Travel Feature

A Blind Trip to Pulga, Kasol and Kheerganga

Would you be ready to go on a blind trip? They are also called surprise trips and mystery trips. I have always been excited about the possib...

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Discover hidden myths, taste diverse food and sleep below a sky full of shooting stars and galaxies every night. Our guides will help budget travelers to travel more, and explore more destinations.

An Adventure in Michigan: Discovering the Great Lakes

From my high school geography class, I knew only three things about #Michigan: That it is a state in the #USA, that it borders Canada to the North, and that it is home to the bigger chunk of Lake Michigan. That was about it until last summer when Michigan came up on my Google search for the most Instagrammable destinations in the USA.

I discovered that the state is home to not only Lake Michigan but also Lake Erie, Lake Huron, and Lake Superior. The four lakes combine with Lake Ontario in Canada to make the Great Lakes, the planets greatest freshwater network. My college roommate and I set out to explore this great state in the summer of last year.

fun things to do at the great lakes michigan

Here is a brief recap of our short adventure.

If you're ready to see the Great Lakes but have no idea where to begin, this post is for you. Our port of entry into the USA was Detroit Metropolitan Airport because a travel agent advised us that Detroit was one of the best portal cities for our planned adventure. Michigan is relatively navigable by car, so we decided to rent a car and drive ourselves around.

If you're ready for a road trip in USA, I'd advise that you bring your international driver license. It doesn't matter if you are eligible to drive in the USA without the IDP. It always feels safer when you have an extra identification document that's translated into multiple languages.

1. Lake Erie

From Detroit, we started by visiting Lake Erie. The distance is roughly 280 miles and took us about 5 hours to get to the lake, with brief stops in Luna Pier, Port Clinton, and Elyria. One thing I loved about this region is the affordability of almost all accommodation options. We stayed in an inn for the two days we were there and it only cost us about $150 for the entire stay.

The food here is just like what you’d find anywhere in the West, but I was personally impressed by the variety of seafood- all of them, to die for! My friend and I aren't that crazy about wine so I don’t know if this is accurate, but the locals swear by the top-quality of local vineyards and wineries.

And not to forget I visited some local coworking spaces cause I had some bit of writing I had to do and I was pleased to find them so suitable and comfortable for remote working.

Things to do at Lake Erie? My favorite has to be the Presque Isle State Park. That’s where you will find the most picturesque beaches on the lake. We also enjoyed kayaking and speed boating in the lake.

2. Mackinac Bridge

We couldn't stay at Lake Erie for long because we had left some of our stuff at Detroit so we had to swing by the city real quick before heading to our next stop, Mackinaw City. I wish we had enough time to drive up to Lake Ontario but we definitely will visit Canada soon to explore the 5th great lake. We had to be content with the 4 lakes on the outline of Michigan this time.

We took an approximately one and a half hour flight to Mackinaw City because that is the most convenient place to see both Lake Michigan and Lake Huron at the same time. And because we still wanted to drive ourselves, we rented a minivan for a day at $80.

Our first stop was Alexander Henry Park which according to us is a great spot for Mackinac Bridge photos. Mackinac Bridge is a suspension bridge that connects Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas. We then drove along Gill Road, to the west on Island View Road, and then to Cross Village. The entire stretch overlooks Lake Michigan. The coastline is beautified by long tunnels of trees that we couldn’t resist the urge to take pictures of.

3. Petoskey State Park

We also spent a couple of hours at Petoskey State Park where we had fun with the Dunes and Petoskey Stone hunting. We definitely will come back here for a day of skiing, boating, and fishing. I loved the beautiful views of waterfalls from Petoskey and Bay streets.

4. Mackinac Island

On our second and last day in Michigan's Lower Peninsula, we took a ferry to Mackinac Island (an island in Lake Huron) for the day. Motor vehicles aren't allowed in the island that's fondly known as Michigan’s crown jewel. The accepted mode of transportation here are horse-drawn carriages and bikes.

We rented a bike because we wanted to not only explore but also feel alive - the breeze in my face was magical to say the least. We could see the key attractions on the island such as Arch Rock and Devil's Kitchen, Fort Mackinac, and Skull Cave right from the biking trails.

If you aren't a biking enthusiast like my friend, you can always rent a bike with a bicycle motor kit as he did. You will conveniently ride around the island and not a single part of your body will hurt. Okay, it will but just a little!

5. Sault Ste. Marie

Driving to Sault Ste. Marie (the City of Sault Sainte Marie) from Mackinaw City took us about an hour. My favorite spot for me here has to be Pancake Bay Provincial Park. The water here is the warmest of all Lake Superior, the view of its Caribbean-style blue waters, and the sunsets are just magical! We also drove to Old Woman Bay and Katherine Cove for a brief indulgence in their stunning cliffs, sandy beaches, and sand dunes.

There is just too much to see and do in Sault Ste. Marie for someone who has the time.

Final word

I personally cannot regret spending a week exploring Michigan. Maybe the only regret would be that we didn’t have enough time to explore more around each lake or to head north to Lake Ontario, but we definitely will be coming back!

What to Know Before Going Backpacking

#Backpacking is becoming more popular than ever! More affordable than traditional #travel and a more outdoorsy-vibe than you could find going city to city, backpacking gives you the chance to get out there and get to know the land beyond what travel brochures sell you.

what to bring on a backpacking trip

If you want to go backpacking and aren't sure where to start, these are the basics that everyone should know.

1. Only Iceland and Antarctica Are Completely Mosquito Free

You must have some form of insect and sun repellant. Even if your version of backpacking is going into nice neighborhoods and looking for Alexandria houses for sale, there's a large likelihood that if it's warm and muggy out, there will be mosquitoes, and there's a risk of sunburn.

Some sprays combine these two uses, and it's a good idea to have that on hand. In addition, protecting your skin from sunburn while protecting yourself from insects like ticks, mosquitoes, and spiders can help you ensure that you have a better trip overall. Carrying an insect repellent is always a good idea.

2. Keep A Personal Water Bottle and Don't Over Hydrate.

As much as you may think that being dehydrated is the largest issue with travel: overhydrating is far more common. Keep a water bottle that's your main source of water, and only drink when you're thirsty. Many people think that when they're out backpacking, they have to drink as much water as possible, but that will slow you down and deplete a hydration source that you need.

Instead, wait until you’re thirsty, and then drink. This will make it so that you have to take fewer bathroom breaks, and you'll have to spend less time seeking out fountains or other places where you can refill your bottle. On the other hand, drinking too much water can leave you lightheaded, less capable of traveling, and more likely to have stomach issues.

You should ensure that your water bottle is sturdy, like most thermos-styled bottles, so that you can be safe and rest easy knowing it’s not going to shatter or crack if you drop your bag or anything happens.

3. Keep Multiple Phone Chargers and External Batteries

Whether your version of backpacking includes hostels or not, bring lots of spare chargers with you to ensure that you're not stuck without a phone. Keeping well-charged external batteries that can be plugged into your phone is another good option since it provides that you'll have a backup on hand.

Being without your phone might not have mattered thirty years ago, but we hold everything in these devices now. They’re our maps, our emergency contact holder, and a source of entertainment if you get bored.

It's a good idea also to keep functional items that your phone often multi-purposes on hand. This means a flashlight so that you don't have to drain your phone's battery after dark, a paper map in case you need it, and a piece of paper with any family or important phone numbers in case you've found and not able to relay them. Saving your phone's battery in these ways will keep you from having to deal with the stress of a dead phone later.

4. Sunscreen

The sun is not a forgiving force. Make sure to keep your sunscreen with you at all times and apply as necessary. Take advantage of your favourite moisturiser and lip balm to keep your face and lips hydrated. Don't forget to go with the 3oz rule to be safe. To keep yourself safe from the bad sun rays, you will be using this cream which you mostly use in your hometown.

5. Travel light

Don’t go overboard with packing tons of clothes. Also lose any sort of expensive items/ accessory. Get into your comfy clothes and shoes as per the terrain of your trip. The motive is to travel with as less stress as possible.

Are you visiting a cold place or a much warmer region? What season prevails at your destination presently? Would you need your winter scarfs too? Is it required to take your swimming dress for the pool-party? All these questions would help you analyse your requirements for the place and likewise assist you in your planning.

It is also essential to consider the reason for your visit. If you are to attend a wedding ceremony, you will undoubtedly need to carry one of your best suits and brown leather formal shoes for men. In the case of women, a beautiful long dress with stilettos. Also, do a bit of research on the culture of the place so that you can blend in and enjoy even more with the locals.

8 Best Places to Visit in the Czech Republic

Formerly known as the Czech Republic, Czechia has almost become synonymous with its capital city of Prague. The Czech Republic has a rich history and culture. It has been influenced by many of its nearby countries and local powers such as Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. The Czech Republic is small but mighty and packed with plenty of tourist attractions that are ready to be explored. Today, the Czech Republic, or Czechia (its short-form name), is a bustling country with over 10 million citizens.

The country's compelling culture and beautiful sites have attracted many foreigners. There are around half a million ex-pats living in the Czech Republic, which has made the country very English friendly and easy to navigate.

best places to visit in the Czech Republic

Here are some of the best sites and activities for those who are lucky enough to visit the Czech Republic:

1. Český Krumlov

One of the bigger municipalities - Vyšší Brod is on the edge of the mountains. The most famous because of The Cistercian Monastery.

The Ceský Krumlov Castle dates back to the 13th century and is incredibly well-preserved for its age. This is due to the fact that this castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Consequently, much of what stands today has been improved upon in the 17th century. Areas that received renovations include the Rosenberg Ballroom, the Renaissance Hall, the Royal Apartments, and more.

However, the building has always stayed true to its architectural roots and is a powerful display of Czechian history. The Ceský Krumlov Castle is the highlight of the city’s old town center and worth the stop for anyone in the area. It is common for tourists and locals alike to visit the castle as a day trip away from Prague, the city’s capital and a tourist hotspot.

The castle features incredible works such as historic collections of paintings and tapestries, along with fine décor and period furniture. These are located in the castle's old Baroque theater that was built in 1682.

2. Kutná Hora

The Czech Republic has unfortunately been home to many wars, uprisings, and is sought-after territory in general. So the people of this country have chosen to honor their dead in a fascinating way. All across the country, there are a number of locations that are dedicated to preserving the remains of those who have fought and died in war as well as those who were killed by rampant diseases such as the plagues that marred Europe.

The 'Bone Church' or the Gothic All Saints Chapel in the small town of Sedlec is arguably the most famous of these sites. The remains of approximately 70,000 people who died between the 14th and 16th century have been displayed in a variety of fascinating ways. They are honored in coats of arms, chalices, and bells.

This site is beyond profound and shows the powerful spirit of the Czech people and their ability to create beauty out of tragedy while also remembering the dead.

3. Kroměříž

The city of Kroměříž is located on the Eastern side of the country. It is a great way to experience the breathtaking signature architectural style of the Czech Republic. A must-see location in this city is the beautiful Flower Garden, which is also known as Libosad.

This garden is considered one of the best-preserved in the world. Its crisp and healthy plants, shrubs, and vibrant flowers are all displayed in pristine geometrical shapes that highlight the garden's statues, fountains, and colonnades that radiate a true sense of Baroque beauty.

Additionally, the city of Kroměříž offers more architectural grandeur in the form of the Lendnic-Valtice Cultural Landscape. This is an enormous UNESCO-inscribed area filled with elegant palaces, colorful gardens, and more.

4. Karlovy Vary

When it comes to planning an excursion from Prague, the spa town of Karlovy Vary is undoubtedly one of the most interesting options. Located to the west of Prague, getting to Karlovy Vary will give you about two hours of travel, but after visiting this historic spa, you will feel that it was worth it. Karlovy Vary in German is known as Karlsbad.

If you start the visit to the north of the city, from the entrance coming from Prague, the first essential point is the Dvorak Park, where you will find the first colonnades that house sources of medicinal waters. This is the Colonnade of the Park. It is a strange sensation, typical of a spa, to be able to drink directly from a source of naturally aerated water that comes out hot.

Following the walk along the river, you will arrive at a large esplanade where the so-called Colonnade of the Mill is located. A little further on, along the pedestrian street you will find the Colonnade of the Market. At the end of the pedestrian promenade that runs along the river you will reach one of the most significant buildings of this spa town, the Gran Hotel Pupp.

Behind this famous hotel you have an alley from where you can climb the Tower of Diana, either walking or using a rack train. The mineral water with bottled gas from Karlovy Vary, as well as the Becherovka liqueur, is famous throughout the Czech Republic. As a souvenir to buy during your visit, it is typical to buy some ceramic jars with the appropriate handle to test the mineral waters that spring from the springs, as well as the Moser glassware.

The town of Karlovy Vary may be known for its fine resorts but it also remains one of Europe’s most prominent glassmaking centers. Although this may sound like a dated industry, glassmaking has continued to thrive in Europe for over 150 years. The Karlovy Vary Moser Visitor Center is a part of the Moser glassworks, which dates back to 1857.

This center illustrates the importance of decorative glass and the way in which it has been incorporated into Czech, and global, design and culture. At the Moser Visitor Center, you can get a firsthand look at glassblowers at work on the factory floor as well as learn about the history of glassmaking.

Additionally, if you take the tour, you will be led through the Glass Museum. You can view over 2,000 examples of glass creations that are incredibly complex yet delicate that are truly awe-inspiring. This site is perfect for those who love to get to know a country through its art as well as love some exploration and adventure.

5. Hluboká nad Vltavou

Czech people are outdoor-lovers. Most of the locals love to escape the towns and European cities. They travel to go hiking or skiing in the beautiful natural mountains and lakes which are dotted around the country. Perhaps this love of exercising in the outdoors explains the heavy local diet of meat and dumplings, washed down by gallons of delicious locally-produced beers.

Hluboká is a beautiful place and the 19th century chateau is imposing with the authentic luxurious rooms, but it’s rather for those who are interested in the things like that. There is also an important gallery of the Czech medieval painting and sculpture having some of the most beautiful pieces of the European art.

The core part is the biggest national park in Czechia and extensive parts of this area have lower level of the protection. The area creates a huge protected area together with Germany. It's one of the very few places in Czechia where you really feel like in a wildlife.

This part of the country is specific. Forget the classic Czech cultural landscape, where you basically see from one municipality to another. Even historically, Šumava was one of the least populated areas in the country, not only due to its remoteness, but also due to its relatively harsh climate. So most people live on the edges of the mountains.

6. Pilsen

Sušice, is the closest bigger town to Šumava mountains. It's called 'The Gate of Šumava'.

In traditional Czech cuisine, game, deer, roe, fallow deer, hare, fishes is the most common trout or carp (Christmas eve traditional food). It is necessary to mention the popularity of mushrooms in the Czech cuisine in various sauces, soups, including pickled mushrooms. Also fried cheese with potatoes is very popular.

Various kinds of dumplings are the most popular side dishes in Czechia. They can be breaded, not breaded, potato and filled dumplings, including sweet filled dumplings with fruits - the most popular are plum or strawberry dumplings with cottage cheese, butter, and sugar.

Soups has an important role. They are many kinds of soups: beef, chicken or vegetable broth with noodles, liver or nutmeg dumplings, potato soup in many local varieties (e.g. Kulajda is a traditional soup containing cream, spices, mushrooms, egg (often a quail's egg), dill and potatoes or kyselo, made from rye sourdough, mushrooms, caraway, and fried onion.

Garlic soup (česnečka), served in the restaurant as some others in the loaf of bread, cabbage soup, pea, bean, lentil soup, goulash soup, pork tripe soup, tomato, mushroom, onion soups cannot be forgotten.

Original snacks of the Czech cuisine are above all pastries (salty and sweet as rohlíky, koláče and buchty), Czech potato pancakes, Czech finger sandwiches, Prague ham: a type of brine-cured, stewed, and mildly beechwood-smoked pork boneless ham, Shpikachki (špekáčky) - type of sausage, made from finely cured mixture of pork and beef with smoked bacon, pickled sausages (called utopenci, which means drowned) and fishes (zavináče), cheeses and vegetables (well known Znojmo pickled cucumbers), beer cheese, ripened cheeses (well known Olomoucké tvarůžky etc.).

Almost inherent beverage in Czechia is beer, but also Moravian (South-Eastern part of Czechia) wines.

7. Ostrava

Take a solo trip outside of Prague and discover the neglected city of Ostrava. Czechia’s third largest city is always in the shadow of the more glamorous capital but has its own unique charm. Fantastic restaurants, friendly people and a very low cost of living make this a great off-the-beaten-track destination for solo travellers.

8. Prague

And of course, no tourist attraction list for the Czech Republic is complete without Prague. As avid traveler Jeremy Wien describes the city, "The beauty and history of Prague are an incredible combination; walking in this city is a magical experience. Practically speaking, it's also much more affordable than most other major European cities."

Prague earned the title of "city of a thousand spires". Its thousand-year-old skyline has beautiful views of domed churches and old towers that combine to make Prague one of the world's architectural gems. Wenceslas Square is one of the best areas to display the city’s combination of Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance, and Art Nouveau styles.