Juno Kim is the voice of South Korea’s best travel blog Runaway Juno. Juno is a prolific travel blogger, social media strategist, an award-winning visual storyteller. Originally hailing from Seoul, South Korea, Juno set off for the wider world to pursue her passion for international travel and storytelling.
These days it’s hard to take more than a couple of days off work because we only create more work for ourselves! With a day or two away from emails they pile up, but it’s important to take time to disconnect, so if you must check your emails while away, limit this only to emails from certain people that didn’t know you’d be away, and for a time limit. 15 minutes should be enough to browse, forward on requests and respond briefly to star-clients with your morning coffee.
Make sure that you start your vacation with a massage to work out all the tension knots built up from the months of hard work, and to help you sleep well on a bed you’re not used to. Not that this should be hard if you choose a resort like Beloved Hotels, a resort only for adults, meaning you also won’t be woken up in the night by little feet stamping down the corridors. Beloved is based in Playa Mujeres, which is basically the ultimate Mexican Caribbean luxury destination, because there’s so much to do to keep you from thinking about work.
If you want to snorkel or deep-dive to a protected coral reef, you can start off from a cruising yacht, or simply stay on-board the whole time and enjoy a tour along uninterrupted views of turquoise water. Fishermen and women marvel at the amount of private expeditions available in Playa Mujeres and you can either fish for the evening’s dinner or for sport.
This area of Quintana Roo is also sprinkled with Maya ruins, so you can get completely absorbed in the beauty of structures that formed the country that still stands today, before popping over to Valladolid or to Merida to see the beautiful architecture that was established during the colonial period.
Exploring is more exciting than relaxing however: a good book by the pool is probably just the ticket for at least a couple of days while you’re away. If you struggle to stay still or to keep your mind off work, try an early-morning Yoga class on the beach, there are even expat groups to join so you don’t just have to follow instructions by eye!
The best thing to do while staying at a luxury resort is to plan things you think would be relaxing, to help you switch off, and then flow from one to another seeing how many you can enjoy without rushing your time. Choose an isolated hotel if possible so your nights are quiet and none of those that use vacations to party will bother you in the early hours. In an ideal world you’d also turn off your phone but that’s nigh-on impossible in today’s world! If nothing else, refrain from packing the laptop. Bringing a computer with you will tempt you to use it so it’s better to just leave it on your desk at the office.
Do your best to enjoy that holiday you worked so hard to afford, and disconnect to return truly refreshed and rested.
The truth is that Venice can keep you busy for a couple of weeks, so you need to prioritize your time while you’re there. However, is it possible to take in the best of this Adriatic city in just twenty-four hours, without getting exhausted or suffering from major whiplash? Yes, it is possible, but there are a few rules that you need to follow.
For a start, you will have to be selective in what you want to see and experience; do not attempt to try covering everything, since you will be disappointed in a big way. Second, you need to start early and head to the prime sites before tourist crowds descend and make your life unbearable.
Third, walking everywhere will tire you out fast, find a means of transportation. From the moment you leave the Venice airport, water taxi will transport you to Venice City center. From there a vaporetto or a gondola can take you around the city, leaving you relaxed and focused on the amazing scenery.
Venice is one of the world’s most famous destinations awaiting for you to explore. With about 118 islands and 150 canals, there is plenty of ground, and water, to cover. However, a 24-hour tour will help you see some of the best offerings of the city, without overwhelming your senses; expect a lot of coffee!
Are you ready to try the impossible? Here is a simple guide to taking in Venice in just a day.
St. Mark’s Square
Also known as the Piazza San Marco, it is right in the heart of Venice and is home to many government offices and facilities important to the city. However, you will need to get to the park early enough to avoid crowds that converge there by around mid-morning. The square features a 900-year-old St. Mark’s Basilica (Basilica of San Marco) with five beautifully designed domes that prominently feature Byzantine and Romanesque architecture.
The square is a wonderful place to visit with hundreds of pigeons entertaining you as you sip your cup of coffee. Next, explore the magnificent Palazzo Ducale, “the wedding cake,” building with ornate arcades and façade covered by Istrian limestone and Verona marble.
Explore the Waterfront
As you walk along the waterfront that is past the San Zaccaria at Riva Degli Schiavoni, you will eventually get to the bridge that leads to Arsenale. You will not be allowed to get into the military complex, but a short walk past will see you come upon the triumphal arch, Porta Magna, which is flanked by marble lions. While here, take a breather and another cup of coffee at the café in the square.
Next, take a gondola or traghetto and head into the North East district of Cannaregio. Take a walk through the alleys, across the bridges and take in the tranquility and peace of the area, which is mostly not crowded by tourist crowds.
Get Back to the Grand Canal
Once you are ready to head back, you can take the Ponte de Guglie Bridge and go towards Ferrovia, which is Santa Lucia’s main railway station. Since you have been on the move for the most of the day, consider relaxing your feet by taking a water taxi ride to San Marco through the Grand Canal. This 20-minute journey will see you cover 4 kilometers of some of the most amazing sights in Venice.
As you get to the end, you will find the San Marco dominating over the Santa Maria Della Salute Church. As you head back to Piazza San Marco, take your time and listen to orchestras in the Caffe Quadri and Caffe Florian. After all, after such a heartwarming journey through Venice in a day, you deserve a break filled with music and the third cup of delicious coffee.
Last week, we drove outside of Anchorage downtown to catch the northern lights. It was supposed to be Kp 4 that night. The Kp number is a system of measuring aurora strength. It goes from 0 to 9 (0 being very weak, 9 being a major geomagnetic storm with strong auroras visible). So when your looking at the aurora forecast page, you want to see high Kp numbers. The higher the better.
We drove little bit further north, heading into the mountain area. The light wasn’t too strong but it was forming a shape like a rainbow above the river and mountain ranges. We kind of stumbled upon this area but the scenery here was just stunning. Having the moon on the other side of the sky also helped. Anchorage doesn’t see as much northern lights as northern Alaska like Fairbanks, but because of all the diverse foreground, you can create more interesting northern lights photos in Anchorage like this.
With cities such as Paris and Madrid, Europe is easily one of the top travel regions in the world to visit. The continent enjoys huge amounts of revenue from vacationers all year round, and has a multitude of “must-see” destinations for anyone’s bucket list.
Spain is an especially good place to visit as the summer comes to a close and fall starts to take over. In addition to various cities gearing up for the holiday spectacle, there are sights that command year-round intrigue. Take a taxi from Madrid Airport to city centre and fill up your camera with memorable sights along the way, and then add Barcelona to your itinerary to round your trip out. Spain’s the first stop, but there are plenty more stops to choose from.
1. Madrid, Spain
Although Madrid is an excellent destination spot at nearly any time during the year, it’s the refreshingly sunny summers that bring out the best the city has to offer. There’s a reason it’s Spain’s largest city, after all, with the Puerta del Sol plaza a huge attraction; it hosts festivals and other get-togethers that seemingly bring the entire city out.
While you’re there, be sure to check out the incomparable architecture of the Plaza de Cibeles, where you’ll see a magnificent lion-drawn carriage sculpted from stone – it’s the Roman goddess Cybele and her pet lions, and is nearly three centuries old.
2. Venice, Italy
Touted as one of the top honeymoon destinations in the world, Venice, Italy is the what romantic legends are made of. For lovers of architecture, there’s Saint Mark’s Basilica and the sprawling expanse of Doge’s Palace, as well as the Gallerie dell’Accademia and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
Rent a boat/ferry and float down the Grand Canal, surrounded by floating homes and buildings. If it’s a vacation with your significant other, then renting a gondolier is advisable. There are many, many things to do in Venice.
3. Paris, France
What’s a list of European vacation destinations without Paris? This city is synonymous with romance and elegance; and not merely because of the Eiffel Tower. Unofficially dubbed the City of Light, this exuberantly-lit city boasts unmatched cuisine and lovely architecture from centuries ago. As the birthplace of Neoclassicism and Renaissance, Paris has somehow managed to modernize while still keeping its old-country ambiance of cascading foliage and cobblestoned walkways.
Quite possibly the birthplace of Western Civilization, Athens certainly has its roots embedded deep into Western culture. There are few experiences that match sightseeing here – particularly, watching the sun rise over the Acropolis, while the faint smell of smoked lamb wafts along the cobblestone streets. In Athens, night and day are in sharp contrast, as old-time city meets the hustle and bustle of modern nightlife once the sun sets.
Spend the daylight hours visiting the Parthenon and Plaka, then enjoy the nightclubs and restaurants after sunset. Athenians tend to eat very late, so you’ll have plenty of dining options well into the evening hours.
5. Stockholm, Sweden
You may have heard of the Woodland Cemetery, but words alone cannot do it justice. Much like other European attractions, the living and business quarters are marked by cobblestone walkways, with charming bridges over Stockholm’s canals. Stay at a relatively inexpensive bed and breakfast hotel without sacrificing comfort or amenities.
You will not want for museums and artistic endeavors while in Stockholm, and if you manage the trip around the winter holidays, you’ll be treated to some of the most magnificent sights on many of the interlocking islands.
Are you planning to visit New York City for a short time, or plan to move there? The Big Apple is a city filled with excitement, wonder, and opportunity and can sometimes seem big and overwhelming. While it is big, it should not be overwhelming, that is if you know all the do’s and don’ts of New York City life.
This sounds obvious, but it is easy to be flattened by a cyclist going the wrong way on a one-way street. As you cross NYC streets, be acutely aware of the many bike couriers or messengers. Also, if you are traveling to the city in winter, do not step into a deep puddle obscured by sludge by the side of the road. It could ruin your sightseeing day.
Be Polite When Asking for Directions
Never be hesitant when asking for directions. Just about all New Yorkers are helpful and friendly if you ask for help politely. However, if you see someone with headphones on, they do not want to be talked to. In a world of noise and small talk, it is refreshing to let your guard down and not have to worry about someone insisting on talking to you. Of course, there are headphone wearers who are listening to music, but there are the silent headphones users as well. Do not disturb their moment of peace – instead, ask for help from someone not wearing ear or headphones.
Do Not Wear Flip-Flops
Flip-flops have their time and place; most probably on the beach in the middle of summer. In New York City, the last thing you want to be wearing is flip-flops. For starters, you are likely going to be doing lots of walking, and this shoe-wear will not be good for your feet. Instead, find a comfortable pair of walking shoes, especially if you plan to walk everywhere. Second, flip-flops are the most unfashionable things you can be seen wearing in the city! Let’s not forget, New York City is know as one of the fashion capitals and you do not want to be making such a fashion faux pas.
Even as a Tourist, You Will Queue
One of the first things New Yorkers learn from childhood is queuing and waiting patiently for their turn. Many tourists make the mistake of cutting queues without even realizing there is one. You will often observe that everyone in a queue is either busy on their phone or be chatting away. However, do not think that they are not aware of who is next and is not.
Keep to the Right
New Yorkers do not drive. The main form of transportation is walking, and there are rules to that too. Just like vehicles, always keep to your right. Unless you are on an NYC/Manhattan tours bus, you cannot suddenly stop in the middle of a sidewalk. You will likely take up space and hold up traffic. Instead, if you want to pause and rest for a moment, move to the side.
Watch Out for that Empty Subway Car
There is a reason why a whole subway car is empty. In many cases, the homeless make subway wagons place to catch up on sleep, and this can lead to some uncomfortable experiences. If you see an empty subway car, quickly scan it to find out why before you settle in.
By following these tips not only will you have an excellent kick start to your NYC tour but you will likely be mistaken for a real New Yorker by other tourists who didn’t take the time to prepare themselves before taking the trip.
As we already discussed on my last post, Americans are traveling more than ever, according to the research by the eighth annual Allianz Travel Insurance Vacation Confidence Index by Allianz Global Assistance. Asian women are the fastest growing travel demographic in the world. Travel is becoming an essential part of life not only for Americans but also people around the world. The type of travel is also getting more diverse, branching out from just sightseeing to more adventure-focused activities. Travel also brings positive impact when it’s a catalyst for giving and helping rather than just receiving. Giving and helping makes us feel good about ourselves. And so now we are starting to see a boom in experiential travel that helps satisfy philanthropic urges and our sense of do-goodness with sustainable, eco-friendly travel products.
Traveling in Kyrgyzstan is perfect for those of us who love hiking and camping in the wilderness. As a mountainous country, there’s no shortage of hiking trails in Kyrgyzstan. As long as you are well prepared with camping gear and food, you can disappear into the mountains as long as you want. This small landlocked country is also full of lakes, more than 2,000 in fact, which makes the scenery more dramatic.
My first impression in Mongolia’s wild was that there was no end to this land. It’s almost true considering it’s the 18th largest country in the world. Mostly flat steppe makes it perfect for off-roading. In Mongolia, 4WD or motorcycle travel is very popular, attracting overland travel enthusiasts from around the world. If you want to experience what Mongolians did in the olden days, you can also cross the country on a horseback.
Recently I was asked what was the best wildlife destinations by a magazine. My answer was: Alaska. As the biggest and most wild state in the United States, Alaska offers great wildlife viewing opportunities. Even Anchorage, the most populous city in the state, is home to 1,500 moose! It’s not strange to see moose eating shrubs in parks. Anchorage is also the best spot to start a visit to Alaska’s iconic bear viewing sites. The creeks are full of salmon each summer, whales swim by, and there are more than 500 species of birds living in Alaska. Need I say more?
As a small country, Taiwan is a great place to cycle all around. Taiwan is becoming more popular for as a cycle touring destination because of their numerous bike lanes, rest stops, high-quality bike makers, and additional cycling infrastructure. Locals and foreigners like to get outside and cycle around this island, whether it be for just a short day trip, a week of riding, or for a month-long bicycle tour around the entire island. Taiwan also has great culinary culture, which makes it even more attractive to travel and eat.
Adventure all-around: Mexico
To be honest, Mexico wasn’t high on my list of places to travel. I knew only little bit about it. But after my first trip, I quickly found out that Mexico was a great adventure destination for many reasons. Mexico is big. In fact, it’s the 13th biggest country in the world. Thanks to the size, Mexico also has diverse climates and is the fourth in the world in biodiversity. There are deserts, Mayan ruins, canyons, rainforests, coastal cities, colonial towns, rivers, and of course, beaches. Each state has a distinct character. Come for horse riding through canyons in Guanajuato, waterfall jumping in San Luis Potosi, surfing in Oaxaca, Mayan ruins in Chiapas, and more.
Adventure travelers: you want to be prepared
You want to be prepared, instead of scared, when you travel, as our friend, Tim Leffel, said. Especially for adventure travelers, travel insurance is not something to take lightly. I had a few incidents (I hope not too many in the future as well) during my travels that I needed to use my travel insurance. I have a chronically bad back. When I was in Alaska in winter a few years ago, I hurt my back while I was getting ready in hurry. Stupidly, I tried to wear my ski pants with my winter boots on. I had to go for a physical therapy to soothe the pain. Another time, I fell from a horse and got a hairline fracture on my ankle. Not just physically, but I also rain came through my laptop during a storm that I had to ask my travel insurance to help. Travel insurance isn’t just for physical injury, it’s for canceled trips, stolen items, and of course health reasons.
#The Vacation Confidence Index has been conducted each summer since 2010 by national polling firm Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of Allianz Global Assistance USA. A vacation is defined as a leisure trip of at least a week to a place that is 100 miles or more from home.
#This post is sponsored by Allianz Global Assistance (AGA Service Company) and I have received financial compensation.
I nervously approached a customs officer at Honolulu International Airport. The arrival area in US airports has always made me very nervous and this was not an exception. I handed my yellow envelope that said “DO NOT OPEN” to the officer and waited. With all the talk about immigration reform, travel bans, and several other awful comments about refugees and immigrants from the White House itself, this process has been mentally hard to go through. The government doesn’t want me here, and what am I doing here?
But whatever was going on in Washington D.C., my final step to becoming an immigrant was painless. It was very much about the paperwork. I gave him my new address in Anchorage and phone number, and he explained that the stamp and my visa will work as a legal form of identification until the actual green card arrives in the mail. “Congratulations,” he said. I officially became an immigrant.
Is that it? I thought. After all the months of paperwork and more paperwork, this final step was very quick and easy. I mean, I don’t think they had anything left to ask me.
This is the first time I have a legal permit to live and work indefinitely in a foreign country. And in the US, no less! I entered the state of Hawaii as a legal resident of America. I don’t have to count my 90 days, I can make a legit bank account, and I can legally work and get a job if I want. It’s a strange feeling.
I’m not a visitor anymore
A while ago, one of my friends posed an interesting question: Why are westerners ‘expats’ and other races of people are ‘immigrants’? Who are expats, who are immigrants, and why the words have different connotation? By the dictionary definition, expatriate means someone who is living outside of their native country. An immigrant is someone who is ‘permanently’ living in a foreign country. But the world doesn’t work that way these days, am I right? Who knows what’s permanent when we have the whole world to explore and I have half of my family living in another country? So, am I an expat or immigrant?
One flight later, we landed in the city where we would call home for a semi-permanent (I guess this would be the most appropriate term for now) period, Anchorage, Alaska. It’s the day my dream came true. All the animals in the exhibit at the airport– moose, musk ox, and the world’s biggest halibut greeted us– “Welcome home!”. I’ve been infatuated with this place for so long, everything around me feels so familiar. You know, when you care deeply about something, you remember every detail about the subject? That feeling. This airport, I dare say the best airport in the US, was a great place to start our new journey. We got a taxi and the friendly driver took us to our new home in downtown Anchorage.
One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been; Eklutna Lake
We entered our new home, a nicely furnished apartment. Thanks to all my friends in Anchorage, it wasn’t painful getting a place to live. Our room at the apartment was all ready with a bed, desk, couch, and even TV. Strange, I moved to a new place but it didn’t feel ‘new’ but familiar like I’m back to where I belong. I guess that’s the best kind.
Just like that, I became an immigrant. A Korean living in Anchorage, Alaska. My fascination with the Arctic region, cold weather, and the beauty of Alaska led us here. Many people often asked me “Why Alaska?” when we could live literally anywhere we wanted. That’s because I think Alaska is the most beautiful place in the world, inside and out.
Also, although there’s a lot of negative press about how the US is going right now, it is still the land of dreams to the rest of the world. The American Dream still lives. The American ‘can do’ spirit, respect for individuality, all the industries, and a big land, you can be whoever, do whatever, wherever you want. I do know that living in the US isn’t all unicorns and rainbows like the rest of the world sees. But in our Asian eyes, being able to live and work in America means I made it. Of course, that’s not the reason we chose to move here; but I understand how fortunate I am to be able to live this life.
When I finally picked up my visa
My official green card won’t arrive here for another 120 days, thanks to the new regulation of the State Department. So my passport has to be my form of legal ID until it arrives, although I’m an official resident. It kind of feels weird because I just moved to a new country but there was no booklet or guide that came with it. I mean I’m sure all the information will be on the State Department’s website but that website is really hard to navigate. When I passed the customs in Honolulu, I was expecting some kind of brochure or something like ‘here’s what you need to know’. But nope. Although I have a place to stay and my suitcase is totally emptied out (frequent travelers, you know how satisfying that is) but I still kind of feel like traveling. Well, it’s a new thing I’m trying out. Hopefully, I will feel like a resident as time goes by.
Hi, my name is Juno and I’m an immigrant. Nice to meet you!
I’m back from Mongolia! And this is what I’ve learned.
For 12 days, I traveled in Mongolia for the first time. I was a bit tired from 12 days of adventures in Kyrgyzstan but was thrilled to visit this country that I wanted to come for so long. With a group from Unquote Travel, we packed our bags and left for the great wild. As the day went by, I found myself getting more excited for everything about Mongolia. The descendants of Genghis Khan were extremely generous and kind, the wild landscapes were almost unreal, and the sense of freedom blowing with the wind was addictive.
I felt at home in Mongolia, yet different than other places that I often feel the same. It was more profound, like I was back in a place that I’ve known for a long time. Maybe part of me is actually from this land. That wouldn’t be the craziest idea considering the history between Mongolia and Korea. During the 12 days, I discovered what I loved about Mongolia, learned the complex and interesting history (that’s related to Korea’s), and fell in love with the most unique language I’ve ever heard.
How much do you know about Mongolia? Here are seven things you didn’t know about this great country that once ruled more than half of the world.
Mongolia protected their strong culture despite the complex history with China and the Soviet Union
It’s not too uncommon to see a mixed culture as the result of colonization and other historic events. I was expecting something like that in Mongolia, knowing their history with China and the Soviet Union. But surprisingly, Mongolian culture is very unique. We saw the popular show at the Mongolian State Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet which was truly mind-blowing. It was a two-hour show featuring various types of performers like dancers, singers, musicians, a contortionist, and an orchestra entirely made up of Mongolian traditional musical instruments. Mongolian culture has its own strong and unique identity.
The language is the most unique
Have you heard Mongolians speak? It’s bizarre. It’s not nice of me to describe someone else’s language as ‘bizarre’ but that’s the word I keep thinking. I’ve heard a lot of different languages but Mongolian has a category of its own. Mongolian is one of the rare cousins of Korean but there’s not much similarity other than the sentence structure. It sounds like a very commanding language, that you would use in a palace or at an ancient combat site. Even saying something trivial like “Bring out some knuckle bones” for the game, it sounded like he was declaring war or something. The traditional script is even more mind-boggling. Currently, they are using a modified Cyrillic alphabet for writing, but Mongolian is not related to Russian.
It’s where the only wild horses exist
The Takhi horse, also known as Przewalski‘s, is the only existing wild horse on earth that’s native to the Central Asian steppes. At one time it was extinct in the wild but was reintroduced to its native habitat in Mongolia. At Khustei National Park, you can normally see the wild horses roaming around the hills during the day. If you see one, take a closer look at their legs, which have faint zebra-like stripes.
I’ve never encountered this much “Korea” outside of Korea. Of course Korea Towns in Los Angeles or New York are like little Korea but those are just small sections of the city. But in Mongolia, the entire country is experiencing a serious case of Korea fever. In Ulaanbaatar, it’s impossible not to notice “Korea” in every block. Korean restaurants, cosmetic shops, clothing stores, Korean coffee shops, and even in supermarkets, Korean products are everywhere. Even in the Naadam Festival’s press room, Korean cookies and bottles of juice were front and center right next to a jar of airag. It’s bizarre and flattering at the same time. Thanks to that, I got to eat at a Korean restaurant for two days before my trip started. Love me some jaeyuk bukgem.
Mongolians are truly longing for the life in nature
During my trip around Kyrgyzstan, I had learned that the nomadic families only live in the jailoo during the summer months. Similar in Mongolia; some families move back to villages before the winter comes. Mongolia is a big country, the 18th biggest in the world, with a very low population density. Currently, the half of population, 1.3 million is officially living in the capital city Ulaanbaatar. But we’ve heard that’s out of necessity, more than anything. During our trip, we often stopped the car and took long coffee breaks on the breezy steppe. Mongolians’ houses might be in the city or village, but their home is out in the countryside.
Deserts are full of life
That’s one of the biggest misconceptions about any desert, that it can’t be home to any life forms. On the contrary, whenever I visit deserts, I’m astonished by the diverse society of various species. Mongolia’s Gobi Desert is not an exception. As we drove south heading to The Gobi, we had to stop the car so many times to see amazing creatures like eagles, gazelles, foxes, marmots, bearded vultures, and of course, countless sheep, goats, horses, and cows.
I am Mongolian, presumably
I think I found an answer, why I always stood out in a crowd in Korea. Because I’m descendant of Mongolians?! When I was at the Naadam Festival, I noticed that Mongolian women are taller and bigger than average Asian women. I felt comfortable around them (I am quite taller and bigger than average Korean). As an East Asian, I’m not often being confused as local when I travel. It happened to me a few times in certain countries, like Nepal, China, and Japan. But in Mongolia, everyone, I mean everyone, thought I was Mongolian without a shred of doubt. In our tour group of Mongolian guide and driver, Mongolian-look-alike Korean and Malaysian, and a Korean, our group was often subject of a conversation of others, “Who are the guests in this group?”. Unlike many of my American friends who have many different ancestral roots, I was always sure what 100% of me was made of. But now? I’m not so sure. My love of winter and adventure, passion for indigenous cultures, longing for wild nature might be the result of my Mongolian ancestors. I think it’s time to contact one of those ancestral-study companies…
By popular demand, Unquote Travel’s Experience Mongolia Tour will be coming back next year!
The beauty of Kyrgyzstan, you just have to see it to believe it.
Kyrgyzstan, country of nomads and snow leopards is such a picturesque destination. The land, people, wildlife, mountains, and lakes, together they create a unique and memorable scenery. I explored a small part of this amazing country for 10 days and I couldn’t stop taking photos wherever I went. Now it’s time to share the beauty with all of you. Here are a small portion of photos I took in Kyrgyzstan.
Kol-Ukok and Kor-Dor
#Disclaimer: This trip was made possible by the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.
Sipping light beer under a parasol on a beach, playing games on a boardwalk, grilling burgers and hotdogs: that’s my image of an all-American summer vacation. Summer is a special time in the US, in fact, it feels like the entire country is going on a vacation! For your all-American summer fix, consider these five places.
Just fifteen-minute drive away from the Wildwoods, there’s Cape May. They are close in distance but quite different in character. Wildwood is more of a down-to-earth cousin of Cape May. This historic Victorian seaside town has more amenities, like superior restaurants, theater, shopping, and higher-class accommodation options. The Wildwoods are famous for the classic boardwalk and there’s the pedestrian friendly Washington Street Mall in Cape May. The entire Cape May is a National Historic District, with nearly 600 preserved Victorian buildings.
I was introduced to this beach vacation spot during my first visit to the US. Stephen’s family has been going to Wildwood Crest for decades for their summer holidays and I was invited to their condo by the beach. It was a very new experience for me, and looking back, that was a very classic American summer I had. We went for a swim, sun bathed on a beach with a can of beer, went for ice-cream, played mini-golf, visited the boardwalk, and watched the sunset over the horizon. It was during the popular reality TV show Jersey Shore was on air, so I think the cultural uniqueness was even stronger than ever, if that makes sense. There are more than 8,000 accommodation options the Wildwoods, so pick one and let’s vacation!
Where the mountains meet the sea, that’s Camden, Maine. After camping through a downpour in Mount Bigelow in Maine, with a car full of wet everything, we found a small motel in Camden. This coastal town in Maine is rich with history and offers a community of locally-owned shops, art galleries, inns, and is one of the finest places in New England to visit for culinary experiences. For outdoor adventures, hike at the Camden Hills State Park which offers an amazing view of Camden Harbor and Penobscot May.
Myrtle Beach, SC
Some beaches are just better than others. With sixty miles of beautiful sandy beaches and warm subtropical climate, Myrtle Beach is one of the primary tourist towns in the east coast. Not only that, there are first-class live shows, fun attractions, endless shopping, exquisite dining, exciting water sports, adventures, and so much more. Golf, fishing, or boating, you name it, and you can find it here. There’s no shortage of places to stay either. My favorite thing about Myrtle Beach? Walking on the sandy beach during the sunset.
Charleston is the hometown of my favorite political satirist Stephen Colbert. He’s very proud of his hometown, especially after coming back from an amazing summer break he had down there. Well, he has good reasons. Did you know Charleston was voted as the best city in the world? With its oh-so-perfect climate, southern culinary scene, charming hotels, and sandy beaches in Sullivan’s or Folly Beach, Charleston is one of the best places to go on the east coast for your summer vacation. The Battery, a defensive seawall and promenade is also an important place to visit. See, Charleston needs to be on your list if you haven’t been there. Not just Colbert, but many well-known celebrities (like Bill Murray and Danny McBride) are moving to Charleston. Will you be the next?
PS. The grand 2017 solar eclipse passes over Charleston. This is what it said on Eclipse 2017: “The last large city to see the 2017 eclipse will be Charleston. (Here is our detailed eclipse page for Charleston!) It lies on the southern edge of the path, but because folks in Mt. Pleasant will get almost two minutes of totality, Charlestonians should head northeast!”