It’s More Masaya in the Philippines

They say that everything is more fun—masaya—in the Philippines. Known for having some of the friendliest and most hospitable people in the world, along with white sand beaches, waterfalls, and majestic bright green mountains, the Philippines should be on everyone’s travel list. Even getting around can be fun. Instead of taxis, you’ll find jeepneys (WWII jeeps converted into bus-like transportation) and tricycles (motorcycles with sidecars for passengers). While you’re in the ’Pines, try fresh, sweet mangoes; sour soup called sinigang; and if you’re feeling brave, balut: boiled fertilized duck egg. If you’re looking for adventure and a whole lot of fun, the Philippines is the place to be. Here are four travel destinations to plan your vacation around: Honda Bay, Palawan The island of Palawan beat out Bali and Maui to be named the best island in the world by Travel + Leisure magazine and Condé Nast Traveler readers. Getting to Palawan is easy—a short flight from Manila lands you in the capital city of Puerto Princesa. Don’t leave Palawan without visiting Honda Bay, about 30 minutes outside of the city. To get there, you can take a tricycle for a day trip and then come back to Puerto Princesa at night. Honda Bay is just a short boat ride to several other islands, where you can snorkel in a coral reef, cliff jump, or kayak. You may even end up the only one on an island and get to spend the day exploring the white sand beaches and turquoise ocean. Puerto Princesa While on Palawan, you really shouldn’t skip the region of Puerto Princesa. Its name means “princess...
Ode to a Grecian Yearn

Ode to a Grecian Yearn

While living in the American Rockies for a few years as a visiting professor, Loula missed Greece. It wasn’t just that no one in her new town shared her Orthodox upbringing or that the only version of her native language taught at the local university wasn’t even modern Greek. She missed her native land’s cuisine, its rich age, its sun-kissed hills and whitewashed seaside adobe homes. But now that Loula is back and comfortable in her Grecian home, she’s ready to advise about how to spend a few weeks in the land she loves. If you begin your trip in Athens—which you ought to do—prepare to get around. Flights within Greece and to other parts of Europe are relatively inexpensive, but don’t default to them. Check out ferry schedules if you plan to jump from island to island. You could rent a car, but the slender streets and endless views may lend themselves better to motorized scooter travel. Once you’re settled in at one of the many bed and breakfasts within the city or resort hotels just without, Loula would recommend going to the theater. Look no farther than the narrow street of Broadway to confirm that theatrical culture thrives in the United States, but its prevalence in quotidian life pales in comparison to that on the stages of Greece. Theatre was born in Athens centuries ago. Visit the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens, where up to 17,000 people watched festivals to the pagan god over two millennia ago. When you’ve had your fill of the relics of ancient theatre, relax in the 1800s-vintage National Theatre of Greece, where...
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...
Winter Wonder Down Under

Winter Wonder Down Under

Perth is a crossroads, a meeting place for both true blue descendants of convicts and new immigrants starting again. Perth, Australia—a coastal city sitting relaxed and cross-legged in the southwest corner of the country—surprises you with its urban vibrancy and old world charisma. In the movies, Australia is a paradise of eternal summer. But the truth is that the country offers a depth and richness that must be experienced to be understood. The eternal summer ends for a few dreary months in the middle of each year, but Perth, like a seasoned storyteller, slows down not for loss of things to say, but for dramatic effect. Experience Energetic Urban Perth Greater Perth boasts a population of two million, but the city proper doesn’t seem crowded; there are enough people to bring energy but not so many that you feel you can’t walk at your own pace. Shielded with a light jacket from the delicate night chill, visitors may pass several trendy cafes, chic boutiques, a Baskin Robbins, and perhaps a live band playing ritzy jazz music. For an intimate look at the city, visitors can take a chocolate walking tour. The three-hour tour travels quiet lanes to Perth’s finest chocolatiers, and while munching on chocolate, visitors learn about the history of the city and the art of chocolate making. To contrast this intimate look at the city, visitors can climb the 271-foot-high Swan Bell Tower for a view from above. The tower was built to commemorate the new millennium and houses twelve 600-year-old bells that once rang in St Martin-in-the-Fields, a church that still stands in London. The tower...
Camping in the Caribbean

Camping in the Caribbean

When most people dream about a vacation in the Caribbean, they imagine cruising from port to port in an elegant ship with nonstop buffets, or sitting in a lounge chair on a well-manicured beach being served a cold drink at an all-inclusive resort. There is, however, another alternative that is economical, environmentally friendly, and definitely more adventurous. Campers and beach lovers can spice up their time at Cinnamon Bay in the US Virgin Islands by camping overnight just a minute away from the waves and sand. Getting to St. John (one of the Virgin Islands) may be complicated. Though it requires a flight to its sister island St. Thomas, a taxi to the ferry dock, and a twenty-minute ride on the ferry, it is well worth the trouble getting there. After disembarking at Cruz Bay on St. John, you can rent a jeep or take a taxi for the short ride to the campground at Cinnamon Bay. Although some prefer to stay in the small cottages at the campground, you can either rent a tent or bring your own. Either way, you’ll find that camping here allows you to leave behind the hustle and bustle of normal hotels and slow down to take in the beauty of the island. After setting up camp, you’re ready to experience all that St. John has to offer. A short walk through the coconut groves leads to Cinnamon Bay, one of the longest beaches on the island. Despite its proximity to the campground, the beach rarely seems crowded. While you can relax on the golden sand or swim in the fabulously clear water,...
Journey to the Red Centre: National Parks in the Outback

Journey to the Red Centre: National Parks in the Outback

The moment visitors step into the Outback, they know. The Outback has been described as a feeling, rather than a specific geographic area. Whether through its beautiful outdoors or fascinating history, the Outback brings out the spirit of adventure in even those who least expect it.  The Outback, consisting mostly of the central, arid areas of Australia, is well known for its Aborigines, rare animal populations, stunning natural splendor, and great stargazing. To showcase this beauty, the Australian government has created multiple national parks for visitors to enjoy. Three of the most notable national parks are Kakadu, Litchfield, and Uluru, all found within what is called the “Red Centre.” As the name suggests, this highlighted area of the Northern territory gets its name from its dry climate and distinctive red soil. Home to one of the oldest cultures, the Red Centre offers visitors mystery, enjoyment, and Australia at its finest. Kakadu National Park In Kakadu National Park, the northernmost national park, visitors can enjoy boat tours and safaris. Kakadu National Park is one of the few parks in the world to receive both World Heritage Area and UNESCO site listings. Within this park, over 2,000 plant species and rare to almost extinct animal species live in a range of geographic and climatic habitats from rainforests to floodplains. Kakadu offers some of the best locations for fishing or bird watching at Two Mile Hole, Four Mile Hole or the West Alligator Head. With 300 fish species and more than 290 bird species represented in the park, visitors are sure to find something worth seeing. Tourists can also enjoy a nice hike or...