Sunday Special – Fiji


The Melanesian island country of Fiji is one that evokes images of languid blue waters, green jungle canopies and an idyllic island days. Often touted as a  wedding and honeymoon destination it seems Fiji has much to offer for a getaway, particularly a romantic one.

Located in the South Pacific, Fiji comprises over 330 islands, 110 of them being continually inhabited.  The main populated islands are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu with the capital Suva located on the former. Although Suva is the capital the main airport is in Nadi, also located on Viti Levu. 

As stated above, Fiji is renown for its wedding and honeymoon popularity and rightly so as there is an abundance of beaches, hotels and lush locations. The Coral Coast is the hub of many sun revelers and water sport aficionados.  Off course there is also national parks and adventure activities too (kayaking, zip lining, off-roading, parasailing, etc). Daily ferries allow inter-island visits for further exploring.  History buffs can learn of the country’s past with museums and historical sites. A little bit of everything under the warm tropical sun. 

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Fijian Beach – Photo is Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons)

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Coral Coast Sunset, Fiji – Photo credit: Maxim75Coral Coast SunsetCC BY-SA 4.0

 

Monday Sessions – Cuba


Our next installment of the Mondays Sessions is to Cuba. This Caribbean Island nation has had a storied past.  Many travelers from Europe and especially Canada have been visiting for years at the numerous resorts found around the island and particularly in Varadero.  There have been some changes in recent years in regards to travel within Cuba. Other areas have become a bit more popular with visitors, which offers a chance to see the more authentic side of this country. My friend Aurora (a French expat in Canada), whom I met last year, visited the tropical locale earlier in 2017.  Let’s hear about her time in Cuba.


WTW:  What may you decide to go to Cuba?

Aurora:  I have been dancing Cuban Salsa for about 10 years now and I always wanted to go! I figured it was best to go as soon as possible to experience the “authentic Cuba” before it changes with the tourism boom.

WTW:  Wonderful! Regarding logistics, how did you get around? What type of accommodations did you stay in?

Aurora:  We wanted to rent a car but there was no availability, so we ended up using buses and private shared taxis to get around the island, the latest ended up being the easiest for only a little bit more than the bus. For accommodation we stayed in Casa Particulares, which are the local B&Bs – it’s the best option if you want to see how locals live and meet them!

WTW:  How was the food? And the rum? (I find the rum quite tasty)

Aurora:  The selection of dishes was limited. Surprisingly, we found that the quality of the food varies a lot even for similar price ranges. The cocktails were also amazing in some places or genuinely bad in others!

WTW:  Good to know that is varies. Which place or area was your favourite and why?

Aurora:  Havana was my favorite place because of its authenticity and eclecticism. The older part of the city is run-down, but I personally found it charming, you get to imagine the colonial times more vividly.

WTW:  I myself  like Havana too. What surprised you the most about Cuba?

Aurora:  It felt like going back in time, nothing has changed much in 50 years, and you feel the socialism spirit everywhere, it was like experiencing history! Also the double currency system is quite surprising, creating a segregation between tourists and locals.

WTW:   That is quite different. What type of activities and sights did you do and see?

Aurora:

  • Havana (visiting the old city, dancing salsa, listening to live bands)
  • Viñales (scenic walks and drives, horse back-riding, cigar plantations)
  • Playa Girón (snorkelling, history)
  • Cienfuegos (touring the city)
  • Trinidad (sightseeing)
  • Santa Clara (Che Memorial )
  • Varadero (white sand beaches)

WTW:  You covered a fair bit of ground! Wonderful. Any tips or suggestions for travelers considering Cuba?

Aurora:  Try to visit beyond the typical tourist destinations for the true Cuban experience. Go visit Centro Havana, get yourself some Cuban pesos, dance salsa with Cubans, and be careful of scams (tourism brings so much money that a lot of people seize any opportunities).

Photos are taken and owned by Aurora and used with permission.

Sunday Special – Zanzibar, Tanzania


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Zanzibar beach – Photo credit: Public Domain

I am a member of several online travel groups. I like to use them for travel tips and inspiration. It was in one of these groups where I learned about Zanzibar, Tanzania. This archipelago lies in the Indian Ocean, a mere 25 – 50km/15 – 30mi off the Tanzanian coast. Historically the island grew spices which continues on today and retains its moniker of the ‘Spice Islands’. It was also a location ideal for traders to make contact for commerce with those living on the Swahili coast. Centuries later the islands fell under Portuguese, Arab, and then British rule. It was in the mid-20th century that Zanzibar sought independence and merged a union with Tanzania, today remaining an semi-autonomous region.

The islands consist of many small ones and two larger ones, Unguja (a.k.a. Zanzibar) and Pemba Islands with its capital of Zanzibar City located on the former. Zanzibar City is considered the heart of Zanzibar and has much to offer. It is divided into two – the modern Ng’ambo and the historic Stone Town.  An interesting tidbit about Stone town is that musician, singer and songwriter Freddie Mercury was born there.

Want to check out Zanzibar? Well this is what I found about its activities and sights:

  • Historic Stone Town is good for wandering its storied streets, seeing quaint shops and visiting cafes. Time spent at Forodhani Market is a must.
  • There are amazing beaches with stunning sunsets
  • Snorkeling and diving at Mnemba Atoll for a fun adventure
  • Visit Prison Island for a somber trip to the Slave Museum and to see giant turtles at the turtle sanctuary
  • Visit Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park to get back to nature and see some monkeys
  • Take a spice tour to learn more about this important trade

These are just a handful of sights and activities that await you in Zanzibar. I can say these islands have moved high up on my bucket list, that is for certain! 

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Market in Zanzibar’s Stone Town – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by Alex Petrenko [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Red Colobus monkeys in Zanzibar’s Jozani Forest – Photo via Wikimedia Commons: Taken and owned By Olivier Lejade from France (P8200036.JPG) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Sunday Special – Belize


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San Pedro Beach, Belize – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by Areed145 at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Not long ago a couple friends spent some time in Belize and absolutely loved it. So I though I’d take a look at this small Central American country that does not have a Pacific Ocean coastline. Since it is on the eastern portion of Central America its shores are the Caribbean Sea with neighbouring countries of Mexico and Guatemala. Those shores are one of the big attractions to this locale. Beaches are plentiful along the seacoast as well as on the many islands found nearby. Ambergris Caye is the largest island and possibly the most well known.

So what are all the wonderful things to see and do in this adventure-packed country? Plenty from what I have garnered. Let’s take a look.

  • The plentiful and beautiful beaches, as mentioned above
  • Adventure sports such as zip lining, jungle treks and hikes, repelling and spelunking, caving, kayaking, and diving are yours to enjoy
  • Mayan history and ruins, many of which can still be visited. These include the impressive El Caracol and ceremonial site of Altun Ha
  • Marine and underwater activities – with the world’s second largest barrier reef and the impressive Great Blue Hole make it a haven for divers and snorkelers 
  •  Food! Try Creole Johnny Cakes for breakfast, some ceviche for lunch and rice and beans or conch for dinner

Belize sounds like it has plenty to offer! 

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UNESCO World Heritage Site, Belize’s Great Blue Hole – Photo via Wikimedia Commons: Public Domain

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Altun Ha Mayan Ruins, Belize – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Photo Credit: By The original uploader was Aquaimages at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons