Photo essay: three reasons to visit Verzasca Valley, Switzerland

As if chocolate, the beautiful mountains and the amazing skiing weren’t enough already… nobody needs any particular reason to visit Switzerland, you just know it’s going to be great. But today I’d like to shine the light on a Swiss canton that is perhaps less known to travellers from outside of Europe – Ticino. And Verzasca Valley, in particular.
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Monkey madness at Jigokudani Monkey Park, Nagano

Beyond the regular Tokyo-Kyoto-Hiroshima tourist route there is much to explore, and Jigokudani monkey park is one of those little gems that may not be part of the regular line-up of things to do in Japan. Yet only a 90 minute Shinkansen ride to the north west of Tokyo lies Nagano, a city of two million, which is often overlooked by tourists. But, my Japanese friend had other plans for us; we would not be part of the tourist crowd disconnected from real life Japan and its many oddities and quirks. So she introduced us to some monkey business.

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Polynesian Spa in Rotorua: perfect after a day of Zorbing, luging and white-water rafting

Meagaan and I had an action-packed day in Rotorua a wee while ago. We started off the day with white-water rafting with our friends at Kaitiaki, then drove on to roll ourselves down a hill in giant hamsterballs (aka zorbing), and topped it off with something non-water-related to dry our hair: the advanced hair dryer called luging.

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Zorbing in Rotorua

New Zealand is famous for all sorts of crazy; tourist operators lure with adventure sports around every corner, one requiring more bravery than the next. It was here that the commercial bungy was “invented”, borrowing the idea of throwing oneself off a high structure from tribal culture in Vanuatu. New Zealand also brought forth another, perhaps even more curious and certainly quirkier “sport”: zorbing.
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Around Christchurch: an Akaroa itinerary

We were on a self-drive, on month tour of the south island of New Zealand in December 2012 and we were fortunate to put Akaroa on our itinerary. Akaroa was originally a French settlement and it is elegant, compact, refined and luxurious. Akaroa was suggested to us by some friends as a day trip from Christchurch but doing Akaroa as a day trip does not do it justice. I highly recommend that you stay a minimum of two nights.

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Maison de la Mer in Akaroa, Canterbury: a luxury B&B

I’m sure there are many places to stay in Akaroa but this was our “splurge” on our trip. The Maison de la Mer bed and breakfast was five star plus and worth every penny. We had two nights in the Boathouse. The Boathouse is a self-contained apartment separate from the main B&B house. This place was pure luxury and a month later we are still raving about what a great time we had here.

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