The year of COVID-19 has brought so many changes in our lives. The coronavirus has altered so many areas of our routines including traveling within our borders and abroad.
This, perhaps, should be the year we can all forget. With the multitude of disruptions, challenges, and restrictions, this unforgivable year of COVID-19 is, thankfully, about to end. We’re on to the next one.
Among the many areas that were heavily affected during this year of COVID-19 is the transport and travel sector. Below then is a rundown of the highlights.
Worldwide traveling came to an abrupt standstill
During the start of this year of COVID-19, travel to and from Wuhan, China—the origin of the coronavirus—was halted. Eventually, countries closed their borders to all other countries especially those that had numerous cases of the disease. To control widespread transmission, lockdowns and quarantine protocols were initiated, as well.
Airlines suddenly had to stop their daily trip schedules. Maritime travel followed suit as cruise ships slowly became teeming grounds of infection. Experts posit that the travel industry will take years before it gains back the losses it incurred during this year of COVID-19.
Micro-transport began to emerge
Due to the necessity of controlling the spread of the virus, regular public transportation had to be stopped. People had to make do with other travel alternatives. Those who had private vehicles got to rely on them while others who had scooters and bicycles were forced to rely on these implements.
People who did not have their own vehicles had to walk on foot as not many were open to sharing their private rides to strangers. This abrupt change in commuting trends heavily resulted in heavier road traffic and the government must find a way to ease this problem.
The increase in border checks
Because of the increased need to halt the spread of the coronavirus, another trend that emerged during this year of COVID-19 is the increase in border checks. Be it domestic or abroad travel, borders were tightened and various requirements emerged. Several areas within the country required COVID-19 testing for visitors and some kind of quarantine protocols. Many countries adopted the same safety protocols especially in their maritime ports and airports.
Better equipped communities.
Around the world, people experienced the lack and insufficiency of supplies. Disinfectants, medications, and food implements became increasingly unavailable as people flocked to the stores, draining them of the much-needed supplies. Panic-buying became a worldwide phenomenon. Thus, governments had to encourage and limit the number of products allowed per individual so that more people can benefit from the stocks available. There is a need for communities to become more self-reliant in terms of produce so that during such instances of emergency, residents are assured of food security, among others.
Increase in cashless transactions
During this year of COVID-19, people became even more dependent on the internet for purchases. Due to the need to follow social distancing mandates, people were forced to rely on the internet, prioritizing cashless transactions or online purchasing. Businesses had to limit their opening hours, as well, as many employees were instructed to do work-from-home (WFH) arrangements. In effect, WFH arrangements and internet purchases are both due also to the lack of ready public transportation.
Most Outrageous Vacation Rental Homes
Out with the old and stale vacation rentals, I’ve found the most extreme and outrageous rental properties available today. Human nature is to be inquisitive and have a whimsical sense of imagination, so it’s in our nature to veer off the beaten path. We get…
Out with the old and stale vacation rentals, I’ve found the most extreme and outrageous rental properties available today.
Human nature is to be inquisitive and have a whimsical sense of imagination, so it’s in our nature to veer off the beaten path. We get sick of the same old experiences after a while and for those of us who travel often, accommodations are all too similar. Every hotel in the world feels and looks alike, all the way from bedding to décor. As humans, we crave change and new experiences, so it’s in our nature to search out something different. With the advent of shared economy websites like AirBnb.com and VRBO.com (Vacation Rentals By Owner) obscure and unique rental homes are much more readily available than ever before.
We’ve all rented homes for a vacation and were underwhelmed upon arrival. Every time they were smaller, older, less modern or just plain off-putting. Why aren’t there any exciting properties to rent short term that will be memorable and unique? Well, I’m here to tell you that there are and I’ve found them. If you can imagine it, somebody has already built it and is renting it out; you just have to find it. Here is my list of the craziest and most outrageous vacation rental homes for 2017.
The Seashell House, Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Holy crap, I feel like I’m walking into a cartoon. The Seashell House is literally made to resemble two gigantic seashells, one round and one tall. There is some incredible attention to detail as you stay in this ocean themed dream home, including conch shell faucets. The two-bedroom home is separated into the two shells, each with a king bed. The house has a private pool and golf cart to cruise around the island. Live like a character on SpongeBob SquarePants, in this seashell hallucination home. Starting at $250 a night and sleeps 4.
Secret Tree House, Atlanta, GA
This is AirBnb’s “most desirable listing worldwide,” so get in line, I’m sure this thing is booked out for a while. It obviously deserves the accolades, as it is extremely unique. Its close proximity to downtown Atlanta and secluded feel, this tree house isn’t the same you grew up with. There are no old comic books or baseball cards, but there are two rooms and a wild deck. Its dealer’s choice on where to sleep as the bed can be rolled out of the bedroom and onto the deck for a true nature experience. Starting at $350 a night and sleeps 2.
Akasha, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
This alpine chateau is the winter wonderland many have dreamt about. With a ridiculous stream fed indoor pool, heated outdoor decks and a stone carved hot tub, visitors are sure to be blown away. Nestled in the mountains by Whistler ski resort, this rental home is built of cedar and has a copper roof. Perfect for winter or summer retreats, this four –bedroom home sleeps 12. Rates start at $2,600 a night.
Silicon Valley Estate, Los Altos Hills, CA
This sprawling 11-acre estate has an incredible layout, perfect for social gatherings or work retreats. Boasting a private orchard, infinity pool and rooftop garden, and the home is made for the Coastal Elite. Beyonce even stayed here when she performed at last year’s Super Bowl halftime show. Come for the incredible views of San Francisco and stay for the ambiance. Starting at a mere $10,00 per night and sleeps 10.
Thousand Waves, Maui, HI
Talk about paradise on Earth, Maui has it all, perfect weather, amazing views and this house. A huge 11,000 square foot home with wrap around pool and eight bedrooms, this house can accommodate an entire family. That is a family reunion I would attend. Sitting on the shore of Kahekili Beach, this home has everything for a beach vacation to never forget. Sleeping 12 and starting at $8, 400 a night.
These rental homes are out there and who knows what will pop up next on AirBnb? Keep the dream alive that I can someday stay in a pineapple under the sea like my main man Sponge Bob.
Check full list here
Lesser Known Wine Regions that you Must Visit
Everyone knows that Napa Valley or Burgundy France are wine traveler’s destinations of choice, but there are plenty of other fantastic regions. A true wine connoisseur will tell you that the soil and environment are just as important as the type of grape used to…
Everyone knows that Napa Valley or Burgundy France are wine traveler’s destinations of choice, but there are plenty of other fantastic regions. A true wine connoisseur will tell you that the soil and environment are just as important as the type of grape used to make wine. The world has embraced wine making and excellent booze is now being produced all over the map. Let’s explore and see where these hidden wine gems are located and what makes them so special.
Wine producers are spreading their wings and growing some superior grapes in some unexpected places.
I’m not talking about Georgia in America; I’m talking about the one that straddles Europe and Asia. This former Soviet country has excelled in producing some really interesting and delicious varieties of grapes. Wine production is nothing new to this region as archeologists have found winemaking equipment dating as far back as 6,000 BC.
One unique thing that wine makers in Georgia do is they ferment their wine in clay jars instead of the standard wooden or steel barrels. The clay gives Georgian wine a distinct sweet taste and earthy after tones.
Douro Valley, Portugal
Known as the birthplace of port wine, the Northernmost region in Portugal is a wine lover’s heaven. With panoramic views of the rolling hills and beautiful vineyards, wine has been produced in this region for over 2,000 years. The golden colored hills and the divine port produced here will make this a favorite among port snobs from around the globe.
Finger Lakes Region, New York
White wines flourish in this Northern New York region, specifically Rieslings. The expansive landscape is dotted with waterfalls, 11 glacial lakes and one great lake, giving the region miles and miles of beautiful coastlines. With well over a 100 wineries, the Finger Lakes region is the largest wine-producing region East of California in the USA.
Tenerife, Canary Islands
Grown in rich nutrient volcanic soil, Tenerife produces exquisite reds and whites. The largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife features grape varieties that were completely wiped out of the European mainland in a mid-1800s epidemic. The rare varieties create distinct flavor profiles and memorable aftertastes. The island views and abundant sea life compliments the island’s white wine collections.
Avoid the rush that happens in Napa and head just an hour North to Healdsburg wine region. Producing similar quality wines, Healdsburg is Napa’s red headed stepchild. Born out of the need t have more wine tasting locations, Healdsburg boasts over 200 wineries and multiple award winning varieties. California has some of the best weather and soil combinations in the world, so it’s no surprise that he wine here is fantastic.
Door County, Wisconsin
If you are a fan of fruit wines, Door County should be your next stop. Located in the Midwest, Door County has eight wineries and is famous for their tart cherry wine. Specializing in fruit wines, Door County has plenty of grape varieties as well, so a little something for everyone.
Franschhoek, South Africa
Nestled just 45 short minutes from Cape Town, Franschhoek was originally known as Elephant’s Corner for the huge elephant population that roamed here. Now known for their impressive wine, the area is the best in South Africa and possibly all of Africa. Enjoy a hop-on hop-off style tour that stops at every winery and you can get a real taste of the region.
Enjoy these of the beaten path wine regions and taste some of their specialties, to see what all the hype is about.
Enjoy the full list here
Guide to Eating in Austin
I’ve been living in Austin for two months now, and in that time, I’ve consumed a lot of food. After all, Austin is home to an incredible food scene — from BBQ joints to food trucks to healthy, organic outlets to (of course) Mexican restaurants. As more and more people move to Austin (close to […]
I’ve been living in Austin for two months now, and in that time, I’ve consumed a lot of food. After all, Austin is home to an incredible food scene — from BBQ joints to food trucks to healthy, organic outlets to (of course) Mexican restaurants. As more and more people move to Austin (close to 160 a day at last count) and the city balloons with a more diverse population, Austin has expanded its dining fare to include more varied and higher-quality food.
Part of the reason Austin’s food tastes so delicious is because of the locally-sourced ingredients. As the birthplace of Whole Foods, Austin has always embraced organic food, and it was one of the frontrunners in the farm-to-table movement.
Moreover, to meet the needs of the expanding population, nearly 200 new food trucks and restaurants open up each year! With so many eateries opening all the time, you’re going to get hugely increased variety, selection, and quality.
While I still have much more exploring to do and food to eat, I want to share some of my favorite places to eat in the city for your next visit:
If there is anything I dislike about Austin, it would be the lack of good Asian cuisine, as it is my favorite in the world. When it comes to Asian food, it has a lot of those fusion joints that serve Chinese, Thai, sushi, and Korean all at once. Most are simply acceptable; they won’t blow you away. However, there are a few restaurants worth eating at:
- Bar Chi (206 Colorado St., (512) 382-5557, www.barchiaustin.com) – Decent sushi but an unbelievably affordable happy hour (5-7pm each day). My friends and I come here because it satisfies the sushi craving on the cheap!
- East Side King (1618 1/2 E. 6th S., (512) 407-8166, www.eskaustin.com) – Located in The Liberty Bar (also a kick-ass bar), this is best Asian-Thai fusion food truck in the city! Be sure to get the pork buns, tori meshi, or the chicken buns.
- Lulu B’s (3632 S. Congress Ave., (512) 921-4828, www.facebook.com/LuLuBsAustin) – I found this place thanks to Jodi from Legal Nomads. I’m not the Vietnamese food expert she is, but this place was delectable. I’ve only had the beef pho, but it was a flavorful broth.
- Piranha (207 San Jacinto Blvd. #202, (512) 473-8775, www.piranhakillersushi.com/piranha-locations/austin) – My all-around favorite sushi joint. The sushi here gives you the most value for your money, and it’s always fresh and of high quality. I particularly love their yellowtail.
- Thai-Khun (1816 E. 6th St., (512) 407-8166, eskaustin.com/v2/thaikun) – As a Thai food snob (ever since I lived in Thailand), I’m always disappointed at Thai restaurants because I never think the food is as breathtaking as in Thailand. This place in Austin is the closest to true Thai food that I’ve found so far.
- Uchi (801 S. Lamar, (512) 916-4808, uchiaustin.com) – The fanciest high-end sushi restaurant in the city. They also have a sister restaurant called Uchiko. Both live up to their reputations and are good date places. Reservations recommended!
- Wu Cho (500 W. 5th St. #168, (512) 476-2469, wuchowaustin.com) – This is one of the best Chinese restaurants in the city. They serve a very popular dim sum brunch on Sundays. Be sure to come early as it gets packed during dinnertime and Sunday brunch, and the wait for a table can be up to an hour.
If there is one thing Austin does well, it’s “Americana” food. I define that as a fusion of multiple cuisines: burgers, fries, steaks, seafood, and the like.
- Launderette (2115 Holly St., (512) 382-1599, launderetteaustin.com) – Located in an old laundry store, this restaurant is one of the hottest spots in town and serves an amazing menu of Americana and seafood, as well as a decent selection of wine. Some of my favorite dishes include crab toast, burrata, okra, brussels sprouts, and grilled octopus. If you’re coming for dinner, come early, as it fills up fast.
- Truluck (400 Colorado St., (512) 482-9000, trulucks.com) – This is my favorite steak restaurant because it’s one of the few places where you can also get fresh seafood (crab, oysters, lobster). It’s not cheap, but if you want a upscale steak house, try this.
- Péché (208 W. 4th St., (512) 494-4011, www.pecheaustin.com) – A New Orleans–inspired restaurant serving Bayou food, and it has a very friendly staff, tasty cocktails, and an extensive whiskey list.
Austin is world-famous for its BBQ, and you can’t walk down the street without running into a restaurant that serves it. The title for Austin’s best BBQ is hotly contested among fans, and I don’t claim to know who’s right — to me, BBQ is either good or really damn good. But these are among my favorites:
- Franklin Barbecue (900 E. 11th St., (512) 653-1187, franklinbarbecue.com) – This is considered the top of the top of the top BBQ joints in the country. Even the president ate here! It’s open from 11am until they run out of food (usually in a few hours). Lines start at 8am, so it’s best to go midweek in summer when most people don’t want to wait in that line and you don’t need to line up until 9 or 10am.
- La Barbecue (1906 E. Cesar Chavez St., (512) 605-9696, www.labarbecue.com) – BBQ is a matter of perspective. A lot of people say Franklin’s is the best, but La Barbecue is #1 to me. It opens at 11am. Expect two-hour waits during lunchtime, so get here early.
- Iron Works BBQ (100 Red River St., (512) 478-4855, ironworksbbq.com) – Located downtown, this restaurant serves above-average BBQ with large portions and hearty helpings of side dishes. I come here for the lunch brisket plate.
- Micklethwait Craft Meats (1309 Rosewood Ave., (512) 791-5961, craftmeatsaustin.com) – An awesome food truck on the east side of the city. I’m in love with its ribs, brisket, and BBQ sauce. While it’s very popular, the line here isn’t as long as the other places listed.
Tacos are serious business in this city. I have yet to fully experience much of the wonder that Austin has to offer on this front, but I do like a few of the big names:
- Veracruz (1704 E. Cesar Chavez St., (512) 981-1760, veracruztacos.com) – The best food truck in town (conveniently located across the street from my hostel). It makes wonderful breakfast tacos, and the migas was voted #1 in the country. There is never really a line, but service is slow.
- Torchy’s (multiple locations, torchystacos.com/in/austin) – World famous (and another spot where the president ate), this taco place has multiple locations in the city. It lives up to all the hype! I’m a big fan of the fried avocado and trailer park tacos. Every location is always packed, so expect a wait, especially on the weekends. The food here is pretty spicy, too.
- Taco Deli (multiple locations, www.tacodeli.com) – Another delicious eatery serving mouth watering breakfast tacos.
Mexican & Tex-Mex
Like tacos, there are a lot of world-class Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants in Austin! There are plenty of people who can dissect their finer points — I am not one of those people, however. But these establishments will never steer you wrong:
- Vivo (6406 N. Interstate Highway 35, (512) 407-8302, vivoaustin.com) – Solid Mexican with huge portions, spicy dishes, and friendly staff.
- Benji’s (716 W. 6th St., (512) 476-8226, benjiscantina.com) – Amazing margaritas, huge portions, and an outdoor patio area. Their incredible guacamole is made tableside.
- Tamale House East (1707 E. 6th St., (512) 495-9504, www.facebook.com/tamalehouse.east) – Located in East Austin, this hole-in-the-wall is only open for breakfast or lunch. It’s famous for its tacos, but like the name suggests, get the tamales!
There isn’t a lot of good Indian food in town, mostly because there just isn’t a lot of good Asian food in general. I’m not an Indian food expert, but these two are my favorites:
- The Clay Pit (1601 Guadalupe St., (512) 322-5131, claypit.com) – I order from this spot through UberEats all the time since it often has fast delivery. I love the samosas and jasmine rice, and their naan is just perfect!
- Masala Dhaba (75 Rainey St., (512) 665-6513) – A higher-end, sit-down restaurant with a flavorful chicken tikka masala!
Some other of my favorite must-eats:
- P. Terry’s (multiple locations, pterrys.com) – This is the best burger bar in the city. It’s delicious and cheap (you can get a burger, fries, and a drink for $6 USD), with filling portions. This is one of my all-time favorite spots in the city, and since it’s close to my house, I tend to eat here too often!
- The Onion (408 Brazos St., (512) 476-6466, onionbaby.com) – Coming from NYC, I’m spoiled for pizza — you can buy tasty dollar slices anywhere you go there. That’s not the case in Austin: slices are around $4 USD and not as good, but if there is one pizza place I do like, it’s this one.
- Gus’s Fried Chicken (117 San Jacinto, (512) 474-4877, gusfriedchicken.com/austin-texas-location) – The sister restaurant to the famous location in Memphis, this place has juicy, moist chicken with battered skin that bursts with flavor in your mouth. It’s freaking amazing! They also serve mouthwatering fried green tomatoes and pickles.
- Leaf (115 W. 6th St., (512) 474-5323, leafsalad.com) – This new lunchtime salad place is incredible (also the line is long). Its gigantic salad bar has anything and everything you could ever want to put in a salad. It’s one of my favorite places for a healthy meal in Austin.
- True Kitchen (222 West Ave. #HR100, (512) 777-2430, truefoodkitchen.com) – This new restaurant is incredibly popular with people after work. All its food is natural and organic. You’ll find healthy wraps, salad bowls, sandwiches, and fresh and flavorful seafood, as well as an incredible selection of wine and cocktails.
Austin’s growing food scene means that there are still plenty of places I haven’t eaten at yet — and a few locations I probably left out, as a result — but during your visit to Austin, you’ll find yourself with more than enough choices by using this list as your guide!
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