Travel, United States

Guest Post: 8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, Minnesota

May 29, 2017
8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, Minnesota
I am very excited by this guest post. When I ask for guest posts, most people suggest non-US locations and that is great, but I was excited to get one from a place in the US and from a place I haven’t been to myself.

Duluth, Minnesota is a picturesque city settled on the banks of the largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Superior. From foodies to adventurists, Duluth has an array of activities and things to do. Whether it be summer or winter, visitors never run out of ways to spend their time here but if you need a few ideas, here are 8 ways to spend your time around the city of Duluth, Minnesota.

1. Overlook Duluth at Enger Tower

Atop Enger hill overlooking the beautiful city of Duluth stands Enger Tower, an 80-foot, five-story observation tower built in 1939. Enger Tower was built in dedication to Bert Enger, a native of Norway who came here to be a furniture seller. When he died, over half of his estate was donated to the city of Duluth – this included the areas of Enger Park, the Tower, and golf course.

8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, Minnesota

8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, MinnesotaThis picture is from Wikipedia

2. Wander Canal Park

Canal Park in Duluth is visitors’ one-stop shop for everything gifts, food, lodging, things to do, events, and more. The area sits upon the shore of the largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Superior, and used to be a warehouse district, which has been converted into a variety of restaurants, hotels, cafés, and shops.

8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, Minnesota

A few of Canal Park’s attractions include the Aerial Lift Bridge, a lighthouse pier, and a 4.2-mile-long lake walk. Additionally, visitors interested in boats can watch vessels from all over the world enter the bay near Duluth, going under the iconic lift bridge.

3. Check out the Aerial Lift Bridge

The most famous landmark in all of Duluth, the Aerial Lift Bridge was finished being built in 1905, making it over 100 years old and the oldest landmark in the city. The length of the bridge spans 386 feet, has a clearance of 180 feet, and weighs over 900 tons. There’s only one other bridge in the world similar to the Aerial Lift Bridge, which is located in Rouen, France. The bridge is operated 24 hours a day and during the busy season in spring or summer, the bridge lifts an average of 26 times per day.

8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, Minnesota

4. Waterfall Hunting in Congdon Park

Located in the middle of Duluth, burrowed between residential neighborhoods, Congdon Park can be explored by avid hikers, casual walkers, and families in search of fun. When descending into the park, it feels as though you’re entering a different world; surrounded by billion-year-old red volcanic rock, lush greens, thick mosses, and pulsing waterfalls – hiking in Congdon Park is anything but boring.

8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, Minnesota

“There is no combination of stream and hillsides, woodland, waterfall and canyon in or near any other American city that is capable of development for beauty and utility comparing with that lying on both sides of Tischer Creek,” wrote landscape engineer A.U. Morrell of New York City.

5. Explore Gooseberry Falls State Park

Known as the gateway to the North Shore and Lake Superior, Gooseberry Falls State Park is an area filled with beautiful waterfalls, an array of hiking trails, flourishing wildlife, and stunning foliage. As visitors wander around the park, the thunderous rumble of the water plummeting into the rocky gorges from the three largest of the falls can be heard from all around.

8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, Minnesota

To make the most out of your visit, make sure to stop in the visitor’s center to read up on the history of the park, find park information, watch park videos, view interpretive displays, and more. Also, summer is the best time to visit – but head to the park early, as it gets extremely busy!

8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, Minnesota

6. View Split Rock Lighthouse

Considered one of the most picturesque lighthouses in the United States, Split Rock Lighthouse was completed in 1910 and is a National Historic Landmark; a beacon in northern Minnesota. The wreckage of multiple ships spurred the building of the lighthouse, which explorers can read all about in the visitor’s center. And after reading about the history of the lighthouse, visitors can hike the trails throughout the state park and wander down to the shoreline of Lake Superior.

8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, Minnesota

7. Marvel the Views at Palisade Head

This remarkable area shouldn’t be passed up if you have a vehicle and some time while in Duluth, Minnesota. Palisade Head is filled with heart-stopping cliffs, jagged rocks, awe-inspiring sights of Lake Superior, and picture-worthy viewpoints. Just don’t get too excited taking pictures of Lake Superior – which looks like the ocean from up here – or you might lose your footing and go falling off the edge!

8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, Minnesota

8. Tour the Glensheen Mansion

Operated by the University of Minnesota Duluth as a museum, the 39-room Glensheen Mansion and the 7.6-acre estate was built by Chester Congdon on the banks of Lake Superior between 1905 and 1908. The mansion is perhaps most known for the “incident” that happened in 1977; Glensheen was the site of the murders of Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse, Velma Pietila, on June 27. For many years, tour guides were forbidden from talking about and answering questions related to the murders, but now they will answer questions at the end of the tour and there’s a book about the murders available for purchase in the gift shop.

8 Ways to Spend Your Time Around Duluth, Minnesota

So, there you have it: 8 things to do around Duluth, Minnesota. Let me know – have you ever heard of Duluth? Or have you ever been here?

This is a guest blog post written by Sophie Anderson, founder of The Wanderful Me travel blog. She’s a clumsy traveler tripping her way around the world in search of mouthwatering vegan food and wild adventures. If you want to see what she’s up to, check out her blog or follow her on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter

Hotel/Accommodation, Middle East, Qatar, Travel

Staycation at the Westin Doha

May 22, 2017

Staycation at the Westin DohaBack in December, I won a free night stay at the Westin Doha. The Westin Doha is a newish hotel in Doha and it is not in the area where most of the hotels have been built. In the past few weeks, I have read a few negative reviews regarding events and a few of the restaurants. Since the voucher was going to expire and I am about to leave, I thought I would give it a try and have a staycation for one night.

The Room

When you enter the room, you are greeted with a panoramic view of the whole room, including some of the bathroom. After I noticed the open layout of the room, the next thing I noticed was the soaker tub that looks out over the room. I couldn’t wait to get it and soak for a while. It seemed like you could see the television from the tub. Watching a movie from the tub sounded like a great idea. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see the tv from the tub. This was due to the divide between the room and the bathroom. Seems like a huge design flaw.

Staycation at Westin Doha

Staycation at the Westin Doha

However, the rest of the room was pretty great. My room was a deluxe room with a pool view. The room was quite large and had a king sized bed. The Westin Hotel is known for its beds and it did not disappoint! Thick carpet with a beautiful design extends throughout. Heavy blackout curtains block out the Middle Eastern sun perfectly.

Staycation at the Westin Doha

Staycation at the Westin Doha

The usual amenities are present, such as a desk and a beautiful cabinet with the mini fridge and coffee and tea. For all the Brits out there, yes, there is evaporated milk for your tea! What was great was there were plenty of international plugs for all your devices. One complaint was that my room was right by the elevator and everyone is loud getting off the elevator. Not really the hotel’s fault, but the door could have been sound proofed. The other issue was that they had lights on sensors so when you get out of bed at night, you can see. Great idea, but they took forever to go off and one time it went off when I was moving around in the bed.

The Food

The restaurant I had heard good things about was Sabai Thai. It is a small restaurant set back from the hotel. Unfortunately, you have to go outside to reach Sabai Thai, which during the summer in Qatar it could be an issue. When entering there was a Thai woman playing a traditional Thai instrument that had a lovely sound and was so much better than the loud music some place blast in restaurants.

I did not order a starter as I wanted dessert. For the main course, I ordered, Gai Phad Med Mamuang. This is a stir fried chicken dish with cashew nuts, spring onions and chili paste. It was served with steamed rice. The dish was light and flavorful and they asked how spicy I wanted it. I said light since I wasn’t sure how spicy light would be. I could have gone with the medium. For dessert, I ordered my favorite Thai dessert of Mango Sticky Rice. Theirs was probably the best I have ever had! The mango was really ripe and the coconut sauce was not too sweet.

Staycation at the Westin Doha

Staycation at the Westin Doha

In addition to good food and atmosphere, the service was great and never had to wait for anything.

The Service

When I called to make the reservation, I had to email them the voucher, which seemed odd, but I went with it. After I emailed it, everything went smoothly. They even asked if I want to book any spa treatments and asked for my SPG number for points. This service was the same when I arrived. Someone greeted me when I entered and escorted me to the check-in desk. While checking in, I was brought a hot towel and a juice.

About 15 minutes after I arrived in my room, the front desk called to make sure I was happy with my room. While I didn’t call them for anything during my stay, I am sure it would have been quick and efficient. Upon checking out, I was also given great service. There was only one person checking people in and out. Another staff person saw me waiting and quickly went to a desk to check me out.

Overall, I really enjoyed my stay and if I was in Doha longer, I would be going back for another staycation. The pools are huge and look amazing. I also wish I had more time to explore the menu of Sabai Thai.

Have you stayed at a Westin? What was your experience?

 

 

 

Europe, Hungary, Travel

Guest Post: 48 Hours in Budapest

May 15, 2017

48 Hours in Budapest

This is a guest post from Jack at Find World’s Beauty

Budapest is an immensely beautiful, charming and diverse city that has risen to global prominence among travelers and expats alike over the last decade. Here are some suggestions on how to spend 2 days in the Hungarian capital.

Note as an introductory explanation that the Danube River divides the city into two main parts: Buda & Pest. Both parts offer an extensive array of sights while you should keep in mind that Pest is the most lively part where most of the actual residents live whereas Buda has served as the residence for the Hungarian kings for centuries and therefore contains the castle and fortifications.

Day 1: Dive deeper into the unique Hungarian culture while enjoying Budapest’s stunning architecture

Morning: Chain Bridge, Hungarian Parliament and Buda Castle

A morning stroll across the Chain Bridge will enable you to enjoy this wonderful feat of architecture in a peaceful manner before tourists invade the bridge in the afternoon. The bridge is furthermore an excellent place to take gorgeous pictures of the stunning Hungarian Parliament and the other architectural masterpieces that are situated along the Danube river.

48 Hours in Budapest

On the Buda side of the river, you will be able to take a funicular which takes you right up to Buda castle, the historical residence of the Hungarian kings. The hill moreover has some breathtaking viewpoints which offer fabulous views over the city and the river.48 Hours in Budapest

Afternoon: Hungarian National Museum and Market Hall

The Hungarian National Museum is a great place to learn about the unique place that the Hungarian culture and language (one of the oldest languages in Europe) occupies amid the European cultural landscape and is therefore definitely a good choice to get your annual history lesson in Budapest. Another afternoon activity would be a visit to the Market Hall where you can buy a wide range of local goods and delicacies if you wish to brush up on some Hungarian specialties.

Evening:  Enjoy a drink in the ruin pubs

Budapest has a buzzing ruin pub culture and the Szimpla Kert is the mother of those pubs which are like outside patios in rundown yet incredibly cozy buildings. When in the Hungarian capital, you should definitely not miss this typical nightlife scene and you will be pleasantly surprised by the amount of choice you have when it comes to ruin pubs and general nightlife options.

Day 2: Experience the beauty of Budapest from atop the hill and spend some time in the city’s trademark thermal baths

Morning: Hike up to Gellert Hill

One of the great nature related activities in Budapest is the hike up to Gellert Hill on top of which you will be rewarded with stunning views over the city. The path starts on the Buda side of the Danube close to Elizabeth bridge. The viewpoint can get crowded in the afternoon, which is why early birds will have the better experience.

Afternoon: Relax in the Thermal Baths

After having ascended to the top of Gellert Hill you will want to relax and there is no better way to ease your bones and chill your mind than to spend an afternoon in one of Budapest’s legendary thermal bath complexes. The Gellert Baths are situated close to the hike up the hill and offer various saunas, a large swimming pool and lots of comfy outdoor areas Szechenyi Baths are located in a stunning ancient complex which is an architectural gem but therefore also much more touristy. Note that huge parties are organized in Szechenyi Baths on special occasions if you happen to be in Budapest on one of those occasions you should definitely experience a thermal bath party, something Budapest does better than any other city in Europe.

48 Hours in Budapest

Evening: Enjoy an ice cold drink in the Ice Bar

Ice bars have become common in the world’s great cities and Budapest is no exception. Dive into this freezing drinks temple and taste one of Hungary’s strongest delicacies, Palinka (to enjoy with moderation). Budapest’s nightlife scene is varied and the Ice Bar is one of the more international alternatives. Like many attractions in Budapest, the Ice Bar suffers a bit from the huge tourism influx but it is still a unique place to enjoy a drink in the Hungarian capital.

48 Hours in Budapest

I hope you enjoyed this guest post by Jack on 48 Hours in Budapest as I did. Have you been to Budapest?

Please check out Jack’s Blog, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest to keep up with his travels.

Driving, Europe, Italy, Travel

5 Day Road Trip from Rome to Florence

May 8, 2017
5 Day Road Trip from Rome to Florence
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

For the past two summers, I have rented a car in Italy. Not only do I feel a little more local when I do this, but it also allows me to see the smaller towns that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Don’t worry driving in Italy isn’t as scary as people make it sound and Italian road trip is one of the best road trips!

Renting a Car

Renting a car in Italy is easy. I would recommend using Auto Europe, click here to check rates. I used them the last time I rented a car in Italy for the month, and they offered the best rates.

Rome is my starting point for renting a car because I cannot drive a manual transmission and there are more automatic cars available in Rome. Also, the rental desks are open till midnight. If you want to spend time in Rome, then I recommend renting the car after your time in Rome as parking in Rome is difficult and expensive.

Day 1 – Rome to Amelia

Once you arrive at the Rome Fiumicino Airport and rent your car, get on the road to your first stop or stay the night to rest up. If you come late in the day or are jet lagged, I recommend spending the night at the Hilton Rome Airport, check rates here. It is a short walk to the terminal and will allow you not to have to rent the car right after getting off the plane.

The first stop is the Parco di Monstri in Bomarzo, about one hour and a half from the Rome airport. This historic park is full of scary and wacky sculptures. Built by Pier Francesco Orsini in memory of his wife, Giulia Farnese in the 16th century. Both from well known Italian families.  The park is only accessible by car, so it is a must do while on a road trip in Italy. Allow 1-2 hours to explore the whole park.

5 Day Road Trip from Rome to Florence

The next stop is Amelia, which is only about 45 minutes away from the park. Amelia is one of my favorite towns in Italy, and some say it is the oldest city in Umbria. The walls are ancient and in fantastic condition. There is an archaeology museum and many beautiful churches to explore. For dinner, I recommend La Locanda del Conte Nitto, which has beautiful food and views of the ancient streets of Amelia.

5 Day Road Trip from Rome to Florence

Day 2 – Amelia to Assisi

Spend the morning finishing exploring Amelia and then head to the town of Assisi. If Assisi sounds familiar, it is because it is where St. Francis of Assisi was born. At the end of the town is the famous Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. The Basilica is stunning with views outside of the surrounding valley and colorful frescos inside. I recommend going early to beat the crowds.

5 Day Road Trip from Rome to Florence

After that walk, through the town to the other side and head to the Rocca Maggiore. The Rocca Maggiore is the town’s ancient defense fort and overlooks the whole area. If you head to the top of the tower, you get an even better view.

5 Day Road Trip from Rome to Florence

Stay the night in Assisi. You will want to, after all that walking. There is a public car park near the Nun Assisi Relais & Spa Museum hotel, which is the hotel I recommend in Assisi, check the rates here. Not only are the rooms located in a historic nunnery, but the hotel has a spa located in the Roman baths below. You can get a massage till eight at night, which is just the cure for you aching feet. Not only that you can eat with great views at the in-house restaurant of Eat Out, where the menu is seasonal and local.

Day 3 – Assisi to Gubbio

After enjoying your breakfast in Assisi, take the short drive to Perugia. Perugia is the capital of Umbria. It is known for its celebration of the arts. The highlight here is seeing the underground fortress, Rocca Paolina. The fort was started in 1540, and most of it was destroyed by the 19th century. Now you can explore the cellars and basements that are still standing.

Find more history in the short drive to Gubbio. Gubbio is a town built into the side of a small mountain and makes for stunning views of the city and the valley below. Due to it being integrated into the side of the mountain, you can take elevators from different levels of the town. There are tons of things to see in this city, but the architecture of dark gray stone buildings is intriguing and makes you fee like you have stepped back in time.

5 Day Road Trip from Rome to Florence

Make sure you make it to the top level of the town to see the Cathedral of Gubbio. It has a stain glass window that is gorgeous. The views from up here are almost a must see. If you are really brave, you can take the funicular up to Basilica of Saint Ubaldo.

Day 4 – Gubbio to Siena

Spend a few hours in the morning exploring the things you didn’t get to see yesterday in Gubbio. Don’t forget to see the Palazzo dei Consoli built in the 14th century with running water. Then make a long drive to Siena. You are now in Tuscany! The entire historic center of Siena has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The highlight of this is the Siena Cathedral with its amazing gothic architecture.

5 Day Road Trip from Rome to FlorenceThen make a long drive to Siena. You are now in Tuscany! The entire historic center of Siena has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The highlight of this is the Siena Cathedral with its amazing gothic architecture.

If you go to Siena in the summer, try to be there around the historic Palio di Siena. It is a medieval horse race that takes place in the Piazza del Campo. Who doesn’t want to see men ride horses through an ancient town in costume!

Day 5 – Siena to Florence

Given the short drive from Siena to Florence, you can spend the morning in Siena before heading to my favorite city in Italy, Florence. You will begin to see the rolling hills of Tuscany on this route. Driving through Umbria has you driving through the mountains, but now you will drive between them.

In Florence, you will return your rental car as driving in the historic center of Florence is limited to residences and can carry hefty fines if you do. Parking is also expensive. You will most likely have to return the car at the Florence airport. You can then take a taxi or the “Vola in Bus” shuttle, which takes you to the Florence train station.

There is so much to see in Florence, so you will need a few days to see it all. But on this first day, I recommend finding a museum that interests you and only do that on the first day. This way you won’t wear yourself out and can enjoy Florence to the fullest. I recommend the Hotel Plaza Lucchesi in Florence. I have stayed here on every trip I have had in Florence, check rates here.

5 Day Road Trip from Rome to FlorenceBook tickets in advance and see the Uffizi Gallery on the second day. You will avoid the long lines to get in this way. The Uffizi Gallery has something for every art lover. Be sure to see Botticelli’s Birth of Venus while you are there.

Have you gone on an Italian road trip, what was your favorite place? Share with us in the comments.

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