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When we think of wine, often times we imagine exotic, European locations where dew drips off a perfectly ripe grape and old women stamp with their bare feet to squeeze out the juices. While that may be true (and a nice Hollywood stereotype), there are still many beautiful regions for wine production right here in the United States. Today we are featuring one of the regions that made our list of Top Wine Travel Destinations, the Puget Sound in northwestern Washington state.
I had come to London to cover the first week at Wimbledon and though I had been to the city many times before, it was my first time staying in an apartment. For about the price of a mid-range hotel, I found a lovely one-bedroom apartment on the third floor of a classic Georgian style London walkup on Flipkey.
When I turned up at the doorstep of my flat in Nevern Square in London’s Earl’s Court neighborhood, I was soaking wet and I smelled like a sewer rat. I had tripped over a mooring post while walking along Regent’s Canal, near the Camden Lock market, and watched helplessly as my bag, carrying my DSLR camera and iPhone, plopped into the water and began to drift away, like a rubber ducky coasting over Niagara Falls. I dove into the murky water with all my clothes on in the hopes of salvaging my precious cargo and emerged soaking wet and a little smelly. As I bounded up the stairs at 2 Nevern Square, I felt quite pleased with the fact that I was checking into an apartment with a washing machine, rather than a hotel room.
A young man named Steve welcomed me into my new home for the week, a gorgeous one-bedroom apartment in a quintessential London neighborhood just steps from a picture perfect green sanctuary and a tube stop, and explained how to work all the unfamiliar equipment and appliances. As soon as he left, I wished I’d written down his instructions, but as I stripped my wet clothes off and fussed with the washing machine, I felt that odd sense of accomplishment in figuring out how things worked in another country.
It took me some time to figure out how to lock and unlock the door to the apartment, but once I had it down pat, I loved the act of crouching down to double bolt the second lock, which was bizarrely located about six inches off the ground. And I adored the tall windows and high ceilings in the apartment and the odd collection of signs and notices in the first floor common area- “No Free Newspapers, Please!” was my favorite.
I am not a nosy person but one of the things that I liked about living in this apartment was having the opportunity to imagine who lived there. Some of their cabinets and closets were discreetly sealed off from public view but their book collection was displayed prominently and when I saw titles by Noam Chomsky, Jane Austen and Niall Ferguson on the shelves, I felt like I almost knew the owner.
Steve gave me a local iPhone to use as part of the typical package that goes with the apartment. I had seen this in the advertisement but it didn’t register since I have my own iPhone. But since mine was on the fritz, the free loaner was like manna from heaven. The apartment came with toiletries, a box of chocolates and some tea, plus an iPhone app that contained recommendations for local restaurants and businesses.
Every night on my way home from Wimbledon, I stopped off at a pub at the top of my street called Earl’s Court Tavern for a pint of beer and a bit of conversation. When people I met asked where I was staying and I was able to reply, “In a flat just on the square there,” I felt legit. I was not a tourist, you see.
On my last morning in London, a soft, golden light bathed the rain soaked streets in a pink, ethereal glow that made my imminent departure all the more difficult to swallow. I had just discovered a second supermarket just steps from the apartment, another pub that looked inviting and a kebab shop I wanted to become a regular at. Was it time to go home already? My iPhone and camera had spent 4 days soaking in piles of rice inside zip lock bags, a common cure for water damage. It cured my camera but not the phone.
I lost a phone in London but what I gained was this: a sense of what it’s like to live like a Londoner, if only for a week.
Dave Seminara is a journalist and former diplomat based in Chicago who contributes to The New York Times, Outside, ESPN, and a wide variety of other publications and sites. Follow him on Twitter at @DaveSem
Today we are featuring Katie Boyer, who studied public relations, journalism, and Spanish at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA and now works with Go Overseas in the Bay Area. Follow Katie on Twitter and Google+.
As our world becomes more connected, more travelers are interested in long-term, meaningful travel opportunities. Teaching abroad is one of the best ways to live like a local in a new town. Whether you’re volunteering, earning a stipend, or teaching as a career, there are plenty of options for those looking to teach internationally. You can teach through a recruiting company, through a school, tutor privately, homeschool, or teach in after-school groups.
English is a popular subject to teach abroad for many reasons. First of all, many foreign governments, especially in Asia, push their citizens to learn English for economic reasons. Secondly, many programs allow anyone who is native speaker to teach English. Teaching English is definitely the most common way to teach abroad but it isn’t the only subject you can teach.
While English is the easiest subject for native-speakers to master, teaching a subject you have an expertise in will increase your impact on the students. For example, if a chemistry teacher from California wants to teach chemistry in Europe, their experience, knowledge, and enthusiasm for chemistry will transfer to their lessons.
What skills do you have that you could teach others in another country?
- Teach math and science
- Teach world history
- Teach and coach sports
- Teach art
- Teach primary school
There are plenty of organizations that offer programs around the world that need teachers in a variety of subjects. Some popular organizations include:
United Planet has teaching programs around the world. You can join a “teaching quest” as a volunteer and teach in primary school or even to older kids. Subjects that need volunteer teachers include Mathematics, Biology, Economics, French, Physics, Geography, History, English, Book keeping and Accounting, Science, French, IT and Social Studies. Popular “teaching quests” take place in Nepal and Tanzania.
Global Volunteers is a great organization for volunteers of all ages and backgrounds. Their programs allow you to go beyond teaching basic English and math and also focus on vocational subjects like catering, nutrition and household management.
International Student Volunteers (ISV) lets volunteers choose between teaching English, Math, Geography, Sciences or Health Education to local youth in the Dominican Republic, Australia, and New Zealand.
Global Routes offers a variety of teaching options in Kenya and Ecuador among other locations. Volunteer teachers with global routes can teach English, math, science, social studies, or environmental education.
This adventurous volunteer program allows you to teach whatever subject has the most need at the time. From teaching math and science to geography, Trek to Teach offers all types of programs. Their program in Nepal is great for travelers with all different skills and backgrounds.
Teaching is a great way to immerse yourself in the local community while traveling. Whatever skills you have, there is sure to be a teaching program right for you! So get out there and share your expertise with students around the world.
Today we are featuring Melissa Davis on behalf of Cruise About with the best cruise deals you can find online.
A warm sandy beach vacation in Tel Aviv will surely eliminate your cold weather blues. With its long expanse of pleasant brown sand located next to the city, you’ll have toasty toes in no time. Another benefit to visiting Tel Aviv is the city itself, which features numerous accommodations, delectable restaurants and nightlife.
Tel Aviv beach is one long expanse. However, you’ll find that the site is split into a number of separate beaches with each one offering unique dining, plenty of local residents and an abundance of activities. Several of the best Tel Aviv beaches include:
You will have to pay to visit this beach, but with the first-class amenities on site, it’s definitely worth the cost. However, it is located on the north side of town, and you will need a car to get there.
When you are looking for a fun time, Banana Beach is the place to go. Locals choose to visit Banana Beach for a drink while enjoying the picturesque sunset. Also, residents enjoy meeting travelers and may offer you a few tips regarding the city. You’ll find visitors from all over the world at Banana Beach. Moreover, the café offers tables and chairs for a comfortable evening spent with drinks and friends.
If you enjoy listening to the performances of local musicians while vacationing, then Dolphinarium Beach should be your destination. The tone is youth oriented, and you’ll enjoy the weekly Friday music festival. However, the facilities are lacking, so if you prefer a pristine beach, then this is not the place for you.
When you are in need of a quiet beach experience, Alma Beach will accommodate you. It doesn’t have a life guard, so you will need to be cautious when swimming and look out for the jellyfish. Also, you’ll find a number of locals picnicking on the beach with their grills, which may make you hungry. Moreover, this south side beach is enjoyable, and a delightful place to visit.
The city has earmarked this beach for religious observation. Therefore, certain days are assigned to men and women. However, if you’re visiting on Saturday, then it’s free to all interested beach dwellers. Keep in mind that women may enjoy the quietness of a male excluded beach during their days of the week.
Tel Baruch Beach
Once popular for its unseemly “working girls,” the beach is now mostly free of them. You will need a vehicle to get to Tel Baruch Beach. However, it’s worth locating due to a wide stretch of sand and now family friendly atmosphere.
Metzitzim Beach shares its name with a well-known Israeli 70s movie, which has increased the beach’s popularity. Furthermore, you’ll find a beach bar, young hip crowd and plenty of sand and water.
With its location by the Hilton Hotel, this popular surf beach is beloved by gay visitors, dog walkers and travelers interested in beach activities such as volleyball. In fact, the beach tempts surfers regardless of the weather as long as the waves are plentiful. You’ll also find amenities such as beach chairs and bathrooms.
You’ll find several beaches that share their names with local streets that connect to them like Trumpeldor and Bograshov. Another great place to spend a day lounging in the sand is at Jerusalem Beach.
When you need to worship the sun, Tel Aviv provides plenty of places in which to do so. Furthermore, you’ll find a beach where you can be yourself while spending time with other travelers who share your interests.
Today we are featuring David Wise. Originally from Australia, at last count, David had been to 53 countries. He loves to combine travel and sport. His next stop is Ukraine and Poland for EURO 2012.
Tel Aviv is the social center of Israel. All Israel tour packages will spend considerable time in Israel’s most sophisticated and cosmopolitan city. Here are five activities that will let any visitor get the most out of Tel Aviv.
There are plenty of the typical water sports available at the beaches as well, from jet skiing to surf lessons. The stand-up paddle board is a local specialty, so taking lessons in this unique way to enjoy the sea would be an Israeli experience.
2. The Shopping
Tel Aviv has shops with all the world’s leading designers, mostly found in Kikar Hamedina and Ramat Aviv mall. However, Tel Aviv is also the heart of a very active fashion design scene in Israel. More interesting shopping options may be many of the small shops stocked with locally designed goods, some even run by the designers themselves. Many can be found on Sheinkin Street, Rothschild Boulevard, and the Florentine neighborhood.
People more interested in discovering a great find at flea markets should go to the Carmel Market, a second hand furniture market. It’s also a food market, so shoppers can eat and shop all day.
3. Learn About a National and Global Culture
The Museum of the Jewish People (“Beit HaTfutsot”) tells the story of the Jewish people going back thousands of years and covering every corner of the globe. One of the most memorable exhibits is the constant flow of contemporary photographs of Jews representing every nation on Earth. The exhibition halls are designed around themes of faith, culture, family, and community. There are two other exhibition halls, one that focuses on Israel and the other on the relationship between Jews and their many host cultures in other countries.
4. Explore the Arts
In addition to some leading art galleries, Tel Aviv is home to some neighborhoods that are art works themselves. Neve Tzedek is a little village within the city has long been home to artistic types. Many of its homes have architectural significance.
There are a number of performing arts venues, but the most unusual is the Na’Laga’at Center in the Jaffa Port. This center is home to the Na’Laga’at Deaf-Blind Acting Ensemble and the BlackOut Restaurant. The actors are all deaf, blind, or both, and offer audiences a one-of-a-kind experience. The BlackOut is a pitch black restaurant staffed with blind waiters.
5. Party Until the Sun Comes Up
Tel Aviv is regularly named one of the world’s best nightclub cities. The hottest clubs are always changing, but they’re usually located either in one of the ports or near the beach.