It's Island Time, and Fiji Is Calling Your Name
What's on your mind? If you're like most Budget Travelers, as the temps go down your thoughts turn to… islands!
We recently named Fiji one of the 10 Most Romantic Islands in the World, and we're putting our money where our mouth is by making the South Pacific paradise even more affordable than ever: We're giving away a trip for two. The winner will receive a flight from Los Angeles to Fiji and five nights' accommodations, including breakfast, at Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa on Denarau Island (where you can indulge in spa treatments, water sports, or just relax on a private beach). ENTER HERE
Of course, we're not the only ones who love Fiji—it's the most popular destination in the South Pacific, welcoming more than 600,000 visitors each year. The string of islands offers fine Indian and French cuisine, jungle cruises, incredible wildlife (including some of the world's most colorful birds), gorgeous waterfalls, and of course miles of perfect beaches. And it all comes with a reasonable price tag thanks to affordable resorts and the appealing prices and exceptional service of Fiji Airways.
Have you been to Fiji? We'd love to hear about your trip—drop us a line in the comments below or on Budget Travel's Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages!
Bring Home a Taste of the Islands—With the Original Piña Colada Recipe
Say "piña colada." It rolls off the tongue nicely, doesn't it? And you might as well have said "party!" Did you know that the iconic tropical drink was originally created at Caribe Hilton, in Puerto Rico, in 1954 by bartender Ramón "Monchito" Marrero? The creative mixologist whipped up the classic and continued to serve up the tasty blend of rum, coconut, and pineapple until his retirement in 1989. The drink is now the official drink of Puerto Rico (which is one of our favorite affordable indulgences in the Caribbean). To say "happy birthday" to the signature beverage, Hilton is rolling out a deal from November 17 through 23 that allows guests at select Hilton properties to enter to win a six-day/five-night stay at Caribe Hilton along with travel/airfare for two. Just as exciting—or maybe even more so!—is that rooms at the gorgeous Caribe Hilton start at $99 per night, putting a luxurious Caribbean vacation well within reach this winter! Caribe Hilton's Oasis Bar, where Marrero first concocted his sweet, icy libation, will be serving the original recipe plus some contemporary riffs throughout the year. The hotel will also offer mixology classes, sweepstakes, and more. Thirsty? Get out your blender! Here's the ORIGINAL piña colada recipe, as perfected by Ramón Marrero in 1954. Enjoy it (responsibly) with friends the next time you're browsing BT's tropical eye candy (for starters, check out Senior Editor Jamie Beckman's "10 Most Romantic Islands in the World!"). THE ORIGINAL 1954 PINA COLADA RECIPE Serves 1 Ingredients: 2 oz White Rum1 oz coconut cream1 oz heavy cream6 oz fresh pineapple juice ½ cup crushed ice Directions: Pour the rum, coconut cream, heavy cream, and pineapple juice in a blender. Add the ice and blend for about 15 seconds or until smooth. Serve in a 12-ounce glass. Garnish with a fresh pineapple wedge and a maraschino cherry.
Is Taylor Swift the Right "Global Ambassador" for NYC?
We're still getting our brains around the exciting—but somewhat counterintuitive—notion that pop star Taylor Swift was named New York City's Global Welcome Ambassador. She'll be representing the "Welcome to New York" campaign, named after a hit song on her new album, 1989. What do we think of the seven-time Grammy-winning native Pennsylvanian representing NYC to the world? After all, Budget Travel is based in New York City, and I was born in the Bronx. Of course, most of our staff, like Swift herself, grew up in other parts of the U.S. It turns out most of us (me included!) are huge fans of Swift's clever and heartfelt songwriting—"Trouble," "Back to December," and the mega-mega-mega hit "Love Story" are just a few obvious examples of her craftsmanship and emotional commitment. But we can't help noticing that she's, um, not exactly Derek Jeter, Lady Gaga, Billy Joel—somebody deeply enmeshed with the city's image and culture. That said, New York City has been welcoming out-of-towners for a few hundred years now. Heck, a few years back we even elected a native Chicagoan who'd spent most of her adult life in Arkansas and D.C. as one of our U.S. Senators. You may have heard of her: Hillary Clinton. So, after a lively discussion of the pros and cons of the decision by NYC & Company (New York City's official marketing, tourism, and partnership organization), Budget Travel says, "Welcome, Tay-Tay!" However much she's associated with her country-music roots, Swift's towering presence in popular music qualifies her as a citizen of the world—which would make her an honorary New Yorker even if she didn't have swanky digs right here in town. What do YOU think? Post your opinions on Budget Travel's Facebook or Twitter pages with the hashtag #W2NY: (a) Taylor Swift is a great choice to represent New York City! (b) Hmm. I have a few questions... (c) Seriously?!?!?!?.
Great Getaways: Providence & Bristol
Located about three hours from New York City, or about an hour south of Boston, lies Providence, Rhode Island, a city famous for it's food, tolerance, and WaterFire, a spectacle you truly have to see in order to fully understand its brilliance. A 30-minute drive from Providence, you'll find the lovely little seaside town of Bristol, a great getaway spot in its own right thanks to its quirky neighborhood shops, natural surroundings, and historic mansions you can visit. If you're looking for a great weekend getaway or a chance to explore a wonderful combination of foodie paradise, artsy city vibes, and historic seaside towns, Providence and Bristol are the perfect places to start. Don't miss WaterFire in Providence WaterFire. A phenomenon that's difficult to describe, but once you see it in person, makes all the sense in the world. It's basically a unique artistic event that has occurred nearly every Saturday evening from May thru November since it began in 1994, and features more than 80 floating bonfires up and down the Providence River from Waterplace Park to Memorial/South Main Street Park. Once the fires are lit, follow the crowds to the riverside, watch the lights come alive, and listen to beautiful music played throughout the city as you watch the river glow. Spot people traveling up and down the river in gondolas while others tend the fires to keep them going from sunset until 12:30 a.m. Don't wait—there are only five WaterFires left in 2015: Aug. 29, Sept. 12, 26, Oct. 3, Nov. 7. Lend a hand at the Coggeshall Farm Museum One of the highlights of my Providence and Bristol road trip was visiting the Coggeshall Farm Museum, a great family-friendly 48-acre living history farm located on Poppasquash Road off Route 114 in Bristol, whre you can follow along as interpreters show and tell you about life on the farm in 18th-century America. Kids can get in on the action, too, helping the farmers herd sheep at the end of the day, milk cows, and round up the chickens. For a special treat, sign up for one of their Hearth Cooking Workshops held every Sunday in November and December for a taste of a traditional 1790s Rhode Island dinner. Guests will pick heirloom vegetables from the gardens, use produce and animals raised on the farm, make recipes from the first American cookbook published in 1796, cook using traditional methods, and of course, feast on the results. Hearth Cooking Workshops are intended for ages 16 and up and start at $60 per person. Please make a reservation by the Wednesday before the Sunday workshop by calling 401-253-9062. The Coggeshall Farm Museum is open year-round Tuesday thru Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission on weekdays is $5 for adults and $3 for seniors and children ages 3-12. Admission on weekends is $7 for adults and $5 for seniors and children ages 3-12. See the Rhode Island Statehouse Take a free 50-minute guided tour of the Rhode Island Statehouse, available year-round Monday through Friday (except holidays). Tours are offered at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2 p.m. and include trips to the Bell Room to see a replica of the Liberty Bell, the State Room to see Gilbert Stewart's portrait of George Washington, and the impressive Rotunda to see one of the largest marble domes in the world. Don't forget to bring your camera! Tour historic mansions In Bristol, visit the Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum, an exquisite 45-room historic English manor (tickets are $12 for adults, $11 for Seniors, $10 for students and members of the military, and $4 for children ages 6-17), and Linden Place, known locally as the "crown jewel" of Bristol's historic waterfront district, and the place that once served as Gatsby's mansion in The Great Gatsby starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. Be sure to visit both mansions around in December when they are all decked out for the holidays. Admission to Linden Place is $8 for adults, $6 for students and seniors, and $5 for children ages 6-12. Children under the age of six get in free. Visit world-class art and history museums—and a zoo—for less! While you're in Providence, vist the RISD Museum, a terrific art museum featuring works from Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, Auguste Rodin, Henri Matisse, and Georgia O'Keeffe among others. The museum is also home to vast collections of contemporary art, costumes and textiles, ancient art, Asian art, prints, drawings, photographs, paintings, sculptures, and other decorative arts. Adult tickets start at $12, seniors over the age of 62 get in for $10, college students with a valid I.D. get in for $5, and children ages 5-18 pay $3. On the third Thursday of the month from March through November, you can enter the RISD Museum for free on Gallery Night, where many of city's best-known art galleries and museums open their doors to the public. Admission to the RISD Museum is also free the last Saturday of the month and offers pay-what-you-wish admission on Sundays between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Providence's Museum of Natural History & Planetarium features ongoing exhibits like Africa: Many Places, Many Faces; Circle of the Sea; Dynamic Galaxies: Our Place in the Universe; and Natural Selections: Museum's Victorian Past to the Present. The Planetarium features shows like Astronaut (narrated by Ewan McGregor), Field Trip to the Moon, and Journey to the Stars among others—check the calendar of events on their website for the show schedule and be sure to go early to buy tickets as space is limited. 35-minute shows at the Planetarium are presented on weekends at 2 p.m. and daily throughout July and August. General admission to the Planetarium is $3 per person (children under the age of 4 are not allowed in). Admission to the Museum of Natural History is $2 per person (free for children under age 4). The first Saturday of the month is always free for residents of Providence with proof of residency. Providence is also home to one of the oldest zoos in the country, Roger Williams Park Zoo, located within the park's beautiful 40-acre property. Adult tickets are $14.95, seniors ages 62 and up pay $12.95, while children ages 3-12 get in for $9.95. Get back to nature Even in the midst of the city, you can find solace at Roger Williams Park, a 435-acre greenspace built in the 1890s that is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For great panoramic views of the city below, check out the view from Prospect Terrace Park on Congdon Street in Providence's College Hill neighborhood. In Bristol, spend the day exploring Colt State Park, a 464-acre hidden gem located along Narragansett Bay with four miles of bike trails, ten playfields, more than 400 picnic tables, a historical museum, and an open-air Chapel By The Sea. Don't miss the Park's annual 4th of July celebration, a tradition since 1785 that makes it older than the U.S. Constitution. Nearby, Bristol's East Bay Bike Path is a beautiful way to explore the area's natural surroundings, connecting eight parks on during its 13.8-mile course from India Point Park in Providence to Colt State Park and Independence Park in Bristol. Explore the local shops Check out the Arcade Providence, the oldest shopping mall in the country—originally built in 1828 and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1976—now serving as a center for retail and micro-loft real estate because of its ideal downtown location. You'll find local boutique shops like Flaunt Boutique and Goddess Closet, Alex Anthony Curl & Blowout Bar, Livi's Pockets, and New Harvest Coffee & Spirits. Bargain hunters will also want to check out the shops along Thayer Street and Wickenden Street. In Bristol, stop by Harbor Bath & Body, Sue Casa, and Revival Boutique, for natural bath and body products, home accessories, and antiques. Unleash your inner foodie Providence has always been known for its food scene, even more now with more restaurants using locally sourced products and fusing them with international influences. Treat youself to dinner at Loie Fuller's on Westminster Street for delicious entrees like pan seared sea scallops with summer succotash and a tomato vinaigrette and grilled chicken thighs with Israeli cous cous and dill yogurt sauce. Visit Chez Pascal on Hope Street for a great mix of French-inspired European flavors made with locally sourced New England ingredients—don't miss the Wurst Kitchen, open Monday thru Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Bristol has a pretty varied food scene, too, with its star being Redlefsen's Rotisserie & Grill, a local favorite since 1989 that specializes in German food, German and Belgian beer, and incorporates fresh New England fish into its seafood dishes. The inside of the restaurant is brilliantly decorated to resemble a traditional German Biergarten and every year for Oktoberfest (generally the last Wednesday and Thursday in September and every Wednesday and Thursday thru the end of October), the restaurant features performances by Bavarian dancers and beer hall accordion players. Don't miss it. Bristol's Casual Inn on Franklin Street offers a quiet, laid back atmosphere and offers New England classics like lobster rolls, New England clam chowder, clam boils, and baked stuffed shrimp. If you're up for a fun chat with the friendly bartender and owner, do yourself a favor and sit at the bar—I had a wonderful evening here chatting with the locals as we watched TV at the bar until they closed. Don't miss Newport & Bristol's Restaurant Week 2015 from Nov. 6-15 for a chance to sample area restaurants' specialties for less. Stay in the Providence city center—or a lovely B&B in Bristol Hampton Inn & Suites Providence Downtown is in the center of all the action in Providence, and within walking distance of WaterFire, Providence Arcade, and shopping along Thayer and Wickenden Streets (everything else mentioned here is just a short drive away). Enjoy complimentary perks like WiFi in every room, access to the fitness center, hot breakfast daily, and a free shuttle service to local transportation hubs. Rooms start at $189 a night in August. If you're looking for accommodations with a romantic touch, stay at the Bristol House Bed & Breakfast on Aaron Avenue. Innkeeper Kathleen Seguin is super-friendly and loves living her lifelong dream of owning and B&B. Spend some time relaxing in this gorgeous Cape Cod style B&B located a half-mile walk from Narragansett Bay and the East Bay Bike Path (mentioned above). You're only a half-mile from all the shops and attractions in Bristol and a 25-minute drive from Newport and Providence, and within an hour's drive of Boston and Cape Cod's beaches. My favorite part was the included gourmet breakfast, which includes local seasonal products and is made daily by Kathleen, who attended the Culinary Institute of America and the Apicius School in Florence, Italy. Rooms start at $169 a night in August. Check the website for seasonal packages and specials that include accommodations and tickets to annual holiday events. For more vacation ideas, please visit GoProvidence.com and ExploreBristolRI.com.
Sights And Sounds Of The Peruvian Amazon
Peru. To the north, miles of sandy beaches, incredible surfing, and remnants of ancient cultures blown raw by the harsh breath of the sandy coastal wind; to the south, the legacy of the powerful Inca in ruins so well preserved you could imagine long-gone people working in the distance; to the east, the unforgiving cold of the mountains and views that make your breath catch in your throat. And further to the east, just a little further, green, sultry, lush jungle, most of which is a no-man's land, as mysterious and inaccessible as the underwater city of Atlantis. Peru is a country of incredible variety, and Peru's Amazon is so different than the rest of the country, it doesn't even seem related. The massive forest covers 60 percent of Peru and has communities deep inside living in voluntary isolation that have never been in contact with the rest of the world. The Amazon is often called the lungs of the world. Western Amazonia is thought to be the most biologically diverse region on the earth, with thousands of species sharing the leafy world. Things are bigger, brighter, more vivid here. The giant Amazon water lily is one such bigger, brighter, more vivid thing, with leaves that grow up to seven feet across and huge flowers that bloom at night. Pink river dolphins haunt the waters of the Amazon river, finding their way into flooded parts of forest and even lakes. The three-toed sloth is hard to spot, preferring to relax in the tops of trees. It moves very slowly, climbing leisurely, limb over limb, up and down trunks. The fastest it ever moves is when it falls asleep in the tree, lets go, and plunges to the ground, waking up with an impressive headache! Red and green macaws shriek in the trees, as eagles and kingfishers swoop across the river in search of prey in an out of the water, giant blue butterflies the size of your face flutter past, and sharp-toothed piranhas swim menacingly back and forth. But, the stars of the jungle have to be the monkeys. The tiny, kitten-on-a-YouTube-video level of cute squirrel monkeys have closely set round black eyes and a prehensile tail that acts as a fifth limb. They live in large groups, sometimes up to a hundred of them together, and feature a black muzzle and white mask across their faces. My favorites are the Red Howler Monkeys. These large-ish orange creatures, with leathery muzzles and large round inquisitive eyes peering out of their thick, luscious fur are absolutely beautiful, but the real surprise comes with the noises that come out of that leathery muzzle. A loud, deep, throaty call that seems incongruous on this beast greets the dawn, shouts at a passing airplane or boat, and complains about a rainstorm. The Amazon is certainly a different, more magical world than the one most of us live in. Luckily for us, it's a lot more accessible to tourists than it once was and tour companies and eco-lodges abound. Typical jumping off points to the Peruvian Amazon are Puerto Maldonado in the south and Iquitos in the north. Go and fall in love with the lungs of the world. This article was written by Hannah Vickers, who has lived in Lima, Peru, for a year and a half and is the editor of Peru this Week. You can read more of her work on her blog. She wrote this article on behalf of the Tambo Blanquillo, a family-owned lodge in the Peruvian Amazon, the perfect place for encountering nature in Peru.