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Peninsula travelling guide

I’m at the opening ceremony of the 53rd Acadian Festival in Caraquet and I’m feeling slightly uncomfortable to be British. Here in the Acadian peninsular, what they call the 1755 “Great Expulsion” is still very much on everyone’s mind.

That was when the Charles Lawrence, the British Governor, decided to round up and expel the entire Acadian community, over eleven thousand French settlers, from Nova Scotia. He used the war with France as an excuse, but, in reality, it was really a land grab for of the most fertile soil in the province. They were scattered to other British colonies, some went back to France, others went to Louisiana and some even ran away and hid in what is now the Acadian peninsula here in New Brunswick.

Of course people tell me not to worry, after all it was a very long time ago, and I receive a wonderful welcome from these French speaking Canadians. Surprisingly, their culture is very much alive and over the course of my week here I’m treated to their traditional music, eat Acadian traditional dishes and visit a village inspired by renowned Acadian novelist, Antonine Maillet. The land here is not much good for farming so the Acadians became skilful fishermen. It’s still very much a way of life which means that lobster, clams, scallops and fish are plentiful.

The Acadian Peninsula is in the North East of New Brunswick and I take the Via Rail overnight service from Montreal to Bathurst. This is a comfortable way to travel and I have a sleeper cabin with shower and toilet to myself. From Bathurst, it’s a pleasant hour’s drive to Caraquet along a winding shore, populated by simple wooden cottages, many flying the distinctive Acadian flag. This is the French tricolour with a bright yellow star, representing the Stella Maris, the star of the sea, which guides sailors in storms.

I’m soon installed in the boutique Hotel Paulin, my home for the next few days. Karen Mersereau, the co-owner is an excellent cook and one morning she leads me on a foraging expedition on the seashore.

After the opening ceremony of the Acadian Festival, I nip into the Acadian Museum of Caraquet to brush up on the history, then it’s off to the Village Historique Acadien, just down the road. This is a clever reconstruction of Acadian life from the late eighteenth century to the early twentieth, and brings together more than forty historical buildings, saved from destruction elsewhere.  Even better, they’re stocked with interpreters in period costumes, carrying out what would have been their daily chores and they’re only too happy to explain what they’re doing. You can even stay in the elegant L’Hôtel Château Albert, eat a traditional meal and be entertained by Acadian musicians.

Further down the coast, just outside the town of Bouctouche, Le Pays de la Sagouine, is another historical reconstruction of a traditional fishing village on a tiny island. Antonine Maillet is a famous Acadian writer and her 1971 play, La Sagouine, deals with the life of an Acadian domestic. These characters are brought to life in the village with daily live performances of theatre, music, comedy and dance. You can eat and drink here and it’s worth trying Poutine Râpée, an Acadian speciality – a filling potato dumpling stuffed with salted pork.

Travel Destinations in Asia

Asia’s always been a prime destination for gap year students and adventurers thanks to the thriving backpacker culture and cheap lifestyle. Cities like Bangkok and Hanoi have long been recognized as places where the dollar becomes positively acrobatic in its ability to stretch its value, but it seems that nowadays, travelers can travel more and spend less with some basic informal planning. All across Asia, quality doesn’t necessarily come at a price, making it easy to really enjoy the adventure.

10. Taipei, Taiwan

Perhaps because of its low-key reputation, Taipei does not often get recognized for the cheap paradise it is. While taxis and hotels can be more expensive that the other places on this list, it’s the food and shopping that really matter. The endless night markets provide a way to indulge in conspicuous consumption and stuff your face on the cheap. The subway fees are also incredibly reasonable, topping off around US$2. The city contains all the international comforts of home on a great price scale, perfectly mixing ease and excitement.

9. Penang, Malaysia

Malaysia tends to be left behind on must-see lists, but the country is cheap and gorgeous, and the food is delicious, providing a trifecta of reasons to visit. Penang offers a dazzling mix of cultures, architecture and food so that all visitors are sure to find something to fit their budget. Must-see museums like the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion costs just US$4 for a guided tour, while climbing Penang Hill or the Temple of Supreme Bliss is free. The wide range of culinary delights, whether from street stalls, Little India or local pastry shops keep bellies and wallets happy.

8. Bohol, The Philippines

The Philippines is a country of cheap delights. Even places like Palawan and Boracay, which are no secret to hoards of tourists, remain easy to do on the cheap. Bohol is notable for it’s nature, whether man-made, like the mahogany forest, or natural, like the decidedly unnatural-looking chocolate hills. Crossing the rickety bamboo hanging bridge costs a few cents, and the Tarsier Sanctuary is an unforgettable, if short, experience.

These are the famous Chocolate Hills of Bohol, the island’s top tourist attraction.
7. Sri Lanka

Yala National Park is one of the more expensive ways to spend a day in Sri Lanka, where the entrance fee, jeep rental and driver’s tip will set you back about US$30. The emphasis on natural beauty and ancient sites keep even the most restless occupied. Visit a turtle hatchery, hang out with elephants, climb Adam’s Peak and check out all eight World Heritage sites. Taking the train not only ingratiates visitors to a local way of life, but it’s also a super cheap way to travel. Hanging out of the beach is of course the cheapest way of all to laze away a vacation, and eating endless amounts of curry keeps stomachs and wallets stuffed.

A leopard resting in the Yala National Park. Photo credit Buddhika Gammudali.
6. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thailand’s capital remains cheap and cheerful, but it’s the northern part of the country that really satisfies wanderlust and a tight fist. Even splashing out on a hotel doesn’t necessarily mean a busted budget. Cheap eats abound, and the night markets are also wallet-friendly. In Chiang Mai, there are a plethora of free or insanely cheap things to do, many with an tinge of adrenaline to them. Cliff jump, go zorbing, or ride an elephant for nothing or next to it, and then relax at the hot springs or with a massage at the women’s prison.

Best Countries in Europe for trip

Record numbers of travelers are hitting the skies each year, as global tourism continues to boom, and no destination is hotter than Europe. Cities like Paris, London and Barcelona each receive tens of millions of visitors each year and are near the top on the list of world’s most visited cities. But what about Europe’s overlooked countries? The following 10 countries don’t receive 10 million annual tourists combined, with some visited by as few as 11,000 tourists each year. So, if you’re looking for a hidden gem or you just want to impress your friends with your obscure travels, look no further.

This list is compiled using data from the World Bank on international arrivals and the numbers only include overnight visitors. Kosovo is excluded from the World Bank’s data and is one country that might give these countries a run for their money.

10. Luxembourg with 905,000 visitors each year

In between Germany and France, against all odds, lies the country of Luxembourg. Small and known for its immense wealth, Luxembourg offers an interesting mish-mash between French and German cultures, which is evident in everything from its history to cuisine. Though Luxembourg City is the last place one would go for nightlife or a thrilling time, tourists looking for charming scenery and great wines could do a lot worse than Luxembourg.

9. Serbia with 810,000 visitors each year

Serbia is one of three countries that formerly constituted Yugoslavia to make it onto this list, which reflects how difficult it has been for the countries, outside of Croatia, to bring back tourists after the brutal civil war that occurred when the country fragmented in the 1990s. Still, the fact that Serbia receives less visitors annually than most cities is a shame, as Serbia offers one of Eastern Europe’s most rewarding travel experiences. Start with the hip nightlife scene in Belgrade and go from there.

8. Iceland with 673,000 visitors each year

There’s only so many visitors that a small island (population 320,000) in the middle of the North Atlantic with a name like Iceland can expect to attract, and, all things considered, Iceland has done a pretty good job to get twice as many visitors as residents. For those who do make the journey, Iceland has a slew of attractions awaiting them: hot springs and geothermal spas, waterfalls, whale watching, glaciers and a friendly capital city, Reykjavik. Icelandair connects the country with the rest of Europe and to North America and typically offers some really great deals on flights to Reykjavik.

7. Bosnia and Herzegovina with 439,000 visitors each year

The name Bosnia still evokes images of conflict for many, as the country’s civil war deteriorated into international conflict in the 1990s, but the country has been fairly peaceful in the almost 20 years since. The country is, however, one of the least developed in all of Europe, as its fragile political system reflects how the nation splintered on ethnic lines after the war. Still, if you’re a traveler looking to see a charming capital city that’s patrolled by European Union peacekeepers, there’s no better place than Sarajevo.

6. Macedonia, FYR with 351,000 visitors each year

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, not to be confused with the Greek region of Macedonia, is slowly emerging out from under the shadow of Yugoslavia. The country, however, is still one of the least visited in Europe. Though Macedonia is home to an interesting ethnic mix of Orthodox-Christian Macedonians and Muslim ethnic Albanians, its lack of key-note attractions keep it from rising to the top of the tourist charts.

Sun breaks from the UK

The passing of the late Nelson Mandela has put the world’s focus on one of South Africa’s major cities – Johannesburg. Also known as Jo’burg or Jozi, the big city vibe is discernible. Life is fast-paced and buzzes with cafes, theatres and a burgeoning art scene especially in the cultural districts of Newtown and Braamfontein. Indeed what was once a no-go zone is now a sought destination by tourists who enjoy its a stunning skyscape.

Since South Africa has hosted the world cup in 2010 the city and the nearby township of Soweto, Mandela’s birthplace have been regenerated. This is where the Apartheid Museum and the Old Fort Prison complex that held Mahatma Gandhi and Mandela captive can be seen.

From here, it’s just a short domestic flight to South Africa’s mother city, Cape Town – possibly the most beautiful in the land. To see it all take a trip to the top of Table Mountain – named so because a flat layer of cloud unfurls over its top) and from their choose your favourite beach. An hour’s drive away is the winelands grown out of fertile valleys and producing the famous wines of Stellenbosch.

 

Dubai

It was once a fishing village, but today Dubai artfully crafts its world-wide reputation as playground in the sun. With so many shopping centres and high rise hotels it may be easy to forget that this is the Middle East.

This means you won’t see any debouched night clubs, Las Vegas style shows or casinos (gambling is illegal even though Dubai famously hosts the world’s must lucrative race horse). But you will see sensational architecture. One example is the seven-star hotel, Burj El Arab that overlooks reclaimed land that has been fashioned into sensational palm tree shapes. The Beckhams reportedly have a home here.

 

In August 2016 the city became home to the largest theme park in the world. They are expecting over four million visitors over the year. Every day it can host up to 30,000 adventures and offer several zones over 1.5 million square feet: Lost Valley – Dinosaur Adventure, Cartoon Network, Marvel, and IMG Boulevard. Incidentally, the haunted house is said to be so frightening that children under 15 years old are not alllowed in.

The brilliant skylines shows off modern and Moorish architecture, modern shopping malls galore – one with its own ski resort – and away from all this there is still the souq where you can haggle for something oriental. Weather here is extremely hot and the best time to visit is from November to March.

 

Delhi

India, a country of a billion people, is not for the faint-hearted but Delhi, home to 25 million, is a good place to ease you into what is a uniquely shocking culture, of in-your-face friendliness and tenacious touting.

Read also: India’s Golden Triangle: Delhi, Jaipur and Agra

In the centre, in New Delhi, there are monuments that speak of the Day of the Raj such as The Parliament house a circular colonnaded building that houses ministerial offices and India Gate an Arc-de-Triomphe look-alike memorial to British soldiers designed by Edwin Lytyens. Elsewhere, in Old Delhi are narrow lanes and sensational mosques that reflect Islamic India.

Some shoppers may find the noisy, chaotic bazaars exciting places to shop and haggle yet elsewhere there are mega malls. It is impossible to ignore the Red Fort, a sandstone fortress surrounded by an 18ft wall which founded Shah Jahan in 1648.

Experience fall in New York State

Autumn in America, otherwise known as fall lasts until 20 December and transforms landscapes across the country into a spectacular array of vivid colours and New York State is no different. From the Great Appalachian Valley which dominates eastern New York to the peaks of the Adirondacks in the north, New York State has some of the best places to experience fall in America.

1The Adirondacks

The tree littered Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York transform into a vibrant display of autumnal colours and there are a couple of brilliant ways to witness it. One option is climbing Whiteface Mountain, which has a 4,872-foot summit that can also be reached by car or gondola and has incredible views for miles around. Alternatively, visitors can ride the Adirondack Scenic Railroad which winds its way through remote forests, sparkling rivers and into the magnificent beauty of Adirondack Park.

Stay at The Point, a five star private estate consisting of log cabins and guestrooms set next to a mountain lake. Rooms start from £1,310 a night for two people sharing.

2The Catskills Mountains

Located only 100 miles from New York City and part of the Great Appalachian Valley, the Catskills Mountains have been a favoured destination of urban holidaymakers since the mid-20th century. Located within the mountains is the Catskills Forest Preserve, which is protected from many forms of development under New York State law and as such has retained its natural beauty and ‘wild forests’ making it one of the best places to enjoy fall. Hike along one of the many trails that include a number of lookout points over the Hudson Valley and as an added bonus the park has bountiful wildlife to glimpse including bobcats, black bears, minks and coyotes.

Stay at The Arnold House. This country retreat is set on seven acres in the forests of the western Catskills. Rooms start from £151 a night for two people sharing.

 

3Central Park, Manhattan

It’s not only rural areas that experience the best of fall, as Central Park in Manhattan blooms with striking autumnal hues creating a scenic collision between man-made structures and nature. Stroll through the park enjoying the colours from within or witness the scene on a grander scale by climbing the Empire State Building for a top-down look on the park. Another option is the 360-degree view from Top of the Rock Observation on the 70th floor of the Rockefeller Centre right in the heart of the city.