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2010

73 Inspirational Travel Secrets


From the Top Travel Bloggers on the Internet Today

www.tripbase.com

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Foreword
Congratulations on downloading your Best Kept Travel Secrets eBook. You're now part of a unique collaborative charity project, the first of its kind to take place on the Internet! The Best Kept Travel Secrets project was initiated with just one blog post back in November 2009. Since then, over 200 of the most talented travel bloggers and writers across the globe have contributed more than 500 inspirational travel secrets. These phenomenal travel gems have now been compiled into a series of travel eBooks. Awe-inspiring places, insider info and expert tips... you'll find 73 amazing travel secrets within this eBook. The best part about this is that you've helped contribute to a great cause.

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Founded in May 2007, Tripbase pioneered the Internet's first "destination discovery engine". Tripbase saves you from the time-consuming and frustrating online travel search by matching you up with your ideal vacation destination. Tripbase was named Top Travel Website for Destination Ideas by Travel and Leisure magazine in November 2008. www.tripbase.com

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These Secrets Make Dirty Water Clean


Right now, almost one billion people in the world don't have access to clean drinking water. That's one in eight of us. For every person that downloads an eBook Tripbase will make a $1 donation to the fantastic cause, clean drinking water for people in developing nations. 100% of these donations will be used to directly fund clean water solutions. Our mission: to help bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. Our campaign target: to build 4 freshwater wells, providing clean water for an entire school for the next 20 years.

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Use these travel secrets to make dirty water clean and forward a link to our eBook Homepage to help us reach our goals. Publicize your support of this fantastic cause and become a Campaign Ambassador. Make your own personal donation. Just $20 can give one person clean drinking water for 20 years. Give one person clean water. Got your own blog/site? Join our community of Travel Secrets Authors.
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Best Kept Travel Secrets 2010 Tripbase.com

Front Cover

Main Index

Main Index
General
General

Europe
5
Croatia Estonia Finland

Africa
Kenya Senegal

9 10

France Greece Iceland Italy Netherlands

Asia
Cambodia China Georgia India Indonesia Malaysia South Korea Thailand General

11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Spain Sweden United Kingdom

21 22 23 24 25 27 28 32 34 36 38

Middle East
Syria

40

North America
Mexico United States

Australia & South Pacific


New Zealand

41 43

20

South America
Brazil Peru

51 52

Contributing Authors

53

Above photos by: Cessna 206, skyseeker, notsogoodphotograp hy, baxterclaus, Wolfgang Staudt, paalia, Nicholas_T, CURZU@

Best Kept Travel Secrets 2010 Tripbase.com

While we could have purchased equivalent food at the grocery stores, the market added personality to what we ate because we met the people who grew those products

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General

General
To Market, to Market: the Best Way to Experience Local Food and Local People
We are obsessed with farmers markets. It seems right that food should grow in the soil, be picked by a farmer, and then pass from his hands to ours. In Maui, we found honey-sweet pineapple at the Honokowai Farmers Market and, the fish in the Rialto Market in Venice were the freshest we'd ever seen. At the Montepulciano Farmers Market, we watched elderly women purchase cotton tablecloths and pass time at the butcher's cart. On the advice of a farmer who claimed that his grapes were "dolce," we purchased grapes that tasted like nectar from the gods. While we could have purchased equivalent Photo by: Akila and Patrick food at the grocery stores, the market added personality to what we ate because we met the people who grew those products. In fact, we would say that the Montepulciano Farmers Market should be a must-see destination for any tourist visiting that region. .
Akila and Patrick, The Road Forks

Eat Local
Perhaps this isn't a secret because finding locally grown ingredients seems obvious to us. Yet, we continue to be surprised when we see desert restaurants offering "fresh fish" or northern restaurants offering "tropical fruit platters." In New York, we seek out apples. In regions with abundant cattle, like the Barossa Valley, we always find cheese platters to be a cheap and delicious light lunch. In Hawaii, we opt for platters of sliced mangos, papayas, and bananas. In India, we fill ourselves with fresh coconut milk, and in Puerto Rico, we enjoy plantains to our hearts' content. Eating locally grown food is cheap, healthy, and tasty. It also allows us to best experience the variety of the world's produce and meats. .
Photo by: Akila and Patrick

Akila and Patrick, The Road Forks

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The majority of times I got sick was after eating imported food that appealed mostly to tourists and expats

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General

General
Eat Local Not Tourist Food
I lived in Shanghai for three years and ate mostly local food, the majority of which came from small, family-run places. The majority of times I got sick was after eating imported food that appealed mostly to tourists and expats. Heard about all those travelers who meticulously eat hotel food, drink only bottled water, and peel their fruits, yet get sick because they drank one fruit juice? I'll bet you a hundred on the dollar that the so-called safe food -- not the juice -- is what made them sick. If you stick to a few simple rules (always eat in busy places, look for clean, well-lit places, eat what the locals eat, and trust your instincts) then you'll find local -- even street food -- to be a perfectly safe and healthy diet choice. Plus, it's a hell of a lot tastier than that rewarmed pizza with three week-old imported mozzarella, and it'll save you tons of money. Finally, you'll be supporting local, often family-run businesses instead of foreign-owned corporations.
Photo by: d'n'c'

Daniel, Backpack Foodie

Eavesdrop on the Next Table


As a travel foodie who engages in research for interesting places to eat, I often keep my ears pinned to conversations in restaurants and cafs. Many new discoveries have come from listening to waiters describing a dish or recommending a regional speciality to local diners. Recently, while dining at the famed Le Jules Verne at the top of the Eiffel Tower, the couple sitting at the next table asked the sommelier for recommendations on where to eat in Rome. Being a native of the city, he was more than willing to share that information. Unfortunately he spoke too softly for me to understand him or I would have shared those secrets here. .
Photo by: Ms. Gourmantic

Ms. Gourmantic, Gourmantic

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The food is probably the best thing you can get and you won't have to pay the inflated prices that tourist establishments normally charge!

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General

General
Street Food Around the World
Street food may not be viewed as a travel secret, but the trick is figuring out which ones are worth it and which ones are not. I found this out first-hand when in Luxor, Egypt this past August while trying to find some falafel that is commonly sold as street food. Walking up and down the main street across from Luxor Temple there are many restaurants, a McDonalds, and street stalls. Along the way I found one that caught my eye as there were about 20 people crowding around it, compared to zero at the other stalls. Yep, this is the one to eat at. Up right in the front of the stall was a big iron skillet full of falafel balls cooking fresh before they are jammed into pitas with veggies and optional moussaka, my favorite Middle Eastern dish. On an impulse I ordered four, which would be about the size of two large sandwiches from Photo by: Jeremy the McDonalds that was right next door. The total cost was about 8 pounds, or about $1.75 US. Not only were they awesome, but the irony in the whole situation culminated when we went to the McDonalds to eat in and the large fountain soda cost $1.85 US, more than FOUR large pita sandwiches with falafel and moussaka. Ah, the power of street food. It was the best food I ate on the trip. So watch out for a hopping stall next time you are in a foreign country, because the food is probably the best thing you can get and you won't have to pay the inflated prices that tourist establishments normally charge! .
Jeremy, Living the Dream

Dine Like a Local


One of the main reasons I love travel so much is the opportunity to dine like a local. So when I visit a particular country, city or state, you can expect me to be skipping fast food and chain restaurants for the local hangout. Skip the fancy pants overpriced restaurants often found near town squares and financial districts in lieu of eateries just a few blocks away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist traps. Whether it is devouring bowls of borscht (beet soup) in Poland or enjoying a glass of whisky in Scotland, certain destinations just do it better than the rest of the world.
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Andrew , The Brooklyn Nomad

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When you get the chance, don't hesitate to eat the strange things offered in a new country

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General

General
Eat the Bugs
Eat the bugs. When you get the chance, don't hesitate to eat the strange things offered in a new country. You normally won't be able to find items like scorpions, silkworm, ants, crickets, or whatever the local fare might be. They are not trying to make you sick. So step up and try something new. It will be something you remember forever, but don't just stick to the "bugs". There are many other items to eat that you don't easily find at home. Things like eel, octopus, squid, dog (okay I can see a few having issues with this and that's fine), and other items that might be popular overseas and not so much at home. You may never be able to get the full experience by traveling, but trying new foods will surely enrich it.
Eric, A Man Nowhere

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Bring Home a Local Recipe


A lot about travelling for me is to experience the local culture, its people and most of all -- its food. What we eat and how we cook our foods are intricately tied to the lands we live on and the environment in which we live, so trying out the local fare is often at the top of my list of things to do when visiting a new place. Bringing home a recipe or two from the visit is such a prize! And it's definitely one way of making everyday cooking more interesting here in Sweden. Apart from giving our own cooking an international flavour, we can continue to enjoy our travel experiences even after landing at home.
Photo by: Cheryl Marie

Cheryl Marie , Cheryl Marie Cordeiro

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Buying pizza in the developing world can be sketchy

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Africa

Kenya
I Love Pizza, Malindi
After ten, or even two weeks in Kenya, you'll be dying for a giant, carb, butter, and tomato-filled Italian feast. Not that the Kenyan food isn't great, just trust me on this. When two friends and I happened upon "I Love Pizza" in 2005, we were skeptical. As you can read from this post, buying pizza in the developing world can be sketchy. However, we decided to take a risk (it seemed safer than swimming in that river, after all), and man were we rewarded. One small disclaimer: I'm not exactly sure how "I Love Pizza" would taste to someone who had been eating well. We had not, and to our deprived palates, well, let's just say someone licked the butter plate clean and someone else cried. It was good. .
Photo by: Navin75

Carina, My Miss Adventures

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Ceebujen (literally "rice and fish") is the national dish of Senegal

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Africa

Senegal
Ceebujen, Tomato Rice and Fish
Ceebujen (literally "rice and fish") is the national dish of Senegal. Thick flavorful rice with vegetables, a mild fish stuffed with herbs and spices, all served on a large platter and eaten communally with your hands. I've yet to find a restaurant that captures the magic of Ceebujen outside Senegal, so you'll have to go to Dakar to try it for yourself. Where to try Ceebujen: any household or restaurant in Dakar.

Photo by: Christopher

Christopher, The Daily Feta

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A resurgence of the pepper industry in recent years means Phnom Penhites are spoiled with some of the finest pepper in the world at their gastronomic disposal
Photo by: Mendhak

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Asia

Cambodia
Fragrant, Coveted Cambodian Pepper
Pepper grown in southern Cambodia (predominantly the charming, crumbling, riverside town of Kampot) is highly fragrant and an integral part of Cambodian cuisine. In French colonial days it was highly coveted by French chefs, and graced the menus of top Parisian restaurants. A resurgence of the pepper industry in recent years means Phnom Penhites are spoiled with some of the finest pepper in the world at their gastronomic disposal. The pepper is sold all over the city in souvenir-type shops, but for a only a few dollars you can pick up a bag of Cambodian peppercorns (organic, no less!) from Lucky or Pencil Supermarkets.
Photo by: Liz

Liz, A Girl in Asia

Ridiculously Cheap Alcohol


Thanks to Cambodia's laxness with tax and penchant for all kinds of shady cross-border trade, alcohol is exceedingly cheap. Most bars will pass on the savings (think cocktails for around US 3-4$ and beers from 1$!) but the real bargains are to be found in the city's supermarkets (with especially good selections at Thai Huot, Bayon and Pencil). Basic spirits like Stolichnya and Absolut vodka can be found from US 6-9$, Bailey's for US 11-12$ and Grand Marnier for US 16$, with everything else somewhere in between. It's a recipe for disaster for some off-the-rails expats, but really, who's complaining?!
Photo by: Liz

Liz, A Girl in Asia

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Shockingly omitted from every guidebook (we checked) is Beijing's epic answer to hunger pangs

Photo by: Chi King

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Asia

China
Ghost Street (Gui Jie), Beijing
Shockingly omitted from every guidebook (we checked) is Beijing's epic answer to hunger pangs. Under a canopy of red lanterns, over 200 restaurants (many open 24 hours) line busy Dongzhimen Street. The atmosphere alone will whet your appetite - noise, laughter and shouting show you a carefree side of Beijingers you won't easily find. Cover the 1.4 mile stretch and pick the busiest establishment: you'll see the flavors of many provinces represented here. Inside, the bustle is the perfect cover for taking a peek at what everyone is eating. Most come to each establishment for a particular dish - if you can spot it, that's what you want to try. When you're stuffed and happy, you'll get another surprise: the bill is 1/3 of what you'll find in the city center. Beijing goes to bed early, which is the perfect excuse to go hang out with the ghosts.
Photo by: Eva Rees

Jeremy and Eva, Forks and Jets

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The food of the Republic of Georgia remains surprisingly unknown outside of the former Soviet Union, but it's definitely worth a side trip

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Main Index

Asia

Georgia
Best Undiscovered Cuisine: Georgian
When we find ourselves in regions whose food pyramids seem to consist of bread, fried bread, meat and fried potatoes, we long for the subtle and fascinating combination of ingredients found in Georgian cuisine: a creamy walnut-garlic sauce over grilled eggplant, herbed ground meat dumplings, and sour plum sauce. The food of the Republic of Georgia remains surprisingly unknown outside of the former Soviet Union, but it's definitely worth a side trip. Even better than Georgian cuisine? Georgian people. They and their overwhelming hospitality provide reason enough to visit this oft-conquered little country tucked between the folds of Europe and Asia. .
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Audrey and Dan, Uncornered Market

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While nearly every mango lassi in India is praise-worthy, this particular mango lassi stand serves up what is perhaps the most exceptional beverage known to man
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Asia

India
Madhukunj Mango Lassi Stand, Calcutta
Hidden down a narrow, unmarked lane in the middle of Calcutta (one of the most chaotic cities in the world) sits a mango lassi stand that has nearly brought me to tears on numerous occasions. For those who might not be familiar with a mango lassi, it is a traditional Indian drink made by blending yoghurt, milk, sugar and fresh mangos. While nearly every mango lassi in India is praise-worthy, this particular mango lassi stand serves up what is perhaps the most exceptional beverage known to man. For a mere 15 rupees (although they will attempt to charge foreigners 25 rupees - it is India after all!), they hand over a large glass mug, full of fresh mango goodness, topped with raisins and barfi (an Indian Photo by: Earl sweet made of condensed milk) and with a dollop of cherry sauce on top. And no matter how full you are or how much of a budget traveler you may be, as soon as you down your mug, you'll fork over another 15 rupees and enjoy a second mug. Every single time. When you finally summon up the courage to walk away, that's when the tears start to form in the corner of your eyes as you dwell in the satisfaction that you have sampled such a heavenly creation. The following day, you'll undoubtedly be back again for two more. I actually had three on my most recent visit last May and had to be dragged away by a friend before trying to pour a fourth into my mouth. And believe me, all of the nerve-racking intersection crossings, attempted pick-pockets and lungfuls of polluted air you'll inhale as you trek across the city will instantly be forgotten as the first sip of lassi touches your lips. Just remember - don't pay more than 15 rupees! .
Earl, Wandering Earl

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When I think about my time in Indonesia, I always think of Ayam Goreng Suharti

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Main Index

Asia

Indonesia
World's Best Fried Chicken: Ayam Goreng Suharti
Like most travelers, one of my favourite things to do in every place we visit is to eat. I love trying new foods, especially local specialties. Things you can only get in one place, that use ingredients and techniques found nowhere else. It's never the fancy restaurant meals that stand out - what I remember are the simple things found in little shops here and there or sold from carts on the street. I love almost anything that's fried, grilled, served on a stick, wrapped in a banana leaf, or in a paper cone. When I reminisce about a place, I always think first of the food, and when I think about my time in Indonesia, I always think of Ayam Goreng Suharti. Ayam Goreng Suharti is restaurant with several locations around Java, Indonesia. We've been to branches in Surabaya, Yogyakarta, and Bandung. Nyonya (Mrs.) Suharti is the founder and is a sort of Indonesian Colonel Sanders. You can get pretty good fried chicken most places in Indonesia, but I have not found better bird than Suharti's. This chicken is so far beyond what I'm used to getting outside Indonesia that there's no comparison. It starts with the meat: they always use small free-range chicken, called kampung chicken. Nothing industrial or factory-farmed about it, so the meat is always rich and full of chicken-y flavour. The chicken is poached first with a rich bumbu, or blend of herbs and spices. Rather than just coating the skin with the seasoning, the whole of the meat is infused with the flavour of the fresh spices. After poaching, the whole bird is deep-fried, including the head, feet, and all. Heart, liver, etc. aren't included, but you can order them as sides. I sometimes get a bit squeamish seeing that deep fried head staring at me but Dina always polishes it off first so that doesn't last long. The chicken is served with sambal (fresh chili sauce) and fried bumbu, the crunchy little crumbles of seasoning that were strained out of the deep fryer. Spread over rice the fried bumbu tastes incredible, with just the right amount of crunch and flavour. It goes perfectly with the rice, which makes sure nothing ever feels too greasy. We always add an extra order of extra fried bumbu - it might not be on the menu, but they'll always bring you more if you ask. On the side, I'd recommend sayur asem, a delicious hot and sour soup made from tamarind, peanuts, and various vegetables. The sour and spicy taste is an excellent counterpoint to the sweetness and crunch of the chicken. Everyone eats with their hands, dipping bits of chicken in sambal and kecap manis (sweet, thick soy sauce) and then scooping up little fingerfuls of rice covered in fried bumbu. Wash it down with my favourite drink: Teh Botol Sosro, a strong, sweet bottled cold tea. I'm told by one of the workers that Nyonya Suharti is still actively involved with the restaurants, and travels around making stops in the kitchen at all her restaurants to make sure they are still cooking the chicken the right way. I missed out, but when you visit ask if she's around - you might get lucky and meet the lady who created the world's best fried chicken! .
Dina and Ryan, Vagabond Quest
Photo by: Florina

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More than ten famous Malaysian eateries were invited to open a restaurant so that travellers from abroad could taste the best local Malaysian street foods in one place!
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Main Index

Asia

Malaysia
Best Place for Local Food, Kuala Lumpur
Best local foods center for tasting most of our local Malaysian most popular and best quality foods under one roof - Lot 10 Hutong food court at lower ground floor of Lot 10 shopping mall in Bukit Bintang. This is the latest food court centre in Kuala Lumpur, where more than ten famous Malaysian eateries were invited to open a restaurant so that travellers from abroad could taste the best local Malaysian street foods in one place! There are the most famous Klang Bak Kut Teh, Mou Shan Gao, Soong Kee's beef Noodles from Lebuh Ampang, Hokkien charcoal fried noodles from Petaling Street, Wantan (dumpling) noodles, Siew Pao, Roti Canai, Chicken rice, Dim Sum and so much more. It's located along Jalan Bukit Bintang next to Kuala Lumpur Plaza and Pavilion shopping mall. It's easily distinguished with its green Photo by: CLF coloured building fascade. The best time to visit is from 11am to 12:30pm when fewer patrons occupy the limited dining tables. .
Cecil, Travel Feeder

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When I finally get a piece to my mouth I feel it suck onto my cheek

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Main Index

Asia

South Korea
Samnakji, Live Baby Octopus
The old Korean woman grins at me as she takes the baby octopus and chops it into pieces. She dips the wriggling tentacles in some sesame oil, sprinkles some seaweed on top and places the dish in front of me. You'd think getting chopped up would end an octopus' life, but the tentacles keep wriggling angrily and sucking onto my chopsticks as I try to pick them up. When I finally get a piece to my mouth, I feel it suck onto my cheek. I chew ferociously before swallowing, mindful of the warnings I'd heard about tourists who didn't chew enough and choked when the tentacle sucked onto inside their throat. Finally, the battle is over. I've won. My prize? Deliciousness. Where to try samnakji: One of the tiny stalls in Busan, South Korea right along the sea where the octopi are the freshest.
Christopher, The Daily Feta

Photo by: Christopher

If You Find Yourself in Korea on a Cold Day, Have a Bowl of Gamjatang


If you find yourself in Korea on a cold day, go have a bowl of Gamjatang. This traditional spine soup is a great winter-time meal. It's made with pork spine, vegetables, onions, peppers, and other tasty treats. Not only is it a good meal, but it will warm you up on a cold day. Now spine soup may not sound that great, but believe me it's very good. Plus, most likely, you will get the chance to experience eating in a traditional Korean restaurant by sitting on the floor. Just don't forget to take your shoes off at the door. So kick off your shoes, sit back, relax, and enjoy a great traditional Korean meal. .
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Eric, A Man Nowhere

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Made to order, they were the most beautifully plated and delicious Thai noodle dishes we had while in Bangkok

Photo by: Dennis Wong

Main Index

Asia

Thailand
Best Pad Thai in Bangkok
Street food in Bangkok can be a little overwhelming for many Western tourists. Many of the stalls have food that is unfamiliar with unique aromas wafting from them. But do not let that prevent you from partaking in one of the best and most delicious parts of Thailand. We found a vendor that is a short three-minute walk from the entrance to the Grand Palace, one of the key tourist stops in Bangkok. Simply head towards the Chang River Taxi Pier when leaving the Grand Palace and before you reach the pier, in the center aisle, in front of the 7-11, you will find two ladies selling Pad Thai and Phad-See-Eew for only 40B ($1.20). Ordering one each makes for a filling and delicious lunch for two. Made to order, they were the most beautifully plated and delicious Thai noodle dishes we had while in
Keith and Amy, Green Around the Globe

Photo by: Keith and Amy

Bangkok. .

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There's always an enormous range of food to choose from, and it all comes at very reasonable prices

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Asia

General
Department Store Food Courts
We just love department store food courts in Asia. They're absolutely nothing like boring old North American food courts. There's always an enormous range of food to choose from, and it all comes at very reasonable prices. Three reasons to eat at Asian food courts: 1. Mix and match your meals. 2. Free food samples 3. It's fresh, tasty, and cheap.

Photo by: "Gush Party, USA"

Carrie, My Several Worlds

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Because Thorndon houses government offices, the national archives, library and embassies, there are numerous cafes and restaurants scattered around
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Australia & South Pacific

New Zealand
Foodie Crawl in Thordon
If you wanted to, you could do a foodie crawl around Tinakori Road on the weekend. Because Thordon houses government offices, the national archives, library and embassies, there are numerous cafes and restaurants scattered around. Upper Tinakori Road is where the best of them are located. The old-new ale house, Shepards Arms, with its roaring fire in winter and outdoor seating in summer, has a following with the locals and business lunch crowds. It was also a place I'd drag my friends to when I wasn't taking them to a small caf for brunch further up the road. Sometimes without realising it, I would spend the day moving between cafs acting as a food guide.

Photo by: JR May

Food is not the only attraction though, Tinakori Road also has antique shops and art galleries, including one of my favorites: Millwood Gallery. .
Cate, Caffeinated Traveler

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Everything, and I mean everything here, comes with truffles, even the ice-cream

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Europe

Croatia
An Istrian Konoba
It's noon, we are starving. We stop at a cosy little konoba, a traditional Croatian tavern, on the winding streets of Groznjan. We order some house wine and pick up the menu. This will take a while everything, and I mean everything here, comes with truffles, even the ice-cream.

Photo by: Vivek

Neha, Flying Suitcase

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Grab a beer and pretzel at The Beer House in Tallinn

Photo by: j_silla

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Europe

Estonia
Everything's Bigger In...Estonia
Everything's bigger in...Estonia. Grab a beer and pretzel at The Beer House in Tallinn, Estonia.

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Nancy, Nancy the Gnomette

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Be super girly and have afternoon tea at Cafe Helmi in Porvoo

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Europe

Finland
Afternoon Tea at Cafe Helmi, Porvoo
Be super girly and have afternoon tea at Cafe Helmi in Porvoo, Finland. Try the Runeberg tart (named after the Finnish poet).

Photo by: Nancy

Nancy, Nancy the Gnomette

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Add a few drops to white wine the next time you're in town and enjoy a sweet, almost lavender flavour

Photo by: flickrusertest2

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Europe

France
Purple Drinks in Toulouse
Southwest France may well be famous for foie gras, Roquefort cheese and cassoulet - but it also makes a syrupy violet liqueur from the plant of the same name. Add a few drops to white wine the next time you're in town and enjoy a sweet, almost lavender flavour.

Photo by: OliBac

Abi, Cheap Weekend Breaks

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If you want to eat dinner someplace trendy in Athens, prepare to eat very late!

Photo by: Wolfgang Staudt

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Europe

Greece
They Eat Late in Athens
Before I went to Spain in the summer 2007, I was warned that Spaniards like to eat really late. Now as a New Yorker, I don't like to go out to dinner until at least 8pm, although I do like to be seated by 9pm. When I was in Madrid and Barcelona, I didn't find the dinner hour to be that different I was also warned that Greeks like to eat late. In Santorini, Paros and Naxos, I didn't find that they ate particularly late there. But our last stop was Athens and, well, I can't imagine anyplace that eats later than Athens. Any later and it would be considered breakfast! We only had two nights in Athens, and we wanted to go to trendy restaurants on both of them. We had splurged on one of Athens's best hotels, The Grand Bretagne, so we asked the concierge to make dinner reservations for us. The first night we requested Balthazar, a chic Mediterranean restaurant where you dine alfresco among gorgeous mosaics. The concierge told us that he reserved a table for us at 9:30pm. We were happy with that, until we got to the restaurant and discovered they were still setting up! It would be the equivalent of arriving at 6pm in New York. Well, we ate slowly and people started trickling in at about 10:30pm. When we left at midnight, the restaurant was in full swing. Now you have to understand, people weren't just hanging out drinking. No, they were eating appetizers, main courses and dessert, and drinking.
Photo by: Hbarrison

The next night we asked the concierge to choose someplace cool for us. He sent us to Villa Mercedes with a 10pm reservation. Luckily, our cab driver got lost on the way so we arrived closer to 10:30pm and we were hoping we were late enough. Not a chance, and the people at Villa Mercedes seemed to think we had insisted on eating early. Anyway, the whole thing was quite hilarious, as we were the only customers until almost midnight. (This was a Saturday night.) Again, we just ate slowly and pretended (to ourselves) that we were celebrities and we had asked the restaurant to open privately just for us. So, if you want to eat dinner someplace trendy in Athens, prepare to eat very late! .
Liz, Travelogged

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As soon as you muster up the courage you're in for a pleasant surprise

Photo by: Wolfgang Staudt

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Europe

Greece
Marithes, Whole Fried Whitebait
There's something gruesome-looking about these tiny fried fish. Maybe it's that you can see their eyes. The first time I saw Marithes, it took me a few minutes to convince myself to pop one of these little guys into my mouth, bones and all. But as soon as you muster up the courage, you're in for a pleasant surprise. The taste is mild and the texture is pleasant, just a little crunchy. Add a squeeze of lemon and you've got the perfect seaside snack. Where to try Marithes: Almost any restaurant on the Greek islands.

Photo by: Christopher

Christopher, The Daily Feta

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This cheery town sits between the vast cold Atlantic and the largest ice cap in Iceland, the stunning Vatnajkull

Photo by: o palsson

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Europe

Iceland
Eat Lobster in Hfn
Visitors to Iceland stay close to Reykjavik, venturing out only for a day trip to the Golden Circle or maybe up to Akureyri. If you rent a car and venture eastwards however, you can check out some incredibly charming coastal towns. My favorite was the relatively large (2000 people) settlement of Hfn. The cheery town sits between the vast cold Atlantic and the largest ice cap in Iceland, the stunning Vatnaj kull. It's a great base for exploring the glaciers and for winter sports, as it was rather chilly even in June. Lobster is the specialty of this fishing village and makes the whole trip worthwhile. Whether you have it whole, or tossed on a salad or pasta, the crustaceans are fresh and delicious here. .
Photo by: Stephanie

Stephanie, 20 Something Travel

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The best plate of risotto in Milan -- because whether you want to believe it or not, northern Italy is the domain for this much-loved rice dish

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Europe

Italy
The Best Risotto in Milan
The best plate of risotto in Milan -- because whether you want to believe it or not, northern Italy is the domain for this much-loved rice dish. My suocera SWOH-cheh-rah (mother-in-law) can make it with her eyes closed. Still, if you're looking for the locals' pick in the city of Milan, I suggest Trattoria 23 Risotti and also Trattoria da Abele on via Temperanza, 5. Foreigners may ooh and aah over other places, but Italians don't lie about their rice.

Photo by: francesco sgroi

Rowena, Rubber Slippers in Italy

Luini, Milan
The best of world-wide street food, the temple of Panzerotti! I'd never be able to describe in English what a Panzerotto is, thus I rely on this tradition bakery's description of its unique delicacy: Panzerotti dough recipe is a family secret, jealously kept by Luigi, Giuseppina's son, together with Emanuela e Cristina, the grandaughters. The reason for the success and longevity of the historical Luini activity is ascribing to the preservation of the bakery as a family business. The most demanded panzerotto is, beyond all doubt, the classic one, stuffed with mozzarella cheese and tomato." Located in the heart of Milan, just a couple of minutes walk from Piazza del DuomoLa Scala, Luini is perfect for a lunch break. Don't let yourself be discouraged by the queue. Tasting a Panzerotto is really worth waiting a while!
Simon, Wild About Travel

Photo by: Simon

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If you happen to visit Florence, I warmly suggest you drop in on Gelateria Carapina to have an unforgettable ice cream experience

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Europe

Italy
Focacceria Revello, Camogli
It's just a tiny bakery in the seafront, but it displays fabulous local food specialties. The real challenge when you enter Revello is refraining from buying (and eating) everything, but a few things are a must. Let's start with the obvious: focaccia. As for pizza, there are many versions with different ingredients. A must-taste is focaccia alla genovese (plain) and focaccia al formaggio (with cheese). This latter absolutely must be eaten hot, so better wait a few minutes until next one is extracted from the oven to taste something that I find absolutely heavenly. Then you can go on with a slice of Torta Pasqualina and Torta alle erbe (similar to French quiche' but filled with local ingredients so they actually taste quite different). One cannot leave Focacceria Revello without buying a few Camogliesi, a sort of pastry that Photo by: Simon looks like a 'bign' but doesn't taste like one (They are far more delicious!). My favorites are the Camogliesi al Rum, filled with chocolate flavored with a pinch of rum! If you're lucky enough to visit Camogli on a sunny day, take your delicacies and have a picnic on the beach while you enjoy the view. .
Simon, Wild About Travel

Gelateria Carapina, Florence


Although Italy is often associated with ice cream, it has become difficult to find good ones prepared according to the handmade tradition. If you happen to visit Florence, I warmly suggest you drop in on Gelateria Carapina to have an unforgettable ice cream experience. You can choose among traditional flavors and creative proposals. All are fantastic, as they only use natural, seasonal ingredients of excellent quality (no chemical powders). Last creation? Gelato al Panettone, an original way to follow the Christmas tradition!
Photo by: Simon

Simon, Wild About Travel

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We have dined on deliciously creative variations on traditional Italian themes, teamed with superb wines and served with flair

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Europe

Italy
Ristorante Da Bracali, Massa Maritima
In the last five years, two brothers - Francesco and Luca Bracali - have transformed their family's rustic trattoria into an elegant Michelin-starred restaurant that is sensually, sumptuously adult. Amid dcor that mixes classical lines with splashy Versace touches, we have dined on deliciously creative variations on traditional Italian themes, teamed with superb wines (my husband downloads the wine list in advance for the sheer pleasure of anticipation) and served with flair. (Via di Perolla n.2, 58020 Ghirlanda) Three reasons to go:1. Elegant, creative food 2. Wonderful setting 3. The charming da Bracali family
Photo by: Dianne

Dianne, La Bella Lingua

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A few years ago, we came across Panzano in Chianti, a tiny Tuscan town with few tourist sights but some great places to eat and drink

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Europe

Italy
Panzano, Chianti
A few years ago, we came across Panzano in Chianti, a tiny Tuscan town with few tourist sights but some great places to eat and drink. If you are a foodie, you may have heard of its famous butcher, if not, here's the scoop: The town is built upon a long, narrow street. At the far end is the Church of Santa Maria, which was completely renovated more than 100 years ago. At the other end of the town is the Antica Macelleria Cecchini, a butcher shop owned by master butcher (and showman), Dario Cecchini. He descends from a long line of butchers and has recreated an antique-style macelleria on the site of the family shop, which Photo by: Terri was destroyed during the war. He is an excellent cook, and has done a lot to promote Panzano and traditional Italian food. His shop is a tourist attraction as well as a place to buy unusual cuts of fresh and prepared meats. When you arrive, if you can get past the mob at the door, you will be offered a sample of fine Chianti wine from Dario's own vineyard, as well as samples of his sausage, olive oil, bread, "tuscan butter" and whatever he is offering that day. People come from all over to taste his meat and porchetta. Dario has also opened a restaurant, Solociccio, that serves several courses of, you guessed it, meat. The dinners are served family-style at tables seating 12. It is open for two seatings Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 7 to 9 p.m. and 9 to 11 p.m.; Sundays, 1 to 3 p.m. Reservations highly recommended: Via Chiantigiana 5, Panzano in Chianti ,011-39-055-852-727. Directly across the street is a wonderful wine bar, Enoteca Baldi, where we enjoyed a great lunch and a nice visit with the friendly owners: Piazza Bucciarelli, 25, Panzano in Chianti; 011-39-055-852-843 Market Day: Panzano in Chianti hosts a well-attended market every Sunday morning until 1 pm in the main square (Piazza Bucciarelli). You'll find flowers, vegetables, cheese, fruit, roasted chicken, clothes, hardware and more. All shops in Panzano in Chianti are open on Sunday until 1 p.m. Vino al Vino: This wine festival is held on the third weekend in September in the main square of Panzano (Piazza Bucciarelli). Wine from many of the Panzano wineries is available for sampling and you will surely enjoy the fine, festive atmosphere accompanied by live music on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. .
Terri, Europe Up Close

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About twenty minutes later, the THC smacked me in the face while I was purchasing curry fries

Photo by: bslmmrs

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Europe

Netherlands
Don't Eat the Space Cakes from the Dampkring Coffee Shop in Amsterdam
These space cakes are creamy. They are chocolatey, smooth and delicious. They are also the most deceiving a**holes you'll ever meet. When in London, my roommate and I encountered a guy named Michael who told us all about his latest excursion to Amsterdam. I thought he was dreamy because he whipped out a journal and showed us his stoned scribbles - side effects of the potent cake. We vowed to try them. I'm not into drugs. I never do them, which is largely attributed to the fact my body simply can't handle it. But I was in Amsterdam, and among other questionable acts that weekend, space cakes didn't seem so bad. The group I was with all ate one, and then we split up and agreed to meet later. About twenty minutes later, the THC smacked me in the face while I was purchasing curry fries. One minute I was fine; the next, I was stumbling past canal after canal after canal, completely fried out of my mind. The sun was peeling off my skin in layers. I stood in the Anne Frank house, staring at the guy in front of me, believing him to be my friend from home and willing him to recognize me. Somehow I found my way back to the hostel, where I passed out at 9 p.m. and slept right through Amsterdam's ridiculous gay pride weekend celebrations. The curry fries? Just as delicious coming back up. **So this one is getting a lot of attention, but I didn't mention the worst part. Where did I upchuck? Inside the Anne Frank house. Thankfully it happened in the public bathroom, but I had to shove a screaming Dutch lady out of the way and assault a teenager to get there. Hands down the most shameful thing I've ever done, and I fully paid my respects the next day. .
Candice, Candice Does the World
Photo by: JustineTheQueen

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It is the original 19th-century waiting lounge for first-class train passengers that dates back to 1881

Photo by: bslmmrs

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Europe

Netherlands
Grand Caf Restaurant & Pub, Amsterdam Central Station
This restaurant is located in the train station itself on platform 2b. It is the original 19th-century waiting lounge for first-class train passengers that dates back to 1881. Three reasons to go to Grand Caf Restaurant & Pub First Class: 1. To observe the real parrot who is contentedly perched at one end of the bar 2. The delicious club sandwiches 3. Relaxing, plush and quiet surroundings

Photo by: jelleprins

Vourneen, The Travel Nerd

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The tradition in Jaen is that when purchasing a beer in a tavern, the tapas are free, and usually randomly chosen by the bar

Photo by: Reinante El Pintor de Fuego

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Europe

Spain
Provencia De Jaen, Andalucia
Nestled conveniently close to the Andalusian triad of Seville, Granada, and Cordoba, Jaen is the province of the olive groves. It's a country of endless rolling landscapes with olive trees that produce one of Spain's most famous crops. The smaller cities and towns provide a real Spanish experience. When I was working for an international non-profit, I had the good fortune to live in the town of beda, right near Linares. The people were so welcoming, and the cuisine was simply spectacular. And of course, the tradition in Jaen is that when purchasing a beer in a tavern, the tapas are free, and usually randomly chosen by the bar. I was lucky enough to have Serrano Ham, Manchego Cheese, olives, and the specialty of the area -- small snails that come in a shot-glass of snail juice. When one is finished with the Photo by: tedbassman delectable snails, the true Jaen-er drinks the snail juice. The area is also known for its national parks, as well as mountainous regions and their rugged beauty. Not exactly the flamenco dancing, sangria drinking bull-fighting image most people have of Spain, but wonderful. .
Dan, Eight Hour Layover

The City of Granada


If you like beer and eating (then we should be friends), you'll like Granada. At 90% of the restaurants, you'll get a free tapa (mini plate of something tasty) with your drink. We're not sure about the official rules, but a beer, cocktail and even sometimes a coke comes with this tasty reward. Round two features a new, different tapa and so on to infinity, apparently. If you like the look of a place, pop in for a thirst-quencher and give their samples a spin. Each place serves up something unique. We found slices of assorted cured meats at one bar, and two-bite portions of stewed veggies in another. If you don't like it, you're not down any more than the price of your drink. Photo by: Eva Rees Hell, make an evening of it - but learn from our mistake and get a glass of water with every beer! The best place to start is the The Albayzn District, where lots of tapas locales stand door-to-door: Boabdil and Bodega Castaeda both have great atmospheres. .
Jeremy and Eva, Forks and Jets

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The Men del Di is usually the most budget-friendly

Photo by: Reinante El Pintor de Fuego

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Europe

Spain
Mson Don Carnol
Eat at a Spanish restaurant to try the local food. A great restaurant in Madrid for me was Mson Don Carnol, located at Calle Cava de San Miguel 6. You should try their Spanish paella. It was delicious! The staff was really friendly and in the end we even got 'orugo,' an alcoholic drink made with herbs. They say it's to digest your food better). The Men del Di is usually the most budget-friendly.

Photo by: Isabelle

Isabelle, Isabelles Travel Guide

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The owner Riccardo brought the Italian family recipes to Sweden and only uses the best products such as fresh pressed lemon, mango from Thailand and Piedmont hazelnuts
Photo by: *_filippo_*

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Europe

Sweden
Riccardos, Halmstad
How could I not have heard about this ice cream shop/caf until recently? The owner Riccardo brought the Italian family recipes to Sweden and only uses the best products such as fresh pressed lemon, mango from Thailand and Piedmont hazelnuts. Three reasons to visit Riccardos: 1. The most delicious homemade Italian ice cream. 2. Large outdoor caf. 3. Beautiful surroundings near Mllegrd Nature Reserve.

Photo by: Erica

Erica, Travel Blissful

Kniv Gaffel, Linkping


Along Drottninggatan, not too far from the city's pedestrian shopping streets, I found an outstanding Greek restaurant. A sign on the wall reads "All people consume food... but few know the art of eating!" In Kniv Gaffel, the chances are high that you'll savour every bite. Three reasons to eat at Kniv Gaffel: 1. Super tasty food including a terrific selection of starters 2. The exceptionally welcoming and friendly staff 3. The comfy seating with satine pillows by the windows.

Photo by: Erica

Erica, Travel Blissful

Kaffe & Konst, Malm


Kaffe & Konst, or Coffee & Art, is a music and art caf that offers good coffee, innovative food, and about ten exhibitions a year. It displays everything from classical painting and illustrations to photography and graphic design. Three reasons to drop by Kaffe & Konst: 1. Sandwiches and salads with rather unusual taste combinations 2. Their popular espresso and 3. Music events and art exhibitions throughout the year.

Photo by: Erica

Erica, Travel Blissful

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What sets this joint apart from the thousands littering Stockholm is its instantly disarming atmosphere

Photo by: *_filippo_*

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Europe

Sweden
Fika Your Heart Out at Caf 60, Stockholm
So I'm not a big coffee drinker, but Caf 60 on Sveavgen makes up for this by providing nourishing "basins" of green tea. With an unpretentious dcor, mounds of fikabrd (buns, pastries, tarts, biscotti), and generous portions of salads and foccacia sandwiches, what sets this joint apart from the thousands littering Stockholm is its instantly disarming atmosphere. Stress evaporates as soon as you step in.

Photo by: Lola

Lola, Geo Travelers' Niche

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Customers at this eatery will have the opportunity to enjoy good food and drinks that taste better than in any other restaurant

Photo by: Lincolnian (Brian)

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Europe

United Kingdom
Dans Le Noir? London
Clerkenwell Green is a nice area in London, but this won't be the thing you remember after eating at Dans le Noir? Nor will it be the food. Customers at this eatery will have the opportunity to enjoy good food and drinks that taste better than in any other restaurant. Why? Because they will only use the senses of taste and smell. The hall is completely dark, the waiters are blind and they will be your guides through this unique experience. Three reasons to go to Dans Le Noir? Re-discover your senses of smell and taste, enjoy a unique experience, and the food is great.
Photo by: Ewan-M's

Angela, Travel Calling

Japanese Okonomoyaki in London


If you think that London doesn't have good food, you're right - as long as you are talking about the London of 25 years ago. Modern London has some of the best restaurants in the world. But if you can't afford to eat somewhere like Gordon Ramsay's, there are plenty of more accessible options too. One of my favourite haunts is Abeno, a Japanese okonomoyaki restaurant in Bloomsbury. It's right near the British Museum so it's a perfect destination for after you've checked out the Parthenon Sculptures. They have other things on the menu too, but I really recommend the okonomoyaki, which they cook for you at your table. I especially like the Tokyo Mix (pork, squid and prawn) and the vegetarian Kiso Mix (mushrooms, lotus root and cheese).
Caitlin, Roaming Tales

Photo by: Dimitry B

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Tu Hwnt i'r Bont (Beyond the Bridge) is covered in green creepers and a summer aroma

Photo by: Lincolnian (Brian)

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Europe

United Kingdom
The Windsor Castle Pub, London
The Windsor Castle restaurant in London is a quintessential English pub that serves great Thai food and surrounds diners with kitschy royal family portraits. It's off the beaten path, full of locals enjoying a pint, and could generally be described as an oxymoronic experience. It would be my favorite neighborhood diner if it were in the United States. Bonus London gem: After sampling the laid-back setting and great Thai food at The Windsor Castle pub, experience a play at Shakespeare's Globe Theater. It's like stepping back in time, an exact replica of his theater from the Middle Ages. Inexpensive standing-room-only tickets directly in front of the stage make the experience even more similar to Shakespeare's time!
Dee, Travel and Travails

Photo by: Dee

Big Bite, Willesden Green, London


The most amazing chips in London! Not Frito Lays chips, "french fries" chips. I'm pretty sure not that many people know about my favorite chips shop because it's a half-hour tube ride out of central London, located right next to the Willesden Green tube station. Lucky for me and my roommates, it was right up the street from our house. It was a regular stop on a lazy weekend or on the way home from a night out. Just go in, ask for your chips, and get a huge paper cone stuffed with piping hot chips. You can douse them with salt and vinegar from bottles sitting on the counter. It's practically a meal and a comfort food that never grows old. .
Photo by: Joy

Joy, Be a Travel Bee

Beyond the Bridge in Llanrwst, Wales


It's been raining all morning. I splash in and out of puddles on my way to the tiny tea house beyond the bridge. Tu Hwnt i'r Bont (Beyond the Bridge) is covered in green creepers and a summer aroma. Inside, a pot of tea and the best (and by this I mean I'll trade my writing hand and throw in an iPod best) scones await.

Photo by: Vivek

Neha, Flying Suitcase

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They serve a tender, moderately spicy, melt-in-your-mouth parcel of chicken'y goodness

Photo by: Taras Kalapun

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Middle East

Syria
Mister Chicken, Aleppo
In all my wanderings in the Middle East, Mister Chicken take-away, in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, has the best chicken shawarma sandwich I've ever had. Period. So good, I've been known to eat there twice...in the same afternoon! They serve a tender, moderately spicy, melt-in-your-mouth parcel of chicken'y goodness, garnished with grilled vegetables all tucked into a tightly rolled flat bread. This take-out-only joint is located on sharia Bab Al Faraj, just a few meters away from Aleppo's famous Clock Tower. It's a cheap meal at 50 Syrian Pounds (approx. $1.10 US) per sandwich. Inch your way to the cash to place and pay for your order; then hand the receipt to one of the nice gentlemen manning the large skewers of marinated chicken.

Photo by: Francoise

For the homesick Canadian, they also have the largest selection of Canada Dry soft drinks I've ever seen. The local crowd spilling onto the sidewalk from morning until late at night are sure sign you've hit the chicken sandwich jackpot. It's a mystery to me why Mister Chicken isn't mentioned in guidebooks. I'm not complaining, more tasty chicken for the rest of us I guess. .
Francoise, Cult of Travel

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We spent five nights at an awesome, thatched-roof condo complex here -- Casa Manana

Photo by: Wonderlane

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North America

Mexico
Bucerias
Bucerias: This town is just 10 miles from the Puerto Vallarta airport. We spent five nights at an awesome, thatched-roof condo complex here, Casa Manana, which was a welcome respite from Old Town Puerto Vallarta, where we'd spent a week at family Spanish-language school (the Spanish Experience Center, which I'd also highly recommend). Once again, we picked a condo that was within walking distance to town, where we found some yummy beachfront restaurants. One we went to twice because I couldn't get enough of the best sangria ever: Karen's Place, ranked the #1 eatery in Bucerias, according to Trip Advisor users. I agree!
Photo by: Kara

Kara , The Vacation Gals

Tacos Rigos, Cancun


"Que Ricos los Rigos" (how delicious is Rigos!) is the tag line for this taqueria in Cancun. With over 20 years in business downtown, it's a favourite with locals for their delicious and inexpensive tacos. Go for lunch and order from the "comida corrida" menu, a starter (usually three soup choices), a main and a dessert for 53 pesos, a bargoon! I'm addicted to the regular old tacos de arrachera, but Hubby loves to freak me out by ordering the "tacos de ojo" (eyeball tacos). The walls are covered in a huge mural of cartoon characters, bright and garish and ever so fun. Rigos is not too far from Market 28, so we occasionally see tourists there, but it's still pretty much a secret spot for most travellers.
Photo by: Kelly

Kelly, Cancun Canuck

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After the co-owner's second or third trip up the steep stairway from the kitchen to attend to us, I began to feel like she was a long lost Mexican aunt
Photo by: Wonderlane

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North America

Mexico
Gaby's Restaurant, Puerto Vallarta
As the only diners on the rooftop terrace of this small, hill-top restaurant in Mexico, my family almost had the place to ourselves. The sole exception was the Mexican couple who owned the place and lived there. But after the co-owner's second or third trip up the steep stairway from the kitchen to attend to us, I began to feel like she was a long lost Mexican aunt. After we finished our meal, the woman gave us a tour of her kitchen and showed us some black and white pictures of what the town looked like in the 1960s. The $35 tab for our meal and drinks seemed like it was from the 1960s too.
Photo by: Steven

Steven, Travelojos

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Tohono Chul Park proves that gardening in the Sonoran Desert is not only possible, it's beautiful

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North America

United States
Reindeer Sausage, Anchorage, Alaska
On Sunday mornings in the heart of Anchorage they have a market downtown with fresh produce, Alaskan souvenirs, and various other food vendors. Among those vendors they sell Reindeer Sausage that is savory and delicious.

Photo by:

Hilarye, Dotting the Map

Tohono Chul Park, Tucson, Arizona


Want to eat breakfast or lunch in a lush garden setting? Bet you thought that Tucson is all desert? Well, it is. But Tohono Chul Park proves that gardening in the Sonoran Desert is not only possible, it's beautiful. Sit on the patio of the Tohono Chul Tearoom (housed in a hacienda-style adobe building) for breakfast as hummingbirds zoom in for a sip from red Salvia blossoms. Desert wrens will be fighting over the toast crumbs that you leave behind. My favorite? The Tohono Chul omelet filled with bacon, cheddar, pepperjack cheese and guacamole. When you're finished, visit the gardens ($7.00 entry fee) to walk the trails or browse the art exhibits in The Gallery. .
Photo by: DrStarbuck

Donna, My Itchy Travel Feet

Samovar Tea Lounge, San Francisco


I'm not sure how secret this is if you live anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area, but hands down my favorite place for tea, yummy healthy food from around the globe, and sitting for hours, chatting with friends or typing away on a computer, is Samovar Tea Lounge. The one in the Castro, no doubt. Oh my God, I'm having Masala Chai tea pangs just thinking about it.

Photo by: calmenda

Christine, Living Holistically with a Sense of Humor

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Talk to people who love food to find the best restaurants

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North America

United States
New Belgium Brewery, Colorado
Not only does New Belgium have great beer, but they've also got a free brewery tour (with free samples!) and an environmentally-friendly business. They encourage bike commuting, use wind power, offer spent wheat for feed, and even have compostable cups. Plus, their office has a slide.

Photo by: Megan

Megan, See. Write. Live

The French Pantry, Jacksonville, Florida


Talk to people and follow the trail of good food to find hidden gems, like the French Pantry in Jacksonville, Florida. In towns like Jacksonville, Florida, where food gems lay hidden beneath a profusion of chain restaurants and strip mall mediocrity, you have to talk to people who love food to find the best restaurants. We found the French Pantry by picking up a loaf of delicious french bread at a small gourmet food market. We went back to the market the next day to find out where they purchased their bread and learned about the French Pantry, a bakery that supplies restaurants in Jacksonville.

Photo by: Akila and Patrick

The restaurant is located in a windowless concrete industrial building next to car parts manufacturers with no attempt made at producing ambience. But, the smell of fresh baking bread drew us into the shabby little storefront. When I had my first taste of their bruschetta, a composition of soft, toasted french bread layered with pesto and bufala mozzarella, surrounded by a sweet tomato salad, I couldn't stop smiling. Their cheesecake is what I dream of when I dream of cheesecake, velvety, smooth, and soft with a hint of cream cheese and sour cream, atop a buttery graham crust. The French Pantry is one of our all-time favorite restaurants in the world, but the only way to find it is by talking to people who know and love food in that area. Don't sell your trip short by being shy, Talk to people who love food to find the best restaurants. .
Akila and Patrick, The Road Forks

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The restaurant is a little gaudy, but the food is out of this world

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North America

United States
Cuban Food in Miami
While this topic itself isn't a huge secret, the specific places that I've come to appreciate over the years just might be. Every summer, my family would drive down to Miami. That was as close as they could get to their native Cuba. The main attraction was the food. Eating in different restaurants, trying the best Cuban food south Florida had to offer. Versailles (3555 Southwest 8th Street Miami, FL) is probably the most well-known, and for good reason. It's the epicenter of Cuban-American culture in the United States, and surprisingly well-priced. Three Guys From Miami does a great post on the restaurant, its history, and the amazing cuisine (which is surprisingly inexpensive). Lesser known, but equally good (and sometimes better) is La Habana Vieja (3622 Coral Way Miami, FL). The restaurant is a little gaudy, but the food is Photo by: the queen of subtle out of this world. For my personal recommendation? The Ropa Vieja, with a side of black beans and fried plantains. It's the best you'll get outside Havana. There's a bartender named Juan Juaristi. Ask him about Jai Alai. .
Dan, Eight Hour Layover

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Wrapper licking is a side effect of these coco puffs

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North America

United States
Liliha Bakery in Honolulu
When you go to Oahu, do yourself a favor and stop into Liliha Bakery in Honolulu for coco puffs. These creamy pastries are absolutely onolicious. I hate to use this overused phrase, but it truly describes your first bite of a coco puff - it melts in your mouth. Liliha Bakery is very popular with the locals, but I've never seen it mentioned in a guidebook. On a flight from Oahu to Maui, I noticed several locals carrying Liliha boxes, which I'm sure would delight their friends and family. I've written about Liliha Bakery's coco puffs and how I highly recommend you give it a try. One reader, Aja, wrote this comment on my post about coco puffs:
Photo by: Go Visit Hawaii

"All I can say is WOW - stumbled across this post before going to spend a week in Oahu and it was more than worth the $50 round trip cab ride from Waikiki just to taste one of those amazing coco puffs!! Of course, I couldn't just stop at one and after buying a box to go I was left licking the wrappers after the last one was eaten. Thank you so much for this recommendation!!" Yes, wrapper licking is a side effect of coco puffs. Liliha Bakery is located in Honolulu at 515 N. Kuakini Street. .
Sheila, Go Visit Hawaii

Risotto at Besh Steakhouse, Louisiana


Risotto, when prepared correctly, is a culinary offering that I would ask for with my last meal. Inside of Harrah's Casino is Besh Steakhouse, a high-end restaurant that serves delicious Louisiana-inspired meals and fine wine. One thing you won't find on the menu is the risotto. However, if you tell your waiter, "Shannon Lane said I MUST try the risotto," then you'll learn all about my travel secret.

Photo by: [puamelia]

Shannon, Travel Tips and Deals

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You could eat your way through a tour of New Orleans, which is why most visitor's travel to-do list includes tasting its world-famous cuisine

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North America

United States
Jacques-Imo's Caf, New Orleans
You could eat your way through a tour of New Orleans, which is why most visitor's travel to-do list includes tasting its world-famous cuisine. The best meal you ever had in your life is the last one you just ate, because it's near impossible to pick a favorite. Many out-of-this-world restaurants are tucked along quiet streets in residential areas. There's no slick marketing to alert tourists these unassuming spots are crazy good. Suggesting one place among so many worthy contenders is no easy task, but if asked, I'd direct you uptown to delicious Jacques-Imo's Cafe. Be warned: This "travel secret" is no secret to locals. They don't take reservations, and you can expect anywhere from a one to three hour wait. What's on the menu worth standing around for? Anything they serve. You could close your eyes and randomly point to Photo by: S an item, to be served a meal you'll dream about for days. .
S, The Word Wire

Must Eat Davanni's Pizza While in the Twin Cities. Must.


You must eat Davanni's Pizza while in the Twin Cities. Must. I'm not a big pizza hound. When I travel to big cities, I prefer to check out the unsung sights and eateries. With the numerous ethnic groups in Minneapolis and St.Paul, there are scores of places to indulge your inner foodie. However, if you can make one of your meals a pizza at Davanni's, you won't regret it. I could barely slobber out an "Oh my God!" during my first slice back in 2000. Afterwards all I could talk about was how to smuggle a dozen pies back to Texas. There are several locations in the Twin Cities so there's really no excuse not to try it, people. Slobber at will. .
Photo by: romadden84

Catherine , Mischief and Impermanent Bliss

Cheap(er) Buffets in Las Vegas


What would a visit to Las Vegas be without a trip to the buffet? The buffets on the strip are rather costly, but you can get the same quality buffet at much less cost if you step away from the strip for awhile and visit one of the Station Casinos located all around Las Vegas and Henderson. My favorite is Sunset Station Casino.

Photo by: jimg944

Hilarye, Dotting the Map

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There is nothing better than enjoying a sparkling beverage as you watch the cityscape transform at dusk

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North America

United States
Le Pain Quotidien
This international chain of Belgian bakeries and restaurants serves simple, elegant food: soup, salads, breakfast, homemade pastries and handmade organic bread. Le Pain Quotidien is French for "Daily Bread." They have locations all over the world, with several in New York. Breakfast there is a great way to start your day. When I'm not alone, I usually share the 'Organic Baker's Basket,' served with slices of different kinds of bread. On all the tables you get jams and chocolate spreads -- and trust me, they are yummy! And every Pain Quotidien has a communal table so take a seat next to a neighbor, share the Brunette (chocolate spread) and enjoy the conversation. .
Photo by: Isabelle

Isabelle, Isabelles Travel Guide

The Apple Pie Bakery, Hudson Valley


There are a slew of reasons to visit my hood, the beautiful Hudson Valley region of New York State. M any people know about the famed restaurants of the Culinary Institute of America, located in Hyde Park. But did you know they have an on-site bakery/caf? The Apple Pie Bakery is the place to get freshly baked bread, croissants, baked goods and gourmet desserts to enjoy there - or to go. But they also serve both breakfast and lunch at downright bargain prices. Breakfast is the best value with the Raclette and French Toast both coming in under 4$.
Photo by: pink_fish13

Robin, My Melange

The View Restaurant & Lounge, New York


The View is a revolving restaurant and bar right bang in the center of Times Square and is my absolute favourite New York experience. From one side, you overlook the Hudson River and from the other, the giant glowing lights of Times Square. At sunset this bar is truly magical. There is nothing better than enjoying a sparkling beverage as you watch the cityscape transform at dusk and see the lights twinkle as they come on across the metropolis. Three reasons to go to The View Restaurant & Lounge: 1. The name says it all -- the view! 2. The novelty factor of experiencing a revolving restaurant. 3. The napkins (with a map of the famous buildings you see from the restaurant) make great souvenirs.
Vourneen, The Travel Nerd

Photo by: Francisco Diez

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A recent addition to Philadelphia's up-and-coming Northern Liberties neighborhood, Piazza at Schmidts is a popular spot among locals

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North America

United States
Piazza at Schmidts, Philadelphia
A recent addition to Philadelphia's up-and-coming Northern Liberties neighborhood, Piazza at Schmidts is a popular spot among locals. The new, pricey apartment complex has an extremely modern glass and metal design located amongst classic northeast American architecture. Buildings encircle a massive brick square surrounded by vintage clothing stores, restaurants and bars. Eastern European-like, stringed street lamps hang above the grey brick courtyard scattered with patches of greenery. The courtyard is especially busy in the summer when Phillies games are shown on a massive jumbotron in the courtyard, Questlove, drummer for The Roots and Philadelphian, hosts open parties on the Photo by: ginnerobot weekends and hipsters surround PYT, a burger joint with a nightclub located in the rear. The Piazza has markets and events for people at any age, year round. How to get there: A massive dirt parking lot is located next to it. Parking is free, which is unheard of in Philadelphia (aka the land of Parking Wars). It's not a far walk from Old City, which has a few subway and Patco stops. From Market Street, just walk about ten minutes North on N. 2nd Street. It will be on your right. .
Bobbi Lee, Heels and Wheels Online

Sweet Potato French Fries, Squatters, SLC


Squatters Pub and Brewery is by far my favorite restaurant in all of Salt Lake City, and trust me, there are quite a few good ones to choose from. I have never had one thing from their menu that I haven't enjoyed. I'm not a drinker, but if you are, they also offer a variety of choices brewed right under their own roof. What I enjoy the most is their perfectly crunchy sweet potato french fries... but I skip the fry sauce.

Photo by: little blue hen

Hilarye, Dotting the Map

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Here you'll find comfort food, like turkey with all the fixings, open-faced roast beef sandwiches, and breakfast served all day

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North America

United States
Miss Lyndonville Diner, Vermont
Tucked away in the northeast Kingdom of Vermont in the tiny college town of Lyndonville is the Miss Lyndonville Diner. I've eaten at my fair share of diners all over the country, and none of them can hold a candle to the Miss Lyndonville. Originally built in a train car, the diner has since been expanded and cocooned by an actual building. If you want to eat where the locals eat, this is it. You'll see families here, college students and professors, and blue collar workers -- a real cross-section of small-town Vermont. A cluster of regulars, working class men, will be sitting on stools at the counter, four or five abreast like swallows on a wire, reading the newspaper or trading jokes with the kitchen staff. Meals are served quickly, hot off the grill or out of the oven, and the waitresses are fast, efficient, and friendly.

Photo by: Gray

You can get a hearty meal for under $10 per person so it's perfect for poor starving college students and working-class folks alike. The food may not be organic vegetarian fare, but it's not greasy either. Here you'll find comfort food, like turkey with all the fixings, open-faced roast beef sandwiches, and breakfast served all day. Their french toast is to die for, and I am particularly fond of their specialty sandwiches. The Miss Lyndonville is located on Route 5 in Lyndonville, Vermont. .
Gray, Solo Friendly

Ballard Farmer's Market, Seattle


Everyone goes to the Pike Place Market when they visit Seattle, and I'm here to tell you they're wrong. Pike Place is horrendously crowded; even though they sell a fascinating array of regional produce and other staples like king crab, you can find the same things at many of the neighborhood markets -- and you can usually get a much more reasonable price. In Ballard, a fishing neighborhood of exposed brick and cold beer, you'll find a festive market: folk music, families with dogs, wood-fired pizza. It's often crowded, but much less so than Pike Place. And it's so much more authentic.
Photo by: Megan

Megan, See. Write. Live

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Our food was mind-blowingly good

Photo by: Kopfj

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South America

Brazil
Cozinha Aberta, Lencois, Bahia
After a long day of hiking in Chapada Diamantina, my friend and I went in search of Cozinha Aberta, a restaurant recommended in our guidebooks. We walked into what looked like someone's home. It was beautiful and rustic with just a few tables and simple decorations. There was an open kitchen where we could see a woman making everything from scratch. Wanting something I hadn't eaten yet in Brazil, I ordered coconut curry chicken. Lovely, well-presented plates of food were brought to us. I took my first bite. My friend and I looked at each other with wide eyes. Our food was mind-blowingly good. It was unreal. I took my second bite. Amazingness confirmed. The following night, we decided to go to the other Cozinha Aberta restaurant, just around the corner from the one we'd already been to. I couldn't resist the handmade pasta I saw the cook rolling as we entered the restaurant. I ordered ravioli and was again treated to an incredible meal. It was the freshest pasta and marinara sauce I've ever had. In the food at Cozinha Aberta, we tasted massive quantities of love, care and passion. Three years later, I can still remember those tastes. .
Ekua, Girl, Unstoppable
Photo by: "Adam Jones, Ph.D."

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Do yourself a favor and check into Barranco Backpackers or The Point and escape the traffic and crush of tourism ground zero

Photo by: epicxero

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South America

Peru
Barranco District, Lima
Everyone seems to hate Lima. And Lima hasn't quite figured out that its incessant push of tourists into the Miraflores district is what's making that happen. Do yourself a favor and check into Barranco Backpackers or The Point and escape the traffic and crush of tourism ground zero. Barranco is a small, romantic and quiet district poised on high cliffs overlooking the ocean. A more bohemian nightlife subtly offers options from high-priced swank to smokey dives. Start your morning with ceviche at el Muelle - it opens early to serve up its fresh haul of local seafood (Limeos don't eat ceviche after lunch). Work up a hunger and for a late meal find the homey Canta Photo by: Eva Rees Rana (another A+ spot for ceviche). Their dishes are very generous, more than enough for two to share. Seafood Tacu Tacu is the ultimate comfort food: refried beans and rice are combined into a pancake, cooked together and covered with a delicious seafood sauce. Try the Chicha Morada here, if you haven't yet. You'll find the perfect ending to any day at Bodega Bar Juanito. This neighborhood institution draws the whole gamut of crowds, who all for its cheap beers and awe-inspiring Jamon Norte sandwiches. .
Jeremy and Eva, Forks and Jets

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Front Cover

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Contributing Authors
This Travel Secrets eBook is the result of a unique collaborative project, the first of its kind to take place on the Internet. It would not have been possible without the amazing community spirit and unrivalled travel knowledge of the talented writers and bloggers listed below. Take a virtual world tour around their inspiring travel blogs. What are your Best Kept Travel Secrets? Join our team of travel writers and become a Travel Secrets Author.
Stephanie Eric Joy Kelly Abi Francoise Dan Neha Lola Sheila Keith and Amy Isabelle Christine 20 Something Travel A Man Nowhere Be a Travel Bee Cancun Canuck Cheap Weekend Breaks Cult of Travel Eight Hour Layover Flying Suitcase Geo Travelers' Niche Go Visit Hawaii Green Around the Globe Isabelles Travel Guide Living Holistically with a Sense of Humor Catherine Mischief and Impermanent Bliss Robin My Melange Carrie My Several Worlds Caitlin Roaming Tales Megan See. Write. Live Andrew The Brooklyn Nomad Akila and Patrick The Road Forks Kara The Vacation Gals Dee Travel and Travails Angela Travel Calling Shannon Travel Tips and Deals Steven Travelojos Dina and Ryan Vagabond Quest Simon Wild About Travel Liz Daniel Cate Candice Cheryl Marie Hilarye Terri Jeremy and Eva Ekua Ms. Gourmantic Bobbi Lee Dianne Jeremy Donna Carina Nancy Rowena Gray Christopher Vourneen S Erica Cecil Liz Audrey and Dan Earl A Girl in Asia Backpack Foodie Caffeinated Traveler Candice Does the World Cheryl Marie Cordeiro Dotting the Map Europe Up Close Forks and Jets Girl, Unstoppable Gourmantic Heels and Wheels Online La Bella Lingua Living the Dream My Itchy Travel Feet My Miss Adventures Nancy the Gnomette Rubber Slippers in Italy Solo Friendly The Daily Feta The Travel Nerd The Word Wire Travel Blissful Travel Feeder Travelogged Uncornered Market Wandering Earl

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