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The Shutterbug’s Guide To Phoenix (Plus The Chance To Tick Off A Bucket List Item)

A place that I have often wanted to visit is Phoenix Arizona, so much so that it’s even on my travel wish list. The reason for this is the combination of fantastic weather and the awesome sites to be seen there make it just perfect for taking pictures, something I love to do. With that in mind, I have come up with a selection of the best places and activities that provide an opportunity to take photos in Phoenix Just read on to find out what they are.

Ro Ho En

When visiting Phoenix, Ro Ho En seems like a great place to start your tour. This is the Japanese friendship garden that was built in the year 2000 and makes a super place to take some amazing photography shots.

Ro Ho En
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In particular, you will find things like rock waterfalls and Japanese Maples there, and they also run regular events such as theatre and moon glazing ceremonies. There is even a health and wellness suit that offer meditations if you are feeling a little stressed out after your flight.

However, do bear in mind that if you want to use the gardens as a photographic backdrop, you will need to book a formal session. Something you can find out more about here.

Hot air balloon ride

Next, shutterbugs like me will want to book themselves a place on one of the hot air balloon tours in Phoenix that are on offer. You can choose from sunset or sunrise options, and some provider even run special photography trips with a professional photographer present to tutor you on how to get the best shots from the air.

Hot air balloon
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Shutterbugs can get some of the best images from the air. 

Something that for me would combine a passion of mine, with a bucket list item, in a place that I’ve always wanted to visit!

Heritage Square

Another place that you are guaranteed to get some amazing shots is the charming Heritage Square on Sixth Street. This is a collection of brick Victorian style houses that are kept in wonderful condition and make stunning subjects for a photography study.

There is also a museum there that you can visit to find out all about what life was like back in the 19th century, and there are some great craft activities that you can get involved with too.

Hole-in-the-Rock

Lastly, any budding photographers will want to take some time to pay a visit to the Hole-in-the-Rock. Nope, it’s not a bar, although it kind of sound like it could be, but a geological formation in the rock in the Papago Park.

There are plenty of trails to hike in the area too, making it a great location to get some landscape, and flora and fauna shots. Just remember to do two things before you set out.

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First, check the difficulty of the hike you are picking and make sure its suited to your level of fitness. Secondly, ensure that you charge your camera because you aren’t going to want to run out of battery in the middle of the trial and so not be able to take all pictures that you want.

A Taste Of The Wild West: Reasons To Visit Arizona

Monument Valley, Arizona
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Whether you’re looking for a tranquil holiday in the sun or a rugged adventure, the state of Arizona has it all. Here are just a few reasons to make this your next travel destination.

You can see the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon attracts tourists from around the globe. Stretching across the state, there are many ways to explore this mighty gorge. You can go rafting through the Canyon or explore it by air via helicopter. Those without fear can even walk across the glass walkway recently built over the canyon. Sites like Canyon Tours offer some great deals on various tours that you can take to the gorge. There are even hotels along the Canyon for those that want to wake up to this magnificent sight.

Devil's Bridge, Sedona, Arizona
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You can hike through Sedona

There a range of trails across the state for hikers. The stunning beauty of Sedona cannot be missed – it’s here you’ll find sights such as Cathedral Rock and have the chance to walk over the breathtaking Devil’s Bridge. There are lots of places to stop along these trails and there’s a strong hiking community. If you take a hike in the evening you can get to see the sunset, in which all the landscape takes on a golden appearance.

You can visit a ghost town

One of the state’s quirkier attractions is the ghost town in Jerome. Once a mining settlement, it’s long since become deserted and been turned into a new attraction. There are old cars and relics here and an olde-worlde fudge shop, which is great for visiting with kids. Tuzigoot National Monument is also nearby – an artefact of the Sinaguan Indians.

You can relax in the sun

If you don’t fancy an active holiday, you can still enjoy this state. Arizona has a number of luxury hotels with pools and spa facilities for relaxing. It’s also becoming a popular place for holiday rentals – as the likes of AZ Agenda states there are many luxury villas in the area up for grabs. A trip to Arizona can also be combined with a stay in Las Vegas, which is just across the border in Nevada.

Whiskey Row
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You can go drinking down Whiskey Row

If you fancy a bar crawl, there’s no better place to head than Whiskey Row in Prescott. This historic street sports a number of original saloons and bars. There are also shops and art galleries to check out along the street. For a true taste of the Wild West, this is the place to go and hang out.

What to Do for Your Next Adventure

What to Do for Your Next Adventure
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While the festive season is associated more with curling up on the sofa by the fire and watching films all day, there is always a new adventure waiting for you come the new year. People are running around shopping and preparing for Christmas Day, so it can be easy to push those dreams of foreign lands to the back of your mind.

But there are so many places to go and see that this can be difficult. What’s even more difficult, is deciding exactly what your next foray into unfamiliar places may be. Here are some options for when the festive fun is over, and you want to get back out on the open road.

WORKAWAY

The problem that many people face when wanting to travel is the lack of money. Thankfully, workaway programs are available for most destinations worldwide. Unlike the traditional backpacking culture, a workaway gives you the opportunity to work in local communities and get a real taste of the culture.

Typically, you will be set up with a host family who will be able to teach you about the environment and provide you with room and board. Some options are volunteer-only, but not having to spend money on accommodation and transit, as well as immersing yourself in a new culture, will make those hard days work all that bit sweeter.

ROAD TRIP

If there are a lot of places to see and not that much time or money to do it, then undertaking a road trip could be the solution. For the best value for money, searching for local RV auctions are a great way to get your hands on transport, and split the cost with a group of friends.

Taking a road trip offers you the freedom to do things on your own time, while also avoiding those daunting plane journeys. When participating in group tours, you are often restricted by schedules and itineraries, but having your own transport means you can stay as long or as little as you want in whatever places you might encounter.

TEACHING ENGLISH ABROAD

English is not the worldwide language for no reason. Schools in countries such as the Middle East and Far East Asia are always looking for native English speakers to teach their students in bilingual schools and will often assist with arranging visas and accommodation, allowing you to stay as long as you like.

For the best results, it is wise to complete a TEFL Certification Course, which, while not always necessary, will enhance the likelihood of finding work. A TEFL qualification will sometimes even guarantee you better pay rate among these schools and leave you in higher demand.

Lots of people dream about dropping everything and going on an adventure as soon as possible. With the number of services and opportunities available, there will always be a chance for you to see as much of the world as possible, and in some cases, you might even be able to get paid while doing it. The world is such a vast place, and so it seems like a waste to only roam the streets of your own hometown.

7 Reasons to Make Hong Kong Your Next Holiday Destination

Hong Kong Skyline
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If you are currently trying to figure out where to go on your next vacation, one place that you should certainly consider is Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a vibrant place with so much to offer, ranging from luscious, natural scenery to the huge skyscrapers. The culture is amazing, as are the people, and there is so much to see and do. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you should make Hong Kong your next holiday destination.

  1. Outlying islands to explore – When travelling Hong Kong, not only do you get the magic of the city, but there are so many incredible islands, which are less than an hour away. You could go rock-climbing in Tung Lung Chau, experience the crystal blue waters of Ma Dai Stream, or take a bike ride in Cheung Chau. The options are endless.
  2. Shopping – It would not be right to mention Hong Kong without talking about shopping. It is known as a shopping mecca, and there is something for all budgets. If you want to embrace local brands, PMQ is a good place to start. For luxurious and modern Chinese Fashion, Shanghai Tang is ideal. Plus, you also have the Ladies Market and Temple Street Night Market, which are experiences in themselves.
  3. Street art – Some of the street art in Hong Kong is breathtaking. This is a new and thriving art scene in Sheung Wan especially. The whimsical and creative street art could rival the likes of Shoreditch, London.
  4. Tranquil getaways – While Hong Kong is known for the hustle and bustle, it can also be one of the most peaceful places in the world. Even if you book hotel in Hong Kong Central, you can easily escape the crowds, as there are numerous cultural sports situated throughout the city. The Chi Lin Nunnery is a great example of this. It is a stunning place, featuring traditional architecture from the Tang Dynasty, bonsai tea plants, and lotus ponds.
  5. Cruising on a junk – If you visit Hong Kong, cruising on a junk is a must. Take a trip on one of the iconic red-sailed Chinese junks down Victoria Harbour.
  6. Horse racing – Horse racing has huge in Hong Kong. There are some of the world’s best flat races hosted in Hong Kong. However, if you’re not visiting on a key festival date, don’t worry, as horse racing occurs every Sunday and Wednesday at both Sha Tin and Happy Valley’s racecourses.
  7. Dim Sum – Last but not least, the food is truly delicious. Many would agree that the city does dim sum best. From juicy dumplings to pan-fried rice rolls, you will enjoy a scrumptious feast every day while on holiday here.

So there you have it: some of the main reasons why you should make Hong Kong your next holiday destination. From the tasty cuisine and the street art to the shopping options and amazing outlying islands, it truly is an incredible destination.

Travelling Across America: The Best Activities You Should Experience

If travelling across America is on your bucket list, you may be overwhelmed by the sheer vastness of the continent and all that it has in store for you. However, there are some core experiences that – if you want to say you’ve covered all the greatness that America has to offer – must not be missed off your list.

The Grand Canyon

Nothing can keep you grounded more than realising how small you really are in comparison with the rest of the world.  A mile deep and ten miles in width, the sheer vastness of this beautiful landmark is sure to leave you breathless, and your camera’s memory card full – not that a picture could ever compare to its natural wonder. You can even take a helicopter tour, which will be an experience sure to rival only the best on your trip.

The Grand Canyon
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Bike Route 66

Route 66
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There is nothing like the wide open road ahead of you – especially when on two wheels. There is a reason why so many of the great rock artists have sung about the “highway that’s the best”, and that’s because there’s no other encounter like it. You can even make the journey on a Harley Davidson to get the full rock star experience. There are lots of tour options so you won’t have to do it by yourself, and if you’ve never ridden a motorbike before you will need to get a  license to avoid needing a motorcycle injury attorney! By doing a tour, you’ll have a lot of experienced riders around you to help you get used to all the tips and tricks,  and are ensured to see all the road-side entertainments and eat at a 5 star American Diner. What more could you ask for?

 

Empire State Building

Empire State Building
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This seems like an obvious one – but there is very seldom an experience that offers a view of New York like this one. Standing on the 86th-floor observation deck, you’ll realise why 3.5 million people visit this spot every year. Be sure to book a ticket in advance to avoid the inevitably long queue for this popular attraction. For a little bit extra on top of the usual ticket price, you can also upgrade to a more intimate viewing on the 102nd-floor.

 

 

The Superbowl

If you are a sports lover or can appreciate a phenomenal performance by some of the world’s biggest stars, this is an event to plan your schedule around. Although on the more expensive end of the scale, this is an occasion that people from all over the world tune in to see, and you will get to experience live. If you ask anyone who has been before if the ticket price is worth it, they are sure to give you a definite, no-questions-asked ‘yes’.

 

This is by no means an extensive list, but it does give you a good foundation to start planning your route around. You don’t want to be zig-zagging back and forth, so make sure to do exhaustive research of all the activities and sightseeing you want to cover, so you’re not disappointed by running out of time (or gas).

Making Those Long Flights More Bearable

 Making Those Long Flights More Bearable

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If you’re a regular traveller, and you like to explore far-flung destinations, chances are you know the hell that can be long-haul flights. Obviously, they aren’t all bad, but it’s not unusual to be cramped up in a tiny space, listening to a boisterous drink businessman while you struggle to get some shut-eye – and you pay for this experience! Thankfully, although, unless you’re able to upgrade to first class, long-haul flights are never going to be the most comfortable things in the world, there are numerous things you can of to make them more bearable…

 

Buy Your Ticket as Soon as Possible

The sooner you buy your tickets from Air Canada or wherever, the more chance you have of being able to choose your own seat, and having the seat of your choice can, as I’m sure you know, make all the difference to your comfort.

Personally, I would suggest choosing a window seat, so that you don’t have your fellow passengers clambering all over you every time they need to use the bathroom, but your mileage may vary.

 

Invest in a Good Set of Headphones

If you don’t want to be stuck listening to that drunk guy shout or that upset baby cry all night long, head over to Headphones Addict and pick up the best set of headphones you can afford. If they’re noise-cancelling, then so much the better, especially for your ability to sleep aboard, but otherwise, any earphones which allow you to drown out the background noise and listen to something pleasing to you is a must.

 

Dress Comfy

Making Those Long Flights More Bearable

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You might want to look good when you get to your chosen destination, but rather than putting on skin jeans, form-fitting dress, high-heels and other fashionable items, put on your comfiest pair of sweatpants, a comfy t-shirt and tennis shoes. That way, you’ll have more room to move, and feel much comfier as a result, It’s also a good idea to wear lots of layers, so you can easily adjust your temperature depending on conditions as you fly.

 

Quality Travel Pillows and Sleep Masks are a Great Investment

The pillows they provide you with on the average long-haul flight, especially in economy class, aren’t exactly comfy, in fact, some of them are so flat that you could hardly call them a pillow at all, so invest in a good one to make your journey more comfortable. Also, a good sleep mask, that really blocks out all of the light will be invaluable should you be flying for a long time and want to sleep.

 

Pack Some Snacks

When you’re flying long-haul. You will be fed, but not often, and if you happen to get hungry during the night when most passengers are sleeping, you’re likely to be left hanging, so be sure to pack a few goodies in your carry-on.

 

These might seem like simple measures, but they really do make a huge amount of difference to the quality of your long-haul flights, making them more bearable than ever.

 

*Please note that this post may have affiliate or collaborative links. Any products listed or reviews and opinions are as always of my own and true to how I feel. For PR and media enquiries please email claireoctoberrain@hotmail.com