Marie Nieves

Marie Nieves

Marie Nieves is a travel blogger who loves unusual trips, active holidays, gadgets and creative ideas. Her favourite writer is Tracy Chevalier and she always carries one of her books in her bag.

Most of her free time at home she spends walking her Labrador Retriever named Max. She is an avid lover of photography who loves to talk about her experiences.


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Top 10 Wine Destinations Of 2018


 Image 1 Wine Destinations

In a simpler time, you had one or maybe two choices for a wine tasting adventure – France or Italy. Nowadays, it seems that quality vintages can be found in every corner of the world, with wine tasting becoming a vacation unto itself.

Prominent wineries offering tasting tours overlooking their magnificent, expansive vineyards along with impeccable service and fine-dining are growing in popularity among wine aficionados and travellers alike. So why dream about it when you can experience a wine adventure for yourself? Here are the world’s top 10 wine destinations you have to visit in 2018.


Tuscany, Italy

When you think of wine and natural beauties, Tuscany might be the first place that comes to mind, and rightfully so as this ancient Italian wine-making region still stands tall as one of the most prominent travel destinations for any wine connoisseur. Enjoy a glass of old Chianti while revelling in the beauty of the vineyards embraced by the sloping hills in the distance – truly an unforgettable experience.


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Finger Lakes, New York

While the U.S. might not be the first thing that comes to mind, any avid wine lover will attest to the quality of the vintages stored and served in the wineries of Finger Lakes. Boasting an amazing array of over 100 wine houses spread across the hillsides surrounding the lakes, you will have the chance to taste the opulent aromas of a local Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Vidal Blanc.


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Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Just north of the U.S. border, in Canadian British Columbia lies Okanagan Valley with more than 100 wineries and their signature vintages. This fertile land brings numerous varietals to life, including Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. You will also get the chance to taste a variety of fruit wines as well.


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Bordeaux, France

Probably one of the most iconic wine regions in the world, Bordeaux is a true wine aficionado’s must-see. While France has more than several esteemed wine regions, such as Loire Valley, Cognac, and Dordogne, the famed Bordeaux wine tours will give you the chance to enrich your palate with wines from the venerated chateaux of Medoc, Saint Emilion, and Graves.


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Yarra Valley, Australia

Australia is slowly becoming one of the prominent wine countries of the world, with Yarra Valley situated near Melbourne being the most promising prospect for an upscale wine tour. Enriched with quaint villages, restaurants, and numerous wineries, the region’s own Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah can be enjoyed while relishing the beauty of the surrounding landscape.


Image 6 Yarra Valley Australia


Napa & Sonoma, California

Napa Valley is also one of the most famous wine regions in the U.S., with more than 450 wineries situated within its borders, offering a vivid and diverse display of vintages such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. In the neighbouring region of Sonoma, you will find similar grapes along with boutique hotels and quaint towns that have preserved the timeless aesthetic appeal.


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Cape Winelands, South Africa

Another wine region growing in popularity among connoisseurs and aficionados across the globe is the Cape Winelands in Cape Town, South Africa. The combination rich soils and a moderate climate allow the production of many fine wines, among which are Shiraz, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. Be sure to visit the famed wine routes of Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, and Groot Constantia.


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Catalonia, Spain

Famous for its dry white wines and brooding red vintages, Catalonia is home to nine wine regions where you can find numerous esteemed wineries. The region is dominated by unique Catalan grapes such as Garnacha and Tempranillo, as well as Macabeo and Parellada. Be sure to visit Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia during your trip.


Image 9 Catalonia Spain


Mendoza, Argentina

Argentinian wines have long been established as some of the best wines in the world, with the palate dominated by Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Be sure to book your tastings in advance, as the region’s wineries require reservations, oftentimes being fully booked for months.


Image 10 author Chris Parker


Crete, Greece

Home to grape varieties unique to the region, Crete is truly a place to sip on exquisite wines forged from local Thrapsathiri, Mantilari, and Kotsifali grapes. The region proudly produces its magnificent white wines along with an array of opulent reds worth experiencing. Combining Cretan wines with their national cuisine is as close to a perfect seaside adventure as you can get.


Image 11 Crete Greece


In every corner of the world, there is a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered by an avid wine traveller. With these top 10 wine destinations in your itinerary, 2018 is bound to be remembered as one of the most exciting year-long adventures of your life.






Long Cruises – The Real Pros & Cons

Whether you’ve already sailed the Caribbean Sea or you’re completely new to the idea of embarking on a voyage with your friends or family, cruises are a mixed bag of experiences. They can be delightfully simple, all-inclusive, superbly fun and diverse. The adventure, however, does come at a certain price. That being said, it may end up being your best vacation nonetheless, or something you’d altogether avoid for the sake of the traditional beach getaway for a week or two!


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Before you make up your mind, let’s take a look at the ups and downs of cruising your way through a vacation, and how you can make the most of the available options you have on the market.


Pro: Never a dull moment

It’s enough to see the destinations on the list, and you’ll likely be hooked – from roaming the numerous, exotic islands of the Pacific Ocean to various river cruises in Europe! These voyages are far from monotonous and slow; each and every itinerary has a unique set of activities that are offered on a daily basis, and most of them are included in the price of the journey. Although, it’s best to make sure beforehand so that you can count on certain expenses if you’d like to take part in specific activities.

Poolside hang outs, cocktail parties in the evening, dance classes, basketball or volleyball, rock climbing, various performances -- you name it! A certain cruise probably has it somewhere on its itinerary. Another thing worth mentioning is fine dining since you’ll have access to versatile meals you probably never had the chance to taste before.


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Con: The price tag

The main downside of this experience is that it definitely doesn’t come cheap compared to your standard vacation in a resort or an European city. While no one can argue that the price range is wide, and you can choose from the most affordable, but less luxurious cruising options to those that are designed to be as prestigious as possible, all of them are more expensive than a traditional vacation.

A possible solution to this issue is to start putting some money away on the side for a planned cruise a year from now, or you can join the mailing list of your favorite cruise lines to be updated on regular offers, in which case you’ll know when a particularly affordable option comes up.


Pro: Meeting new people

From small, intimate cruise ships that can accommodate no more than a few hundred people, all the way to massive ocean-conquering beasts that will carry you and several thousand other guests, you will constantly have the opportunity to meet new people on board. You can even take your pick from family-friendly, no-kids-allowed, and culture-rich cruise lines, and go from adventure to relaxation mode in no time.

For the busiest bees among you, you’ll be happy to learn that there’s the option of last minute cruises so that you don’t have to spend months planning with your friends. When everything is ready for you, simply set sail and have fun! With so many excursions, exciting harbor stops, classes and activities, you’ll likely meet new people in the matter of a single day.


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Con: Limitations

Yes, there are many destinations to choose from as well as a whole range of activities, but many can feel limited in space with so many guests roaming around constantly. When the ship travels at full capacity, it can get pretty crowded. And despite their best efforts, some activities and classes will constantly be fully booked, so you might have to settle for something a little less interesting.

Another limitation you’ll experience is time: whenever you make a stop at a new destination, you cannot explore to your heart’s content as you would be able to if you had visited the location on your own. You need to respect the timetable of the ship, and in order to visit many destinations at a time, you need to make some sacrifices.


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Pro: Many destinations on a single trip

What these cruises lack in focus, however, they make up for in diversity! While you might not be able to spend a week in each location on your itinerary (and you will want to!), you’ll get a taste of each culture and be able to decide whether you’d love to come back next year for the duration of your entire vacation, or if you’d rather skip the experience.

It’s a great way to scout for perfect travel destinations before you make a commitment all the while enjoying the comfort and luxury that you would find in any beachside resort. And finally, it’s a unique way to get immersed into various, authentic cultures and enrich your journey with many destinations.






Sydney Beaches - A Quick Travel Guide

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If there’s a single tip that should serve as your guiding star for exploring Sydney’s coastal beauty, it would be: run you fools! Explore them all! Not a single shore nook is less than breathtaking, and they will make you fall head over heels in love with them, at first sight, let alone a dip into the playful ocean waters. They will inspire the surfer within you (even if you never knew it existed) to ride that perfect wave, and each walk from one beach to another will be chock-full of selfie-friendly spots.

Without further ado, put on your walking shoes, pack a bottle of cool water, ample suncscreen, a towel and and some snacks, too! Brace yourself – Sydney is about to whisk you off your feet with its unparalleled shoreline!


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Congwong Beach

When it comes to the hidden gems of golden sand, nothing beats the strip of shore that hides in the embrace of the Botany Bay National Park and that goes by the name of Congwong. This small, graceful, and intact beach is the dream-come-true for those who would like to escape the hustle and bustle of Bondi and similar famous spots.

It’s lack of lifeguards, however, calls for extra caution even for the best of swimmers, so always make sure that the weather is friendly enough for a trip along the La Perouse Loop Road that leads to this stunning coastal nook.


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Whale Beach

Another beach less visited than its more popular counterparts, Whale beach has a reputation for serenity unlike any other Sydney beach. Once there, rest assured that you’ll be inspired to meditate, rest and abandon all your worries to the soothing sound of the crashing waves.

At both ends of this approximately 600-meter-long curve are two headlands that offer a picturesque panoramic view of the ocean and the surrounding area. The southern end peak, named the Careel Head, is home to the Careel House, a lovely 1931 bungalow that is also worth a visit.


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Palm Beach

North of the secluded Whale beach, the neighboring Palm beach (nicknamed Palmy by the locals) is the crown jewel of northern beaches, with its crystal-clear water, honey-hued sand and several cafes and restaurants with a breathtaking view of the ocean.

Its convenient location and distance from CBD make it a beloved getaway spot both for locals and tourists in the know (of which there are very few), where staying at the Gaelforce Palm Beach villa even for a single weekend is sure to recharge your batteries.


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Avalon Beach

A favorite of the local surfers and those who simply like a balmy excursion away from the city rush, Avalon is an untamed, but friendly bank of sand just perfect for a family picnic or a book-reading afternoon in the sun. The rocky formations just amid the sand and the splash of waves give this beach a more rugged, untamed look, but the clear sandy shore provides ample room for its visitors to spend the day.

For those who aren’t too eager to bring their own bites, there are a few bars and restaurants with delicious menus of local cuisine just a brief walk away from the beach. The Different Drummer has a Friday and Saturday evening menu of burgers to make your belly rumble with joyous anticipation, while Yoda Food offers Thursday night jazz sessions spiced up with plates of fusion meals.


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Manly Beach

A great opportunity to skip the car ride and take the ferry from Circular Quay instead – Manly beach awaits on the other side, a collection of calm, playful and vast sandy streaks that are as inviting as the rest of Sydney shoreline.

Manly Cove is a beach often visited by families with kids, while Shelly and Fairlight beaches deserve a hike as well. But adventure lovers will not be disappointed, either, as the nickname of this stretch (Surf City) is a clear hint for those who are eager to catch a wave instead of sunbathing for hours on end.






New Zealand - Hiking Adventure

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The mesmerizing scenery you’ve seen in The Lord of the Rings is no less breathtaking in real life. On the contrary, it’s even more of all those Middle Earthen adjectives that cross your mind when you think of New Zealand, and they come alive as soon as you step on the endless meadows and intact natural reserves that dominate the landscape.

It’s no wonder that most first-time, as well as return visitors choose to trek all over New Zealand, because there’s no better way to soak in all the beauty it hides in its emerald nooks. To make the most of your hiking trip, the following are the essentials of what you need to know for your journey there and back again!


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Choose your track

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” And for starters, you should learn as much as possible about all available hikes in order to choose the one that best suits your endurance levels, available time, and of course, love for the outdoors.

For instance, the North Island is a mystifying blend of the Maori culture, dramatic volcano craters, kayaking via the streams of Whanganui, and rainforest-laden scenery beyond your wildest dreams. On the other hand, the South Island also abounds in stunning landscape – Abel Tasman National Park alone is enough to keep you occupied, while the famous Milford track will take you through valleys overshadowed by misty mountain peaks, rivers, fjords with glaciers and the tallest New Zealand waterfalls.


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Are you quite ready for another adventure?

As tempting as it is to pack your backpack and head to the airport instantly, despite the remoteness of the country, these walking tours are often fully booked for a few months in advance. Make sure to visit the website of the Department of Conservation as soon as reservations are open in the first days of July, to book your spot and then prepare all the gear you need for the hike of your choice.

Beyond that, New Zealand has enabled its hikers to join well-organized branches of huts, cottages and campsites, which allow different levels of comfort. You can stay the night in a dreamy cottage; you have the option to share accommodation with other hikers, or you can go up close and personal with the wilderness and sleep in your own tent on a campsite! Also, you can choose between self-guided and guided tours, and the latter is always the best choice for a tramping newbie.


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What about second breakfast?

First-timers will be tempted to focus solely on the experience, finding the right outfits based on the weather conditions, and possibly hanging on to your photography equipment for dear life. However, hiking can be strenuous even on the fittest among you, as it will take a few days of continuous walking through rough terrain, and possibly in difficult conditions such as pouring rain or passing over snowy mountain ranges. With that said – what will your menu consist of?

You’ll need plenty of sustenance in the form of protein-packed meals that will give you energy and the feeling of fullness won’t fade away all that quickly like with sugary foods. There are practical, but pricey options such as ziplocked meals, paired with some hot water, and you can also pack dried fruits for regular snacks, oatmeal packs and sandwiches to mix it up. Your main goal is to keep it light, unable to spoil and easy to prepare!


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New Zealand is a dream-come-true destination for the lovers of untamed nature, and as such, it deserves to be experienced first-hand, by hiking over its gorgeous plains and peaks. Put on a pair of your most durable boots, get ready to fall in love with the landscapes of the country, and fire up your wanderlust because as J.R.R. Tolkien put it – not all those who wander are lost.





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