Discover Ireland wants Star Wars fans to visit the first Jedi Temple

Discover Ireland seeks to woo Star Wars fans to the Skellig Islands; two wave battered rocky islands off the coast of Ireland that have suddenly become famous for (spoilers ahead) being the planet featured in the final scene of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Ruins of a real-life monastery in Skellig Michael, Ireland are serving as the location for the first Jedi Temple on the planet Ahch-To.

“For over a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic.” – Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: A New Hope.

Sometime after Ben Solo became Kylo Ren, Luke Skywalker went to the planet looking for answers on Ahch-To. Did he find them? We’ll see in Star Wars: Episode VIII.

Tourists flocking to their favorite movie locations is nothing new. every year fans of Lord of the Rings fans head to New Zealand to have second breakfast and see locations from scenes on the Tolkien based film series.

Harry Potter fans are no different.

We did our share of Star Wars tourism last year when we visited Star Wars and The Power of Costume at the EMP Museum in Seattle.

The exhibit has since returned to the Smithsonian.

Discover Ireland wants Star Wars fans to visit the first Jedi Temple was orginally published on


Are Lollapalooza VIP Tickets Worth It?

For more than two decades, the Lollapalooza Music Festival has constantly been ranked as a top North American Music Festival.

The three day music fest brings together a diverse line-up that includes the top alternative rock and hip-hop acts, the latest indie and EDM, and living legends like Depeche Mode and Paul McCartney.

The festival has grown to over 200,000 attendees every day with international expansion into six different countries.

Just like Bonnaroo and Coachella, Lollapalooza is a bucket list festival, and attending a bucket list music festival means splurging and trying to make it a once in a lifetime experience.

VIP tickets that grant you access to the “Lolla Lounge” would definitely improve your Lollapalooza experience.

At more than five times the cost of a regular ticket, is a Lollapalooza VIP ticket worth it?

Lollapalooza VIP cocktails and alcohol

The answer to that question is subjective; it depends on what you enjoy most about a music festival as well as how much you could eat and drink.

Here’s a rundown of what three days in the Lollapalooza VIP Lolla Lounge is like;


Food isn’t served until 11:00 AM, so I decided to get familiar with the various alcoholic beverages until that time;
The Jack Daniels Whiskey bar featured Jack and Cola, Tennessee Fire on the rocks and Lolla Lemonade; a mix of Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey and sweet tea with a splash of fresh lemon juice.

Jack Daniels Tennessee Whisky Lollapalooza VIP

Bombay Sapphire served sophisticated drinks like the Peppered Peach Collins that includes gin, fresh lemon juice, iced tea and black pepper.

Bombay Sapphire Peppered Peach Collins Cocktail

Bacardi offered a crisp mojito with fresh mint leaves and lime juice along with Cuba Libres. Maestro Dobel Tequila made ‘black diamond margaritas’ with a rim of black salt in a lounge area designed to resemble a black sand beach.

I stuck with Jack and colas and Bacardi and colas for all of day one, mostly because of the souvenir cups that they came in.

Jack Daniels at Lollapalooza

Having never tasted Chicago deep dish pizza, I headed straight for the Italian booth to have some miniature slices of Lou Malnati’s cheese pizza.

Italian Food at the VIP Lolla Lounge

The Italian booth also served toasted cheese ravioli served on a bed of marinara sauce and garnished with Parmesan cheese, miniature meatball subs with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese on a Turano bun, and breadsticks stuffed with mozzarella cheese and ranch dip.

There were also other food offerings but I decided to stick with Italian for day one.

After snacking for almost an hour straight, I left the VIP Lolla Lounge to check out some music.

The opening acts at Lollapalooza are always amazing and COASTS was no exception.
I’d become familiar with their music over the last few years and their live performance was on key and energetic.

Paul McCartney Lollapalooza VIP

I was also thrilled to see Cold War Kids, Alabama Shakes and Paul McCartney. Since all three acts performed one after the other on the same stage, finding a spot up front seemed like a good option.

I knew that I would be standing stage side for around seven hours so I returned to the VIP Lolla Lounge to drink as much Jack and colas as possible and eat a few more meatball subs.


I began the second day of Lollapalooza with a tequila sunrise followed by a bottle of Daily Greens vegetable and fruit juice since that combo seemed like a balanced choice for a liquid breakfast at a music festival.

Tequila Sunrise at Lollapalooza


I relaxed in the Lolla Lounge waiting for food to be ready, luckily the folks at Maestro Dobel tequila were more than willing to keep the margaritas flowing before lunch.

Having started the day with tequila, I decided to keep it Mexican themed by only eating food from the booth labelled “Taco”. The food on offer included grilled steak fajitas with cilantro and mole, beef barbacoa tamales dipped in green chili, and elote on a stick seasoned with Parmesan cheese and dried peppers.

Lolla Lounge Mexican Food

I went stage side to catch Catfish and the Bottlemen who I’d seen for the first time at the Governors Ball Music Festival the year before.

Catfish and the Bottlemen at Lollapalooza

I stayed inside the VIP Lolla Lounge to see Django Django. The view from the lounge is vast and gives you a view of the band and the festival crowd with the Chicago skyline in the distance.

The acoustics actually travel well but being able to sit with a drink in hand was the best part of listening to music in the Lolla Lounge.

Lollapalooza VIP Lolla Lounge view

Choosing a headline act was a much tougher call than Friday since pop crooner Sam Smith and rock legends Metallica were playing on opposite ends of Grant Park.

I skipped both headliners and decided to relax in the lounge instead of trying to get a good spot near the front of the stage.

I had some more Maestro Dobel cocktails and miniature Chicago-style hot dogs while listening to Kid Cudi’s performance in the background.

miniature chicago-style hot dog

I ended the day by watching BANKS and G-Eazy on one of the festivals smaller stage.

BANKS Lollapalooza


The third day of the festival is the day that I most appreciated having a Lollapalooza VIP ticket.
The combination of a scorching sun, a raging head ache, two sore feet and a two day hang over made a seat in the shaded Lolla lounge the best place to be.

I watched Twin Peaks and the Wombats from the lounge that day.
The Lolla Lemonade made with Tennessee Honey and sweet tea was just what I needed that day; sweet and tangy with a boost from the caffeine.

Twin Peaks Band Live

I also downed loads of Vita Coco coconut water. I actually had enough coconut water left over from Lollapalooza to last me an entire week!

The folks at Jack Daniels knew more about the impending storm than I did and gave me a free poncho although the sky seemed clear. When the evacuation of Grant Park did eventually happen, they cleared out the Lollapalooza VIP sections first.

I headed back to the hotel, got some rest and came back recharged for an energy packed performance from Gogol Bordello.

gogol bordello live

With my schedule now thrown off, and knowing that I just wanted to see TV on the Radio and Florence and the Machine again I decided to try some more Lollapalooza VIP food that I might have missed.

Churros slathered in Dulce de Leche and jumbo pretzels with a cheddar cheese sauce dip made a perfect snack combo of salty and sweet.

churros slathered in Dulce de Leche, jumbo pretzels with a cheddar cheese sauce dip


Chicago was just a stop on a trip that started in New York City and ended in Seattle.

I have no idea when next I’ll be at Lollapalooza or even in Chicago again and I’m glad that my first Lollapalooza experience was amazing.

Everyone should splurge on a music festival at least once.

Sure, when I look back I think about another camera lens or plane ticket that I could have bought, but at the same time I still think that a Lollapalooza VIP ticket is definitely worth it.

Lollapalooza VIP review


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?


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.


Airbnb headquarters Toronto - picture via Wikipedia


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.


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.


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


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.


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!


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?


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


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


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 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


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


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


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


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


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?