Tag Archives: things to see

Home / Europe / Switzerland / Switzerland| Quick Guide to Hiking Lac de Salanfe & Gorge du Dailley

Switzerland| Quick Guide to Hiking Lac de Salanfe & Gorge du Dailley

Updated: October 9, 2017
By: Ian Yacobucci
Lac de Salanfe (Salanfe Lake) Switzerland Borderless Travels

Marigny, CH – Lac de Salanfe (Salanfe Lake) Switzerland (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

If you hear about a hike from a local, you have good reason to do everything in your power to find it.  This is what brought me to Salanfe Lake and Dailley Gorge, two spectacular hikes that can fill a day, and are only superseded by the drive to find them.

Switzerland is the land of lush green forests, lakes, rivers, and mountains.  It is a place where the melody of cowbells crosses the alpine winds and views that each mountain vista unveils is often more impressive than the last.  For good reason it is one of the most expensive countries in the world, and the only way to experience its natural beauty is by walking through it.

Marigny, CH - Salanfe & Gorge du Dailley Hiking Map area (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Marigny, CH – Salanfe & Gorge du Dailley Hiking Map area (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

The easiest way to get to the Dailley Gorge and Salanfe Lake is to drive. Located just outside the city of Martigny is the mountain town of Salvan where the adventure begins.  At 912m with a population barely scraping past 1000, Salvan is the last stop before you aventure along the pencil thin switchback roads with dark cavernous tunnels built right into the rock leading to Van d’en Bas.

You can hike from Salvan to Van d’en Bas, but in the interest of making this a day trip it’s easier to just drive up and enjoy the adventure of navigating the alpine roads (wondering how buses and winter drivers do it).   

Before entering Van d’en Bas you’ll see a small parking area off to the left.  This is the first stop, and the easiest way to enjoy Dailley Gorge and its breathtaking Pissevache waterfalls that crash down its narrow cliffs.  Lined with elevated wooden bridges and stairs that lead down the gorge, each section revealing impressive engineering and  new views of the snowcapped Rhone Valley mountains towering above the horizon in the distance.  

For us, a 30 minute vertigo-inducing walk down the gorge was invigorating, and more than enough to enjoy everything Dailley Gorge had to offer.  Back at the car, after exploring Dailley Gorge, you’ll need to continue driving up to Van d’en Haute, a tiny hamlet of summer cottages, before the Lac de Salanfe hike begins.  Beyond the cottages is a small parking area before you reach the camp ground.  Here is where you’ll leave the car and begin your hike to the lake.

Van den Bas, CH - Gorge du Dailey overlooking Rohne Valley in the distance  (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Van den Bas, CH – Gorge du Dailey overlooking Rohne Valley in the distance (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

The hike to Salanfe Lake takes about an 1hr 15min and has two routes, one of stairs and another road-like path. Plan to arrive in the afternoon for a Swiss lunch at the lakeside Salanfe Inn while you take in the towering peaks of the surrounding mountains.  If you want to stay the night along Lake Salanfe the Auberge de Salanfe offers dormitory bunks and private rooms as well as a delectable assortment of traditional Swiss options at its restaurant.

Salanfe, CH - Swiss Lunch Goatheard's Rosti with Bacon - grated potato cakes topped with cheese & bacon along Lac de Salanfe (Ian Yacobucci\Borderless Travels)

Salanfe, CH – Swiss Lunch Goatheard’s Rosti with Bacon – grated potato cakes topped with cheese & bacon along Lac de Salanfe (Ian Yacobucci\Borderless Travels)

Not planning to ascend any of the big hikes surrounding the lakes my wife and I enjoyed an afternoon hike and traditional Swiss lunch, then opted to head back down the mountain to the comforts of a Martigny hotel rather stay the night at the Auberge.  However, from the lake sitting at 1950m, you can attempt a variety of other hikes to enjoy exceptional views of the lake and les Dents-du-Midi on a multi day visit with a stay at the inn.  

From here, it’s up to you how you want to plan your adventure to Lake Salanfe and Dailley Gorge but we hope enjoy it as much as we did!

Option: if you’d like to hike up to Dailley Gorge you can do so from Salvan where a hiking trail begins from behind l’Hotel de la Balance.

More: For more information about staying at the Auberge de Salanfe and hikes in the area check out their website http://www.salanfe.ch/en/

Manage to find these hikes and explore the lake and gorge?  Have another great hike in the Martigny\Montreux region?  Share your comments below and let us know that you thought!

Home / North America / Canada / Canadian Nature| Hiking in Hamilton the Heart of the Niagara Escarpment

Canadian Nature| Hiking in Hamilton the Heart of the Niagara Escarpment

Updated: September 18, 2017
By: Ian Yacobucci
Hiking in Hamilton

Hamilton, CA – Sanding overlooking Spencer Gorge in the Websters Falls Conservation area (Ian Yaocbucci/Borderless Travles)

It’s Autumn, the perfect time to go hiking. The spectrum of orange and red coloured leaves are arriving, as the summer is coming to an end, turning the forest into a fiery painters pallet.  The   wonderfully cool hiking weather has arrived so that you can dress comfortably without overheating and Hamilton, Ontario, a short drive from Toronto has some of the best hiking in the area.

“Go right to the edge.  It’ll be perfect.  There’s nothing underneath you except forest!” I yelled across the windy gap, as I snapped a perfect Instagam photo of my wife balancing on the edge of Dundas Peak.

For some it’s easy to smile standing more than 135 ft above the forest on a tiny outcropping that looks out towards a massive valley in the the heart of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest.  For others observing the densely forested Spencer Gorge, outside Hamilton, from the safety of a well-groomed trailhead is adventure enough.

It might come as a surprise to hear that the city of Hamilton, once better known for heavy industry, is home to more than 100 waterfalls and dozens of hiking areas where wildlife and the greatest diversity of Ontario tree species can be found.

More stunning is Hamilton’s scenic section of the Bruce Trail, which runs along the 725 kilometer Niagara Escarpment (a UNESCO world biosphere reserve), where the distractions of everyday life can easily fade away as you look upon an epitaph of limestone cliffs that detail the regions natural history and glacial past.

Boundary Falls Hiking

Hamilton, CA – Autmn Hiking at Boundary Falls in Hamilton, Ontario Canada (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Located less than an hour from downtown Toronto and Niagara Falls, makes accessing Hamilton’s natural landscape easy and accessible.

There is no doubt that your first hiking stop in Hamilton will take you back in time with a visit to Webster’s falls in the Spencer Gorge Conservation area.  Showcasing a 78ft cascade of water, Webster’s falls is encased by ancient layers of limestone rock and dominated by hard wood forest along its more than 6 km of trails.

For adventurers, and a little extra exercise, you can venture below the forest canopy to the base of the falls, and along Spencer Creek, via the 123-step metal staircase.  As you descend the stairs towards the river, let the limestone walls of the Spencer Gorge envelop you with a sense of awe as you’re taken back to a time long forgotten.

Forget about all the things on your to do list and breathe in the perfumed air of pine and cedar as you try to spot a tiny yellow warbler fluttering from branch to branch, its neon feathers reflecting like light off a piece of river gold among the dark foliage.

Take a moment to listen to the pileated woodpecker hard at work searching for its afternoon meal, as the waterfall fills the air with the soothing sounds of its cascading water crashing on ancient boulders below.

For hikers, the Spencer Gorge/Webster’s Falls Conservation area offers 6km of groomed trails.  From Webster’s Falls, hikers can follow the main trail along the valley’s east rim towards the 135ft Tew’s falls (only a few meters shorter than Niagara Falls) and Dundas Peak.

“I didn’t really know that Hamilton had such good hiking trails” say’s Danielle Aniceto of Orangeville, who was visiting a friend in the area.  “It’s kind of like a hidden treasure,” she describes before posing for a picture on the edge of Dundas Peak.

Dundas Peak is a highlight for many visitors who hike Spencer Gorge because of its unobstructed views of Hamilton and Dundas Valley.  Here you can stand on the edge of a cliff that drops more than hundred feet back towards the city on your left, or down the valley along your right.  Make sure you stop to capture a new profile pic picture to show all your friends.

For a more local feel you can hike along the tucked away section of the Bruce Trail only a few kilometers from Highway 403.  Here lies a quiet hike that starts along side the 6m high Boundary falls (named for it’s location on the Hamilton and Burlington city border).

Fall Leave

Hamilton, CA – Hiking in Hamilton, Ontario Canada an Autumn leaf on a log at Boundry Falls (Ian Yacobucci, Borderless Travels)

Autumn is a great time to visit Boundary Falls along Great Smokey Hollow Walk, although this waterfall is best to visit during the wetter months of the year.  As a ribbon waterfall Boundary Falls cascades into snake falls and eventually meets with Grindstone Creek.

It’s along Grindstone Creek that you’ll find yourself in the heart of Hamilton’s section of the Bruce Trail.  Great Smokey Hollow walk offers visitors 5 km of trails to explore.  Here the trail snakes its way along the quiet creek where you’ll find yourself deep in a forested valley with the remnants of an old limestone structure, wooden bridges with benches to rest and enjoy the sights and sounds of the forest, and absolutely stunning nature located only minutes from the highway.

Plan to visit early morning or late afternoon so you can make a quick food stop along Main Street Waterdown, just down the road from the falls.  The quaint shops and restaurants here are a great place to enjoy a well deserved drink and a bite to eat before heading out feeling refreshed and stress free after your hike.

So take some time to explore nature by taking a day trip to Hamilton and revisit a city with some of the best hiking in the Toronto Niagara corridor.  Forget about the hustle and bustle of the city and reconnect with Ontario’s most spectacular geologic formation, the Niagara Escarpment.

 Getting to Hamilton’s Best Hikes

Finding Spencer Gorge (Tew’s Falls) Webster’s Falls Conservation Area

From Toronto: Take Highway 403 to Highway 6 North; turn left onto Hwy.5West. Turn left onto Brock Road. Turn left at the flashing light, onto Harvest Road. Turn right onto Short Road and left onto Fallsview Road and follow the signs for the parking lot. For Dundas Peak and Tew’s Falls lookout parking, follow Harvest Road further down until you see the signs.

Finding Great Smokey Hollow / Boundary Falls

From Toronto take Highway 403 and exit on Highway 6 North (Guelph).  Turn right onto Highway 5 (Dundas St. E).  Turn right onto Mill St.  and park in the Smokey Hollow Resource management Area parking just past the overhead railway bridge on your right.

More Information on these hikes an others visit http://www.waterfalls.hamilton.ca/

Enjoyed these hikes, have more hiking information for us, share your comments below to let know what you discovered hiking in Hamilton!

Home / Adventure Travels / Travel America | Along the Colorado River Discover Utah Off the Grid

Travel America | Along the Colorado River Discover Utah Off the Grid

Updated: June 26, 2017
By: Emily Long

Moab Utah Outdoors Arches Landscape Rocks

The western United States is famous for its rocky mountains, alien deserts, big skies, and endless opportunities for adventure. Before I moved to Utah from the hot, humid, and flat East Coast a few years ago, I’d never seen anything like the Wasatch range towering over Salt Lake City or the rolling red rocks and arches around Moab. There’s just so much…space. I immediately set out to explore every national park I could drive to, from Glacier National Park in northwest Montana all the way to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Utah alone claims five unique national parks, along with miles and miles of open federal and state land.

National parks offer a friendly gateway to adventure for families and outdoor newbies, but after several summers of busy campgrounds and highly-trafficked trails, I was ready for something new. After all, national parks attendance is hitting record highs, it’s becoming harder to get off the grid, and nature in general feels more crowded.

Moab, a bustling desert town in southern Utah that serves as the jumping-off point for Colorado River float trips, ATV excursions, and all manner of mountain biking, hiking, and camping adventures, is a great base for exploring the desert. It is just a few miles outside of Arches National Park and within an hour’s drive of Canyonlands National Park, so it can feel like a circus during peak season. Luckily, as with much of the western U.S., it’s possible to find complete isolation within spitting distance of busy cities—if you’re willing to.

Our plans took us west from Moab out Kane Creek Road, which quickly meets and follows the banks of the Colorado River. The pavement ends just under five miles, and that’s where the fun begins. There are plenty of camping spots, mountain biking and hiking trails, and rock climbing routes. The road turns to red dirt leading up to Hurrah Pass (~mile 10) and then into jeep track with big boulders and steep dropoffs and all manner of off-road fun. For those with a high-clearance vehicle, the road also leads to one of the three most extreme disc golf courses IN THE WORLD, as well as remote riverside camping and caving. We spent two days playing in the desert—doing yoga on the rocks, exploring dark caves, hiking sun-soaked trails, and watching sunsets over the Colorado—before heading back to the real world.

Mountain Biking Adventure Moab Utah Red Rocks Bike

 

As incredibly fun as this trip was, it wouldn’t have happened without some careful planning. Here’s a newcomer’s guide to preparing for off-road adventures:

Do Your Research

Experienced travelers of all shapes and sizes know that there’s a time and place for spontaneity—and a trip out to a remote location is not it. Know where you are going, what obstacles you might encounter, and what there is to do along the way. Preparedness is the key to a safe and fun off-road experience.

Prepare for the Remote

Your smartphone more than likely won’t be much help out in the wild. Download offline maps, write down any key information about your destination, or simply use an old-school paper map.

Take Maintenance and Emergency Prep Seriously

There’s no excuse for heading out on any road trip with overdue service issues. Get your oil changed, check your tire pressure, stock your emergency kit, and fill up with gas. Take high clearance and 4WD recommendations seriously, and never head out on a road for which your car isn’t suited!

Gear Up

There’s nothing more exciting than gear—and having the right gear matters when you’re out in the desert (or in the mountains, on the water, anywhere in nature). In addition to having the right tools for your vehicle, prepare yourself for all weather conditions and scenarios. Take warm layers, camping gear (if appropriate), plenty of food and water, and any equipment for hiking, biking, or other activities. Remember that you’ll likely be several hours from resupply resources.

 Slow Down

Much of the fun of off-roading is in the bumpy ride, the unplanned stops, and the views along the way. Focus on the journey rather than the destination, and enjoy!

Share you comments below to let me know what adventures you found off the grid and how these tips helped you discover something new!

Home / Europe / Greece / Life Abroad| Tour Greece like a local

Life Abroad| Tour Greece like a local

Updated: November 13, 2016
By: Danielle Aniceto
Paros Hotel View

Paros, GR – HOtel View overlooking Paros from my hotel (Danielle Aniceto/Borderless Travels)

In my life, fortune has come to me in the form of good friends. One of which was born and raised in Athens, Greece.  It is through her that I have had the much-appreciated privilege to fall in love with the birthplace of western philosophy over and over again.

Having a local tour you around a new country is probably the only way to really get a uniquely local experience and perspective; and I would suggest it in every city or country that you have friends willing to show you around.

However, for those who are not lucky enough to know a Greek with an excellent taste in food and culture, I have made you a list of my favorite spots in Greece.  I became familiar with these places over the years and I hope you’ll get a chance to experience them too.  I’ve also made sure to give you the best time to visit them because, everywhere in Greece can feel like a tourist hot spot if you’re there during peak times.

In other words, this is a tourist’s guide to Greece from a local perspective, complimentary of an honorary local who spent her life exploring Greece’s wonders.

Athens

Athens, GR – The city of Athens, Greece overlooking the Acropolis, the highest point in a city of millions (Danielle Aniceto/Borderless Travels)

A for Athens

A must see cocktail bar with a rooftop patio and a spectacular view of the Parthenon at night. If you can find somewhere to sit, you will be able to spend the night sipping cocktails while admiring an awe inspiring piece of ancient history. Despite how busy it can get, it still has great service. Someone dropped a glass while I was there and accidentally cut my foot and one of the waiters actually cleaned and bandaged my foot on the spot, talk about customer service.

Location: Miaouli 2 – 4, Athens 10554, Greece

Delphi

There are so many different ancient sites in Greece that for some it can seem a little repetitive. However, Delphi stands out among the ruins due to its rich history, mythological mystery, and location.  Located on Mount Parnassus in the south of mainland Greece, Delphi is a place of spectacular views.  The temple complex is truly impressive; just make sure you look up from walking up the ancient stairs built for Apollo to take a moment to breathe in the view. There are tons of sites on the way to Delphi as well, so think about renting a car for the day or look into a bus tour!

Paros

Full Moon Party

People enjoying the full moon beach party in Greece (Danielle Aniceto/Borderless Travels)

Many of us have a couple of islands in mind when we plan our trip to Greece such as Santorini or Mykonos, however a word of advice from a local is to avoid these islands if you can and find your own island paradise. Santorini is definitely home to the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen but it is also full of tourists, and trying to book a hotel last minute is almost impossible, especially on Mykonos. Paros is a great alternative, because the beaches are beautiful, the party scene is good and it won’t be as packed so you will be able to find a spot for your towel on the beach. Just remember to check the weather.

Full moon party on Mykonos

Although locals know when to avoid the islands, they also like to join in on some of the action. The Full Moon parties on Mykonos are where everyone wants to be.  Locals and tourists alike, however you need to plan and book your hotel room way in advance or else you won’t be able to join the locals party until sunrise.

This is just the tip of the iceberg as the old saying goes, which has no relevance in the sunny laid back atmosphere of Greece.  If you’re lucky enough to spend more than a couple of weeks there or are just stopping over for a few days you need to try to visit at least one of my recommendations because Greece is one of my favourite places on the planet and it can be yours too.

Home / Asia / Republic of Indonesia / Indonesia | Cultural Immersion at Yogyakarta’s Prambanan Temple   

Indonesia | Cultural Immersion at Yogyakarta’s Prambanan Temple   

Updated: November 9, 2016
By: Ian Yacobucci
Prambanan Java Indo

Yogyakarta, ID – Close up of Prambanan Temple a hindu temple complex in Java, Indonesia (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Traveling across West Java in search of waves I didn’t expect to experience more than just the small surf village of Batu Karas while visiting Indonesia.  My Indonesian adventure started in Jakarta where I spent a few days pursuing a Russian travel visa for a future trip across Russia on the Trans-Siberian, along with a visit to Jakarta’s M-Block mall complex.

After that I spent a couple days trying to find a whispered town from an old roommate I had, while teaching in Korea for a month.  He told me about this place called Batu Karas, a small fishing village with some tame surf that was quiet, and off the tourist track back in 2012.

After a seven hour train ride, where I met a couple of German tourists to share a room with for a night, followed a truly organic Indonesian bus experience of the same length, I finally made it to Batu Karas, where for the better part of two weeks I settled down spending my days exploring the West Java countryside with a surfboard strapped to the side of my Vespa.

Prambanan

Yogyakarta, ID – Posing in front of Prambanan Temple with a couple cool travelers from Finland (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

While surfing in Batu I heard about Yogyakarta from a couple Finnish travelers who were in the area at the same time as me; and after a blissful two weeks disconnected from the busy cities of Indo, and exploring the costal surf in the area, it was time to move on.  So, with our packs strapped the three of us tramped over to Yogyakarta, the bohemian and cultural centre of Indonesia’s Java region.

Since surfing was a priority at the time, I hadn’t thought much about the cultural treasures of Indonesia. Thankfully, upon our arrival in Yogyakarta we were able to discover one of its most famous cultural sites, the UNESCO world heritage site of Prambanan temple is a10th century compound dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu, and Brama Hindu divinities.

The temple complex itself offers some great photo opportunities and, if you’re lucky, you might find some free student led cultural tours as your roam the grounds (in English of course).  Although, from an Indonesian price point, it can be a little expensive for foreigners to visit, so depending on your budget, paying three times the cost of a student price might not be worth it for you.

Prambana Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta, ID – Prambanan Temple complex from a leisurely rest under some trees on a hot summer in Java, Indonesia (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

That being said, if you take an early morning or a lazy afternoon, Prambanan offers a beautiful place to walk, relax, and photograph at your leisure.  There’s no need to rush around the temple; and make sure you take advantage of the free water and coffee in the foreigner ticket office!

Happy Travels,

Yak

This article is supported by traveloka.com

Home / North America / Canada / Niagara Falls Top 10 | Tour guide tips to exploring the best of Niagara

Niagara Falls Top 10 | Tour guide tips to exploring the best of Niagara

Updated: June 29, 2016
By: Ian Yacobucci
Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls, CA – view of Horseshoe falls (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Niagara Falls Canada is home to one of Canada’s most iconic natural wonders. Visitors to Niagara Falls get to experience the power of one of the worlds greatest waterfalls as the equivalent of one million bathtubs flows at nearly 50 km per hour over the edge of Canada’s Horseshoe Falls.

More than just a waterfall, the city of Niagara Falls and its surroundings offer visitors to this region an opportunity to experience Canadian culture, the natural beauty of the Niagara region, and so much more.

As an educational tour guide working in Niagara Falls and other Canadian cities over the past decade I’ve had the privilege of building an intimate relationship with the Niagara Region. That’s why, as one of the more than 8 million visitors to Niagara Falls, Expedia.ca asked me to create this guide that will give you an itinerary based on my touring experience in the city!

Day 1 – Niagara Falls

 Visit Niagara Falls at Table Rock

You can literally stand beside Niagara Falls! Less than a meter from the water you’ll get to see how powerful and mighty Canada’s greatest waterfall is. Take a selfie then head into the Table Rock centre for a famous Tim Horton’s coffee before continuing your journey.

Walk the promenade along the Niagara Gorge

Walk from Niagara Falls (Table Rock) to Clifton Hill. It only takes about 30 minutes to walk from Niagara Falls to Clifton Hill. Along the way you’ll get to experience the magnificence of Niagara Falls by walking along the gorge it created over millennia. It’s one of the most impressive walks where you’ll get to see the American falls on the other side of the Niagara River as well as the natural beauty of the Niagara Gorge.

Fun and lunch on Clifton Hill 

Clifton Hill is the entertainment centre of Niagara Falls. About a 30 minute walk along the impressive Niagara Gorge you find yourself surrounded by the carnival like street filled with restaurants, mini golf, bowling, a Ferris wheel, Ripleys Belive it or Not, Guiness Book of World Records, Madame Tussaud’s wax museum and so much more!!

It’s the perfect place to grab a quick lunch before your next adventure or a place to enjoy an evening of fun!

Take a Niagara Falls Boat tour

If you think Niagara Falls is impressive from the edge of the falls you’ll be blown away looking up at it from the Niagara River. Boat tours like the Hornblower Niagara take visitors along the Niagara River where they learn stories about Niagara Falls daredevils and experience the beauty of Niagara Falls from both the American and Canadian falls.

Skylon Tower buffet dinner

A classic dinner spot, I like the Skylon Tower for the buffet’s variety and the fact that it boasts a 365 degree view of Niagara Falls. Although it’s a little bit out of the way from the main drag of Clifton Hill, I’d recommend a visit for lunch or dinner if you want to see a unique view of the falls and enjoy a decent meal.

American Falls

Niagara Falls, CA – View of american falls from the Maid of the Mist now called Hornblower Niagara (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Day 2 – Niagara Region – Day Trip to Niagara on the Lake

Drive the Niagara Parkway

Described by Sir Winston Churchhill as “the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world” the Niagara parkway that leads from Niagara Falls to Niagara on the Lake should be on everyone’s itinerary. Along the way is an opportunity to experience the natural beauty and culture of the Niagara region.

Botanical Gardens & Floral Clock

The botanical garden’s is a great place to spend an early morning walking through the nearly 100 acres of manicured gardens. If you’re pressed for time, or gardens aren’t something you’re interested in, you can stop off at Niagara Parks famous floral clock made up of 16, 000 plants to quickly to snap a picture.

Lunch and shopping in Niagara on the Lake

 Niagara on the Lake is a quaint lake side town that brings the uniqueness of colonial architecture along with with fine dining, quaint shops, and delicious café’s where you can sample local wines and experience small town Canada. It’s a great lunch stop where you will also find unique craft gifts and local Niagara wines to bring home for family and friends.

Embark on an afternoon Wine Tour in Niagara

The Niagara region, best known for its ice wine, hosts dozens of wineries that are a great way to spend an afternoon. You can book wine tours through local companies or plan your own visits. Ice wine is a favourite for visitors to try but the wineries host a wide range of local wines to sample.

Fallsview Casino for entertainment and/or buffet dinner

What would a visit to Niagara Falls be without a visit to one of its Casinos. If you’re not a gambler that’s okay, the Fallsview Casino is a great place to enjoy a dinner buffet as well as to enjoy some entertainment. You can check them out online to find out more about what shows are on and when.

Niagara Falls has so much to do and see that there’s simply not enough room to share it all. These are just a few suggestions of the best way to spend your time in Niagara Falls to make sure you get to experience all that Niagara has to offer. As a tour guide in the region these are my top recommendations and the best way to spend an enjoyable visit to Niagara Falls!

Useful links for planning your next Niagara Falls trip

https://www.niagarafallstourism.com/
http://www.niagaraparks.com/
http://winecountryontario.ca/

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 / Asia / Cambodia / Angkor Wat Tips| Help yourself tour Angkor Wat like a boss

Angkor Wat Tips| Help yourself tour Angkor Wat like a boss

Updated: March 9, 2016
By: Danielle Aniceto
Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Siem Reap, CM – Arrive at sunrise to capture your perfect picture at Angkor Wat Cambodia (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Showing up at the 6:00 am sunrise at Angkor Wat was not exactly what I expected it to be. Being a Lara Croft fan myself, I was hoping to have to swing down from a jungle vine into an undiscovered tomb and watch the sunrise from behind a mysterious untouched ruin. Instead, I arrived to a field full of people with the exact same idea. Having to fight for a place in the crowd for the perfect sunrise view, I couldn’t help but think what the rest of the day exploring would be like. It wasn’t exactly as I imagined it, but it was still pretty spectacular.

Angkor Wat is full of tourists, but if you can accept the fact and use a little imagination, you can have a lot of fun. Here are the tips and tricks I came up with during my visit to get as much time with my inner Lara Croft as possible and the least amount of time avoiding being in someone else’s photograph.

Angkor Wat photo

Siem Reap, CM – Capturing sunrise at Angkor Wat Cambodia (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

1. Sunrise at Angkor Wat

If you are into getting that beautiful sunrise photo at Angkor Wat, I would recommend you still go but not exactly at sunrise. Google the time of the sunrise at Angkor Wat the night before (it will depend on the time of year) and plan to arrive 15/30 minutes after. This will guarantee the best light for photographs and ensure that most tourists would have already left.

Angkor Wat Mistake: Most people arrive too early and get sick of waiting in the crowd by this point.

2. Angkor Wat

Sunrise at Angkor Wat is definitely a splendor to witness. The only problem, once again, is that everyone else wants to witness it at the same time too. I would recommend trying to go off the beaten track for a more authentic and reflective experience. It can be done! Just avoid the flow of the crowds and explore the ancient temples for enjoyment, not to go where everyone else is.  Trust yourself and discover what other people are missing.

Angkor Wat secrets: Start at a less well-known temple in the morning. Such as Bayon or Angkor Thom. Large tour groups always start at Angkor Wat.

If you want to learn about the history of Angkor Wat, I would suggest hiring a tour guide. The books that are being sold all over the grounds for various prices, are also a good idea but may not provide the interesting and more intimate details that the well-trained multi-lingual guides do.

People at Angkor Wat

Siem Reap, CM – Hundreds of people taking photos at sunrise at Angkor Wat (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

3. Bantaey Kdei

This temple complex takes up a lot of square footage and if you tire of crowds, it is one of the least busy temples in Angkor Wat. There are many passages and doorways to venture through and you can get that awesome picture beside a massive tree with fewer tourists to compete with.

4. Ta Phrom

The temple from the Lara Croft movie. The Tomb Raider temple was definitely a sight to see. However, it is also one of the most popular temples because of the allure of the large trees that grow throughout the complex.  If you’re not afraid to venture off you can find a space to get your photo but beware of the most famous tree from the 2001 film version of Tomb Raider.  You won’t get a moment alone there.

Ta Phrom secrets: After 3:00 pm, many tourists start clearing out of the temples. Perhaps the best time of day to get that selfie you were dreaming of.

Tomb Raider Tree

Siem Reap, CM – The famous Tomb Raider tree at Ta Phrom temple in Angkor Wat Tomb Raider tree Ta Phrom Angkor Wat (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

5. Angkor Thom

This temple is stunning and a lot of fun because there are tones of small temples throughout the forest in the surrounding area. This is a temple where you can really get off the beaten track and explore!  Remember the Angkor Wat temple complex is massive and if you’re willing to explore you’ll find hidden treasures that represent the spiritual setting these temples were designed to embody.

Angkor Thom secrets: Just don’t get stuck in the tall grass with the huge spider webs. I am still not sure what kind of spiders were hiding in those webs but I am glad we never found out.

As one of the most famous temple systems in the world Angkor Wat will far exceed your expectations.  Just remember that there are many temples to explore and all of them are several kilometers apart so be prepared to spend a lot of your day enjoying the jungle by tuk tuk (yes, you should definitely spend the little money it costs for a tuk tuk).

No matter how many times you visit you’ll always feel like you’re just scratching the surface of Angkor Wat’s mysteries.  So be kind to yourself and take my advice, get the three-day pass. It is well worth it, and with a little imagination and some childish enthusiasm, you can really make the experience your own.

Have fun and safe travels!

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