Category: Blog

5 Things to Do in San Francisco

California is known for its numerous beautiful cities and one of them is San Francisco. It is located on the top of a peninsula surrounded by two big bodies of water – the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The city of San Francisco is also known for its year-round fog, hilly landscape and countless tourist attractions. The city is notable for its iconic Golden Gate Bridge and lines of colorful Victorian houses. The notorious Alcatraz Island that used to serve as a prison and housed some of the world’s deadliest criminals can also be found here. Here are 5 things to do in San Francisco:

1. Visit the Golden Gate Bridge

One of the most famous landmarks in San Francisco is the Golden Gate Bridge. It was first built in 1937. The world-renowned bridge is 1.7 miles long and links San Francisco to Sausalito. It is said that around 120,000 vehicles drive across the bridge daily. Pedestrians can cross the bridge on foot by walking on a pedestrian walkway. Bikers can also enjoy the view of the city on the Western side of the bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge’s orange arches have become the city’s enduring and iconic symbol for several decades now. The Golden Gate name can be attributed to the Golden Gate Strait, the body of water that connects the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Most tourists say that the bridge is perhaps one of the most awe-inspiring sceneries in the city, making it one of the most photographed landmarks in the whole world.

2. Ride a cable carRide a cable car

Since the late 19th Century, cable cars have been one of the common modes of transportation in the city of San Francisco. The cable cars run on tracks and are moved by huge underground cables on three different routes. Even from several blocks away, the bells of the cable cars can be heard.

Riding the city’s iconic cable cars can be a thrilling experience as they move past up and down the hills of the city. You will be able to see breathtaking neighborhoods along your route. The cable car experience is perhaps one of the things a tourist wants to do while in San Francisco. However, there are only a few places to go, and the wait can sometimes be too long. If you are persistent, the wait is not of an issue as the experience is totally worth it.

3. Visit the world famous Alcatraz

What was once a notorious place has become one of the most visited landmarks of the city. It is an island that houses a prison of the same name. The Alcatraz Prison used to house some of the world’s notorious criminals. The prison was closed in the year 1960, and the stories about the prison have become some of the world’s legendary tales.

A visit to the Alcatraz can be a very exhilarating experience to any tourist. The mysticism behind the place’s beauty was further pumped up due to the several movies that depicted the lives of criminals who were once incarcerated inside Alcatraz.

4. Visit the old Chinatown

Dragon’s Gate is what they call the entrance of San Francisco’s world-renown Chinatown. The entrance is located at Grant Avenue and Bush Street. Inside Chinatown are 24 blocks of hustle and bustle, most of which take place in the oldest street in the city, Grant Avenue. The Chinatown is perhaps the best place in San Francisco to travel on foot as it is full of food markets, exotic shops, restaurants and museums. Visitors can enjoy shopping and dining. You can buy some acient potions and artifacts from some stores located in the area or you can also taste some of the fine dim sum and witness how fortune cookies are made from some food stalls in the area.

5. Dine at world-class restaurants

It is said that any travel experience is not complete without tasting the place’s local food and delicacies. San Francisco is considered one of America’s best restaurant cities as it houses some of the world’s most popular restaurants. San Francisco culinary chefs are known for their excellence and ingenuity when it comes to cooking. They combine fresh local ingredients while also incorporating international flavors. You can choose any cuisine of your liking- from Chinese, Italian, Spanish, French, Japanese, Indian, Mexican or even “fusion,” a combination of two or three different cuisines.
These are just 5 things to do in San Francisco. However, there are so much more to do in the city aside from the five mentioned. You may need to come up with a solid itinerary when visiting the city as you may get lost due to the many exciting things that this city has to offer.

Secured Vacation in the Rainbow Nation

Visiting and staying in South Africa, like any other country in the world, requires, on the part of the traveler, background research in advance and following the necessary safety precautions to ensure a worthwhile experience that is both enjoyable and safe.

staying in South Africa

And while this country is usually feared for its increasingly high crime rates, familiarizing oneself with the place and strictly taking note of these safety tips can definitely keep travelers who intend to stay in South Africa safe:

A. Before setting foot safety tips

– Familiarize yourself with the place. Make sure to research and plan your route well in advance. Be updated with the latest news and happenings in the country and make sure to always carry with you a detailed, up-to-date map of particular places you wish to see. Save contact numbers of important agencies and government offices in advance.
– Pack bags and luggage carefully and make several copies of your valuable documents such as passport, other valid IDs and debit or credit cards.
– Bring your own set of medical kit in case of an emergency where you won’t have the luxury of time to buy from drugstores.

B. Arrival and Hotel safety tips

– Keep in mind that tourists are common targets of crime and the airport is exactly where fugitives will start with.
– Be very cautious when walking around and outside of the airport and do not accept transportation offers from unauthorized people. Make sure you get an official taxi that work for the airport.
– When you arrive at your designated hotel, ask hotel staff the safest routes to travel when going out and back the hotel and take note of the local dangers around the area.
– Always keep your door locked and only entertain authorized hotel staff. Leave your valuables in the safety deposit box, and again, make sure to bring copies of your passport all the time.

C. Traveling with private vehicle

– When driving, keep the doors locked every time and do not drive with the windows open. Keep your tank full as much as possible because gas stations are rare in some places. Visibility of valuables inside the vehicle also increases the risk of robbery and car napping so make sure that it is either kept inside the trunk or well-hidden under the car seat. Always bring your driver’s license with you.
– Remember to park in well-lit areas and streets that have car guards roaming around to check on your vehicle once in a while. Trust only those people with an official ‘bib’ that authorizes them to work as car guards and be cautious of con artists. Be sure to give them a tip.
– Do not stop at strangers asking for help especially in open roads and be mindful of possible “roadblocks” that criminal gangs set up to lure motorists. Just drive past through them and report them to the authorities. Be aware of carjacking hotspots in areas you are visiting and stay alert while driving through or in those areas. Take into consideration aggressive driving of some of the locals. Make sure you have the police emergency hotline: 10111 and other related emergency hotlines.

D. Traveling via commute/walking

– Refrain from wearing flashy and expensive clothes and accessories and limit the amount of cash you carry with you. Try to distribute your cash in different pockets whether in your pants, shorts, or inside the bag and wallet.
– Do not make it look too obvious that you are a tourist and refrain from checking your map in public. Do it discreetly and only when necessary.
– Avoid going into central business areas at night or anywhere isolated and secluded where most crimes are known to occur. Avoid doing this even if you are in a group.
– Bus and taxi rides are predominantly safe but be sure to watch over your possessions all the time. Always take taxis at night, especially when traveling alone.
– If you plan to visit towns, make sure that you are in a group and are escorted by a guide. If you get to visit Safari, be very mindful of the guide’s instructions as you are entering a territory that is full of wild animals.

Follow and keep in mind these safety reminders to make your travel and stay in South Africa not only meaningful and satisfactory but safe and secure. Do not let your fear refrain you from visiting and discovering the cultural beauty that South Africa has to offer. It is as safe as you make it.

Your Thrifty Guide around Napa Valley

Napa Valley, a vast, lush green, picturesque travel destination in the California region housing premiere and world-class wines are being flocked not only by wine lovers all over the world, but also of tourists from all walks of life. This is due to the place’s highly recommended restaurants offering delectable foods, hotels of immensely great accommodation, a variety of activities to experience, and the personal touch of nature, which is a breath of fresh air from the usual urban destinations.

Labeled as California’s Wine County, the acres of wine yards, bordered in between two magnificent mountain ranges, are surprisingly not the state’s largest wine-generating region. Napa Valley is known as such not so much because of quantity but more on the exceptional quality of their wine. With all these information, a tourist is naturally expected to cash out a lot of money for this trip to happen, but knowing these practical tips will make you enjoy the trip without the need to splurge too much.

Let’s start, of course, with the pride of Napa Valley – Wines.

Wine Tasting
1. Wine tasting done at wineries around the area is usually for $15 to $20 per winery.
2. For cheaper tastings, you may avail of a Napa Downtown Card for $30 to get the chance to taste different wines from 12 different tasting rooms instead of wineries. All these at your own pace – no need to hurry through all of them in just a day. Five rooms a day is ideal. The card can be purchased at the Napa Valley Visitor Center where you can also ask for current, additional discounts, promos, and specials, or you may just call: 707 257 0322 in advance.
3. For those interested in the process of wine making, they may avail free educational tours offered by particular wineries such as Frog’s Leap and Robert Mondavi Winery with a $20-$25 tasting fee.

Accommodation & LodgingNapa Valley
1. If you’re a solo traveler, one way to save money for lodging is to seek help from Couchsurfing.com, a website that basically connects the locals with the travelers who are in need of a place to stay and don’t mind becoming an honorary member of another family for a while. On the bright side, you get the chance to witness what it is like to live there as a local, personally experiencing their rich culture, and even bag handy, insider tips to keep in mind when roaming around Napa Valley if you have a tight budget.

Bear in mind though that reservations must be made in advance since they always receive a lot of requests and there are only limited hosts to cater the tourists.

2. You may also check out Airbnb.com which is another search engine specifically made for tourists looking for places to stay based on their location, within the range of their budget (starting from as low as $10), and the type of room (whether you plan to rent the entire place, a private, or shared room) they wish to avail.

3. There are also a number of motels and inns that have prices that range from as low as $79 to not more than $200 such as the El Bonita Motel, Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa, Calistoga Inn Restaurant & Brewery, and the Jack London Lodge.

Filling in your Hungry Stomach
1. If you’re really aiming for budget-friendly food purchases, stick with sandwich shops or markets like the Oxbow Public Market for quick meals where you can also buy products that you can bring home with you for your family and friends. For fresh breads, you may check out Model Bakery located just behind the Oxbow market. Food trucks like AdHoc and burger stand like Gott & Roadside also offer fried chicken meals and burgers for cheaper prices.

2. And what better way to save money on food than to bring your own and cook it where you’ll be staying.
Transportation
1. The cheapest mode of transportation around Napa Valley is with the use of the bike. Bike rentals cost around $45/day, and you can rent them in Calistoga Bikeshop and Napa Valley Bike Tour.

2. Other than bikes, you may also rely on Uber as it is known to operate around the world and charges $14 per 15 minutes of a 5-mile drive.

3. If you have your own car, it would be better to designate someone to do the driving for you. If not, you can settle for hired car services that cost from $35/hr. to as much as $115/hr.

Should You Buy Travel Insurance?

You have decided to go overseas for the next family vacation. The dates have been settled; the itinerary is set and the kids are all excited. As you canvass for the cheapest airfare options available, the question arises: should you buy travel insurance?

travel_insurance

Travel insurance packages may be purchased from these vehicles: the chosen airline or cruise service itself, a third-party travel insurance agency, or your credit card provider. Buying the insurance from the same airline or carrier will prove less of a hassle as you can directly transact with them in case an emergency occurs under their watch. Travel agencies may offer more comprehensive packages with a wider network of participating countries as well. Credit card companies may provide flexible payment options for their valued traveler clients. Regardless of what platform you prefer, it is the insurance coverage that should help you decide.

Trip Cancellation or Interruption Insurance

Most plane or cruise ship tickets are non-refundable so many travelers experience the misery of cancelling a paid flight and thereby wasting cash, or being charged with additional fees when rescheduling a missed trip in spite of a justifiable cause. The cancellation clause allows one to reimburse all related payments in case a trip was aborted due to reasonable claims such as critical illness, bad weather, prior accident and others as may be listed in the policy.

The interruption policy meanwhile protects the client if unable to continue with an ongoing trip, allowing the client to reimburse the fraction of the cost of service not rendered. This will prove worthwhile when travelling with senior citizens or sickly relatives. Many organized tours already include this provision in the tour package but it is still wise to closely examine the coverage.
Medical and Evacuation Insurance

While it seems unfitting to talk about accidents in the middle of a vacation, it is still worth caring to subscribe to an evacuation insurance policy during your trip. This insurance type covers the cost of receiving medical attention in case of an accident or health problem that would have occurred to you from far-off locations. It is different from the usual healthcare plan as it also covers the cost of rescue, repatriation or (heaven forbid) transportation of remains. Other medical plans do not shoulder such expenses; hence, it will save you up to 50,000 USD should you get travel insurance with this inclusion.

Lugagge Theft, Damage or Loss Insurance

Most airfare tickets automatically include a baggage protection clause that will allow you to reimburse lost or stolen items from your luggage under their watch. You may still want to look closely at the airline’s regulations as there may be certain limits and item restrictions. Some travel companies provide a separate or upgraded luggage insurance policy that can cover expensive items such as laptops, cameras, or jewelry throughout the duration of the tour. This will prove handy for travelers who use digital devices at sea or high altitudes.

All these inclusions may seem to hijack you further, but they also provide value in unspoken ways. So, should you buy travel insurance? Are you confident that no harm will go your way and that you can handle all finances by yourself? The answer deeply hinges on your resolve. Make sure to do your research as you organize your trip. A well-planned excursion is a well-spent vacation.

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