Refuge: Elephant Sanctuaries Around the World

Refuge: Elephant Sanctuaries Around the World

The majority of the human race enjoys seeing magnificent animals, specifically elephants involved in careers including performing in the circus, being displayed in zoos, or traveling. But where do these creatures go when they progress in age or can no longer perform with the strength and endurance they once had? In many countries around the world, elephant sanctuaries and orphanages have been set up for performing elephants to retire. A sanctuary, by origin of the word, refers to a sacred or holy place. Now it is more commonly seen as a haven or place of safety. The organizations providing these sanctuaries create places for elephants and other animals to rest and, in some cases, to be rescued and healed. The goal of the elephant sanctuaries is to make sure elephants are in a comfortable state. Each elephant shelter around the world offers something unique and beautiful: from a shelter with rare Borneo Pygmy Elephants in Malaysia to a combined shelter for elephants and monkeys in South Africa. Due to the animal cruelty that is commonplace in several parts of the world, there are many people who have dedicated their lives to providing refuge and a better life to animals. However, online reviews have made arguments concerning the treatment of the elephants, such as involuntary elephant rides. In some cases, elephant rides are contradictory to the idea of sanctuary and volunteers should research and read reviews on the location. Insider’s Look Jenny Rollins, a student residing in the United States, was able to visit the Elephant Sanctuary in Hartbeespoort Dam, South Africa. She explains, “It was really cool to be...
Culinary Tours: A Taste of History

Culinary Tours: A Taste of History

There are two types of travelers—those who want to visit every historical sight and those who are just there for the food. It can be hard to satisfy both the history nerd and the foodie on a trip. But what if there was a way to combine eating delicious food and learning about history while on vacation? This is exactly what happens on a culinary tour. On culinary tours, travelers walk around a city with a guide who spouts obscure facts and stories about the city’s history. The best part? There are stops along the way where you can eat authentic food and experience the city in a more complete way. It’s even possible to schedule a tour during meal times. Gone are the days of wandering around unfamiliar sites with a rumbling stomach. Here are a few US culinary tours to consider next time you plan a vacation. —Hannah Nichols Sacramento, CA The capital of California has a lot to offer—both in food and history. On the Sutter District Tour, tourists stroll through one of Sacramento’s oldest neighborhoods—the Sutter District of Midtown. Along the way, you will pass historical landmarks and mission-style churches, and stop at local favorite restaurants. Samples include grilled pork spring rolls, banh mi chicken sandwiches, croque monsieur sandwiches, and chocolate crinkle cookies. localrootsfoodtours.com Kansas City, MO The KC Streetcar Food and Historical Walking Tour is a combination walking and streetcar tour in the heart of downtown Kansas City. There are six food stops on the tour, which include tastings of East-Coast style pizza, chocolate, macarons, and the city’s famed barbecue. This tour takes tourists through...
Qatar: Doha on a Dime

Qatar: Doha on a Dime

A jewel in the desert sands, the Qatar peninsula sits surrounded by crystalline Persian Gulf waters. In its early days, Qatar was sustained mainly by the pearling industry, with fluctuations of its wealth coming from the changing value of pearls. After a brief stint as a part of the British Empire, Qatar has been independent since 1971, and the country’s abundant oil supply gives its residents the highest per capita income in the world. Luckily, it’s possible to visit Qatar without spending a fortune. Winter is the perfect time to visit, too, as the temperatures are still balmy but not blistering—between 63 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Doha, the capital city of Qatar, boasts a thriving cultural scene, with a mix of traditional markets and name-brand shopping centers. First things first! Find a way to visit The Pearl, Doha’s cluster of man-made islands, named for Qatar’s historic pearling industry. All around are some of the world’s most expensive buildings, creating an environment that mixes a Western commercial economy with Middle Eastern flair. Take the chance to do some window-shopping at some of those name-brand stores, like Georg Jensen or Harmont and Blaine. After that’s done, take a breather by walking along the marina, which is traffic free. Best of all, the Pearl is family-friendly, boasting weekly Family Fridays events. After a visit to Doha’s waterfront, find yourself in the Souq Waqif—the standing market. Here tourists can enjoy an up-close-and-personal experience of Qatari culture, but don’t be fooled—although these buildings look over 100 years old, they were actually demolished and rebuilt in 2006 in an effort to preserve the old town. It...
The Shikoku Pilgrimage: A Traveler’s Guide

The Shikoku Pilgrimage: A Traveler’s Guide

A gentle brook bristles in the distance, and the soft plodding of travelers’ feet on damp moss fills the hush of the Japanese forest. Travelers dressed in white pack up their tents, and you join them as they shoulder their belongings and begin their journey. A dirt path winds along a crest overlooking miles of cascading rice fields. A bridge marked with mysterious symbols hangs over a dry riverbed with broken boulders like abandoned shrines. Finally, a stark red gate stands out among the overgrown green, signaling the entrance to an ancient temple. This is the Shikoku Pilgrimage. A Pilgrimage with Purpose The Shikoku Pilgrimage (or Shikoku Henro) is an invitation to live—at least for a short time—an ascetic lifestyle. The trail, which has no required beginning or end, leads travelers across the Japanese landscape as they visit 88 Buddhist temples to complete their pilgrimage. While the goal is to visit all of the temples, the true intention of the pilgrimage is to inspire spiritual reflection and meditation. The pilgrimage follows in the literal footsteps of Kōbō Daishi, a venerated pioneer of Buddhist teachings. At a young age he decided to forego his rightful position as emperor and return to Shikoku where he would travel as a sort of nomadic priest, traversing the mountains and spreading his teachings through his example and service. The temples of the Shikoku Pilgrimage were either built or consecrated by Kōbō Daishi himself and his work made Buddhism and its practices accessible for the common people. While the long trail around the island challenges travelers physically, the temples that string the trail together allow...
Verbier: The Air is Swankier up Here

Verbier: The Air is Swankier up Here

The world-class ski resort of Verbier lies in the southwest of Switzerland in the canton of Valais. When it comes to skiing in Switzerland, no resort is more idyllic than Verbier. Although not a familiar name to many Americans, Verbier certainly does not go unnoticed. Celebrity regulars include Jamie Oliver, Leonardo DiCaprio, Princess Mary and Prince Frederik of Denmark, and the ever-fashionable David and Victoria Beckham. Jeremy Rollason, Managing Director of Alpine Homes International, calls Verbier “the benchmark for Swiss ski resorts.” And he’s right. But perhaps he still isn’t giving Verbs (as it’s known) quite enough credit. In the skiing world, Verbier is considered one of the world’s premiere ski resorts, and it sets a standard for ski resorts around the world. So what makes Verbier so special? Verbier offers everything a visitor could want in a ski resort. It’s in Switzerland, so there are amazing views of the Alps. As you swoosh down the mountain, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the highest Alpine peak—Mont Blanc—as well as the most iconic—the Matterhorn. And the town itself has an abundance of Swiss chalets and plenty of charm. Terrain While Verbier is a great place from which to admire the Alps, skiing is the main focus. The ski and snowboard terrain in Verbier is incredible. If you want to satisfy the skiing needs of your beginner child, your daredevil teenager, and your ski-savvy self, Verbier is the place. Verbier’s own network of pistes is connected to a larger, four-valley system. The Four Valleys encompass six different ski resorts—Verbier, Bruson, La Tzoumaz, Nendaz, Veysonnaz, and Thyon—and the Four Valleys Pass gives...
Gluten Free On-the-Go

Gluten Free On-the-Go

Stepping up to a falafel cart in Jerusalem was thrilling, especially when I asked the owner to make the falafel how he likes it: with everything on it. I could identify only three of the ingredients he added to my falafel, but that is the charm of experiencing local cuisine. Unfortunately, the excitement of enjoying local cuisine while traveling turned to fear when I learned that I needed to eat gluten-free foods due to Celiac Disease. However, you can still enjoy traveling the globe and trying new foods while living gluten free. Here are some suggestions for gluten-free travelers to make vacationing more about experiencing than worrying. Do Your Homework Before leaving on vacation, take time to do some research. Look into the local cuisines of the places you will be visiting. What are the most popular dishes and their ingredients? If you are traveling where there is a language difference, what are some short phrases you can use to ensure you are selecting a safe option? Getting a head start can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and confused when ordering—especially if there is a language barrier or a vague menu. Have a Backup Plan Sometimes there aren’t safe, gluten-free options where you are—and that’s okay! Taking snacks and on-the-go meal options can be a great backup plan if local cuisine options aren’t gluten-free. This can make going out on all-day excursions less about worrying and more about soaking in adventures. Use Your Resources There are several websites and phone apps that can guide you to gluten-free restaurants and entrée options. Gluten-Free Restaurant Cards from CeliacTravel.com. This app allows...