Best Things to do on an Alaskan cruise – Planning Your Alaska Vacation

Things to do on an alaskan cruise

Things to do on an alaskan cruise

Finding the best things to do on an Alaskan cruise for singles, couples, and the whole family.

 

When you’re planning an Alaskan vacation, the first thing you have to decide is your means of travel.  Car? Bus? Train? Boat?  A few of the best towns to visit in Alaska are reachable by boat. Cruise ships are floating cities with plenty to do.  And some of the best things to do on an Alaskan cruise will be the most memorable things you’ll ever experience.

 As my first cruise, it opened a door to a whole new way of traveling.  It was one of the best Alaska vacation ideas I could think of that would let me relax plus find adventure.  Cruises don’t mean you stare out the window all day and watch the ocean pass by.  There’s a ton of stuff to do!  I also discovered that the best things to do on an Alaskan cruise aren’t actually on the ship. 
 

Planning an Alaskan Vacation

Planning an Alaskan vacation can be done several different ways.  Traveling by car takes longer, but you’re in control of where you go and how fast you get there. A train is just a really fast bus that makes pit stops.  A cruise is water bound. 
 
things to do on an alaskan cruiseAlaska is one of the most beautiful places in the world because so much of it hasn’t been spoiled yet.  There isn’t a wrong way to experience it.  Road trips are wonderful if you enjoy driving at your own pace.  Trains cover more ground at faster speeds.  But a cruise offers a bit more – it combines land and sea.  No driving, no scheduled bathroom breaks, no stress. 
 
It’s not all winter and heavy coats in Alaska.  On my cruise, I packed a hoodie, jeans, tank tops, and t-shirts. My cruise departed from Seattle in the beginning of May.  Some places were chilly, yes, but in others I left my hoodie behind.  The best things to do on an Alaskan cruise are exploring the different ports.  The weather varies in each port, so varying your wardrobe is important.
  
Some of the best things to do on an Alaskan cruise happen during the land excursions. This is an important part of planning an Alaskan vacation if you’re taking a cruise.  I booked the ones that I knew I’d probably never have a chance to do again.  Because room is limited, I booked them at the same time I booked the cruise.  You can book during the cruise, but it may be full by then. They’re refundable up to 24 hours beforehand.  If you decide you want to raid the buffet all day instead of leave the boat, just ask for a refund.
 
 

Best Things To Do On an Alaskan Cruise

 I found some of the best things to do on an Alaskan cruise are to relax, sleep, and eat.  There are scheduled meal times, but the buffet is available 24 hours a day.  So are tea, coffee, and the dessert bar.  But there’s more to life on a cruise than eating. When you’re planning an Alaskan vacation, be adventurous and take advantage of the port calls.  You never know what you may find.
 
Deciding to book the whale watching tour was the absolute best Alaska vacation idea imaginable. Seeing humpback whales and killer whales swim next to you in the open ocean is a beautiful experience.  This is, by far, the absolute best thing to do on an Alaskan cruise. If you do nothing else, go whale watching in Juneau.  There’s nothing else like it.
 
We docked and took a shuttle boat to the mainland.  Our guides were waiting for us and piled us into a comfortable mini-bus. Fifteen minutes later, we boarded what I thought of as a larger version of a speedboat. 
 
A few minutes out to sea in Auke Bay, the captain slowed the engines and we stopped. A pod of four Orcas was nearby. As we floated, they came up to the boat to investigate.  With a camcorder in one hand and my digital camera in the other, I captured every second of that encounter.
 
The captain explained the logistics, but I was engrossed in watching the mamma and baby orca play.  Their dorsal fins slice through the water. They blew water out of their blowholes. They crisscrossed one anothers path and always stayed watchful of the baby. This was so much better than watching them swim in circles at Sea World.
 
 

Kayaking in Eagle Island in Ketchikan

Another port visit was to the northern town of Ketchikan. It drizzled rain the entire time, but a drizzle won’t kill you.  We docked, got to land, met our tour guides, and climbed into a comfy mini-van.  A quick drive out of town, and we were at the visitor center of Southeast Exposure.
 
Ketchikan Things to do on an alaskan cruise
Our guide was one of the coolest guys I’ve met.  He knew everything about the Alaskan outdoors.  We got in our rain ponchos and vests and headed to the docks.  Sharing a kayak with him, I didn’t have to do much paddling. So I had the camcorder and camera going full speed.
 
Things to do on an alaskan cruise
Eagle Island is the home to a mass of bald eagles that nest there. They flew all around and paid no attention to us.  The air was so free of noise pollution that we could hear the flapping of their wings as they soared above us. 
 
We didn’t explore the island – I think that’s illegal – but we circled it to get the full view.  A family of minks came to shore and chased one another.  As they played hide and seek, they’d stop and stare at us every now and again before going back to their antics. 
 
As I slacked in my paddling duties, I was able to really focus on my surroundings.  I saw something out of the corner of my eye.  Sometimes whales come into the bay, and I was hoping to catch a glimpse of some more Orcas. But the movement kept disappearing until I thought I’d imagined it.
 
Watching an eagle glide across the water and snatch a fish out of the water on my left, something bumped the right side near my legs.  I just about peed my pants when I turned and looked straight into the eyes of a baby seal.
 
Stunned, I didn’t move.  He balanced halfway out of the water, leaning casually on my boat as he checked me out.  His nose twitched and I desperately wanted to rub his little whiskers.  I slowly reached my hand towards him and came within centimeters of touching him.  But he pushed off and disappeared into the black water. He stayed near us the rest of the time, staying just out of my reach.  Splashing, swimming, and I swear he was smiling; he just had a fun time following along on our tour.
 
 

Glaciers, glaciers, and more glaciers

Hubbard Glacier

Ketchikan Things to do on an alaskan cruiseSome of the best things to do on an Alaskan cruise are free.  Like sipping complimentary hot cocoa as your ship parks directly in front of a world-famous glacier. 
 
This is the only time I actually needed my hoodie.  The change in temperature was drastic as we neared Hubbard Glacier.  We went from enjoying the sun on the Lido deck in the open air to huddling around cups of hot cocoa as we slowly entered the bay.
 
Feeling like I was having a Titanic moment, I stood on the bow of the ship and braved the cold.  Moving only inches at a time, our view of the glacier was amazing.  I took photos of it and the iceberg children bobbing past us from every angle imaginable.  Things to do on an alaskan cruiseThere was also plenty of time to pose with the glacier behind us for a few family pictures.
 
A slow rumbling began and as we searched the horizon. A giant piece of the glacier broke off and splashed into the ocean.  Known as “calving”, it’s how the smaller icebergs are created. The current carries them along as the blue of the water reflects off of them. 
 
 

Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau

 When you’re planning an Alaskan vacation, make sure you include visiting the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. Juneau Tours picks up passengers at the docks and shuttles you to a Visitor’s Center.  The Center sits on the edge of the Mendenhall Glacier. From the road, you can see it.  It looks like a raging river suddenly froze and stayed that way.
 
Ketchikan Things to do on an alaskan cruise
The Center is full of information and pamphlets about the glacier’s history, but I bypassed that. I headed straight down the long wooden walkway that leads to the glacier.  As it melts, the ice creates a lake of sorts with a shoreline.  We walked right up to the lake and got closer to the Mendenhall Glacier than we did to the Hubbard Glacier.  I scooped up some water and drank it.  It was sparkling clean, refreshing, and probably the best water I’ve ever had. 
 
There’s also a spectacular waterfall near the glacier.  It sprouts from the rock and feeds into the lake of melted ice.  No matter the weather, this was a truly beautiful sight to behold.
 
If you’re planning an Alaskan vacation that gives you more flexibility and freedom, hop on a helicopter and head to Canada.  Mendenhall Glacier is only about 40 miles away from British Columbia. Or hike the numerous trails encircling the glacier.
  

Best Towns to Visit in Alaska

 Cruises to Alaska incorporate port calls to coastal towns that thrive and cater to tourists.  Most cruise lines research the best towns to visit in Alaska and include it in their itinerary.  You can shop, eat, explore, and pick up those coveted trinkets and souvenir from each town.
 
There’s a scavenger hunt we played, courtesy of the cruise line.  At each town, we visited the specified store and received a free gift.  Each port had the next part of that gift.  By the end of the cruise, I had collected a four-piece set of porcelain coasters and a set of crystal Christmas ornaments.
 
 

Ketchikan

KKetchikan Things to do on an alaskan cruiseayaking to Eagles Island and whale watching were the best Alaska vacation ideas I could have had. Ever.  There are other things to do if you don’t want to purchase the kayak tour in Ketchikan.  It rains a lot, but that doesn’t dampen the outdoor adventures.
 
Ketchikan has the largest number of totem poles in Alaska! Explore some of the native culture that pops up everywhere.  Art galleries and museums house carvings, weavings, sculptures and lots more. We saw some ancient totems that were true works of art.
 
Off-roading, zip lines, helicopter and floatplane tours are everywhere.  Use your vacation as an excuse to do something you thought you never would. The next time I go, I’ll be zip lining through the wilds of Alaska.
 
Since wildlife outnumbers humans, just walk around or take a hike to see an abundance of forest friends.  Other cruise tours are available in town that involves seeing porpoises, sea lions, whales, otters, and more. 
 

Sitka

things to do on an alaskan cruiseWhile some of the best things to do on an Alaskan cruise involve experiencing the beauty and wilderness, we can’t forget shopping and eating. I did lots of both in Sitka.
 
The mildest weather we had during the cruise was here.  With jeans and t-shirts, we soaked up the warm sunny weather.  Shops abound on the strip. Every souvenir you can think of is sold here. I bought a few things made by local natives rather than cheapy trinkets.
 
Once owned by Russia, you’ll find lots of Russian history and heritage proudly displayed in Sitka.  I found a fabulous set of nesting dolls (made locally) for only a few dollars. It’s been the topic for famous novels including one written by Louis L’Amour as well as the setting for many classic films.
 
After hitting every single shop on the strip, we needed food.  Grabbing an outdoor patio table at The Dock Shack, I ordered fish ‘n chips. The food, service, and view of the bay were incomparable to any other seaside town I’ve been to.   Sitka has to be one of the best towns to visit in Alaska simply because of its amazing history, outstanding shopping, and limitless locally made items.
 
 

Juneau

I think that two of the best things to do on an Alaskan cruise are whale watching in Auke Bay and tasting water from the Mendenhall Glacier.  Riding a catamaran through Auke Bay and witnessing a pod of Orcas playing was amazing.  Add tasting water directly from a melting glacier, and there’s no topping that. 
I recommend stopping by the Red Dog Saloon for a beer and a bite to eat.   A relic of Alaska’s mining heyday, it brings you back to the days of the gold rush.

things to do on an alaskan cruise

History buffs will remember the old song by Johnny Horton called “Springtime in Alaska.” 
So I took a little stroll to the Red Dog sea-loon.
As I walked in the door, the music was clear.
The purtiest voice I had heard in two years.
The song she was singin’ made a man’s blood run cold.
When its springtime in Alaska it’s forty below.
Pizza, salads, burgers populate the menu while hats, sweatshirts, and other unique souvenirs can be found for sale.  It’s like the Alaskan version of the Hard Rock Café but more affordable.
 

Victoria, BC

 The final stop for us was in Victoria, British Columbia. A tiny island off the western coast of Canada, it’s caters to tourists and cruises.  T-shirt shops, souvenir shops, food on the go, you name it and it was there.Things to do on an alaskan cruise
 
The main attraction for me was the Empress Hotel.  Facing the Inner Harbor, it’s the first thing we saw pulling into port. It’s one of the oldest hotels in Victoria and looks more like a palace than a hotel. King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, and even Shirley Temple paid a visit to the chateau.  Victoria may be one of the best towns to visit in Alaska if you love history and old world charm.
 
I ventured inside (for free) and gave myself a self-guided tour.  It was too late for the infamous Afternoon Tea service, but I still wanted to explore this world heritage site.  My entire home town could have fit inside the Empress. It was like stepping back in time. The ornate carvings, wood work, furniture, high ceilings – all made me feel like I was a member of the royals.
 
As the sun set, the entire town lit up like a Christmas tree even though it was only May. The Empress was outlined with white lights that made it the center of attention.  Running short on time, we hopped in a pedicab and were pedaled back to the dock.  We only had a few hours in Victoria but it was an amazing visit.
 
 

Finding the best Alaska vacation ideas for your budget

Planning an Alaskan vacation can include as much or as little as you want.  Choose from seeing wildlife, skiing, helicopter rides, shopping, and tons more.  But if figuring out what the best Alaska vacation ideas are is too hard, don’t worry.  These things – and more – can all be enjoyed during a cruise to Alaska.
 
Once on board, you’ll find that the best things to do on an Alaskan cruise are at your fingertips.  Food, shopping, raffles, gambling, dancing, sunbathing, dinner shows, and hot tubs are just a few things you can do onboard. 
 
The cruise line will find the best towns to visit in Alaska so you don’t have to.  Whale watching, glacier viewing, iceberg hunting, dolphin sightings, seal encounters, kayaking, shopping, restaurant diving, bargain hunting, and beer tasting are all on your Alaskan agenda. 
 
 
 
 
Have you visited Alaska? Or been on a cruise?  Leave a comment and share what you think are the best things to do on an Alaskan cruise.
 
 
If icebergs aren’t your thing, how about a beach getaway?  Read my article about Guam.
 
 
 
 
#Alaska #cruise #whalewatching #alaskavacation

5 Things To Know Before Traveling To Paris

things to know before traveling to paris

things to know before traveling to paris

 

These five important things to know before traveling to Paris could save you time and money while making your vacation stress free. 

Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world, ranking at #3 by Forbes magazine.  The lights, culture, food, and designer clothing are everywhere.  It’s the perfect blend of old world romance with new world progress.  What to know about Paris before you go is that some things differ greatly compared to America. For my vacation, I took an escorted tour that allowed me to focus on being a tourist. While they gave me some good advice, no one told me the simple yet important things to know before traveling to Paris.  I’m sharing these five tips that I learned about the hard way.  Hopefully, they will make your time in France much more enjoyable.

1. Before traveling to Paris, bring a power converter with you (aka, travel adapter)

 Laptops, cell phones, iPods, blow dryers, curling irons all require the same thing.  Electricity.  The outlets in Europe don’t support 110v appliances.  France runs on 220 volts, so your American electronics will fry if you plug them in.  Thus, the need for a voltage converter. adapter for European vacations.things to know before traveling to paris

 They’re relatively small, easy to pack, and are a necessity if you plan on using anything that requires power.  They are less expensive if you buy them in the U.S.  They can a bit difficult to find on vacation and always cost more.

My blow dryer spit sparks and shot a small series of flames at me before it died on my first day in Paris.  I was left with partially wet hair in my hotel room with no idea of how to finish doing my hair.

Eventually, I found a tiny store that sold them to unprepared tourists such as myself for a copious amount.  I couldn’t let my vacation turn into one long bad hair day, so of course I bought it.

Tip: This is probably the most important of all the things to do before going to Paris. Before heading to the land of wine and cheese, purchase a converter.  Your hair will thank you.

 

2. Walking around Paris Travel tip

There are a million things to do in Paris at night.  The city comes alive at night and astounds you with its beauty.  Strolling through the city taking in the sights and sounds can be mesmerizing.  Walking around a foreign city late at night can be dangerous.

A cheap way to travel in Paris is to use the Metro (train).  You can print a free map, or download the app.  It’s cheap, convenient, and a fast way to travel.

It doesn’t run 24/7 like it does in the U.S.  The Metro closes at night. The Paris Metro hours of service are roughly between 5:30 a.m. and shuts down shortly after midnight.  Don’t get stuck at the station after closing hours.

The alternative is to take a cab.  Taxi’s always cost a bit more regardless of which city you’re in.  In Paris, the taxi rates have a daytime cost, then increase at night.

Here’s my only walking around Paris travel tip for you: Plan ahead of time to catch the Metro before it closes, or bring extra money for an evening cab.

Read my other article 6 Must Know Phrases for Tourists in Paris to prepare yourself to blend with the locals.

 

3. What is the legal drinking age in Paris?

Wine is to France what apple pie is to America.  The French drink wine to enjoy themselves, not to get drunk.  For that reason, having a regular glass of wine is normal, even for the very young. things to know before traveling to paris

What to know about Paris before you go is that the legal drinking age in France is 16 years old for beer and wine.  To purchase and drink liquor, you must be 18 years old.

If your teen makes some friends on your family vacation, don’t be surprised if they order a glass a wine or offer your daughter a beer.  This is commonplace for French teens, so don’t be offended.

 

 

4. Public restrooms are not always free 

Public restrooms are something that we take for granted.  They’re free and come equipped with the basics (paper, soap, hand dryers).  But in Europe, things are slightly different.  While there are some free public restrooms, I encountered a slew of them that were not.

On a vacation with my mother, she commented to our tour guide that French people must things to know before traveling to parisnever pee.  She couldn’t find one public restroom sign. That’s because they are called water closets, not restrooms.

So look for a sign that says “WC”.  Add this to your list of things to know before traveling to Paris.  French people do indeed use the restroom.

Bring money with you.  You’ll need to buy a restroom admission ticket.  I purchased my ticket at a gas station/diner/souvenir shop we stopped at.  It cost me about one American dollar.

It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.  When I flushed, the toilet came alive!  They are automated to wash, rinse, and clean themselves after every use.  It was amazing to me.  I’d love to have one of those at home.

 

5. August in Paris is prime vacation time for Parisians

Parisians go on vacation, too.  August in Paris finds the city empty.  It’s great for tourists because it means shorter lines and less traffic.  It also means that a lot of businesses are closed.

Vacationing during August in Paris may limit your tourist activities.   If you’re planning on a low-key restful time to do a lot of nothing, this is the perfect time to go. things to know before traveling to paris

With fewer people in the city, you’ll be able to take some stunning photos.  This camera is easy to use and produces some brilliant pictures. It’s nothing too expensive, but I have one and I love my pictures.

There are certain things to know before traveling to Paris that can make your holiday so much fun.  Prepare to be exposed to a different way of life.  That includes food, transport, clothes, manners, lifestyles, everything!

 

It’s a magnificent city jam-packed with things to do for couples, families, and singles.  There is a plethora of things to do in Paris at night or during the day.  Grab your VISA, travel adapter, and go have fun.

 

Have you been to Paris and have some advice?  Post your comments below and share your experience!

 


 

 

Interesting Facts About Guam You Should Know – Guam Fun Facts

Fun Facts About Guam

Interesting Facts about Guam Every Tourist Should Know

When I tell people I lived in Guam for 10 years, they always have the same reaction.  They give me the predictably confused face and the question, “Guam?  Where is Guam?” If you’re wondering the same thing, read on.  I’ll give you the insider’s look on all the interesting facts about Guam that can make your vacation so much better.  

 

Where is Guam?Interesting Facts About Guam guam map

To travel to Guam from the U.S., head west.  Guam is in the Pacific Ocean.  It’s located in the heart of the Mariana Islands.  It’s above Australia and below Japan.  Hawaii is the right of it, and China is to the left.

 

How big is the island of Guam?

It’s 212 square miles.  It’s a bit on the tiny side compared to other popular islands like Hawaii.

Interesting Facts About Guam guam mapBut it makes for a fun day trip.  We used to pack up some food and drinks, grab a towel, and pile in the car.  We’d start after breakfast, drive around the entire island, and be home by dinner.

When the locals say they’re going to drive around the island, they really do.  In an eight-hour time span, we can fully encircle the entire island.

 

 

 

Who does Guam belong to?

The United States owns Guam.  It’s a U.S. territory. This is an interesting fact about Guam that most people don’t know about.  It’s part of the U.S. and has been since WWII.

Originally discovered by Ferdinand Magellan, a Spanish explorer, Spain claimed the island.  Then the U.S. claimed it in the Spanish-American War in 1898.

During WWII, the Japanese invaded in 1941 shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  They renamed it to Omiya Jima.   The US invaded again and liberated the people from Japanese rule.

If you’d like more interesting facts about Guam,  read this.

To travel to Guam from the U.S., no VISA is required because the island belongs to America.

 

What nationality are people from Guam?

Interesting Facts About Guam

Image: Pacific Daily News

Another interesting fact about Guam is that the people from Guam are officially Americans.  They are called by two different names.  Since they originate from Guam, they are known to Americans as Guamanian (pronounced gwahm ay nee ens). That’s how they know right away that you’re a tourist.

The locals refer to themselves as Chamorro (pronounced cham or oh).  Chamorro can refer to both men and women.

A wonderful part of the culture is to watch the women don grass skirts and coconut bras (similar to Hawaiian’s) and dance as they did in the olden days.  These women are called Chamorittas.  The men wear their traditional garb as well, but the main attraction are these dark-skinned, hip swinging, beautiful Chamorittas.

 

What language does Guam speak?

This is an interesting fact about Guam that people always ask me about.  What language is spoken in Guam?

English is the primary language on Guam.  The local language is secondary.  Going back to their nationality, the official language is referred to as Guamanian while the locals call their language Chamorro.   They both have the same meaning, and are used interchangeably.

The local language has a strong similarity to Spanish, thanks to Magellan and his friends intermarrying with the Chamorros.  A friend of mine, who spoke Spanish, was able to converse with my local friend quite well in Chamorro.  I stood silently by since I don’t understand Spanish or Chamorro.  Lucky for me they both spoke English.

 

What currency does Guam use?

Guam uses the good old-fashioned American dollar.

interesting facts about guamNo other forms of currency are used or accepted.

There are money exchange machines in the more heavily populated areas in case you need one.

 

 

 

Does Guam have a lot of tourists?

The majority of tourists are Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans.  But you’ll see a large blend of other cultures like Filipinos, Palau, Hawaiian, and Americans.

A large air force base takes up a chunk of the northern tip of the island while a navy base occupies the southern tip.  Because of these installations, when I lived here most of the American tourists were military.  But tourism has expanded significantly and Americans visit all the time.

 

Is Guam expensive to visit?

Yes, and no.

Vacation packages may be the cheapest way to take a vacation in Guam.  Purchasing air fare, hotel, and meals separately can be way too expensive.

Military discounts, student discounts, and AARP are honored.  For the regular visitor, it can be a bit expensive to visit Guam.  Since they export nothing, and import everything, prices tend to be higher.  But the good thing is, you’ll find lots of things from a myriad of cultures that you can find on every shelf in almost every store.

My article 5 Things to Do in Guam That are Totally Awesome goes into more detail of beaches, shopping, and things to do on vacation in Guam.

 

How much does it cost to fly to Guam?

Round trip first class fares from L.A. can range from $1,000 to $2,500 roughly.  Economy fares range from $800 to $1,000 per person.  (Costs based on fares listed at United.com)

 

Is shopping in Guam Expensive?

Interesting Facts About Guam

Tumon Bay, Guam USA

True to any tourist attraction, prices are always more expensive than normal.  Most places offer a military discount due to the high influx of military and retired veterans who travel to Guam.   For the average traveler, there are some discounts available for hotels and dinner.

A huge portion of Guam’s income is tourism. The interesting fact about Guam in this regard is that Guam does not export anything. Tourism is it’s main income staple.

There are several malls you can visit, the main being the Micronesia Mall.  Be prepared to drop a lot of money at the malls and the duty free shops.  Guam Premium Outlets is a great mall, but less expensive than the Micronesia Mall.  But it’s still pricier than U.S. malls.

Get away from the populated tourist traps and seek out the smaller stores.  These convenience stores sell tons of stuff for much less.  Snacks, Hello Kitty stationary, flip-flops, and more are usually sold in these smaller stores.  They resemble something out of China Town in NYC.  They have lots of stuff crammed into a small space but you can get some totally awesome souvenirs (and necessities) from these little places without spending a fortune.

 

How many miles is Guam from the U.S. ?

From Los Angeles, it’s approximately 6, 000 miles to Guam.  The good news is that although it’s a super long flight, you can relax until you reach Honolulu for a layover while the plane refuels.   Another few hours, and you’re there.

 

How long does it take to fly to Guam?interesting facts about Guam

Airfare is probably the most expensive part if you travel to Guam from the U.S.  There’s only one major airport, so you won’t find any special discounts by searching alternate airports in the area.

Flying from the U.S, you’ll have to stop in Los Angeles.  All major flights to Guam leave from LA.  Then it’s a 17 hour flight.

 

What kind of food can I find in Guam? 

While American food is available at typical places like Denny’s, McDonald’s, and such, do something different.  In Guam, food to go is everywhere. Get out of your comfort zone!

Try something new.  My ultimate favorite of all these fun facts about Guam is that it offers a diverse mix of many cultures and that includes the food.

Try some Japanese seaweed ====>Interesting Facts About Guam

or some Filipino pancit (like stir fry noodles but better!)

Interesting Facts About Guam

Pancit (Image: PanlasangPinoy.com)

My favorite place to get food is the Chamorro Village.  We ate here consistently when I lived in Guam. Authentic Chamorro food cooked by native Chamorro’s is the best.   Wednesday and Friday evenings come to life to showcase stores, shops, and vendor, but mainly food.

It’s cheap, it’s filling, and it’s just too darn good to pass up.  I’ve learned to make a few of the recipes at home.  Traditional Chamorro food is one of my favorite foods of all time.  I use this cookbook to bring the taste of Guam back into my kitchen.

 

 

What is the weather like in Guam?Interesting Facts About Guam

Hot. Hot. And hot.  Being in the Pacific Ocean, Guam has two seasons – rainy and dry.  The rainy season, between October and December, is when the typhoons come through.  Avoid visiting during that time.

The dry season, between January and May, is when the sun cooks fair-skinned tourists to a crisp.  For the rest of the year, it’s like springish/summerish time in Florida.  The sun shines, rain comes, but dries in a matter of hours.

No winter. No autumn. Just year round summer time.  Prepare to pack for evenings in the high 70 degree range, and days that range between 85 – 95 degrees. Summer dresses, comfy sandals, and sunscreen are all you need.

 

 And those are some interesting facts about Guam.

Sun, sand, and food can all be found on the tiny boot-shaped isle of Guam.  It’s a hodgepodge of cultures and diversity.  English is spoken and American dollars are used everywhere.  There are so many places to see in Guam, you’ll never be bored.  These are just a few interesting facts about Guam I put together to whet your appetite.  Grab a pair of sandals, a bathing suit, and a super cute beach towel.  Hit the warm sandy beach, and enjoy yourself.

Have you been to Guam?  What was your experience?  Do you have any interesting facts about Guam to add?  Post your thoughts in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

6 Must Know French Phrases for Tourists in Paris

must know french phrases for tourists in paris

 must know french phrases for tourists in paris

Learn these six must-know French phrases for tourists in Paris to help you navigate the city and impress the locals.

 

You’re taking the plunge and visiting one of the most astounding cities in the world.  Culture. Beauty. Food. Shopping.  It’s all there.  And you’re in the center of it all.  But it’s all in a foreign language.  How do you get around in a foreign country without speaking the language? Learning a few must know French phrases for tourists in Paris can be a big help.

Don’t worry.  It’s not as hard as you think. Paris is a metropolis with multiple languages being spoken. French is the main language with English coming in second. Going to Paris without speaking French is common for most travelers.  Having a translator by your side would be ideal. But for those of us who brave the independent form of travel, we need to make a little extra effort.

Must Know French Phrases for Tourists in Paris

Among all the things to know when visiting Paris, the most important is how to interact with good manners.  I came up with six of the easiest but important French phrases to know in Paris that I used the most when I visited France a couple of years ago.  Learn these phrases, and impress the locals as well as your friends.

 

 Do I Need to Know French in Paris?

Yes.  And no.  Before I vacationed in France, I took about six months of lessons from a professor at the local college.  She’d been an exchange student and had lived in Paris.  She stressed that Americans in Paris need to conform to French customs. How do we do this? We show our manners. French culture is based on formality and respect of one another.

When you walk into a store or restaurant, the staff will greet you.  You return the greeting.  When you leave, they say goodbye.  You return the farewell.  And voila!  You’ve made a good impression. Saying hello, goodbye, and please are extremely important words to know when visiting Paris.

Going to Paris without speaking French fluently is completely acceptable. Just throw in a few well-timed polite phrases, and you’ll make a great impression.

Read my article  5 Things to Know Before Traveling to Paris for essential tips on how to avoid common mistakes during a European vacation.

Must know French phrases

How much French do You Need to Know in Paris?

That depends.  If you’re escorted by a tour guide, going to Paris without speaking French isn’t a big deal.  Your guide will hold your hand and translate everything.

If you plan on venturing off on your own, then you may want to practice a few key French phrases to know in Paris as you mingle with the locals.  Order a cafe and a croissant on your own, and enjoy being a Parisian for a while (or at least look like one).

While English is the second-most spoken language in most of Europe, it pays to have an idea of some key French phrases to know in Paris.   Many Europeans speak a bit of English.  But why let them have all the fun?  Learn a bit of the language to show you’re at least making an effort, and the locals will be more inclined to be nicer to you.

Must Know French Phrases for Tourists in Paris

Remember, these are the most basic phrases.  Using them on a regular basis will show that you did your homework and have prepared for your vacation.  You’re not assuming the locals will cater to you by speaking English.

Here are six easy but oh-so-important must-know French phrases for tourists in Paris.

 

English French Pronunciation
Hello, Ma’am/Sir Bonjour  Madame Monsieur boh-joor, Mah dam/ Moh zyur
Goodbye Au revoir aw reh vwah
Thank you Merci mayr see
Please S’il vous plait seal voo play
Help me Aidez moi ay day mwa
Do you speak English? Parlez-vous anglais? pah lay voo unglay

 

And there you have it.  If you’re planning on going to Paris without speaking French, these six phrases will help get you through.  Practice, and use them often.

Don’t worry about your American accent.  It’s the thought that counts.  The locals will be much more receptive to you if they see you’re making a genuine effort to use basic etiquette in their language.

If you want to learn more French phrases for tourists before you go….

If you have the time and feel passionately about increasing your vocabulary, there are lots of resources available.  Try www.duolingo.com for elementary level learning.  It’s a great study tool at home with games, quizzes, pictures, and French speakers saying the words.  I still use it at home and have the app on my phone.  I also have Instant Immersion DVDs that I still use. Levels 1, 2, 3 are included for one price.

Taking photos with your phone is convenient.  But camera pics usually look so much better.  Get a camera that’s inexpensive (here’s a great deal) and takes high definition photos.  I used my camera since I left my phone in my luggage (it doesn’t have an international plan) and brought my Asus Chromebook (similar to this one) to upload them.  It takes up less packing room, and it’s be easy to transport in a small bag or purse.

A good rule of thumb is to bring a French English dictionary with you.  I did, and it made a word of difference.  If you can’t pronounce the French word, you can always show it to the person to whom you’re talking.

Must Know French Phrases for Tourists in Paris

There is a lot to do and see in Paris.  You’ll be amazed at the fun things to do in Paris for couples, singles, and families.  It’s easy to learn how to get around Paris without speaking French. Don’t let the language barrier stop you from planning a trip to one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Have you been to Paris?  How did you communicate with the local Parisians?  Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!

5 Unusual and Creepy Things to Do in London England

London England Westminster

London England Westminster

Traveling to a new city is an exciting adventure.  The sights, the sounds, the people, and the culture are wonderfully different and exhilarating at the same time.  Sure, the typical tourist things are fun to do.  Buy a magnet of the London Bridge, purchase a coffee cup with the British flag, or order an overpriced latte at café.

But there are so many more adventurous things to do in London.  I knew there would be weird and unique things to do in London that would make my vacation so much better if I could just find out what they were.  I did, and I’m sharing it with you.  So ditch the typical tourist destinations. Put on some comfy sneakers. Now get ready to experience some unusual and creepy things to do in London that will make your vacation something to remember.

 

Unusual and Creepy Thing to Do #1

Take a Jack the Ripper Tour

London was the birthplace of the first major serial killer to be documented in mainstream history.  This tour is a spectacular way to retrace the steps of Jack and stand in the very spots where he committed the atrocious crimes that made him famous.  It’s a two-hour walking tour that covers a couple miles of street so wear good walking shoes.

Jack the Ripper London England History buffs, like me, will enjoy the knowledgeable story-telling tour guides who take you through modern London while transporting you back in time to the year 1888 in the White Chapel district of Victorian London.

The tour meets every night at the Aldgate East Underground Station.  This is the very center of where Jack the Ripper began his career as a serial killer.  You begin at the residence of the very first murder and follow Jack’s crimes in chronological order.  Your guide walks with you in the very footsteps of Scotland Yard as they remained one step behind Jack the Ripper.

If you’re on a family vacation with the kids, you may want to plan this excursion without them. Murder, prostitutes, a murderer who never got caught….not exactly sweet dreams for the little ones.  But this is one of the most fun things to do in London for adults if you enjoy intrigue, mayhem, and murder mysteries.

Tours are limited so book online to secure your place.

 

Unusual and Creepy Thing to Do #2

The Tower of London

One of the absolute must sees in London, England, is the foreboding and beautiful Tower of London.  Home to every royal family since they took the throne, King Henry Tudor VIII made it one of the most interesting places to see in London.

Tower of London Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn Memorial and Execution Site

A short distance away is Tower Green.  This is where Henry beheaded his wives, Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Jane Grey, and many others who displeased him.  The scaffold is no longer there but a beautiful glass monument commemorates the exact spot where they lost their heads.

 

st-peter-ad-vincula-and

St. Peter ad Vincula behind Anne Boleyn Memorial

Right behind the monument is the quaint and serene St Peter ad Vincula that was used by the royal family.  Among those entombed are Anne Boleyn, George Boleyn, Jane Grey, Catherine Howard, Lady Rochford, Thomas More, John Fisher and Edward Seymour.  It’s open to the public via a Yoemen’s Warder Tour.  The Yoemens are dressed as they did in the days of Henry VIII. They’re knowledgeable and very friendly.  I chatted with them and even convinced them to take a photo with me.

 

 If you’ve ever heard of the two princes in the Tower who were murdered by their uncle King Richard III, this is where they disappeared.  The boys were never found.  Some say you can still hear them playing in the Tower.

tower-of-london-353868_1920

Tower of London

The Tower is open for tours so you can visit the actual cells where prisoners were kept.  Their graffiti is still etched in the stone walls and clearly visible.  The rooms are dark and damp, but I enjoyed the feel of hundreds of years of history surrounding me. It was a strange feeling knowing I stood in the same spots that queens, princes, nobility, and traitors had stood as they awaited their fate.

 

Unusual and Creepy Thing to Do #3

The Soho’s Murder Mile Tour

Out of all the unusual and creepy things to do in London, this may top the list.  Trace the footsteps of 18 murderous villains (including five serial killers) with a kill total of 75 victims in the span of one mile.

Soho Murder MileYou’ll see 21 locations where these gruesome murders took place on this two-hour walking expedition.  Even though murder sites are not the most pleasant things to visit in London (for some people), they are full of history and a great way to see the unexplored parts of the city that tourists usually miss.

Dress for the weather, wear comfortable walking shoes, and always have an umbrella since London weather can be tricky.  Take all the photos you want.  The guide goes into fully gruesome details based on accurate facts obtained from official records.

While not suitable for children, curious adults and twisted teenagers are welcome on the tour.

 

Unusual and Creepy Thing to Do #4

The Central London Ghost Walk

Forget the typical ho-hum boring ghost walk.  This walking tour should be one of those adventurous things to do in London that’s at the top of your list.  Quiet back streets, haunted pubs, and dark alleyways await you on this tour.

William Wallace Memorial

William Wallace Memorial

The Central London Ghost Walk guides you to Smithfield, one stop among many.

You’ll stand in the very spot that William Wallace, aka Braveheart, was tortured and executed in 1305.  A plaque on the wall of St. Bartholomew’s Church commemorates his life, bravery, and death.

After examining Wallace’s execution site at St. Bartholomew’s Church, slip inside for a moment.  It’s a good place to visit in London if you enjoy a bit of macabre history and medieval architecture.  It is the oldest church in London, dating back to the 12th century. And it’s said that the spirits of those interned here appear to walk among the living as they please.  It has also been the setting for movies such as Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner, Shakespeare in Love, Sherlock Holmes, The Other Boleyn Girl, and Elizabeth, the Golden Age.

Mary Tudor Bloody Mary London England

Queen Mary Tudor

The tour also takes you to the place where Queen Mary Tudor, the eldest daughter of King Henry VIII, earned her nickname Bloody Mary.

In an attempt to restore Catholicism as the reigning religion in England, she ordered over 200 Protestants to be burned alive.  It’s said you can still hear her victims screaming from the pain of the flames devouring them.

 

 

Unusual and Creepy Thing to Do #5

The Harry Potter Muggle Tour

Ok, so this isn’t so creepy, but it is a bit unusual.  It’s not often you see adults waving wands and casting spells on the streets of London.  That’s why wizards and muggles alike will love this tour.  It’s been rated as one of the most fun things to do in London for adults and children.

Couples, singles, and families are all welcome.  You’ll visit the real locations that Harry, Ron, and Hermoine used to shoot your favorite movie scenes.

Harry Potter Diagon Alley

Diagon Alley

Tours begin at the London Bridge tube station (subway stations in American English), and ends near the Leicester Square station.  The 2.5-hour tour combines exploring the city on foot as well as hopping on the subway to get to the other part of the tour.

Sites you’ll see include :

  • No. 12 Grimmauld Place
  • the place where Harry and his friends use polyjuice to enter the Ministry
  • Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley
  • a few locations where death eaters did Lord Voldemort’s bidding to wreak havoc
  • and the actual bridges that the Order of the Phoenix members flew over and under on their way to Grimmauld Place.

This is a new tour so purchase tickets beforehand to secure your place.  Grab your Harry Potter Wizard Accessory Kit, and keep an eye out for Dumbledore and Doby.  Get your camera ready.  You never know who – or what – you may find on this tour.

 

There are a million must sees in London, England.  But no one can see them all during their annual vacation.  So why not make this holiday different from the rest?  If you want an experience that’s out of the norm, these five unusual and creepy things to do in London definitely deliver.  Ghosts, serial killers, shadowy alleyways, murderers and their victims, and execution sites are waiting for you.  Try one or all of them.  Bring a friend, your camera, and let the creepiness begin.