Best Places Solo Travel Can Take You -San Sebastian

San-Sebastian- Carousel

Despite only being in San Sebastian for a short time, on this trip, I have actually visited this beautiful seaside town a few years ago. San Sebastian is located in the Bay of Biscay in the Basque Country In Spain, and I think it is one of the Best Places Solo Travel can take you.

San Sebastian is a tourist resort town with beautiful beaches. I arrived there on my recent trip, by train from Barcelona which was a nice ride. It was a refreshing contrast to the busy city of Barcelona.

The other bonus here was that I felt a lot safer than in Barcelona. I was advised by several people in Barcelona to keep my backpack to the front and to watch out for pick pockets. Although I do still advise to be on the alert at all times and to be aware of your surroundings, San Sebastian definitely had a safer feel to it.

On this point you may want to read my earlier blog about keeping yourself safe while traveling, it is Travel Tips For Women Traveling Alone

San Sebastian is located right near the beach and I just happened to be near Zurriola Beach. I took advantage of this and walked out of the town which was quite busy and gearing up for the evening, and I headed for the sea.

The Waterfront

Walking along the waterfront road was a nice evening walk and it seemed to lure me along. I would have liked to get on top of the hill to see the views but it was getting late and I was aware that the daylight was fading. I walked past this very cool building and wondered what it might be.

It looked a bit deserted even though it was prime real estate right on the waterfront. Subsequent research revealed that it is the Gipuzkoa Photographic Society. They are certainly in the right place for inspiration.

This was a pleasant summer’s evening walk and the sea breeze was a welcome change to the hot day that I had been traveling in. Around the point was the marina and the La Concha Beach. Finding myself in part of the Old Town was a nice step back into time. The place was bustling with bars and tapas and an outdoor market.

Even though it was busy it had a great atmosphere with narrow historic street and interesting shops, eating places, and bars. This area evidently has the highest concentration of bars, but it didn’t feel like that as I wandered around the town it

Tapas – Pintxos

Spain is famous for Tapas and San Sebastian is no exception, although they are called, Pintxos, in the Basque

Pintxos San Sebastian
San Sebastian Food

Country, which of course San Sebastian is a part of. The Pintxos were prolifically displayed in all the bars along the way and you could see the displays of them from the doorway of each eating place or bar as you pass by.

This is such a great way to try different foods in a small serving, without waiting for it to be prepared. You can see exactly what you are getting and each portion or Pintxos is not too expensive. it is the ultimate gourmet, fast food with the feel of a buffet. I really enjoyed that way of eating.

On the boardwalk waterfront area is a beautiful antique looking Carousel, merry-go-round. It was created or renovated in 1998 from an earlier version from 1900. It looks very cool and traditional and is a great icon for the town. The Carousel doesn’t just have horses but also, swans, tigers, dolphins, cars, airplanes and giraffes. It is a unique icon.

The Basque Country

San Sebastian is located in what is known as The Basque Country. It is a unique area of Spain that has traditionally

San Sebastian

been isolated and surrounded by mountainous regions. This has in turn created a unique language, and culture which actually flows into the Southern part of France as well, and crosses the Pyrenees Mountains. The language is unlike anything else and dates back to farmers in the region as far back as 6 thousand years. There is a lot that is not known about the language.

In 1939 Francisco Franco became ruler of Spain and the Basque language was outlawed, and was at risk of dying out. This is an interesting fact that is similar to the Welsh language that I mentioned in my blog about Wales.

The language is now permitted to be spoken although only 27% of people in the Basque Country speak the language now. If you are interested in learning more about this, and hearing the Basque language being spoken there is an interesting video on YouTube .

 

Although San Sebastian is best known and most popular for the beautiful beaches, Zurriola Beach, Beach of La Concha and Ondaretta Beach, I am not really a, sit on the beach person. My most recent visit was relatively short so I feel that I need to return and explore a bit further into the area. I would like to visit some museums as I always find that is a great way to get a crash course in the history of an area.

Lesson Learned

The only thing that I might do different is to plan my accommodation a little sooner. Because San Sebastian is one of the most expensive places to stay in Spain, it pays to book sooner rather than later. I made the mistake of booking only a day or so out from when I went, due to my preference of spontaneity in my travels. I was left with the choice of expensive accommodation or a shared Dorm room

I figured that as I wasn’t staying long that it might be OK to stay in the cheaper option, and thought that there might be a bonus of meeting some fellow travelers. Well, I was wrong on that count. The place was the 5th floor of an apartment block in the center of the town. It took me 20 minutes to get into the building and the reception from the host was not friendly nor was it in English. The six dorm type beds were makeshift camping type bunk beds that did not look very sturdy.  The place was overcrowded and had signs up saying, no cooking and no washing. I left and spent the rest of the night in the bus station waiting for my bus to France. I felt way safer there in the early hours of the morning than staying at the dorm room.

Although I had booked this on line it was not the fault of Booking.com. I have used this site for many bookings on my travels and always find good inexpensive accommodation at short notice – apart from this one time.

I recommend Booking.com if you need accommodation for San Sebastian

 

 

 

 

8 Best Places to Go in New York City

New York New York

 

As a solo female traveler you are faced with decisions and issues that men usually don’t think about. As much as I can reassure you that it is safe to travel alone, you still need to put some consideration into choosing your destinations. Not only do the places that you go to, need to suit your personality and your interests, you do need to consider your safety. Here are some suggestions with my pick of the finds for the 8 Best Places to go to in New York City.

I recently spent several days in the city and I was surprised that I enjoyed it so much, because generally I am not a city person. I stayed at an Air BnB in Jersey City, which was quite a lot cheaper and the Public transport or even the Uber services were very good. The savings that I made on the cheaper accommodation outweighed the transport costs.

I tend to travel in the ” Follow my nose ” style so usually I book the accommodation as I go. In this case I booked about a week before I arrived but sometimes I choose to book accommodation for the night when I am tired of traveling for the day and book with as little as one hour notice.

I always travel with my laptop so I am able to work as I travel and book accommodation as I go. If this is something that you also want to do then I suggest that you use a VPN which s a Virtual Private Network so you can safely access your information on the net. I use Express VPN and find it is excellent. I feel totally safe from hackers and any spy software. Here is a link to find out more.

Here are my 8 Best Places, that I liked in New York City, but they are not necessarily in order of preference, and in fact if I was asked to choose my favorite, I might have trouble with that.

1. Broadway

You cannot go to New York City without a visit to Broadway. This is not something that I planned to do until I got

there and when I saw the signs and found the Theater District, I realized that was something that I needed to do.

Beautiful Carol King

The musical that I went to was “Beautiful“. It was played at one of the 41 Professional Theaters in the Theater District of New York City.

You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face, and show the world all the love in your heart, then people are gonna treat you better, you’re gonna find, yes you will, that you are beautiful….

So many people grew up knowing and loving, Carol King and they resonate with the music and the wonderful lyrics. Watching the show was such an amazing treat and as it finished I was surprised when I realized that I had tears in my eyes, just from the feelings that the show evoked.

There are so many choices of shows to see on Broadway….. so when you are down and troubled, and you need some love and care, just go to Broadway and you’ve got a friend.

If you are interested in this show here is the link to book to see Beautiful

2. Hop on Hop Off Bus

You won’t have to go far to find a ticket for the hop on hop off bus. There are sellers all along the street usually near

Hop on hop off Bus
Hop on Hop Off Bus New York

the bus station. I paid $99 USD for a ticket to last me for 5 days on the bus. This also included a night tour and a ferry trip to the Statue of Liberty.

The tour also allowed for free access to the Museum of the City of New York which was one of the 25 stops that you could get of at. After exploring that particular area you could then hop on the next bus and carry on around the city listening to the very interesting and informative guided tour that was playing on ear buds provided when you got on the bus.

The tours take you to areas of the city include, Downtown, Uptown, Harlem, The Bronx, Central Park, You get a great view from the top of the bus. I was lucky that the weather was nice at the time which made the tour enjoyable.

It is also a great way to meet fellow travelers, which I did. I see that some sites recommend not to take these tours and go on a smaller group tour, but for me and my time frame and budget, I think this was a great way to get an overview of the city.

You can use this link to get your tickets for the New York City Bus Tours

3. Central Park

Most people will be familiar with Central Park after watching various movies that are set in New York City. The movies are wide-ranging and include, Spiderman 3, Vanila Sky, Serendipity, Cruel Intentions, Home Alone 2 and Wall Street.

Squirrel Central Park – New York

When you hop off the bus near Central Park you can go for an iconic ride on the horse drawn carriages through the park. You can wander around the Park and watch walkers, cyclists and skaters as if you are in a movie. Check out the squirrels under the trees. I was watching one for a while. They are pretty used to people and not very skittish at all.

Central Park has the most visitors of any urban park in North America at almost 38 million visitors each year. It must have been a quiet day when I was there because there didn’t seem to be that many people there at all. I walked across the park and saw a wedding, people fishing in the lake and kids watching the turtles and bird life in the turtle lake.

There is also a Castle and the Zoo within the Park, but leave yourself a whole day if you want to see everything there is to see in the park.

4. Statue of Liberty

Taking advantage of the Ferry that takes you to Ellis Island to see the Statue of Liberty is a highlight of the Hop on

Manhatten Bridge New York

Hop Off Tour. If you do not purchase this as part of the bus tour you can get an individual ticket to take the ferry and get a close up look at the Statue of Liberty. The Statue was gifted to the City of New York on the 4th July 1884, by France to represent the alliance between the two during the American Revolution.

The Statue was built in France and then shipped to New York where it was reconstructed after intensive fundraising within the New York City community, to complete the pedestal base to hold the huge commemorative icon.

Between 1892 and 1954 Ellis Island was the inspection station and entrance for more than 12 million immigrants who came with the hope of a better life. She echos the words of the famous poem by Emma Lazarus :

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

5. Museum of the City Of New York

Although there are many choices when it comes to Museums in New York, I can tell you firsthand, about the Museum of the City of New York. This is an easy stop from the Hop on Hop off bus. There is no charge if you present your bus pass as this allows for a complementary entry.

The Museum isn’t huge and can be seen in about 2 – 3 hours. I really liked it because it gave a complete overview of the History of New York, which was very interesting. The explanation of how the City developed over time with so many immigrants coming in makes complete sense when you get the overview of the city from the tour bus.

Neighborhoods like Little Italy, China town, Little Germany, The Bronx, Greenwich Village, Flatiron District, Soho, Korea town, all have their own unique and interesting history.

6. Times Square

Another iconic, must see in New York, New York is Times Square. You can get an over view of the square from the bus tour but to really experience it is to walk through.

It really does feel just like it looks, people everywhere, yellow cabs, billboards and neon lights and huge buildings dwarfing the street. Amazingly you can still see the sunset as the light changes as you look along the streets through the High Rises.

From the area of Times Square you can also access, Madame Tussaud, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, National Geographic Ocean Odyssey, and of course you can Hop on and Hop Off th Bus Tour to join the night tour which is really good.

7. The High Line Walkway

The Vessel – Hudson Yards

This elevated, disused railway line, meanders through the Meatdistrict, and you can follow it at above street level to

be away from traffic. It is a popular walking park and when I visited it with friend and her children it was a fun way to spend a summer’s evening. You can follow along the walkway for quite a distance or step off at various places to explore the city underneath.

We arrived at the Chelsea market in an historic biscuit factory which was very popular for interesting shopping and eating places that you could enjoy healthy, and not so healthy meals and snacks. We started the walkway at the new Hudson Yards Vessel which is an artwork structure and a building all in one.

It is 16 stories high with 2500 steps. You need to reserve your ticket to climb the building as it is very popular, but is also free of charge.

8. Food

The eating and food choices are endless and universal in New York. It just depends on how adventurous you want to

New York eating out
Hard Rock Cafe New York

be. My favorite while I was there was one visit to the Hard Rock Cafe, because the food and service was good and it was an iconic place to go as I had already been to the Hard Rock Cafe in Hawaii and then later in Prague.

The other meal that I really enjoyed was from a Halal food cart in Harlem. I sat on a concrete step eating the most delicious meal from a plastic container, and people watching. This was both entertaining and a little border line as there was an altercation brewing between two street people over a tarpaulin, and who owned it and who moved it. That was interesting, free entertainment and a culture insight which I love to experience.

Other food choices, if you want to be traditional to New York are plenty of pizza places, New York Bagels and of course. New York Cheesecake. Or you can be an international eater and for more traditional food, you can go to Little Italy, Little Germany, China Town, or go to Delmonico, the oldest restaurant in New York. Just be aware that if you are watching your budget then avoid the more touristy areas because you will pay more for less. Actually this is the norm where ever you travel.

To go or not

I think that even if you don’t particularly like big cities you should still consider a visit to New York city. It feels quite familiar because we have all seen some city when we watch TV and movies. There is so much to see and do and a five day stay was just perfect. I got to see heaps of the city and experienced the feel of it, but by the time I left I had had enough of the city.

Breaking it up with visits to the Central Park and the High Line Walkway was a good way to feel that it wasn’t all city. The city attractions can offer a wide variety of activities to suit every taste. Here is a link for discount tours and attractions that you can book if you want something more.

Wandering around at night was not a problem or a safety concern, and in fact the sights were even better in some instances.

 

 

Great Solo Vacation Ideas for Women – Wales

Portmeirion Wales

Wales has always had an appeal to me even though I didn’t know much about it. Of course there is the link to New Zealand with the Rugby, with Wales being one of the countries that has featured over the years playing against New Zealand, both on our home soil and abroad.

Even though I must admit that I am not a rugby fan or even have much of an interest in Rugby, I have felt an affinity with Wales as a comparably small country with an interesting heritage. To me I think that Wales is a great Solo Vacation idea for women, as, it is a safe interesting place with plenty of variation from walks to villages with history to enthrall you, right through to the coastal attractions.

I have found that the Welsh people, that I have met in my travels have been interesting and I love to listen to the accent and language. I have had friends who have been to Wales and after hearing them speak about it and of the beautiful countryside and in particular the motorcycle friendly roads, I quietly put the destination on my bucket list.

I was fortunate enough to recently have the opportunity to go to Wales for a couple of days, and found myself wanting more. I am definitely planning to return to see what I missed the first time around, but, I will share with you, the amazing places that I managed to visit. .

Devils Bridge Hafod Hotel

Although I was driving a rental car, I am always aware of motorcycles that I see on my travels, and as a good keen

Wales travel
Devils Bridge Harford

motorcyclist I always try to take the opportunity to talk with fellow motorcyclists. I met a couple of guys out on their Moto Guzzi’s parked up near the Hafod Hotel near Devils Bridge.

The roads to get there are a fun ride, with sweeping bends and tight turns to test your skills and give you a completely joyful ride. I was longing to be on a bike and get out of the rental car and found myself leaning in the car as I went around the bends.

Devils Bridge in the Pontarfynach Village is an interesting area with a triple level bridge that has been added onto resulting in a three layered construction as each bridge was left in place and not demolished as the additions were built on top of the older structures. The view from the bridge is very cool and looks down into a ravine and then also out across to the countryside.

The Hafod Hotel has recently become quite well-known as the base for the BBC series Hinterland. As I don’t really make time to watch TV I have yet to see the series, but according to the locals it has changed the unique character of the Hotel in that there are now heaps of visitors coming to see the Hotel.

The first thing that I noticed as I entered Wales from England was the beautiful stone houses and the use of Welsh Slate for the roofs. As I traveled further into the country the houses became more unique and delightful.

Even the small coal mining cottages were really lovely and gave the feeling that I could live here. Each village was highlighted with some feature buildings, usually a church and then the houses were a mixture of huge estate houses right down to the tiny cottages that were, and had been inhabited by the workers, who were the lifeblood of the mining industry.

Between the villages and towns there are homely looking estates and country houses that hinted of a story that you could imagine as you traveled through the countryside.

Portmeirion

A visit to Portmeirion is something that you should try to fit into your agenda when you visit Wales. Even though it is a tourist attraction, I didn’t find it too touristy, and it is quite a surreal place to wander around.

Portmeirion Wales
Portmeirion Wales

It is owned by a Charitible Trust now, but was built by Sir Clough Williams Ellis between 1925 to 1975. As you would expect by his name and is confirmed by the audio of him telling the story, Williams Ellis certainly did have a plum in his mouth, if not the whole orchard.

That is not to take away anything from the amazing creation that he has achieved and in fact it would be a boring world without the quirky people that we have creating interesting things and places. His aim was to show how a beautiful site can be developed without damaging or spoiling the surroundings. This is a lesson that we can all take heed of today.

The surrounding 70 acres called Y Gwyllt (No pronounciation provided) support the Grade I and Grade II historic builidngs that are tastefully placed over the hillsides connected by beautifully landscaped grounds and forests. The grounds flow down to the

Portmeirion Wales
Portmeirion looking out to the Estuary

waterfront to showcase the beautiful estuary that borders the front of the complex.

The site may be familiar if you are mature enough to have watched, The Prisoner with Patrick McGoohan. Here is a Youtube link if you want to reminisce: It shows the whole village beautifully and gives you the feel of what you can see when you visit.

The Portmeirion Village boast several Hotels and self-catering units, with a town hall, shops cafes and a woodland walk, a woodland train and a coastal walk. Beautiful landscaped grounds connect the buildings and the paths allowing you to wander through the village and explore the whole area.

Aberystwyth

 

You can find Aberystwyth on the West Coast of Wales. It is known as a university and tourist town. It is a nice sized town with a castle and historical Gothic and Victorian buildings. Surrounded by hills there are several walks to high points where you can get some amazing views over the town and out to sea.

This was another place that I would have liked to stay longer and have a real look around. The museum would have, unearthed some great history and given an overview of the town.

The waterfront is bordered by a long row of Victorian holiday homes showing off,an era when Aberyswyth was a popular place for the wealty Victorian gentry to make the town their holiday place of choice, especially after the railway connected the slightly remote town to the rest of the UK, making it easier to access.

On the headlands at the top end of the harbor sits the remains of a castle and some very poignant war memorials. They were silhouetted nicely against the sunset which enhanced the feel of the area, while I was there.

One thing that I really appreciated whilst I was traveling through Wales was the use of the Welsh language in various places. I was told by the locals that the language had started dying out a few decades ago, but had been reintroduced into the schools.

Evidently during the reign of Henry VIII and the English sovereignty in about 1536 the language was banned and then during the 19th century, industrialization, the language was not encouraged and was considered a peasants’ language. That has now been turned around with quite a good percentage of Welsh schools teaching Welsh as a first language.

 

North Wales – Snowdonia

A conversation about Wales is not complete without a mention of the Snowdonia National Park. I managed to get to the bottom edge of the park and the scenery certainly gave a small taste of what you could expect if you ventured furthur into the National Park.

It is the home of some pretty extreme sports and serous outdoor activities, including, hiking, cycling and yacht racing, even though the area is known for rain, snow and sleet in the mountains.

The area that I saw was not unlike some parts of New Zealand and I suppose that because New Zealand is quite diverse in the landscapes that you encounter, that is a common occurrence that I have noticed when I am traveling.

I did visit the Snowdon Railway but due to a lack of time and the cost of the fare I decided that I would not ruin the enjoyment of the ride by rushing it. I did however experience spending time in the rail station and have some traditional scones and cream. It was also a good chance to sit and people watch and listen to a bit more of the Welsh language being spoken.

The rail stations are also a good place to learn a little local history as there is some interesting photos and stories around the walls, and also usualy some of the enthusiastic locals are willing to talk and tell you about the area and the history.

Is It Worth The Visit?

My conclusion of my short trip to Wales is that it was by no means long enough. I did plan to return from my base in the UK for a longer trip but that did not eventuate this time. It is definitely on my bucket list to return for a longer trip and most probably on a motorbike to take advantage of the great roads, and scenery.

I would like to spend more time along the coast and explore the villages and towns that you come across. Each one is unique and it would be great to have more time to wander around the villages and get the feel of the architecture and culture that each village presents to you.

The Castles of Wales are also something I want to check out on my next visit, the famous Cardiff Castle would be on the list as would, Carnarfon Castle and Caerphilly Castle. I would also love to visit the Cardiff Museum which has free entry, and of course would be an excellent way to learn about the interesting and sometimes sad history of the country.

As a solo woman traveler, this would be one of the safer places that you could visit if you are worried about personal safety when traveling solo. Wales is an English speaking country but has the added charm of the Welsh language and the Celtic history which makes it a destination with history and a unique feel about it. Put Wales on your must do list and you won’t regret it.

Great Solo Vacation Ideas For Women – Prague

Prague St Vitus Cathedral

Prague has been a place that I have been longing to visit after hearing from friends and family that it was the favorite destination on their travels. Finally, I have had the chance to visit the amazing city and I spent a few days exploring  and soaking up the atmosphere, culture and the history. It is totally one of the Great Solo Vacation ideas for Women.

I will tell you about the main tourist spots in Prague and also about some other areas that you might like to visit if you are there for a few days. I am sure there will be places that will appeal to you, if you are traveling alone,  you can please yourself and pick the best choices from my list of ideas.

Prague at night

As I mentioned about the other places that I have presented to you, I will assure you that traveling to this city is as safe as any other and you don’t need to be worried about your safety if you are traveling alone, as long as you follow common sense safety tips.

There have been previous warnings about pickpockets but really things like this are a global issue the way people move around the world. Just keep you valuables secure as you move around through the city and public areas.

Transport Options in Prague

You can choose to fly into Prague which is a convenient and cheap option if you are already in Europe. Plan with enough time ahead of you and your flights will be quite affordable. I managed to get a very cheap flight just less than two weeks from when I flew there, so if you want to be spontaneous then keep an eye out because there are bargains to be had.

As it turned out, my flight was canceled after waiting at the airport for an extra hour or two, and then sitting one the plane for another hour. We were shuttled off the plane again and had to find accommodation for the night. Luckily I had someone with me who knew a hotel that

Museum of Public Transport Prague

they had stayed at before and we managed to get booked in just in time before everyone else on the plane tried to book. The sweet spot with this scenario was that I had an extra half day to explore and then the airline had to pay the European Union Flight Cancellation Compensation which can be up to 600 Euros. That might have just paid for my trip.

Apart from the usual taxis and Uber you have the choice of buying a 24hr or 72hr pass which gives you access to the trams and buses to get into the city. These are very cheap and are available from the major Metro Stations and at Tourist Information Centers.

Of course when you get into the central city walking is the only way to go. You are able to have a really good look at all the main attractions and soak up the atmosphere as you go.

The Must Do Attractions in Prague

Here are four of the top attractions that you can do by walking around the center of Prague.

Prague Cathedral
St Vitus Cathedral Prague

The St Vitus Cathedral is a magnificent example of architecture over the centuries, with the first beginnings of the church in 1060 until it was recorded as completed in 1929. It is sited in the grounds of the Prague Castle so your visit can take in the whole complex.

Try to get there earlier in the day because although I was able to wander around the outside of the buildings, it was too late in the day to take advantage of access to the internal areas of both the Castle and the Cathedral. Seeing the photos of what can be viewed from inside and in the towers, I am sorry that I didn’t plan that better, but that just warrants a return visit.

The Prague Astronomical Clock also known as Prague Orloj, is found in the Old Town Square. Time it right and you can see it working on the hour every hour. The four figures on the outside of the clock represent Vanity, Greed, Death ( The Skeleton) and lust and earthly pleasure.

Prague Astronomical Clock
Prague Astronomical Clock

The clock is the oldest clock still operating and is very ornate with depictions of the Earth, Sun, Moon, Sky and was essentially used in medieval astronomy. It is worth being there on the hour to watch the time acknowledged by the clock.

I was intrigued to watch the very historical clock at work with everyone taking photos with their cell phones. It was a moment in time when the vast differences in technology were highlighted.

The other iconic must do and see in Prague is of course the St Charles Bridge, which crosses the Vitava River. You can wander over the bridge to get to the Castle from the town Center. This amazing Gothic bridge was named after Charles IV who started building it in 1357. It was completed in 1402.

Walking over the bridge you will not be able to resist being impressed by the beautifully ornate statues along the walkway. Time it want to keep with tradition then you need to touch the statue of St John of Nepomuk, who was a Czech Martyr Saint who was executed and thrown into the River at some sad time in history. If you want to have good luck and to ensure that you return to Prague then touching this statue is a must.

Other Querky Places to see in Prague.

While I was spending time in Prague I found myself in an historical Cemetery. There were amazing huge crypts placed all through the Cemetery It was so poignant to think that some of the Crypts were bigger than some of the houses that the poor would have had to endure. It

Pieta By Anna Chromy
Pieta By Anna Chromy

was actually almost like wandering through a park because the trees and landscaping was really nice. I was pleased not to be there at night, although I see there are a few Cemetery tours that you can do, if you are interested. It would have been nice to have a guide to fill in some history an they usually tell some interesting stories.

Another place that I really enjoyed was the Prague Museum of Public Transport. This Museum had a wide variety of interesting exhibits, not just vehicles. The main hall of vehicles includes, motorbikes, cars, trains, balloons, and bicycles, all in the one room. It is pretty impressive. Check it out while you are there, or one of the many other interesting Museums. Learning about history can be an insight into today.

Do You Want Food With Your Beer?

Prague is famous for cheap, good beer and food, and it didn’t disappoint on my trip. If beer is your thing, you should be able to find something you like for the right price. The food was a delight and quite varied so it would suit all tastes. The classics, sauerkraut, meats with dumplings, good hearty soups and stews and then lighter options were available. If you are not sure where to go, there are plenty of food guides available. I like to try my luck at places that i see, as I wander around. I always check to see how busy the places are and go to where others are eating, that is always a good guide.

Make sure You Put This One on Your Bucket List

Hopefully I have convinced you that you need to go and spend some time in Prague, if you didn’t already have it on your bucket list. Prague is an amazing city and in hindsight I should have spent more than a few days there. Oh well, no worries, I touched the statue of St John of Nepomuk, so I will be back.

St Charles Bridge Prague-

Great Solo Vacation Ideas for Women – New Orleans

As a woman traveling alone you do need to make a few decisions and plan accordingly. This has been covered in earlier posts such as Solo Travel for Women Over 50 and now I want to share with you some great Solo Vacation ideas for Women.

Solo travel as a female may seem a little daunting but there are so many advantages for you to experience, such as being able to make all the decisions yourself including time frames, destinations and your daily itinerary

You may already have an idea of where you want to go. I have experienced many destinations as a solo traveler so I can personally recommend good safe travel destinations if you are traveling alone. I would like to cover various options for you to consider. Let’s start with my favorite.

New Orleans – NOLA

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

NOLA stands for New Orleans, Louisiana. I think New Orleans is one of the best travel destinations for Solo Travelers, that I have been to. It is such a fun mix of music, culture, history and oh wow the food.

Don’t be put off by the crime statistics that say that New Orleans is the 4th most dangerous city in the USA, and the 32nd most dangerous city in the world. You just need to be aware of your surrounds and don’t allow yourself to become a target. This is general Solo Traveler advice.

The city is still recovering from the effects of Huricane Katrina. You can see a lot of the infrastructure and in particular the roads in some areas are still broken and damaged. The resilience of the people show through with the tourism definitely helping to keep the economy ticking along, and you are rewarded with a real taste of the lifestyle and culture.

New Orleans is such an interesting mix of cultures, African American, Cajun, French, Spanish, and of course Creole, which is the description of a mixed race person from Spanish, french or European descent mixed with African or sometimes Native American.

Mardi Gras – Throw me sumfing Mista

Mardi Gras - A Family Affair
Image by Hannah Alkadi from Pixabay

The New Orleans Mardi Gras is world-famous. You really need to put this on your bucket list. The parades and celebrations are free for all from about a month before the big lead up to Shrove Tuesday. This is the feast, traditionally with pancakes that is the day before Ash Wednesday when the fasting begins for Lent in Western Churches. I don’t know how many people partake in the fasting but there is certainly plenty who join in the festivities and the fun which leads up to it.

Joining in the crowds to watch the parades was one of the highlights of my visit to New Orleans. Standing among the tourists and locals was a great cultural experience. Kids on shoulders, calling out for a string of beads or a trinket for good luck was infectious and got you into the swing of things. People laughing and happy everywhere. I didn’t see any bad behavior and it was really a family event. The parades just went on and on and you felt like everyone in New Orleans was a part of it, either taking part in the parades or standing and dancing in the crowds.

Since the Mardi Gras started in 1819, it has been a favorite for locals and tourists alike. For 130 years it has been tradition for the green gold and purple colored beads and other decorations to adorn the street of New Orleans during the Mardi Gras month.

The Muses, are the 9 Greek Goddesses, from Greek Mythology. During the parade, they specialise in beautifully decorated high-heeled shoes which are well sought after, as a souvenir from the parade. Look out for the North side Skull and Bones Gang. They represent the Threme area of New Orleans, which is adjacent to the French Quarter. The tradition dates back 200 years and is based on African Spirituality. They dance along the street, beating drums and chanting. They threaten that anyone not living right will have to face the “bone man”. I’m not sure how many people take that seriously but it is definitely a lot of fun watching every part of the parade.

If you are lucky enough to catch something thrown in the parade it may include, beads, cups, shoes, hand made purses, doubloons (Spanish Coins), sunglasses, boots, toilet brushes, compact mirrors, flashing skeletons, and decorated coconuts which are actually passed down to the crowd rather than thrown. You don’t want to be hit on your coconut with a coconut.

. The New Orleans Mardi Gras is not just any normal parade, but a unique mix of culture, that goes on for days, celebrating the uniqueness of New Orleans

Did I say food?

You are spoiled for choice when it comes to food in New Orleans. If you think the food is normally a great

Southern Fried Chicken

experience, with endless choices, then you wait until you see what is laid on for the Mardi Gras. Look out for the brightly colored King cakes. They are a mix of purple Gold and Green color. A delicious mix of coffee cake and cinnamon roll with fruit and cream cheese, the king cake also hides a little surprise inside. Whoever finds the plastic baby King in the cake has to go and buy the next cake or throw a party. That is an excellent way to keep the endless celebrations going.

Jambalaya, jambalaya, don’t you just love the sound of it as it rolls off your tongue? It even has its own song. As with other unique New Orleans cuisine it is its own mix of meat vegetables and rice, always including some type of traditional sausage, and shrimp, and of course craw fish.

A Gumbo is a meal and a half, and if you can find your favorite from the 1400 restaurants that New Orleans boasts then you have done well. Gumbo is similar but different to Jambalaya in that the mix of sausage chicken and vegetables is served on top of the rice, whereas the Jambalaya is cooked with the rice in the pot. I am sure there are several other traditional differences and actually who am I to tell you about these traditional dishes. You will need to talk to the locals over a bowl of Gumbo or a plate of Jambalaya and then you will have a meal and a conversation

While you are there, don’t forget to try a PoBoy-(Poor Boy) which is a sandwich with meats, seafood, cheeses and fillings with sauces. Or try the donuts from Cafe Beignet, but only if you want to walk along the street with powdered sugar down your front after you have devoured the donuts.

All of these food options are excellent choices if you are eating alone. If you start a talking with the locals about the food, you will instigate a passionate conversation which may lead to life long friendships. I did.

Where to Stay – The options

New Orleans relies on the Tourist Dollar and therefore the options for Accommodation reflect the choices available

Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels

for entertainment and eating out. You can stay in high end to Budget Hotels or Air BnB options right down to Hostels or BackPacker accommodation. Booking.com is always a good option that I use

If you want to be nearer to the action then staying in the French Quarter itself is a good choice, but only if you don’t mind the noise going on into the night, as this may be a possibility. If you stay outside but nearby to the French Quarter you can walk to where you want to, but be aware that as the night goes on you might want to take some transport such as Uber or Taxi to get back to your room, just as a safety measure. I found it OK to walk to my accommodation several blocks from the French Quarter but it was well lit and I didn’t encounter any issues, apart from having to step around some sleeping street people whilst I was en route.

As suggested in previous posts, a good option is to walk with another group of tourists just to avoid being seen, on your own.

Add New Orleans to Your Bucket List

Whether you have already thought about New Orleans as a travel destination or the idea is new to you, I really think that it may not be for everyone, but hey how will you know if you don’t try it.

A visit to New Orleans should be something that everyone has a chance to experience. There is so much history and the culture is like no other. We love you NOLA.

 

Doreen by Local Artist