Bucketlist Travel Review - Yellowstone NP, USA

 
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Contributor:
Kayla and Silas

Nationality:
USA

Social Links:
Adventures of Kayla and Silas

Website: www.adventuresofkaylaandsilas.com
Instagram: @kaylaandsilas

Age Group:
19-30 years
30-40 years

Gender:
Couple

Travel Style:
Spontaneous
Explore
Food

 

Destination: Yellowstone National Park, Late September, 5 days

Inspiration:

A friend of ours ask if we would go with him to Yellowstone. Having never been there before, we both quickly agreed! We all wanted to get in some hiking, enjoy the quiet of nature, and have fun hanging out together.

Getting There:

Yellowstone is not easily accessible. We drove there (17 hours!), but you could fly into a nearby city and rent a car or R.V. It seemed nearly half the cars on the roads inside the park were R.V.s, so that is really common.

Local Knowledge:

Yellowstone and Grand Teton are both unlike anything else I've ever seen! Here's what I already wrote about how amazing these places are:  https://www.adventuresofkaylaandsilas.com/single-post/2017/10/02/12-Reasons-to-Visit-Yellowstone

 

Where To Stay:

We stayed at an Airbnb in Driggs, ID. It was delightful, however we had a pretty long drive into the parks every morning. I think it would be preferable to stay inside the park unless you only need a couple hours of sleep. We found everything was booked when we were looking, so you'll need to make a reservation as early as a year in advance of your trip if you want to stay in the park!

What To Do:

We packed a lot into our time at Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Here's our recommended itinerary: https://www.adventuresofkaylaandsilas.com/single-post/2017/10/09/A-Week-in-Yellowstone-and-Grand-Teton-National-Parks

Join our Patreon community here: www.patreon.com/kaylaandsilas Subscribe to our channel! http://bit.ly/2FFgx6E Earlier this year we took a road trip with our...

Must Do:

You need to watch at least one geyser BESIDES Old Faithful. They are just amazing.

Must See:

Grand Prismatic Spring!

Number 1 Travel Tip:

The park is BUSY. Bring as much as you can -- toilet paper and sanitizer for unkept bathrooms, picnic lunches for when restaurants are busy or you get too far from a main service hub (or you just want to save money), and a map so

5 Word Travel:

Gorgeous, interesting, unbelievable, breathtaking, exercise

Excess Baggage:

Don't get close to the animals! We saw a lot of tourists putting themselves in dangerous situations, but park rangers suggest keeping 25 yards distance to all animals and 100 yards to wolves and bears.

New York, USA - A week in the Big Apple

 
 

How to spend a week in the "city that never sleeps". Ryan describes himself as an "anything goes" traveller, so read about how he goes in NYC!

 

Contributor:
Ryan

Nationality:
South Africa

Social Links:
Instagram: @ryanscott.33

Age Group:
30 - 40 years

Gender:
Male

Travel Style:
All styles

 

Destination: NYC May 2017 for 1 week

 
 

Inspiration:

I've visited NYC a handful of times, but never in the spring. Every visit has been a good one, but I've always been curious to be there when it’s warmer. Not so much the humid sweaty summer, rather, a fresh spring dose of NYC energy for the change of seasons after the biting cold of winter. And beware that winter bite, it can get really intense when those relentless razor blade winds cut through your under equipped winter gear while cruising the streets of Manhattan. And what about the High-Line, it's just not the same in winter with no cheerful greenery around to pretty-up New York's walkway in the sky. So when the opportunity came to return to NYC in May, I packed swim trunks and flew from Cape Town to JFK, ready for a fresh look.

Getting There:

The 16 hour flight from South Africa is not as bad as some make out. SAA fly direct and I have often had enough seats to stretch my legs out enough for a good sleep option. Arriving early in the morning is always a good thing as those immigration lines can get nasty. Getting a ride into Manhattan from the airport is not ideal, as you hit the rush hour of those scrumming to get to Manhattan to earn their dollars. Once in Manhattan though, for your first day at least, time becomes a secondary consideration as the many NYC sensations take over and create a world of loud and surreal experiences.

Local Knowledge:

Having been to Manhattan a few times, I know my way around and enjoy exploring on foot, but this time I decided to brave the CitiBike system - and what a pleasure it was. It costs about $12 a day and you can ride for up to 30min before having to return your two wheeler to one the many CitiBike stations. It's never a problem finding one, they are as prevalent as a carguard* in Cape Town - everywhere! I rode all over the island and at least once a day that included peddling over a bridge. Either the Williamsburg or Brooklyn bridges are perfect for a cruisy ride, with great views and integrated feel of being very much a part of the city, as a bonus to your travel solution. The app is a huge help too and this quickly became my preferred mode of transport. It's such a pity we don't have that at home in South Africa, unfortunately the upkeep and durability would never survive in Africa, but I'm psyched to use the same systems in London, Paris and other cities that use this healthy option of moving about the city.

Where To Stay:

Accommodation is always going to be expensive in Manhattan, no matter what option you choose. I’ve stayed all over the show in different AirBnB options. Prices have increased markedly over the last 5 years. A pullout sofa I stayed on near Washington Sq in 2012 is now more than double what I paid for it back then. This time I was drawn to the LIFE Hotel. It’s the original building that the famous publication and brand ran their business from and conveniently situated midtown, although convenience did not come with any charm. The area is around Korea Town and not the best place to hangout in Manhattan. After a couple of nights in the hotel, I moved across the East River to an AirBnB in Williamsburg. The view of the skyline gives a whole new perspective to a NYC stay, the prices drop and the vibe is less touristy and there is always something happening in the neighbourhood. 
At night, head to N 10th St, the buzz around the restaurants and cocktail bars (hit the Wythe Hotel for rooftop cocktails and view of Manhattan skyline) is brilliant. I could recommend late night spots, but things move quickly and the flavor of the week will have changed by the time you read this. There are a lot of cool clubs to choose from when it gets to around 10pm or 11pm.

What To Do:

It's interesting to try and plan a to-do list for NYC, but the reality is, once you get there, just tap into the flow of the city and decide what feels best on the day. I happened to be there for the opening of the NYC Ballet season...they call it the Spring Gala and I would not have bought a ticket if I was planning the trip beforehand, but while in the area, I noticed some buzz around setting up a red carpet at the theater, checked out what was happening, and managed to buy a ticket for the evening event. The night before I had been at a Puma event and met two of the ballerinas of the NYC ballet troop, so I was keen to see them do their thing on the stage. 
There is always something to do, but I like to search out those little nuggets that present themselves in the moment, just keep an eye open and use the many apps and websites to assist you with 'whats on' while you are there.

Eating:

My favourite meals are lunch times around the East Village. Chelsea Market is also cool, but the quirky little spots of the East Village are less well known and warmly welcoming. It’s great to see the trends of the world unfolding over the counter and on the sidewalks of these little places, and sometimes, being created. I bought a radical shirt on a market sidewalk from a guy who clearly loves his craft, ate Pizza slices once the queue had died down from a nondescript hole in the wall, and sat and sipping some kind of frappacuppalattecino while people-watching the unabated conversations happening all around me. The attitude down here still seems NYC-proud, but not as brash and loud as other parts of decibel filled city.

Must Do:

I always do a bit of work in NYC and my favourite place to find a quiet spot that has something more than just the quintessential coffee shop, is the NYC Library. The Rose Room has reopened so I plugin and use the wifi to create my own NYC hot desk in the most studious of settings. In Spring, the lush green grass of Bryant Park backs onto the library and is the best place to chill out with locals and tourists alike. In summer it comes alive with vibrant action on the permanent concrete table-tennis tables, crooners busting out some tunes on the piano and people sharing lunch and ice-creams while soaking up some sun in one of the rare open spaces just off uptown 5th Avenue.

Must See:

I've never done a heli-flip over the city, but I really enjoy seeing it from the water. The best way to do this, in my opinion, is by sail. I noticed @Classicharborline while doing a Instagram search and realised right away that I would not settle for anything less than one of their perfectly crafted fleet. Pick a good day of sunny weather and take to the water in style.

 
 

Number 1 Travel Tip:

Skip the big brands you can experience in other cities. There are so many unique places to shop and eat in NYC, so rather explore something new.

5 Word Travel:

I didn't need swim shorts

My Time in Bali, Indonesia

 
 
 

Contributor:
Monique

Nationality:
USA

Social Links:
Instagram: @wanderlustmyway
Website: www.wanderlustmyway.com

Age Group:
All

Gender:
Female

Travel Style:
All

 

Destination: Bali, Indonesia, April 2017

You would think that a flight mix up that had me questioning when I’d actually make it to Bali, Indonesia would be a bad start. Two different medical woes causing me to question whether or not I should take a long term flight, the cancellation of my original flight, and a new flight booking set to depart a day later led me on my way to Bali. It’s a place I’d probably never heard of until the movie, Eat Pray Love, and for I made plans to not only take one of those journeys, but spend some time in Bali. I was obsessed, and full disclosure, I watch that movie all over the world during just about every trip.

Cost RoundUp

Flight: My original flight was $589 with the airline from hell that will not be named. After going back and forth with the airline and 3rd party company that I booked though, literally hours before I would’ve been heading to the airport, I decide to cancel that flight and book with another airline. New flight: 64k miles/points. A nice chunk of my arsenal of stored miles, collecting dust.

 
 

Lodging: I originally booked an airbnb for $181 for 6 nights. After getting a refund for one night due to the flight scheduling changes, it ended up being $154 for 5 nights. I had to fight airbnb for this but in the end, I prevailed.

Spending Money: I got 2,000,000 IDR out of the airport atm, which is pretty much $150. $45 of those would go to a day trip and the rest was spent on food and transportation from the airport. I probably spent about $50 on my credit card for food during my last couple days and exchanged some IDR at the airport for $14 back once I was returning home. So overall I spent about $186 which is not bad at all. I even bought more souvenirs than I normally do, so that’s very telling of where my money went. Breakfast was the most expensive at $10 even though I ate at a different place every day.

Where I Stayed

I went back and forth too many times to count about where I’d be staying. I knew I wanted to be near a beach, so pretty early on I decided on staying in Seminyak, a 15+ minute ride from the Denpasar airport depending on traffic. There will most likely be traffic.

 
 

I thought I’d go to Bali and stay in a villa with a private pool and views that overlooked a lush forest or at least the ocean. Then I said I’d stay in a hotel and skip the villa prices since it was just lil ol’ me. After actually reserving a room at a popular hotel, I happened to peruse options on airbnb and realized I could save even more money. I found the cutest little room in a boutique hotel listed on airbnb. Those are the best gems. You think you’re going to be renting someones apartment or just a room, and you scroll and find an actual hotel room for $27 a night. Jackpot!

Seminyak is probably the most touristy area of the city, or maybe it ties with Ubud, with streets lined with stores and restaurants only selling Indonesian food as an afterthought. Hell, I had some of the best sushi ever, spring rolls, and a beer for less than $7. I may go back just for that very same meal. While you will spot the occasional McDonalds or KFC, surprisingly, I would’ve had to walk a minimum of 45 minutes just to get to those establishments.

What I Did

Let me get this out of the way and say…not a goddamn thing. I didn’t do anything! Having people badger you about your plans during a trip is so exhausting and I’m genuinely sorry that I’m not the woman to go to for things like that. At least not after I tell you I honestly plan to do nothing and you try to force me to dig deep into my soul because surely, I must have plans. I’m not setting up an itinerary to check things off the list. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with people that do that, so please don’t judge me for doing the opposite.

 
 

Aside from technically staying in a hotel, my life during my travels is as close to that of a local as possible. After breakfast you could catch me at the beach on a daily basis. I considered taking surf lessons but if you would’ve saw the waves that I saw, you would’ve soaked up all the Vitamin D you could instead as well. I did take the aforementioned day trip to Ubud because I thought it’d be the best way to see Ubud. When people offer these tours, you really decide what it is you want to do with guidance from the drivers. Stops usually include a temple, the rice fields, monkey forest, etc. Now before you ask, I told Gusti, my driver, to put the pedal to the metal and to continue driving right on by monkey forest. What I don’t have time for are those aggressive creatures shaking me down for anything that isn’t attached to my body and crawling all over me. I love animals, I promise I do, but tourists have greatly affected those formerly sweet beings and I don’t have time for it! I visited the Ubud Market and negotiated like hell with those thieves (jk). I trekked to a point of the rice fields where I decided I wasn’t going any further, and hiked my ass right back up. I went to a temple where I was shaken down for the supposed “voluntary” donation and all in all, I could have done without the day trip. I am glad I visited the Ubud market but I would’ve enjoyed my day even more if I was at my usual spot on the beach, soaking up the sun and drinking a Bintang. Don’t get me started on the lady that sliced up a watermelon and walked it on over to me. Bless her heart!

Other than sunbathing I walked around a lot. By a lot I mean, more than you can fathom. I tried out all of the restaurants that piqued my interest and tried to explore different neighborhoods than the previous day. One other game changer was the fact that just like in Thailand, my sleep was thrown off on a daily basis. It didn’t match EST and it didn’t match Thai time. After my mornings at the beach I usually went back to shower and ending up sleeping until the evening before heading back out. This was a daily occurrence and I didn’t care. I didn’t feel like I “wasted the days away” and didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything from snoozing.

 
 

Transportation

Bali is the land of the scooter. They are everywhere and if you’re easily identifiable as an outsider, you won’t be able to walk down the street without every single one trying to give you a ride. That goes for taxi’s too! Traffic is always bumper to bumper and they all need to make that fare. The honking was uber annoying and I assure you it wasn’t due to me being a woman, at least not entirely. I got compliments, sure, but a taxi driver or scooter honking at me was almost always asking me if I needed a ride. And they will always overcharge you.

Leaving the airport was a full time job with everyone trying to give you a ride. I knew an uber would only cost about 40,000 IDR as opposed to the 300,00o IDR everyone was trying to charge me, but the way uber is set up in Bali is bananas. It’s practically banned, along with two other car services, but you can still utilize them if you know how. I now know that getting an uber from the airport required you to trek to departures rather than arrivals. That would’ve saved me the trouble of someone trying to charge me $30 just to go 15-30 minutes away. After telling one man no at least 25 times I finally agreed to the 150,000 IDR he was set on charging me.

Moral of the story: uber to wherever it can take you and negotiate when you have to use any other mode of transport. Many are against uber (I personally no longer use them in the US) because they charge so little in Bali and essentially make it harder for taxi drivers to get customers. They are so hated that the street to my hotel had a sign that said Uber was not allowed. That doesn’t count the uber that took me to the airport for a whopping $0.36. I also read that they can take you to Ubud, but it’ll be hard to get an uber FROM Ubud. However, it just doesn’t make sense to be swindled out of my money simply for being a foreigner. So if I go back, I’ll gladly utilize uber when I can and negotiate like hell when I can’t. I also wouldn’t recommend renting a scooter because with all the traffic, scooters were everywhere between cars and speeding around them. There’s no set speed limit so not only was almost everyone endangering their own lives, but the lives of other passengers. I wouldn’t do it.

 
 

Would I Return?

Seminyak is to Bali as Phuket is to Thailand. Y’all know I HATED Phuket. However, Seminyak was what I hoped Phuket would’ve been. Get rid of about 75 clothing stores and the fact that EVERYONE is trying to sell you something, and Seminyak is a magical place. I would stay a few nights in Ubud next time but could see myself living in Seminyak. It’s actually like a faster paced Chiang Mai, Thailand. The only thing Thailand may do better than Bali is temples. I got my entire life strolling in and out of temples in Thailand and that was one of my few highlights.

I didn’t take more than the few photos here because I was intent on being in my zone and chilling the entire time. I completely understand why people don’t want to leave Bali once they visit. I have so many other areas to check out and I swear next time I’ll take surfing lessons, but my week of doing next to nothing was perfect. Just perfect. Someone said this was my Eat Pray Love trip and I think they were right. It’s at least one of them. That I know for sure.

 
 

Oslo, Norway - Beautiful Architecture & Museums

 

Contributor  : Emma
Nationality   : British
Social Links  : Instagram  - @emmapinkyb
                       Twitter: @emmapinkyb
Age Group    : 40 - 50 years
Gender          : Female
Travel Style   : Impulsive
Destination   : Oslo, Norway. 4 days May 2017

Inspiration:

Oslo has always been a bucket list destination and I've always wanted to visit some of the Nordic countries, so when the chance arose, I had to take it. I really didn't know what to expect, but I wanted to see as much of the local cultural side as possible.

Getting There: 

Plenty of airlines fly from the UAE to Norway, but Emirates has the only direct flights from Dubai to Oslo, every other carrier has at least one stop. The direct flight time is around 7 hours. I took this option, as I always prefer direct flights, even if they cost me a little more, as I hate wasting time hanging about in airports and want as much time as possible at my end destination.

Once you land at Oslo airport, there are various public transport means to take you into the city centre, such as buses, or trains. The trains have a couple of options, where you have a cheaper, but slightly slower train, or the airport express train, which takes you non-stop either to Oslo Central station or to a couple of other stops. From there, metros can be used to easily travel around the city.

Local Knowledge:

Oslo, being the capital of Norway has the largest population in the country and a very multicultural one. The city is a trading hub and in the 18th century was noted for its ship building. Oslo is surrounded by green hills and mountains and lies at the northern end of the Oslofjord, which has many islands. There are hundreds of lakes around Oslo, which contribute to much of the drinking water within the city.

Oslo is very temperate in climate, having milder winters and summers that occasionally reach over 20 degrees – while we were there the sun came out and it was very warm for two days and everywhere was packed.

Summer days are extremely long – up to to around 16 hours in the summer time and it never gets completely dark, which is a very odd thing to experience.

Oslo has some very unique architecture and is a cultural hub with many museums and attractions, such as the Viking Ship museum, the Fram Polar ship museum, the Oslo Opera House, the Nobel Peace Centre, the Astrup Fearnley Museum, the botanical gardens are also very beautiful.

Oslo’s parliament, government buildings and city hall are notable landmarks as well as the Royal Palace, where visitors are free to roam the grounds.

Oslo is a brilliant walking city, but there are many options for getting around. You can use the trains, buses, trams, ferries and bikes to see the city and its outskirts.

Notable residents of Oslo are the band members of A-HA – Morten, Paul and Magne.

Nobel Peace Prize laureates Ragnar Frisch and Lars Onsager and Nobel Peace Prize for Literature winner Sigrid Undset all lived in the city.

Famous painter Edvard Munch called the city home and there’s the Munch museum dedicated to him near to the botanical gardens.

It’ll come as no surprise that many ice hockey players, skaters and winter sports men and women hail from the city as well as well known artists, such as painters, sculptors, writers and singers.

Bikes are a popular was of getting around Oslo

Bikes are a popular was of getting around Oslo

Where To Stay:

For Oslo I took my first foray into the world of AirBnB and found a lovely little apartment very central in the city. Hotels can be very expensive, so this was a more economical option and I wasn’t disappointed. I stayed in an area called Toyen, with the metro station a five minute walk away.

The botanical gardens, Zoological museum and Munch museum were all within easy walking distance and there were lots of supermarket, eating and drinking options in the area. My AirBnB host left me a guide with all her favourite places, which was brilliant.

AirBnB is really a good option and worth looking at.

What To Do:

The question really is – what didn’t I do there? There are so many things to see and do. Oslo is very much a walking or cycling city and it’s a great way to wander round and see all the fantastic architecture.

One important thing to get is the Oslo Pass, it gives you travel on all public transport and free entry into the museums and discounts on lots of tourist attractions and eateries.

The things I managed to get round were:

A visit to the Royal Palace – you can walk around the grounds and it has an incredible garden area that’s worth exploring. You can get very close to the palace and have your picture taken with one of the Royal Guards – they’re all very friendly and don’t mind at all. The view from the Palace all the way down into Oslo is lovely.

The Botanical Gardens – split up into various areas, such as the Viking Garden, Grannies Garden, the Rock Garden, this is a great way to spend a couple of hours out and about in nature. In the grounds you also have the Zoological Museum, which is well worth a visit and one of the best I’ve ever seen. The displays and exhibits are extremely well done. There’s a lovely little café in the middle of the gardens, which makes for a great lunch pit-stop.

The Munch Museum – a tribute to the artist Edvard Munch, you can see some of his works on display and also tribute exhibitions.

The Nobel Peace Centre – definitely worth a visit. There are some incredibly moving and touching displays and it houses the winning exhibition and tributes to the current winners of the peace prize. One of the highlights is the Nobel field, which is an electronic exhibition, with displays and information on all the winners over the years.

If you get the Oslo Pass, use the ‘Hop on, Hop off’, ferry to head across the Oslo fjord to the Viking Ship Museum – here you’ll see several incredibly well preserved Viking ships along with other artefacts and information. One highlight is the audio visual display, which is projected onto the ceiling and gives a story of the Vikings.

Taking in the beautiful houses of the surrounding area, you can then walk over to a cluster of museums, the Maritime Museum, Fram Museum and the Kon-Tiki Museum.

My favourites without question are the Fram Museum, which houses the Polar exploration ship Fram. You can go on-board and have a look around to see what life would have been like living aboard this ship. There are also some nice interaction areas for children, you can see if you have the strength to pull a 300 kg sled and experience extreme cold.

My other favourite is the Kon-Tiki Museum, which houses rafts and information about the Kon-Tiki expedition, where a Norwegian explorer and his crew travelled from Peru to Polynesia on a balsa wood raft.

Oslo is a great place to just wander and explore. You can take in the fortress, see random status, visit the incredible Opera House, where you can walk up and over the rood for stunning view of the city and fjord.

One highlight was taking a three hour evening cruise around the Oslo fjord with a traditional prawn buffet. The views, the experience – amazing.

One of the many sculptures around Oslo

One of the many sculptures around Oslo

 

Eating:

There’s no shortage of different cuisines in Olso, but obviously one thing the Norwegians do really well is seafood.

Two of my favourite places that we stumbled across were surprisingly a little Italian restaurant called Bruno’s Proseccheria – it’s small inside with a nice outdoor seating area. It’s a funky little places with lovely staff and incredible food and is very popular.

My other favourite was the Lekter’n floating restaurant, which is hugely popular, and you can site over looking the fjord or people watch in the busy café area. The mussels are outstanding and it’s one of those places you can literally sit for hours just chilling out. Worth a visit.

It might seem a really touristy thing to do, but Oslo also has a Hard Rock Café, so we stopped in there for one of their signature cocktails and a bite to eat.

There are so many options though, cafes everywhere and places to suit every budget.

Must Do:

Such a hard question to answer, as there were so many highlights, but definitely the evening cruise round the Oslo Fjord. Weaving in and out the little islands, seeing all the lovely houses and the other people out on the water. It was just a fantastic way to see parts that otherwise you really can’t.

A ship on the harbour

A ship on the harbour

Must See:

Another tough question – well perhaps THE iconic landmark in Oslo is the Opera House. It has a unique architecture and you can walk all the way up and around the roof, for stunning views. But it looks amazing from different angles and is a hugely popular attraction.

The iconic Opera House

The iconic Opera House

5 Word Travel:

Beautiful. Interesting. Intriguing. Friendly. Fun.

TravelTip:

I have TWO important travel tips for Oslo. Get the Oslo Pass, as it gives you usage of all public transport, buses, trams, metro trains and some ferries. It also gives you free access to the museums and discounts on lots of attractions and in restaurants.

My second tip, is many places aren’t keep on cash and they prefer card payments. So it might be worth getting a prepaid card in Norwegian Kroner – you can buy these at the airport, or use your own cards, but be wary of exchange rates

Excess Baggage:

Oslo can be expensive, so be aware of that.

Whilst Oslo is pretty safe, local authorities do remind people to be wary of pickpockets, especially on the metro lines, so always remember to be mindful of your posessions.