8 Reasons To Travel

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Travelling is a great way to view the world and to open our eyes to new adventures. So why not plan some new adventures for 2016? Here are eight reasons why you should travel the world this year.

PERSPECTIVE

The small issues we have in our day-to-day lives are often forgotten about when we travel to a different location. You can visit various towns, cities and countries, depending on how far you would like to travel. A good trip will help you to gain perspective on how others live and a better understanding for different atmospheres and cultures. You may be pleasantly surprised about how different you feel.

SOCIALISE

We often feel like we are bound to everything around us, from our jobs to money and society. In reality we are tying ourselves down to things that may change tomorrow. Travelling opens our eyes to new possibilities and makes us more vulnerable to new things. Allow yourself to socialise with the locals and get to know your environment. Travelling allows us to create stories, which means you will have more to talk about when you return home.

COUPLE TRAVELLING VS SOLO TRAVELLING

If you’re fortunate to have another half, travelling is a great way of bonding by unravelling new destinations and committing yourselves to new adventures. If you’re travelling solo, you will learn how resourceful you are and you will discover how you can navigate around unfamiliar territory. Which can boost your mood and self-esteem.

KNOWLEDGE

Travelling can strengthen your brain by experiencing new things. Each place has a history and a story behind it, so make sure you try to learn something new on your travels Whether you’re staying in your own country or going abroad, there are a lot of things you may not get to experience anywhere else. Make sure you try new foods and go on new adventures.

TRAVEL WHILST YOU CAN

Many of us get put off travelling by the belief that we can do it whenever we want. However, life has a habit of getting in the way and sometimes we don’t have the time to travel. So try not to leave it all until retirement – travel now. You should experience the world while you’re growing as a person, instead of leaving it until later on in your life.

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Excerpt from the first issue of Zest For Life Magazine. Click Read More to view the full article…

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Chinese New Year In Hong Kong.

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Credit: The List Love

Christmas has been and gone and New Year’s day is a fading memory. You may think the festive season is over but you’re wrong. The Chinese New Year is waiting around the corner and there’s no better place to celebrate it than Hong Kong city.

Probably the most exciting city in the world, Hong Kong is the perfect getaway to beat the rain, snow and chilly winds of January and February, with the added bonus of celebrating the Chinese New Year while you’re there. Enjoying temperatures reaching 20°C at this time of the year, (namely their Winter from December to February) Hong Kong offers everything and more for families, couples or single explorers alike.

Handed over to China in 1997 after 156 years of British colonial rule, Hong Kong offers the best in entertainment, technology, architecture, culture and shopping. With about 7 million people crammed into 1000 square kilometres, it’s ranked up with Brazil as one of the most populated places on Earth, but don’t think you can’t get away from the crowds if you want to.

With a 45 minute boat ride, you can reach the outer-laying Islands, of which Lantua is the biggest, alongside 262 others. Total solitude, peace and quiet. Fine seafront restaurants and views to die for. The South China Sea is a marvel to set your sights on and explore.

Accessible from the mainland district called Kowloon by ferry, taxi or the subway, Hong Kong Island is nothing but amazing. The future is now in Hong Kong. Bustling streets, sky-scrapers, hustle, bustle, character, sight and smells. Hong Kong is an explosion for all your senses. Street corner food stalls and luxurious restaurants. Hong Kong will cater to all your wants and needs. The very first thing any tourist must do is to start at the top and work downwards.

Divided into Hong Kong’s lower, middle and higher levels, either take the Peak Tram to the top of the island or do something different and take a bus. The tram will take you there directly, while on the bus you’ll see a lot more but take longer to arrive. The Peak offers sights across the region. Panorama views guaranteed, though on a cloudy day you’ll be left disappointed for sure. With refreshments and a restaurant to rest and recharge your batteries, it’s a must for any tourist visiting the island.

Hong Kong is truly a marvel of the 21st century which wouldn’t look out-of-place in the 22nd Century. Having booked into your hotel, be it a 5 star hotel or a hostel in any number of Mega City type blocks, hitting Hong Kong’s night life is an adventure in itself. Back on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong, a visit to Temple Street market is an absolute must. Day or night it offers an array of merchandise on sale. Toys, computers, cameras, food, clothes, exotic animals, chickens, birds, snakes; you name it, you’ll find it.

Explore Temple Street market at your leisure. In the evening, street theatre performances will make you stop in your tracks and look on in awe at the finely dressed and heavily made up artists perform their shows. Temple Street market oozes Chinese culture, spirit and character. From Chinese medicine shops, to tarot reading, to massage; every box is ticked and the experience will stay with you forever.

No doubt you’ll be ready for a drink and something to eat. With the British colonial influence evident throughout Hong Kong, you’ll have a choice of whether to visit an authentic Chinese restaurant in which their menus are written in Chinese, which you’ll only know what you have ordered by the accompanying picture, or alternatively one of the many British style pubs and bars which still exist.

From Mad-Dogs, to Pomeroy’s, to Delaney’s, to Ned Kelly’s Last Stand, every nationality is catered for. Hong Kong is a haven for ex-pats from across the world and you’ll never feel far from home by walking into the right bar or pub. Thenonto the Wan-chai district to party the night away. Seedy on one side and respectable on the other, Hong Kong is a den of vice which can easily tempt you to the other side.

Topless bars to strip joints, discos to cocktails bars, it’s easy to have so much fun that time runs away and before you know it, you’ll be exiting a dark night club into the bright morning sunshine. After all the hustle, bustle, noise and throng of people, you’ll be in desperate need to stretch your legs and get some space.

There’s nothing easier than jumping on a boat and getting away from it all. As close as the other side of Hong Kong Island, to the outer islands only 30-40 minutes away, peace and solitude is always in touching distance. Lantua Island’s biggest tourist attraction is the humongous Buddha at the top of the hill at the Po Lin Monastery. Attracting thousands of visitors a day it’s the perfect excuse to put on your trekking boots and go for a healthy trek up a hill.

Smaller islands such as Lamma and Cheung Chau are great to visit for the same reason. The beaches are often deserted but always covered in fine golden sand. Go for a healthy walk and hit a seaside restaurant for a delicious fish meal before catching the high-speed boat home. Share a bottle of wine as you watch the Sun go down. The images of the South China Sea bathed in the setting reds and oranges of the setting Sun are intoxicating and serene; beautiful and surreal.

Why not book yourself a junk boat for the day? Cheap and easy to hire, it’s perfect for families or a big group of friends. With everything you need served on board, the skipper will drop anchor at any island you wish to stretch your legs and explore, before sailing you back to where you set off.

The shopping is second to none. With all the well-known brands around the world tendering their wares, Hong Kong is the perfect place to pick up a fake Rolex, an Armani suit, the latest Sony camera, tablet or just a finely craved Chinese chess set. Everything is on sale, tacky, beautifully craved, hi-spec or just fun. Shopping in Hong Kong is both cheap, expensive, fun and exciting. You’ll be sure to find products you never knew existed, wanted or items that should never be sold at all.

Shopping, food, night life, tourist attractions and shows. Visit Macau and with a bit of luck you can return home with a fortune. After all the British were not the only colonial powers to get their hands on the South China Sea islands. Portugal did the same and now Macau is considered the Las Vegas of the region.

Happy Chinese New Year, good fortune to all and happiness for 2016. The Chinese people are famed for their belief in good fortune and the help of their ancestors and generous spirits. Traditionally celebrated as a Lunar New Year from between 21 January to 20 February, people across Asia come together to sweep away ill-fortune and make way for good luck.

Walking the streets of any Asian city be it Hong Kong, Singapore or Bangkok, windows and doors will be decorated with red colour paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of good fortune or happiness, wealth, and longevity. Watch out for the street parades, including larger than life dragons, fireworks, firecrackers and copious amount of toy money in red paper envelopes given in appreciation and honour for their deities and ancestors.

All in all, Hong Kong is the perfect destination for the adventurous traveller. If you haven’t been already you really must, and if you have been, it’s always good to return to see what’s different in this ever-changing city. Hong Kong really is the most exciting city in the world and there is no better time to visit than during the Chinese New Year.

Words by Matthew Taylor

Visit Stockholm This Festive Season.

Credit: Stockholm Our Way

Its the festive time, but what to do? How about a weekend getaway to boost your festive mood? There is no better city in the world to choose for a festive getaway than Stockholm in Sweden.

At this time of year its covered in a healthy blanket of white sparkling snow. The city which dates back to the 12th Century is simply beautiful. Known affectionately as the ‘Venice of the North,’ it’s the jewel in the crown of the Nordic lands.

Famous for its museums, universities and art galleries, Stockholm is the most populated city in the region attracting a whooping 11 million visitors in 2013 alone. Picture perfect, with the back drop of its imposing 12th and 13th century architecture, Stockholm is the ideal destination for romantic couples, festive shopping, cultural escapes or just fun with the family.

Stockholm at this time of the year is especially special because the snow-globe setting is sure to warm the coldest of moods. From visiting a Christmas market to enjoying some glogg and ginger bread, bathing under the glow of the beautiful festive decorations, to shopping in its narrow shopping streets, to enjoying a well deserved drink and meal at a bar or restaurant, Stockholm ticks all the boxes and will bring a smile to any face.

Stockholm is easily accessible on foot, bus, train and boat. Taking a reasonable two hours twenty minutes to get there by plane from the UK, and at the equally reasonable price of about £195 there and back, there really is no excuse not to visit Stockholm, even if you have or haven’t been already.

With over 1000 restaurants, 100 museums, a vibrant art scene and distinguished theatres, Stockholm is a truly wonderful city to visit. Spread across 14 islands, Stockholm’s most popular region, its old town is accessible by bridge, walking over the often frozen Lake Mälaren which meets the Baltic Sea in the South East region of the country.

Located just south of the 60th latitude, the number of daylight hours at this time of year is only about six hours. So expect darkness to fall about 3pm. Contrasting with its summer nights which are short, it brings an element of magic, suspense and romance unlike any other city in the world.

With temperatures at Christmas well below freezing and snowing falling on any given day, it’ll bring a smile to your face when you walk along their commercial shopping areas free from snow due to their under pavement heating, while walking further afield wading knee deep in crisp sparkling snow freshly fallen.

Night-clubs, restaurants, cinemas, cafes, casinos, you name it, you’ll find it in Stockholm. Watching men fish salmon from the river, to marvelling at the royal architecture, Christmas lights, smells and sounds; Stockholm holds a certain endearment which will surely bring you festive cheer.

Famous for hosting the Nobel Peace prize, Stockholm boasts a wealth of history going back as far as the 6th millennium. The people are warm and friendly. The streets are well kept, clean and tidy. The spirit is jovial, romantic and inviting. A beautiful city full of beautiful people living beautiful lives and having a beautiful time.

If you are feeling in the mood for something more this festive season! In need of a quick get-away to lift your spirits; Stockholm is your perfect destination.

Don’t be shy give Stockholm a try and remember to wrap up warm!

Words by Matthew Taylor

What I Learned Living Abroad For A Month.

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Credit: ImageInfo

This year I lived in Berlin for the whole of July whilst partaking in a writing work experience course. I lived in an apartment with people I had never met before and we worked together to produce a travel guide of the city, exploring everything that it had to offer. It was an amazing, life-changing experience and these are a few of the things I learned while I was there.

Independence
This was the first time I had ever flown by myself (and considering I am terrified of flying even whilst surrounded by a group of my friends, this was a big deal for me!) and was the first time I had ever been in a different country without anybody I knew. In order to write reviews about places for the travel guide I was writing for, I had to explore Berlin by myself, which meant figuring out (and frequently getting lost on) the public transport system.

Language
Even if it is just basic skills to get you by, such as saying ‘hi’ and ‘goodbye’ and knowing how to order in a restaurant, language skills are an extremely useful skill. It is easier to pick up phrases while in a setting that forces you to use them every day.

Culture
Berlin was a whole new world I had never before experienced. The city was a constant hustle and bustle, with techno clubs raving until 6am, blasting their beats and smoke into the air.  An array of multicultural foods awaits you, as well as original Berliner Pilsners and a variety of original craft beer. Berlin is the place for original venues, like the bar that rents wine glasses for 2 euros each, so you can and drink as much wine as you want and ultimately decide on what to pay. Also, one of the best burgers I have ever eaten was served out of a food stall that used to be a public toilet. These are the kinds of things you never imagine you’ll experience, but are so glad that you have.

People
No matter where you go on your travels, you are bound to make new friends and meet people you will never forget. You meet a group of likeminded individuals who, even if they are not there for the same reasons as you, will understand your need in wanting to be there. Everyone will have individual experiences yet share the same common goal and you will be tied together by that, meeting people you never would have had the chance to otherwise.

The Little Things
While visiting a place, you tend to frequent all the tourist spots and see the most popular sights, but if you live there you get to know all the secret local treasures that not everybody knows about. For me this included the Italian place on my road that did pizza for 3 euros, and the Chinese restaurant around the corner that did 20 dumplings for 8 euros. You will become familiar with the stops on the U-bahn, the best places to get free Wifi and which bars and clubs are the best to go to on certain nights.

About Myself
Being abroad helped me learn so much about myself that other experiences could not have taught me. I have discovered that I am more adventurous than I ever imagined, that being abroad and travelling makes me much happier and much more carefree than I am at home, and that I am amazing at adjusting to new people and new places. This trip has opened my eyes to life’s possibilities, and I truly believe that I can do anything that I want to do.

So if you are planning to travel somewhere, just do it. Even if at first you are unsure, there will be no doubts once you get there and are thrown headfirst into the atmosphere. Even if, like me, you are scared of flying, it will all be worth it in the end. It truly is a life changing experience unlike anything else.

All you have to do is take the first step, because the world is there waiting for you and it can be all yours.

Words by Ally Mclaren