three Cultures’ thanks to its status as a base for the invading Romans, Moors and Christian Reconquista, the entire city is now recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spend a few days here to enjoy the Alcázar and Cathedral of Toledo, along with numerous other mosques, synagogues and churches. There’s also a museum dedicated to the Renaissance master, El Greco, who lived and worked here.


Not Palma de Mallorca – Cádiz

Spain’s oldest city, Cadiz is a laid-back Andalucian port that juts out over the Atlantic. Its crumbling houses and fortifications form part of its charm – a little world-weary perhaps, but well loved. The stunning beaches of the Costa de la Luz are on its doorstep, and its location makes it a favourite for seafood-lovers with fritura, fried fish, its speciality. Perhaps the best time to visit is during the riotous February carnival. It has all the attractions of the Mallorcan capital, but a lot more charm.


Not Seville – Salamanca

Although delightful, Seville’s charms are know to many and this wonderful city can get crowded, especially during the Feria. Instead head to Salamanca. This landlocked city is home to one of the oldest universities in the world, hence has a young, vibrant atmosphere. A medieval town with its fair share of sandstone buildings, it offers a relaxed pace of life, although the student crowd ensure there are plenty of bars and nightclubs to keep you entertained. Perhaps the best time to visit is in September, for the Virgen de la Vega festival celebrating the city’s patron saint.


Spain is a treasure trove for travellers – next time you visit head off the beaten track and try some of these lesser-known gems.

travelling love story selfies

A Travelling Love Story – In 59 Selfies

travelling love story selfies

Selfies are all the rage these days. There have been epic selfies, 360° 3 year selfies and Oscar selfies that broke the internet.

But I like to think we were ahead of the game because Claire and I have been taking selfies on our travels since way before the craze took off and became the phenomenon it is today. Dare I say we came up with it? Of course not, that would be ridiculous. But maybe…

Anyway, whether we started the craze or not, our selfies give a pretty good track record of our travels over the years, from when we were just boyfriend and girlfriend figuring each other out to being married and expecting our first nipper. Here are some of the best (you can scroll through bigger versions by clicking on the images) from over the years…

A romantic stroll by the Ile de Notre Dame in Paris…

paris - france

Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio, Brazil…

christ the redeemer statue - rio, brazil

Iguazu Falls in Brazil…

iguazu falls - brazil

At the Boca Juniors vs River Plate fiery football match in La Bombonera in Buenos Aires…

bombonera - buenos aires

Horse Riding in Mendoza, Argentina…

mendoza - argentina

The amazing Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia, Argentina…

perito moreno glacier - patagonia

Sunrise over the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia…

salar de uyuni - bolivia

Halfway through our bike ride along the World’s Most Dangerous Road in Bolivia…

worlds most dangerous road - bolivia

Floating our way across Lake Titicaca near Copacabana in Bolivia…

lake titicaca - bolivia/peru

The Marvellous Machu Picchu in Peru…


machu picchu - peru

Looking over the dunes of Huacachina at sunset in Peru…

huacachina - peru

An incredible lake in the mountains just outside of Huaraz…

huaraz - peru

Looking over the cityscape of Quito in Ecuador…

quito - ecuador

Straight out of a mud bath in a volcano in Cartagena, Colombia…


cartagena - colombia

Midway through our 3 day sail from Colombia to Panama we stopped off at the San Blas Islands. Paradise…

san blas islands - panama

The behemoth that is the Panama Canal…

panama canal

Reuniting with old friends on Roatan in Honduras where I taught English on my gap year…

punta gorda, roatan - honduras

Huntington Beach – Surf City in California! And a bad hair day…

huntington beach - california

Looking out over Santa Barbara, California…

santa barbara - california

Exploring the streets of San Francisco…

san francisco - california

Camel rides across the Sahara desert in Erg Chebbi, Morocco…

sahara desert - morocco

A trip back in time at the ruins of Ephesus in Turkey…

ephesus - turkey

The Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul. Claire said she’d go if I bought her a cap…

turkish grand prix

In the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey…

blue mosque istanbul turkey

Post crash landing after our hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia in Turkey. I was planning to propose before this happened…

cappadocia balloon ride - turkey

…so I had to wait until sunset that night….

cappadoccia - engagement

Beautiful blue skies in sunny Chicago…


Our private flight on the way to safari in South Africa on our honeymoon…

private honeymoon flight - johannesburg

On a game drive looking out for the Big Five. We saw everything but the elusive leopard!

madikwe game reserve, south africa

A rainbow at the top of Le Morne in Mauritius…

mauritius - le morne

Honeymoon paradise in Mauritius…

mauritius - beach

A trip to Riga, Latvia with matching hat and ‘tache…

riga - latvia

A stroll over the Yorkshire Moors in the UK…

bolton abbey - yorkshire dales

Relaxing hammock time in Soller, Mallorca…

soller - mallorca

A stop off in Arcos de La Frontera during a road trip through Andalucia, Spain…

arcos de la frontera

Sevilla. Our home for nearly a year and one of our favourite cities in the world…

sevilla cathedral

Plaza de Espana in Sevilla on a morning run before the tour bus crowds arrive…

plaza de espana - sevilla

On the beach in Barcelona during spring time…

barcelona - spain

Tapas in Valencia…


A weekend break in Madrid…

madrid - spain

On the waterfront in the colonial town of Galle, Sri Lanka…

galle sri lanka

Hiking through Sri Lanka’s hill country in Ella…

ella sri lanka

Marathon training in Sevilla. For one of us anyway…


The view over Nice promenade, our home for 3 months…

nice - france

The final of the Monaco Masters tennis…

monaco masters tennis

Historic Antibes on the French Riviera…

antibes - france

Mixing with celebrities at the Cannes Film Festival. Seeing if we can take a better selfie than Kimmy K…

cannes - france

Walking the pitlane in the run up to the Monaco Grand Prix…

monaco gp pit walk

Grabbing Kimi Raikkonen for a snap at the Grand Prix. He didn’t stop to chat…

kimi raikkonen selfie

Down at the beach in Lagos, Portugal…

lagos - portugal

Ice cream break as we check out all the boats in the harbour in St Tropez…

st tropez - france

Watching the Tour de France in London…

tour de france - london

Mojitos in Havana, Cuba….

havana - cuba

Caribbean beach time just outside of Trinidad…

ancon beach - cuba

Trinidad, Cuba. One of the prettiest towns I’ve ever visited…

trinidad - cuba

The Schwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Burma…

schwedagon pagoda - yangon - burma

Sunrise over Bagan in Burma, with hot air balloons flying in the backdrop…

bagan - burma

A boat trip over Inle Lake in Burma, with bikes in tow…

inle lake - burma

 And finally a 360 video from when we were in beautiful Bagan in Burma!

Have you travelled far and wide with your other half? Are you a selfie addict? Let us know in the comments!

giraffe south africa

Backpacking Photo of the Week – Why Did the Giraffe Cross the Road?

Whilst on a game drive in South Africa we were greeted with this tall fellow crossing the road in front of us. Comic responses welcomed in the comments…

giraffe south africa

havana colourful graffiti

Havana, Cuba – In 39 Photos

Havana Cuba In 39 Photos

Havana is one of the most photogenic places in the world, with incredible classic cars, crumbling buildings and charismatic people everywhere you look. For me, photos of this incredible place tell the best story, so I’ll keep the words short and let the photos speak for themselves. If you haven’t been to Cuba I urge you go before this historic relic disappears and is developed into a city like any other…

buildings and cars havana havana sign havana street

havana malecon man in havana cuba car in havana street havana taxi malecon

havana church havana bar havana graffiti

bodeguita havana havana buildings  havana malecon fishing havana blue classic car havana tourist souvenirs

havana classic car  market havana colourful street havana band havana men havana graffiti in havana che guevara havana havana man classic car traffic havana painters havana  old man band havana stall havana bike taxi havana havana club rum bar

havana promenade band in bar havana havana square havana colourful graffiti stylish man havana library havana floridita havana  classic cars in havana rooftops over havana

trinidad cuba backpacking photo

Backpacking Photo of the Week – Trinidad, Cuba

This week’s backpacking photo comes from Trinidad in Cuba, a stunning city set in the heart of lush green valleys and a stone’s throw from the coast…


trinidad cuba backpacking photo

monk photo burma yangon

Backpacking Photo of the Week – Modelling Monks in Yangon

You might think it’s only the tourists who are snapping away whilst on their backpacking trip but you’d be wrong.

Whilst we were exploring the Schwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Burma, we stumbled across these monks having a right old photo session. Poses, selfies – they were truly going for it!

monk photo burma yangon

Ponte Vecchio

A Backpacking Trip around Florence

Florence is not an easy place for a backpacking trip. Capital of Tuscany, ancient capital of Italy and one of the 3 most famous art cities of the country, together with Rome and Venice, it is what you would easily consider a big “tourist trap”.

But I’m Italian, I’ve been to Florence several times and I’m a travel addict. So I’m happy to share with you some tricks, as I do on my blog and on Gadders, the travel platform I created to help foreign tourists who wish to come to visit Italy.


Hotels are quite expensive in Florence and hostels are very few, but the good news is those few are good quality and at a good price! The city itself is actually small and you can walk around everywhere. Therefore, you just must need to make sure that your accommodation is not in the outskirts and you’re done. You won’t need information about public transports (big issue avoided!)

Must see

I recommend you not to plan a 3 day trip through the whole Tuscany just because in 1 hour you could reach amazing destinations like Siena and Pisa. You wouldn’t really like to leave Florence after one day of marathon sightseeing with the sensation of having missed some of the best bits. To enjoy the city 3 days are necessary and even more for art and museum lovers.

My favourite attractions are:

1.Ponte Vecchio, literally “old bridge”, the most famous upon the Arno river, with its characteristic shops along the 2 sides (but don’t go in if you don’t want to suffer a heart attack for prices!) and the central balcony where to take the classic postcard-alike picture of Florence.

Ponte Vecchio

2.The impressive Cathedral of S. Maria del Fiore, gorgeous inside and outside. But in my opinion above all from the upside. I’m passionate about breath-taking views and a very beautiful one is from the cathedral’s Dome, with artwork of Brunelleschi. Also amazing is Giotto’s Campanile (a little lower but also less hard climbing).

Cathedral of S. Maria del Fiore

3.The L shaped Piazza della Signoria, a real open-air museum, decorated by many sculptural artworks, of which the most famous is the David of Michelangelo. You may ask yourself why such a masterpiece is left in the middle of the square instead of being overprotected in a museum? The answer is that it’s only a copy of the original work. All the statues have a meaning and it is worth taking a guidebook along with you so that you can read more and discover the stories and history.

Piazza della Signoria

4.Boboli garden. This one is not a symbol of the city like the first 3, which are suggested in every travel guide, but it is a really lovely park. It was projected in the past as garden of the Pitti Palace, but today, while the building is a huge museum packed with paintings (i’d say a boring place where, if you only want to walk through all the rooms without stopping, it would take an hour! Art lovers don’t curse me) the park is a relaxing and fresh area where to walk in hot summer days, while admiring the various ancient and contemporary sculptures that enrich its architecture.

What to eat and what to do

The typical dish here is the Florentine steak, a bloody 8cm high and 1kg heavy steak, usually to be shared at least between 2 persons. To find a restaurant I went to Piazza della Signoria, took the narrowest alley, walked about 10 minutes and stopped in a place before getting again to a touristy point. It worked: the meat was very good and not expensive! I tried the experiment again and it was proved. As result I can say that doesn’t matter which restaurant you are in because the quality is generally good, you just need to pay attention with prices!

To end, I think a bit of local-style life must be done. In Florence there are many bars and pubs to chill out at night; the most peculiar thing I tried is a honey-beer in a pub close to train station! But what surprised me the most was the cultural atmosphere you can breathe in the cafès, once meeting points of artists and writers. Like the Giubbe Rosse in Piazza della Repubblica or the hidden Caffetteria delle Oblate where you can enjoy an amazing view of the Cathedral’s Dome.

About the Author

This post was written by Francesco Visconti who has his a travel blog about Italy, gadders blog.

tomatina valencia

The Best Festivals In and Around Valencia

Situated along the eastern edge of Spain, Valencia is notable for its colourful and exuberant festivities. In a country that does lively celebration like no other, this is no mean feat. More than 5 million overseas visitors choose the Valencia region as their holiday destination every year and many more choose to spend longer there learning the language. What’s certain is that few go home without lasting memories of the region’s vibrant culture.

Las Fallas

Between 12 and 19 March, the city of Valencia plays host to Europe’s most spectacular party. Las  Fallas is a 5-day extravaganza involving the creation of huge papier-mâché and wood sculptures, and a quantity of fireworks that puts Guy Fawkes night to shame.

Visitors to the festival have 4 days to enjoy the colourful sculptures (known as fallas), which are created by local artisans and can reach heights of up to 15m. At midnight on day 5, each falla is set alight to the explosive accompaniment of fireworks.

La Tomatina

At 9am on the last Wednesday in August, Spain’s messiest festival begins. It begins as a seemingly  benign affair, with pastries and rolls served in Buñol town square, approximately 38km to the west of the city of Valencia. At 11am, a large pole with a ham attached to the end is raised into the air, which the assembled masses attempt to pull down.

When they manage it, a rocket is fired into the air, giving the signal to nearby trucks to tip over 100 tonnes of ripe tomatoes on to the crowd. The following hour involves a large-scale tomato battle, with people merrily hurling tomatoes at one another and writhing around in the ketchupy pulp.

The annual La Tomatina festival began in 1945 and has been attracting large crowds ever since. On the day of the tomato-hurling, the local population increases from around 9,000 to over 40,000.

Goggles and old clothes are a must – though the local fire brigade obligingly hoses down revellers at the festival’s end.

Semana Santa

During Spain’s Holy Week, a number of processions take place throughout Valencia. One of the most surreal is carried out by the dour penitents of the Santisimo Cristo del Salvador and el Amparo brotherhood, who surprise sunbathers on Playa de la Malvarrosa accompanied by a full brass band.

Other events worth catching include the Gathering of the Palms, the Procession of Placing in the Tomb, and the Resurrection Cavalcade.

Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos

The Parade of the 3 Kings is a big day for children; it involves the arrival of 3 gift-bearing kings, who spread over 10,000kg of sweets among their adoring admirers. The early evening parade on 6

January involves Melchior, Caspar and Balthasar plus their entourage of 33 spectacular floats and 1,000 costumed helpers.

Virgen de los Desamparados

The commemoration of Valencia’s second patron saint begins on the evening before the 2nd in May. Festivities kick off with a concert in the Plaza de la Virgen, featuring extravagant fireworks, traditional folk music and dancing. The morning after, at the eye-wateringly early time of 5am, the faithful attend an open-air mass known as La Misa Descuberta.

Later, a large sculpture of the saint is carried across the Plaza de la Virgen to the city’s cathedral.

Later in the day, the sculpture makes another appearance after a 5-minute-long fireworks display, when it is carried through the city to the old town, where the virgin is greeted by the assembled masses and showered with flower petals.

Noche de San Juan

The Night of St Juan, also known as the Night of the Witches, celebrates both the saint and the arrival of summer on 23 June. The inhabitants of Valencia congregate on the city’s beaches, where they light bonfires, listen to music, drink, dance and let off fireworks.

Many children and teenagers traditionally wash their feet before jumping over the bonfires, which is thought to make wishes come true, though nowadays it is more a display of machismo than anything else.

Fiesta de San Vicente Ferrer

The Feast Day of St Vicente Ferrer occurs on the first Sunday after Easter and celebrates the life of Vincent Ferrer, a Valencian Dominican friar who gained acclaim as a logician and as a missionary.

The festivities date back to 1561 and involve local families making their way to a chapel, where children are encouraged to drink from St Vicente’s well. Altars and stages are erected throughout the city’s 13 neighbourhoods, and children and adults alike dress up to re-enact St Vicente’s miracles.

This post was brought to you by esl-languages.com, who arrange study abroad language courses in countries around Europe and the rest of the world. For more information visit the ESL Languages  website.

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