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Top 10 Places To Visit in 2015

Top 10 Places To Visit in 2015

Need some help deciding where to travel to this year? We have put together a list of the top 10 places to visit in 2015 to help you out! So whether you want to go camping in a magical jungle or spend time in a thriving city, there is somewhere for everyone and we hope that you will experience some of these beautiful places if you haven’t already!

10. San Francisco, USA Belgrade, Serbia Matagalpa, Nicaragua Maafushi, Maldives Haida Gwaii, Canada Cape Town, South Africa Myanmar Helsinki, Finland Iceland Havana, Cuba

 


 

Photo Credits: 1. Jaume Escofet, 2. www.turnerfitch.com, 4. Staffan Scherz, 6. Sam Beebe, 8. Thomas Frost Jensen, 9. lab604 | All images have been altered


 

Bio Photo Marina 150x150 UPDATED: Taking A Chalkboard Around The World (PHOTOS)Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her best friend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world.

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Moving Home

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Moving Home

 

Living abroad was one of the best and most difficult things I’ve ever done. It was exhilarating and exciting and besides who doesn’t want to live on a tropical island? When we moved to Phuket, Thailand I was ready to become an expat and enjoy every minute of it. Life in the United States wasn’t going the way I had envisioned. I was working like crazy, struggling to pay of my looming student loans, and just overall didn’t feel free. Everything changed the second I decided to move to Thailand.

 

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Moving HomeI never thought that two years later I’d be coming back to live in the United States. I was ready to be back on U.S. soil and see all my old friends and family, but it prove to be much more difficult than I thought. When I was abroad, it was hard being away and not having many people to talk to. I was ready for all the comforts of home and to finally be able to share some of my travel stories, but I didn’t expect to feel like a failure. The more time I was home, the more I started to feel like I had moved backwards in life. I had done such a crazy and adventurous thing by moving abroad and taking control of my life, but moving home just felt like all of that was all for nothing; it felt like I had failed.

 

Nothing prepared me for when I would talk to new people and explain that I had once been an expat. Their eyes would light up with excitement and delight just to be followed by such a disconcerting look followed by those words, “And you moved back home?” Nobody seemed to understand and it was easy to assume that living abroad was perfect. I’d call my friends and they’d ask, “How is it there?” and before I could respond they’d say, “Oh its so beautiful, life must be perfect!” How could I ever explain that it wasn’t? That life, no matter where you live still has its ups and downs? So I kept quiet.

 

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Moving Home

“I can’t help but feel sad

at the thought that it is

all behind me now.

Why did I move home?” 

 

 

The past two years of my life have been the most exciting ever and I can’t help but feel sad at the thought that it is all behind me now. Why did I move home? I guess some backstory is in order. Jeff and I moved to Thailand as a couple. He and I both always wanted to live abroad, but never really had the courage to do it alone. We were what we both needed to take that huge step into the unknown and I was so grateful I had my best friend by my side while I did it. When we pushed that button to book our one-way ticket to move to the other side of the world, we both knew that it would make us or break us as a couple. We talked about how things could end badly, but in the end it was worth the risk.

 

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Moving HomeAfter selling everything we owned, moving out of our apartments and even quitting our jobs, we were off. Once we settled into our new life, reality started to settle in. It was confusing. We were in such a beautiful place, yet it seemed so dark. We went from being best friends and a couple that worked all week and lived 70-miles apart to living together on an island, working and running a business together and being our only friends. After struggling we both decided that something had to give, and unfortunately that was the relationship. For me, I’d rather have my best friend and be single then loose everything we had built together, and Jeff felt the same way. So I decided to move home, it was difficult, but I needed it.

“I want to travel, I want to live in new countries and now I can pick myself up and plan my next adventure.”

 

Now that I’ve been back home for six months, I find myself feeling depressed and out of place. I keep thinking about moving abroad again, but I know that it would be scary to do alone. I’ve become so comfortable in my little bubble being back in my hometown that moving again is scary. Is in normal to feel this stuck? The answer is yes.

 

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Moving HomeI think that moving home whether you lived in Thailand or just lived in a different town or state can be difficult. It’s easy to feel like you’re moving backwards, but just remember, all that matters is what you need at that moment. For me it was coming home so that I could rediscover why I moved abroad in the first place. I needed to feel this way so that I could be remotivated to fight for it. I want to travel, I want to live in new countries and now I can pick myself up and plan my next adventure.

 

I can finally feel myself starting to pull out of my funk and although it took 6 months to get there it was something I just had to go through. I love traveling and without it I just don’t feel like me. I need to get back out there and start exploring again. I know that Jeff and I breaking up plus moving back home has been a really difficult thing for me to get over, however it is time for me to focus on what makes me happy – TRAVELING. Although I don’t know if I’ll ever live abroad again, I can at least explore the world and all it has to offer!

 


 

Bio Photo Marina 150x150 UPDATED: Taking A Chalkboard Around The World (PHOTOS)Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her best friend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world.

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Watch the Super Bowl While Traveling

How To Watch the Super Bowl While Traveling

Well, it’s that time of the year again, Super Bowl time. If you’re an American you know what I’m talking about. If you’re not, don’t worry, you’re not missing much… well to me anyways, I’m not an American Football fan, but Jeff is, he really is. Football seems to be the backbone of American culture. It is everywhere and the Super Bowl is like our World Cup.

How To Watch the Super Bowl While TravelingHow To Watch the Super Bowl While TravelingaSuper Bowl parties, in America, are a big deal. It’s like second Christmas! Everyone decorates, puts every TV they can find in one room, barbecues or lets be honest, orders take out of barbecue so they don’t have do cook themselves, and goes to Costco to get a ton of beer! Even if you don’t like football, like me, it’s a lot of fun! It doesn’t even matter if you’re team is even in the Super Bowl, you still get to yell and be roughly for two teams that you normally don’t even care about. It’s just the American way!

This year the Seattle Seahawks will be playing the New England Patriots on February 1st in the 2015 Super Bowl. Keep in mind the Seahawks won the Super Bowl last year, so it is an intense game! This is what football fans wait all year for and if you’re traveling it is no different! Last football season, Jeff and I were living in Thailand and just watching football with a 12-hour time change proved to be difficult, let alone the fact that no one else cared about the game. It would be frustrating not to be able to watch the game with your friends. Jeff would get up at 3:30 in the morning just to watch his precious Washington Redskins loose (haha), while I stayed sound asleep in bed loving that I no longer had to watch him watch football.

(Since I don’t care for football, I love to tease Jeff about his team not doing very well every chance I get!)

 

Not sure how to watch the game? Check out our article about Watching Sports Abroad!

 

Last year, during this precious time, Jeff and I were on a cruise in Italy. Not only were we the youngest on that cruise, we were two of only a handful of Americans. Luckily, we had made the decision to purchase the all inclusive alcohol package, which I highly recommend to anyone taking a cruise, and then we just had to find the game!

How To Watch the Super Bowl While TravelingSo it makes sense that we would be sad that we weren’t able to be in the States for the Super Bowl, but we decided to make the best of it anyways. The cruise ship had a sports bar and luckily they were going to be showing the game. When Jeff found out they’d have the game I’ve never heard such a loud sigh of relief. Unfortunately, internet on cruise ships doesn’t seem to exists yet, so he wasn’t able to talk to his friends back home and enjoy some good old fashion shit talking, but there were a few Americans in the bar to heckle with.

How To Watch the Super Bowl While TravelingSo if you’re on the road, in a different country there are a few things you can do to insure an amazing Super Bowl experience. First, make sure that you have plenty of booze available. For some reason this is way more important than actually watching the game. Second, find out where you can find the game. I’ve always been surprised how easy it is to find a bar anywhere in the world that has or is willing to show at least the Super Bowl. They may never play American football games, but they will screen the big game. Plus, if you find a bar showing the game it also takes care of the booze part! Next, be sure you have plenty of snacks, anything deep-fried will do! If you found all of these things then you’re ready for the big game! Now all you have to do is get drunk and yell at people when whatever team you’re rooting for is loosing!


All images via Flickr.com under the Creative Commons License. © Dave Nakayama (dnak), © Philip Robertson (PhilipRobertson), ©Joe Goldberg (Goldberg), © Mobilus In Mobili (Mobili) – All images have been altered.  


 

Bio Photo Marina 150x150 UPDATED: Taking A Chalkboard Around The World (PHOTOS)Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her best friend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world.

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.

 

Loreto Mexico Banner

Loreto, Mexico – The Undiscovered Gem of Mexico

Loreto, Mexico
View from our room at The Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto.

 Growing up travel wasn’t something my family did, in fact no one in my family had a passport. We grew up just trying to get by, but since my grandfather grew up in Cuba and came to live in the United States when he was 17, he always took my dad and his siblings to Baja Mexico for family vacations. They always went down to San Felipe to camp on the beach and the tradition lived on. My dad’s family took our cousins and us down to the same little beach once or twice a year throughout our whole childhood. I know I said we didn’t travel, but when you live in Southern California, Mexico doesn’t feel like a new place. It was our weekend trips that we looked forward to all year.

Loreto, Mexico
Intersection in the downtown area of Loreto.

Because Baja was like a second home, I never felt the need to experience more of Mexico and to be honest; Mexico isn’t a place California’s prefer to go. As Americans, we seem to think that Mexico isn’t safe, however Mexico is a large country and there are so many beautiful and safe places to visit. So when I got the opportunity to go this year I was delighted. I was finally able to go experience a new side of Mexico and rediscover this stigmatized country and have the oppertunity to show you a beautiful place full of wonderful people. Once again I’d be traveling to Baja, but this time to Loreto, a small town in Baja California Sur.

Since I had always driven to Mexico as a kid, it was exciting to fly. Alaskan Airlines has a direct flight from LAX to Loreto, which was great. It was such a short flight, but the airline was so kind and efficient. Plus they had really taste craft beer on board from Portland, Oregon. The flight was only a few hours and we were there in no time! The tiny airport, which was clean and looked like it had a brand new terminal, was simple and everyone was friendly.

Loreto, Mexico
This is the small beach we spent the afternoon on to snorkel and enjoy the sun!

I was looking forward to this trip for a while, after traveling with Jeff for six months straight, I was excited to have a girls weekend in Mexico so I invited my friend Cris to come along with me. We didn’t want the summer to end so going down to Baja was perfect!

Loreto, Mexico
The Capital building.

Cris and I were so excited when we arrived. The weather was perfect and the water was so blue. As soon as we saw our resort we were both speechless, it was just too beautiful for words! We were staying at The Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto, which is quite the resort. Our one bedroom villa overlooked the whole resort and ocean. The great thing about The Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto is that every room faces the ocean. The buildings of rooms are all arranged to create a cove with the resort on the inside and the ocean as a prefect backdrop. There truly is no bad view. The other great thing is that there are no other resorts in site and you feel as though our on our own private island.

Loreto, Mexico
Just enjoying the view!
Loreto, Mexico
Loreto is a great place to Kayak!

Although we were mainly just at the resort there was so much to do! We could go hiking and do yoga over the beautiful ocean, go to the spa, swim in one of the many pools, go kayaking or paddle boarding and we could even go out and search for the famous chocolate clams! We even spend a day out in the water on a boat to go snorkeling and have lunch on a tiny little beach not too far from the hotel, it was a perfect day! If you’re interested in exploring the city, the hotel has a shuttle to get you into town. There is a lot to walk around and explore even though Loreto is a small city. It has a very small town charm and the people are so friendly and welcoming. There are many mom and pop shops to explore and buy some souvenirs.

There are many places in Baja that are perfect for a getaway, but in my opinion, Loreto was just perfect!  Whether you are looking for a couple’s getaway or a family vacation, The Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto is the perfect place to relax and have a great time.

Check out some more photos!

Loreto, Mexico
Beautiful souvenirs!
Loreto, Mexico
Downtown Loreto.
Loreto, Mexico
A Chef at The Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto, prepares a fiery drink!
Loreto, Mexico
Waterfront in downtown Loreto.
Loreto, Mexico
Out on the boat enjoying to view.

 

Bio Photo Marina 150x150 UPDATED: Taking A Chalkboard Around The World (PHOTOS)Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her best friend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world.

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.

Sri Lanka

20 Images That Will Make You Plan A Trip To Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a country I never really thought too much about, but now that I have been I cannot stop thinking about it! There was so much beauty we just had to share some of what this beautiful country has to offer! These 20 images will really make you plan your next vacation to Sri Lanka. There are gorgeous temples and lush countryside as well as breathtaking beaches and even elephants!

 

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Bio Photo Marina 150x150 UPDATED: Taking A Chalkboard Around The World (PHOTOS)Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her best friend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world.

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.

2014 Wrap Up

Latitude 34 Year End Wrap Up 2014

Now that it is 2015, we wanted to take a look back at this past year. In just 365 days we traveled to over 30 countries on four continents. Jeff and I also both moved from Thailand. In June I moved back home to California, while Jeff took a new job and relocated to Dubai.

2014 was an amazing year! We got to Climb to the top of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka, I started my chalkboard photo series, we went off-roading in the Arabian Desert, we visited the Great Pyramids in Egypt, we went to the Maldives on a budget and got to ride in a sea plane, and we took a husky safari in Lapland, Finland!

We traveled over 32,281 miles around the world and had the time of our lives!

 

2014 Wrap Up

 

 

Bio Photo Marina 150x150 UPDATED: Taking A Chalkboard Around The World (PHOTOS)Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her best friend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world. 

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more. 

How The Tsunami Changed My Life (For The Better)

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Ten years ago right now I was sitting in the Chicago O’Hare international terminal waiting to board a flight to Dublin. It was the day after Christmas and I remember being freezing cold, sitting on hard metal chairs, watching the constant barrage of horrible images coming in on CNN from across SE Asia – Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia. I was watching in awe, never having seen such devastation, at least not on this level.

I began to feel helpless, useless, like nothing I was doing that day, that week, that year mattered anymore. In a matter of minutes hundreds of thousands had lost their lives and millions had theirs changed forever. I couldn’t comprehend the magnitude of such a disaster. I knew nothing about South East Asia, nothing about the cultures affected, the region, languages or food but knew I couldn’t help unless I was there. My thoughts were simple, “I have two good hands and they could be helping”, that was all. It was a message more clear in my head than anything in my life and I could not ignore it.

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“It showed me that even while dealing with unending pain and heartache, we all possess the power to rise above it…”

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A few days later I had informed my college I would be taking some time off from school and a couple weeks after that I was standing alone in LAX, boarding a flight to the other side of the world, not really knowing why but feeling like I needed to. I’ll never forget arriving to Phuket, not knowing the first thing about where I was. I tried to get money out of the ATM but had no idea what the exchange was. I clutched tightly to a small piece of paper I had written down the name of a small village on and reluctantly handed it to a tuk-tuk driver, hoping he’d know where to take me.

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How The Tsunami Changed My Life (For The Better)

 

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What followed was the most impactful and full-filling period of my life up to that point. I met travelers from all over the world, all who came to Phuket drawn by the same feeling – to help strangers in need. I learned about the beautiful Thai culture, the gentle people and the unimaginable suffering they were going through. For the first time in my 20 years on Earth I felt a calling to tell stories, witnessed the power that visuals can have to share emotion and ultimately decided to return to the states and pursue visual journalism as a career.

Upon returning home I switched schools, obtained a photo journalism and documentary filmmaking degree, set off around the world to tell stories, continued to volunteer around the world after natural disasters and have yet to stop chasing the feeling of being in the unknown, exploring the mysterious and pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

Ten years later I have visited 70 countries on 6 continents, seen things I could only ever dream of, traveled with some of my best friends and met people I will never forget.

Ten years later I have a love for people and places I have yet to visit, but will some day.

Ten years later I have a respect for the world around me I never thought I would.

Ten years later I have a desire to keep going, keep exploring, no matter the cost.

Ten years later I know myself so much deeper because of the travels I have taken.

Ten years later I have stories I hold more tightly than any possessions I own.

Ten years later I have memories of people and places I may never see again, who made me who I am today.

Ten years later I cannot be more thankful I listened to my heart and followed a feeling.

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How The Tsunami Changed My Life (For The Better)

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I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason, and I am yet to know why traveling, exploring and documenting the world around me has been what I have been called to do, but I will continue none the less. If you asked me when I was growing up where I would be at 30, I never would have believed I’d be sitting in Madrid, Spain writing this post with my family, flown in from Ecuador and Boston, days before I return to Dubai, where I now live. I never would have believed I could have had such amazing experiences, meet such beautiful people or have made such truly unforgettable memories.

The tsunami destroyed a lot of lives, took a lot of lives too soon and altered the paths of many but it also brought together countries, communities and people from all over the world who otherwise never would have met. As I try and struggle to find my small piece in all of that I try and take comfort in the unending good that has come from the relationships formed since then and how they have helped to make the world a better place – one small deed at a time, one person at a time.

The tsunami changed my life, it changed my life for the better. That single wave changed the course of my entire life, changed the way I think, changed the way I act and showed me what mattered in the world, who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live. It showed me life is short, to go after my passions, to follow my feelings, to take a leap and trust in where I would land. It showed me that even while dealing with unending pain and heartache, we all possess the power to rise above it. And above all, the tsunami taught me that we are all the same. We all want to be happy, healthy and loved, no matter our path in life.

Sitting here 10 years later I cannot imagine my life any different than it is now. Not a month goes by I don’t meet someone I can never imagine not knowing, whether in Dubai, Finland, Santiago or Chicago and I owe it all to the moment I was sitting on that cold metal chair in Chicago, glued to the TV, knowing I had to do something. So follow that voice, trust where it leads and take a leap, we only live once and who knows where you could end up, just know the world will make it matter, I promise.

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How The Tsunami Changed My Life (For The Better)

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast! 

Do Not Miss Climbing Sigiriya in Sri Lanka

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Marina and I were recently lucky enough to jump over to Sri Lanka to attend TBC Asia, the first ever travel blogging conference in Asia. What was even more exciting was being able to arrive four days before the conference and travel around seeing all that we could of this beautiful country in the short time that we had. Easily one of our favorite experiences of our time in Sri Lanka was hiking up to the top of Sigiriya, or Lion Rock, located in the town of Dambulla, in the Central Province.

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We arrive early, maybe before 7am, and the heat was already turning up quickly. Chosen by King Kasyapa (477 – 495 CE) as the location of his capital, the grounds are covered in ancient walls, structures and ponds as the location of his palace was at the base of this magnificent rock structure. Walking towards this massive rock I felt a bit like I was walking through the grounds of Angkor Wat as the vastness of ruins reminded me of the similar layout of the Cambodian temples.

Sri Lanka is one of the greenest countries we have ever visited and while it is also extremely humid for much of the year, it is a small price to pay for the beautiful scenery the wet climate produces. Approaching the first stairs at the base of the rock, we passed one of the funniest signs we have ever seen, a bit intimidating huh? Luckily we kept our cool and didn’t get attacked.

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Approaching the rock itself we started to climb small stone steps leading to the sheer, flat side of the stone. Watch your step, as the stones are often wet and extremely slippery. Word of caution, if you are afraid of heights, have anxiety or are easily scared, think twice about doing this hike as most of the journey is up somewhat rattling metal stairs, bolted directly into the stone face. You will no doubt be fine and will feel like Indian Jones the whole way, but just know its a bit of a thrill.

About half way up the rock face there is a small cave which is still filled with some of the amazing paintings from centuries ago. Take a minute to check out these beautiful frescos, delicately preserved and still just as colorful as when they were painted.

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For those who do not want to go all the way to the summit (but you totally should, the view is amazing!) you can stop about half way up on a plateau where you can see the ancient remnants of the lion massive lion statue which was built into the side of the rock. Only the feet remain, but you get an amazing idea of the insane size this statue must have been.

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Continuing on we started our ascent up the winding walkways, again built into the side of the rock, slowly, as we approached the summit. Once on top we were greeted with a truly magnificent view. The early morning sun had filled the valley below and the glistening mountain tops in the far distance were covered in perfect clouds. The shimmering ponds below reflected the perfect blue morning sky and we sat in awe for a good 30 minutes before beginning our decent down to the base.

The hike down is equally exciting so remember to go slow, take your time and enjoy the view. While we might not either be morning hiker people we would both do this amazing climb over again in a heartbeat – just one more thing that makes Sri Lanka such an amazing destination to visit.

Today Sigiriya is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site and is the single most visited historical site in the entire country.

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast! 

win

Happy Holidays from Latitude 34 – WIN €150 from Radisson Blu! 

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Marina and I have had quite the year in 2014 having traveled to over 35 countries on 4 continents, and while few things have remained certain across our crazy travels, we were always shocked to find a Radisson Blu almost anywhere we ended up. From Estonia to Dubai, Thailand to Germany, there was always a Radisson Blu close by. Having loved our stays so much, (Check out all of our hotel reviews) we asked the kind folks at Radisson Blu if they had anything special they could offer our readers – and you’re in luck!

From today through Christmas Day, you can enter to win a €150 voucher from Radisson Blu that can be used for whatever you want, at any of their locations across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia – and whats more, it doesn’t have to be just for a room. Do you live in Hamburg but are dying to try dinner at the amazing Filini at Radisson Blu Hamburg? Go for it. If you want to try the spa at the Radisson Royal in Dubai – feel free – although we also recommend staying there, as it is one of our favorite hotels in the world.

So enough of my talking right – what do you have to do to win?

  • Comment below this post to be eligible to enter the competition.
  • Add your name and email address to your comment so that we can contact you if you are picked at random.
  • You can maximize your chances of winning by sharing the competition on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag#FestiveBlu One additional entry will be added when you share on one or more of your social media channels.
  • The competition will run for 10 days and will close on December 25th at midnight CET.
  • A winner will be picked at random on December 28th and will be contacted for the gift card to be delivered.
  • Have fun and good luck!

If we had to pick how to spend a €150 voucher from Radisson Blu it would be a tough choice so we’ll leave that up to you!

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Additional Information about the Radisson Blu gift card giveaway:

  • The prize is a Rezidor Giftcard of a value of one hundred and fifty euro (EUR 150.00) which will be awarded at random to someone who has entered the competition
  • Winners can use this gift card in any Radisson Blu hotel in Europe, Middle East and Africa. It can be used towards a stay in one of the Radisson Blu hotels, for drinks and cocktails at any of the Radisson Blu bars, for diner in any of the restaurants or in any of the spa retreats.

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Read our review of one of our favorite Radisson hotels in the world, the Radisson Royal in Dubai!

Hotel Review: Radisson Royal Dubai
Marina getting to work in our amazing room on the 34th floor – its the little things that make Raddison Blu so special!

4 Ways to Travel Healthier

4 Ways to Travel Healthier

 

Are you “one of those people” who always comes back from vacation with a flu or cold? Can you never sleep on hotel beds no matter how comfortable they claim to be? Does it seem like you get back from your trip more stressed and worse for wear compared to when you left? If that’s the case, you’re one of the many travelers who isn’t taking care of their health while discovering new adventures.

You would plan a holiday and leave your travel CPAP machine at home, but caring for your sleep apnea is right on par with not taking care of your subtler health concerns. For example, if you diligently take supplements in your “real life”, don’t forget to pack them in travel-friendly containers for your trip. Here are a few ways to make your next trip healthier and, ultimately, happier:

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1. Boost your immune system

There are many ways to keep your immune system healthy, so start doing so at least a month before you travel (and keep on with it afterward). One of the most effective and natural ways is to add turmeric to your daily diet. You can do this by sprinkling at least a teaspoon’s worth on your meals throughout the day or take a supplement of 800mg to ensure you’re getting the full benefits. Also get adequate amounts of Vitamin C (check the percentage on your multi-vitamin).

The one food we ALWAYS eat while traveling is yogurt. I don’t know about you, but I have a very sensitive tummy, and making sure to always keep enough good bacteria from yogurt in my system has proven time and time again to be the single best way to keep my body in check when I land in a new place.

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2. Stay hydrated

Did you know that, according to Medical Daily, the majority of Americans are dehydrated? This issue becomes exacerbated with long-haul flights where the moisture in the air is even sparser and a lot of people avoiding drinking water in an effort to avoid those cramped bathrooms. Instead, choose an aisle seat if you have a small bladder and fill up on H2O.

 

3. Always choose hotels with a gym

It’s a great excuse to avoid your workouts when you don’t have a free gym an elevator ride away. Even if it’s “just” 20 minutes on the elliptical each day, it’s better than nothing. In fact, the American Heart Association’s recommendation for weekly exercise is a lot more reasonable than many people think. Pack your lightest gym shoes (or wear them on the plane) and commit to sticking with some type of regime.

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4. Pack healthy snacks

Convenience foods usually aren’t the healthiest and many people over indulge on vacation (but not where it counts). Save those splurges for famous food carts, fine dining and other experiences, not raiding the vending machine. While packing a small bag of nuts or a protein bar is simple enough, few people actually take the time to make sure they have a quick, healthy snack while they are traveling and instead just settle for airport meals or convenient store bites to eat – never a good idea. Traveling is way more taxing on our bodies and immune systems so always give your body the best shot to stay healthy so you can enjoy your entire trip!


Traveling healthy can be just as easy as traveling any other way. It just requires a little prep work.

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.Jenna is a freelance writer who loves the outdoors, fashion, and relaxing with her family. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Airbnb Red Flags You Should Never Ignore

Airbnb Red Flags You Should Never Ignore

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Booking a vacation rental on Airbnb can seem extremely appealing, especially if you’re staring at some really intimidating hotel prices for a popular destination. Financial concerns can become particularly pressing, if you wait too long to plan your lodging. Travelers can easily find good deals on Airbnb, however some rentals can be more trouble than they’re worth. These properties are listed by citizen property owners who don’t always prioritize customer service or convenience when they’re trying to fill up a vacancy. Here are some major red flags to keep an eye out for as you browse Airbnb listings.

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Host Account Age

Airbnb publishes the amount of time a host has been a member on their website. Airbnb itself was founded in 2008, so you can’t browse around, expecting to find too many hosts with extremely old accounts. However, accounts that have been created during the very same month should lead you to ask some questions about host reliability. Sure, this host could be totally fine, just completely new to the Airbnb process. But how badly do you want to test this theory?

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Airbnb Red Flags You Should Never Ignore

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Unresponsive Hosts

While you’re shopping around for the right rental, use the Airbnb messaging feature to ask questions. Try to do this before you book a place – if time permits – so that you can get a good idea of how responsive a host might be when you’re actually staying at their place. If they take forever to respond, or don’t answer your questions at all, then you should consider giving another host your business.

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Sketchy Payment Requests

Airbnb has created a closed system that allows you to communicate and pay hosts completely through their website. There is absolutely no legitimate reason for a host to speak with you outside of Airbnb’s messaging system or request payment through another platform, such as PayPal or wire transfer. Requests for outside payments are extremely likely to be a scam, and Airbnb won’t be able to intervene in transactions that aren’t conducted on their platform. According to Airbnb’s Online Safety webpage, “you can report people who ask you to do this by flagging the message.”

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Airbnb Red Flags You Should Never Ignore

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Exorbitant Security Deposits

Airbnb allows hosts to set security deposits ranging between $100 and $5000. Unless you’re expecting to Ritz Carlton experience at a particular vacation rental, then you should definitely steer clear of rentals that seem to have unusually high security deposits based on the type of property you’ll be renting.

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Negative Reviews As A Host…Or A Guest

You can get a general idea about the quality of a host by looking at the reviews on their property listings. However, you can even see how these hosts behave as guests when they rent Airbnb properties from other hosts. You can see all of their reviews by going directly to a host’s profile and scrolling down to the “Reviews From Hosts” section. If their “Reviews from Guests” section is pretty sparse, then you can still get a general feel for their reliability based on their experiences as a guest.

Airbnb can be an excellent way to learn more about an area, meet locals, and snag a great deal on your lodging. However, make sure that you won’t get stuck with problematic hosts and properties first. Keep an eye out for these warning signs the next time you book an Airbnb rental!

.Jenna is a freelance writer who loves the outdoors, fashion, and relaxing with her family. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Preserving Mexico's Ancient Music

Preserving Mexico’s Ancient Music

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One of the greatest joys of traveling the world for Marina and I is discovering ancient cultures we never have even heard of. While we hope to discover all these great cultures all over the world, we realize this is a somewhat impossible task, and thats when we turn to our friends! Marina and I were very lucky to go to film school with some amazing filmmaking friends and are always excited to see the great projects they are working on all over the world.

Recently, our good friend Cole embarked on a very ambitious project “Sanctuary of Butterflies“, but one well worth the time and energy, to preserve and protect the ancient music of Mexico with Luis Perez, one of the last musicians truly working to preserve this ancient art form. We recently spoke to Cole and Luis to learn more about their project and the amazing history of the music they are dedicated to preserve.

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Preserving Mexico's Ancient Music

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What’s the film about?

Sanctuary of Butterflies is about the need for preservation of cultural traditions throughout Mexico and the impact of such traditions in contemporary urban societies. Music and dance are important forms of expression rooted in thousands of years of traditions, but they are now threatened due to the voracity of modern societies represented by corporate greed and corruption in a globalized world out of balance. Luis Perez-Ixoneztli takes us on a journey across Mexico to experience and learn from a wide variety of unique cultures while they still exist.

Check out the trailer to their amazing project!

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Sanctuary of Butterflies Promo from Gravity Free Productions on Vimeo.

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Help these guys meet their Kickstarter goal so they can make this amazing film – because we really want to watch it!

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Who is Luis Perez-Ixoneztli?

Luis Perez-Ixoneztli has contributed to the world of Mexican music by incorporating native musical instruments into a contemporary musical language, while paving a unique path for new generations of musicians. He believes that the most important part of his musical contribution is bringing back attention to the sheer wealth of native Mexican musical instruments. His first work, En el Ombligo de la Luna, perhaps the ultimate fusion involving Pre-Columbian instruments and electronics, has recently been recognized after 33 years as a pioneering musical work and has been inducted into the National Archives of Mexican Music. In addition, the National Institute of Anthropology and History will be publishing his book next year on the methods involved in constructing instruments native to Mexico, specifically Pre-Columbian clay percussion and winds.

Luis’ vast array of archaeological artifacts, some dating over 3000 years old, and ethnographic instruments, still in use by numerous diverse ethnic communities, have been displayed in various museums in both Mexico and the United States.

In his youth, Luis went on a series of trips very similar to the one we have planned. Over the course of those trips, he traded songs, learned dances, collected ethnographic as well as ancient Pre-Columbian instruments, and was inspired by the cultures he encountered to the point of changing his life’s musical direction.

Instruments

Luis’ collection of native Mexican instruments includes archaeological artifacts representative of the different cultural regions in the area known as Mesoamerica. Some of the instruments date back more than 3000 years and are preserved in excellent condition. Found in archaeological excavations, these instruments were once used in the ancient past by ministers of music as vehicles of communication between the material and the spiritual realms. They were buried to prevent their destruction from invaders and have remained silent for thousands of years until it was time for them to rise and, through the breath of a musician, speak again. Luis regularly uses these instruments in his recordings and lectures.

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Preserving Mexico's Ancient Music

Photos copyright Oscar Colorado Nates and Cole Smothers.

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