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Home / Europe / France / Perfect Paris| Quintessentials for an artistic, cultural & culinary Parisian visit

Perfect Paris| Quintessentials for an artistic, cultural & culinary Parisian visit

Updated: June 1, 2016
By: Ian Yacobucci
Notre Dame de Paris

Paris, FR – Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral from across La Sienne on a dramatic March afternoon (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Don’t get bombarded with hundreds of ideas highlighting the best things to do in Paris, just ask yourself, “what is Paris known for?” If you answered art, food, architecture and French culture than this short list of ideas for your next Paris visit is all you need.

Typing “things to do in Paris” in any search engine will yield hundreds of ideas. You’ll find articles listing the best things to do in Paris, the top 10 things to do in Paris, the 20 ultimate things to do in Paris, 12 worst things to do in Paris, and of course the unrealistically long 101 things to do in Paris (not to mention the dozens of other “things to do in Paris” variations).

If you’re only in Paris for a few day’s than sifting through all that information just won’t do. Thankfully, this guide to Paris will sit you down for fantastic Parisian meal, help you find the best way to photograph and see the Eiffel tower, give you the must see Paris museum, while providing you with time to discover Paris on your own. 

Photograph the Eiffel tower & picnic at Champes de Mars at sunset

Eiffel Tower

Paris, FR – Eiffel Tower at sunset from Trocadero Gardens. Behind the tower is Champs de Mars where you can finish watching the sunset (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

A trip to Paris would not be whole without visiting the Eiffel tower, the iconic 300 meter wrought iron structure that might just be the most recognizable building in the world.   If you’re visiting Paris you’re bound to get there one way or another but some ways to visit the Eiffel tower are better than others.

Simply put, the best way to visit the Eiffel tower is from the Trocadero metro stop. As you exit the subway station at Trocadero you’ll be acquainted  with a full view of Les Jardins du Trocadero (Trocadero gardens) and it’s iconic fountain as the majestic and unmistakeable Eiffel Tower fills out the horizon.

The best time to visit the Eiffel tower is for sunset overlooking Les Jardins du Trocadero and the Eiffel Tower. At this time the Eiffel tower is front lit by the setting sun with a great view from the steps overlooking Trocadero Gardens and the tower itself. This is hands down the best place to get a photograph of the Eiffel Tower and the best time to do it!

If you plan ahead bring an evening snack, some wine, and a blanket because from Troccadero metro stop you can walk to the Eiffel tower then settle down in Champes de Mars (the large park the Eiffel Tower is located in) to enjoy the rest of the sunset while you sip some good French wine watching the day set over Paris.

Eat a Parisian meal at La Jacobine

In my quest to find the best French onion soup in Paris, a feat that would probably take a lifetime to discover, I found La Jacobine. Located down a narrow alleyway in the Odeon/Saint-Michel neighbourhood the quaint café atmosphere of La Jacobine lends itself to traditional Parisian flavours that are sure to excite your palate and bring you back more than once during your visit.   La Jacobine is a great place for a coffee and Parisian confection but even better for their salads, entrees, and of course their French onion soup.

The best time to visit La Jacobine is between 1pm-3pm to beat the lunch and dinner rushes. If you decide to come at a different time I suggest calling ahead or plan to wait a while, as there’s only select seating in this quintessential Parisian restaurant.

For a perfect day plan with a visit to La Jacobine, might I suggest an early morning visit to the Luvre before adventuring across La Sienne to Le Jacobin for a late afternoon lunch. It’s a great walk, just make sure you have something to hold you over while adventuring through the Louvre as you’ll want to get there early and spend at least a few hours.

La Jacobine Salad

Paris, FR – Salad at La Jacobine restaurant located down a quaint cobblestoned alley in Odeon/Saint-Michel neighbourhood (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Get cultured at Musée du Louvre

Like many Paris destinations the Louvre is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world, and a must see if you’re visiting Paris. As you can probably expect, the line-ups to visit the Louvre are immense and often reach more than 100m in length. Yes, you read that correctly.

Louvre

Paris, FR – 11 am Louvre Line Up on a grey March day (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

So, how do you avoid long line-ups and ensure a great trip to the Louvre during your visit?  You do two things:

  1. Buy your tickets online ahead of time (9am is the best ticket time to purchase)
  2. Plan to arrive 30 minutes before it opens to use your 9am ticket

You should know that tickets are usable for the entire day so you can always go back. Getting there first thing in the morning is key because you can visit the more popular sections of the museum (the Mona Lisa and the more spectacular Wedding at Cana across from it) without huge throngs of tourists.

As I mentioned earlier, the best thing to do is to visit Musée du Louvre for the morning and early afternoon then head to La Jacobine for an incredible Parisian lunch!

Mona Lisa

Paris, FR – Mona Lisa at the Louvre (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Discover Impressionism at Musée d’Orsay

Le Musée D’Orsay is one of the greatest contemporary art museums I’ve ever been to. Forget the fact that it’s located in the impressive former Gare d’Orsey railway station, or that it hosts the worlds largest impressionist artwork collection. The Musée d’Orsay is a very well done museum in a cool building that’s impressive to just admire on it’s own.

The biggest mistake people make, and I’m one of them, is visiting the museum from the main floor and working your way up. Take my advice, start at the top on floor 5 (the impressionist gallery). Here you’ll get to explore the great impressionist works of Monet, Cézanne, Degas, Pissarro, Sisley and more. You’ll also get a great view overlooking the city of Paris from behind the buildings clock.

If you’re not arted out after exploring the greatest impressionist collection in the world there are lot’s of other exhibitions worth checking out as you work your way down. Just don’t burn yourself out by starting elsewhere before seeing the impressionist works.

The line up for this the museum d’Orsay is a lot faster and much less busy then the Louvre. You can still get tickets online to fast track, but the wait is usually a decent 30min regardless of what you do.

Walk along La Sienne & photo stop at Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral

Paris, FR – Notre Dame de Paris (Notre Dame Cathedral) from behind as we strolled along La Sienne (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Paris is an architectural marvel. Built along La Sienne, it’s wide boulevards and grandeur buildings are great for exploring by foot. Sure, you could splurge on a tourist filled boat ride down La Sienne, or even better you could meander at your own pace along the uncrowded riverside.

If you’re visiting Paris with a romantic partner walking is one of the most romantic things you can do in “the city of light”.  And while your exploring, be sure to pop into a café along your journey and watch the people of Paris mingle with daily life as you try to imagine what life living in one of the worlds greatest cities might be like.

Surely, you’ll need to stop of at the Notre Dame Cathedral, but my best advice is to take a quick picture and move along. If you’re really interested in going in, you can test your patience with the monstrous lines that rival that of the Louvre. To be honest, walking through the city is free, you’ll discover little shops and quaint eateries that you’ll never find online, and you can devote all your attention to the person you’re walking with.

Where to stay in Paris

Finding an affordable place to stay in Paris is hard. You’ll end up paying through the roof no matter what route you take. Thankfully, we found a great room (with breakfast) at the Median Porte de Versailles, right on the Paris metro line at Balard, giving us easy access to the entire city at an affordable rate (around 100€ per night for two). To be honest, we’ll definitely end up here again during our next stay in Paris because one visit to the “city of light” is impossible!

In the end, these are just the quintessential Paris attractions that made our most recent visit to the city a memorable one for my fiancée and I. These suggestions offer a reasonably priced way to experience Parisian food, art, and culture along with a little downtime too.

Whether you’re alone, with a friend, or a romantic partner Paris is a massive city with literally 101 things to do. Keeping that in mind, these ideas will ensure you don’t get overwhelmed looking for the best options of things to see and do in Paris, so you can concentrate on enjoying it.

Happy Travels,

Yak

 

Home / Europe / Belgium / Discover Belgium| How to get a fairytale experience ‘In Bruges’

Discover Belgium| How to get a fairytale experience ‘In Bruges’

Updated: May 11, 2016
By: Ian Yacobucci
Bruges

Bruges, BE – Spring Daffodils in March at the tranquil Begijnhof Beguinage of Bruges (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Welcome to Belgium the land of chocolate, waffles, and beer.  For most tourists, a visit to this small yet dynamic Western European country would not be complete without a stopover in it’s romance capital, Bruges.  Famously the location of the 2008 crime drama In Bruge, the city is nothing short of its description as “a fairytale”.  Yet for most tourists, visiting the city of Bruges is often a four hour mad dash of walking, eating, and drinking before returning back to Brussels.

Not surprisingly, this is exactly what I’d recommend you do, but with a little more time and some recommended sights.  If you’re like me, slowing down in Bruges will be relaxing and give you time to appreciate its architecture, quaint streets, Belgian beers, and serene parks. Bruges is a city where you should at least spend the night and unwind from busy travels.

Discover Bruges on foot

Start walking to nowhere in particular, because around every corner in Bruges is a photograph waiting to be taken.  Meandering through the narrow streets filled with artisan shops, bistros, and pubs is best way to discover the city of Bruges.  You don’t need a guide or trip advisor to tell you where to go.  Simply pick the local map (which you can get upon arrival at the train station) then visit Markt (Market Square) and Burg square before heading over to some of its famous churches and historic buildings.

As you amble through Bruges, put your map away for a while and get lost exploring the side streets and canals, you’ll always find your way back.  My recommendation would be to make time for the city parks of Astridpark and Minnewaterpark.  If you’ve been off visiting the metropolis cities of Europe the serenity you’ll find strolling along the riverside will fill you with appreciation.  Be sure to bring your camera and if you’re not a photographer simply tuck into a pub or two and try one of the 1600 beers Belgium has to offer.

Explore Belgian beer and eat at Cambrinus restaurant

Yes, Belgium boasts 1600 beers that are brewed within its borders.  That’s roughly four beers per day if you want to try them all in a year! One of the most popular places to sample Belgian beer in Bruges is Cambrinus.  This traditional Belgian restaurant boasts more than 400 Belgian beers and traditional food to acquaint your Belgian palate.

Cambrinus offers up a pub like atmosphere with wonderful traditional dishes such as Flemish onion soup with cheese and beer (I had this twice), and my personal favourite Flemish carbonades prepared with dark beer (a sumptuous stewed beef that goes nicely with a Trappist beer).

Cambrinus Restaurant

Belguim, BE – It was as delicious as it looks! Flemish Carbonades with a Trappist Beer at Cambrinus Restaurant (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Never heard of Trappist beer?  Picture this; only eleven Trappist beers exist in the world and six of them are from Belgium.  Brewed by monks in Trappist monasteries these beers are created following strict criteria.  In order for a beer to be labeled as a ‘Trappist’ beer the International Trappist Beer Association says it must be brewed within Trappist monastery walls by monks or supervised by them.  Secondly, the brewing of the beer must be secondary to the monastic practices and way of life.  And finally, the beer must not be brewed for profit.  Instead is should be brewed so as to cover the costs associated with monastic life and care of the monastery with left overs donated for charitable purposes.

Visit ‘De Halve Maan’ brewery

Of course, a trip to Belgium wouldn’t be complete without a brewery visit.  Luckily, within the city walls of Bruges you can find ‘De Halve Maan’ brewery.  Translated to half moon brewery in English, it’s the only beer brewed in within the city of Bruges.

Family brewed and run by the Maes family since the mid 1800’s a brewery tour here includes more than just a beer with your ticket entry.  Along with the usual brewery history, tour of the old techniques used in making the family recipes, and a freshly brewed beer pumped straight from the vat is a great view of Bruges from the roof of the brewery (so you don’t have to pay to go up the Markt tower).

Hopefully you’re lucky enough to get there during the seasonal brew of their Heritage beer, which is aged for a year in old oak casks from France.  Uniquely, every year the Half Moon breweries Heritage beer tastes different, since the barrels are used in the processing other liquors.

Bruges city view

Bruges, BE – City view of Bruges from the rooftop of Half Moon Brewery (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Capture a tranquil moment at Begijnhof (The Beguinage of Bruges)

After signing up for a brewery tour at ‘De Halve Maan’ brewery, with a half-hour to kill, my fiancee and I stumbled upon one of the most beautiful courtyard gardens we’d ever seen.  Surrounded by the quaint white facades of old-world buildings, with the sun streaming through the trees illuminating the daffodils and the shimmering off the brooke, it was as if we had left middle earth and entered Rivendell (shameless Lord of the Rings reference).

Later we discovered that this place was a convent dedicated to bequines who, according to UNESCO, are women who devote their lives to God and founded beguinages (convents) in order to fulfill both their spiritual and earthly needs.  To see the daffodilIs you’ll need to visit during the month of March and don’t forget to take some quiet time for reflection; it’s why places like this were created.

Sitting by the fire sipping a freshly brewed beer as you overlook a canal at Half Moon Brewery, wandering through the timeless fairytale streets and canals of Bruges, attempting to try every Belgian beer, or just sitting in the park watching the swans, it’s easy to lose yourself in the company of your partner, a few good friends, or even some new ones while, ‘In Bruges’.

Home / Europe / Netherlands / Best food in Amsterdam | Affordable High Class Dinner at The Dylan

Best food in Amsterdam | Affordable High Class Dinner at The Dylan

Updated: April 12, 2016
By: Ian Yacobucci
OCCO Bar & Brasserie

Amsterdam, NL – OCCO Bar & Brasserie The Dylan Amsterdam (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

This incredible meal served by Michelin starred Vinkeles’ Executive Chef Dennis Kuipers affordable for anyone looking at a fancy night out on the town. Sure, the Netherlands multicultural mecca of Amsterdam offers up hundreds of food choices for your night out, but none of them can boast a five star experience at €39.50 per person.

During the customary high tea hours from 3:30 – 5:30 The Dylan has thrown dust to the wind and said goodbye to tea and hello to wine. Yes, that’s right, each meal is served with four half glasses of wine along side amuse-bouches food pairings from their Michelin stared ‘Vinkeles’ team.

For those unacquainted with fine dining, a one star Michelin ranked restaurant means it’s classified as, “a very good restaurant in its category” by the worlds most famous restaurant ranking, and the Vinkeles team does not disappoint.

Served in The Dylan hotel’s stylishly cosmopolitan Brasserie OCCO, each titillating bite of food is matched to sommelier selected seasonal wines from across Europe. High Wine at The Dylan Amsterdam is more than just an afternoon of wine and food, it’s a gastronomical experience meticulously designed to match each season.

The Dylan Amsterdam

Amsterdam, NL – High Wine at The Dylan Amsterdam gin tonic mocktails (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

The elegant ambiance of the OCCO does not go unnoticed as you’re seated by it’s professional and friendly staff. Once you’re comfortable you’ll notice that creativity and ingenuity is always at the forefront of The Dylan’s creations, and experimenting at the bar is one way they keep things exciting. Might I suggest a virgin tonic mocktail with house-brewed gin for a starter as you take in the rustic setting and wait for your first pairing.

As the High Wine experience at The Dylan is seasonal, each carefully selected wine and it’s exceptionally complimented dish is often changing. For our menu, we enjoyed the following four exquisite pairings.

 High Wine at The Dylan Amsterdam

The Dylan

Amsterdam, NL – Cod beetroot and watercress High Wine at The Dylan Amsterdam (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

First Dish: Hamachi with marinated daikon, cucumber and sesame
Impression: cold refreshing yet savoury and full flavoured. Paired with a smooth and crisp white wine exclusive to The Dylan, this dish is something uniquely delicious and textured with crunch as the cucumber and daikon soothes the palate
Wine: Made for Friends, Weisburgunder, Pfalz, Germany
Winemaker: Alex Pflüger

Second Dish: Cod with red beetroot, celeriac and a watercress sauce
Impression: Matched with a sweet wine, the layers of sauce match the savoury cod that melts like butter as it soothes your palate while the crispy skin fills out the sweet beet and watercress sauce
Wine: Mourgues du Grés, Costieres de Nimes, Rhône, France

Third Dish: Chicken breast, corn, little jam, pancetta and tarragon sauce
Impressions: The wine, served at temperatures between red and white, embodies a peachy flavor created with a blend of Grecian grapes that remains full bodied, smooth, and sweet. Along with farmhouse chicken that’s unstoppably good because you can’t stop eating it – maybe because we were three glasses in – is a fun main with a unique use of popcorn.
Wine: Ladybird White, Pella, Greece
Winemaker: Ktima Ligas

High Wine The Dylan

Amsterdam, NL – Hamachi main High Wine The Dylan Amsterdam (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Dessert: Red cabbage tart with apple and Ceylon cinnamon ice-cream
Impressions: My mom would love something like this.  The tart has nice texture and flavor (not to sweet) that blends well with the sweet wine. With this dish, texture and temperature do not go unnoticed, everything is taken into consideration.
Wine: Seewinkel Spätlese, Sauvignon Blanc, Neusiedlersee, Austria
Winemaker: Weingut Tschida

After nearly two and a half hours of eating and drinking. My fiancé and I thoroughly enjoyed each exquisite dish paired perfectly to their wine. The variety and healthy portion of food left us feeling satisfied and ready for an evening stroll along the canals.

In the end, don’t let the miniature utensils deceive you when your treating yourself to High Wine at They Dylan; the pairings are layered with flavour and texture, the wines are unique and varied, the ambience is elegant and comfortable, and you’ll finish with the entire evening ahead of you.

For more information check out the OCCO Bar & Brasserie and High Wine at the Dylan Amsterdam

Home / Asia / Cambodia / Cambodia| Get the most out of Phnom Penh

Cambodia| Get the most out of Phnom Penh

Updated: January 11, 2016
By: Ian Yacobucci
dep of justice

Phnom Penh, KH – motorcycle cruises past Department of Justice Phnom Penh Cambodia (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

If you’re coming to Cambodia to experience its world famous temples or natural beautry Phnom Penh you chose the wrong Cambodian city to visit.  Although not the most popular tourist city in Cambodia, as the national capital, Phnom Penh is a valuable starting point for visitors planning to travel this South East Asian country.

Cambodia’s tumultuous history holds much of its modern foundation in Phnom Penh, strongly attributed to the Khmer Rouge take over on the 17th of April 1975.

In order to truly understand Cambodia’s current situation it’s important to learn the basics of the country’s historical context, and Phnom Penh is the perfect place to do this.

As a working city with a few must visit attractions Phnom Penh a great place to recover from jet lag and rest.  Here’s what you should stretch over a day or two if you want to get the most out of your visit to Phnom Penh

 Get a Tuk Tuk

Surprisingly, no one walks in Phnom Penh.  Seriously, scooters, cars, trucks, and tuk tuks dominate the roads and the few sidewalks that exist in the city centre. For tourists and locals alike, Tuk Tuks are the main mode of transportation.

Choosing a tuk tuk to drive you around is a negotiating process and there are tones of websites that will help you gauge a fair price.  What you willing to pay is what its worth but $20 for the day is a good start (you can throw in a lunch for your driver too).  My only advice would be to find a friendly person who speaks relatively good English so you can communicate with them and learn about what life is like in Phnom Penh.

Note: You can also get your driver to take you to a place to purchase bus tickets for the next leg of your trip (Get your tickets a day before).

Tuol Sleng

Phnom Penh, KH – Memorial to Victims of the Democratic Kampuchea Regime at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

 Visit Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

An important first stop for your introductory history lesson to the tragic Khmer Rouge history that left deep national scars on Cambodia.  Tuol Sleng (also called S-21) was one of more than 200 secret prison centres scattered across the country.  In this horrific prison men, women and children were abducted, imprisoned and tortured by the Khmer Rouge.  Of the more than 3 million Cambodians that were killed by the Khmer Rouge between 12, 000 and 20, 000 people were imprisoned here.  Only 12 were confirmed survivors.

If you’re visiting Cambodia, no matter how horrible these atrocities were, it is our international responsibility as global citizens to bare witness to what humans are capable of so that we can stand up against human injustices such as the Cambodian Genocide.

BUY THE AUDIO TOUR $3
ENTRY $3
TIME: 1:30 – 2 hrs

Note: You can pay with large bills (100$) that machines give out and receive more functional change to use on your journey.

Killing Fields Monument

Phnom Penh, KH – Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre Monument (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Visit the Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre (Killing Fields)

The most well known of more than 300 killing fields across Cambodia used by Pol Pot’s Democratic Kampuchea regime to rid the country of enemies of the state (mostly innocent Cambodians), Choeung Ek is the location of where the government killed and disposed of the thousands of prisoners who were captive at S-21.

Visiting this place and witnessing the barbaric and cruel crimes of the Khmer Rouge will help you fully understand what happened to Cambodia during the ultra communist years from 1975-79.  At the killing fields you will literally be walking over the mass graves of thousands of people where bones and clothes can still be seen in the ground before ending up at the memorial stupa filled with the remains (hundreds of sculls and bones) of the victims are reverently preserved.  Bare witness, be respectful, and remind yourself of what you’re taking pictures of and why.

BUY THE AUDIO TOUR $3
ENTRY $3
TIME: 30 min– 1 hr

Note: You can pay with large bills (100$) that machines give out and receive more functional change to use on your journey.

Central Market

If buying counterfeit anything is your thing or you need to pick up an item or two that you’re missing than the massive Central Market is a worthwhile stop.

This is a barter market but remember not to be insulting when trying find a deal.

Number 1 barter rule: What you’re willing to pay is what it’s worth.

rooftop pool

Phnom Penh, KH – relaxing by the rooftop pool (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Relax

Phnom Penh is a massive sprawling city that doen’t have an overwhelming number of tourist things to do so make sure you take advantage of it by staying at a comfortable hotel, preferably with a pool and be sure to relax.

riverside

Phnom Penh, KH – walking along the Mekong riverside in Phnom Penh (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Evening in Sisowath Quay (river side)

After a full day of history, a little shopping, and some relaxation you can end your day by spending the evening along Phnom Penh’s riverside.  Popular for expats and Cambodian’s alike you can enjoy lights, sights, and sounds of the local Cambodians spending time along the Meykong River’s esplanade, which is lined with palm trees and green space, or hit up some of the cities better restaurants and bars.  It’s a great atmosphere to grab a beer or a bite to eat, just be aware that as a touristy area there will be the typical hawkers selling drugs and tuk tuk rides by the plenty.

Happy Travels,

Yak

Home / Europe / Top 5 Things to Do In Dublin

Top 5 Things to Do In Dublin

Updated: November 23, 2015
By: Graeme Billinghurst
Guiness Brewery Dublin Ireland

DUBLIN, IR – Tourists at the Guiness Brewery (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Dublin can move a mile a minute, but if you want to get the most out of your stay in Ireland’s capital, make sure to do these five things.

1.  Drink a pint of Guinness

If it’s not Ireland’s official drink, it probably should be. Guinness is a staple across the country, but is brewed and is most popular in Dublin. Whether you’ve decided to have one at the bar down the street from where you’re staying or overlooking the city on the 7th floor of the Guinness Storehouse, a pint of the black stuff will surely help you settle in.  If you want to further your Guinness experience, the Storehouse provides visitors with the option to become a certified Guinness pourer and will award you with a certificate to prove your expertise.

2.  Listen to live music

It seems that almost every bar and restaurant you walk into in Dublin has a local band playing music. If you don’t mind spending a pretty penny for a few drinks, heading to the Temple Bar District at night will guarantee you a chance to dance the night away with a mix of tourists and locals. While traditional Irish music is the most plentiful, rock and roll, acoustic sets and even rockabilly musicians will be somewhere around the corner.  Be ready to spend about 7-8€ a pint.  If you’re lucky enough to visit in mid July, the Longitude Music Festival has some fantastic headliners, many of whom like Hozier in 2015, are some of Ireland’s best-known acts.

Temple Bar Dublin Ireland Borderless Travels

DUBLIN, IR – The infamous Temple Bar in (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

3.  Talk to the locals

Irish people are known to be some of the friendliest people in the world and those in Dublin are no different.  One of the country’s famous sayings is “A hundred thousand welcomes” and this welcoming attitude is reflected throughout the city.  Locals are usually up for a conversation and if you catch them sitting down for a few pints in the bar, you’re likely to pick up some new vocabulary while deciphering exactly what they’re saying to you. If you’re lucky, you’ll end up with an off the beaten path recommendation that could drastically improve the authenticity of your trip as well as a few new words like fech, craic, and what it means to be wrecked.

4.  Take a Free Walking Tour

Dublin is a very walkable city and with that in mind, a free walking tour can be the best way to see the sights. Companies such as Sandeman’s New Dublin Tours offer a comprehensive two and a half to three hour sightseeing tour to catch some of the buildings and neighbourhoods that make Dublin famous. Trinity College, Dublin Castle, Christchurch Cathedral and the Temple Bar District are just a few of the stops made along the way. It must be noted that free isn’t always free as these tour guides depend on tips to make a living.  Although there’s no minimum, anything around 5-10€ is a common tip at the conclusion of the tour.

Trinity College Dublin Ireland

DUBLIN, IR – tourists and students exploring Trinity College (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

5.  See the natural landscape

This might sound like a difficult task in a city as old as Dublin, but the village of Howth which is accessible by public transportation will give you a taste of what’s outside the city limits. Cliff faces, lighthouses and fishing boats are only a short walk from the village and make this peninsula a must see for anyone who only has a few days in Ireland and can’t make it out to the country or the coast. For those tourists interested in hiking and small town life, Howth is the perfect getaway from the busyness that is downtown Dublin.

Cliffs of Howth

DUBLIN, IR – The Cliffs of Howth overlooking Dublin (Graeme Billinghurst/Borderless Travels)

Home / Europe / Switzerland / Inspire Instagram with pics of Bern’s best viewpoints

Inspire Instagram with pics of Bern’s best viewpoints

Updated: August 5, 2015
By: Ian Yacobucci
Nydeggbrucke bridge

View from Nydeggbrucke bridge Bern, Switzerland (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels

If you’re travelling in Europe there’s little doubt that your friends tired of drunk Instagram selfies, 101 medieval churches, cobble stoned streets, and the exact same pictures as every other tourist who tagged #europe2015.

Be original, make your way to the Swiss capital Bern and take some pictures that will inspire your Instagram followers to travel to Europe too.

Since the early 1400’s Bern’s medieval architecture has remained virtually unchanged.  Since the early 1400’s!  That’s more than 2000 years older than Canada.  It’s so old you can eat at 500-year-old restaurant; with WIFI.

Founded in 1191, Bern is recognized as a UNESCO world cultural heritage site.  The Old City is virtually surrounded by the sapphire Aare river, and in the distance you can see the Swiss Alps.  Yes, there are some viewpoints that will make your friends at home wish they too took a vacation to the Swiss capital.  Oh, and these places are free!

Bern Rose Gardens

The easiest was to visit the Rose Gardens is to take the #10 (Ostermundigen) bus from Kornhausplatz (between Kramgasse and Rathausgasse).  You get picked up at Waldeck and dropped off two stops later at Rosengarten.

At the Rose Gardens there’s a small restaurant where you can grab a coffee or some food after snapping the perfect picture of Bern.  Afterwards you can take the small footpath in front of the restaurant back to Nydeggbrucke bridge.

Bern Rose Gardens

View from atop the Bern Rose Garden (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Nydeggbrücke Bridge, Bern

This bridge is one of the earliest bridges to cross the Aare River.  From the middle of the bridge you get a great view facing back towards the old city of Bern.  It’s also right next to the Bear pits and Altes Tramdepot Bern’s first microbrewery with good food and great beer (the place gets packed on the weekends to make a reservation).

Behind the Bern Bundeshaus (Swiss Parliament)

From behind the Swiss parliament buildings you get one of the best views in Bern.  On a clear day you can see the Swiss Alps in the background with a view of the Bern History Museum as the Aare snakes through the foreground.  After snapping a great picture you can go for a tour of parliament, play chess on one of the giant chessboards, or relax a bench as you take in the best view in Bern.

Bundeshaus view

View from behind Bern Bundeshaus (Swiss Parliament) (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

So save your money.  Don’t go spending 5 CHF to climb to the top of the Cathedral tower.  Go on a little adventure and explore the best viewpoints in Bern.   Take your time, stop off at coffee shops along the way, eat some lunch, and capture some incredible Instagram posts  that will inspire your friends to visit Europe!

Happy Travels!

Yak

 

 

 

 

Home / Asia / Japan / How to buy a cellphone in Japan

How to buy a cellphone in Japan

Updated: April 30, 2015
By: Ian Yacobucci
TOKYO, JAPAN - Buying a prepaid cellphone in Akihabara (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

TOKYO, JAPAN – Buying a prepaid cellphone in Akihabara (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

With wifi and roaming plans it’s easy to keep in contact with family members and friends these days, but what happens when you need a cellphone to stay connected with new friends while you’re working in a new country.

I found it important to buy a prepaid cellphone in Japan because I wanted to be a part of the community I was living in.  The problem was that getting a prepaid cellphone in Japan isn’t as easy as most countries.

I learned the hard way because the last time I was working in Japan I wasn’t able to get a prepaid cellphone.  Back in 2008,  getting a prepaid cellphone wasn’t an option. Back then, even wifi didin’t exist, and I wasn’t interested in buying a several hundred dollar cellphone under contract for a three month work trip.

Today, if you’re needing to get connected with your community in Japan, you can stop wondering “if” you can get a prepaid cellphone in Japan and start the process to getting one.

You can easily get a pre-paid cellphone or a contract if you’re planning on working in Japan. However, if you’re just visiting for a short time it’s easier to either go without a cellphone and use internet services like Skype and Magicjack, or rent a cellphone from a Japanese airport (which you return upon your departure).

As an expat, before you get a cellphone in Japan, there are a few things you need to have with you.

1.  You need to have a residency (alien) card that you’ve already registered with city hall.

2.  You need your passport.

When buying a cellphone there are two options to choose from. The first is a pre-paid option where you buy a phone and add money to a sim card. The second option is to get a cellphone under contract. If you want to get a contract you need to make sure that you’re going to be in the country for two years or more because the minimum contract period is two years, no exceptions, and no cancellations.

If you’re living in Tokyo here’s a breakdown of how to get a cellphone, how much it costs and where you can get it.

SoftBank – Prepaid option

Phone:

The cheapest option is the 2000¥ ($20 USD) option for the phone.   There is also a 5000¥ ($50 USD) option if you’re interested in watching TV on your phone.

Prepaid Card:

There are two prepaid options. The first costs 3000 ¥ ($30 USD) and the second costs 5000 ¥ ($50 USD). There are no deals for buying the more expensive card, it just gives you more money.

What you get:

Unlimited texts – 300 ¥ for 30 days

National calls – 9 ¥ for six seconds (price as listed in the SoftBank cellphone brochure) or 90¥ per minute

Where to get a prepaid cellphone in Tokyo:

If you’re in Tokyo the best place to buy a prepaid cellphone is at “Yotobashi Camera” located in Akihabara

  • To go to Akihabara station
  • Take the Showa-Dori (Akihabara Electric Town) Exit
  • Turn left and you’re there

Happy Travels!

Yak

Home / North America / USA / Kansas City| Venture into the Heartland of America

Kansas City| Venture into the Heartland of America

Updated: April 27, 2015
By: Graeme Billinghurst
Downtown Kansas City

View of Downtown Kansas City from the War Memorial with Union Station in the forefront (Graeme Billinghurst/Borderless Travels)

When planning a voyage to America with some friends, rarely will the words, “I think we should add Kansas City to this trip!” be spoken. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider that anti-midwestern bias.

Most travellers to America stick to the major city centres on either coast, leaving behind some of the hidden gems on their backpacking journeys. Kansas City is a perfect example of a diamond in the rough that you just might want to consider when going on your great American tour.

What to do

The highlight for history buffs is the National World War I War Museum and Liberty War Memorial. This engaging museum covers the entirety of the war in an interactive and informative manner. Although heavy on information it offers cool displays and is lighter on the in your face Americana.

Established as a memorial in 1921 it’s a thoroughly entertaining educational experience and the top of the memorial provides visitors with the best view of Kansas city. Across the street is Union Station, a converted train station turned tourist mecca with restaurants, seasonal shows, and a science museum. Both of these venues are within walking distance of downtown and are on the soon to be completed LRT railway route.

After a long day of travelling, it’ll be time to settle in to some authentic midwestern food and no trip to Kansas City would be complete without some BBQ. Head over to Jack Stack’s near Union Station for a taste of that sweet and tangy BBQ sauce. If you’d prefer to venture out to the land of Dorothy, you can cross into Kansas and hit up Joe’s Bar-B-Que for a bit of a cheaper option, but be prepared to line up.

Finally, when you’ve reached your tourist quota for the day and it’s time to go for a few beverages, the Westport and Power & Light Districts are your best bet. Both areas offer very cool duelling piano bars and the P&L District, as locals call it, sometimes offers outdoor concerts in the summer months. Make sure to try the locally brewed Boulevard Brewery Company’s line of beers wherever you end up partying for the night.

Where to Stay

After a full day of sightseeing and partying, it’s always nice to have a comfortable bed to crash in. Hostelling isn’t a big venture in America other than in a select few cities so it might be tough to find a decent place to stay in KC that would meet a backpacker’s budget. For those willing to spend a little bit extra, established places like the Hotel Phillips will provide some of the old charm that made Kansas City a destination town in the 1930’s.

This art deco building right in the heart of downtown is a great place to anchor yourself when trying to see all the sites. It’s within walking distance to the P&L District and with a free shuttle service that will drive you to other buzzing neighbourhoods like Westport or Country Club Plaza, it makes the ideal home base for your visit.  In the offseason, affordable rates can be found, especially if you’re travelling in a small group.

Whether you’re backpacking, going on a road trip or just stopping in for the weekend, take a chance on Kansas City and prepare to be pleasantly surprised.

Home / Africa / Morocco / Discover Morocco’s Blue City Chefchaouen

Discover Morocco’s Blue City Chefchaouen

Updated: April 22, 2015
By: Graeme Billinghurst
Morocco's blue city Chefchaouen from a distance

Morocco’s blue city Chefchaouen from a distance (Graeme Billinghurst/Borderless Travels)

 

For world travellers, there are few destinations that stand out as places that are unlike any other on the globe. The northern Moroccan city of Chefchaouen, however can legitimately stake the claim as a travel destination like none other.

Having visited this beautiful blue city in the height of the Moroccan summer and at the tail end of Ramadan, we were unsure of what to expect. Upon arriving via a Grand Taxi from the port city of Tangier, we were dropped off near the bus terminal and after orienting ourselves for a few minutes and adjusting to the sights and sounds of our new destination, we immersed ourselves in the blue maze that is the town’s medina with the goal of finding our hostel.

Navigating a medina can be an arduous task, but one that is a necessary skill to master when spending any extended amount of time in a Moroccan city. Once we found our bearings, we were able to locate Casa Amina, a centrally located hostel which was to be our home for the next few evenings.

An olive tree growing in the Medina (Graeme Billinghurst/Borderless Travels)

An olive tree growing in the Medina (Graeme Billinghurst/Borderless Travels)

Chefchaouen is a wonderful escape from the hustle and bustle of Morocco’s major cities. The laid back atmosphere of the blue medina coupled with the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape creates a peaceful and relaxed vibe that is contradictory to busier Moroccan cities such as Marrakech, Tangier and Fes. This laid back feel also allows tourists to wander the medina without feeling like they are about to be swindled or tricked by locals as can be the case in the aforementioned locations.  Chefchaeouen does have it’s own unique form of harassment as locals will offer you hashish as often as several times a day, which if to be believed, is readily available, albeit officially illegal.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner can all be found at very reasonably priced restaurants that make up and surround the Grand Place. Meals are experiences in themselves as local delights such as tajines and pastillas can be enjoyed while listening to the evening prayers. Following meals, people-watching while drinking mint tea, locally referred to as Moroccan whiskey, is a favourite past time.

For the more adventurous traveller, the Rif Mountains provide a taste of the natural beauty that can be seen from the town square. Within a short, thirty minute ride, you can get to a commonly used hiking trail that provides a full day of exercise and some spectacular views. As a reward, the end of the trail results in the Cascade d’Akchour, a beautiful and exceptionally cold waterfall that is a well earned culmination of the day’s efforts.

Overall, Chefchaouen is a traveller’s dream. It offers something for everyone and at a very affordable price. Even during the heat of the summer and at the tail end of Ramadan, a memorable experience awaits you in northern Morocco’s blue oasis.

Home / Europe / Ireland / Epic Ireland road trip to do before you die

Epic Ireland road trip to do before you die

Updated: November 4, 2014
By: Ian Yacobucci
Downhill Beach

IRELAND – Downhill Beach Iron Islands location Game of Thrones (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

The ultimate Ireland road trip itinerary: eight unforgettable days exploring the Emerald Isle on a road trip trip to make your Irish friends proud.

Ancient ruins older than the Egyptian pyramids, the most stunning vistas at every turn, Game of Thrones shooting locations, whisky tasting, and driving 100km an hour on winding roads that barely fit two cars and appear to be the inspiration for racing video games are just start of an epic Ireland road trip!

In fact, the least exciting thing about visiting Ireland is drinking Guinness; so yeah, it’s pretty awesome.  With so much to do and so many places to see where do you even start creating the perfect Ireland road trip itinerary? Well fear not fellow travelers!

On a recent trip with Irish travel blogger and friend David M Byrne, we “did” Ireland the way it should be traveled.  No really, this guide has almost every worthwhile stop, creating a complete Ireland road trip itinerary that is guaranteed to make your Irish friends proud.

Epic Ireland Road Trip Itinerary – Day 1

Arrive in Dublin  Overnight in Ballycastle – this small ocean side town is a great stop before you head to the Causeway costal drive of Northern Ireland.  If you’re there in August you can plan your stay for the last Monday and Tuesday in August for the Auld Lammas fair dating back more than 400 years!

Epic Ireland Road Trip Itinerary - Day 2

Giants Causeway

IRELAND – People taking a photo op on the Giants Causeway (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Causeway Coastal Drive – costal drive through Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland

Carick-A-Rede Rope Bridge – walk across the1800s salmon fishing bridge 100ft above the sea.  High winds sometimes close the bridge as I experienced but it’s still worth a visit and a few pictures.

Ballintoy Harbour – stop for a picture at the setting of the Game of Thrones Pike Harbor.

White Park Bay – this picturesque beach is a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy an incredible Irish view!

Giants Causeway (for free) – the only UNESCO site in Northern Ireland, this geologic wonder is a must do. You can visit the Giants Causeway for free instead of being suckered into paying like all the other tourists.  What you do is park at the hotel (gets you parked super close to the attraction) then go in for a coffee or a drink.  Afterwards, you walk to the side of the hotel (where the tourist shop is) and take the footpath across the grassy knoll over the visitors center then down the stairs.

Bushmills Distillery – I like learning about whisky so this was a given as the worlds oldest licensed brewer.  The 1608 Bushmills is whisky tour that’s worth a visit.  It’s also my favourite in Irish whisky.

Downhill beach – A great beach with a few surfers and a really cool observatory.  Downhill beach was the shooting location for the Game of Thrones Iron Islands.  If you walk down to the right of the beach there’s a really cool gave worth checking out.

Overnight in Bundorn -  A famous Irish surf spot in the winter Bundorn is a bustling  summer tourist spot with a lot of good places to sleep, eat, and drink.

Epic Ireland Road Trip Itinerary – Day 3

Connemara National Park

IRELAND – Hikers taking in the view from Connemara National Park hiking trail (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Westport – stop off for lunch at this traditional Irish town.  It’s definitely worth a wander around.

Kylemore Abbey – a cool stop for a photo but the 13 Euro ticket to see what’s inside isn’t worth the money.  We skipped it and opted to save our coffee money, took a picture, and moved on.

Connemara National Park – one of a handful of national parks in Ireland Connemara National Park is a great stop with an awesome hike called the diamond loop.  It’s free and takes a couple hours.  It has some fantastic views and exhibits the natural history of this region.

Overnight in Knockcroghery – so you can say you stayed in a place that you can’t even pronounce.

Epic Ireland Road Trip Itinerary -Day 4

Cliffs of Moher

IRELAND – Cliffs of Moher from the main viewing area (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Kilmacduagh Monastery – No tourists visit here but it’s an amazing 6th century monastery with a pristine round tower.  It’s open to explore and walk around and literally in a farmer’s field.  Leave some time here because this place will take you back to the 6th century and won’t be on  many tourist maps!

Ciffs of Moher – You can’t miss this geologic wonder.  The 200m cliffs are one of the most popular tourist sights in Ireland, and for good reason.  If you want to truly see the beauty of the cliffs walk right towards the lookout then walk along the Burren Way.

Killimer Tarbert ferry – save time and get to the Dingle Peninsula with a ferry trip across the mouth of the River Shannon the longest river in Ireland.

Conor Pass – drive the highest mountain pass in Ireland to get to Dingle.  This drive is insane and does not have nearly enough room for two cars, which makes it a pretty exciting drive.

Overnight in Dingle – one of the most famous Irish cultural towns enjoy traditional Irish music and great food.  Don’t forget to snap a pic with the broze statue of Fungie the dolphin.

Ireland Road Trip Itinerary - Day 5

Blasket Island

IRELAND – Blasket Island Lookout overlooking the in Dingle Peninsula (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Drive the Dingle Peninsula – take Sleahead drive and enjoy the scenery.  Make sure to make time for stops because around every bend is a breathtaking vista worth a few pictures.

Blasket Islands Lookout – DON’T MISS THIS because it’s probably the most incredible view in Ireland!

Gallarus Oratory – stop to see one of the oldest examples of ancient monastic architecture.  Built by stacking stones this church is an incredible example of ancient Irish culture and architecture.

Kilmacduagh Church – Really cool stop if you’re not too churched out.  There are no tourists here and it’s great for a few pictures.  Some of the Gallarus Oratory film highlights the churches archeological features.

Drive the Ring Kerry – Much like the Dingle Peninsula the Ring of Kerry is another costal drive that will have you stopping for pictures at every turn.

Night out in Cork City – a great university town with live music, good eats, and a fun nightlife.  This is where you’ll want to take a break to let loose and sleep in a bit!

Epic Ireland Road Trip Itinerary - Day 6

Cohb

IRELAND – View of Cobh from the port with St. Coleman’s Cathedral in the background (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Explore Cobh Cobh is one of the pretties towns in Ireland.  Nestled along a hillside with St. Coleman’s Cathedral stoically perched high above the town, Cobh is a city made for walking.  Tour along the winding hillside streets as you explore the small cafe’s and pubs.  Venture away from the main avenue and get lost in your camera as you visit the last docking point of the Titanic.

Titanic museum – Cobh was the final stop for the Titanic before it embarked on it’s maiden voyage.  With a profile and replica ticket this museum takes you on a journey of what the Titanic was like.  It’s a great museum and worth the money to see.  The museum is interactive and short enough that you don’t get bored.

Blarney castle – Most tourists make the stop here so it’s on the list, but when I arrived and found out it was 12 Euros and an 1hr queue to kiss the blarney stone I said forget it.  There are so many cooler things to see in Ireland, and my friends already complain that I have the gift of the gab (which kissing the blarney stone gives you).

Overnight in Middleton

Epic Ireland Road Trip Itinerary - Day 7

 The Rock of Cashel

IRELAND – View of an ancient abbey from The Rock of Cashel (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Jameson Distillery – Located Middleton Jameson is the world’s most popular whisky.  The tour was pretty good and has a few good photo ops.  The whisky isn’t bad either.

The Rock of Cashel – Close to Middleton in Co. Tipperary the Rock of Cashel is way better than the Blarney Castle and offers in depth tours of it’s royal and monastic past.  The Queen Elizabeth took the time to visit so you should too!

Visit Kilkenny – Another great city with a vibrant night life.  Kilkenny is a great city to watch some traditional Irish sports like Gaelic football or Hurling and crush a few beers.

Overnight in Wicklow

Epic Ireland Road Trip Itinerary - Day 8

Powers Court Gardens

IRELAND – View of Powers Court Gardens with the sugar loaf in the background (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Wicklow – A popular town for visitors to Ireland Wicklow is a short drive from Dublin and has a few of Irelands most famous sites, a really nice beach, and the ancient Black Castle ruins that date back to the Vikings.

Glendalough – this is the location of Ireland’s most famous round tower.

Powers Court Estate and Gardens – rated 3rd most beautiful gardens in the world by National Geographic Powers Court is worth a visit.  You’ll see the colourful Sugar Loaf mountain in the background and can enjoy a hike around the gardens.

Climb Sugar Loaf – Located in Wicklow this small mountain only takes 20 minutes to climb and overlooks Dublin and Wicklow.  Don’t leave anything in the car because the parking lot is prone to theft.

Overnight in Wicklow

View from atop the Sugar Loaf

IRELAND – View of Wicklow’s surrounding area from atop the Sugar Loaf (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Must see highlights of this Ireland Road Trip

Giants Causeway

Connemara National Park

Ciffs of Moher Dingle Peninsula

Blasket islands lookout

Ring Kerry

 

Sláinte,

Yak