A travel blog with backpacking advice for independent budget travelers. The blog features tips for planning budget trips, with a special focus on “around the world” travel, plus inspired destination articles, and large photos added daily. Learn to backpack around the world.
Cornwall has been a popular holiday destination for people across the UK for generations. From families looking for a seaside holiday with the kids, to couples after a romantic retreat, Cornwall has plenty to offer for every type of trip.
The fantastic beaches on both the north and south coasts, picturesque towns and villages, and stunning inland scenery have made Cornwall a firm favorite when it comes to summer holiday destinations.
While Cornwall has a vast range of things to do and places to see, there are also a few things that most people don’t know. We’ve teamed up with Stay in Cornwall, a leading provider of holiday cottages throughout Cornwall, to bring you some of the top things you should know before visiting Cornwall.
Summer, particularly the school holidays, is Cornwall’s busiest time regarding visitor numbers, so it’s not a surprise that traffic is bound to increase.
Like Devon, this county has many small, narrow lanes, not built to deal with the influx of people and cars.
When visiting smaller towns and villages in the county, make sure to leave extra time to accommodate for the potential traffic levels.
Explore Lesser-Known Beaches
One of the main reasons people come to Cornwall are the amazing beaches that line the north and south coasts.
Cornwall benefits from some of the best beaches in the southwest, but during the summer months, they can become tourist traps.
If you don’t mind the extra people, then, of course, these beaches are perfectly fine, but for those looking for a quieter break, there are plenty of beaches throughout the county, lesser-known but just as beautiful.
St Michaels Mount
Visiting St Michael’s Mount? Check the Tide Times!
While you can visit the famous St Michael’s Mount via a boat departing from Marazion, the best and most authentic way is via the causeway.
Only accessible at low tide, the ancient cobbled causeway stretches from Marazion beach to the island and allows you to get the best views of St Michael’s Mount from sea level.
Bring Your Wet Weather Gear
As we know, the UK is not renowned for having long, hot summers, and while the recent weather has been very warm, at some point, there is a strong chance we will have a downpour of rain. If there is anywhere in the country where this is most likely to happen, it’s Cornwall.
Being right on the Atlantic, Cornwall gets the brunt of incoming weather systems, meaning that it can very suddenly change. So, wherever you’re going in Cornwall, at whatever time, make sure you’re prepared for any sudden weather changes.
Pasties are Delicious
If you’ve never tried a pasty before then you are seriously missing out. The pasty is a savory pastry food that originates from Cornwall and is one of the things the county has become famous for.
In the same way that pasta tastes better in Italy, pasties taste better in Cornwall, and whether you’ve tried one before or not, no trip to this county is complete without having a pasty.
Cornwall is a magical destination and well worth a visit. Whether on a family holiday or a romantic trip with your partner, Cornwall has so much to see and do. It is a beautiful county full of wonderful beaches and stunning scenery, all waiting to be explored.
This story was brought to you in partnership with Stay in Cornwall.
The UK is one of the best countries in Europe for hiking. Thousands of walking routes can be found across the country in many beautiful spots.
National Parks such as the Peak District, Exmoor and Snowdonia offer incredible hiking routes and give lovers of the outdoors some of the best places to enjoy a walk in the countryside.
If you’re looking at enjoying the best natural beauty the UK has so offer, exploring some of these areas is a must.
So, where are the best places for hiking in the UK? Well, we’ve teamed up with Peak Cottages, a travel company providing stunning cottages throughout the Peak District, one of the regions we’ve picked, so look at some of the best destinations in the UK for hiking.
Snowdonia National Park
One of, if not the most well-known region in Wales, Snowdonia National Park has been a firm favorite for walkers and adventurers for generations.
Overlooked by the impressive Mount Snowdon, this National Park has plenty of things to do, especially for walkers. The many routes throughout this area are simply stunning, taking in breath-taking views from every angle.
Glacial landforms and rugged landscapes dominate this landscape, providing plenty of scenery to explore. If you’re looking for some of the best hiking routes in the country, Snowdonia is a fantastic place to start.
Views of the Dark Peak area from Bamford Edge (photo: Simon Harrod)
Peak District National Park
A picture-perfect destination in the heart of the North of England, the Peak District is a mix of mystical forests and moorland plateaus, providing some of the best walking routes in the country.
Hiking is one of the most common pastimes in this area, and it’s easy to see why. With so much stunning scenery to explore, spending a lot of time here is easily done.
The difference between the steep limestone valleys that make up the southern White Peak and the dramatic gritstone ridges in the northern Dark Peak are what make the walking routes in this region so spectacular.
Woody Bay (photo: Hassan)
Exmoor National Park
Making up a large part of North Devon, as well as stretching into Somerset, Exmoor National Park is home not only the native Exmoor Pony but also some of the best hiking routes in the southwest.
Dominated by hilly open moorland, it has a range of trails throughout the park.
From routes on top of hills in the region to coastal paths taking in some of the most picturesque towns and villages in the county, Exmoor has plenty of choices when it comes to walking.
Northumberland National Park
Offering a stark contrast in landscape between the Tyne and Scottish border, Northumberland National Park is a diverse area perfect for keen adventurers and hikers.
Amazing valleys are the ideal place to start your walk from, and while some have restricted access, the ones that don’t are staggeringly beautiful.
It’s the largest county in northeast England and benefits from a great range of hiking routes, whether inland or along the coast. This is a National Park best explored on foot.
While these are some our best picks, truth be told this list could have been a lot longer. The UK has a fantastic range of scenic places to hike, and it's worth spending some time exploring these areas.
This story was brought to you in partnership with Peak Cottages.
As the warm weather of summer continues, there’s a good chance your thoughts are on your next trip.
Just before the start of school break in the UK, now can be an excellent time to get some last-minute deals on cheap flights and hotels.
While there is a long list of great destinations to visit across the UK if you're in the mood for a quieter holiday, why not head to one of the lesser visited destinations in the country?
We’ve teamed up with Cottages in Northumberland, a holiday cottage letting agency specializing in providing high-quality cottages in Northumberland, to look at some of the underrated destinations across the UK to consider for your next trip.
Located on the Kent coast, Whitstable is often forgotten about as a summer holiday destination but has plenty to offer those who do choose to visit.
A charming town less than two hours from London, Whitstable boasts a glorious coastline, narrow streets lined with traditional buildings and delicious fish and chips, not to mention the famous Whitstable oysters.
A shingle beach is great for evening walks, and a selection of restaurants serve delicious, locally sourced food.
Winnats Pass (photo: Stephen Bowler)
Generally not considered as a holiday destination, Sheffield could be another good option for your next trip.
Perhaps one of the biggest draws this city has is its location. It is situated right on the edge of one of the most beautiful places in the UK, the Peak District National Park.
Known for its stunning scenery and dramatic landscapes, the Peak District is a must visit for lovers of the outdoors, with walking and cycling routes throughout the region. Sheffield is the perfect base for exploring this fantastic place.
A lot of people may never have heard of the Lincolnshire Wolds, but this Area of Natural Beauty is the highest area of land in eastern England and one of the most beautiful.
Playing host to the unspoiled countryside, hidden valleys and gentle streams winding their way through the landscape, this region has some outstanding scenery all waiting to be explored.
Villages and towns throughout the region offer a vast range of places to stay in the heart of the Lincolnshire Wolds.
Cannock Chase, Staffordshire
A haven for mountain bikers, adventurers, and backpackers, Cannock Chase is a gem hidden away in the UK.
Forests make up a large part of this area, making it perfect for exploring, with trails winding their way throughout the woodland.
The region is also home to around 800 fallow deer, not to mention a fantastic array of rare and endangered birds. Within easy reach from Birmingham, it is the perfect place to let your adventurous spirit run wild.
Quantock Hills (photo: Sarah)
Often just driven past on the way to Exmoor or Dartmoor in Devon, the Quantock Hills is a stunning Area of Natural Beauty in Somerset oozing with stunning scenery. If asked to find the Quantocks on a map, a lot of people would struggle to find it.
As such, it’s an unspoiled area ideal for experiencing the great British countryside. The likes of Klive Beach and the Somerset Levels define this region with incredible natural beauty.
So, while popular destinations in the UK are popular for a reason, if you're open to an alternative holiday to somewhere a bit different, these destinations are perfect. Quieter, but just as beautiful, why not visit one of these five underrated places on your next holiday?
This story was published in partnership with Cottages in Northumberland.
Dragonboats and Science World (photo: Ruth Hartnup)
Are you planning on traveling to Vancouver this summer? If so, you are in for a treat, because the coastal seaport city has a lot to offer visitors of all ages.
One of the first things you should do to make sure you are fully ready for your upcoming trip is to create an itinerary.
Your itinerary will help you throughout your trip, by providing you with pertinent information that you have collected along the way. Below, are a few ideas to get you started.
Bike Through the City
There's no more exciting way to experience Vancouver than by cycling the streets. There are several bike rental services located throughout the city.
These services include:
Stanley Park Cycle
Bayshore Bike Rentals
Tikki Tikki Pedicabs
If you believe your health will not endure a strenuous bike ride, you can always rent an electric assist bicycle from JV Bike.
Renting a bike is a great way to see the city. Also, it is cheaper than traveling by taxi or public bus. There's a bike for everyone, so get out there and pedal your heart out.
Stanley Park (photo: Sébastien Launay)
Visit Stanley Park
A favorite activity for the locals is to visit the park. Now, this is not just any park, but the Stanley Park, which just happens to be Vancouver’s most popular attraction.
While you are in the park, you can have a picnic, toss a Frisbee, bird watch, and take a stroll. Make sure your Canada ETA is up-to-date so that you can enjoy Stanley Park and the other wonderful Vancouver attractions listed here.
Take a Photo in Front of a Steam Clock
Another popular attraction is the steam clock in Gastown. The clock is located on the corner of Water Street and Cambie Street.
What makes the clock so unique is it is vintage, and it still blows out a puff of steam every 15 minutes. This is a great place to capture a few memories with your phone or camera.
Tour the Vancouver Aquarium
The Vancouver Aquarium is an excellent place for visitors of all ages. The aquarium features thousands of aquatic life and ocean species.
Since the aquarium opened in 1956, 40 million visitors have walked through its doors, with some of these people being returning visitors.
Downtown Vancouver (photo: Randy Landicho)
Shop on an Island
If you have never had the opportunity to shop on an island, you should take the opportunity to do it during your visit to Vancouver. The Granville Island, in South Granville, has a variety of shops and markets that are filled with interesting souvenirs.
Watch Standup Comedy
Standup comedy is extremely popular in Vancouver. Laugh has three clubs that host regular events with some of Canada’s most popular comics. You can even catch some of the best up and coming newbies in the comedy world.
Jog along the Seawall
Another top-rated attraction is the Seawall, beginning at Canada Place, wrapping around the Stanley Park and following along False Creek on the north shore. If you don't feel like walking along the Seawall, you can walk, Rollerblade or bike instead.
This story was brought to you in partnership with ETA Canada.
With the exception of Facebook, and to a lesser degree Pinterest, he/she will be developing these channels from scratch, meaning it will take a concerted effort to gain followers and engagement in the beginning. However, they need not all be developed at once.
Additional responsibilities may include a variety of other tasks, such as updating the media kit, assisting with the email newsletter, creating a workflow for guest posts, invoicing advertisers, acting as an extra set of eyes for making improvements to the website, etc.
I’d like to use Slack for written communication and video calls, Teamwork for task management (if necessary), and 1Password for password management (I’ll cover the cost of this app if you don’t already use it or another password management app).
1. You must be familiar with Go Backpacking. If you’re arriving here because someone thought you’d be a good fit for the job, please spend some time on the site before applying.
2. You’re at least 21, English is your native language, and you have strong writing skills.
3. Your preferred method of travel is with a backpack. Your style of travel is congruent with the ethos of Go Backpacking.
4. You have experience managing multiple social media channels for a blog or business that is not your own. You are up-to-date with the latest features and growth/engagement strategies.
5. Familiarity with Canva or another such app that can be used to create original imagery for use in social media and on the blog.
6. Working knowledge of WordPress.
7. Strong communication skills. You’re able to take direction and run with it.
8. Strong organizational skills and attention to detail.
Actively involved in travel blogging
Going on press trips
Working with brands/influencer campaigns
Time Commitment and Pay
I'm budgeting for 3-5 hours per week; the exact number depends on the person's hourly rate. Please include this info when applying.
Payment will be made monthly via PayPal.
What it’s Like Working with Me (Dave) on Go Backpacking
“Over the past year and a half it has been a real pleasure and a great learning experience to work with Dave and GoBackpacking.com. While deadlines are important (in anything you do, especially writing), Dave is flexible and conveniently allows for writing and scheduling posts ahead of time.
Besides gaining extra traffic to my own personal blog by receiving exposure from GoBackpacking.com, I've been able to learn a lot about blogging strategy and get helpful personal tips.
Dave is not only knowledgeable about travel blogging, but he's just a nice guy that's willing to answer questions and offer valuable advice.”
“Working on GoBackpacking this year has been an absolute pleasure. Not only is Dave really easy to work with, but the position is generally flexible, which has been great considering I've spent a lot of this year on the road.
I've really enjoyed being able to share my writing with the much larger and more diverse audience of Go Backpacking, including tales of my time in Kyrgyzstan.
Getting people who pop over to comment on my blog or send me emails because they found me on Go Backpacking has become a normal occurrence, as well as seeing a steady flow of referrals to my blog in Analytics!”
Interested? Email a cover letter describing how you meet the requirements and why you want to work with me on growing Go Backpacking, along with a copy of your resume, LinkedIn profile, or relevant work history to email@example.com.
Please include “Virtual Assistant” in the subject line.
The Application Process
All applications are due by 5 pm (Central time), Friday, June 29, 2018.
Anyone interested should send his/her information as soon as possible. Applications submitted after the deadline will not be read.
Qualified applicants will be invited to a Skype interview where we can get to know each other better.
If you have questions, please send them via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The world is full of incredible destinations that offer a diverse range of experiences for travelers.
It’s inevitable, therefore, that you would have spots that you would consider your favorite. If those spots are not as well-known as you might like and want to give them some exposure, there are ways for you to promote them.
Now, it’s worth noting that not every beautiful travel spot would benefit from an increase in traffic. More travelers inevitably mean more environmental destruction.
However, if you do it right and coordinate with the proper authorities, you might provide such destinations with the exposure they need along with some much-needed government protections.
Make a Blog or Website About It
These days, one of the best ways to bring attention to a particular subject, whether it’s a person, a place, or an object is to create a website about it.
On that note, if you really want to bring attention to your favorite travel spots, it can’t just be any website. It needs to be eye-catching, and this means that you’ll need the best website builder tools for the job.
A huge reason for this is because many aspects need to work together to make a site worth paying attention to.
For starters, the design needs to be intuitive so that visitors automatically know where to go and what to look for. The images you take should also be eye-popping and from a unique perspective.
Consequently, the content needs to be strong and should give valuable information.
Get these aspects right, and you’ll be more likely to bring more exposure to the travel destination of your choice.
Naturally, there are a lot more important factors that you might want to take into consideration, so be sure to take a look at those as well.
Word of Mouth
If you don’t want to go through the effort of building an entire website to promote your favorite travel destination, you can always pass the word along to other travelers. The quality of a travel spot will always show.
If your favorite destinations are as good as you think they are, other avid backpackers would be more than happy to pass the message along.
You can also encourage your family and friends to give those destinations a chance, or perhaps just people you know. It can be your co-workers, classmates, friends of your friends; the list goes on and on.
The critical part of this discussion to keep in mind is that there is a reason why you are trying to promote those spots that you love. Use that reason to give them the exposure they deserve.
Of course, we can’t forget about social media when it comes to spreading the word about something.
Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat can be convenient when it comes to sparking a movement. Unfortunately, they can also be finicky, especially if you are not already a celebrity of some renown.
If you’re just an ordinary person who wants to gain attention on social media, your options can be a bit limited.
Fortunately, there are still ways for you to bring attention to the subjects that you want to promote.
You just need to do some research on social media marketing, connect with more prominent influencers on major platforms, and work your way forward.
Partner with Travel Agencies
Finally, some travel agencies recruit travelers to do a bit of promotion for them.
If you have an exciting destination in mind, you can get in touch with travel websites or agencies and see if they are willing to add them to their promotional materials.
This comes at the risk of funneling the wrong sort of tourists to the destination that you are so fond of, but it’s an option worth noting.
This story was brought to you in partnership with Alternatives.co.
Avenue de Villiers – Paris (photo: Francisco Anzola)
Beyond their rivalry and its effects on customers, how much do you know about the taxis in Paris? Do you know how they work, their rights and duties, troubles and jargon?
Here are some interesting facts about Paris taxis and their drivers.
A very masculine profession
93 percent of Paris taxi drivers are men. More men work as midwives than women who drive taxis.
Taxis and paramedics
There are 55,000 taxis in France, including 20,000 in Paris. And yet, as soon as you leave the center of the capital and the airports, whether you are in the east of Paris, in the suburbs, in a regional metropolis or an average city, it becomes difficult to find a vehicle.
Where are the other 35,000 taxis? What are they doing? Answer: They drive patients to the hospital. It is the “seated transport of people.” Excellent opportunities for the best Paris Airport taxi services.
X is the price to pay
In Paris, there are three types of tariffs per kilometer, which apply differently depending on the geographical area.
Be careful: rate A is valid for the urban area from 10 am to 5 pm, Monday to Saturday, the B the rest of the day from Monday to Saturday and from 7 am to midnight on Sundays and public holidays, midnight C at 7 am on Sundays and holidays.
The license at gold prices, but not everywhere
The taxi license, this right to practice the profession by parking his vehicle in a reserved place, sold at the end of the career, does not have the same value everywhere.
It is generally estimated at $240,000 in Paris, but it is worth $100,000 in Marseille, $80,000 in Arras and even $40,000 in Saone-et-Loire.
Two distinct clients
Of course, everyone is free to ride a taxi. But in fact, there is the coexistence of two types of clients that never cross.
There are those who take taxis by day, usually for business, and in their forties or fifties. They do not care about the cost, pay by credit card, and often treat it as a business expense.
These privileged customers, sometimes the same age as their drivers, are content to survey the neighborhoods of western Paris, being transported from a mansion to a head office, a restaurant to a shop. Not to mention, of course, train stations and airports.
Customers who are hiring a taxi on a Friday or Saturday night, between the ages of 20 to 35, consider the cost quite high.
There are taxis parked on public roads, on spaces reserved for them: they are stations of variable capacity.
Some of them, 116 in Paris, are equipped with a telephone terminal: one can theoretically order a taxi by calling the terminal of a telephone, such as from home.
In practice, terminal numbers have sometimes been reassigned to individuals or merchants. On the other hand, the other terminals, almost 300 in Paris, only serve to “store” drivers waiting.
It is the municipalities that are responsible for the maintenance of the stations, a task they do (rather badly) against a contribution of $17 every three months, paid by each taxi driver.
This story was brought to you in partnership with Airport Transfers Direct.
Jetting off on vacation is one of the most exciting things we look forward to in life. It’s also one of the most costly.
It can often be a battle against luck when it comes to booking flights. There are so many things to factor in when it comes to calculating the price, whether it be school holidays or significant events taking place.
Prices can fluctuate drastically, so how do you get the best deal? We take a look at the simple steps you can take to make sure you get the best deal when booking flights.
Perhaps the simplest option is book early. The further in advance you can book your flights, the more likely you are to get a good deal.
That’s because as more seats become booked up, the higher the demand will be for those booking them. It’s usually best to book flights around three to four months early.
Use Your Air Miles
The likelihood is you’ll be buying your flights via credit card, so why not make the most of your spending elsewhere and collect air miles.
There are dozens of cards that will not only help you buy flights with your air miles, but also receive travel rewards when spending away from home.
The cost of flights can fluctuate hugely, especially if airlines begin offering sales. Setting price alerts will help you keep track of how much your flights are currently costing, with the likes of Google Flights sending you alerts if the cost increases or decreases.
It’s certainly a good idea if you’re not quite ready to book flights, although it can also be a gamble waiting for flights to decrease.
Be Flexible With Your Timing
Certain times of the year are of course going to be more expensive than others. School holidays always drive prices up, particularly in the summer. The same applies to major events such as sporting tournaments, music festivals and marathons. Essentially, any event where an influx of people is expected into a city.
Being flexible will allow you to avoid said events and allow yourself to book a quieter flight for a lower price.
Be Flexible With Your Airport
Flying from different airports, and indeed to different airports could work out much cheaper. For example, flying to Paris Beauvais instead of Charles De Gaulle could save money, while your departure location can also often be changed to save money.
Some budget airlines prefer to fly out of certain airports, which can often be worth commuting over to save.
The same applies to connections. In many cases, it may be cheaper to connect rather than take a direct flight. Being flexible gives you that opportunity to get the best possible deal, even if it does take a little longer.
This story was brought to you in partnership with Money Under 30.
Mark had announced he was back in Ethiopia, with his signature enthusiasm, and I had stopped to comment as it's a country I've wanted to visit since my twenties. It was in the comments I saw someone mention Bourdain.
I opened Twitter to see his name trending for the worst possible reason, suicide.
A Cook's Tour S01E03 Cobra Heart, Food That Makes You Manly - YouTube
A Cook's Tour: The Coolest Show on The Food Network
In the early 2000s, having graduated from college, as well as a requisite Ramen noodle eating phase of early bachelor living, I began tuning into The Food Network.
The upstart cable channel featured now-familiar names including Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay, and Mario Batali.
It was also how the world was introduced to Anthony Bourdain, the TV host when his show A Cook's Tour aired for two seasons from 2002-2003.
Unlike the other hosts, whose shows were shot in studio kitchens, A Cook's Tour saw Bourdain traveling the world, eating exotic foods. As far as I know, it was the first TV show of its kind.
Who was this tall, lanky, wise-ass from New York City eating the still-beating heart of a cobra in Vietnam in one episode (15:40 in the video above), then dining at the Michelin-starred French Laundry in Napa Valley in another?
I had to know. I bought Kitchen Confidential, his breakout book that takes readers behind the scenes of the NYC restaurant world. It was an exciting story that also made clear how much hard work chefs put into cooking for their customers.
I read A Cook's Tour, too. Between those books and his first show, he singlehandedly made cooking, and trying new foods, cool to me.
I was inspired enough to spend $100 on a chef's knife, but not so inspired as to switch careers.
I didn't know what tamarind was then, and can still recall hunting for it in the supermarket.
Discovering new ingredients became part of the fun. Even then, I'd use the camera on my flip phone to snap a grainy, low-fi photo of the result.
Unfortunately, it's hard to find A Cook's Tour to watch online today, though some episodes have unofficially been made available on YouTube here and here. A used DVD box set is available on Amazon for $44.
Bourdain wasn't afraid to criticize The Food Network, so it was of little surprise that he jumped to The Travel Channel in the mid-2000s, taking loyal viewers like me with him.
Bone marrow and oxtail marmalade at Blue Ribbon
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
No Reservations did for The Travel Channel what A Cook's Tour did for The Food Network. It made the channel worth watching.
As the storytelling and production quality improved, No Reservations became the hallmark show of The Travel Channel, and his fame exploded.
He built a global fan base one country at a time, endearing himself with the locals by highlighting what they ate and drank, and often, the challenges their countries faced.
He always had an opinion, and I respected that he wasn't afraid to use his growing platform to get political. Most recently, he'd become a vocal supporter of the #metoo movement.
His values often aligned with my own, strengthening the connection I felt toward him.
I watched the first few years of No Reservations religiously. I loved his storytelling, style, and self-deprecating humor.
In April 2007, seven months before quitting my job to travel, I tried a Bourdain favorite, bone marrow, late one night at Blue Ribbon, a favorite hangout for NYC chefs I'd learned about from him.
Ten years later, I was celebrating my 41st birthday in NYC with dinner at Uncle Boons, a Michelin-star Thai restaurant.
The menu featured an appetizer called Kaduuk, roasted bone marrow satay with peanut sauce, toast, pickled cucumber, and onion. Naturally, we ordered it.
A Cook's Tour Season 2 Episode 10 Singapore, Ny In 20 Years Dd - YouTube
Following in Bourdain's Footsteps
By November 2007, I'd saved enough money to embark on my global adventure. I resigned from my job, sold my belongings, and flew to the South Pacific.
Tahiti, French Polynesia
My first stop was Tahiti, which was featured three months earlier in S3E10 of No Reservations. However, I didn't have the chance to visit anywhere specific from the show.
In February 2008, I arrived in Bali, Indonesia (S2E12 of No Reservations) and sought out babi guling (roast suckling pig) in Ubud at what I believed to be the same restaurant as Bourdain.
I remember enjoying the meat, but unlike Bourdain, didn't care for the hard, crunchy pork skin.
From Bali I flew to Singapore, a city first featured on Season 2 of A Cook's Tour, and later, Season 4 of No Reservations.
It was here that I realized I was seeking out experiences from a TV show for which I didn't know the cost.
In 2008, it turned out a Singapore Sling would cost me a budget-busting $18. I didn't care. I was having fun following in his footsteps.
With the help of my Couchsurfing host, I was also able to visit Sin Huat Eating House. I ordered the crab and noodle specialty featured in A Cook's Tour (14:40 in the video above).
I hadn't eaten much crab up until that point, so it was a challenge taking it apart, let alone getting up the courage to eat the bright orange roe (guts) he savors on the show.
Again, I was so excited to be living scenes from his shows that I didn't think to ask how much the dish cost before I'd ordered it.
Sin Huat Eating House was a dive of a restaurant on the edge of the red light district, so I was surprised to get the check and learn my crab and noodles cost $30!
After dinner, I mentioned to my Singaporean host that I wanted to try durian, the stinky fruit I first saw Bourdain eat on S1E5 of A Cook's Tour.
Of durian, Bourdain has said, “Your breath will smell as if you'd been French-kissing your dead grandmother.”
My host walked me to a nearby durian stand and helped me buy and cut open the fruit to try. It didn't smell as bad as I expected, and I was surprised to find I enjoyed the taste. I later had it again in Bangkok.
Eating pig's tail
I spent a total of nine months in Asia and India in 2008, and while I lost the scent of places featured on Bourdain's shows during that time, I remained open to trying new foods, no matter how strange.
In Chengdu, China, I went out for traditional hot-pot with my friend Charlie, and he ordered me cow brain, which arrived raw on a plate in front of me.
I cooked the fist-sized brain in the pot of red, spicy, boiling oil at our table, and then took a few bites using my chopsticks. Of the flavor, I remember it being rather bland. It was the creamy texture that made it hard for me to eat.
In another restaurant, I also tried chicken gizzards, which I didn't care for, and pig's tail, which I enjoyed with crushed red pepper.
In Cambodia, I gave peanut-stuffed crickets a try but stopped short of the larger bugs and fried tarantulas (which Cambodians had begun eating out of necessity during the genocide).
When one of Go Backpacking's readers dared me to eat dog, I asked my Cambodian guide in Battambang if he knew any such restaurants.
He did, and so he took me to one for lunch. I grew up with dogs as pets, and still love them, so this was a real challenge to my sensibilities, but I gave it a try. I didn't like it.
When that same guide invited me to eat dinner with his family, I accepted and kept an open mind about eating the curry-stuffed frogs his wife prepared. When he asked me back the next night, his wife prepared chicken, as I'd said it was my favorite.
Being invited into the two-room home of my guide's family of 10 to share traditional Cambodian food was one of the most humbling experiences of my life.
An unexpected stop for sheep's head in Soweto
Soweto, South Africa
On a Sunday tour of Soweto, a large township near Johannesburg, I asked the guide if he knew where we could get a smiley, the nickname given to a boiled sheep's head.
He was surprised at the question and amused that I wanted to try a local favorite. We stopped at a person's home in Soweto where there was a line of hungry people, each awaiting their smiley.
When the guide brought mine back to the minivan, he slowly unwrapped the newspaper and plastic wrap to reveal a cooked sheep's head covered in red sauce.
He offered me an eye, his favorite part he said, however, it was too far beyond my comfort zone, and so I left that part to him.
Instead, I got my second taste of brain and my first of tongue.
A truly Bourdain moment.
A Cook's Tour Season 01 Episode 09 Childhood Flavors - YouTube
Earlier in my two-month overland journey through South Africa, I met a young French couple from Bordeaux, Magali and Sebastian, at an eco-hostel on the Wild Coast. They invited me to stay with them if I made it up there, which I vowed to do.
On my second day, Sebastien took me to the nearby beach town of Arcachon, known for having the largest dune in Europe.
It was atop that 104-meter mountain of sand, with its panoramic views of the bay and pine trees, that I began to recall scenes from A Cook's Tour. Season 1, Episode 9 to be exact.
It was December 2008, so the town was empty. However, there was a small oyster shop that was open.
Curious, we walked over and ordered a half-dozen oysters and some white wine to wash them down.
Oyster in Arcachon
I had tried oysters in northern Virginia before, but not been a fan nor understood their appeal.
However, if there was a place to keep an open mind and give them another try, it was a French seaside town known for oyster farming.
I squirted a splash of lemon on one and slurped it down. It was delicious; like tasting the ocean.
The three-year-old oyster's freshness and the added flavor of the salt water, not to mention the setting, left a lasting impression. I added oysters to the growing list of foods I never thought I'd enjoy.
We then drove around the bay toward Cape Ferret, stopping to take pictures of the oyster farms.
At La Pointe, we parked the car and walked to the beach, which featured heavily-graffitied concrete WWII battlements (which I had to climb on like a kid, of course).
I felt the connection to Bourdain grow, as I remembered him climbing on the same WWII structures with his brother as he relived his childhood memories for A Cook's Tour (video above).
Not surprisingly, tasting his first oyster as a child in Arcachon was a defining moment in his life.
Lunch at La Queareparaenamorarte in Rio Negro, Colombia
Medellin and Cartagena, Colombia
Bourdain beat me to Colombia by at least a half-year when he featured Medellin and Cartagena on S4E12 of No Reservations, which aired July 14, 2008.
It was already my plan to go, and knowing he'd had such a good experience only served to excite me more. It was like foreshadowing for my experience.
Of course, I fell in love with Medellin at first sight and walked through Botero Plaza on day one as he had on the show.
I also ate at the small, casual Brasarepa restaurant in Envigado where they filmed a segment talking about Pablo Escobar's impact on Colombian society.
Four years later, I ate lunch with a blog reader at Quearepaenamorarte, a more upscale restaurant featured in the episode.
And in Cartagena, I've twice eaten La Cevicheria which was also featured on the episode.
Beyond the show, Tony talked highly of Colombia in interviews, and he returned there on S1E3 of Parts Unknown to share how the situation with the FARC and civil was changing for the better.
I could keep going with the anecdotes. The many ways in which I channeled Bourdain's excitement and appreciation for food into my own experiences. But, I think you get the picture.
He inspired me to live a richer, fuller, tastier life, and I'll be forever grateful for his work and influence.
I'm sad and hurt he's gone. Too soon. We've lost an authentic voice, one that cannot be replaced.
Marseilles is the second largest city in France and one of the biggest port-cities in the Mediterranean.
Many of us have some knowledge of Marseilles. The first thing that comes to mind is Alexandre Dumas and his world-famous novel “The Count of Monte-Cristo.” The main hero of the story was born in Marseilles, and it was the place of the legendary Chateau d'If.
Another association is less pleasant. Marseilles is known as the most criminal city in France. There are districts where you can be robbed during the day, not just at night.
That said, it’s a city worth visiting as it’s not as famous as Paris, but there are still many beautiful and unforgettable places to see. If you're considering a visit to Marseilles, consider these travel tips.
Facade of Marseilles City Hall (photo: Fred Romero)
Marseilles Travel Tips
1. There is a nice tourist office that should be visited by all guests of Marseilles at the La Canebière street. Here you can take a city map for free, choose an excursion and get to know about possible cultural events. Also, there you can buy tickets (travel cards) for the public transport.
2. July and August are considered to be the hottest months of a year; still, pleasant cool days may occur that can still be perfect for walking through the city. There's a big increase in tourists during the summer months, so it’s best to book a hotel or hostel in advance.
3. Lots of museums and sightseeing spots may change their working hours depending on the season. Before taking an excursion, confirm the working hours in a tourist agency or with the staff at your accommodation.
4. It’s customary to leave tips in cafes and restaurants, usually about 5 – 10% of the general amount of a bill. In some prestigious establishments, the payment for the service is already included in the bill. In this case, you’ll see a note «service compis», so you don’t need to leave extra money. It’s also proper to leave tips for drivers, maids in hotels, and for hairdressers.
5. To rent a car, you’ll need to show your passport and a driver’s license of international standard. You’ll need to leave your credit card as a deposit. A person that under 21 years old can be refused a car rental. Also, you can be denied if you obtained your driver’s license less than a year earlier.
6. Car enthusiasts should keep in mind that any road traffic offense involves a large fine. Thus one of the most serious offenses is exceeding the speed limit and parking incorrectly. Children 12 years old and younger must travel in the back seats, and small children must be in special car seats.
7. In some museums, and famous sightseeing places, photo and video may be forbidden or may only be allowed if you pay a fee. Before an excursion starts, it's best to know all the rules to avoid any surprises.
8. If you want to save some money, it’s worth taking into account that some museums have no entrance fee, but only for certain days of a month. By planning ahead, you can save a lot as you don't need to take a guide.
9. The best way to see the beauty of Marseilles is to travel on foot through the city. In some cases, you can take a bus or it can also be convenient to travel by tram. There’s no need to use a taxi as you’ll just waste your money, and it's not as safe either.
10. Avoid walking alone at night in the city and try not to walk in unknown and strange districts as it can be dangerous. Stay in crowded places.
11. And finally, before going to Marseilles, or any other city in France, it’s best to learn some phrases in French to be able order something or understand the locals. The French don’t like to use English. It can be easy to learn French if you use an online platform where you can easily choose your own native French-speaking teacher.
This article was published in partnership with Preply.