Amsterdam is an amazing city. Easy to get around whether by foot, bike, taxi or water. There is plenty to do and sometimes it’s hard to decide to take time to go see another science museum when there are so many good ones at home. It is my recommendation that you take time to see Nemo. You can’t miss the Nemo building. It looks like a giant green ship in the harbor. Once inside, every exhibit is hands on and fascinating. They even have a laboratory where kids can sign up to do there own experiments. Kids will want to spend hours exploring each floor.
One of the most fascinating and unique exhibits in Nemo is their Teen Facts section. The Netherlands has a very different and open view of sexuality and Amsterdam is a town in which prostitution is legal. It’s not surprising that the science museum takes an open and active approach to addressing the body, puberty and sexuality at their science museum. To American’s it may come as a shock to visit the “teen peep show” where kids over 13 are given coins to watch videos of other children discussing sex, first experiences and answering questions. You’ll find art figurines posed in sexual positions and even a manual french kiss machine. Where this is shocking to most Americans it is all part of good communication in the Netherlands. If you are taking your kids to Amsterdam it’s probably a great idea to have these discussions as prostitution is a part of the city of Amsterdam’s history and probably will bring up some questions anyway. I found we couldn’t visit several of the sites without passing side streets with women in the windows.
Growing up in Toronto, Ontario, Canada one almost takes going to Niagara Falls for granted -what an absolute magnificent experience it is. It’s a trip you do with your family, your school and when anyone comes to visit you. I’ve been so many times I couldn’t begin to list them and although I love it every time I see it. I never grow old of waiting in line with my poncho for the ride on the Maid of the Mist (The ferry ride underneath the falls). Or the walk right along the edge that makes me feel a little dizzy at the power of the rushing water flowing over the edge.
My daughter just got back from a school trip there. It was her fifth trip. She still loved it. It’s an amazing place. If you can get a room overlooking the falls for a spectacular view then that is great but not necessary. You will have plenty of time to walk around and take in the sights.
In my opinion, don’t stay for the tourist traps in the area unless you love that stuff. They are over priced and full of tourists. See the falls and get out of town. If you have time go to a little town about 35 minutes away called Niagara on the Lake and spend a week. It’s worth your time. Check out it’s website.
I couldn’t wait to see Tiger Kingdom. The little kid dream of seeing a tiger up close. When I saw that Thailand had several places one could visit with Tigers I knew I would go. I read the reviews. I read about responsible tourism. I debated myself about whether I should go. In the end, I knew I had to go. I had to see it for myself. I had to have the experience.
Tiger Kingdom was well managed and clean. Much like many zoos one goes to the tigers are in pens. The tigers on display have larger areas to roam and I saw no evidence that they were drugged. On the contrary, they were active and engaged in play with the handlers. They had toys, games and other activities to keep them busy. Nocturnal by nature, some tigers were asleep but would occasionally get up to wander.
My kids were not allowed in with the largest tigers. My son stayed with the babies. He got to bottle feed them. My daughter enjoyed two different sizes. We encountered the largest. Following our guide, he stated that we were to stay with him at all times, not make sudden movements and to stay behind him. Equipped with only a large prod, it was clear there was little he was join to do if our tiger decided to turn. We went in and our Tiger was might and magnificent. He lay down, head raised and we were guided to sit beside him. We could rub his side, touch his back and paws. Another guide took pictures. Anything our guide said, we did. At one point he said to lie down and put my head on it’s belly and I did. I kept thinking how My mother would kill me if she saw me doing this. All of a sudden, he jumped up and lunged at the cage in front of us a wheel chair went by. Clearly he saw the wheels turn and wanted to play or attack them. He paced back and forth watching the oblivious person in the wheelchair. We backed away.
We walked around to several other tigers. Each one allowing us to visit and touch them. One sleeping tiger was our guides favorite and he showed us his huge teeth. It was about then that I snapped back into reality and realized I was in a cage surrounded by tigers.
I have since recommended Tiger Kingdom to friends. Yet, I do so with reservation. Please understand that I truly believe in responsible tourism and the importance of understanding what it is you are impacting when visiting places like this. It is also important to truly take time to understand the plight of the tiger.
So if you do visit, or just find this blog post interesting. Please take time to help the Tigers.
#52 Visit Red Rocks Amphitheater:
I’m a music lover and I seek out live music wherever we are traveling. Some venues are as famous as the performers who visit them. A highlight of traveling across the United States was finally visiting one of those – Red Rocks Amphitheater. I’ve wanted to visit this amazing place since I watched U2’s iconic “Sunday Bloody Sunday” performance from the concert film U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky. We happened to be passing through there just before Mumford and Sons filmed “I Will Wait For You” at the same site. Although decades apart, you can see magic of Red Rocks continues when you watch these two performances. Visiting this place, even if you can’t catch a live show, is impressive. The amphitheater is open for visitors and attracts folks regularly for sightseeing and exercise. Just considering the historic past shows and the list of upcoming acts will be fun for music lovers. It’s a great hike and kids will love wandering around the seats. Go see it. Better yet…get tickets!
U2 Live at Red Rocks http://youtu.be/dL6FPMjZhAc
Mumford and Sons At Red Rocks http://youtu.be/rGKfrgqWcv0
“But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east and Juliet is the sun!”
See it and feel the love. Buy a lock and add it to the gate. Touch Juliet’s breasts for good luck. Of course none of it is “real” as we are talking about a story told by Shakespeare. But for millions of tourists each year visiting Verona,Italy isn’t complete without a visit to the famed “Juliet’s balcony.” There is something a little magical in the little cove where you can gaze up at the balcony while standing next to a beautiful rendition of Juliet herself. It gets quickly lost in the horde of tourists and gift shops that surround it. Run in, grab your picture and quickly move on – but kids will love every part of it. I put a lock up…I got caught up in the touristy magic.
#54 Visit Orangutans in Borneo , Sabah, Borneo
We spent a lot of time in Borneo jungle. Surrounded by Palm oil plantations, I was so saddened by the shrinking natural habitat that was visibly disapearing before our eyes. Even deep in the remote jungle, well off the beaten path, one could hear the sounds of trucks passing on a road as clearly as a cloud leopard roaring in the distance. There isn’t much left for the orangutans and I don’t have much hope that Borneo will be able to preserve the remaining habitat before their time runs out.
Visiting the jungles of Borneo is an amazing experience. We were able to do a homestay there. It is a great way to learn about local cooking and dance. We took long walks and boat rides through the jungle and got up close with the wildlife. We visited an orangutan “rehabilitation” center that give you an amazing glimpse at these marvelous animals. I put “rehabilitation” in quotes as I question the real rehabilitation of the animals. They are fed daily and never really return to the wild. THhis is in part because the remaining habitat is so scarce, there is now nowhere left to return. It is more of a tourist center than anything else – but still an experience I will never forget.
I wonder about the fate of the orangutan. Of all the places in the world we visited I felt like their habitat was the most severely threatened.
If you feel like you want to help there is an organization committed to them below.
One of the most amazing experiences I have ever had was in the Galapagos Islands. The Marine iguana is truly one of the strangest animals. Seeing these cold blooded creatures come in at the end of the day swimming into shore and piling onto the rocks is something I will never forget. Seeing one swim by me was such a shock. It’s hard to believe these animals can swim. I even watched them leap from a cliff into the ocean. Everything about the Galapagos Islands makes for an amazing family experience but be sure to add meeting these marine iguanas to your bucket list!
If you are in North America and just can’t get over to Europe but want to get a feel for the English experience head on up to Ottawa, Canada. Although Canada has been an independent country from England for many years the ties to England are strong and some of beauty of heritage can be seen in it’s traditions and architecture in Ottawa. Be sure to head to Parliament Hill, considered to be the most beautiful centers of government in the world for the daily changing of the Royal Guard. It’s a spectacular experience complete with bagpipes.
Be sure to grab some fish and chips, poutine and maple sugar candy at the local market. Head just across the bridge and your in Quebec. Located on the Rideau river, Ottawa is stunningly beautiful and a tour of it’s amazing embassies, museums and historic buildings will keep your family thrilled. Not to mention many of the tours go on land and into the water.
FAST FACTS (From the Ottawa Tourism Visitors Page)
The ceremony begins on Parliament Hill at 10 am sharp each morning following a march by the Guard from its Cartier Square Drill Hall just south of Parliament Hill and up Elgin Street.
The Ceremonial Guard is assembled from two regiments – the Governor General’s Footguards and the Canadian Grenadier Guards – and also has its own regimental band and pipers who perform in the ceremony.
Most of the Ceremonial Guardsmen taking part in the ceremony are university and college students; all are primary reservists in the Canadian Forces.
Performances are free of charge; for best viewing, arrive on Parliament Hill at 9:45 a.m.
I grew up around manatees and have watched when there was little regulation to a fantastic preservation program. Getting up close and personal to these beautiful and and bizarre animals while still maintaining their personal space is a spectacular experience one won’t soon forget. In the Crystal River you can see lots of West Indian Manatees congregate in it’s warm waters. Get in and snorkel with them. You can’t touch or feed them but you will enjoy the wild animals grace in the water and wonder how they were ever mistaken for mermaids. Manatee season at Crystal River is November to March. The rest of the year they can be found wandering the intercoastals trying to avoid boats.
I wish they were thriving and could exist without tourism but manatees need our help to survive in South Florida. Awareness about these majestic animals is important.
You know those places that you just happen upon and they end up being one of the best places ever….that happened when we drove past the weird and wacky signs of puzzling world and just had to stop. We ended up staying the better part of the day there and it was such fun. Life-size optical illusions, giant wooden mazes, and all sorts of puzzles to tease your brain await inside this fun museum/fun house. It’s fun for the whole family and even worth taking time away from New Zealand’s gorgeous scenery to just play.