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Top 5 Travel Destinations in United Kingdom This Summer

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Cornwall steam railway

Cornwall Steam Railway, photo taken by J D Mack

This is another article in United Kingdom travel series. It is vacation time again as the summer season is coming very soon. This is also the time when most of the travel and hotel agencies would be coming out with schemes and special offers to attract more tourists. In this article I will also suggest you ways to make your trip cheaper.

Which destination will you chose for your summer holidays?

I have been to London many times during my educational trips. It used to be my base station from where I traveled to most of the parts of the United Kingdom. In this guide I will be covering the full length and breadth of the UK from East to West and from South to North in two separate trips. Try If you are lucky you might get some good deals to grab online that will make your trip even cheaper. I would recommend you to go through Expedia travel vouchers and browse through the coupons and vouchers that suits you well.

Starting from London I will move in the South west direction to a seaside town of Weymouth where I will explore world heritage Jurassic Coast and award winning sandy beach. From Weymouth I will make a turn to North West to another seaside resort town of Woolacombe which is famous for blue flag and premium seaside beach. Continuing the zig zag trend, I will move towards south west to Cornwall where I will have a seaside train ride as well as a ride on the steam train through beautiful landscaped countryside.

1. Weymouth

Weymouth is a beautiful seaside town with its award winning beaches and world heritage sites and picturesque traditional harbour. The place is livelier in summers when the sun is up and sky is clear, the beach sand shines and the water sparkles in the ideal sunny day. The water is crystal clear and the place was chosen for London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games for conducting sailing events. There are ample of sports facilities available like kite surfing, wind surfing, diving and sailing. Each area is marked with flags indicating whether it is safe to swim in that area or not.

weymouth beach
Weymouth Beach, photo taken by Elliott Brown

Weymouth beach is perfect for families and couples and offers a lot of other things to do like amusement, rides and snack stands. Arriving at the beach is very easy, large number of buses and shuttle services ply on the road between various holiday resorts and the beach. You may also come by your own vehicle, but finding parking space can be difficult and time consuming.

White sand on the beach is amazingly soft, the beach is clean although you may find cigarette butts. I went to the right end of the beach near the viewing tower and amusement, the sand is even more softer and beautiful. I really enjoyed walking along the esplanade, and I was surprised later as the sun was settled we had a light show. There are variety of snacks available at various snack stands, but if you wish to save money you can bring your own lunch or snacks and have a nice homemade food at the sea shore.

Jurassic Coast
Jurassic Coast, photo taken by Rach2k

Jurassic Coast

Jurassic Coast is another special thing about this place. It is England’s first natural world heritage site. The Jurassic Coast which is an offshore bar consists of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous cliffs, spanning the Mesozoic Era, documenting 180 million years of geological history. The oldest rocks along the coast can be found at Exmouth and are as old as 250 million years whereas the youngest are at Studland Bay at around 65 million years old. The site shows excellent examples of landforms, among them is the natural arch at Durdle Door, the cove and limestone folding at Lulworth Cove and the Isle of Portland. Chesil Beach is a tombolo (a deposition landform in which an island is attached to the mainland by a narrow piece of land such as a spit or bar).

Moving from Weymouth to Woolacombe takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes on a 170Km long journey. Woolacombe is not one of the well known travel destinations in UK, but it has started receiving tourists recently, most of them stop by to see the Woolacombe bay. Plymouth and Bath have been more popular destinations in the region.

2. Woolacombe

Woolacombe was voted the Best British Beach in the Mail On Sunday and also holds the ‘England for Excellence Gold Award’ for best family resort. Although not much popular, Woolacombe’s profile is as strong as any other popular summer destination. Woolacombe can be best reached by road. The roads are largely very rural and quite narrow which may become very congested during summer as people queue up to get into one of the two large car parks which are situated close to the beach.

Woolacombe Beach
Woolacombe Beach, Photo by Gary Huston

Its three mile long golden sand beach has won both the blue flag and Premier Seaside Beach award. It is voted one of Britain’s best beach and lies between Morte Point and Baggy Point. There are four beach within a five mile walk. And all can be very crowded in the summer making it difficult to find a parking space which is £5 for a whole day.  It would be better to walk to the beach from the beautiful streets enjoying the beautiful view. Try to book a hotel near the beach so that you do not have to walk much. You may be lucky to grab few appropriate deals through travel vouchers and coupons.

I was saddened to hear the news that the beach lost the blue flag status recently in 2012 due to water quality issue. However, it still retains many other awards. You stand at the beach looking at the Atlantic Ocean waves touching your feet, behind you lies the highlands that surrounds you from the rest of the sides, creating a very beautiful scenery.

The beach is also famous for various sports activities like kite surfing, wind surfing etc. The beach also provides a designated area for dogs. I found a little kid there who was making a sand castle, it was fun to sit with her and help. When the sun had settled down and it was dark, we went up. Walking back to my room, I saw the sand castle intact, and the waves striking the coast even harder. The sound of the waves were louder which can make anyone happy specially me who loves sea and beaches.

Continuing my journey, I am heading to another seaside place Cornwall. The place not only has beautiful sand beach, but also has picturesque landscape and beautiful coastline which can be explored by train. One of the reason of coming here for me was riding in the trains here.

3. Cornwall

Great Scenic Railways of Devon and Cornwall passes through some of the most beautiful places, From mesmerizing coastal views to green countryside, clear river crossings to densely wooded valleys and the almost moon like landscape of the Cornish china clay industry.

Cornwall Steam Railway
Cornwall Steam Railway, Photo taken by J D Mack

I felt travelling in this train was very off the beaten tourist path, and I am glad I did, the train passes through beautiful town, small villages, historic mountains and bustling cities, it is a vital link for the locals, but the way it passes through is so stunning that it has gained popularity as a tourist train.

There are six lines of Great Scenic Railways of Devon and Cornwall mainly Maritime Line, Looe Valley Line, Tarka Line, St Ives Bay Line, Atlantic Coast Line, Tamar Valley Line.

Train Fare:
Looe to Plymouth £5.40
Liskeard to Newquay £5.80
Truro to St Ives £6.30
St Austell to Looe £7.60
Falmouth to Plymouth £9.50
Penzance to Plymouth £9.50

These fares are applicable for adults, children between the age of five to fifteen may take ticket for half price, and children under five years can enjoy the ride for free. Also if you take GroupSave option, four people in a group would be able to travel for the price of two adults Off Peak Day Returns on First Great Western trains.

Cornwall also has steam trains running through beautiful countryside. I went to Bodmin which is the prime station and junction of Cornwall’s steam railway. The station was beautifully revamped to give a look of 1950s. The main station building is old by centuries and was constructed by Great Western Railways in 1887. Again there are a number of steam railway lines on different routes which are quite small but good enough to spend time and admire the beauty of Cornwall sitting in the vintage train, a unique experience. Various lines are Launceston Steam Railway, Bodmin & Wenford Railway, Lappa Valley Steam Railway, and World of Model Railways.

Refreshing views, clear sky, warm sun, clear water, soft and warm sand in West England is what makes it a great destination for spending your summer vacation. My trip to western region ends here, returning to London and from their I will move towards north exploring the spectacular Lake District and beaches in the extreme north UK; Durness, Scotland.

4. Lake District

The Lake District is also commonly known as The Lakes or Lakeland as there are a number of lakes in the mountainous region. Lying in the North West England, this place is a combination of picturesque forests, lakes and mountains, Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England is also situated here. The place is famous world wide and has its associations with the early nineteenth-century poetry and writings of William Wordsworth and the other Lake Poets.
Lake District UK
Lake District, photo taken by Steve Pyke

Lake Derwent is one of the most visited lake in the Lake District. It is a very picturesque lake surrounded by lots of woodlands and fells sloping down towards the water. I walked around the lake little bit which is an 8 and a half mile long walk and tried my hand at boating. There are many companies ready to provide you the boating experience. There is a pastureland overlooking the lake where the sheep and lambs play. I took some delightful photos of them grazing and at play. It is hard to tell if the lake is more beautiful from the lake level or viewing it from above when hiking in the area. Either way, it’s a treasure and worth visiting.

Once you are there you can have your packed meal, or buy a snack. You may visit the National Trust shop, take a boat trip or hire a row boat. Perhaps the ducks and geese along with the sheep and lambs catch your eye. If you wish to, you can even buy bags of bird food.

Catbells Lakeland Hike is easily reachable from Keswick and is famous for its views over Derwent water. The hike might take nearly two hours up and down and may be even three if you would stop everywhere like me to take photos. To reach up catch the Keswick Launch across to Hawes End and climb up Catbells over Skellwith Bank, there are little steep climbs and easy challenges but the view from the summit is probably one of the best in the Lakeland for so little effort. If you still feel energetic at the summit you can walk further  up on to Maiden Moor and come back down different views. When you come down arrive at Hawes Gate  and walk back to catch the Keswick launch, along the Lakeside.

Moving further north I will enter Scotland, another kingdom in the United Kingdom. Durness  is a village and in the north-west Highlands of Scotland. Famous for its Smoo cave and unspoilt beaches backed by cliffs.

5. Durness

Durness is famous for Smoo cave, when I reached there I had not expect this cave to be as awesome as it was. It was really easy enough walk down to it as their is a wooden fence to hold on to and steps. There are flood lights which still makes it look great even if the weather isn’t that good. There is a huge cavern and you can imagine living there centuries ago. The second cavern leads to a tremendous waterfall full of cold sprays making it almost impossible to take a photo of it. During rainy season, the caves are wet and  you may find water dripping through the roof at various points.

Durness beach
Durness Beach, photo taken by Lluís Ribes Portillo

Durness beach is  fantastic sandy beach with stunning black rocks embedded in the sand, beautiful bluish green sea and rocky cliffs. The place is very photogenic and can make a day promising! I walked all the way along the length of the beach and then I moved up at the end to a lighthouse from where the view is even more spectacular. The beach accompanied by a waterfall at the edge of the bay makes it even a better place for those who loves natural photography.

Sango bay in Durness made me just take my camera out when I saw rock formations sticking out of the stand. Pristine golden sands with the projectiles of Rock on them gave the experience of being in totally another planet. Huge waves crashing on the shore and on the rocks creating splash of waters formed so many rainbows. I have not seen so many rainbows before all at once. The place is really cold in winters and you may expect the right time to go there only after May, if it is not raining.

Indeed it was such a long tour. I did not complete this journey in one single trip, but in two consecutive summers. I tried to merge my trip into one so that I could help you decide which one or two locations would you like to visit this summer. Coming back to my base location London, I finish the tour of Top 5 Summer Destinations in UK. Let me know which one of the place would you like to go this summer. Subscribe to my updates an follow me on my path.

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The 10 Best Design-led Hostels in Europe

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Hostels are no longer just for young people and travelers with low budgets. The once humble and cheap accommodation that connects people from different places has now evolved to poshtels, which allow you to spend less but still get access to the benefits of high-end hotels. A good location, careful decoration, a strong commitment to the environment and the common spaces is what offers this new concept that is getting huge in Europe. Here are some of the best hostels that you can find in the Old Continent.

Cats Hostel Madrid

Cats Hostels is the perfect option to stay right in the heart of the city when visiting Madrid, because the city centre is where all the cool stuff happens. Their fully equipped and comfortable rooms decorated according to the latests trends can accommodate from 2 up to 14 guests. 

The hostel stands out for its breathtakingly spectacular 17th-century Arab-Andalusian style patio, which is in fact a protected historical heritage site in the city. It has a stunning fountain right in the middle that is filled with sangria in their epic Sangria Party -they don’t claim to be the best party hostel in Madrid for no reason! Cats Hostel is perfect for group friends or solo travellers, since the common areas work as meeting points: a coworking space, a club, a bar or a multipurpose room where you can watch a movie on the big screen, chill on the couches, play board games, read, or sleep away your hangover.

For those who want to discover the city accompanied, there are activities in Cats Hostels every day of the week: from the city tour -where you can visit the most emblematic landmarks of the capital, to a pub crawl that costs 15 € and starts every day at 22:00 or a classic tapas tour (15 €), on Wednesdays and Fridays at 17:45.

Full Moon Design Hostel Budapest

Live music in one of the most vibrant cities, picturesque rooms, colourful common areas and a privileged location are just some of the things this designer hostel has to offer. But that’s not all this hostel offers: Morisons Music Pub 2 is in the same building. 

Generator Hostel Paris

Stroll through the city without leaving the building in this design-led hostel inspired by the photogenic character of Paris. Stay in the elegant lounge (with vintage armchairs and a large bar) or have fun in the game room when you’re not enjoying everything the French capital has to offer.

Cats Hostel Porto

Cats Hostel Porto is the first hostel of the brand to open in Portugal, and it brings to the city of the Duero river all the spirit that has made Madrid’s Cats Hostels famous: fun, activities and central accommodation to enjoy the city to the fullest.

ONE80º Berlin

This ’boutique hostel’ in the heart of Mitte stands out for having its own discotheque in the center of Berlin.  It offers music by its own resident DJs and other events. Guests can also use a special area to upload and share their photos. The interior is designed by Berlin artists.

Kex Hostel Reykjavik

Industrial aesthetics is the most characteristic feature of this Icelandic hostel that stands in an old biscuit factory (in fact, kex means Icelandic ‘biscuit’). Besides having all kinds of rooms, it stands out for its common spaces, such as a barber shop or a large library, where you can relax in the company of other travelers..

Casa Gracia Barcelona Hostel

The most modern hostel in Barcelona is just a step away from Paseo de Gracia and is all style and atmosphere. With its exclusive design and modern interiors, is the ideal refuge for any lover of modern and style. Enjoy the terrace, the lounges (it has spacious communal lounges to rest and chat) and its exquisite cuisine.

Youth Hostel Scuol Switzerland

This hostel is the most modern cabin in the Swiss country. This hostel, decorated to the last, has beautiful wooden interiors. Come out onto the terrace and breathe in the fresh air, while enjoying the splendour of the surrounding mountains. When the sun sets, make a ball in front of the fireplace and enjoy a hot chocolate before resting in your room.

Clink 78 London

Luxurious hostel frequented by young backpackers. It occupies what used to be a courthouse, where, by the way, the punk band The Clash was judged -according to their website. So if you book a room here, you can sleep in a cell or hang out in one of the courtrooms. And it’s worth attending one of the concerts at their nightclub, the ClashBAR. It’s ten minutes from King’s Cross train station.

Cocomama Amsterdam

It has a very exotic name, but a very European conception of design and decoration, with murals, paintings, ceramics and all kinds of elements that make up a beautiful environment. Everything is very clean and well cared for. There are cinema, communal kitchen and garden, as well as other spaces to share.


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ATELIER de Hoteles is proud to present José Mejía as its Executive Chef and Food Experience

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  • Renowned Chef Mejía heads the restaurants, bars and cafeterias of the hotels in the ATELIER de Hoteles chain
  • ATELIER de Hoteles sets itself apart by showcasing an exquisite culinary proposal

ATELIER de Hoteles, a Mexican hotel chain with an innovative and ground-breaking concept, has named José Mejía as its Executive Chef and Food Experience, and who, as of today, takes on responsibility for the cuisine offered, the quality and operation of all the culinary centers in this hospitality corporation.

Chef José Mejía hails from Mexico City and studied in the Culinary Institute of Los Angeles, California. He gained his wide experience in gastronomy in countries such as Singapore, Germany, the USA, Italy, Spain and Mexico, shaping his extraordinary leadership skills in each of his work teams. Chef Mejía also possesses a magnificent vision for creating unforgettable culinary experiences, a characteristic that has made him an ambassador of Mexican Haute Cuisine.

It is a privilege for ATELIER de Hoteles to have the proven creativity of Chef José Mejía since it allows us to offer our guests an innovative and exquisite gastronomy proposal. The culinary philosophy of our Executive Chef and Food Experience breaks paradigms and goes beyond than just offering avant-garde dishes, showcasing a complete concept in which flavors, textures and colors play a major role. As well as pleasing guests’ palates, it comforts and surprises them”, commented Oliver Reinhart, CEO of ATELIER de Hoteles.

For Chef Mejía motivating his team is of the utmost importance, just like the steam that rises from the pots of modern kitchens where works of art, not just dishes, are created to nourish diners’ bodies and minds. This inspires him to maintain a balance between harmony and the demands of operating food and beverage outlets in a luxury All Suites Resort such as the ATELIER Playa Mujeres, as well as the ÓLEO Cancún Playa All Inclusive Boutique Resort and, soon to come, the family concept of the ESTUDIO Playa Mujeres.

ATELIER-de-Hoteles

“I feel very enthusiastic about the challenge with which ATELIER de Hoteles has entrusted me, and this motivates me to make sure my team of arteliers maintain their commitment to the values of our hotel chain, such as quality, professionalism and service, as well as to its conceptual cornerstones, particularly offering an authentically Addictive Service®”, said José Mejía, Executive Chef and Food Experience at ATELIER de Hoteles.

Regarding the ATELIER Playa Mujeres hotel complex, Chef Mejía treasures an exceptional vegetable garden, since its harvest guarantees produce of the highest quality and freshness which is used in the different menus throughout the hotel chain in Cancun.

The Executive Chef and Food Experience has programmed a series of activities for the restaurants in the ATELIER Playa Mujeres in which guests can enjoy the experience of growing and selecting its vegetables, greens, fruits and spices, thus promoting an Eco-social Awareness® which is important to mention since it is another of the conceptual cornerstones at ATELIER de Hoteles.

The restaurants at ATELIER Playa Mujeres headed by Chef Mejía are: Mercado 19, offering Mexican flavors with a contemporary touch; Alba, with a healthy menu; El Suspiro, seafood with Peruvian touches; Takeshi, with an Asian influence; Cilento, inspired by authentic Italian cuisine; Los Abrazos, with firewood-cooked meat cuts; Cafecito, with fine bakery and coffee, and El Trompo, with tacos and gourmet Mexican snacks.

On the other hand, in the ÓLEO Cancún Playa All Inclusive Boutique Resort, the chef is in charge of the Azul restaurant, with an international and cosmopolitan feel; Almar, with dinners offering traditional Mediterranean cuisine and seafood; Hakka, with Japanese influenced cuisine, and El Botanero, with ceviches, tacos and hamburgers served outdoors.

Similarly, the bars coordinated by José Mejía in the ATELIER Playa Mujeres are: Don Fernando, lobby bar; El Deseo, theater bar; La Oficina, contemporary cantina style; El Cielo, rooftop lounge bar, with an infinity pool boasting a spectacular view of the Caribbean and the golf course; El Trompo Swim Up Bar and El Suspiro Swim Up Bar, both located at the main pool, and Bar de La Calle, offering an urban mixology concept. Chef Mejía is also responsible for the Pool Bar and the Lobby Bar, popular meeting points for guests in the ÓLEO Cancún Playa Boutique Resort.

The wide range of restaurants and bars at ATELIER de Hoteles are structurally designed with materials and decoration that evoke an elegant and contemporary ambiance. Similarly, each of the menus offers guests a selection that reinterprets the most important culinary traditions of each culture in a ground-breaking and innovative way.

About:                     

ATELIER de Hoteles is an innovative and ground-breaking Mexican hotel chain born in 2015, with contemporary Mexican art setting it apart and acting as the common denominator in its concepts, which include strategy, passion and commitment. ATELIER de Hoteles offers in its four brands, ATELIER, ESTUDIO, ÓLEO and MET, relaxed luxury with the highest in service standards in its properties, currently located in the Hotel Zone and Playa Mujeres, both in Cancun, Quintana Roo, and with openings planned in the near future for the most important beach and business destinations in Mexico.


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You need to visit Ecuador now

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This is no joke. You need to visit Ecuador now, right this minute, it’s a matter of life and…nah. The truth is, we live in a time where options are limitless and when it comes to travel, there are SO MANY incredible international destinations it gets overwhelming to make a choice. Sometimes you just need a convincing argument, or an easy-to-understand cost benefit analysis to conclude, “Yep, that’s definitely worth it.”

What’s the point in travelling to de-compress if simply choosing your destination causes you to stress? (That line is going in my next rap single, please don’t plagiarize.) Here are a couple legitimate reasons to book your next trip to Ecuador.

Quilotoa Lake Ecuador
A group of friends gaze upon Quilotoa Lake, while a rainbow appears above the Ecuadorian Andes.

Reasons why you should visit Ecuador

Fill in the blank with something that isn’t sexist: Ecuador is like a ____. Pretty, cheap and easy.

If you want three simple, yet highly convincing reasons to visit Ecuador, here they are. Let’s start with the first and, in many cases, the most convincing:

Ecuador is CHEAP. Please note that by “cheap”, we’re talking western hemisphere levels of affordability, not Nepal or Vietnam.

Compared to other bucket-list Latin America countries, like Costa Rica, Mexico or Chile, Ecuador offers a comparable quality of service for a lower dollar figure. Among some of the incredible things to do in Ecuador, you’ll visit places like the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon.

If you’re travelling here from the United States or Europe, you’ll be pleased to discover several cheap, and usually direct, flight options to Ecuador. From the U.S., you can find flights from Fort Lauderdale, FL with Jet Blue for as cheap as $380!

Once here, you’ll also find that bus travel is C-H-E-A-P. I’m talking $1.00 per hour of travel cheap. However, there are pros and cons to this, make sure to read the last section of this blog.

Cotopaxi Volcano ecuador
A traveler visits the Limpiopungo lake inside Cotopaxi National Park. Cotopaxi Volcano is visible in the background. Photo by: Viaja la Vida travel bloggers.

Ecuador is PRETTY. Spectacular, in fact. This is highly subjective statement that can be proven true by simply asking anyone that’s traveled here. Now, don’t ask them about the markets, because things can get pretty ugly there, especially in the animal section, but ask them about Ecuador’s beauty GENERALLY.

You’ll find that there’s a consensus: Ecuador isn’t just beautiful, but diverse, which only adds to its beauty. In a day’s drive, you can go from the Amazon rainforest, past 5,000+ meter volcanic peaks, and down through the coastal cloud forest to the glimmering beaches of Mompiche (or another coastal village).

Where else in Latin America can you do this? If you can think of a place that isn’t Ecuador, please mention it in the comment section below. Seriously, I challenge you.

Ecuador Pacific Sunset
The sun sets in the Pacific Coast. This is a common image all year long because of Ecuador’s location on the equator. Photo by: Juan Pablo Verdesoto.

Ecuador is EASY. The reason you can visit such diverse geographic regions in one day is because Ecuador is relatively small (no bigger than Colorado State, for example). Its neighbor, Peru, offers similar geographic diversity but across 5 times the geographic area! It’s gonna take more than one day to drive from the Amazon to the Pacific Coast, that’s for sure.

Over the years, a significant increase in tourism has incentivized many Ecuadorians to invest in English language acquisition. While speaking and/or learning Spanish in Ecuador is highly encouraged, you’ll find that many locals (especially the younger generations) know their way around English and will be able to help you.

A final reason why Ecuador is an easy travel destination is related to its currency, which happens to be the US dollar. That’s right: greenbacks rule. If you’re coming from the United States, you have one less headache to deal with because in Ecuador, currency exchange is not a thing.

Wanderbus Ecuador
A traveler enjoys the Ecuadorian road aboard the Wanderbus. Photo by: Juan Pablo Verdesoto.

What is the best way to travel around Ecuador?

If you’re like most travellers to Ecuador, you’re probably considering bus travel. Makes sense: buses are readily available between every city and, depending on distance, cost around $1.00 per transit hour. However, safety and convenience tend to be an issue as bus terminals are where travellers are at their most vulnerable from petty theft, and are often difficult and expensive to reach (particularly at odd hours of the night).

For those that prefer to avoid bus terminals (despite the attractive bus prices), another approach to bus travel in Ecuador is available: hop on-hop off bus companies like Wanderbus Ecuador. Wanderbus will pick you up from central locations in town and take you to Ecuador’s top (and often difficult-to-reach) destinations, ensuring safety, access to like-minded travelers as well as an English-speaking guide. The flexibility of hop on-hop off travel is especially attractive if you don’t have a set itinerary and like to keep your options open.

If you haven’t quite decided on your next international destination, make sure to take a closer look at Ecuador, where you’re sure to get more bang for your buck.



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