The Blog

Seven Reasons to Visit Taiwan in 2016

For us here at LeafCanoe, Taiwan is the up and coming destination to visit in 2016. Once referred to as Ilha Formosa, or Beautiful Island, by the Portugese, Taiwan holds plenty of intrigue and curiosity for many a traveler.

LeafCanoer, ladyd, can attest to the wonders of Taiwan. With several leaves showcasing many of the country’s attractions and sites, including “Taiwan – 7 Days in Paradise” and “South of Taiwan is full of surprises!” ladyd shares some of her favorite destinations in Taiwan and tips for how to get the most out of your visit.

visit Taiwan

For those itching to experience a new destination this year, here are seven reasons to visit Taiwan in 2016:

Aboriginal culture
Nearly 2.3% of Taiwan’s population, roughly 530,000 people, refer to themselves as part of the indigenous peoples of Taiwan. Unlike the majority of Taiwanese, who originate from the Asian mainland, the aboriginal people of Taiwan can trace their roots to the islands of the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and even as far as out as Madagascar. Though in the past, these groups have experienced pressure to assimilate with the majority of the Taiwanese, many aboriginal villages have held on to their cultural uniqueness, and their existence represents the diversity of Taiwanese culture.

visit Taiwan

Cuisine
Taiwanese cuisine is highly derived from Chinese cuisine, but there are several nuances and influences from other countries such as Japan. Popular dishes in Taiwan include beef noodle soup and congee. Many of the dishes highlight the use of seafood, which is abundant and common for this island country, and due to its sub-tropical location, fruits such as papaya, starfruit, melons, and citrus have made their way into the cuisine as well.

visit Taiwan

Hiking opportunities
Despite being sub-tropical, Taiwan is also quite mountainous. The multi-level terrain of the country makes for some interesting and memorable hiking experiences for visitors to Taiwan. The best time for hiking in Taiwan is in the autumn, from late August to early October. The weather is usually much cooler and drier during this time. Some of the parks with the best hiking include Shei-Pa National Park, Taroko National Park, and Yushan National Park.

visit Taiwan

Architectural marvels
One of the reasons behind Taiwan’s selection as an up and coming place to visit is its commitment to inspiring wonders in architecture. One of the country’s most popular buildings is the 101 Taipei building, classified as the tallest building in the world. But there are other buildings around Taiwan worth visiting, including the glass slipper church, a building shaped to look like a blue glass slipper. visit Tawain

Rich history
Taiwan’s history dates back to tens of thousands of years. Formerly colonized by the Dutch, Taiwan then came under the influence of the Chinese, which transferred some of their own cultural traditions to Taiwan. These days, Taiwan is a hodge-podge of cultures. But the old buildings and temples around Taiwan still remain, and offer plenty of opportunities to explore the country’s cultural history.

visit Taiwan

Modern art
With so many historical temples and buildings to visit, it’s easy to overlook the role of modern art in Taiwanese culture. Taiwan, particularly the city of Taipei, has a large selection of modern art galleries that are worth exploring. Some of the best modern art galleries include Aki Gallery, 1839 Contemporary Gallery, and Angel Art Gallery, all of which are located in Taipei.

visit Taiwan

Hello Kitty love
The Taiwanese have a strong fascination with Hello Kitty. The airport in Taipei has a gate dedicated to Hello Kitty, as well as several rooms filled from floor to ceiling with Hello Kitty decor. But the best example of Taiwan’s Hello Kitty love is the existence of the Hello Kitty hotel, where lovers of all things Hello Kitty can pay to stay in a room decorated in their favorite character.

Hello Kitty Room

Taiwan is a wealth of interesting sights. With a fascinating history, spectacular natural and man-made views, as well as a unique culture, a visit to Taiwan is sure to make any trip memorable and worthwhile. For the adventurous traveler, this country is your choice for 2016.

For more ideas of where to visit in Taiwan, check out more of ladyd’s leaves by downloading the LeafCanoe app.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Eight Must-See Cities in Germany

No country in the world is as well-known for its precision and order much like Germany. With so much stress on efficiency and organization, one would think that Germany would be a dull place to visit. But nothing could be farther from the truth!

cities in Germany

LeafCanoer, sociokathy, recently shared her highlights from living in Germany in her leaf entitled, “Destination Dresden.” Focusing on the city of Dresden, sociokathy’s leaf is full of helpful tips and suggestions of what to visit in Dresde. But there is more to Germany than just the city of Dresden. The country is chock full of cities waiting to be explored. For those planning a trip, here are eight must-see cities in Germany:

Berlin
The largest city in Germany, Berlin is also the country’s capital city. Berlin was once a divided city, separated by a wall running through the center of the city. The western part of the city, known as West Berlin belonged to the French, Americans, and British, while the rest of the city, known as East Berlin, belonged to the former USSR. In 1989, the Berlin Wall was torn down, and the city of Berlin, as well as the rest of the country, became united.

cities in Germany

Cologne
Situated along the Rhine River, the city of Cologne is one of Germany’s most liberal cities. The main attraction in Cologne is the Dom Cathedral, a Roman Catholic church that is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For those interested in religious architecture, the city has other historical churches and synagogues worth visiting.

cities in Germany

Dresden
The city of Dresden can be found in the state of Saxon. It is known as a cultural center in the region, and is a popular city to visit among Germans, attracting around ten million tourists each year. Many tourists enjoy visiting the city’s historic center, which has a large selection of interesting buildings, palaces, and gardens.

cities in Germany

Munich
The Bavarian city of Munich is also worth a visit. Known primarily for its Oktoberfest celebrations, Munich is also a technological hub in Germany.  For visitors to Munich, there are several royal avenues, squares, and palaces worth visiting. Munich is also one of Germany’s art capitals, and within the city, there are over 16 museums and 40 galleries to choose from.

cities in Germany

Hamburg
As Germany’s largest port, and Europe’s second busiest port, Hamburg is often called Germany’s Gateway to the World.  The fish market, located on the harbor, is worth a visit, as are other parts of the city, including city hall and the Speicherstadt, the city’s historical warehouse district. Besides the importance of the harbor, Hamburg has also become one of Germany’s media hubs.

cities in Germany

Dusseldorf
The city of Dusseldorf is known for its vibrant nightlife, abundant shopping, and exciting events. Each summer, the city hosts the Kirmes Fun Fair, which attracts more than 4 million people annually. One part of the city worth visiting is the Old Town, which is home to shopping malls, as well as bars, coffee shops, and brewing houses.

cities in Germany

Frankfurt
Known as the business and financial center of Germany, Frankfurt is a bustling hub of commerce and technology. The city is famous for its skyline, which features futuristic architecture, but there are also many well-maintained historical buildings scattered throughout the city.  Frankfurt attracts millions of tourists each year, and is one of Germany’s transport hubs, both for air travel and train travel.

cities in Germany

Heidelberg
The city of Heidelberg is the quintessential German city, full of beautiful historical architecture and neighborhoods. You can easily spend your days strolling through the Alstadt, Heidelburg’s city center, or take a hike up Heiligenberg mountain to see an aerial view of the city. In addition to the sites, Heidelberg also has more than eight theaters, to ensure your entertainment options are not limited.

cities in Germany

These eight cities in German are not to be missed, especially if you have a lot of time to spare on your upcoming trip to Germany. You can check out more of sociokathy’s leaf to get additional ideas of what to visit in Dresden. And to get information and tips on other destinations, download the LeafCanoe app.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Inside Washington: Unique DC Attractions

The city of Washington, DC is a treasure trove of history and culture. LeafCanoer, searchingforyourzen, recently visited the city and shared his experiences in his leaf, “Washington DC – In A Day!” The capitol city of the United States, DC is home to well-known attractions like the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and even the Vietnam Memorial. Many visitors know about the free Smithsonian Museums, like the National Air and Space Museum and the Natural History Museum. And places like the National Zoo and Arlington National Cemetery are common stops for visitors to the city. But there are also a number of unique DC attractions that every visitor should see, to really get a feel for the city. Here are our picks for exploring a different side of DC.

Washington monument

Ben’s Chili Bowl
A longtime institution in DC is Ben’s Chili Bowl, which has been serving up soulful chili since 1958. Located on U Street, Ben’s Chili Bowl has served everyone from foreign dignitaries and the President, to the everyday person off the street. Ben’s Chili Bowl is a great starting off point for exploring the rest of U Street and its surroundings, which was once a hot spot for jazz legends like Nat King Cole, Miles Davis, and Duke Ellington. The area surrounding Ben’s Chili Bowl and U Street was also once the cultural center of DC’s African American community, and is still a great place to catch a music show.

C&O Canal
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, known as the C&O Canal, runs from DC’s Georgetown neighborhood all the way into parts of West Virginia and Maryland. Once intended to connect Chesapeake Bay with the Ohio River, the C&O Canal was never fully finished. But it did serve as a transporter of coal from the Allegheny Mountains into Washington, DC. Visitors can walk or bike along the canal, and explore the old buildings of Georgetown.

DSC04637

Gravelly Point Park
For those wanting a more exhilarating experience, Gravelly Point Park, along the George Washington Memorial Parkway, is a popular spot to explore. Here, visitors and locals alike can experience the rush of watching jet planes take off and land from DC’s Reagan National Airport, located right next to the park.

Mount Vernon
For another unique and historic attraction, spend the day in Mount Vernon, the home of George and Martha Washington. Located 17 miles south of DC, Mount Vernon is an expansive estate that has been well-preserved and well-maintained. Visitors can take a tour of its grounds any time of the year, and catch a glimpse of what life was like for America’s first president.

home-719877_1280

Ford’s Theatre
DC is also full of lesser known historical sites. One such site is Ford’s Theatre, where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Visitors to Ford’s Theatre can take a guided tour of the still functioning theater, and learn about its significance in American history. They can also stay to watch one of their many entertaining theatrical performances.

Theodore Roosevelt Island
The city of Washington, DC has many parks and green spaces for relaxing and exploring. Roosevelt Island, located along the Potomac River, below the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge on Highway 66, is the perfect place for an urban retreat. The island is accessible by foot from the Mount Vernon Trail, just off of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The 88.5 acre island, which is considered a national park, has a number of trails for visitors to walk, jog, or run through, and is home to a variety of wild birds. Canoeing and kayaking are also popular activities on the island during the summer time.

river-720656_1280

These are just a few of our picks for unique DC attractions. The city is overflowing with places to see and things to do, and it’s impossible to fit into one single list. Even locals who have lived in the city for years haven’t seen it all! For more ideas of what to see and do in Washington, DC, read more of searchingforyourzen’s leaf, or download the LeafCanoe app for more travel ideas.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Visit Granada! Six Ways to Explore the City

The city of Granada has always been a popular tourist destination for Europeans. With its mild climate and beautiful historical buildings, it’s no wonder many people come to visit Granada. LeafCanoer, nikkistewart, recently posted about her trip to Granada in her leaf title, “Granada in Southern Spain.” Like many visitors before her, she was captivated by the beauty of the city’s architecture, and the abundance of activities to do in and around the city. For those wanting to see the sights for themselves, here are six ways to explore the city when you visit Granada.

picturesque-248080_1280

Moorish Architecture
Granada was once controlled by the Moors, a nomadic people from Northern Africa, of Arab and Berber descent. They came to the area in the 700s, and at one time ruled Spain, Portugal and parts of southern France. Their power began to decline in the 13th and 14th centuries, and by the 1600s, they were completely expelled from the area.  Although the Moors no longer dominate the city of Granada, their architecture still live on in many of the city’s historical buildings.

granada-106498_1280

The beauty of Alhambra
One of the most popular and well known buildings featuring Moorish architecture is Alhambra, a palace and fortress complex located in Granada. Originally built as a fortress in the late 9th century, Alhambra was renovated and rebuilt into a palace in the 13th and 14th centuries. Now, the palace is considered a UNESCO World Heritage site and is visited by over 2 million visitors a year, making it one of the most visited sites in Spain. There are four groups of buildings within the Alhambra complex: Alcazaba (the oldest part of the fortress), the Nasrid Palaces (the most elaborately designed part of the complex), the Palace of Charles V (the newest portion of the complex, built for the Spanish emperor in the 16th century), and Generalife (the garden portion of the complex). Tickets are needed to visit the site, and tourists can choose among a daytime visit, a garden visit, or an evening visit.

alhambra-777616_1920

Magnificent cathedrals
Moorish architecture and Alhambra are not the only reasons to visit Granada. The city is also well known for a number of beautiful and magnificent cathedrals. One of the most visited is the Granada Cathedral, which was built in the 15th century, after the departure of the Moors. The architecture of the cathedral features Gothic and Spanish Renaissance design. The cathedral is still in use, and is the current seat of the Archdiocese of Granada.

granada-666538_1280

Proximity to the Sierra Nevada
For the outdoor enthusiast, Granada offers a quick trip to the Sierra Nevada mountains, as the city is situated right at its base. Skiing is a popular activity at the Sierra Nevada. In fact, the mountains are one of the popular skiing destinations in Europe, with over 40 kilometers of skiable area. In the summer months, visitors to the Sierra Nevada can hike, trek, camp, and even horseback ride through the mountains.

spain-50861_1280

Unique shopping experiences
Granada is also known for its flea markets. There are at least four flea markets in the city, happening on various days during the week. The Plaza Large flea market in the Albaicin neighborhood runs every day. On Wednesdays, the La Chana district holds a flea market, and on Saturdays, the city’s most densely populated district, Zaidin, also hosts a flea market. The Cartuja flea market is also a popular one for shopping, held on Sunday mornings in Almanjayar.

shoes-454337_1280

Muslim influences with a European twist
If shopping is not your cup of tea, the final reason to visit Granada is to admire the neighborhoods. Many neighborhoods and sights in Granada have been influenced by the Muslims who once lived in the city. One neighborhood worth visiting is Albayzin, one of the former Muslim quarters in Granada. Parte Vieja, also known as the Old Quarter, is also worth visiting, as this was once the commercial center of the city. Additionally, the Realjo district is worth a stroll as it offers a wide selection of bars, cafes, and tapas bars.

street-255474_1920

There are many reasons to visit Granada, and it certainly is one of the not-to-miss destinations of Europe. For more ideas on what to see and do in Granada, as well as other places around the world, download the LeafCanoe app.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

How to Explore Istanbul for Free

Istanbul is a melting pot of a city. It’s a city of both European and Asian influences. It’s also a city of contradiction, holding steady to its rich history, yet always with an eye on the future. From the religious architecture to its art museums, there are countless sites to see in this city, even for the budget conscious traveler. LeafCanoer, girlxdeparture, shared her experiences traveling in Istanbul in her leaf titled, “10 Free Things To Do In Istanbul.” As she shows in her leaf, it’s easy to experience the local culture in Istanbul without spending an arm and a leg. Here is a short list of ideas to explore Istanbul for free. Before you know it, you’ll be getting around the city like a local.

istanbul bazaar

Relax at one of the many city parks
There are many city parks in Istanbul to choose from. Some of the best parks include Ghulhane Park, Yildiz Park, Bebek Park, Emigran Park, and Belgrad Forest. Many of these parks were former gardens and palace grounds for the Ottoman Empire. Now they have been converted to public areas, still carefully maintained, but available for anyone to visit and enjoy.

Practice haggling at the bazaar
Haggling is a way of life in Istanbul. One of the best places to do it is at the Grand Bazaar, which holds over 3,000 shops. Here, you can find a wide variety of odds and ends, from high end and high quality products to cheap knick knacks. Located in the district and neighborhood of Fatih, the Grand Bazaar is one of the most visited tourists attractions in the world, with 90 million visitors annually. If shopping for spices is more your preference, you can visit the Egyptian Spice Market in the district of Eminonu. Haggling there is also encouraged.

spices-203979_1920

Take a stroll through a neighborhood
Istanbul boasts many beautiful neighborhoods, with historic homes and buildings. One of the most popular neighborhoods to visit is the Old City, which houses the Hippodrome, an ancient race track and political arena, and today serves as a public commons area. The Old City is also home to Sultanahmet Park, as well as the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. Other neighborhoods worth exploring are Cihangir, with its artsy vibe, and Ortakoy, known for its beautiful views of the Bosphorus straits.

cihangir

Admire the religious architecture
Arguably one of the things that Istanbul is known for are its religious buildings. The most famous are Hagia Sophia (now known as Ayasofya), Suleymaniye Mosque, and the Blue Mosque. Although Hagia Sophia is now a museum, and is no longer free to visit, Suleymaniye Mosque and the Blue Mosque are still free and open to the public to visit during non-prayer times. These two mosques are the most well-known, but other mosques worth visiting include the Yeni Valide Mosque near the Egyptian Spice Market, the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, and the Sultan Beyazit Mosque near the Grand Bazaar.

Take advantage of free nights at museums
The Istanbul Modern museum is one of the most revered art museums in the city. It houses a collection of photography, cinema, and new media art. The best part about Istanbul Modern is that admission is free every Thursday, making it an excellent choice for soaking up the local arts culture. Another great art museum to visit is the Museum of Painting and Sculpture, which was the first fine arts museum in Istanbul. The museum opens its doors to the public for free from 12-4:30 pm every day, except on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Istanbul Modern

Istanbul is full of beautiful places to see and explore. The best part about it is that it’s easy to explore Istanbul for free. To read more about girlxdeparture’s adventures in Istanbul, check out her leaf by downloading the LeafCanoe app.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Seven Ways to Spend an English Holiday in St. Ives

The summer months may be long gone here in the Northern Hemisphere, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t still dream of warm sand and sparkling beaches. We often associate beaches with tropical destinations like Southeast Asia or Central America, but England actually has its fair share of excellent beaches. One of the best beaches in England can be found in St. Ives Bay in the county of Cornwall, England.

st-ives-168281_1280

Leafcanoer, declanbradley, recently posted a leaf titled “Things to do in St. Ives” about his visit to St. Ives. It’s packed with suggestions for activities to do and sights to visit in the town. For those planning a visit, here are seven ways to spend a holiday in St. Ives.

Soak in some art
St. Ives has long been a popular stomping ground for artists. Many of them are drawn to the town’s stunning landscape, and it is often reflected in the art that is produced, be it painting, sculpture, or photography. There are a number of art galleries worth visiting, including the New Millenium Gallery, one of the largest independent art galleries in Cornwall, and St. Ives Ceramics, which contains a collection of pottery from local and international potters. The Tate Gallery is also located in St. Ives.

File Oct 06, 11 05 04 PM

Lounge on the beach
St. Ives is best known for its beaches. Stretching over 50 miles along the coastline, the Bay of St. Ives has a number of beaches where you can enjoy a swim or a surf. The most popular beach is Porthmeor beach, which boasts amazing surfing and a great atmosphere for families.

Learn to surf
Because of the geography of St. Ives, the beaches in the area provide excellent waves for surfers. The St. Ives Surf School, popular among surfers, offers surfing lessons for surfers of all levels, as well kayaking and stand up paddleboarding.

carbis-bay-beach-657220_1280

Stroll through a garden
No trip to England would be complete without a visit to an English garden, and St. Ives has no shortage of those. In town, there are five gardens that you can visit: Trewyn Gardens, Memorial Gardens, The Malakoff, Tregenna Castle Hotel Garden, and Chy-an-Gweal Gardens. Any of these gardens are worth checking out, and can provide a nice relaxing respite from a busy day.

Enjoy drinks at a pub
After a long day of playing on the beach, it’s nice to get a cold drink at the pub. The harbor has several bars and pubs to choose from, including St. Ives’ oldest pub, The Sloop. Nearby Fore Street also has a good selection of pubs.

st-ives-106116_1280

Sip afternoon tea
If alcohol is not your thing, perhaps you might enjoy a hot cup of tea instead. The Tearoom, located on the Wharf, is a favorite among visitors to St. Ives, as well as The Courtyard, located on Fore Street. Hotels like the St. Ives Harbour Hotel offers their afternoon tea on the hotel terrace, where guests can enjoy beautiful views of the water while sipping their tea.

File Oct 06, 11 20 13 PM

Take a boat tour
St. Ives Bay is a beautiful location, and worth exploring by boat. Many boat companies offer trips around the bay, including trips to Hell’s Mouth, Godrevy Lighthouse, and Seal Island. Excursions can be done via high-speed boats, or you can hire your own boat to explore the bay. For a more slow-paced option, many boat companies also offer kayak hire.

harbour-550640_1280

St. Ives is a place worth visiting, with its wonderful beaches and abundance of activities and sights to see. Whether you’re there for a short weekend trip, or for an extended stay, you’re sure to enjoy all that St. Ives has to offer.

Ready for your own holiday in St. Ives? Check out declanbradley’s leaf by downloading the LeafCanoe app. Or explore the other leaves posted on Leaf Canoe for more vacation ideas.

porthkidney-beach-650333_1280

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Six Reasons to Visit the Ancient City of Petra

The ancient city of Petra has long held the intrigue and imagination of many intrepid travelers. From the allure of its architectural beauty, to the opportunity to play archaeological explorer for the day, even the most jaded of tourists can find something to inspire them in Petra. Leafcanoer, grassrootsnomd, recently shared her visit to Petra in her leaf entitled “Petra“. It’s full of interesting tips and insight about the ancient city. For those interested in their own adventure, here are six reasons to visit the ancient city of Petra:

The city of Petra

Its Rich Cultural History
Petra was established around 312 B.C. as the capital of the Nabatean kingdom. The Nabateans, a people of Arabic roots, had settlements throughout the Middle East, but most were centered around Jordan. Early mention of Petra can be found in ancient Egyptian texts, as well as references to the city in the Bible, particularly in Exodus. Over time, Petra has been influenced by many different cultures, including Egyptian and Greek cultures. The city has fallen under both Roman and Byzantine rule, which also greatly influenced the architecture of many of its buildings.

petra-727041_1280

Its Structural and Architectural Marvels
The city of Petra is best known for its architecture, as it is one of a few cities in the world that is carved directly into the side of a cliff. The city is also famous for its system of pools, dams, and water channels, a technology that was extremely advanced at the time of the city’s establishment. The most well-known structure in Petra is the Treasury, also known as Al-Khazneh, which was carved directly into the sandstone rock that surrounds it. The architecture is heavily Greek influenced, and was originally built as a mausoleum and crypt. Petra has been called the Rose City, due to the distinctly red color of its sandstone.

treasury-173997_1280

An Opportunity to Visit a World Heritage Site
Though the ruins of Petra were known during the Middle Ages, it wasn’t until the 1800’s that the first European actually visited and described the city of Petra in great detail. This was in 1812, and the European was a Swiss traveler by the name of Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. Due to its importance in ancient history, Petra was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. As a way to preserve the structural integrity of the ancient city, the Bedouin communities who lived near Petra were resettled elsewhere around Jordan. However, despite these preservation efforts, Petra continues to be considered a threatened landscape by UNESCO, mainly due to the sheer number of visitors who flock to it on a daily basis.

File Sep 30, 5 12 44 PM

Petra at Night
One of the most beautiful ways to view Petra is at night. On Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights, the city is adorned in over 1,500 candles. For a nominal fee, visitors are welcome to walk through the city as it is illuminated by candlelight.

petra-3021_1280

A Chance to Channel Indiana Jones
Perhaps one of the most well-known facts about Petra is that it was featured as the backdrop to the final scenes of the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. If you’re a film buff, you can reenact the scene in person as you walk through the Siq, the winding narrow passage that leads you to the Treasury. Though many of the interior scenes were filmed in a soundstage, the exterior scenes of the movie were filmed on location. Petra has also been featured in other films, such as Arabian Nights, The Mummy Returns, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

petra-110663_1280

Bragging Rights
Arguably the best reason to visit Petra is for the bragging rights. This city is rich in history, and is equally fascinating and breathtaking to see in person. Though the Middle East can be a relatively unstable region politically, the country of Jordan is a safe place for tourists to visit.

jordan-181909_1280

For ideas of what to visit in Petra, or to find inspiration for travel to other places around the world, download the LeafCanoe app.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

How to Spend 24 Hours in Chicago

Chicago is one of the most visited cities in America. Set in the heart of the America’s mid-West region, Chicago is a vibrant and exciting city, full of history, culture, and grit. Leafcanoer, searchingforyourzen, recently posted a Leaf about Chicago titled, “Chicago’s Skyline Tour.” It’s full of great suggestions for exploring the city.

To really get to know Chicago, you need months, or better yet years of living there to fully understand the local character. But even if you only have a short time for a visit, there are still ways to get a taste of life in Chicago. For those with a limited amount of time, here’s a list of how to spend 24 hours in Chicago.

Get a morning workout at Millenium Park
Start your day off with a visit to Millenium Park. In the summer time, the park offers free workouts on Saturday and Sunday mornings. But even if you’re not there in the summer, Millenium Park and adjacent Maggie Daley Park, are great places to take a morning walk or jog. There are a few art installations worth seeing at Millenium Park, including the Cloud Gate, Crown Fountain, and Boeing Galleries. After your workout, head north to Randolph Street for pancakes at Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe, or try Caffe Rom on Stetson Avenue for Italian coffee and European pastries.

Cloud Gate

Explore art at the Art Institute
After breakfast, head back south through Millenium Park to the Art Institute of Chicago. Home to an extensive collection of classical and modern art, the Art Institute of Chicago is an excellent place to spend a relaxing morning in Chicago. The Art Institute has five wings, with art from all over the world and throughout history. Worth a look is the Modern Wing, which features 20th and 21st Century art.

Art Institute

Hang out with aquatic life at Shedd Aquarium
You could easily spend the day away at the Art Institute of Chicago, but instead, why not spend the afternoon with sea animals? First, head over to nearby Wabash Avenue for a bite to eat at any of the restaurants that line the street. Then head south through Grant Park to the Shedd Aquarium, located on the shores of Lake Michigan. Shedd Aquarium is the world’s largest indoor aquarium and boasts over 8,000 aquatic animals.

Shedd Aquarium

Ride the Loop
After a long morning and afternoon of sight-seeing, it’s good to have some down time. A fun and unique way to see the city is to ride the Loop. The Loop is a set of elevated railway circulating through downtown Chicago. From the Shedd Aquarium, head west on Roosevelt Road to the Roosevelt station. From there, catch the Orange Line north. The train will circulate around downtown starting from the Harold Washington Library-State/Van Buren station to the Adams/Wabash station, before heading back south to Roosevelt station. Be sure to get off at the Adams/Wabash station.

Chicago train

Go out on the ledge at Willis Tower
From the Adams/Wabash station, head west on Adams Street to visit Willis Tower, located on Franklin Street. Formerly called the Sears Tower, and built in the 1970’s, Willis Tower is considered the tallest building in America. Open 365 days a year, until 10pm from April to September, and 8pm from October to March, the Willis Tower is the perfect place to catch a sunset in Chicago.

Willis Tower

Rest your head at a historic hotel
At the end of the day, the best thing to do is rest your head on a comfortable pillow and curl up under a warm blanket. There are a number of historic hotels located throughout Chicago, with most of them centralized around the downtown area.

Chicago is a fun and exciting place to visit, regardless of whether you only have 24 hours in Chicago, or years to explore. There are so many attractions to see in the city, much more than what’s described here. This list is just a starting off point, and can be a great source of inspiration for your own adventures in the windy city.

Crown Fountain

For more ideas of what to see in Chicago and in other cities, download the Leafcanoe app.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

How to Spend a Day in San Francisco

Summer time is a great time of year for weekend getaways, and one of the best places in the United States to go for a weekend getaway is San Francisco. Set in the northern end of the San Francisco Peninsula in northern California, San Francisco is a cool mix of big-city living, coupled with a laid-back West Coast vibe. LeafCanoer, cmlenny, recently shared her experiences visiting San Francisco in her leaf entitled, “San Francisco – Things to See.” Her leaf is full of great suggestions for places to visit and activities to do in San Francisco.

You can easily spend days or weeks in San Francisco, exploring every unique and quirky neighborhood. But for a weekend getaway, you essentially only have a day. For those planning a short trip to the city, here is how to spend a day in San Francisco.

Have breakfast at Fisherman’s Wharf
Start your day off by heading over to Fisherman’s Wharf, on San Francisco’s Pier 39. This pier is a particularly popular spot for tourists, mainly due to the famous sea lions who have taken up residence on the pier since 1989. These animals are present year round, and love having their picture taken. There are plenty of breakfast options around Fisherman’s Wharf, and in nearby Russian Hill.

A Day in San Francisco - Pier 39 Seals

Ride bikes across the Golden Gate Bridge
After checking out the sea lions, rent a bike and ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. There are four or five bike rental companies that operate out of Fisherman’s Wharf. These companies will equip you with a bike, helmet, locks, and maps for your ride. Once you cross the Golden Gate Bridge, spend an hour or so exploring the town of Sausalito, before heading back to San Francisco via the Golden Gate Ferry.

A Day in San Francisco - Biking Golden Gate Bridge

Picnic at the Palace of Fine Arts
For lunch, pick up some food to go, and head over to the Palace of Fine Arts for a picnic. Originally built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition, the Palace of Fine Arts houses art exhibits and is a popular place for tourists and locals to spend an afternoon. The palace sits on the banks of a lagoon, and is a great area for spotting swans, ducks, geese, and even turtles.

A Day in San Francisco - Palace of Fine Arts

Tour the city on a cable car
One of the most iconic images of San Francisco is that of the cable car. This mode of transportation, built specifically to handle San Francisco’s many hills, was installed in the late 1800’s. These days, locals still use the cable cars to get around town, but most riders are tourists looking to get the San Francisco experience. There are three cable car routes in operation: two that run north and south, and one running east and west. From the Palace of Fine Arts, the nearest cable car route is the Powell-Hyde line, which picks up at the Aquatic Center near Ghiradelli Square.

A Day in San Francisco - Cable Car

Grab some dim sum in Chinatown
While riding the cable car, hop off at Chinatown for a bite of some authentic dim sum. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest in the United States, as well as the oldest. The neighborhood covers roughly 24 blocks, centered around Grant Street and Stockton Street.  Worth visiting is the Dragon Gate, at the intersection of Bush Street and Grant Street, as well as the many Asian produce and fish markets that run along Stockton Street. Also check out the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, which offers free tours of its facilities.

A Day in San Francisco - Chinatown

As many visitors to San Francisco can attest, one day is not nearly enough time to explore and really get to know the character of the city. But if you can only spend a day in San Francisco, these spots are certainly a great starting off point for your exploration.

For more ideas of what to see in San Francisco, check out more of cmlenny’s leaf, “San Francisco – Things to See” and other San Francisco-focused leaves by downloading the LeafCanoe app.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Old Meets New in Tokyo

In a city consistently ranked as the cleanest and most friendly in the world, spending time in Tokyo isn’t difficult or unappealing. Ease of traveling, helpfulness of locals, and plenty of historical sights in addition to modern amenities puts Tokyo at the top of many travel guides’ lists of must-see places.

It is the capital of Japan and boasts the most populous metropolitan area in the world, 36 million people, and growing. The area is divided up into areas, or neighborhoods—each treated like small cities, which explains whyTokyo is frequently referred to as a “city of cities” affectionately. With so much to see, it could become overwhelming to plan an itinerary in Tokyo, but thankfully, Leaf Canoer Julia at vetaretus-6 has compiled a thorough list of sights and experience in this bustling city in her leaf “Things to see in Tokyo”.

The comparative aspect of old vs new makes Tokyo an endlessly interesting place to explore. Culture and way of life is passed down from generation to generation and a tradition of honor and loyalty is well-preserved in Japan in both architecture and attitude. But a booming economy also makes Tokyo home to many global corporations and the amenities are truly first class and state of the art. To fully appreciate Tokyo one has to be ready to dive in to the history while still appreciating modern technology and innovations that are to be found there. Below are a mix of “old vs new” Tokyo sights.

Hachiko Statue at Shibuya Station
It’s no secret that dogs are regarded as inspiringly loyal animals, and the story behind this statue demonstrates just how true that it. Waiting for his owner to come home from work each day at Shibuya Station, Hachiko became a local fixture in the early 1920’s. When his master died of a brain hemorrhage, this remarkable Akita continued to wait for his master each day for nearly a decade after he died. This statue was erected as a national symbol of loyalty to one’s family and to the Emperor, and remains a popular tourist attraction.

e2f06cff-0902-4d4d-a83a-754140fddca1

Shop Til You Drop
When you’re ready to take advantage of a populated city, shopping is usually a part of the experience and Tokyo is no exception to a wide array of shopping venues. One particularly interesting area worth exploring is the fashion district of Takeshita-dori in Harajuku. Here one can find living art just watching the people passing by on the street. Don’t feel shy! Ask to photograph them and most people would be flattered to stop and pose. Shops and restaurants abound in the area so explore and pick up some of Japan’s quirky and delightful fashion expressions.

40eb63cd-738a-4d49-b1dc-3337c800ea79

Temples and Shrines
Worship is a very significant part of Japanese culture. Though there is not one mandated religion, the country is largely Shinto, an ethnic religion, or Buddhist. Buddhism arrived in Japan in the early 6th century and most Japanese death rituals are handled by Buddhist monks. There are many Shinto shrines available for patrons to attend and offer offerings and enjoy their peaceful atmosphere. One excellent shrine to consider visiting is Meiji Jingu, dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his Empress Shoken. After their deaths,  the loyal people of Japan donated over 100,000 trees to commemorate their virtues and created a lush forest amid a busy city. Tips are offered by user vetaretus-6 for showing proper etiquette while visiting Shinto shrines.

From the Water
One great way to take in Tokyo and appreciate it’s panorama is from a river cruise. There are a variety of options for routes, and vessels, including ferries, open air boats, water busses, and even enclosed boats for inclement weather. One option provides for pickups from hotels where you are escorted to the towering skyscraper of World Trade Center Tokyo. From the 40th floor, take in sweeping views of Tokyo, with a guide to answer any questions and provide information. Travel then through parts of the city on your way to Asakusa Kannon Temple, the oldest and most significant Buddhist temple in Tokyo. Passing briefly through a shopping district, you’ll head to the river where you’ll embark on a 45-minute river cruise, gliding under bridges all while hearing audio commentary about this historic city. (www.viator.com see Tokyo Highlights Afternoon Tour and Sumida River Cruise)

8217e0b6-446b-4ba3-93dd-3743798fbf69

Sky High Buildings
Skyscrapers are part of Tokyo’s iconic cityscape. It wouldn’t be proper to visit Tokyo without ascending one of it’s sky-high buildings and Mori Tower provides an unparalleled view of this metropolitan area. Observation decks on the 52nd and 54th floor are open to visitors. It is a fantastic place to capture some cityscape photography.

c775981c-f967-49bc-991a-20fafb3215e6

Tokyo Dome City
A small entertainment complex in Bunkyo consists of the mega-arena Tokyo Dome, a spa and an amusement park complete with roller coasters. It is a great way to spend a few hours thrill-seeking and with ample opportunities for relaxation as well.

The contrast of city and nature, old and new, ancient custom and modern amenities make Tokyo a fantastic city to explore. It’s low crime rate and temperate climate should encourage one and all to spend some time in this world-class city.

d4e36685-0bb9-4cc1-9a40-422cfa6a8b13

For more ideas of things to see in Tokyo visit LeafCanoer Julia’s leaf here and to read what other LeafCanoers have to say, download the LeafCanoe app.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS