Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com Trip Ideas, Itineraries, Maps & Area Experts Sat, 18 Nov 2017 00:01:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9 https://deathstar-650a.kxcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/cropped-moon_logo_M-32x32.jpg Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com 32 32 125073523 Thanksgiving Hikes: 6 Family-Friendly Trails Near Seattle https://moon.com/2017/11/thanksgiving-hikes-family-friendly-trails-near-seattle/ https://moon.com/2017/11/thanksgiving-hikes-family-friendly-trails-near-seattle/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 23:28:11 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=61526 A Thanksgiving hike is a wonderful way to reflect and spend time with loved ones. Whether taking your pup for a breath of fresh air, enjoying the waterfront with the whole family, showing out-of-town guests Seattle's emerald forests, or conquering a peak with your uber-athletic sibling, Seattle has plenty to offer close to home.

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A Thanksgiving hike is a wonderful way to reflect and spend time with loved ones. Whether taking your pup for a breath of fresh air, enjoying the waterfront with the whole family, showing out-of-town guests Seattle’s emerald forests, or conquering a peak with your uber-athletic sibling, Seattle has plenty to offer close to home. Layer up, check the weather, and choose your own adventure. Now go outside and enjoy the crisp November air—I’ll see you on the trail!

Here are six family-friendly hikes within 40 miles of Seattle.

pedestrian bridge leading to Carkeek Park Beach

Need a beach break? Take a walk over the pedestrian bridge in Carkeek Park to get a bit of fresh salt air. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Carkeek Park

3.5 miles roundtrip, 800 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, no parking pass required, map

Located in northwest Seattle, Carkeek Park is a woodsy escape into a lush canyon, with breezy beachside views of Puget Sound and the Olympics from the western edge of the park. Get your heart pumping with a lollipop loop along Carkeek’s forested perimeter trails, or make a beeline to the beach via Piper’s Creek Trail. Visit historic Piper’s Orchard to learn about and wander among Andrew W. Piper’s apple trees.

brightly colored leaves littering the pavement on the Cedar River Trail

Cyclists and families with strollers will love the smooth Cedar River Trail. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Cedar River Trail

17.4 miles one way, 820 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, no parking pass required, map (PDF)

The Cedar River Trail, stretching from the southern end of Lake Washington to Landsburg Park, is a mostly paved, bicycle- and stroller-friendly hike to views of the Cedar River, spawning salmon, King County parks, and trestle bridges. Riverview Park, located 2.8 miles southeast of Lake Washington, makes a lovely turn-around point.

Fall on the Lincoln Park waterfront trail with a distant view of the Olympics

Take a waterfront hike in Lincoln Park to stare out at the Olympics. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Lincoln Park

1.85 miles roundtrip, 160 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, no parking pass required, map

Lincoln Park, located near the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal in West Seattle, is a refreshing hike to views of Puget Sound, the Kitsap Peninsula, and the Olympics. The wind-whipped waterfront is lined with a wide, ADA accessible trail, a rocky beach, and plentiful benches, while a playground and towering Douglas fir inhabit the interior trails. If you can nab a spot, the tiny south parking lot provides easy sidewalk access to the waterfront.

Little Si offers expansive views and a great way to work off the Thanksgiving feast. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Little Si

4.7 miles roundtrip, 1300 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, Discover Pass required, map (PDF)

Little Si, located 35 miles east of Seattle in North Bend, is a great option for a Thanksgiving workout to panoramic views of Mount Washington, Cedar Butte, and Rattlesnake Mountain. A side trip on the Boulder Garden Loop offers a quiet detour as well as access to the Old Si Trail for a steeper, more challenging option. Consider an early start: the Little Si parking lot is popular and can fill quickly, especially on sunny days.

stairs on a path in Meadowdale Beach Park in Washington State

Head to Meadowdale Beach Park for a quiet, secluded wonderland escape. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

Meadowdale Beach Park

2.5 miles roundtrip, 425 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, no parking pass required, map

Meadowdale Beach Park, located in Edmonds, is a tranquil trail of soft gravel surrounded by beautiful red alder, bigleaf maple, and western redcedar. Benches line the trail, and the sound of Lunds Gulch Creek makes it feel like you’re in a quiet, green, secluded wonderland. On the western edge of the picnic area, a seasonal aluminum walkway—removed each fall for spawning salmon—leads under the train tracks to Meadowdale Beach. Bring a book for the Little Library, and keep your eyes peeled for chum salmon in late November.

wooden bridge crossing a creek at O.O. Denny Park

Find some peace and quiet in the hidden gem of O.O. Denny Park. Photo © Melissa Ozbek.

O.O. Denny Park

2.5 mile loop, 420 feet elevation gain, leashed dogs allowed, no parking pass required, map (PDF)

O.O. Denny Park located on the northeastern shore of Lake Washington in Kirkland, is a hidden gem. The large, green picnic area hosts a shallow, pebbly beach, picnic tables, and a playground. Across Holmes Point Drive, a short but sweet trail system winds along Denny Creek, past a 600-year-old tree trunk named Sylvia, and across three finely-crafted wooden bridges.


Work up an appetite, walk off that stuffing, or make a quick escape to solitude with these 6 Thanksgiving hikes in the Seattle area.

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5 Best Urban Walks in Vancouver https://moon.com/2017/11/best-urban-walks-in-vancouver/ https://moon.com/2017/11/best-urban-walks-in-vancouver/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 21:50:27 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=61528 Vancouver is a walkable city, with a compact downtown, easy-to-navigate neighborhoods, and plenty of natural attractions close to its urban core. Whether it’s a bright sunny day, or a misty afternoon, you can find a walk that’s right for the weather and your mood.

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Vancouver is a walkable city, with a compact downtown, easy-to-navigate neighborhoods, and plenty of natural attractions close to its urban core. Whether it’s a bright sunny day, or a misty afternoon, you can find a walk that’s right for the weather and your mood.

Put on your walking shoes, and start with these suggestions for Vancouver’s best five urban walks.

man running on the path along Stanley Park Seawall

Take a walk, or a jog, along the Stanley Park Seawall. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Stanley Park Seawall Walk

Vancouver’s most scenic walking route is the 5.5-mile (9-kilometer) Seawall path the circles the perimeter of Stanley Park. Enter the park near Georgia and Denman Streets, and keep the water on your right as you walk, taking in the views across Burrard Inlet to the city skyline and North Shore Mountains.

Stop to see the collection of totem poles at Brockton Point. At one point, you’ll pass under the Lions Gate Bridge—a dramatic setting for photos. As you come around to the park’s west side, you’ll see the landmark Siwash Rock jutting out of the water. Take a rest at Third Beach (it’s a good spot for a picnic), then continue walking past Second Beach and English Bay. You’ll exit the park near the corner of Denman and Davie Streets, where you’ll find lots of spots to refuel over drinks or a meal.

“Talking Trees” Walk

While most visitors stick to the Stanley Park Seawall, plenty of walking paths crisscross the park’s quiet interior, too, taking you deep into the old-growth forest. The Rawlings Trail parallels Park Drive on the west side of the park and leads you past the Hollow Tree, the 42-foot-tall (13-meter) remains of a massive cedar. Another wooded trail is the Tatlow Walk, which cuts across the southwest corner of the park, between Third Beach and Lost Lagoon. Check the City of Vancouver’s online trail map (PDF) before you set out.

If you prefer to explore with a guide, book a 90-minute “Talking Trees Walk” with native-owned eco-tourism company, Talaysay Tours. As you stroll the secluded trails and around a beaver pond, your guide will identify local plants and explain their uses for food, teas, and medicine. You’ll learn about the park’s long heritage as the traditional territory of local First Nations, too.

a kayak sits in False Creek with Science World in the background, Vancouver

Take in views of the waterfront while strolling along False Creek. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

False Creek Waterfront Walk

The Seawall isn’t just in Stanley Park. This path extends along the False Creek Waterfront connecting English Bay Beach, Yaletown, the Olympic Village district, and Granville Island, and continues west to Kitsilano Beach. Wander along the water for as long as you like, and if you get tired, catch the Aquabus or False Creek Ferries, the cute little boats that shuttle across False Creek.

On the south side of False Creek, near the Olympic Village, snap photos of the downtown skyline and of landmarks like Science World’s geodesic dome. At Granville Island, head for the Public Market, where there are plenty of food and drink options. If you’re not tired yet, keep walking through Vanier Park all the way to Kitsilano Beach, where you can sit on a giant log and watch the sunset.

Eastside Craft Beer Walk

Vancouver’s craft beer scene has taken off, with more than two dozen microbreweries in the city and even more in the surrounding suburbs. The partly industrial, partly residential East Vancouver neighborhood, loosely bounded by Clark Drive, East 1st Avenue, Victoria Drive, and Powell Street, is perfect for a brewery crawl.

Start at Parallel 49 Brewing Company, one of the more established East Side breweries and a popular neighborhood gathering spot; it’s on Triumph Street, just east of Victoria Drive. Then walk two blocks north to Powell Street and turn left (west) to find tiny, family-run Doan’s Craft Brewing Company as well as Powell Brewery.

Circle back to Franklin Street where Callister Brewing, Canada’s first “collaborative brewery,” not only sells and serves their own beer but also teams up with additional brewers who use the facilities to make their own beers. Hungry? Continue east, then turn right (south) onto Commercial Drive, which is lined with cafés and eateries, between Venables Street and Broadway.

Vancouver Special storefront

Head to Main Street for a bit of shopping, stopping in at the cool design store Vancouver Special. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Main Street Shopping Walk

Looking for indie boutiques stocking one-of-a-kind clothing, jewelry, and gifts? Then plan to explore Vancouver’s Main Street.

Start at the corner of Broadway and Main; there’s a cluster of shops just south of this busy intersection. Continue south on Main, stopping for coffee at Forty Ninth Parallel Coffee Roasters.

More serious shopping starts along Main Street between 20th and 30th Avenues. Vancouver Special is an emporium of cool designs, from Scandinavian textiles to Japanese ceramics to Vancouver-made objects. Front & Company lures the style conscious with its large stock of vintage, designer consignment, and smart new clothing, while across the street, Barefoot Contessa carries “all things lovely,” including frilly, flouncy fashions and vintage-inspired jewelry.

Nostalgic for the days of handwritten letters? Stop into the Regional Assembly of Text, which stocks cards, journals, and anything to do with correspondence. Pick up a postcard, where you can jot down some notes from your urban wanderings, a perfect souvenir of walkable Vancouver.


Put on your walking shoes, and head out for a day of sightseeing on any of Vancouver’s best five urban walks. Whether you're looking to explore Stanley Park or do a bit of shopping, we've got you covered!

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Vancouver with Kids 5-Day Travel Itinerary https://moon.com/2017/11/vancouver-with-kids-5-day-travel-itinerary/ https://moon.com/2017/11/vancouver-with-kids-5-day-travel-itinerary/#respond Thu, 16 Nov 2017 23:16:47 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=60275 With so many outdoor attractions, cool ways to get around the city, and kid-friendly restaurants, Vancouver is a fantastic destination for families. Whether you’re exploring a rainforest park, riding a ferry, or following the Dumpling Trail, this 5-day itinerary for visiting Vancouver with kids serves up plenty of family-focused fun.

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With so many outdoor attractions, cool ways to get around the city, and kid-friendly restaurants, Vancouver is a fantastic destination for families. Whether you’re exploring a rainforest park, riding a ferry, or following the Dumpling Trail, this 5-day itinerary for visiting Vancouver with kids serves up plenty of family-focused fun. Tip: Always ask about special family rates or discounts when you’re buying tickets to any sights or attractions.

man running in Vancouver's Stanley Park in autumn

Take the kids for a picnic in Stanley Park. Photo © Vismax/iStock.

Day 1: Stanley Park

Pack a picnic lunch and spend the day in Stanley Park, Vancouver’s rainforest green space at the end of the downtown peninsula. Visit the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre first (it’s less crowded in the mornings), then enjoy your picnic near Lost Lagoon.

After lunch, rent bikes to explore more of the park; there are several rental shops just outside the park’s West Georgia Street entrance. Follow the Seawall to see the majestic totem poles at Brockton Point, stop to cool off in the splash park near Lumberman’s Arch, and let the kids play in the sand or go for a swim at Second Beach, where there’s a large pool, restrooms, and snack bar.

For dinner, try one of the Asian restaurants downtown. Most kids enjoy watching the dumpling makers at work at Dinesty Dumpling House, or you can dig into Japanese-style hot dogs at Japadog.

Day 2: Granville Island and False Creek

Buy a day pass for the Aquabus ferry, so you can hop on and off these cute little boats as you travel around Granville Island and False Creek. Take the Aquabus to Science World and spend the morning exploring the hands-on exhibits. When it’s time for lunch, cruise over to Granville Island, where there are plenty of family-friendly food options in the Granville Island Public Market.

Don’t miss the Kids Market, with its kid-approved shops and indoor playground. Check out Sea Village, too, to let the kids imagine what it would be like to live on a houseboat. When you’re done exploring the island, rent kayaks for an excursion along False Creek.

Have an early dinner at Go Fish (it’s a short stroll along the waterfront from Granville Island), then catch the Aquabus to Yaletown for dessert at Bella Gelateria Yaletown.

a ferry boat in false creek with Science World in the background, Vancouver

Hop on a ferry to Science World, where kids can get a hands-on experience! Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Day 3: Canada Place and the North Shore

Start your day at Canada Place with a virtual flight across the country at FlyOver Canada. You even feel the spray as you soar (virtually) over Niagara Falls.

In front of Canada Place, catch the free shuttle to Grouse Mountain. Ride the Skyride tram to the top, where you can visit the grizzly bears at the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife, watch the falcons soar at the Birds in Motion demonstration, and get some chuckles at the Lumberjack Show. Go for a hike, and have lunch overlooking the city and water below.

Your next stop is the Capilano Suspension Bridge (from the Grouse Mountain entrance, take bus 236 down Capilano Road). Give the kids a thrill as they look from the bridge to the canyon way below. Explore the Treetops Adventure, too, where you follow a network of gently swaying wooden bridges to eight treehouse platforms in the forest. When you’re ready to go back downtown, catch the free shuttle.

For supper, let the kids play with the jukeboxes at retro diner The Templeton or slurp up a bowl of ramen at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka. The Korean shaved ice dessert called bingsoo, served at Snowy Village Dessert Café, makes a fun after-dinner treat.

Capilano suspension bridge feeding through forest

Get an adrenaline rush on the Capilano Bridge. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Day 4: UBC and Point Grey

Today, you’ll tour the museums on the University of British Columbia campus, check out another rainforest park, and then have time to relax at Jericho Beach.

From downtown, catch any UBC-bound bus to the campus bus loop. Walk over to the Museum of Anthropology, where there’s a fantastic collection of First Nations totem poles and other artifacts.

Another short walk takes you to the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, which has more than two million specimens of bugs, fish, plants, and fossils that the kids can explore, as well as a massive blue whale skeleton. One more campus attraction, located at the UBC Botanical Garden, is the Greenheart TreeWalk, a network of aerial bridges that takes you high into the rainforest canopy.

Catch bus 99 to Point Grey Village (get off at W. 10th Ave. at Sasamat St.), where you can have a sandwich and a sweet at Mix the Bakery. After you’ve refueled, walk south to West 16th Avenue, where you can go for a stroll in the rainforest at Pacific Spirit Regional Park, which has more than 40 miles (70 kilometers) of hiking trails. The trails are fairly well marked, but the park is large, so you’ll need to pay attention to your route.

If the kids aren’t too tired, you can walk down to the Jericho Sailing Centre (it’s 1.25 miles, or two kilometers, straight down Trimble Street); if you’d rather go by bus, it’s fastest to take bus 25 or 33 on 16th Avenue back to the UBC Bus Loop, then change to bus 84, which will drop you on West 4th Avenue just above the beach. Have dinner overlooking the sand at The Galley Patio and Grill, go for a sunset kayak paddle, or simply sit on the beach and watch the sunset. When you’re ready to go back downtown, take bus 4 from West 4th Avenue.

a face and two animals carved into a totem pole at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver

Tour the collection of First Nations totem polls at the Museum of Anthropology. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Day 5: Richmond

Plan a whale-watching cruise today. Several operators run trips from Steveston Village in the suburb of Richmond, and most will include transportation from downtown. Spend the morning on the water looking for orcas, sea lions, and other aquatic life. Back on land, check out the fishing boats and vendors along the wharf, and stop for a fish-and-chips lunch at Pajo’s.

Richmond is the center of Vancouver’s Asian community, so instead of heading straight back downtown, catch bus 402, 407, or 410 from Steveston to Richmond’s Golden Village, where you can choose from countless Chinese restaurants for dinner. The kids might enjoy mapping out their route along Richmond’s Dumpling Trail (get a map at www.visitrichmondbc.com) or choosing from the long list of bubble teas at Pearl Castle Café. If you’re in town on a weekend between mid-May and mid-October, wrap up your day at the Richmond Night Market, where there’s plenty of Asian food to sample, before catching the Canada Line back downtown.

With so many outdoor attractions, cool ways to get around the city, and kid-friendly restaurants, Vancouver is a fantastic destination for families. Whether you’re exploring a rainforest park, riding a ferry, or following the Dumpling Trail, this 5 day itinerary for visiting Vancouver with kids serves up plenty of family-focused fun. Tip: Always ask about special family rates or discounts when you’re buying tickets to any sights or attractions.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Vancouver.

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Popular Street Foods from New York to Berlin https://moon.com/2017/11/popular-street-foods-new-york-berlin/ https://moon.com/2017/11/popular-street-foods-new-york-berlin/#respond Wed, 15 Nov 2017 18:03:35 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=61490 In major cities around the world, street food is one of those commodities that never really goes out of style. Beyond the appealingly low price tag, these dishes are highly valued for the glimpse they offer into a city’s history, culture, and authentic local flavor.

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In major cities around the world, street food is one of those commodities that never really goes out of style. There’s something universal and irresistible about a warm plate of carbs and meat after a night on the town or a full day of walking the city—preferably handheld and bought for under $10 from a sidewalk vendor with a long line of hungry fans.

Variations of these late-night delicacies exist from New York’s bustling avenues, to the canals of Amsterdam, to Rome’s cobblestone piazzas. In many ways, iconic street eats are an integral part of visiting a new city. Beyond the appealingly low price tag, these dishes are highly valued for the glimpse they offer into a city’s history, culture, and authentic local flavor.

people lined up at a creperie

Crêperies are the go-to for a quick bite when out on the town. Photo © Rrrainbow/iStock.

Paris

For cheap, portable eats in Paris, look no further than your local crêperie. Street stands and holes-in-the-wall abound in just about every neighborhood, and generally offer both sweet and savory crêpes. Classic sweet-tooth options include Nutella and banana, or sugar, lemon, and cinnamon; a savory favorite is ham and cheese (traditionally emmental). For a little extra something, ask them to throw an egg on there, too. You won’t regret it.

To find a great crêperie in the neighborhood you’re exploring, pick up a copy of Moon Paris Walks.

New York

Countless cultures have influenced New York street food, but the 24-hour diner—while not technically a “street food”—is an enduring classic for cheap and filling late-night grub. Old school spots like the Skylight Diner in Hell’s Kitchen, Scotty’s Diner in Murray Hill, and Kellogg’s Diner in Williamsburg serve the standards (burgers, breakfast, etc.) 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Another perennial favorite is Veselka: a no-frills, 24-hour Ukrainian restaurant (conveniently located near the bustling nightlife of the East Village) with some of the best pierogis around. And if all else fails, round a few corners until you stumble across a halal cart or dollar pizza joint—it might not be the highest rated slice in town, but your taste buds won’t care.

Looking for more recommendations? Check out Moon New York Walks.

sausage pizza in rome

If you’re out late exploring in Rome, go for some pizza al taglio. Photo © ajafoto/iStock.

Rome

Unsurprisingly, pizza to-go is a decidedly different affair in Rome—though it’s still a popular late-night option. To satisfy after-dark cravings, Romans grab their pizza al taglio (“by the cut”): baked in rectangular batches, sliced into squares, and sold by the kilogram for an easy, tasty, grab-and-go meal. The option to purchase by weight gives you the glorious ability to sample more than one flavor. Go for a classic margherita or pizza bianca (focaccia with a generous dose of olive oil and sea salt), then throw in a more adventurous slice—maybe prosciutto with eggplant and cheese, or (a personal favorite) thinly sliced potatoes with rosemary. Delizioso.

Get pizzeria listings in Moon Rome Walks.

Amsterdam

Thick, crispy, and piping hot: in Amsterdam, cheap street food = fries. You’ll find these delicious bundles of starchy perfection all over the city. Locals usually dip theirs in either plain or flavored mayonnaise (house-made is always best), but most vendors have a ton of interesting dipping options, from curry and ketchup to applesauce. They’re typically served in paper cones, making them especially easy to carry around—and, added bonus, they’ll keep your hands warm during the colder months. Grab a beer to wash it all down, and you’ll be warmed right up.

Find the best street food vendors to feed your craving in Moon Amsterdam Walks.

slices of sausage covered with curry and ketchup

Try a post-war favorite in Berlin: currywurst. Photo © vertmedia/iStock.

Berlin

The currywurst: a strange and polarizing mashup that was born out of post-war Berlin, this dish spread from its origins as a working-class street food to become one of the city’s most defining culinary markers. Sausage served with ketchup and a healthy sprinkle of curry power may raise some eyebrows at first, but the currywurst is ubiquitous and well-loved. You’ll find slight variations in presentation depending on what side of the city you’re on and which vendor you choose, but most will come with a side of fries and—most importantly—a low price tag.

Another classic option is the döner kebab, which is arguably the more popular street food in Berlin. Originally a Turkish sandwich of thinly sliced rotisserie meat and salad wrapped in pita or flatbread, variations of the kebab exist throughout Europe, with Berlin generally considered the European version’s “home base.” You can typically choose between lamb, chicken, and beef, though vegetarian options are steadily on the rise. Be sure to order yours piled high with veggies and doused in hot sauce.

We’ve made it easy for you to find great restaurants by neighborhood in Moon Berlin Walks.

Barcelona

When your stomach starts to growl in Barcelona (and perhaps you’ve had your fill of tapas for the day), you’re going to want to get your hands on some churros con chocolate. This popular pairing can be found all over the city, and will satisfy a sweet tooth like nothing else. The European chocolate is more like a hot chocolate/pudding hybrid: thick, intensely chocolatey, and perfect for dipping crispy, fried-to-perfection churros into. Plenty of cafés will have the mouthwatering duo on their menu, but if you’re really on the go, check out Comaxurros: alongside a brick-and-mortar spot, the popular churrería has a food truck that makes its way around the city.

Some of the best churrerías in the city are identified in Moon Barcelona Walks.

London

When it comes to street food in London, you’re in luck: the cheap-eats and food trucks movements are huge here, so the choices in this melting pot run the gamut from bagels and banh mi to tacos and fried chicken. At the risk of a never-ending list, here are a few beloved food truck favorites: Mother Clucker for fried chicken, Bao for juicy pork buns, Rōla Wala for “twisted Indian street food,” and You Doughnut for adorable handmade donut and ice cream sundaes (yes, you read that correctly).

Look for the locations nearest to your city walk of choice in Moon London Walks.

In major cities around the world, street food is one of those commodities that never really goes out of style. Beyond the appealingly low price tag, these dishes are highly valued for the glimpse they offer into a city’s history, culture, and authentic local flavor. Find out what and where to eat in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, London, New York City, Paris, and Rome.


Hungry for more? Pick up any of seven Moon City Walks travel guides to get started exploring the city.

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Cabo Pulmo Diving and Snorkeling https://moon.com/2017/11/cabo-pulmo-diving-and-snorkeling/ https://moon.com/2017/11/cabo-pulmo-diving-and-snorkeling/#respond Wed, 15 Nov 2017 00:02:19 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=60538 With a reef that begins just a few meters off the shore, Cabo Pulmo is an extremely appealing dive and snorkel spot. Here's a quick look at its beaches and outfitters.

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One of only three coral reefs in North America, the Cabo Pulmo reef is 5,000 years old and the only living coral reef in the Sea of Cortez. The marine reserve was established in 1995 to protect the reef, and in 2005, UNESCO recognized it as a World Heritage Site. There are eight separate fingers of the reef, four close to shore and the other four out in the bay. The reef begins just a few meters off the shore, which makes Cabo Pulmo an extremely appealing diving and snorkeling spot. Commercial and sportfishing are banned within the park.

The waters here are teeming with marine life, and divers and snorkelers have the ability to see sea turtles, dolphin, parrot fish, angelfish, damselfish, mobula rays, sharks, and whales. Large schools of tropical fish provide impressive sights for those who explore this part of the Sea of Cortez.

The little town of Cabo Pulmo is completely off the grid. The rustic, dusty town is inhabited by a small group of Mexicans and expats who operate the dive shops, accommodations, and restaurants in town. There are not many services here (no ATMS or gas stations) and just a handful of small lodging options and restaurants. Travelers who visit are usually divers or those looking for a remote and peaceful escape.

a diver under water looking at fish and coral in the Sea of Cortez

The Cabo Pulmo reef is 5,000 years old and the only living coral reef in the Sea of Cortez. Photo © Hoatzinexp/iStock.

Cabo Pulmo Beaches

Los Arbolitos

Five kilometers south of town, Los Arbolitos is the best beach in the area for snorkeling. There aren’t many services out here, so if you don’t have your own snorkel and mask, you’ll need to rent one in town before coming out to Los Arbolitos. There are primitive bathroom and shower facilities. You’ll need to pay US$2 to park your car and for access to the facilities.

Playa La Sirenita

Also known as Dinosaur Egg Beach or Los Chopitos, this beach is difficult to access. Playa La Sirenita can only be reached by kayak, boat, or from a walking path from Los Arbolitos. The attractive narrow beach has white sand speckled by rocks. Hidden at the base of a cliff, the beach has protected waters that provide an excellent area for snorkeling around the rocks just offshore.

Los Frailes

When the winds kick up in the afternoons, divers and snorkelers head to Bahía de Los Frailes. Nine kilometers south of Bahía Cabo Pulmo, this sheltered bay provides a calm location for diving. The long beach has a few palapas for shade, but otherwise very few services. Snorkeling and diving take place at the northern part of the beach where the rocky point is. Camping is allowed, and this is a popular spot for dry camping and RVers.

palapas on the beach at Los Arbolitos in Cabo Pulmo

Visit Los Arbolitos for the best snorkeling, but make sure to bring gear with you, as there are few services offered here. Photo © Jennifer Kramer.

Snorkeling Cabo Pulmo

Because the coral reef begins just a few meters from the shoreline, it’s possible to snorkel directly from shore at Cabo Pulmo without having to take a boat out to reach the good spots. Los Arbolitos, about five kilometers south of town, is the prime spot for snorkeling off of the beach. If it’s too windy at Arbolitos, head down to the more protected Los Frailes where the snorkeling is good along the point on the north end of the beach.

If you want to go on an organized snorkeling trip, any of the tour operators that run dive trips can accommodate snorkeling trips as well. There are stands and information for tours in town where the beach access is (next to La Palapa restaurant). The tour operators can take you out on boats to certain beaches and spots that you can’t access on your own.

Snorkeling trips with Eco Adventures (tel. 624/157-4072, US$45-60) last 2.5 hours and include snorkeling equipment, waters, soft drinks, snacks, the national park entrance fee, and a guide. For those with younger kids, they offer a special device with a Plexiglas viewer that allows them to see underwater without using snorkeling gear.

diving tour boat on the ocean in Cabo Pulmo

A tour boat departing from the beach access in Cabo Pulmo. Photo © Jennifer Kramer.

Diving Cabo Pulmo

There’s good scuba diving year-round in Cabo Pulmo, but the best seasons are summer and fall when the visibility is best (30 meters or more) and water temperatures are warm. Divers can find themselves surrounded by large schools of fish like snappers, bigeye jacks, and porkfish. Moray eels, sea turtles, octopus, sharks and manta rays are also common sights. Guided drift diving is how most tours operate, with divers drifting along with the current and the captain following with the boat.

In the center of town, Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort (tel. 624/141-0726) is a PADI-certified dive center. They have well-maintained gear and professional and experienced guides who can handle beginning to advanced divers. They operate a hotel as well, so they offer complete packages including accommodations, food, and diving.

With a stand near the beach access in town, Cabo Pulmo Sport Center (tel. 624/157-9795) offers dive tours that start at US$95 for one dive. They also handle snorkeling tours, equipment rental, sportfishing, kayaking, and whale-watching. In case you want to video your underwater adventure, they also rent GoPros.

Cabo Pulmo Divers (tel. 612/157-3381) and Cabo Pulmo Watersports (tel. 624/176-2618) are two more options for dive operators.

Map of El Camino Rural Costero, Mexico

Map of El Camino Rural Costero

If you're headed to Los Cabos, Mexico, pay a visit to Cabo Pulmo National Park for excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities. Author Jennifer Kramer guides you to the best beaches and outfitters in the area so that you can experience the beautiful living reef in the Sea of Cortez.


Excerpted from the Tenth Edition of Moon Los Cabos.

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Moving to Italy: Visas, Permits, and Claiming Citizenship https://moon.com/2017/11/moving-italy-visas-permits-claiming-citizenship/ https://moon.com/2017/11/moving-italy-visas-permits-claiming-citizenship/#respond Tue, 14 Nov 2017 00:27:07 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=60290 Moving to Italy takes a lot of bureaucratic legwork. Here's a guide to visas, permits, and if you meet the tight requirements, how to claim Italian citizenship.

The post Moving to Italy: Visas, Permits, and Claiming Citizenship appeared first on Moon Travel Guides.

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When planning a move to Italy, the first thing to pack is patience. Navigating local customs and figuring out how things work is going to take time. The good news from the bureaucratic front is that recent laws have streamlined at least part of the paperwork. The bad news is that those same laws have tightened restrictions on foreigners. Italy now requires fingerprints for all non-European Union (EU) citizens when they sign up for a stay permit.

plane flying over the Coliseum in Rome, Italy

If you’re planning a move to Italy, make sure to stock up on patience. Photo © anyaberkut/iStock.

In the end, remember that mastering Italian bureaucracy is a lifelong pursuit. (Many have even turned it into a career.)Once upon a time, lots of U.S. expats lived in Italy for long periods of time without ever announcing their presence. It’s illegal, but it happens, and in all candor, Italians are much less worried about North Americans overstaying their welcome than other nationals from outside the EU. Don’t take this as an open-ended invitation. I have seen at least one expat forcibly sent packing after her illegally procured job as a tour leader in Rome marched her past a group of police, who were paying unusually close attention to immigration laws that day. The penalties for overstaying your visa have become harsher, and you’d only be doing yourself a disservice by ignoring them in the long run. Once you’ve hacked through the bureaucracy, including multiple trips to the consulate, you will have many more freedoms and benefits than those who preferred to risk it and lived their lives in near paranoia.

In the end, remember that mastering Italian bureaucracy is a lifelong pursuit. (Many have even turned it into a career.) You will constantly have questions about the fine print of laws on permits, visas, and residency, and will need to keep abreast of changes. A number of resources can help you. The best one I have found to date is The Informer, founded by a Scottish expat a quarter century ago.

Visas and Permits

If you plan to stay longer than 90 days, you are in effect planning a “long stay” and therefore need to apply for a long-stay permit in Italy, the infamous permesso di soggiorno. Before you can apply for your permesso, you have to obtain the appropriate visa from the Italian Embassy or local consulate in the United States. There are weeks, perhaps months, of footwork on that front to be done at home before you leave. Some cases drag on for years.

There are 21 types of visas in all, ranging from airport transit to sports-related, some easier to obtain than others. U.S. citizens looking to live, study, or work in Italy are most likely to apply for one of three types: a residency visa, a student visa, or a work visa. Different documentation is required for each, so check with your local consulate or the Italian Embassy before you make an appointment. All visas require a passport valid for at least three months past your application date.

Student Visas

Student visas are relatively straightforward to obtain, provided you have been accepted into an Italian or Italy-based university and can provide proof of financial independence during that stay. Many U.S.-sponsored programs will handle your visa requirements for you.

There are hundreds of programs in Italy, and other Italian universities meant for foreigners. The best known among the latter are the Università per Stranieri in Perugia and the programs in Siena and Urbino.

If your program is more self-styled, you’ll need to do the paperwork yourself. Be sure to bring to the embassy or consulate a letter of acceptance to an Italian university, proof of health insurance, and bank account information (it can be your parents’ account) that shows you have enough money to live on once you’re there.

university of catania in italy

To acquire a student visa, you will need to show your letter of acceptance to an Italian university, among other things. Photo © bdsklo/iStock.

Residency Visas

“Elective residency” visas also require proof of independent income. It is, in fact, the operating principle behind this kind of visa, which does not allow you to work in Italy. You must prove that you have enough money to support yourself through the length of your stay, independent of any salaries you may be receiving at the moment. You also need to show either ownership of a home in Italy or a rental agreement. Plus, you will be asked to provide your criminal record, or proof of lack thereof. If you don’t have an arrest record, the FBI has made this once-difficult operation much easier online at
www.fbi.gov/hq/cjisd/fprequest.htm.

Family Visas

The family visa is for immediate family (spouse and/or children) of someone already working legally in Italy. If that person is an EU resident, you need just a letter from your spouse and the marriage certificate. You also need a nulla osta (“no obstacle”) document from the local police headquarters if your spouse is not an EU resident but legally working there, plus any children’s birth certificates if they are coming, too. If, on the other hand, your spouse is still in the process of obtaining a work permit, you will need additional paperwork, such as proof of suitable family housing. In general, it is always easier applying for such residency once your family member has the job.

Work Visas

The work visa is the most difficult to obtain. It is divided into “dependent” and “independent” work, for employed and self-employed workers, respectively.

There are a limited number of such independent work visas afforded to U.S. citizens every year, and experience has shown that they disappear within a few hours after the quota is announced. The major challenge in landing a “dependent” visa is that you must have letters from the company saying it intends to
hire you or bring you on as a consultant. This would be an unusual windfall for someone not already living in Italy.

In order to solve this paradox, many Americans arrange job contacts while on shorter vacations in Italy, and then fly back to the United States to straighten out their visas. Keep in mind that you should not overstay your three-month visit to be successful with this approach. For even more time, some people choose to sign up for a bona fide course in Italy, and then apply for a student visa. Many people manage to parlay the student permit into a work permit once the course is over.

Again, finding an employer who is willing to file the paperwork for an American has become difficult, as there are quotas set for foreigners allowed to fill Italian jobs. If you manage to qualify, you need to have your employer send the Labor Ministry a letter that says the company intends to hire you. When that has been approved, the ministry will issue a nulla osta document to police headquarters. The company will also send you a work contract to present to the embassy or consulate, along with proof of ministry approval, for your visa.

Italian embassy plaque

Visas can be obtained at your local consulate or Italian embassy. Photo © hank5/iStock.

Permits

Again, only after you have the visa and are in Italy do you apply for the corresponding permesso di soggiorno. For student visas, you apply for the permesso di soggiorno per studio; the permesso di soggiorno per dimora is for those with a residency visa; and the permesso di soggiorno per lavoro is for those with a work visa.

All permits are obtained at the local questura (police headquarters), but it’s best to begin the application process at the local post office. Go to the window for “Servizi Al Cittadino” and request a “kit” for the permesso di soggiorno. Fill out the paperwork, then head to the tabacchi for a marca da bollo, a tax stamp. The rest of the package requires three passport photographs (booths for these are commonly available at Metro stations) plus copies of all your passport pages and some proof of health insurance. When all of your ducks are in a row, take these back to the post office with your actual passport in hand, about 150 euros for fees, and submit them. You will receive a printed form with your date and time of appointment at the questura.

If you are applying for a residency permit or student permit, the bureaucracy ends at the police headquarters. In the case of the work permit, there’s more to it. Upon being presented with your visa, police headquarters provides you with an interim work permit good for 90 days. In the meantime, you acquire a codice fiscale (tax ID number), which you can do at the ufficio delle imposte dirette (local tax authority), to be found in the town’s municipal buildings. It is an important card, as you will also need it for all kinds of purchases, such as a cell phone, car, or moped, and when opening a bank account. The documents you will need to show for the codice fiscale are limited to a passport and sometimes a stay permit, although many Americans are not asked for the latter, especially in small towns. The card will then be sent to you by mail.

The final step is to present your signed work contract to the local employment office, the Ispettorato Provinciale di Lavoro, for final approval of your application. Once you have all those documents—the temporary permit, the codice fiscale, and the approval of the labor office—the questura will then award your efforts with the permesso di lavoro, available in two-year or five-year permits, or else the time period specified on your work contract, if any.

If you lose your job before the permit expires, you will need to find another one quickly. Legislation now gives employees just six months to land another job, or else the permit becomes void, whereas previously they could ride out its duration.

There is a legal alternative to the job hunt if you care for more time, though it’s not entirely convenient. Once your work permit is up, you can apply as an independent worker for the permesso di soggiorno per lavoro indipendente, provided you have all the necessary skills.

Claiming Italian Citizenship

If you think it would be much more convenient to just become an Italian citizen, it just might be possible under the Italian policy of jus sanguinis, or “right of blood.” This can go back generations as long as no ancestor in the chain lost his or her Italian citizenship before giving birth to the next generation. There seem to be different interpretations of this floating around, so here are criteria taken verbatim from a checklist provided by the Italian Consulate:

  • Your father was an Italian citizen at the time for your birth and you never renounced the right to Italian citizenship.
  • Your mother was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth, you were born after January 1st, 1948, and you never renounced the right to Italian citizenship.
  • Your father was born in the United States, your paternal grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of your father’s birth, neither you nor your father ever renounced the right to Italian citizenship.
  • Your mother was born in the United States, your maternal grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of her birth, you were born after January 1, 1948, and neither you nor your mother ever renounced the right to Italian citizenship.
  • Your paternal or maternal grandfather was born in the United States, your paternal great-grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of his birth, and neither you nor your father nor your grandfather ever renounced the right to Italian citizenship (please note: a grandmother born before January 1, 1948, can claim the Italian citizenship only from her father and can transfer it to descendants born after January 1, 1948).
  • Note: “Italian citizen at the time of birth” means that he/she did not acquire any other citizenship through naturalization before the descendant’s birth.

    This last bit is very important. If the relative who came over from Italy was naturalized in the United States or any other country other than Italy, he or she effectively renounced Italian citizenship.

    Moving to Italy takes a lot of bureaucratic legwork. Here's a guide to visas, permits, and if you meet the tight requirements, how to claim Italian citizenship.


    Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Living Abroad Italy.

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    ]]> https://moon.com/2017/11/moving-italy-visas-permits-claiming-citizenship/feed/ 0 60290 6 Reasons to Visit Morocco in the Winter https://moon.com/2017/11/reasons-to-visit-morocco-in-the-winter/ https://moon.com/2017/11/reasons-to-visit-morocco-in-the-winter/#respond Mon, 13 Nov 2017 19:40:08 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=61019 Whether you come for the sun, the shopping, the cuisine, or some out-of-the-ordinary adventure, there’s no doubt you will end up enjoying a little bit of everything! Here are six of the best reasons to visit Morocco over the winter holidays.

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    Ever since the cast of Sex in the City touched down in Marrakesh in 2010, the city has seen a veritable explosion of trendy, cosmo-sipping travelers diving into Morocco for a winter holiday. Whether they come for the sun, the shopping, the cuisine, or some out-of-the-ordinary adventure, there’s no doubt they end up enjoying a little bit of everything! Here are six of the best reasons to visit Morocco over the winter holidays.

    colorful array of ground cooking spices

    Check off your holiday list at a souk, where you can shop for fresh spices, among other treasures. Photo © Lucas Peters.

    The Shopping

    The ancients markets (souks) of Morocco provide an unparalleled holiday shopping experience. In the old souks, you can pick up some fresh spices, including saffron, for your foodie friends. Haggle over the price of a hand woven Berber carpet for Mom. Pick up some silver earrings for your friend. Perhaps that hammered brass desk lamp is just the thing for your husband? And keep a look out for that perfect jacket or bag hand-made by the artisan leather workers.

    When you’ve exhausted the souks, head out of the medina and into “modern” Morocco, where the high-end designer shops live. Browse around—maybe you’ll find that special something for that special someone.

    The Spas

    The Moroccan Spa (or “hammam”) is famed as one of the most luxurious bathing rituals in the world, and rightly so. Kick back, relax, and enjoy one of the greatest spa experiences of your life for less than the cost of your last Uber ride. Once your body is nice and toasty from the steam, you’ll be soaped down with 100% organic olive-based black soap, exfoliated, and then massaged into a blissful, limp noodle.

    Keep in mind, these 100% natural bath products, like black soap, argan oil and rose water, make for perfect stocking stuffers and are easily found in any souk in Morocco.

    The Sun

    Have that winter itch for a little vitamin D? Morocco has great beaches where you can catch some rays and work on that tan, year-round! The beaches around Agadir and TanTan are some of the best. Even better, the Atlantic is still warm enough for a quick dip in some refreshing salt water.

    a woman skiing in morocco

    Hit the slopes in Oukaïmeden in the High Atlas region. Photo © Lucas Peters.

    The Slopes

    Skiers and snowboarders should check out Oukaïmeden in the High Atlas region. Though not as luxurious or challenging as the slopes in, say, Colorado, it is possible to slalom and surf some powder in Africa! (Plus, how many people can say they’ve been snowboarding in Morocco?) On a clear day, the views down over the plateau to Marrakesh are incredible. The ski season typically runs from December through March, and gear is available to rent on site.

    The Snail Soup

    Even in the desert, it gets cold at night. This is especially true in the winter. In some regions, you can even expect to see ice. If you find yourself a bit chilly in the beating heart of Marrakesh’s Djemma el-Fnaa square, grab a bowl of snail soup. This escargot-laden treat bathed in saffron broth will warm you from the inside out.

    The Stress-free Supervision

    Morocco is one of the most kid-friendly countries in the world. Most Moroccans have an extra warm spot in their heart for children. With the relatively low cost of help, it’s possible to bring your children along for vacation, and easily find an au pair when you need a little adult time to gallivant around town! Not only will the nanny ensure your child’s safety, she’ll likely teach your little one some French or Arabic while you’re out! Check out greataupair.com.

    So, make your list. Check it twice. Don’t forget the sweaters and swimsuits. Happy holidays, indeed!

    Looking to head out of town for a holiday vacation? There are probably a thousand reasons to travel to Morocco in the winter, but for the sake of time, here are six of the best.


    Ready to head to Morocco? Order a copy of Moon Morocco and start planning!

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    Sightseeing in Wailua, Kaua‘i https://moon.com/2017/11/sightseeing-in-wailua-kauai/ https://moon.com/2017/11/sightseeing-in-wailua-kauai/#respond Sat, 11 Nov 2017 18:57:22 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=18867 Sightseeing in Wailua includes natural wonders, a re-created Hawaiian village, and cultural & historical sites. Use this roundup to help plan your visit.

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    waterfall in dense rainforest in Kauai

    The majestic Opaeka‘a Falls. Photo © m-kojot/iStock.

    Fern Grotto

    The Wailua River’s Fern Grotto, a natural rock amphitheater where a dense forest of ferns hangs from the grotto, is a popular place to visit. An upriver tour run by Smith’s Kauai (3-5971 Kuamo‘o Rd., 808/821-6895, boats depart 9:30am, 11am, 2pm, and 3:30pm daily, $20 adults, $10 children 3-12) is the way to access it. A two-mile, 90-minute round-trip river journey takes you to the grotto. On the trip you’ll also be treated to a hula dance and Hawaiian music.

    Kamokila Hawaiian Village

    For a cultural experience, explore Kamokila Hawaiian Village (5443 Kuamo‘o Rd. along the Wailua River, 808/823-0559, 9am-5pm daily, $5 adults, $3 children 5-12). Kamokila means stronghold, and is Kaua‘i’s only re-created Hawaiian village. It was built on the site of an ancient royal village, the first of seven ancient villages in this valley. Village sites include the canoe house, the Outbreak movie set, a birth house, taro patches, a wood-carving house, the village lagoon, petroglyphs, medicinal plants, and a lot more. The village also offers outrigger canoe rides, hiking and swimming, access to Secret Falls, weddings, and a lu‘au.

    Wailua falls plunging over the cliffside with a rainbow forming in the mist.

    Wailua Falls. Photo © Kenneth Sponsler/123rf.

    Wailua Falls

    Legend says the Hawaiian ali‘i would dive off the falls to prove their physical prowess, and commoners were not allowed to participate.One of Kaua‘i’s most beautiful and easy-to-view waterfalls is the 80-foot Wailua Falls, which was featured on the opening credits of the television show Fantasy Island. Legend says the Hawaiian ali‘i would dive off the falls to prove their physical prowess, and commoners were not allowed to participate. Surrounded by wide-open pasture, it’s a beautiful drive up Ma‘alo Road to get to the falls. It’s about four miles to the end of the road, so you can’t miss it. The falls can be viewed from a lookout spot where there is a parking lot, which is a perfect place for a photo op. The lookout spot is the only place to view the falls unless you take one of the two trails down to the falls, but both are slippery and can be dangerous.

    Smith’s Tropical Paradise

    Smith’s Tropical Paradise (3-5971 Kuhio Hwy. 808/821-6895, 8:30am-4pm daily, $6 adults, $3 ages 3-12) is a 30-acre botanical and cultural garden along the Wailua River. On the property many plants are labeled, including an array of fruit and common island foliage as well as other plants that are rare and hard to find. There are two main buildings here; one is home to a luau and the other is a lagoon theater used for music shows. A path over one mile long leads you around the property. There is also a Japanese garden.

    Opaeka‘a Falls

    Two miles up Kuamo‘o Road are the 150-foot majestic Opaeka‘a Falls. The scenic lookout is on the right after the first mile marker and has a large parking lot and restrooms. The beautiful falls are easy to see and make for a good photo opportunity. Along Kuamo‘o Road on the way to the falls, look out for sacred heiau, such as the Poliahu Heiau.

    Travel map of Wailua, Kauai, Hawaii

    Wailua


    Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Hawaii.

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    Best Yosemite Winter Activities https://moon.com/2017/11/best-yosemite-winter-activities/ https://moon.com/2017/11/best-yosemite-winter-activities/#respond Fri, 10 Nov 2017 19:24:33 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=60381 Think you’ll miss out on Yosemite’s scenic beauty by visiting in the colder months of the year? Just take a look at some of Ansel Adams’s photographs and you’ll see that Yosemite in winter is incredibly beautiful. Here are a few of the highlights of a winter visit.

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    Many seasoned Yosemite visitors insist that the best time to see the park is in winter. Rates drop considerably at park lodgings. Crowds are nonexistent. Think you’ll miss out on Yosemite’s scenic beauty by visiting in the colder months of the year? Just take a look at some of Ansel Adams’s photographs and you’ll see that Yosemite in winter is incredibly beautiful.

    Half Dome reflecting on the merced river in Yosemite during winter

    Winter on the Merced River in Yosemite. Photo © MBRubin/iStock.

    Here are a few of the highlights of a winter visit:

    Snowshoeing

    No experience is required; snowshoeing is as easy as walking, and rentals cost only a few bucks an hour. Rent a pair of snowshoes at Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village) or Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area Ski Area. Beginners can snowshoe amid the giant sequoia trees at the Merced Grove, Tuolumne Grove, or Mariposa Grove (Note: Mariposa Grove is closed for a restoration project until spring 2018). More experienced snowshoers can head out from Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area to Dewey Point, a seven-mile round-trip, or follow one of several other marked snowshoe/cross-country ski trails from Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area or Crane Flat. If you don’t want to set out on your own, join a ranger-guided snowshoe walk.

    Sledding and Ice Skating

    Sled in the morning and ice-skate in the afternoon. Snow-play areas are located near Crane Flat (Highway 120/Big Oak Flat entrance). Bring along a garbage can lid or a cheap plastic saucer and for a few brief moments you’ll feel like a kid again. Then head to Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village) for an afternoon skate session, where you can practice your figure eights with a head-on view of Half Dome. Can’t skate? Then sit by the warming hut’s fire pit and treat yourself to a cup of hot chocolate while you watch other skaters perform triple camels, or just fall down.

    Winter Walk

    During most of the winter, the Valley is often snow-free. The Valley’s paved bike trails make easy walking paths even when they are covered with a few inches of snow. Get out and about before the sun gets too high and you may get to see the ice cone that forms around Yosemite Falls on cold winter nights. On most sunny days, the cone melts off completely by 9am or 10am, so an early start is critical.

    Skiing and Snowboarding

    Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area is one of the mellowest ski resorts in the entire Sierra. Lift lines? High-priced lift tickets? No such thing here. If you don’t feel like driving on snow-covered roads, you can take the shuttle bus to Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area from Yosemite Valley Lodge. If you don’t know how to ski or snowboard, Badger’s 85 acres of slopes are the perfect place to learn. Lessons are offered daily. Or, keep it simple—go “snow tubing” on the Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area hills. It’s just like sledding, only safer, because you are cushioned by a big, billowy inner tube.

    Cocktails by the Fire

    After a day playing in the white stuff, head to the Majestic Yosemite Bar for appetizers and a warming cocktail; then choose a comfy seat in one of the Majestic Yosemite’s public rooms and read a book by a blazing fire. Or, head to the bar at Yosemite Valley Lodge in Yosemite Valley for drinks, snacks, and a seat around the fire.


    Excerpted from the Seventh Edition of Moon Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon.

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    Chile’s Punta Arenas: Museums and Historic Sites https://moon.com/2017/11/chile-punta-arenas-museums-and-historic-sites/ https://moon.com/2017/11/chile-punta-arenas-museums-and-historic-sites/#respond Fri, 10 Nov 2017 17:46:16 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=61210 Patagonia’s largest city, Punta Arenas is also the regional capital and the traditional port of entry, whether by air, land, or sea. Home to several museums, it’s a base for excursions to historical sites, nearby penguin colonies, and whale-watching areas.

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    Patagonia’s largest city, Punta Arenas is also the regional capital and the traditional port of entry, whether by air, land, or sea. Stretching north-south along the Strait of Magellan, the city boasts an architectural heritage that ranges from the Magellanic vernacular of corrugated metal-clad houses with steeply pitched roofs to Francophile mansions commissioned by 19th-century wool barons. Home to several museums, it’s a base for excursions to historical sites, nearby penguin colonies, and whale-watching areas.

    aerial shot of the city of Punta Arenas and harbor area

    Punta Arenas makes a great base for visits to historical sites as well as wildlife. Photo © encrier/iStock.

    Plaza Muñoz Gamero and Vicinity

    Unlike plazas founded in colonial Chilean cities, Punta Arenas’s central plaza, Plaza Muñoz Gamero, was not the initial focus of civic life, but thanks to European immigration and wealth generated by mining, livestock, commerce, and fishing, it became so by the 1880s. Landscaped with Monterey cypress and other exotic conifers, the plaza and surrounding buildings constitute a zona típica national monument.

    It takes its name from early provincial governor Benjamín Muñoz Gamero, who died in an 1851 mutiny. Among its features are a Victorian kiosk (1910), sporadically housing the municipal tourist office, and sculptor Guillermo Córdova’s elaborate monument, which was sponsored by wool magnate José Menéndez on the 400th anniversary of Magellan’s 1520 voyage. Magellan’s figure, embellished with a globe and a copy of his log, stands above a Selk’nam indigenous person representing Tierra del Fuego, a Tehuelche person symbolizing Patagonia, and a mermaid with Chilean and regional coats-of-arms. According to local legend, anyone touching the Tehuelche’s toe—enough have done so to alter its color—will return to Punta Arenas.

    After about 1880, the city’s burgeoning elite began to build monuments to their own good fortune, such as the ornate Palacio Sara Braun (1895) at the plaza’s northwest corner. Only six years after marrying José Nogueira, Punta’s most prominent businessman, the newly widowed Sara contracted French architect Numa Mayer, who applied contemporary Parisian style to create a two-story mansard that helped upgrade the city’s earlier utilitarian architecture. Now home to the Club de la Unión and Hotel José Nogueira, the building retains most original features, including the west-facing winter garden that now serves as the hotel’s bar-restaurant.

    Mid-block, immediately east, the Casa José Menéndez belonged to another of Punta’s wool barons. At the plaza’s northeast corner stands the former headquarters of the influential Sociedad Menéndez Behety (Magallanes 990). Half a block north, dating from 1904, the Casa Braun-Menéndez (Magallanes 949) houses the regional museum.

    On the plaza’s east side, immediately south of Hotel Cabo de Hornos, the Instituto Antártico Chileno is the site of Chile’s Antarctic research entity. Several other buildings in surrounding streets bear plaques attesting to their role in exploration of the frozen continent. On the south side, directly opposite the Victorian tourist kiosk, the former Palacio Montes holds municipal government offices. At the southeast corner, the Sociedad Braun Blanchard belonged to another powerful commercial group (as the names suggest, Punta Arenas’s first families were, commercially at least, an incestuous bunch).

    At the southwest corner, the Iglesia Matriz (1901) now enjoys cathedral status. Immediately north, both the Residencia del Gobernador (Governor’s Residence) and the Gobernación date from the same period, filling the rest of the block with offices of the Intendencia Regional, the regional government.

    historic magellan monument in Punta Arenas

    Guillermo Córdova’s elaborate Magellan monument in Plaza Muñoz Gamero. Photo © Judy Dillon/iStock.

    Casa Braun-Menéndez

    Like European royalty, Punta’s first families formed alliances sealed by matrimony, and the 1904 Casa Braun-Menéndez (Magallanes 949, tel. 061/224-2049, 10:30am-5pm Wed.-Mon., free) is a classic example: the product of a marriage between Mauricio Braun (Sara’s brother) and Josefina Menéndez Behety (daughter of José Menéndez and María Behety, a major wool-growing family in Argentina, though international borders meant little to the wool barons).

    Still furnished with the family’s belongings, preserving Mauricio Braun’s office and other rooms virtually intact, the house boasts marble fireplaces and other elaborate architectural features. The basement servants’ quarters expose the early-20th-century’s upstairs-downstairs divisions. Part of it now serves as a gallery for special exhibits.

    Today, the Casa Braun-Menéndez serves as the regional museum, replete with panels on pre-Columbian peoples, pioneer settlers’ artifacts, and historical photographs. There are imperfect but readable English descriptions of the exhibits. On some days, a pianist plays beneath the atrium’s stained-glass skylight.

    Museo Regional Salesiano

    From the 19th century, the Salesian order played a key role in evangelizing southern Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, on both sides of the border. Punta Arenas was their base. While their rosy view of Christianity’s impact on the region’s indigenous people may be debatable, figures such as the Italian mountaineer priest Alberto de Agostini (1883-1960) made key contributions to both physical geography and ethnographic research.

    Today, a sizable collection of Agostini’s photographs can be found in the Museo Regional Salesiano Mayorino Borgatello (Av. Bulnes 336, tel. 061/222-1001, 10am-12:30pm and 3pm-6pm Tues.-Sun., free), which also has a library and a regionally oriented art gallery. Permanent exhibits deal with regional flora and fauna (including the whaling industry), a handful of early colonial artifacts, regional ethnography with dioramas, the missionization of Isla Dawson and other nearby areas, cartography, and the petroleum industry. For Darwinians, there’s a scale model of the Beagle and, for Chilean patriots, one of the Ancud, which sailed from Chiloé to claim the region in 1843.

    Museo Naval y Marítimo

    Pleasantly surprising, the Museo Naval y Marítimo (Pedro Montt 981, tel. 061/220-5479, 10am-5:30pm Tues.-Sun., US$1.50 adults, US$0.50 children) provides perspectives on topics like ethnography in the context of the Strait of Magellan’s seagoing peoples, even while stressing its military mission. It features interactive exhibits, such as a credible warship’s bridge, a selection of model ships, and information on the naval history of the southern oceans.

    Museo del Recuerdo

    Run by the Instituto de la Patagonia, part of the Universidad de Magallanes, the Museo del Recuerdo (Av. Bulnes 01890, tel. 061/220-7056, 8:30am-11:30am and 2:30pm-6:30pm Mon.-Fri., 8:30am-12:30pm Sat., free) is a mostly open-air facility of pioneer agricultural implements and industrial machinery, reconstructions of a traditional house and shearing shed, and a restored shepherd’s trailer house, hauled across the Patagonian plains on wooden wheels. In addition to a modest botanical garden, the institute has a library-bookshop with impressive cartographic exhibits.

    The museum can be reached from downtown Punta Arenas by taxis colectivos to the duty-free Zona Franca, which stop directly opposite the entrance.

    walkway through the cemetary in Punta Arenas

    The Cementerio Municipal Sara Braun houses the extravagant crypts of José Menéndez, José Nogueira, and Sara Braun. Photo © benkrut/iStock.

    Other Punta Arenas Activities and Sights

    For a panoramic overview of the city’s layout, the Strait of Magellan, and the island of Tierra del Fuego in the distance, climb to Mirador La Cruz, four blocks west of Plaza Muñoz Gamero via a staircase at the corner of the Fagnano and Señoret.

    Four blocks south of Plaza Muñoz Gamero, naval vessels, freighters, cruise ships, Antarctic icebreakers, and yachts from many countries dock at the Muelle Fiscal Arturo Prat (at the foot of Av. Independencia), until recently the city’s major port facility. It’s still a departure point for cruises to the fjords of Tierra del Fuego and to Antarctica, but, unfortunately, international security hysteria has closed it to spontaneous public access.

    The late Bruce Chatwin found the inspiration for his legendary vignettes of In Patagonia through tales of his eccentric distant relative Charley Milward, who built and resided at the Castillo Milward (Milward’s Castle, Av. España 959). Described by Chatwin as “a Victorian parsonage translated to the Strait of Magellan,” with “high-pitched gables and gothic windows,” the building features a square street-side tower and an octagonal one at the rear.

    The seven-meter Mural Gabriela Mistral (corner of Av. Colón and O’Higgins) graces the walls of the former Liceo de Niñas Sara Braun (Sara Braun Girls’ School) in honor of Chile’s Nobel Prize-winning poet.

    Ten blocks north of Plaza Muñoz Gamero, the Cementerio Municipal Sara Braun (Av. Bulnes 029) is home to the extravagant crypts of José Menéndez, José Nogueira, and Sara Braun. The multinational immigrants who worked for them—English, Scots, Welsh, Croat, German, and Scandinavian—repose in more modest circumstances. A separate monument honors the vanished Selk’nam (Ona) people who once flourished in the Strait, while another memorializes German fatalities of the Battle of the Falklands (1914).

    Maps - Patagonia 4e - Punta Arenas, Chile

    Punta Arenas, Chile


    Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon Patagonia.

    The post Chile’s Punta Arenas: Museums and Historic Sites appeared first on Moon Travel Guides.

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