Thursday, July 30, 2015

Travel Quote of Another Day

“Speaking with a French accent is like being on third base with no outs.” 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Travel Quote of the Day

Travel Quote: "One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure." 
William Feather 
Machu Picchu
#travel #travelquote  #travelingcynthia #quote

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Wonders of Wales from Castles to Seaside Towns & Wickedly Welsh Chocolates

By Cynthia Dial for
What do Catherine Zeta Jones, castles and zip lining have in common? If you answer Wales, you’re right.

Wales is the birthplace of actress Zeta Jones; home to more castles per square mile than anywhere on earth; the country of Europe’s longest, highest and fastest zip wire and the land of my recent visit.
“We’ve crossed the River Severn, so I can officially say ‘Croeso i Gymru,’ Welcome to Wales,” greeted our guide, less than three hours after my arrival into Heathrow. Changes seemed gradual during our journey from the UK capital. On approach to Great Britain’s westernly country, we see just a few of its natural aesthetics – rolling hills, the faint silhouettes of mountains and a scattering of sheep (only a sampling of the country’s 14 million). But the mother tongue, Welsh, is readily apparent in the bi-lingual signage appearing like surround sound. Spoken by about 20 percent of its people, a linguistic perk for visitors is the 24/7 exposure to such terms as cas or castell (castle), afon (river) and cwm (valley).

At first glance Wales seems an intriguing balance of contrasts: its national flag is a fiery red dragon, its national flower is the delicate daffodil, its national sport is the rugged game of rugby and the March 1 birthday of its patron saint, St David, is a countrywide celebration. Though smaller than the state of New Jersey, Wales’s superlatives are larger than life. The Royal Mint is the world’s oldest company (Guinness Book of Records), its narrow-gauge railway is earth’s oldest, the Swansea-to-Mumbles passenger train line is the world’s first and Welsh inventions include radar, the radio, portable phones and the equals (=) sign.

Wales’s plant life and wildlife are equally impressive. With three national parks and seven RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), the tiny nation features more than 30 species of butterflies, almost 1,000 breeding pairs of the once-near-extinct red kite bird, thousands of orchid-blanketed meadows and approximately 16,000 puffins on the country’s sister islands of Skomer and Skokholm.  

Cardiff is the epicenter of activity. Curiously glamour-resistant, Wales’s capital city showcases the country’s rich past and vibrant present. Serving up such icons as Cardiff Castle, Millennium Centre and the Millennium Stadium – with an event calendar to rival any European capital – the city is full of cultural, recreational and culinary possibilities. To become best acquainted with Cardiff, begin at its castle. Projecting more than 2,000 years of history with its collection of towers and turrets, this former Roman fort was occupied until 1947. “Cardiff revolves around it,” said a resident of this ancient home to many royal families. Today’s beloved landmark belongs to its people, with all locals issued entrance cards (aka keys to the castle).

Pleasures of the pedestrian abound in Cardiff. Here’s a peek of a walkabout. Its day begins at Cardiff Market, an old-style, glass-roofed arcade with fresh seafood, local produce and baked goods (specialties include Welsh cakes) . . . alongside haircuts, watch repairs and pet rabbits. You’ll pass Cardiff City Hall and its clock tower. National Museum Cardiff tells 4.5 million years of Welsh history through the world’s largest collection of Welsh pottery and features one of Europe’s finest art collections. Inspired by the country’s landscape and raw materials, Millennium Centre arts and cultural venue is glass and slate, with a bronze-colored wave-like roof and a bi-lingual phrase massively displayed above its entrance. Unmistakably Welsh, it’s so architecturally balanced, it seems the flawless strand of pearls. Described “acoustically perfect,” Andrew Lloyd Webber considers its theatre the best to be built in 50 years. The quintessentially complete Welsh farewell would include a rugby or football match at Millennium Stadium, UK’s only arena with a retractable roof. 

 Cardiff’s restaurants equally beckon. Chapel 1877 (a church built in the year of its name) is a luxurious, multi-level, fine-dining restaurant, where a seat near the railing of its top tier is a premium one. Clink, an outside-the-walls prison restaurant staffed by inmates, continually tops Cardiff’s list of most popular eateries.

Slow down, take a deep breath and it gets better. Though two of the nation’s three million in population live in Cardiff, Swansea and Newport, outside the cities, it is pure country. Far from the tourist track, the air is sharper, crisper, cleaner; and in contrast to Cardiff, moves at a decaffeinated pace.

Here’s only part of the rundown.
Among 600-plus castle choices, Carreg Cennan Castle is a Welsh favorite. Reached by trekking a relatively steep trail alongside a herd of sheep to the hilltop citadel, you’ll possibly be the sole visitor. Your reward: a 360-degree view from the fortification, the same lookout its once-upon-a-time residents coveted.

Overlooking the River Tywi, Llandelilo is renowned for its colorful side-by-side, palette-like assortment of buildings. While the churchyard sits at one end of town’s King Street, among its red, blue, lavender and yellow structures are clothing boutiques, specialty shops, cafes and taverns. Heavenly is known for its chocolate brownies, Toast for the clothing, Peppercorn has cookery and the White Horse Tavern is the local version of Cheers.

Called “the strangest town in Wales” by native son Dylan Thomas, Laugharne has changed little in 50 years. It’s where the author-poet lived when writing “Under Milk Wood” and is said to be the inspiration for the fictional town Llareggub (backward it spells “buggerall,” which translates to ‘nothing at all’). Described as “stepping back into a simpler, slower time,” the best way to emulate a day in the life of Dylan Thomas is with a drink at Brown’s Hotel. My choice: Merlyn, a Welsh cream liqueur, sipped near the fireplace while surrounded by Thomas memorabilia.  

Located in southwest Wales, the county of Pembrokeshire touts Britain’s only coastal national park – one that passes through 58 beaches, 14 harbors and the UK’s smallest city, St. Davids. Traveling along narrow, cliff-top paths, running over the headlands and sometimes down to the sea – every view postcard perfect – I felt like Morgan Freeman should be narrating my short portion of the 186-mile trail. Our destination, St Davids, revealed a tiny, cozy, comfortable town, complete with specialty shops, art galleries and tea rooms. But it is St Davids Cathedral (one of Britain’s oldest) that is its most popular draw, with pilgrims and visitors alike.
Photos by Cynthia Dial

Chocolate lovers shouldn’t bypass Wickedly Welsh Chocolate in Haverfordwest (Pembrokeshire). Greeted with a cup of freshly melted chocolate, owner Mark Owen guides chocoholics to their best choice – from a Penderyn Whisky truffle to the ever-popular Strawberries-and-Cream bar to Smugglers Spice (the rum, raisin, dark chocolate winner of the Taste of Pembrokeshire).

Happily secluded in Pembrokeshire’s Porthgain is the Sloop Inn. Known for regional ales, nautical memorabilia and its PFA (Porthgain Fisherman’s Association) Members-Only Table, this is the type of haunt that conjectures thoughts of foggy nights and weary sailors. It’s where I sipped cold cider and ate fish pie as a recording of Welsh-born Tom Jones’s “It’s Not Unusual” played in the background.

Should you go: Train travel via RailEurope is the effortless transport from Wales’s major cities to London.

What do ­­­­­­­­­­Dylan Thomas, St David and Merlyn have in common? If you answer Wales, you’re right.

#travel #traveltips #travelpics #travelingcynthia #wales

Monday, July 20, 2015

13 Amazing Things Travel Does to Your Brain

Excerpted from

1. It boosts your creativity.
A recent study from the Academy of Management Journal found that people who worked overseas were more imaginative and inspired than those who stayed in the U.S. Why? It’s all about cultural immersion.

“People who integrate a new culture into their identities are more creative in the long run,” William Maddux, Ph.D., the study’s lead author, tells BuzzFeed Life.

His logic: Doing as the locals do for an extended period of time opens up your mind, forcing you to think in different ways and bounce around between different ideas. It’s a concept scientists very fancily refer to as “cognitive flexibility.” And the more ~cognitively flexible~ you are, the more creative you will be.

2. It makes you more trusting.
Maddux also found in his previous research that wanderlusting your way around the world increases your faith in humanity. “The more foreign countries people travel to, the more their sense of generalized trust increases,” he tells BuzzFeed Life.
Reason: Seeing all of the good that exists in the world makes it easier to trust that most people, for the most part, are just trying to do the right thing … most of the time.

3. It makes you a better problem-solver.
A study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reported that students who lived abroad were 20% more likely to solve a computer task than those who didn’t travel.

Why: Simply seeing another culture for an extended period of time opens up your mind to the many ways of the world, which helps you realize that one thing can have multiple meanings.

In other words, just knowing that these guys are out there riding camels while you’re stressing about how to approach your boss helps you remember that there are many ways to live this life. And, as such, there’s definitely more than one way to approach your boss.

4. And more humble, too.
That same Journal of Personality and Social Psychology study also found that study-abroad kids were more humble than those who didn’t travel. Makes sense: How could you not be in awe of our country and the great big giant world when faced with such wonders as the Grand Canyon?
Sequoia National Park
5. It makes you more open to new things.
Of course chilling with snakes in Vietnam is not something that happens on the reg. So when you do get the chance to do absurd stuff, DO IT. Trying new things when you’re traveling leaves you more open to things in your everyday life, too.

Proof: The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology study also found that students who studied abroad were more open to new experiences in their everyday lives than those who stayed on campus. It all comes down to the people you meet along the way: Getting to know people in other cultures outside of your day-to-day social network expands your horizons, which means you’re more likely to look for new things when you get home, too.

6. It makes you sharper.
There’s a boatload of research that proves that being outside in nature improves your mental clarity. The reason is almost too obvious to even write, but here goes: Hanging in the great outdoors refreshes your senses in a way that no stale-air office ever can.
The latest evidence: In a new study published in the journal Environmental Psychology, researchers found that people who simply looked at a photo of nature for only 40 seconds had improved focus and performance on their next task. That’s right, they didn’t even need to go outside!
7. It can help you reinvent yourself.
Travel as reinvention is huge. People travel all the time in search of meaning, or a fresh start, or a sense of purpose.

And the best part is, it actually works: “Taking a break from business as usual enables us to pause, contemplate our lives, and potentially re-route the path we are taking on our journey,” environmental and design psychologist Toby Israel, Ph.D., author of Some Place Like Home tells BuzzFeed Life. “Traveling helps us look at our lives from a distance — both physically and metaphorically. And when you do that, you’re able to see it a lot more clearly.”

8. It makes you less fearful of things.
You know how when you’re on vacation, you decide it’s a really good call to go cliff jumping, even though you are totally scared of heights? That fearless mindset sticks with you over time if you travel often enough.
Park City, Utah
Matt Long, a professional traveler who runs the travel blog LandLopers and has been to over 75 countries, couldn’t agree more. “Over time, I’ve conquered more and more fears, like the fear of getting eaten when swimming with sharks, and the fear of making a mistake when learning a new language, just by doing those very things. Traveling has made me so much braver, both on the road and at home,” he says.

9. It makes you happier.
And not just because you don’t have to go to work and you can have a margarita for breakfast. Turns out, a new study from the journal Psychological Science found that anticipating an ~experience~ (like a vacation) before it even happens makes you happier than if you’re waiting for something tangible, like a new shirt.

The back story: Researchers analyzed peoples’ moods when they were waiting in line, and found that those who were waiting for experiences — like concert tickets or a food truck — were happier than those waiting for things.

10. It makes you kill it at work.
For real though. A recent study from the U.S. Travel Association found that people who take all of their vacation days have a 6.5% higher chance of getting promoted at work than those who stay at their desks.

11. It makes you more patient.
Think about how long it takes sometimes to get through airport security, or find decent Wi-Fi that doesn’t expire just as your best friend is finally responding to your must-know question. Those things seem obnoxiously annoying in the moment, but guess what! They are actually ~building character~ in the long run.

“Dealing with delays, mishaps, and different cultures during my travels has made me a much more patient and understanding person overall,” Long confirms. Remember that gem of a silver lining next time you miss your flight by 11 minutes and have to sleep in the airport.

12. It can help you get over a loss.
When you lose something — a job, a significant other, that Skittle that fell on the floor and totally vanished — you feel like you lost a part of yourself. Of your soul. And no matter how much you search and search, it is nowhere to be found … until you travel.

“Taking a trip can help restore your sense of self that you feel like you lost,” Israel tells BuzzFeed Life. Placing yourself in a new situation with new surroundings will force you to get in touch with yourself because you simply cannot be on autopilot.

So next time something hugely disappointing happens in your life (and yes, there will be a next time, because this is life we’re talking about here), travel. It will help.

13. It just makes you feel more alive!
That feeling when you step off the plane and know you are about to experience a thousand million new things and cannot wait to get started and you are so happy you have arrived because life is so awesome and the world awaits and how do you not do this more often?

Cynthia Dial’s interpretation of all of the above: Go, just go!!!

#travel #traveltips #travelingcynthia #travelbrain #travelbenefits

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Santa Fe, NM

New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment, with Santa Fe the most enchanting of all. Here's a peek into my four day stay.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

San Diego USS Midway Museum Fire

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

First hand pix from San Diego's USS Midway Museum, which experienced an on-board fire this morning. My arrival was as emergency vehicles were leaving and concerned docents were allowed to return to the evacuated aircraft carrier.

Photos/Video by Cynthia Dial

 #thankful #travel #ussmidway #travelingcynthia #sandiego

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Travel Quote of the Day

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a cash advance.” 

#travel #traveltuesday #travelquote #travelingcynthia

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Where, oh where, in the world is this?

Where, oh where, in the world is this?
Photo by Cynthia Dial

#travel #travelpic #traveltuesday #travelingcynthia

Monday, July 6, 2015

San Diego's 15 Best Waterfront Restaurants

For a Pacific Ocean situated city, it's a little known fact to non-res folks that San Diego isn't saturated with waterfront bars/restaurants.  That said, we do have a handful of not-to-be-missed on-the-water spots. came up with a list of the best, 15 of them.  In no particular order here are their picks. And though I admit to partiality, I'm beginning with my all-time fav, Stratford on the Harbor. Be sure to give a shout-out to family friend, co-owner Josh Arbenz, and with your breakfast order, go with the side of coffee cake (warning: it's addictive).
 Stratford on the Harbor
  1. Stratford on the Harbor, Oceanside
  2. Hello Betty Fish House, Oceanside
  3. C Level, Harbor Island
  4. JRDN, Pacific Beach
  5. Marine Room, La Jolla
  6. George's Ocean Terrace, La Jolla
  7. Jake's, Del Mar
  8. Pacific Coast Grill, Encinitas
  9. Seal80 Coastal Tavern, Imperial Beach
  10. Mitch's Seafood, Pt. Loma
  11. Oceana Coastal Kitchen, Pacific Beach
  12. Draft, Mission Beach
  13. Tidal, Mission Bay
  14. Wonderful Ocean Pub, Ocean Beach
  15. Harbor Fish & Chips, Oceanside
#travel #traveltips #travelingcynthia #sandiego #waterfrontrestaurants #stratfordontheharbor

Thursday, July 2, 2015

World's Priciest Hotels

The average price for a San Francisco hotel room has jumped 88 percent in the past year to $397 a night, according to an index compiled by Bloomberg of the world’s top 100 financial centers. The city ranks ahead of Geneva, where rooms set travelers back $292 a night, and Milan, at $271. Chicago, with rates at $240, ties Miami as the second-costliest U.S. cities.
 Geneva's Hotel President Wilson
Photo by Cynthia Dial
Among U.S. cities where hotel costs have fallen, New York had the biggest decrease, with a 13 percent decline to an average room rate of $202. In Europe, Paris hotels were among the biggest losers, with a 37 percent drop to $146.

Nightly prices in Budapest fell by more than half, the greatest decline worldwide, to $85. Globally, the cheapest market is Hanoi, Vietnam, where rooms average $62 a night.

From most to lesser expensive, here are the world’s top 25 cities based on hotel costs:
  1. San Francisco, US
  2. Geneva, Switzerland
  3. Milan, Italy
  4. Dubai, UAE
  5. Zurich, Switzerland
  6. Tel Aviv, Israel
  7. Chicago, US
  8. Miami, US
  9. Los Angeles, US
  10. Hong Kong, China
  11. London, UK
  12. Doha, Qatar
  13. Edinburgh, Scotland
  14. Jerusalem, Israel
  15. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  16. New York, US
  17. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  18. Tokyo, Japan
  19. Abu Dhabi, UAE
  20. Sydney, Australia
  21. Singapore, Singapore
  22. Kuwait City, Kuwait
  23. Toronto, Canada
  24. Lagos, Nigeria
  25. Osaka, Japan

Source: Expedia
#travel #traveltips #hotels #travelingcynthia

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Travia - Kuwait - McDonald's

Travia: When McDonald's opened a store in Kuwait shortly after the end of the Gulf War, the line of cars waiting to eat there was seven miles long.

#travel #travia #travelingcynthia #mcdonalds #kuwait