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Pictures from Blair Stover Travels

Blair Stover Travels

I have traveled all over the world and wanted to share my experience and favorite places with you.

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Jan '13

Tips for Eating the Best Street Food

You can’t travel to Mexico City without stopping at a roadside stand for tacos. The same goes for Ho Chi Minh and a piping hot bowl of “pho” bought at one of the curbside eateries. There are tiny connoisseurs in all of us and street-side dining is one way of exploring exotic foods from all corners of the earth. There is just one problem though- there are plenty of risks of eating abroad. Blair Stover has the story below.

street foodOver 70 million Americans travel to different countries a year and nearly half will report some kind of water or food-borne illness. The CDC actually advises against the consumption of street food, especially in second and third-world countries. Here are some tips to help you get the food you want and stay healthy:

  • Follow the locals: Make sure you see a reputable sort of people in the line you are standing in. For instance, policeman, businessman, older customers and so on.
  • Cleanliness counts: Keep a close eye out for possible signs of cross-contamination. Make sure food prep areas are clean and people who are handling food aren’t the same ones that are touching your money.
  • Have your own utensils handy: The best way to know if what you are eating with is clean… is to make sure you have your own utensils.
  • Try to watch your meal be prepared: Never eat precooked seafood. Also, any food that has raw meat or dessert that was made with unfiltered water should be steered away from as well.
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Jan '13

Seeing the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef complex in the world, situated between Bundaberg in Australia and Cape York, which represents an area of 350,000 squared km. Among the edges of the reef and the mainland, there are more than 2,000 distinct reefs. Blair Stover has more on the Great Barrier Reef below.

English: A Blue Starfish (Linckia laevigata) r...

English: A Blue Starfish (Linckia laevigata) resting on hard Acropora coral. Lighthouse, Ribbon Reefs, Great Barrier Reef (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These reefs have thousands of organisms that make up the Great Barrier Reef. With a unique biodiversity, there are several points where you can observe the reef, although the vast majority of the Great Barrier Reef is protected from human impact, because it is labeled as one of the National Parks of Australia.

The regions of the Whitsunday Islands and Cairns city are the most visited by tourists. Here you can enjoy diving and snorkeling and observe several species endemic to the region like the bat-fish, coral trout, fish, butterflies, clownfish, green turtles, snakes, sea, whales, dolphins and great white sharks, among other magnificent marine animals. The colors and different forms of corals along with the marine flora are other attractions of this magnificent place.

All these elements make the Great Barrier Reef a site of unparalleled beauty. The wonderful thing about the reef is that you don’t have to be in the water to enjoy the scenery. The atolls and islands along the coast offer magnificent views and the animals that inhabit these places are rich in beauty. Here you can see various birds like eagles, sea-pink swallows, gulls, frigates or geese-footed boobies, red, among others. Apart from boating, you can do a scenic flight by helicopter and get an overview of this splendid natural treasure.

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Jan '13

World’s Best Tourist Attractions

The world’s best tourist attractions are plentiful. Whether you want adventure or nature, art or monuments, anywhere you go will likely have something to draw you and thousands others to it. As Blair Stover points out below, it is a hard choice once you see some of the things that the world has in store for you.

  • The Capital Gate in Abu Dhabi has a 35-story glass building that has an 18-degree tilt. Yes, that’s right… 18 degrees, four times the amount that the Leaning Tower of Pisa has.

    Bondi Beach, Sydney. New South Wales

    Bondi Beach, Sydney. New South Wales (Photo credit: Australian National Maritime Museum on The Commons)

  • Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens in Tampa is a roller coaster that will corkscrew and turn figure eights, not to mention all at the speed of sixty miles per hour.
  • The Blue Mosque, located in Istanbul’s Old City, got its name because of the exotic blue Iznik tiles that decorate the interior. Officially, the locals call it “Sultan Ahmet Mosque,” it began its construction in 1609 and was completed seven years later.
  • Bondi Beach is one kilometer in length and it gets as many visitors as any other Australian site. The southern end of the beach is usually reserved for surfing. Whales and dolphins are sighted during the migration months in the bay.
  • The Jardin de Plantes, created by Guy de Brosse, Louis XIII’s physician, was for the specific cultivation of medicinal and herbal plants, and was the first public park in Paris.
  • Geneva, famous for hosting international institutions, preserved its old town, bisected by alleyways, is nested by ancient medieval buildings such as the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre and Maison Tavel. Three of its museums are worth viewing: The Musee d Art et Histoire, the Barbier-Muller Museum, on primitive societies of the Pacific, and the Musée de la Croix Rouge.
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Jan '13

Traveling Istanbul

English: Ortaköy Mosque, along the Bosphorus, ...

English: Ortaköy Mosque, along the Bosphorus, in Istanbul, Turkey. Français : La Mosquée Ortaköy, sur le Bosphore, à Istanbul (Turquie). Türkçe: Büyük Mecidiye Camii (Ortaköy Camii). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No matter how much you have seen, or know, of the world Istanbul will impress you. Just stop in its oldest district, Sultanahmet, and see for yourself. Become surrounded by the grandeur of monuments such as the Blue Mosque, Haghia Sofya, the Palace Topkaki and a handful of mosques and minarets, and reach a stage of wonderment. You will soon understand that it makes sense why Istanbul is the main city of Turkey, along with its two thousand years of history. Blair Stover has more on why traveling to Istanbul is a perfect destination for the seasoned and first-time traveler alike.

Istanbul is a city that has soul, movement and that has reinvented itself over the centuries. It started as Byzantium Istanbul, a Greek settlement strategically positioned at the point where the Bosphorus Strait links the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, enabling trade routes between Asia and Europe. The continent has an arm of 6.5 kilometers deep with beautifully calm waters, known as the Golden Horn. Today, the city holds 12 million people at any particular moment. It keeps the beauty that gave it fame over the centuries and it lives a cultural effervescence that rivals any city in the world.

Though 95% of Turkey’s population lives on the Asian side of the country, Istanbul is considered European and, according to projections, will be the largest city in Europe by 2015. It is the most populated part of Turkey, with 15% of the population living there, and it is the most economically important as well.

Are you planning on visiting Istanbul this year? If so, tell us what you’re most excited to see!

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Jan '13

Top 5 Cruises for 2013

You have freely decided to take that long awaited vacation this year. You saved up some money and the only thing missing now is a plan. For many, a place that is fun, but not crowded, is ideal. Whether planning for a long weekend or two weeks, are perfect for a getaway.

Carnival Glory at Saint Martin

Carnival Glory at Saint Martin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cruises go to any number of destinations, and each cruise line has a different specialty. When planning your trip, be sure to know what you are hoping to get out of your vacation, whether it’s romance time, site seeing, or a specific age group to sail the seas with.

Check out this list of ‘best cruises’ for 2013, as compiled by Blair Stover. Which are you considering this year?

  1. Best Cruise Available for Romance Seekers: Paul Gauguin Cruises offer a 332-guest week-long cruise that is primed for people who love to be adventurous. If you want to spice up your love life or find romance on the boat, this is the cruise for you.
  2. Best Cruise Available for Seniors: Avalon Waterways is offering chartered cabins in their Victorian-style cruise liner. With 436 rooms for passengers, you can explore the Mississippi River like never before.
  3. Best Cruise Available for First-Timers: Celebrity Cruises offers low prices but have great design concerning their ship. A week long cruise out of Miami can be exactly what you need.
  4. Best Cruise Available for Budget Crunchers: Carnival is well-known when it comes to cruises and savings. Try their “Carnival Glory” line and head to NYC or Boston.
  5. Best Cruise Available for Nature Lovers: Lindblad is all about bringing the nature lover out in you. A 62-passenger cruise liner will ensure you get every chance to do so.


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Jan '13

2013 Destinations to Consider

The beginning of a new year is always an opportunity to plan your next travel adventure. Therefore, travel sites have given off plenty of hot tips on the best locations for 2013. Here is what Blair Stover Travels recommends for your 2013 travel list:

  1. Ireland: You don’t have to wait until St. Patrick’s Day and you never have to be Irish. Ireland is a country that welcomes people of all ethnicities and nationalities.

    Happy new year

    Happy new year (Photo credit: Amodiovalerio Verde)

  2. San Francisco: If you wanted to visit the Bay, this is the year to do it. With travel prices not going up (or down), this is your chance to take advantage of some great deals.
  3. Amsterdam: Known as the Dutch capital, make sure you head on over as the city celebrates the 160th anniversary of the birth of the famous painter Vincent Van Gogh.
  4. Hangzhou: Voted one of China’s top five destinations, Hangzhou has long been regarded as one of the country’s most beautiful cities.
  5. Scotland: Lovers can go trekking on the 750 km length of the country by National Trail Gore-Tex, which runs the border with England to Cape Wrath in the far north through incredible scenery.
  6. Rabat, Morocco: Rabat was recently named as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has a historic center with magnificent mosques of the 12th century, along with charming buildings of French architecture that face the sea.
  7. Kosice, Slovakia: This medieval historical center has a vibrant mix of renaissance architecture, baroque and art nouveau.
  8. Sub-Saharan Africa: The launch of Fastjet in late 2012, is the first “low cost” airline on the continent and it promises to revolutionize the African Travel.
  9. Gettysburg: It is the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War and one of the most famous speeches in the United States, made by the president at the time, Abraham Lincoln.
  10. Colombia: Colombia managed to leave behind its violent past and become an attractive tourist destination with vibrant cities, beautiful landscapes in the Andes and the Pacific beaches.

What is your number one travel spot this year?

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Jan '13

Travel Guide For Vail

If you are searching for the perfect winter wonderland, you do not have to travel to another country to get it. In fact, it is probably closer than you think. Vail, Colorado may be a small and remote location but it happens to also be one of the country’s best destinations for cold-weather vacations. Blair Stover has more below.

North side of Vail Mountain, and Vail Valley.

North side of Vail Mountain, and Vail Valley. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most people go to Vail for one reason: skiing. However, that isn’t the only thing that could interest you. The very remote town is sandwiched between the Sawatch Mountain Range and Gore Mountain Range and it’s home to the United States’ biggest single-mountain resort.

If you are a fan of skiing, you will be amazed at how the many miles of slopes, perfect powder and jagged peaks attract tens of thousands a year. You might be lucky enough to catch some Hollywood A-listers like Justin Timberlake, Will Smith and Cameron Diaz visiting the grounds as well.

With all this being said, Vail is a hard place to save money in. Here are some tips to help you do just that:

  • Vail has a shuttle service that will take you to most of the places that you need to go. Ditch the rental car.
  • Just because everyone else comes to Vail during the ski season doesn’t mean you have to. If you travel during the off-season, you will save a ton.
  • If you have your own gear, bring it.
  • Book your hotel in advance because spots fill up quickly and it could save you some money as well.

If you’ve been to Vail, what is your favorite thing to do while there?

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Dec '12

Traveling to Aspen?

If you are looking for the perfect winter spot, know that there are only a couple places on earth that could possibly hold up to that clai

English: Aspen trees near Aspen, Colorado

English: Aspen trees near Aspen, Colorado (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

m. Aspen, Colorado is a beautifully scenic mountain town straight out of the movies that is nestled right in the midst of the Colorado Rockies. For years now, this little village has laid claimed to the world that it is what holds the area afloat, attracting high-level clientele from all over the planet.

The main activity is skiing in Aspen but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other activities. You have fascinating museums, high-end shopping, fun festivals and galleries galore. With all these things to do, you might not even make it to the slopes. Here are some tips, provided by Blair Stover, which will make traveling to Aspen a little less expensive:

  • Get package deals that involve a hotel stay plus skiing. Most will involve discounts on food, free ski lift rides and free nights in hotels.
  • Taking the shuttle bus is a smart move. It doesn’t mean that you are cheap…it just means you are smart with your money. Leave the rental car or the chauffeur at home.
  • Try out the restaurant bars. Don’t waste your money on overpriced food when you can get food that is just as good at a restaurant bar.
  • When you go from being at sea level or below it to 8,000 feet above it, your body may react to it. You may want to take it slow for a day or so until you are sure that altitude sickness isn’t an issue.
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Dec '12

Staying Healthy During Your Winter Travels

Winter is coming: The days are getting shorter and the temperatures are going to drop. During this time of year, you and your family can be exposed to a lot of little bugs that will decimate your immune system.

But how can you protect yourself when you’re traveling and susceptible to more than usual? Blair Stover has compiled the most useful advice for you below.

  1. Keep Your Head While Traveling. Remaining patient can actually help you rema
    English: Hand sanitizer with aloe.

    English: Hand sanitizer with aloe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    in healthy. Be sure you have everything with you when you travel in case something unexpected happens.

  2. Never Follow Others. It’s hard to avoid people when traveling but that doesn’t mean you have to touch everything you do. Also, try to carry some hand sanitizer as well.
  3. Beat The Cold. Washing your hands frequently or using hand sanitizer is a smart thing and it can prevent you from getting sick.
  4. Avoid Flu Season. Get your flu shot every year.
  5. Stay Hydrated. Drink bottle water regularly and eat your fruits and vegetables often. Having a healthy diet is more important that you will ever know.
  6. Wear The Right Clothing. There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. So despite rain, snow and freezing temperatures, you should never fool around with clothing. Wearing more is always better than wearing less.
  7. Regular Exercise In Fresh Air. You should want to go outside just as much as your children do – even if it is raining or snowing. Even if it’s uncomfortable outside, it is important that you regularly go out. For exercising in the fresh air is important for your health.
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Dec '12

Stay in Shape During Your Vacation

Crab served. Christmas dinner.

Crab served. Christmas dinner. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The holidays are here and plenty of people are already worrying about the weight they will put on even though they haven’t even taken their first bite of Christmas dinner. The holidays are a huge ball of problems when it comes to temptations and healthy choices. So how do you stay in shape and still eat what you want? Blair Stover has some tips for those traveling and outside of their comfort zone this year.

A person needs to acquire habits that will bring health, disposition and a healthy weight. After all, you don’t need to worry about the fattening period between Christmas and New Year, but what you eat throughout the year. You should never make goals that are absurd, because it creates more anxiety. The hormone called cortisone kicks in when we are stressed about broken or unreasonable goals, hindering weight loss. Therefore, reasonable goals must become part of your life from now on.

To help you get in shape, check these healthy tips out, especially if you are outside your normal routine this year:

  1. Taking a scenic stroll along a walking trail is ideal for getting healthy and enjoying nature.
  2. Join your local gym and start a cardio or weight regimen.
  3. If you are on vacation and you are staying in a hotel or resort, don’t use that as an excuse. They have gyms too.
  4. If you are near a beach, take a stroll or a job.
  5. Go swimming. Indoors or out, this is a great way to get some exercise in.
  6. Kayaking and canoeing is great for upper body workouts.
  7. Take a bike out for a stroll in the woods or downtown.
  8. Resorts have plenty of activities.
  9. Diving or snorkeling can be a huge stress, and weight, reliever.
  10. The stairs can take your breath, and weight, away.

How do you plan to stay in shape during the holidays?

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