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Celia Corbin

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I’m sitting in the passenger side of a Robson R22 and my fingers go “click, click, click” against the key. I then hear two blades spinning above like the windmills at sunset in the Mojave desert. 

I’m feeling very Amelia Earhart at this moment. Like a boss. I completed my safety checks from the interior, pushed a few buttons, got us up in the air, and now I have full control over the steering.

Taking a helicopter flight lesson is the most exhilarating activity I’ve tried. Forget skydiving, jumping off of bridges, leaping from the world’s largest swing into large canyons, or swimming with humpback whales. This is it. This is my defining moment.

Overlooking the panoramic views of Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps of New Zealand has me sold.

It did take me a little bit of research and thought about whether or not I wanted to get my fixed wing or rotor wing private pilot’s license (PPL). What helped my decision are the types of activities I could do with a rotor wing. But even before that, I got the idea about taking flight lessons when I thought it would be cool to be a skydiving instructor. Then I was thinking, ” Why be a skydiving instructor when I can be a pilot instead?” That later manifested into, ” Why be a fixed wing pilot when I can be a rotor wing pilot?”

Helicopters can go forward, backward, and from side to side. It doesn’t require a long landing or lengthy runway to get up. With a PPL you can take your friends’ heli-skiing (collaborating with RedBull adrenaline adventures is another dream of mine), go island hopping, or land yourself on a yacht.

I have this pipe dream of being a Divemaster, wino, and pilot. Imagining myself in Santa Barbara’s wine country (Solvang or Los Olivos) and parking my chopper there overnight with guests enjoying our favorite wines and then hopping over to the Channel Islands for some camping and scuba diving.  Pipe dreams can become realities though. All you need to do is have a vision, take that first step, and see where it goes.

 Do you have a pipe dream? If so, please tell me about them in the comments below. 

NYE for me seems to have an ongoing theme, and that’s of me puking. I was thinking about what I did last year and where I was, and that was me hovered over a dirty nasty public toilet.

I kicked off the New Year in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. I spent the evening with strangers and a man who identified himself as, “The Clint Eastwood of Yogya.” He snuck in a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label that can’t be found anywhere but the airports because of Java’s strict liquor laws and offered to share some with me. I was also with another group who I met from Instagram, and they shared arak (Indonesian moonshine). So I was mixing apple flavored rice wine and whiskey. I know better to be mixing, but I’m a glutton for punishment and never seem to learn my lesson.

I barely made it to the new year. I began throwing up in the restroom of the bar I was at and recorded a video of me pissed off as I transitioned into the new year with mascaraed smeared eyes and puke breath. Grrrreeat, Celia. You’re so typical American now.

Not my finest moment.

This is the third year I spent it vomiting, but this time in Te Anau, New Zealand. It’s like I’m marking my territory. “It’s not a new year without spraying all over the place like a dog, right?” …says no one ever.

But I’m proud it wasn’t my fault this time. I got a 24-hour bug the day before NYE, so my stomach was too sensitive to drink much.

I ended up meeting with a friend I met while sailing across the South Pacific. We met at a boatyard on a tiny atoll in French Polynesia over a conversation about the shitty wifi and trying to identify who bought out all the chicken leaving us stuck with canned foods and pasta. Then we found each other again in Tahiti where we were both stuck for what felt like an eternity due to boat delays. Then again in the tiny town of Te Anau. She was staying at a motel across the street from where I was staying. Life is funny.

We gave each other a big hug, had a glass of champers (I wasn’t going out like that with no champagne into the New Year), and then walked a few minutes before midnight to the lake where fireworks were scheduled to go off.

For a small town, I was a bit impressed by the amount of buzz. The usually quiet streets were lively with music and crowds.

BOOM. Fireworks!

Wait, what? I didn’t countdown! Nobody counted down! I feel cheated. Why wasn’t there a countdown!?

All whining *cough*wining* aside, it was a pretty perfect display with unobstructed views despite the rainy weather. I loved that I could show up a few minutes before, not have to elbow my way through the crowds, and even more – I remembered it all!☺

Buenos Aires is a gastronomic haven just waiting to be explored. From the traditional Asado to the traditional empanadas, the city is filled with delicacies that are sure to satisfy your cravings. Here are some of Buenos Aires’ dining treasures that offer tasty dishes at friendly prices.

Bar El Federal
Opened in 1854, this historic café is located in the San Telmo district, just a couple of blocks away from the market. They have an extensive menu, so you’re sure to find one that fits your taste. It’s a great place to soak in your Buenos Aires experience as it is a spot where locals meet up after going to the market.
They serve great empanadas and picadas in hefty servings so you can order for sharing. If you’re lucky enough to catch a pan casero freshly baked, then make sure to order one of these loaves. They are perfect with butter and dulce de leche which is a local sweet spread.

The food is delicious and reasonably priced. You can get a great meal from 100 to 150 Argentine Pesos (around $6-10).

La Cocina
There is absolutely no way you can go to Buenos Aires without tasting the delectable empanadas. These are deep-fried or baked pocket pastries stuffed with delicious fillings, which can be anything from meat to vegetables.

The best place to enjoy this treat is at La Cocina in Recoleta. This area is actually a favorite tourist spot, thanks to the Recoleta Museum a few blocks away. La Cocina offers 8 different types of baked empanadas, with Pikachu being the house special. No, it’s not that pocket monster in the animated series. It’s a cheese enthusiast’s dream empanada. Pikachu is made from three different types of cheese with a dash of hot sauce.

So, for a quick but filling snack, head over to La Cocina and enjoy the tasty empanadas.

El Obrero
Located in the La Boca district, this restaurant is a local institution where friends and family gather for a hearty meal. The menu features favorites that have been served since it opened in 1954. Their signature dishes include berenjas en escabeche which is a pickled eggplant dish served with a yummy oily marinade. You should also try out their Spanish omelet packed with a hearty serving of chorizo.

The food is fantastic, the décor is relaxing, and the prices are unbelievably affordable. An order of Asado de Tira or short ribs is only 54 Argentine Pesos, which is roughly around $4. The Spanish omelet will cost you about $2.

Nonna Bianca
While walking around the city, you will often see a group of people gathered in parks drinking one of the most popular drinks in Argentina, the Mate. It is made from yerba mate, which are green finely chopped leaves that create a slightly earthy and bitter taste to the tea water. It is a local tradition that you certainly shouldn’t miss.

To make the experience more enjoyable and to make sure that you do it right, head over to Nonna Bianca located in San Telmo. It’s a quaint little ice cream shop that serves Mate. As an added bonus, if you’re not a big fan of hot drinks, you can try out Nonna Bianca’s Mate flavored ice cream instead.

It’s almost too cliché to visit Nimbin, Australia’s weed capital, and get high. But then that would be like saying you’re going to Italy and not going to try the Italian food. So on my first day, I decided [when in Rome] I was going to find me some edibles.

I’m not even big on the hippie cannabis culture (libations are more my thing). You won’t find me in dreads dressed in hemp apparel smelling like Nag Champa with a bongo drum in one hand and a rolled cigarette in the other discussing, “What is life?”

But I’ve been in a funk since I’ve been to Oz, with a couple small stints of feeling emo that I convinced myself the natural escape might be what I need to give me inspiration to create again.

The buying process was pretty easy and accessible. There was a suspicious looking garden off the main road that I saw people casually walking in and out of. I walked back there and already paranoid dealers in ski masks mumble out, “Weed? Looking for weed?”

I ask one of the guys if he had edibles and he said no, but to check out the café down the road. I didn’t partake in any of the pot. I had a different mission in mind and kindly declined. I walked over to the café and I have no idea what to look for. It all seemed a bit weird even doing this at all, so I gave up quickly and decided I’d spend the rest of my day enjoying a nice Italian dinner and some wine listening to a small duet band playing the flute and guitar.

The next morning, I end up scoring some edible cookies sold in packs of 3. It took a couple of hours for it to settle in and it was a pretty mild body high. I bought myself a hippie headband and spent the afternoon at a pub enjoying a $5 Corona special and the green rolling hills in my view listening to Californian reggae bands, Slightly Stoopid and Stick Figure, through my headphones. This is great! I’m feeling inspired. I want to write again.
I walk back to my accommodation and begin stargazing asking myself the question, “What is Life?” Well, not exactly, but you get my picture. 😉

I really wanted to spend the evening watching one of my favorite Wes Anderson films, “Darjeeling Limited”, but I couldn’t find a place to stream for free so I settled on “Slum Dog Millionaire” and retired the evening.

While I’m even surprised about my openness discussing this topic, my reason is I wanted to share the perspective from a person where pot is usually not their thing. It’s still illegal and punishable by law, but as long as you’re not making an ass out of yourself whipping out a 5’ bong in the open, then the police have a higher tolerance for it.

Also, much of what you find online is a bit outdated. You’re not going to go to Nimbin and walk into cafes or hemp bars lighting a spliff and hot-boxing the joint like Snoop Dog. Those days are long over, but enjoy it discreetly and then fancy yourself an afternoon of coffee and people watching. Otherwise, check out the Mardi Grass Festival. Peace and love, dudes!

In spite of Great Britain’s recent departure from the European Union, London as the melting pot of races, religions, cultures, lifestyles, and foods is expected to remain one of the continent’s top tourist draws. Unlike what other people think, London is not as expensive as how it is portrayed in the media. As long as you have an idea of where to stay, how to go around and where to eat ahead of time, the city can be a haven for the usually budget-conscious traveler.

Your backpacking adventure to one of the busiest cities in the world would not be complete without trying some of its famous and affordable gastro treats. Below are some of the backpacker must try’s while in London.

Bao of Central London
Located along Lexington in Central London’s SOHO community, this Asian fusion restaurant used to operate along the streets of the business district until its popularity amongst locals and travelers prompted owners to open a casual service restaurant.

The name was derived from the Taiwanese “gua bao,” which means white and fluffy buns. One must not underestimate Bao’s signature slider dishes though. These soft Asian breads are stuffed with some of the most well-loved Asian favorites like braised pork with peanut powder. Other of Bao’s famous sliders include chicken marinated in soymilk, wrapped with burger baps with kimchi and Sichuan mayonnaise.

For as low as $5, you can have a serving of these deli buns to get you through lunch or dinner.

North London
Up north, you can head down to Franks Canteen in Highbury Park. The best time to go is during breakfast and lunch when you can try their kedgeree, a spiced rice served with smoked haddock and poached egg.

East London
In East London, Chick ‘n’ Sours is making a name for being a party place for locals and travelers. The best time to go is during the weekends after sunset. Their famous Southern style, buttermilk-marinated fried chicken, is easy on the pocket, you can even order one cocktail drink to complete your night’s fill.

South London
If you are in the mood for affordable yet filling street food, you can head on to the South at the Brockley market. With more or less $10, you can either have Luardo’s meat burritos, Spit and Roast’s fried chicken or Van Dough’s authentic Italian pizza. Most travelers are advised to visit right before closing time at two in the afternoon to get a good bargain on full meals.

Tea Rooms
Your London experience would not be complete without engaging in the country’s favorite pastime – tea drinking. While there are probably hundreds of tea rooms in London, you would want to try a lazy afternoon at the Highness Café and Tea Room while sipping a hot tea and a dessert for your side.

Located in Highbury Park, you have the option of having your tea at the cozy and quiet mezzanine level of the café, or you can head downstairs to experience the amiable buzz of Englishmen drinking their favorite tea. An herb-infused tea and a slice of a traditional carrot cake would only cost a little over $6.

When visiting France, the backpacker’s first instinct would be to explore the popular, well-loved city of Paris. Sure, Paris has the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Musée du Louvre and many charming bistros and patisseries. However, if you want to have a taste of fresh, sparkling champagne, you must visit Reims.

Planning for the Trip

All you need to get to this beautiful and time-honored city is to hop on a train at Paris’ Gare de l’Est. You have about an hour and a half to prepare yourself to begin tasting some bubbly.

The trip may be fairly easy, but do note that most champagne houses will require you to make reservations well in advance. This is, therefore, not an experience you can get at the spur of the moment. You may want to give your chosen champagne house a call in advance.

Many large champagne houses like Taittinger and Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin offer tasting tours that mix history, production and samples. But tour prices in these popular houses tend to be a bit steep, at least €15 and above.

The backpacker’s secret to finding a good champagne tasting experience is to visit the lesser-known houses and villages just out of town. These houses tend to be rustic, at least in comparison to the splendor of large champagne houses. However, they’re a great way to get to know a different side – but just as delicious – side of France.

Champagne M. Brugnon

Tour and Tasting Price: Free

First on our list is Champagne M. Brugnon in the commune of Ecueil, a ten to twenty minute drive from the Reims city center. The Brugnon family has been creating champagne for five generations. The family champagne house was then established by Maurice Brugnon 70 years ago. They offer a free tour, which includes a taste of four of their vintages.

As you might expect from such an old and intimate house, the good-natured owner Alain Brugnon is passionate about wine. He usually takes time to conduct tours through the vineyard and give you an in-depth explanation of the process of making bubbly. Our favorite part? How Mr. Brugnon takes time to explain the interconnectivity of everyone in the champagne-making process, from the small grape growers to the production houses.

R. Blin & Sons Champagne

Tour and Tasting Price: Free

Another intimate, family-run champagne house is R. Blin & Sons Champagne, found in Trigny, a cheerful little commune about twenty minutes west northwest of the Reims city center. Like Champagne M. Brugnon, they also offer a free and friendly tour that will most likely be conducted by one of the Mr. Blins!

They’re pretty well-versed in the art of champagne-making, which you will see from their in-depth explanations. The tour itself is an in-depth journey through the process, taking you from the grape to the bottle.

Pré en Bulles

Tour and Tasting Price: €7

If you’re willing to try something different and go a bit further from Reims, try visiting the commune of Trépail. It is a thirty-minute drive southeast of the city center. There, you will find Pré en Bulles, a museum dedicated to champagne! For an entrance fee of €7, although you can knock down the price to €6 for large groups, you can view the innovative exhibit dedicated to the creation and glorification of champagne. After this spectacle, you may proceed to a sampling of local champagne.

 

Apart from its world-famous landmarks and museums, Paris is flocked by travelers from all over the globe because of its astonishing array of gourmet restaurants and cafés. However, some people fail to experience French gourmet because of the general idea that it is expensive. The truth is, gourmet doesn’t need to be, and for the past years, this has become apparent in the streets of the culinary capital of the world. Even backpackers with a reputation for staying way below their travel budgets would agree in this claim.

If you are heading out to Paris anytime soon, you would certainly want to include the following gourmet establishments in your itinerary.

Hidden Foodie Treasure
Run by a religious charity group, Foyer de La Madeleine is a hidden foodie treasure in Place de Madeleine. Located in one of the churches’ passageways, the restaurant is a favorite of many tourists, shoppers, office workers, pensioners, and students. During lunchtime, expect the 300 pax dining areas of the restaurant packed with this exciting mix of patrons.

On your first visit, you may be charged a one-time membership fee of $7. But it will be worth it as you would have numerous chances on different days of trying French food classics like the red herring served with potato salad and oeuf mayonnaise. You can also try their cod in tomato sauce cooked using the traditions of the French Basques. If you fancy a simple dish, the restaurant also serves grilled chicken glazed with lemon sauce.

Vegetarian Street Food
Located in the Jewish neighborhood of Le Marais, this sandwich shop is known to serve one of the world’s best falafels. It’s even recommended by famous singer Lenny Kravitz. If you are in the mood for some fresh greens and deep, fried Falafels wrapped in hot pita bread and served with your choice of dressing, head on to this shop. Just makes sure that you’ve packed enough energy and patience to keep up with the long queue to the shop’s order window.

Asian in Paris
When in Paris, food is not all about the French classics. As the food melting pot of the world, you can easily be transported to the Orient when you try Asian restaurants lining its busy streets without shelling out too much of your money. There is the Asian vegetarian restaurant Tien Hiang in Rue Bichat and the Japanese ramen house Higuma at the Palais Royal.

Breads and Pastries
Your French gourmet experience would not be complete without tasting any of their world-favorite breads and pastries. While going around the city, you’d come across countless shops offering freshly-baked goods. But you might want to be particular with this pastry shop owned by one of France’s most respected chefs, Cyril Lignac. With four restaurant and pastry shops, La Patisserie by Cyril Lignac serves freshly-baked organic baguettes, loaves, sweet pastries and cakes.

Chocolate
Lastly, ending your day with a cup of real hot French chocolate would make your food experience in France genuinely memorable. Highly-recommended is the one served by Angelina, which is located along Rue de Rivoli near the Louvre museum.

Bali is known for its beautiful beaches, yoga culture, and it is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world. It is filled with geological wonders and natural beauty. You can find romantic restaurants and fascinating infinity pools around the area, and it provides a one-of-a-kind dining experience for its visitors. But there are a few basic things you should know before you go to Bali.

From the Airport
It is best to take a taxi from Bali airport to your hotel. Taxi fares from the airport usually range from $10 to $57 depending on the location. You can also hire a private car service, but that’s obviously a lot more expensive.

Currency
The currency of Bali is an Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). You can do a currency exchange at the airport and many are located near the customs office.

SIM Cards
You can get Telkomsel Simpati SIM cards at the Bali Airport for only $11.45. You can also find XL and Indosat SIM cards at the airport for around 38 cents, but you have to load some text and call credits to the card to use it.

Luggage Storage
There’s a luggage storage system at the Bali airport. You can store your bags for $1.53 a day.

How to Get Around Bali
Ojek: a motorbike that takes you around town for $1.53
Taxi: taxis in Bali are relatively cheap. In fact, you can travel from Kuta to Seminyak for under $4. The best taxi company for tourists and expats is the Blue Bird Taxi.
Bemo: Bemo is a minibus, and it is the most common mode of transportation in Bali. The fare is about $4.
Dokar: less common these days are dokars (pony wagons) if you opt for a romantic experience.

Spots for Foodies and Adventure Seekers
Bali is a city of adventure. If you have an adventurous spirit, there are a lot of things that you can do in Bali. You can join the bike tour around the rice fields in a traditional Balinese village for only $29. You can visit the Bali Butterfly Park for only $5, or the UNESCO site called the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces which is truly stunning.

If you want to eat authentic Indonesian food, you should visit the famous Balinese restaurant called Kampoeng Bali. It replicates the ancient food handling traditions in a classic Balinese village. Plus, it showcases the rich culture of Indonesia through song, dance, and dramatic performances. If you want to dine above water, it’s a good idea to go to Bale Undang which is located in Ubud and Kuta. The restaurant has a great view and amazing food.

Bali is known as one of the top surfing destinations in the world. If you’re into surfing, you should visit Bali from October to April.

Balinese Culture
Bali is tied to its religion which is Shivaite or Balinese Hinduism. The country is known for its culture, dance, and drama. It is also known for the Wayang Kulit or shadow play. The display of breasts in Bali is not considered immodest. You can easily see a Balinese woman displaying her breasts, but oddly, the display of thigh is deemed to be immodest.

You can also explore the famous Balinese temples such as the Pura Taman Ayun, Pura Ulun Danu, Pura Besakih, Pura Tirta Empul, and Pura Tanah Lot. If you’re the spiritual type, you can sign up for a yoga retreat in Ubud.

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