THREE WAYS TO EXPERIENCE DOMINICA’S HOT SPRINGS FOR FREE

Dominica’s Hot Springs provide the perfect relaxation after a long day of hiking on the tropical island.

Most of these hot springs are located in the village of Wotten Waven, where the roads are lined with spas.

These spas make use of the Nature Island’s naturally heated sulphur springs.

Some of the more popular spas, like Screws Spa and Tia’s actually feature a series of artificial pools with different temperatures.

If you want to avoid the “Caribbean kitsch” vibes of Wotten Waven, save some money and also better experience Dominica, then you need to check out these tips on

How to Experience Dominica’s Hot Springs for Free

Screws Spa Dominica

1- At the base of Trafalgar Falls

Relax in a warm, gently flowing sulfuric stream while also enjoying the view of the majestic waterfall and listening to its distant rumble. If the water is hot and you need to cool down you could make the short trek to the waterfall and soak yourself in its plunge pool.

Dominicas Hot Springs Guide

2 – Rodney’s Retreat and Wellness Center

Stop off at this eco-resort in Soufriere for breakfast or dinner, and then take a short hike to a secluded natural hot tub. This hot spring is only about fifteen minutes away and surrounded by lush forest. The only sounds to be heard are the swaying of the trees and the occasional bird.

Rodneys Retreat Dominica

3 – Bubble Beach Spa

There’s an amazing point in Soufriere Bay where the geothermic activity of the island makes the water near the shore pleasantly warm.

The Bubble Beach Spa is free to the public, although a small donation would be appreciated.

This is a cool place to relax and our favorite of Dominica’s Hot Springs, so me made an entire post about relaxing at the Bubble Beach Spa

Welcome to Bubble Beach

There you have it, three free ways to experience Dominica’s Hot Springs. Other than being free, all of these places have the added bonus of allowing you to truly be in nature (since it is the nature island!) instead of in an artificial pool.

Wouldn’t you rather bask in sulfuric springs where you could be admiring a view of Scott’s Head or Trafalgar Falls instead of a building? Wouldn’t you rather soak in solitude listening to the rustling of rain forest trees instead of the chatter of tourists fresh off a cruise ship?

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FIVE REASONS TO USE AIRBNB

Airbnb is a unique website that offers accommodation in over 34,000 cities in over 190 countries. This community marketplace actually doesn’t own any of the properties that it connects its guests with.

Since it was founded in 2008, the company has connected millions of budget travelers with unique, affordable lodging. If you’ve never checked out Airbnb before it’s definitely worth checking out when planning your next trip.

FIVE REASONS TO USE AIRBNB

Airbnb headquarters Toronto - picture via Wikipedia

1 – HOSTS HAVE LOCAL KNOWLEDGE

Sure it’s fun to explore New York City or any other new destination with other travelers that you met at the hostel, but most likely they’re just as clueless as you are about local things like how to find the best pizza or great spots for craft beer
.
Airbnb hosts are usually invaluable sources of local wisdom and they know all of the customs of the area.

You Airbnb host will ensure that you avoid all the tourist traps.

2 – IDEAL FOR BUDGET TRAVEL

Just scroll the price range bar to whatever amount you’re willing to spend and you’re almost guaranteed to find a room (or a tent, or a hammock) that’s probably less than the price of a similarly located hostel and definitely less than a hotel.

3 – YOU COULD LIVE LIKE ROYALTY

For less than $150 a night you have a choice of quite a few castles to sleep in. You could do a Euro-trip and only stay in castles! There are Castles listed in Ireland, England, Croatia, France, Spain, Italy and even Colorado.

There are also many other luxury accommodations if a castle is not really your style.

Stay in a castle with Airbnb

4 – PRIVACY ON A BUDGET

The The social aspect of a hostel is great, but everyone enjoys some quiet time and Airbnb is perfect for that.
Unlike couchsurfing, you have no obligation to hang out with your host so you could relax on your own whenever you want to.

5 – IT’S NOT THAT RISKY

Travel is always risky. From getting your luggage stolen to getting ripped off by a cabbie; anything could happen to you while you’re on the road. You need to be constantly cautious with everything, and that inlcudes booking with AirBnb.

The internet is filled with Airbnb horror stories, but there are also tips on staying safe. Read all customer reviews of the place that you want to stay, ask your host questions and search for them on social media to learn more about them.

Trust your instincts and make smart decisions for the duration of your stay, and leave if it seems unsafe.

So there they are, Five Reasons to use Airbnb. Whether a European castle for a week or a South American villa for a month, there really is nothing like the Airbnb experience.

Need another reason to use Airbnb? Here’s an Airbnb Credit

There are also Five reasons for staying in a hostel. So when it comes down to budget travel, remember that you have more than one choice!

RELAXING AT BUBBLE BEACH SPA IN DOMINICA

The Bubble Beach Spa in Soufriere Bay

lets your enjoy the beach and a spa for the perfect post-hike experience

The Nature Isle is renowned for many things; amazing hikes, therapeutic hot springs and crystal clear beaches, but there’s only one spot on the island where you could experience the the islands warm water and gently crashing waves at the same time.

Welcome to Bubble Beach

Bubble Beach Spa in Dominica is a small area in Soufriere Bay where the geothermic activity of the island causes the water near the shore to be warm, and even pleasantly hot in some spots.

Dominica Travel Tips - Bubble Beach

The beach has been blocked off with stones to trap as much of the warm water as possible. Even on a rainy day (like the day that the below picture was taken), the beach provides enough warmth.

Bubble Beach Spa Dominica

The small bubbles of gas escaping from beneath the hot stones lend to the “Bubble Beach” name. Similar bubbles can be seen when snorkeling at the more popular Champagne Beach.
The stones nearest to the shore are piping hot, and the water gets cooler as it gets deeper allowing you to choose a perfect place to relax.

Unlike the over-priced, touristy hot springs like Screw’s Spa and Tia’s Spa at Wotten Waven; the Bubble Beach Spa is free to the public although a small donation would be appreciated.

Dominica Rum Punch at Bubble Beach

You could make a small donation and still buy two cups of homemade rum punch (the coconut and the passion fruit are my favorites but still try all!), you would have still spent less money than if you visited Screw’s Sulphur Spa.

Soufriere Bay at night

And you definitely will not get this splendid view of Scotts Head from Wotten Waven at twilight! Other than sweet views like that as the sun sets, the Bubble Beach Spa really stands out because the pleasant and sublte change of temperature caused by the motion of the waves is unlike anything else in Dominica.

The BUbble Beach Spa is not the only place in Dominica where you could bask in therapeutic warm water, check out Three places where you could experience Dominica’s Hot Springs for free

Mirrorless vs DSLR Cameras For Travel

Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.

Photography and travel go well together. Capturing the unique ambiance of a destination is almost as important as soaking in the destination while you’re there.

Pictures from an old trip bring back the feeling of being there in the moment. The perfect photograph triggers so many emotions, and the quest for the perfect photograph always leads to the quest for the perfect camera.

Mirrorless VS DSLR

When it comes to taking better travel photos, the question that always comes up is whether to buy a DSLR camera or a mirrorless camera. Both cameras give you more control than a traditional point and shoot and both offer more control than the best camera phones (even with the best apps installed), so in the question of Mirrorless vs DSLR what camera is better suited to someone who enjoys traveling as much as photography?

THE BASICS

DSLR stands for digital single-lens reflex, they use a mirror within the camera that reflects light to the viewfinder that allows you to preview the shot you’re taking. For more on how a DSLR works, check out this video.
Mirrorless cameras are so-called because they don’t feature this mirror, leading to some advantages as well as a few disadvantages.

sony nex mirrorless

SIZE

DSLR cameras need to make room for the mirrors and prism resulting in a bulky body.
Mirrorless cameras pack the same technology (and sometimes more) of a DSLR into a smaller body. They’re much easier to pack when traveling, easier to walk around with and much less intimidating. People are much more natural when a huge pro camera isn’t pointed at them.

The much smaller size of a mirrorless camera compared to a DSLR comes in really handy when you have to travel light. You could fit more lenses in your camera bag or even use the bag to store other electronics.

travel photography tips

PICTURE QUALITY

It’s hard to tell the difference between pictures taken by a DSLR and those taken by a mirrorless camera that are in a similar price-range. With mirrorless cameras that have full-frame image sensors getting more market-share, the reasons for still buying a DSLR are dwindling fast!

dslr vs mirrorless travel photography

AUTOFOCUS SPEED

Autofocus has been called the new mega-pixel, and it allows you to quickly point your camera and snap rapid fire shots of your subject.
DSLRs once reigned supreme in the autofocus realm by measuring the convergence of two beams of incoming light (called phase detection) as opposed the to method used in mirrorless cameras and point and shoots called contrast detection.

This advantage no longer applies since even entry-level mirrorless cameras now use a hybrid autofocus system.

entry level mirrorless vs dslr

PRICE

At the entry-level, you’ll still be able to get a DSLR that’s cheaper than a mirrorless camera. Unless you’re in a rush to buy a camera, it’s worth saving a little extra money and buying a mirrorless.

mirrorless camera vs dslr

BATTERY LIFE

Having to use the screen on a mirrorless camera or even the electronic viewfinder to preview your image causes the battery of a mirrorless camera running out of juice faster than a DSLR.

Many people consider this the deciding factor in the battle of Mirrorless VS DSLR and and up buying DSLR cameras. However, battery life is not as important as it was a few years ago. Newer technology means that batteries charge much faster, and there are more than enough outlets in airports, planes, and trains.

mirrorless camera benefits

DESIGN

The basic DSLR look has stayed the same since the days of film, when they were simply called SLR cameras. Form should always follow function, and if a design works well then there’s no reason to change it, but you have to admit that DSLR cameras look really outdated.
Mirrorless camers either look like vintage rangefinders or minimalist sleek beauties. Basically, mirrorless cameras look really cool!

Mirrorless Vs DSLR: And the winner is Mirrorless!

There may be a few DSLR benefits that were not included because these are more beneficial for the professional photographer, but as mirrorless cameras become better the DSLR advantages are quickly eroding. Mirrorless is the future and many companies are focusing on developing their mirrorless options.

Even if you already have a DSLR camera and you’ve already invested heavy in lenses for it, it’s worth it to buy an adapter for your lenses and make the switch.

Guide to Trinidad’s North Coast Beaches

Unlike the other islands of the Caribbean, Trinidad hardly inspires images of beaches with pristine white sand.
The island’s dependence on oil instead of tourism means that the beaches are hardly advertised and are mostly known to locals or foreigners with some connection to the country.

This means that the beaches remain a secret.

The North Coast Beaches are considered to be the best on the island, and they’re also extremely diverse.

They range from crowded beaches packed with tourists, to empty stretches of sand that are accessible only by hiking through the rain forests of the Northern Range.

Here’s a guide to some of Trinidad’s North Coast Beaches

 Trinidad’s North Coast Beaches Guide

Maracas Beach

Maracas beach is definitely the most popular beach on the island of Trinidad. It’s always packed with locals and foreigners alike.


This popularity is due to the fact that Maracas Beach is less than an hour away from the Capital City of Port of Spain via a scenic drive on the winding North Coast Road…..

But also because it’s the most famous spot on the island to get bake and shark;

Trinidad Street Food; Bake and Shark

Bake and shark consists of battered and deep-fried shark meat placed in a fried flat bread and then drizzled with spicy local sauces.

The crispy, golden slices of shark meat are tasty enough, but the sauces are what gives this sandwich its kick.

In the Trinidad episode of Bizarre Foods, host Andrew Zimmern called it the best sandwich he ever had.

Eat it like he did and skip the mustard and ketchup, but make sure you slather it with garlic sauce a garlic flavored mayo, tamarind sauce a sweet chutney that’s somewhere between barbeque and general tso, and chadon beni a pesto like sauce make with the culantro plant.

Las Cuevas

Meaning “The Caves” in Spanish, this beach is just a short drive after Maracas. It’s much less crowded than Maracas and less commercialized. The caves that this beach is named after provide some shade from the tropical heat.

Unless you want a bank and shark, it’s always worth the extra few minutes to get to Las Cuevas beach.

Trinidad’s North Coast Beaches, Las Cuevas

Blanchisseuse

Even further along the North Coast Road, there is the village of Blanchisseuse. This quiet fishing village is home to scenic coves and secluded beaches.

One of the best swimming spots on the island is where the Marianne River meets the ocean. There’s also a beach that’s accessible via a small flight of concrete stairs next to the road. Avocat Falls is located minutes away from this beach and is a fun, relaxing hike.

Trinidad’s North Coast Beaches, Blanchisseuse

Paria Beach

The trek to Paria beach begins at Blanchisseuse and follows a trail through mountanous forest.

The hike winds along the cliffs of the Northern Range and offers spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea.

Paria Beach is also accessible by boat, but the scenis hike is well worth is; especially since you pass scenis landmarks like turtle rock and the Paria arch.
Hiking to Paria Beach

Turtle rock is a long jagged rock formation that juts out into the ocean, and the Paria arch is a large natural arch that marks the beginning of Paria Beach.

Nothing beats a swim at the beach after hiking through sweltering rainforest.

Turtle Rock, Paria

Macqueripe

Unlike the other beaches on this list, Macqueripe is west of Port of Spain.

Instead of driving along the winding North Coast Road, this beach is accessed by driving towards Chaguaramas and then heading North along the Tucker Valley Road.

The mouth of Macqueripe Bay is leeward facing, meaning that the water is always exceptionally calm; calm enough to wade into shoulder-depth water while holding coconut daiquiris and not spilling a drop or getting sea water in.

With sea turtles and manta rays crusing through the green water, Macuqeripe is also ideal for snorkeling.

Trinidad’s North Coast Beaches and Bays

Trinidad’s North Coast Beaches,Macqueripe

Trinidad’s North Coast Beaches may not have white and pink sand beaches like the rest of the Caribbean, but where else in the Caribbean can you enjoy huge areas of beachfront without a single other soul on the beach?

HOT “G” DOG – A Chicago Food Review

One of my highlights of visiting Chicago a few years ago was standing in a two hour line waiting for gourmet hot dogs and duck-fat fries from Hot Doug’s, the world famous sausage and encased meat emporium.

The long wait for these amazing sandwiches gives you a chance to trade tips with other Chicago visitors and get advice for locals.

When I decided that I wanted to attend Lollapalooza 2015, the only downside to my trip to Chicago was that Hot Doug’s had closed their doors permanently in 2014.

I kept my hopes up that someone would recognize the huge vacuum in the hot dog market that came about due to Doug’s departure. Lo and behold, someone did. Not just anyone, but two former chefs who got Doug’s blessings to continue his legacy of exotic hot dogs and duck-fat fries.

According to Doug Sohn “They’re total pros in the kitchen,” and “They made Hot Doug’s as much as a success as I did.”

I checked out the menu of their new joint; Hot “G” Dog and saw some of Hot Doug’s classics as well as some new ones.

GETTING TO HOT “G” DOG

Doug kept his establishment outside of downtown Chicago. Could you imagine the line if he was located in the Loop?

Hot “G” Dog is in uptown Chicagom just a few stops going North on the Red line.

Wrigley Field home of the Cubs

Baseball fans could check out Wrigley Field on the way to Hot “G” Dougs.

As much as I wanted to try everything on the menu, I limited myself to four carefully selected Hot Dogs.

I’ve had duck fat fries a few times before and I wanted to sample the hot dogs more than anything else.

It was difficult, but I managed to decide on four that stood out. These are the four that I tried from Hot “G” Dog:

1- CHICKEN BACON SAUSAGE

with Cheddar Sauce, Fried Tomato & Mozzarella cheese

The sharp tomato flavor provides a nice contrast to the creamy cheese. Everything in this hot dog reminded me of a good cheese burger or really good pizza. In fact, this hot dog seemed alot like a classic fast food mash-up; hot dog inspired by a bacon cheeseburger pizza.

Hot G Dog cheeseburger hot dog

hot g dog review

2 – YAR PORK SAUSAGE

with Italian beer sauce with with Marinated Mushrooms & Feta Cheese

Quite spicy sausage but it was a bit dry. The mushrooms and cheese five it a tangy zest that overpowers the beer sauce a bit. I’m glad this one was the biggest of the four that I ordered because it took a while to grow on me.

Yar pork sausage from hot g dog

3 – GARLIC VENISON SAUSAGE

with Dijon Mustard with Garlic, Cherry Peppers & Goat Cheese

Not really a fan of the cherry peppers so I had most of mine without them. I love goat cheese and felt like the peppers were stealing the show from the cheese. Everything works well for a tangy, garlic-flavor packed hot dog.

hot g dog exotic meat sausage

4 – DUCK SAUSAGE

Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Fleur de Sel

The duck sausage is perfect. Charred on the outside, but still moist and flavorful. Years ago when I ordered Doug’s version if this with the sausage fried, he actually suggested that I take it grilled instead. The mousse and aioli are extremely rich and creamy with delicate flavors. Perfectly decadent. This was amazing at Hot Doug’s and it’s phenomenal here.

duck sausage with foie gras

Hot "G" Dog

THE VERDICT

Some reviews of Hot “G” Doug went out of their way to find fault, such as the sausage of the Chicago Dog feeling a but loose and not having enough snap to the casing. I feel like their food is so good, that is the only way to find fault; to actively seek it. In any case, even Hot Doug’s could never beat Portillo’s when it came to a perfect Chicago Dog.
Two of the dogs that I tried were decadent and rich, and these were my favorite because it felt like they somehow managed to capture a gourmet meal in a humble street food. The other two were probably just not my kinda hot dog, they captured the “dragged through the garden” feel of the Chicago Dog and even had a tangy element to replace the pickle slice. In this regard, Hot “G” Dog creates not just gourmet hot dogs, but gourmet hot dogs that are distinctly Chicago.
So far, there’s one major factor that makes Hot “G” Dog much better than Hot Doug’s, and that is that there’s virtually no line!

Check out The original article at CestLaVibe.com

Five Reasons to stay in a Hostel

More and more young people are taking steps to fulfill their dreams of traveling the world. For many, the first step in this direction is to join websites like Couchsurfing.com or Airbnb.com.

In fact, many people think that budget travel is only possible because of these websites.

It seems that people have forgotten that hostels are another option for cheap accommodation. You need to seek out a reputable hostel wherever you plan of visiting and check them out. Here are my top five reasons to stay at a hostel;

1 – YOU MEET FELLOW TRAVELERS

This is a major plus if you’re travelling solo. It’s a definite bonus to have other enthusiastic people to explore a new city with. By hanging out with other budget-minded travelers in a foreign city, you could create your own travel network for future trips.

2 – NO STRINGS ATTACHED

Unlike social network sites like Couchsurfing and Airbnb, there’s no application review period, no obligation to host someone at your house, no chance of finding your dream lodging and then not being accepted, nothing like that. Just check in, enjoy, and check out.

3 – IT BEATS A CHEAP HOTEL

Some pricey hostels come in at around the same price as a cheap hotel. These cheap hotels are usually pretty seedy with dingy linen, located in dodgy areas. A hostel with nightly charges similar to a cheap hotel is most likely going to be safe and centrally located.

4 – STRUCTURED ACTIVITY

Many hostels have been in operation for over a decade, and even if you have nothing planned or are so overwhelmed that you have no idea where to start exploring a big city; they would have a schedule of planned activity.
Pub crawls, museum tours, shopping trips, walking tours….. the works!

5 – STANDARDIZED EXPERIENCE

In practice, Airbnb and couchsurfing come across as as much less organized than in principle. The entire hostel experience is much more standardized and straightforward. It’s also fairly easy to estimate a hostel price (generally 10% to 30% of a mid-range hotel price in the area).

Of course there are much more than five reasons to stay at a hostel. There’s the feeling of being around kindred spirits and fellow-explorers, but five reasons are enough right?

And if a hostel is not your style but you still want to travel on a budget, here are Five reasons to book with Airbnb