Cultural Festivals To Go To Before You Die
Imagine yourself toasting a cup of beer to another stranger, or dancing along the streets with hundreds of others? There are so many festivals in the world that do not restrict to only the locals, foreigners are
- Bastille Day, Paris
Just like July 4th in the US, France is decked out in red, white and blue, but instead of beer and backyard barbecues, this more formal celebration features decorated military, lush banquets and red wine. Across the world freedom is celebrated with a bang at Bastille Day, and on this night, The City of Light shines brighter than any. It’s an honor to eat in a French home on Bastille Day; do your best to ingratiate yourself with a local. The meal is typically light with lots of fruits and vegetables, quiches, and salads. The largest celebrations take place in Paris, but other events occur throughout France.
- Carnevale di Ivrea, Ivrea Italy
This is a festival that celebrates the event when commoners rise up against an oppressive ruler. At the Carnevale di Ivrea , however, the battle isn’t waged with guns and swords—oranges are the weapon of choice. Every year, the tiny northern city of Ivrea in the Turin province stockpiles 500,000 kilograms of fresh oranges for a re-creation of a historic fight between townsfolk and a ruling tyrant. Teams wage a full-on fruit war, and not even a red-capped declaration of sovereignty can protect you from getting juiced Carnival of Venice.
- Carnevale di Venezia, Venice
The original Carnival of Venice took place in 1162 to honor one of Venice’s victorious battles when the city was known as the “Repubblica della Serenissima”. To best understand Carnival of Venice, you need to understand the importance of the maschera or masks. The mask allowed citizens to behave wildly and adopt alter egos without the fear of social consequence. This Carnival takes place for the period leading up to Ash Wednesday in watery Venice, Italy.
- Infiorata di Genrazno, Rome
Many Italian towns hold an Infiorata, a festival of flowers that trace their beginnings in Italy to the 13th century but the one in Genzano is possibly Italy’s largest and and certainly the most renowned. The official year of origin of the Genzano festival is 1778, when it was started to celebrate Corpus Christi (Latin for ”body of Christ”). It’s a high holy day in the Catholic church celebrating the Eucharist, perceived by Catholics as the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
- Paris Techno Parade
Meet street music turned up to eleven: DJs, subwoofers, and sound-mixers sit atop decked-out flat bed trucks, which ply through a heaving sea of 400,000 people—mostly young, cool, and determined to live out loud. Parade participants are quick to point out the unifying spirit of the music, which despite its futuristic electro-sound, draws inspiration from tribal rhythms. “The beats are so loud they hit you in the stomach; the only thing you can do is obey them, and dance,” says one participant. The organizers have been keen to promote diversity, erase class and racial lines, and bring everyone into the same heartbeat.
More Just Isn’t Enough
In the light of globalization, videos and photos on the internet may be enough for you. But have you ever wondered how it would feel like to physically stand in the deserted, haunting streets of Pompeii instead of imagining it from the documentaries of National Geographic?
This boils down to one thing - we don’t travel enough.
Why should we travel then? Here’s a few reasons why:
- Slows us down: Gives us a break from our fast-paced lives
We’re always so busy rushing to keep up with the ever-moving economy. We end up caught up in the rut of the 21st Century that we don’t get to enjoy. How does it feel like to live with regrets, to know that there are more than 100 cities not visited and 6 million people you’ve never met? Take a break, have some fun. It is perfectly reasonable to drop everything on-hand an escape reality for a while. You only live once!
- Connects us to other cultures
Even as a world, we remain divided. There are so many cultures that have their own rules, customs and history. It would be a good experience to learn about someone else’s culture, know why they perform the rituals they believe in, or wear a certain type of clothing during certain festivals. At the same time, you can take the opportunity to make friends from other countries and share your own culture as explain why it defines you as a person.
- Helps you get to know yourself better: the true you is rediscovered
Perhaps in the past, you’ve lived by the day, or you’ve always been laid-back, worrying less and caring lesser. But when you’re all grown up and ready (or so you think), you join society in its endless race for technology and conformity. You’ve become someone else across the years of refinement. You’ve started to be stricter with yourself, harsher in fact, so that you become a person who is prompt, quick and impatient. But when you travel, you’ll realize that travelling takes the complete opposite stance. You’ll soon rediscover that in trips, one ought to relax, loosen up the strings of pressure that hold onto you. You’ll rediscover the old you, one who’s always happy and carefree, not worrying about anything. It’s not necessarily a bad thing!
- Provides learning and education about places and history
This is probably one of the most basic things about travelling. One travels to learn and perhaps, historical landmarks that speak the most about the country, and how the pioneers lived, how they survived to leave a legacy. Going on tours to learn exposes us to more knowledge and when we return home, we’re equipped with additional information and an ability to think about things from a different angle.
- Promotes patience
This is a crucial learning curve. Depending on which country you’re from, this makes a difference. If you’re from Europe, where people are slower paced in life, and you travel to Hong Kong where the general public cannot stand wasting an extra minute, you’re bound to have a cultural clash. In such situations, it’ll be a good opportunity to learn how to be patient, to understand that you’ve been living in a different environment hence, the current environment can be shocking to a certain extent but it is an excellent chance to learn to be patient.
Traveling Alone Can Always Be Fun!
Travelling alone is always sad and mopey and pathetic. It can always be fun because there’s just no one you’ve got to accommodate, no one you’ve got to please. You’re just you and you can do whatever you please (sounds good?). But then again, without knowing what you can do, you’ll not be able to enjoy a nice trip. So here’s another 5 tips for you!
- Talk to The Locals
It’s easy. Just walk up and say hello. The worst that can happen is you’ll get ignored, or laughed at. The best? You could make a new friend and gain valuable insider knowledge about wherever you are. Locals are always the ones who know the area the best, and may or may not lend you a helping hand when you need it. Solo travellers tend to end up with so many more friends than if they were to travel in a group.
- Try New Things
There are many things in foreign countries that are fun for solo travellers. You just got to be daring! Try things you wouldn’t try at home (as long as they’re safe). Whether it’s horse riding or quad biking, or something more extreme like scuba diving or skydiving, if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do then go ahead and book it in. However, don’t forget to make sure your guide/teacher understands you (and vice versa) and ensure the experience is safe.
- Safety First
Perhaps the foremost concern of the solo or single traveler is safety. Without a companion to watch your back, you are more vulnerable to criminals and scam artists, as well as simple health worries. So be careful, know the emergency numbers of the country you’re heading to.
- Opt For a Home Stay
Home stay is pretty common when you travel alone. AirBnb offers breakfast and bed with a local host in the country you’re visiting. Staying overnight in a local’s home can be frightening but it is insightful at the same time. You won’t even feel alone, and you can also learn about the culture and community of the country. It’s like killing two birds with a stone! AirBnb hosts are always ready to host
- Local Meals
If you’re afraid of staying over at a stranger’s home, then you can opt for another option, which is to have a meal with the locals. You don’t have to worry about staying over, all the inconvenience you’re afraid of are dispelled if you share a meal with the local host. You can also learn about the culture and community of the country without having to stay over! BonAppetour hosts are always ready to host travellers.
More Than Just Urbanization
When you think about Singapore, what comes to mind is the array of skyscrapers, concrete roads lined with rows of trees. Being one of Asia’s most important business hubs, Singapore has 5-star luxury hotels, restaurants and high-end shops in almost every corner, and many other tourist attractions that are bustling with people every day!
But after visiting said tourist spots, such as Sentosa, Universal Studios and Marina Bay Sands, there are many other places to go. Singapore is, after all, more than just urbanisation.
Top 4 Places to Visit (off the beaten path):
- Bukit Brown Cemetery
Located in the central area of Singapore, bordering Lornie Road and parts of the Pan-Island Expressway, Bukit Brown Cemetery (BBC) was the first Chinese municipal cemetery in colonial Singapore. It is a burial ground home to many of the first pioneers in Singapore, making it a historical attraction. The government has, however, expressed the desire to pave a road though it to widen the expressway. Visit it when you still can (during the day, of course)!
- Fort Canning Park
Located on a hill, it was once called “Forbidden Hill,” for it was once the seat of royalty for the Malay rulers during the 1300’s. The Park was once the residence of colonial leaders and an important military base in World War II. Its attractions include The Keramat, which is a sacred burial ground of an unknown Malay revered leader.
- Bollywood Veggies, an Organic Farm
For a scrumptious yet healthy dining experience, head to Bollywood Veggies for a down-to-earth organic meal. Once you in the ten-acre organic farm, you feel that you’re no longer in Singapore. It’s a definite fresh change from all the restaurants of the city.
- Pulau Ubin
Explore Pulau Ubin, a 1,000-hectare island that offers a glimpse of what Singapore used to be. It is home to Chek Jawa, one of Singapore’s richest ecosystems. Go there a live a life of peace, away from the bustling streets.
- Dining at home
For a taste of home, try dining with Singaporean hosts at their very own homes! Meet a local family, have a taste of authentic home-made food, and go back home having made some new friends while on a holiday! Explore BonAppetour for a range of such dining options.
Worry Free Vacations - Everyone’s Favourite?
How to plan a stress-free vacation? We go on vacations to relax. But when we don’t plan, we drive ourselves crazy dealing with endless reservations, airport hassles, jet lag, and other annoyances. Well, now, let’s plan a good holiday with 5 main tips!
- Great Flight and Hotel Deals
Find Great Deals on Flights and Hotels Finding flights and other accommodations cheaply is no different than shopping for anything else: the key is to shop around and find the best price. Figure out when is the best time to buy! Typically, the earlier you buy them, the cheaper and the less stressful! In Singapore, the budget airways start to increase the prices nearer towards the date of departure.
- High Speed Trains vs Normal Trains
You should check the train schedules in advance online to save lots of time at the station. High speed trains usually have reserved seats, and you’d want to buy the tickets in advance. But the normal “slow” trains have no reserved seats and you can buy this anytime because the price doesn’t change. You should do your research in advance to decide which trains you want to use, and consider the time vs. cost.
- Pack Like A Pro
As travel day inches closer, the first thing you’ll want to do is pack all your luggage ahead of time. The further ahead you begin preparing, the less likely you are to forget something. You may want to first put any shoes in your carry-on bag (if any), then starts adding the heavier layers of rolled clothing. Add clothing in order of heaviest to lightest. With baggage fees higher than ever, knowing how to efficiently pack a carry-on can save you a bunch of money when traveling by air.
- Travel Applications
Prepare yourself by downloading these amazing applications to aid your travel, making it smooth and disaster-free.
- Don’t Queue Like A Fool!
This is especially crucial in summer and winter, when it’s the hottest and the coldest. In Italy, for example, attractions typically have long queues that stretch on the entire length of the museum. You don’t want to end up queuing in the heat or cold, wishing that you did your preparation. You can always book tickets online beforehand, or reserve them online to be picked up at the counter later on.
Last Minute Travel: Don’t Freak Out!
Ever had to pull your hair out wondering if you could plan a last minute getaway? Fear not, here are 5 recommended tips on how to plan one, so you wouldn’t need to worry, and certainly, not freak out!
- Airfare Deals
It is the truth that flights on regular scheduled airlines tend to increase in prices the closer to departure you get, so last minute deals on flights are rare. But, if you search harder and keep your eyes peeled, you may end up able to snag last minute deals on charter flights, mainly to sun destinations. Some operators offer last-minute charter airfares to Florida for as low as $29 roundtrip, plus taxes and fees, and to Mexico for as low as $55 roundtrip, plus taxes and fees. It’s quite a good airfare deal!
- Mid-week Travel
Traveling on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday helps you save more since most people tend to book weekend departures. Even if you’re advance booking, flying mid-week can save you hundreds of dollars per ticket.
- Don’t Expect Too Much
Last-minute travel is best suited to those who aren’t set on a particular destination, particular hotel, or even a particular room type. If you must have any one of those things on your trip, then you could be disappointed. If you’re expecting too much, the higher your disappointment will be. Go with the flow, try out different things and keep your expectations low.
- Hotel Deals Made Easy
“Secret” hotel deals are even more last-minute-friendly with iPhone apps like Priceline Hotel Negotiator. Basically, you type in the locale you want, your preferred hotel star rating, and a price. You won’t know what hotel you’ll be staying in until the transaction’s complete. It’s a great way for hotels to quietly move unbooked rooms and for consumers to snag deals if they’re not concerned about hotel brand. But the downside is that you won’t know your hotel destination until the end of the transaction, so you’ve got to keep your lists open, even those dingy and dirty motels!
Make Life Easier For Yourself
Save last minute trips for the less important ones, for you to get a last minute getaway and run away from reality for a while. Save these for times when you just want a breather. Don’t ever leave last minutes trips for important ones, for those you’ve got plan them earlier to avoid running into obstacles (especially when you’re unable to get a flight or hotel and have to pay exorbitant prices for it)!
10 Websites and Apps to Travel like a Local
Clueless on how to start planning for a tour? Fear not, here are the top 10 travel apps and websites for you!
Founded in August of 2008 and based in San Francisco, California, Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world — online or from a mobile phone. Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 34,000 cities and 190 countries. And with world-class customer service and a growing community of users, Airbnb is the easiest way for people to monetise their extra space and showcase it to an audience of millions. Hence if you’re looking for bed and breakfast, Airbnb makes sure that your holidays are well-spent.
With Couchsurfing, you can stay with locals in every country on earth. Travel like a local, stay in someone’s home and experience the world in a way money can’t buy. Similar to Airbnb, except that with Couchsurfing, no money changes hands and you will always stay with a host. This is how Couchsurfing makes it easy to learn about a new culture first-hand, practice a language, or get the inside skinny about the local area.
Homestay.com is an online booking platform for travel accommodation. Homestays allow guests to book a room in a local person’s home on a nightly, weekly or monthly basis for a fee. In all of our homestays there is a host present during the stay, enhancing the guest’s travel experience through their hospitality and local knowledge. You can check this out too!
Spotted by Locals is a series of mobile and online city guides with up-to-date tips by locals in 56 cities in Europe & North America.
Since 1994, "Where The Locals Eat" and LocalEats dining guides have featured locally owned restaurants across America. From the finest steakhouses and sushi bars, to classic burger joints and roadside barbecues, LocalEats recommends unique restaurants to suit every taste and price range. If you’re travelling to America, check out their website and you can find the nearest places to eat with just an app!
- FOODICT GOURMET FOOD DICTIONARY
If you are one of the travellers who often get curious on what’s on a menu, what’s in a recipe, or what you are about to eat, then this extensive dictionary of local and international food terms will give you the definitions you need when you need them; no cellular signal is needed!
This website and application allows you to locate where local food is sold in the country. Foodspotting is a visual guide to good food and where to find it. Instead of reviewing restaurants, you can recommend great dishes and see what others recommend wherever you go.
Like A Local Guide is about finding those cool and hidden spots that locals like to hang out and missing the tourist traps. All their content is created by selected locals who’ve lived in their city for years and really know what they’re talking about.
Don’t forget to download this application to that you can conveniently change your home currency to the local currency.
The simplest money converter out there, Currency is available in 17 different languages, is free to download and to use and it provides exchange rate information for over 100 currencies and countries. Eliminate the risk of vendors sensing they have a tourist on their hands!
BonAppetour is an online social platform where a global community of hosts and guests bond over authentic home-cooked food. Hosts share their home-cooked dishes, passion for cooking and culture with guests from all around the globe. As a guest, you’ll get a taste of home away from home, perhaps learn a recipe or two! Authentic chilli crab in a cozy Singapore home, seafood paella on a terrace in Barcelona, or even an exquisite Italian feast on board a Tiber River cruise – explore the wonders of the cuisines around the world with BonAppetour. This allows you to dine with locals, and bridge differences between people. Looking to expand your social circle with people of the same interest? BonAppetour is what you’re looking for!
Traveling with a group of girlfriends is the best feeling ever. Imagine running for buses and strolling through the designer streets of Italy. Everything can be fun but don’t forget to plan well and learn some tips for group travel!
Here’s 5 basic tips for women travelling:
- SAVE EMERGENCY CONTACTS
In any situation and in any country, keep yourselves informed of the emergency contacts. It’s something really simple and important, yet neglected by most travellers. Here’s a list of contacts that may come in handy for you when you plan your trip with your friends!
- DON’T BE SHY
Even though you may be travelling as a group, but don’t be speak with the locals. Sometimes, you can learn tips from them. When staying with hostels with your friends, it wouldn’t hurt to chat with the local community, or make friends with other travellers. Find out where are the good places to eat, or which area of the neighbourhood should you go to. As many travel bloggers have once mentioned, “the local people know best.” They can be really fun people, especially the Italians.
- DO THE WALKING TOURS
Italy may be a little huge and intimidating for some travellers, especially when you could have heard about the occurrences of con men/women that may be waiting for the perfect opportunity. But fear not, instead of joining a huge tour group that you may be stuck with the entire duration of your trip, you can always join the walking tours. Walking tours let you kill two birds with one stone, and it’s much safer, even for group of women.
Something that is second to shopping, girls always look out for beauty salon. Manicures are famous and prevalent in Italy, especially in Florence. Perhaps you might have heard of the horror stories about getting your nails done in Italy, where there are chances of ending up with bloody cuticles. But fear not, there are places in Florence, Italy that serve customers well and leave you satisfied with perfect nails! Istituto di Bellezza Genny brings you a soothing and relaxing manicure!
Going out with a group of girls, this is something that can never be missed out. Yes, it’s shopping! Here’s a list of areas to shop, from high end to mainsteam to flea markets in Rome.
- Looking for High Fashion in Rome?
Some of the biggest names in Italian fashion - Fendi, Valentino, Bulgari - hail from Rome and you will find their flagship stores, as well as boutiques by Prada, Armani, Versace, Ferragamo, Cavalli, Gucci, and many others, along the grid of streets near the Spanish Steps.
- Chain Stores and Mainstream Shopping in Rome
Via del Corso, and the streets that radiate from it, is the most obvious shopping area. The mile-long street which runs from Piazza Venezia to Piazza del Popolo has a range of afforadble shops, including the Ferrari flagship store, numerous shoe stores, popular fashion brands like Diesel and Benetton.
- Flea Markets
There are several good outdoor markets, flea markets, and places to buy antiques in Rome. Porta Portese, which operates on Sundays from 7am until 1pm, is the most important flea market in Rome and is one of the largest flea markets in Europe. At Porta Portese, you’ll find everything from antique housewares to secondhand clothing and music to original art, jewelry, posters, furniture, etc. It is the perfect place to find random trinkets with your friends and bring them all home!
Honeymoon: Romantic things to do on holiday
"Travel brings power and love back into your life."
Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet, once said that travelling and romance are never two separate entities. When you’re on your honeymoon, don’t give up the chance to travel and relax with your spouse. See the world, and understand the simple bliss in marriage and life.
Here are 5 romantic things you can do on a holiday with your spouse.
- CATCH THE SUNRISE
This may sound a little tad cheesy, but have you ever actually got up early to watch the sun rise? Taking your honeymoon as the opportunity to do this will make it even more of a special experience. Remember to pack some food and wine before heading over to a beach. Or, you can always catch the beautiful golden sunrise from the Zattere to the Giudecca Canal. Watch as the sun colours the sky in tinges of vermillion and yellow when the day begins. The waters will amaze you when they turn from light blue to pale orange. Don’t miss this chance to watch the sun rise!
- PAMPER YOURSELVES
What better excuse to enjoy the finer things in life than your honeymoon? Why not pamper yourselves with a meal in the classiest restaurant you can find? There are tons of fine dining restaurants that are have quiet music and a soft ambience in which you can enjoy a peaceful meal with your other half. Italy is filled with romantic restaurants available for dining. Amore restaurant near the Trevi fountain in Rome may just be the perfect place for you! “A Little Rome Romance” is what they pride themselves with.
- ORDER ROOM SERVICE
Sounds ridiculous? Ordering room service can actually be a small highlight of your trip. Imagine just lazing in the comfort and warmth of your blankets, with a pipping hot meal before you. It’s splendid. You can catch the morning news or watch some TV whilst spending quality time with your other half. You may just fulfil everyone’s dream of breakfast in bed!
- PICNIC THE DAY AWAY!
Picnics are cliche in every sense, but they can be the most romantic thing to do if you’re filled with nothing but greenery and beautiful floras beneath a clear blue sky. Pack more sandwiches and a bottle of champagne and head down to the nearest park! If not there are plenty of beautiful parks in Europe that may just be the right place for you. Here’s a list of beautiful parks for you.
- COOKING CLASSES.
Perhaps you can take an interesting turn in your choice for romantic things during your honeymoon. It is actually fun to have cooking classes during your honeymoon. For example, this honey couple booked a cooking class with our host, Cecilia in Rome and they were pleased to know that the cooking classes were enjoyable! With laughters shared and meals made, the couple was satisfied. Perhaps, you may want to consider making your honeymoon interesting and unique, different from mainstream romance.
Start planning your honeymoon today and bring romance to the next level!
Tips for a Winter Vacation!
Thinking of spending the winter vacations on a holiday? Or maybe visiting friends and relatives?
Here we have the top 5 winter tips to make sure that your trip won’t go wrong, and you won’t be freezing!
- DON’T MISS SKIING
Winter season is the best timing to ski, and in Italy, skiing is the a winter favourite for all, tourists and locals alike! Travelers who want to take an escorted winter vacation can book with Wilderness Journeys (wildernessjourneys.com), a sustainable tourism company that leads a Nordic ski tour through Gran Paradiso National Park in the western Alps. The tour group takes challenging mountain climbs and then rests in historic mountain refuges such as the Vittorio Emanuelle, which was once the king’s hunting lodge. The Dolomites in the eastern Alps contain world-class resorts for downhill and cross-country skiing, such as Cortina d’Ampezzo and Val di Fassa. Visitors might be surprised to find a strong Germanic influence in the region, and winter is the season to taste hearty dishes like Italian-style fondue and apple strudel.
- CHURCHES IN ROME
During Christmas, visitors can travel from one church to another to admire the holiday decorations and festive season lights, especially the presepi, which are the mangers with the Christ child. Tickets for midnight mass with the pope must be obtained in advance directly from the Vatican, but those without tickets can join the crowds who gather in St. Peter’s Square to watch the television broadcast on large screens. Throughout the winter, the city’s main attractions remain open, such as the Imperial Forums, the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, the Vatican Museums and the Pantheon. Except for the week of Christmas through New Year’s, Roman hotels offer reduced room rates in winter!
- KEEP YOURSELF WARM WITH EXPRESSOS IN OUTDOOR CAFES
Winterin Italy can be really cold sometimes, especially when there is snow. However, always look out for cafes along your way! Italians do enjoy sitting in the cafe sipping a hot cup of expresso or americano. Furthermore, some cafes are equipped with heats and shelters. Hence, you can enjoy the night view of the bustling streets yet, enclosed within the warmth of the cafe.
- THINGS TO BRING
- Small Collapsible Umbrella – In much of Italy, it rains more than it snows during the winter, so bringing a small collapsible travel umbrella is a good idea. You can, of course, buy a cheap umbrella in Italy if you get there and realize it’s too rainy for your not-quite-water-resistant coat. However, tourists have reportedly claimed that the umbrellas they buy from the street vendors are designed to last no more than a few days.
- Sunglasses – It may be chilly and wet some days, and it may be sunny on others. Better be safe than sorry, furthermore, sunglasses can serve as a fashion tool as well!
- THINGS TO WEAR
- Scarf – Always bring a wollen scarf along during winter since winters are cold with winds and rain. Sometimes, it may help to keep your neck warm from the snow. If you left it out of your packing list by mistake, you can always head over to any departmental store to buy one! But don’t forget that the prices can be hefty.
- Gloves & Hat – If you’re prone to being cold or you know you’ll be spending more time outdoors, bringing things like gloves/mittens and a warm hat may be worth it. It may be much of a hassle to bring so many things, but keeping yourself warm during winter may even save you some money when you can give the cafes a miss.
We hope that your winter trip is successful! And don’t forget to bring and wear enough clothes to keep yourself warm. Merry Christmas in Advance!
Top 5 Summer Vacation Tips!
Going tripping in Summer? The Summer holidays are not over yet!
But before you set off on your trip, be sure to take note of our top 5 summer tips!
- GET YOUR TICKETS EARLY
Italy is pretty much crowded all year round, especially during the summer holidays. And it is more crowded in touristy cities – like Florence, Venice, and Rome. Hence, you want to avoid joining long frustrating queues in Italy, you can always buy your tickets online way before your visit. Of course, not all museums have online ticket sales, and not every traveler knows exactly when they’ll be in certain cities, but if you can get at least some of this stuff in advance you’ll thank yourself late, and it’s completely free.
- STAY HYDRATED (Expect the heat)
The weather in Italy is sort of unpredictable, but it is mostly sweltering during the summer season, where the sun is scorching, leaving you thirsty from excessive perspiration. If you envision waiting in queues for very long, be sure to bring a water bottle along. The sodas sold at street vendors are overly priced, and especially priced to con tourists. They charge a bottle of soda at 2 - 3 Euros. Hence, to play safe, bring a bottle along. If you forgot, ask directions to the nearest supermarket and you can easily buy a bottle of soda for less than 1 Euro.
- KNOW THE OPENING AND CLOSING DATES
There are some attractions that close of weekends or on weekdays. It is always important to be clear of the closing and opening dates and timings of these attractions. You wouldn’t want to have your trip planned out with a museum as your last stop, but only to find it closed on Tuesdays.
- WHAT TO WEAR?
Italians are known to be pretty fashionable. And especially in summer, women love to show some skin, but with taste. Choose bright white instead of black and blend it! Be careful not to wear flip flops in Italy. It may be tempting since it is comfortable for the feet in such hot weather. But it has been a while since people wore flip flops in the streets in Italy.
- WHAT TO BRING?
- Sunglasses – You should always wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the hot sun. It is possible to buy from street vendors but it would save you a lot of money if you bring your own!
- Sun Hat – Many sights are outdoors (Roman Forum, Pompeii), some attractions require long waits outdoors (St. Mark’s in Venice, Vatican Museums), and just walking from place to place means you’re exposed to the often-brutal sun. If you don’t have a sun hat, a normal cap will suffice!
- Sunblock – Bringing sunscreen is important for the same reasons listed above regarding bringing a hat. Sunburns are possible occurrences and you wouldn’t want to leave the attractions scotched and itchy. Bring sunscreen and apply thickly before you leave your hotel!
- Swimsuit – Swimsuits are extremely important. Imagine diving into a cold, refreshing pool in the midst of the hot summer weather in Italy. A swimsuit can also be used whether you’re in the hotel chilling at the pool, or at the beach sun-tanning. Of course, if you’re absolutely certain you won’t need a swimsuit, then skip it – but be aware that if you change your mind, buying a suit in an Italian beach town won’t be cheap.
- Paper Fan – It doesn’t necessarily have to be a fan, maybe a flyer or brochure you nicked from somewhere would come in handy as you shop through the streets in Summer. Using it to fan yourself as you queue may save you from melting beneath the hot sun!
Removing ‘Trap’ out of the phrase ‘Tourist Trap’
Tourist traps are common in Europe and they are prevalent even in parts of Italy. One must be careful when making a trip there! Here are 10 pointers for everyone to take note:
Pick pocketing is common in Italy, which mostly happens on crowded metros and in popular tourist domains. Many of these pick pocketers are ‘gypsys’ who are illegal immigrants that reside on the outskirts of the city. They may lull you in a false sense of security by often being women and children. Therefore, don’t ever be fooled by their gender or age. A gypsy child handing you a rose may melt your heart, but once you take that rose, an adult will suddenly appear demanding payment.
- BUS LINK No. 64
There is a notorious N64 Bus which is infamous for being frequently targeted by pickpocketers and purse snatchers, avoid this bus at all costs.
- STREET MONEY CHANGERS
When changing money the best idea is to shop around if possible. If someone approaches you on the street offering excellent exchange rates (specifically for you) keep walking, ethical money changers tend not to be in the habit of scouting for clientele.
- ILLEGAL UNMARKED TAXIS
Rome, like many big cities, is infamous for over charging of cab fares, especially for unsuspecting tourists. There are a large proportion of illegal unmarked taxis that are on the road. Thus make sure you always enter a cab that is registered and has a meter. If the cab does not have a meter make sure you negotiate your price before accepting the ride. Strategically negotiating the price before you enter the vehicle is more viable.
Be very wary of individuals coming to you and giving you items (such as wristbands) “for free”, or giving you food for the pigeons and helping you take pictures with your camera. They will certainly try to rip you off when asking for money/once the wristband is on your wrist, they will ask for money. So be very assertive in saying no.
- DESIGNER JACKETS
This scam has worked repeatedly over the years. When someone in a car stops to ask tourists directions, don’t bother. Some tourists have reportedly showed these scammers directions, after which, the lost motorist then shows his gratitude by offering to sell tourists a “designer leather jacket” (that he just happens to have stockpiled in every size in the boot of the car) at “half the normal price.” Sounds absurd? It has worked again and again. Tourists end up paying hefty amounts of money for designer jackets they do not want.
Tourists have known to be cheated by men in the streets who are very persuasive. They will befriend you and learn more about you, then convince you to hit the club with the night is young. In the end, you are conned to pay for over 600 Euros for drinks in the club whilst he disappears!
Tourists are easily distinguishable from the locals. Hence, when thirsty, never buy from the street vendors. They can easily charge you a drink for over 2 - 3 Euros for one bottle. But in reality, supermarkets sell sodas for less than 1 Euro!
- PRICE DIFFERENCES
There were tourists who realised that the English menus at restaurants had prices almost double than those in the Italian menus of the same restaurant. Always ask for both menus!
- STAND UP
When you go to a caffe and want to order your espresso, you may have the option of being served at a table, or standing up at the bar. There is often a huge surcharge for sitting at the tables. Again, the closer you are to Tourist Central, the worse this will be.
Off The Beaten Path
How to make your trip the most unique and fruitful?
You might have hopped from city guides to travel websites, thinking that visiting historical places and viewing tourist attractions are not what you’re looking for.
Perhaps you’ve always wondered what it would like to live in the country, to experience it first-hand like a local residing there for years. Have you ever thought about viewing the country in it’s rawest state, seeing the “other side” of it that beneath it’s splendour and glamour, there’s always a heart-warming edge to the country?
That, can only be found in its people.
The locals are people who can tell you, “hey, every night before new year, we have to stay past midnight for an additional blessing”. They can tell you things that can’t be found on travel guides or the internet. They may share about their favourite places, nearby parks that are beautiful yet, never big enough to be on magazines and internet reviews.
So here, we’re going to share with you the methods of immersing with the local culture and steps you can take to make your trip both meaningful and beautiful.
There are many ways to delve into the local culture and that is to visit their heartlands, to visit places where locals frequent. Imagine walking along the food streets in Taiwan and understanding what the locals always eat for dinners and meals. Sometimes, a simple glance at how neat and polite locals queue in line can reflect on the culture of the country.
Other than this, you can also visit the malls in the heartlands, or grocery stores that sell what the common folk buy every week. Visit the markets and stalls, watch them haggle for prices, watch how families simply go for a meal at a roadside stall.
Life doesn’t always happen at the rich and famous places. These night markets and streets are bustling with activity everyday!
Alternatively, you can always consider booking a stay at a verified local’s house via AIRBNB. They offer accommodations that bring forth a memorable stay.
Staying with locals is one of the more effective ways to understand the local culture!
But if you’re shy and uncomfortable with staying over, it doesn’t matter, you can always head over to a local’s home and have a satisfying meal with them. You get to hear stories and personal opinions that shape these people to who they are today. You can understand why customs and cultures are followed and why they were created in the first place. How else, but to learn first-hand from a local?
Ever thought about dining by the side of the rivers in Italy, or just simply enjoying the warmth of the sun?
These are just simple pleasures in life and tips on how to travel along the off the beaten path in countries. As you’re having a meal with the locals, you can learn so much more!
Start your off the beaten path travel today! Be adventurous and you can be the one who tells the stories next.
Organic Food at Home
Recently, BonAppetour had the chance to visit one of our Singapore hosts, Felice for a meal at her home.
She lives in a terrace house in Clementi, situated away from the noisy streets and the bustling traffic. Her home is spacious, well-furnished and equipped with a grandeur touch. With wooden tiles, mahogany furniture and pure white walls, the interior design adds a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere to the meal.
Felice was very hospitable and friendly. When we entered her house, she invited us into her spacious and tidy kitchen. She showed us how she cooked her vegan spaghetti. Felice takes pride in her ingredients, telling us that she picks her ingredients carefully, always taking note of the dietary contents and origins. She stresses that she enjoys making food that are of high-quality, yet healthy at the same time, a habit she picked up when she made meals for her family.
For her spaghetti, we were privileged to learn that she uses an award-winning extra virgin olive oil (Frantoi Cutrera) from Sicily, Italy.
Also, she adds in New Zealand free-range organic eggs, organic pasta, homemade pesto sauce made from Californian pine nuts, walnuts and assorted herbs from her personal herb garden.
After this, she laid the table with appetizers that are also organic and healthy. She introduced us to her favourite starter — Meiji biscuits with ham toppings. These were extremely delicious because the ham was only slightly salty with a tinge of pepper on it. Furthermore, she added mashed avocado as a spread beneath the ham and this was the best combination!
Finishing the starters and spaghetti, she brought our her signature dish, salmon with Koshihigari rice from Nigata, Japan. The rice chewy and pipping hot. It was delicious! The salmon was succulent and smooth, enhancing the taste of the entire dish.
When we were full from the tasty food, Felice brought out another delicacy — Premium Taiwanese Kyoho Grapes! They had a little bit of wine taste that sweetens the back of your tongue. The grapes were large, sweet and seedless. It was a pleasure to try them.
Dining at Felice’s Blessed Kitchen was both a privilege and an excellent experience. She shared much more about herself and her fervent passion for charity works. Felice cooks for the needy. Moreover, she hosts guests over and donates the proceeds to orphaned and underprivileged children in Singapore.
Try out a meal with Felice and share your stories with her. She has many years of experience hosting foreigners and travellers. Across the years, she has made many friends from different religions and races, thus she is a very open-minded and culturally diverse. You will definitely enjoy her company!
Home Cooked Meals in Rome
"My name is Cecilia and I always had the passion for cooking. Over 2 years ago I have decided to create my own menu of food! I’m really that my first guest was a beautiful young couple who also have the the same passion for food as I do! This meal is coined ‘The Taste of Sea’. Come and join me today!”