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Former Olympic Cities That Are Definitely Worth A Visit

  

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We’re still a ways away from the next Olympic Games, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about Olympics past! In fact, this is as good a time as any to revisit some of the amazing cities that have hosted the historic games over the years.

It turns out many of them are still absolutely gorgeous and very much worth a visit. We went through all of them and here are our top 5 you definitely have to see.

LILLEHAMMER, NORWAY

Lillehammer hosted the Winter Games in 1994 and it provided some unforgettable moments. Like American Bonnie Blair winning her third straight gold in the 500-meter speed skating race, and Norway’s own Johann Olav Koss setting world records in three different speed skating events. Many of the courses and tracks used during those games are still open to the public. You can explore all 211 miles of the cross-country trails, ride the luge and bobsled tracks, or check out the ski jump arena.

LAKE PLACID, NEW YORK

I didn’t know this; Lake Place actually hosted the Olympic Games twice! First in 1932, and then again in 1980. The 1980 games were the setting for one of the most famous moments in American Olympic history: The Miracle On Ice. When the men’s hockey team miraculously defeated the seemingly unbeatable Soviet team. Many of the Olympic facilities are still open for use by the public, but the big draw for Lake Placid is the beautiful scenery. Surrounded by rolling mountains and the beautiful blue water of the lake itself, it’s easy to see why Lake Placid is a two-time host of the Olympic Games. 

ST. MORITZ, SWITZERLAND

St. Moritz also hosted the Olympic Games twice. First in 1928, and then again in 1948. The 1928 games are famous for introducing the skeleton event, one of the most exciting and dangerous sports in the winter games. One attraction you have to catch when you visit is the Olympic Ice Pavillion that was built in 1905 and used in both Olympic Games that were held here. It’s also right by the beautiful Kulm golf course if you’d like to get in a quick 18 while you’re there.

HELSINKI, FINLAND

Helsinki was the proud home of the 1952 summer games. This was the first Olympic Games that saw athletes from Israel an the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union wasted no time getting down to business, as their women’s gymnastics team dominated their field. 

Helsinki is especially famous for its beautiful architecture. Most notably Helsinki Central Station, and Hotel Kamp, which features an incredible hall of mirrors. And don’t forget to stop by the Design District to take in some art, pick up a few mementos, and grab a bite of the local fare. 

MONTREAL, QUEBEC

The 1976 Olympic games took place in the one and only Montreal. A very important Olympics, as women’s handball, rowing, and basketball were included for the very first time. But beyond that, most people remember Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci the most. She famously earned the first-ever perfect 10 at the age of 14. 

The legend of these games lives on in the old Olympic Park through ‘Since 1976,’ a beautiful exhibit celebrating all that took place that year. Definitely worth a look if you ever make it to this beautiful city. 


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Destinations

Why You Should Visit Hawaii

 I break down each island in the chain and tell you why you should visit each one

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Hawaii is paradise on Earth and one of the most traveled to destinations on the planet, so why all the hype? I break down each island in the chain and tell you why you should visit each one. Check out paradise in each of its unique forms from the laid back vibes of Molokai to the big city by the beach in Oahu’s Honolulu.

 

Oahu

Oahu is home to the largest city in all the Hawaiian Islands and is the most populated. There is a huge military population on Oahu as the Navy has its base, Pearl Harbor. Honolulu is the island’s only “big” city and Waikiki is the party destination if you are into that sort of thing. Not all of Oahu is a party destination, as many parts of the island operate at a much slower pace. Check out the North Shore for bohemian beach towns and world-class surfing.

For some interesting attractions, check out the Polynesian Cultural Center or the sunken remains of the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor. The beaches are world-class and the resorts are massive.

 

Hawaii (Big Island)

The largest of the Hawaiian Islands by far is Hawaii or “the Big Island.” This massive island features almost every climate in its rich ecosystems. There is often snow on top of the mountain peaks that are surrounded by rainforests and deserts. The big island features a wide variety of terrain and activities. Check out some of the best surfing, snorkeling and hiking the world has to offer. The island is split into two main sides, the leeward side, which is very dry and arid, and the wayward side, which is the wettest region in America.

Make sure you check out Mauna Kea, the world’s tallest mountain, measured from the sea floor up. There are also two active volcanoes to check out where you can see lava flows.

 

Maui

The most all-around island in the chain, Maui has a little bit of everything. Every major resort has a luau and we recommend checking one out for some culture and unlimited mai tais. This island has all the outdoor activities you could ever want with some incredible hiking, surfing and snorkeling. The weather is perfect and the sun is usually shining.   Take a hike to the crater of a volcano at the Haleakala National Park.  

 

Kauai

Known as the garden island, Kauai is easily the most beautiful of the main islands. This is also known as the lovers’ island and the retirement island as most guests are on their honeymoon or well, old. There aren’t too many spots open past 8pm and the island’s nightlife is almost non-existent. There is some of the best hiking and outdoor activities in the world.

Check out the Na Pali Coast, a rocky, 20-mile section of the island that is unreachable by car and where you’ll recognize the beginning of Jurassic Park. Take a helicopter tour of amazing waterfalls and secret beaches galore.

The most impressive feature is the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, the Waimea Canyon.

 

 

Lanai

The smallest of the Hawaiian Islands that are open to the public, Lanai is mostly owned privately by billionaire Larry Ellison (Oracle). This island used to be a huge pineapple plantation and is now home to two Four Seasons resorts. Golf is god here as two of the best courses in the US are located here.

 

Molokai

The most remote Hawaiian Island is Molokai, which has hardly any infrastructure and has very few visitors each year. The pace is slow here and they only operate on island time. Come here if you want to chill hardcore and not do many touristy activities, as they don’t really exist here.

 

Find which version of paradise you like the most and check it out. Hawaii has a little of something for everyone; you just have to find it.

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Destinations

Top Sights To See In Haleakala Park On A Bike Tour

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While traveling 27 miles downhill in Haleakala Park, visitors to Maui have the chance to see some amazing sights. This dormant shield volcano provides adventure-seekers an opportunity to get up close and personal with one of the largest volcanic craters in the world and its unparalleled views. 

Whether at sunrise, before sunrise, as a day tour, or even a self-guided tour any time, this phenomenal bike ride at a starting elevation of 6,500 feet is one of the most beautiful destinations in Maui – and it is not to be missed. 

Here are some of the top sights to see in Haleakala park on a bike tour: 

Sunrise and Other Sights From the Summit

Sunrises are always beautiful. But, a sunrise from the summit in Haleakala Park is entirely different. It is one of the most impressive sights here. Although it means getting up early, the colors that will blast through the clouds will take your breath away. 

If you’re up for an even earlier bike ride, a pre-sunrise ride will present you with the chance to stargaze and potentially see a meteor just before daybreak. 

Spectacular Views of the Ocean and Island

It’s Maui. There are going to be ocean and island views that will never want to make you go back home. It doesn’t matter what time you sign up for your bike ride, the views all around you are better than you can imagine. Mix in the sounds and smells with the sights, and it just feels good. 

Red Cinder Cones and Black Flows

Haleakala National Park is full of colors and you will see them all with this ride. But, one of the ones that will stand out most is the red cinder cones and the black flows of old lava. As you start heading downward, keep your eyes open for this. 

The Leleiwi Overlook

Riding along a massive volcanic crater and the lush Ko’olau Gap is not something you have the opportunity to do every day. Why not take a moment to enjoy it? A short stroll and you can at the Leleiwi Overlook. 

Plants and Wildlife

Believe it or not, plants and animals are also very prevalent in this park – and spotting them is a must. You may find beautiful and endangered plant species like the silverswords or Ahinahina or encounter Hawaii’s state bird, the Nene Goose. Both are extraordinary and unique. You may also find the small honeycreepers, birds with brightly-colored feathers related to the rosefinch. 

The diversity found throughout Haleakala means finding plants and animals you have likely never seen before. 

Switchbacks and Double Views

In all, your downward bike ride gives you 21 easy switchbacks that will give you bi-coastal views of the serene West Maui Mountains as well as Maui’s central valley. 

Rolling Pastures

Riding alongside endless green pastures, tree-filled slopes, and fragrant lavender is sure to awaken the senses. But don’t let it carry you away too far or you will miss the fertile crop fields of Kula and their botanical garden. 

The Town of Makawao

Eventually, you will arrive in the small ranching and agricultural town of Makawao. It can make you feel like you have stepped back in time with its Hawaiian cowboys and wooden storefronts. Here you will find lots of shopping and art galleries.

The Town of Paia

Another small town you will find yourself strolling through is Paia. You will find many boutique shops and surfing emporiums to spark your interest. This beach community is home to the Maui Dharma Center and is often used for a peaceful retreat. 

Mountain Riders offers many options for experiencing all of these sights – and more – with their Haleakala bike tours. Learn more at www.MountainRiders.com

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Destinations

Get The Best Deals On Rental Cars

Let’s examine the best ways to save big on car rentals and certain times when renting a car isn’t even needed.

 

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Rental cars can be quite pricey and vacations are already wallet suckers, so let’s try and find the best deals around. Like anything in travel, timing can be everything, especially when booking a rental car. We spoke with some industry insiders and got the lowdown on the car rental business so you won’t get overcharged for a crappy rental car.

Let’s examine the best ways to save big on car rentals and certain times when renting a car isn’t even needed.

 

Rental Car Yes or No?

First lets determine if you even need a rental car or if you can get around on public transportation alone. Avoiding a rental car all together will save you some scratch and make your vacation much easier. Dealing with rental cars, parking and driving in foreign countries can all be nightmares that can be avoided by not renting a car in the first place.

What kind of vacation are you going on? Are you staying in one location or traveling around to multiple destinations? How close are you staying to town and does your hotel offer free shuttles?

If you are staying at an all-inclusive resort, you won’t need a rental car. Same if your hotel offers free shuttles to attractions. Your best bet is to do some research and figure this one out first.

Sometimes renting a car is your best bet so in that case, follow these simple few hacks to get the best deals.

 

Smaller Sites

The actual site of a car rental site will never have the best deals; instead look at aggregator sites like Costco travel or AAA.com. These sites offer great deals because you already pay for their services so you are getting an inside deal. You are paying for the memberships already so why not take advantage of their deals. I almost exclusively book through these two sites and constantly save big on bookings.

Smaller sites and companies will offer lower prices to compete with the big dogs of the industry. Hertz will never have the same deals as a small service like Fox rental cars has. You may not get the frills with these small companies but you won’t pay a premium either.

 

Get the compact

Stop acting like a nice rental car will make or break your vacation. Rental car companies make their money on upselling you, so stop it and chose the cheapest car. Think about how often you will be in this car, now think about if paying upwards of $50 more a day is worth it, most likely its not.

  

Insurance?

Stop buying the rental car’s insurance. If you have your own car or book with a major credit card, you are already insured. This is the biggest scam in all of car rentals. Stop paying upwards of $25-50 a day in insurance when you are already covered. Just say no!

 

Fees to avoid

Other than insurance, there are countless other bullshit fees they try and charge you. Toll transponders can cost a few dollars a day, same as GPS devices. Stop it, your smart phone has a better map system anyway, so use that and save big. Satellite radio? Are you serious, bring an IPod or some CDs and call it a day.

Save huge by renting off airport property and avoid the stupid fees they charge. Never rent on-site again. I find the site that is at least 20 minutes form the airport and you will have zero lines and pay close to half the price of on-site rental places.

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