KNOW BEFORE YOU GO


 Best of Autumn on Long Island’s East End

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By Juliette Koronkiewicz

Shorter days and cooler temperatures are tell-tales that summer is leaving and autumn has begun. There is no better place to experience autumn than on Long Island. Growing up on Long Island my whole life and traveling to other places in the country, hands down, Long Island is my favorite. Some say I am a bit of an “expert” on the best places where you can experience autumn at its finest; from u-pick apples and pumpkins, to where to find the best cider doughnut. Now, I want to share all of my favorite spots with you. Here are my favorite places to enjoy all that autumn has to offer on Long Island’s East End.

Best Apple Picking: Wickham’s Fruit Farm in Cutchogue

Long Island locals all have their favorite location for prime apple picking, but if you want to try to avoid crowds and get a truly authentic experience, Wickham’s Fruit Farm is the place to go! Wickham’s fruit is grown on some of the oldest continually cultivated land in the country, much of the farm dating from 1661. A large proportion of Wickham farm land has been placed in Suffolk County’s Farmland Preservation program, so for generations to come, this land is “forever agriculture.” Don’t want to pick your own? Visit their farmstand on-site for apples and an array of other seasonal fruit and vegetables.

Best Pumpkin Picking: Helen’s Pumpkin Farm in Aquebogue

This is a great family friendly place that offers hours of fun with the large corn maze, up to 20 acres of pumpkins, concession stand and fully stocked farm stand. You can pick pumpkins that have already been brought in from the fields or you can venture out on your own to find your ‘Great Pumpkin.’  At 59 cents per pound, which includes specialty gourds and giant pumpkins that can weigh up to 100 pounds, Helen’s Pumpkin Farm is one of the best prices you will find.

Best Fall Festival: Montauk Fall Festival in Montauk

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Every October, Long Island locals take the ride to one of the farthest points of the Island to Montauk’s Annual Fall Festival. This annual event, held on the Village Green, celebrates fall with a clam chowder contest, music, Long Island beers and wine, Oktoberfest foods, games for the children, a farmers market and more. This is one festival that is perfect for the whole family.

Best Hard Apple Cider: Woodside Orchards in Jamesport

Since 1982, Woodside Orchards has not only been growing apples but making fresh hard apple cider. You can visit Woodside’s tasting room everyday, except Wednesday, and try their various types of cider, or order a pint and relax in their picnic area outside around the fire. You can also buy or bring your own growler to enjoy the cider at home. While you are there, don’t forget to purchase their doughnuts, fresh honey and a carmel apple to go. Did I forget to mention their free chocolate chip cookies you can enjoy while you are there?

Best Vineyards: Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue

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Going wine tasting on Long Island is a necessity. Long Island’s East End is filled with vineyards and autumn is the perfect time to see the harvest. If there is any vineyards you are going to visit, Bedell Cellars is a must! The first grapevine was planted in 1980 and since then is now widely regarded as the benchmark winery in the Eastern U.S. Their wines are grown on three vineyard sites across 75 acres, with some of the oldest grapevines in the country. Their historic barn, built in 1919, has been named one of the Top 25 Tasting Rooms in America by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. So order a glass of your favorite red or white (I suggest getting the Sauvignon Blanc 2015), relax on the barn patio and watch the the winemakers harvest their crops.

Best Farm Stand: Lewin Farms in Calverton

Every trip I make out to the East End always ends with a trip to Lewin Farm Stand. Now in its fourth generation of farmers, Lewin Farm Stand offers a full line of fresh fruits and vegetables; many of these are grown on their farm. They also get other local Long Island produce from nearby farms to offer you the freshest quality, locally grown produce possible. Strawberries, cauliflower, squash and pears are just a few of the crops they grow on-site that you can bring home to make your favorite recipes.

Best Place for Families: Harbes Family Farm in Mattituck

Harbes is the perfect all-in-one stop for you and your family. Although Harbes has many locations on Long island, their Mattituck farm is the largest. They have everything from pumpkin and apple picking, to hayrides and delicious food. Your children can stay entertained by the Harbes staff in their 10 acre ‘Barnyard Adventure’ park while you relax, drink some wine in the tasting room and enjoy the crisp autumn air. Children can also enjoy a hayride, gem mining and their two corn mazes. Make sure you get there before October 30th because they close for the winter season.

Best Brewery: Greenport Harbor Brewery in Greenport and Peconic

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There are many breweries on Long Island but one stands out in particular. Greenport Harbor Brewery is known for their unique beers with their unique names. Stop in at one of their locations to taste their seasonal craft beers. Want to taste something that makes you all warm and cozy inside? Try the Leaf Pile Ale with a cinnamon sugar rim. This beer is a fresh take on autumn beers with ginger, cinnamon, whole bean vanilla, allspice, nutmeg, and pumpkin. Not a pumpkin beer person? Don’t worry because Greenport Harbor Brewery has something for everyone’s palate like the Harbor Ale, Otherside IPA or Black Duck Porter. Whatever your decide to try, fall into autumn at Greenport.

Best Pies: Olish’s Farm Stand in Eastport & Briermere Farms in Riverhead

This was probably the hardest decision to make. Olish’s Farm Stand and Briermere Farms are the best locations for getting pies. Olish’s has 31 varieties of fresh pies baked daily to choose from everyday. When you pick up one of their pies you can still feel the heat of the pie coming through the box. That’s what I call fresh! Their signature pie is called ‘Fruit of the Forest’ and includes strawberry rhubarb, apple, blackberries and blueberries, and it’s absolutely delicious! While there also check out their farmstand, assortment of honey, flowers and more.

Briermere Farms has some of the best pies on Long Island but one pie that I can’t seem to get enough of is their Blueberry Cream Pie. All of their pies, jams, jellies and syrups are made with fresh ingredients. Their website has directions on how to freeze their pies so stock up!

Best Apple Cider doughnuts: Harbes Farm in Mattituck

We covered apple picking and hard apple cider, but your trip to the East End is not complete without Harbes Apple Cider doughnuts. Visit Harbes Family Farm in Mattituck and get a fresh dozen right off the doughnut machine. Wash your doughnut down with some hot apple cider or coffee, and you will definately get into the fall mood. If you can’t make it out to their bakery, you can order their doughnuts online.

 Best Haunted House: Gateway Haunted Playhouse in Brookhaven

 

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Every year from the end of September to Halloween, Gateway Playhouse turns their theatre into a haunted town filled with the things that nightmares are made of. Played by professional actors, you will definitely have the scare of your life. There will be a little of a wait for your group to go in but don’t worry, there are plenty of things going on to keep you entertained. There are side shows, food, and drinks for children and adults. You also get to hangout with some of the creepy characters that are walking around. If you are worried about this haunted playhouse being too creepy for your children, they also have a ‘Not-So-Scary Kids Adventure’ from Oct. 8-30th where they will get a guided walk through, face painting, balloon art, pumpkin bouncer and more.

Best Corn Maze: Jamesport Giant Pumpkin Corn Maze at Harbes Western Farm in Jamesport

This five acre corn maze will keep you entertained for a while. The Giant Pumpkin has lost it’s crown in a sprawling five acre corn maze and it’s your job to find that missing crown. This is a great attraction for people of all ages and will take you about 45 mins to complete. Don’t worry about getting lost, there are staff members that will help you along the way.

Best Fall Hiking Trail: Blydenburgh Park in Hauppauge

If you are looking to a relaxing hike or boat ride to take in the fall colors, Blydenburgh Park is the best choice. There are many trails to take depending if you are looking for a nice stroll or looking for a challenge. This 627 acre parkwith richly forested hills and valleys around Stump Pond is one of the many things to do at this park. Rent a boat a row around the pond, bring your tackle and go fishing, stroll through the Blydenburgh Farm and New Mill Historic District featuring a grist mill, or make a day of it and enjoy the day in their picnic area. Whatever you decide to do, Blydenburgh Park has something for everyone.

Best Place to Stop for Dinner: The Modern Snack Bar in Riverhead

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Known for their Soft Shell Crabs, the Modern Snack Bar has been a North Fork landmark for authentic home cooking.  Started in 1950, The Modern Snack Bar is a throwback to that era. Brothers John and Otto Wittmeier believes in serving good quality food in an atmosphere that hasn’t changed since the day they opened. “Consistency is the key to our success,” says John. Roast Turkey, Roast L.I. Duck, Lobster Salad, Meatloaf and their mashed turnips are just a few of the recipes you will find on the menu that have been passed down in the Wittmeier family. Wash your meal down with some draft beer or a glass of wine, or try one of their seasonal mixed drinks like the Happy Apple or Pumpkin Shandy. Don’t forget to have a slice of their Grasshopper Pie. No matter if you live on Long Island or travel from other states, “we take care of everyone like they’re family,” says John.

Best Place to stop for Ice Cream: Magic Fountain in Mattituck

I know what you’re thinking, “Ice cream in the fall? Isn’t it too cold?” But with their seasonal selections  of homemade ice cream, such as  Lavender and Black Raspberry Crumble, you will want to make the trip every weekend. Since 1977, Mr. Chaudry Ali has aimed to bring back the sensation of having a good time while enjoying what you eat.  So take a ride out to Mattituck and try one of their Flavors of the Month, like Pumpkin, Fig & Honey, and Chocolate Pudding Pie. You won’t be disappointed.


A First Time for Everything: Niagara Falls and Traveling Outside the U.S.

By: Adriana Belmonte

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For someone traveling outside the United States for the first time, Niagara Falls is the perfect destination to get a feeling  of what it’s like without being too far away from home. The culture and lifestyle of Canada, specifically in this area, is extremely similar to the United States. Aside from slight accents and very friendly personalities, Canadians are the perfect neighbors and make you feel at home.

Niagara Falls is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Three waterfalls come together at the border of New York and Ontario, Canada to form a panoramic view from both sides of the border. Two of the falls, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, are on the American side, but the real beauty is Horseshoe Falls which is on the Canadian side. Visiting these falls gives first time travelers the chance to cross the border and embark on territory outside of the United States.

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Take a boat tour to get a close-up view of Niagara Falls. On the Canadian side, tourists can use Hornblower Niagara Cruises to see Horseshoe Falls. Don’t forget to bring your camera! There’s a good chance you will see a rainbow or two while you are there because of how sunshine reflects off the falls. This is a rare sight and one you will never forget.

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Once your boat tour is done, venture out to the White Water Walk which allows you to not only stroll alongside the falls, but also lets you take a look behind the scenes. The peaceful sound of the rush of water provides a serene environment and allows you to get swept up in the beauty of the falls. The walk is just over a mile long but gives you a chance to relax and enjoy the scenery.

There’s a lot more to do in the area aside from the falls. The Skylon Tower, almost 800 feet high, is an attraction that offers dining, shopping, and sightseeing. ARide-to-the-Top elevator ride is 52 seconds to the observation deck, giving you a view along the way. This might sound terrifying to some people who are afraid of heights but it’s completely safe and worth it. Once you’re at the observation deck, the view of the city is incredible. Not only do you see the Falls but also the skylines of Buffalo and Toronto. The sight allows you to see what lies within the city of Niagara Falls aside from its main attraction. The best part: it’s free.

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Embrace the laidback atmosphere at Niagara Falls by visiting some of Niagara’s great restaurants.  The Jimmy Buffet-themed restaurant, Margaritaville, features not only non-stop music from the great singer and an entrée named after one of his number one hits, Cheeseburger in Paradise, but also a variety of Cajun-American style cuisine. Let’s not forget about the drink menu. Complete your experience by relaxing on the rooftop patio with a Bahama Mama, or one their endless options of margaritas. After all, it’s five o’clock somewhere.

Whether you’re traveling solo, with friends or with your family, Niagara Falls is a wonderful place to visit for your first time out of the country. You get a taste of what it’s like to be off of American soil, see one of the Seven Wonders of the World and there’s no need to worry about a language barrier. Niagara Falls is everything it’s made out to be: beautiful, panoramic and breathtaking. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to venture further experiencing Niagara Falls!


Florence: Something For Everyone

By: Adriana Belmonte

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Traveling to another country used to be a foreign concept to me, no pun intended. Growing up, the idea of going somewhere outside of America seemed to be silly. What could other countries give me that America does not already? Then I started college. My school has one of the biggest international programs in the country but this did not faze me as I began studying. Everything I wanted was right in front of me. Yet, so many peers I would meet would talk about their experiences studying abroad. I met people who stayed in Malta, Italy, Morocco, Australia, Thailand, Japan, and more. I began to feel as though I were missing out on something, so I started testing out the waters. After freshman year, I convinced my family to do our vacation in Mexico. I felt this would be a great way to get my feet wet and start to get a feel for another country. Mexico was an awesome experience and the following year, we decided to do north of the border to round out the continent. Visiting Niagara Falls made me realize that I was ready to travel even further outside of my comfort zone. After much deliberation and research, I decided on Florence, Italy

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For Twippers that are reading this, Florence is unique in several ways, one of them being that it is a city for several Travanalities.

First and foremost, Epicureans will be in heaven. The Tuscany region is known for not only excellent food but also incredible wine tours. The best part, for some reason, if you do not like the food in Florence, you can travel somewhere else and find what you are looking for. Florence is the center of everything in Europe and makes it incredibly easy to travel anywhere throughout the continent. As an Epicurean myself, I am excited for the food. Some of my favorite meals that my family makes at our Italian dinners will be right at my fingertips in Florence, such as panzanella, antipasti, and gelato.

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For those who identify more with the Imaginavo Travanality, you’re in the right place. Did you know that Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance? Architecture and art lovers will thrive in this kind of environment. Artists and sculptors including Donatello, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Michelangelo are from this city as are many more artists. The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, the Palazzo Vecchio, and the Bargello are just some of the incredible features that Florence boasts of its history. As a lover of literature, I find myself excited at the idea of immersing myself in Italian novels and browsing through the works of Dante Alighieri, Petrarch, and Giovanni Boccaccio.

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Soulager Twippers can escape reality not only through the culture of Florence but also through the lifestyle of the Florentines. Soulagers can relax by the Arno River with a glass of wine and a novel while the rest of the world carries on.

Other Travanalities can still find their niche in Florence too. This is what makes the city so unique and appeasing to a traveler like myself. However, it is important to remember that finding your niche in a foreign country should not be your top priority. It’s okay to lose yourself a bit in the culture and step outside of your comfort zone. While many people in Florence speak English, you will encounter those who only speak Italian. Instead of finding yourself frustrated at the language barrier, challenge yourself to find a way to communicate. Don’t run away from any obstacles. Florentines are willing to help if you are willing to meet them halfway.

As you decide where to embark for your next adventure, consider Florence. Whether it is the food, the culture, the people, or the lifestyle, you will find something to love about this beautiful city.  Florence has  something for everyone and once you arrive at this magical destination, you won’t want to leave.


The 9 Best New Year’s Eve Parties on the Planet

By: Natalie Austin, TWIP

New Year’s Eve is arguably one of the most anticipated nights of the year and New York isn’t the only city that knows how to do it right. Cities around the globe offer experiences unique to their location and can provide for some of the year’s most unforgettable moments. Here are the top New Year’s celebrations around the globe.Sydney, Australia

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Situated on a gorgeous harbor, Sydney offers a New Year’s Eve for those who are looking to spend it nautically. As one of the first capital cities to ring in the New Year, Sydney does this holiday the best. Complete with waterfront restaurants for lavish dinners, lighted boat parades, and yacht parties, to view a most spectacular fireworks show.

Bratislava, Slovakia

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If you’re looking for an unpretentious and quaint affair, Bratislava, Slovakia is the perfect party destination for New Year’s. The soiree hosts around 10,000 people each year with open air dance parties, a fireworks show over the Danube River, and local bands and dance groups to entertain. Old Town is divided into a “concert zone” and a “party zone” so goers can choose their desired atmosphere, or get a taste of both.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Bringing the Carnival flavor with traditional costumes and dance performances, New Year’s Eve comes in as a close second in Brazil’s most vibrant city. Each year the Copacabana Beach is lined with music installations and drum spectaculars, with patrons decked out in white, symbolizing luck in the coming year. At the end of the evening, it is traditional for locals to cleanse themselves in the ocean and cast flowers into the water with the belief that if they don’t return, your wishes for the new year will be granted.

Berlin, Germany

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With the reputation as one best nightlife cities in Europe, it is no wonder why Berlin makes this list. Countless clubs throughout the city host parties lasting through the night, some lasting for over 12 hours. Over one million people flock to Berlin to fill “party mile” through the city, lined with food and drink tents, music stages and of course a breathtaking fireworks show.

Hong Kong, China  

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China is famous for some of the most unique and bizarre New Year’s traditions, which is why it is a perfect place to welcome the new year. With extravagant parties along the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon or bars in the Lan Kwai Fong district, Hong Kong knows just how to throw a NYE blowout. You can even watch a replica Times Square Ball Drop in the city center. Just like other New Year’s traditions, the firework show is a must-see and can be watched by boat in the Victoria Harbor.

Valparaiso, Chile

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One of the most extravagant New Year’s celebrations on the planet is no other than the cultural capital of Chile, Valparaiso. This three-day festival hosts a world renowned fireworks show, with fireworks launched from 17 different points along the coast.  Parties are hosted along the beach to take in the show and most of them go until the sun comes up.

Reykjavik, Iceland

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Another smaller scale NYE can be celebrated in the exotic Reykjavik, a large community party thrown by locals. Beginning at 6pm, bonfires are held throughout the city to symbolize the burning away of the year’s troubles. Gatherings a complete with heaving drinking, folk songs and people dressed as elves and trolls. The party goes through 5am, when locals line up for hotdogs and then head to the hot springs to warm up from an evening outside.  Despite being a frigid location, Reykjavik is the perfect destination to really party like a local this holiday.

Edinburgh, Scotland

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Edinburgh is hands down one of New Year Eve’s best destination as it is home to a remarkable three-day festival. The event kicks off with a torchlight procession, followed by city-wide festivities like outdoor concerts and a traditional Celtic party. While fireworks show is a standard NYE tradition, this display takes place with the magnificent Edinburgh Castle as its backdrop. On New Year’s day, Holyrood Park hosts a competitive dog sledding race and the River Forth hosts an ice-cold water plunge.

Vienna, Austria

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Vienna is home to both sophisticated events and smaller scale parties, providing a little something for everything on NYE. Those who love the finer things can attend one of its many balls where guests are dressed to the nines. For those who prefer a more local experience, head to the city center, Silvesterpfad for traditional hot mulled wine and toffee apples. Visitors can also opt for a dinner party cruise along the Danube River.


Best Street Markets in the World

By Natalie Austin, TWIP

As important centers for commerce, culture and local livelihood, Street Markets are the best activity for travelers looking to get a proper local experience. Whether you’re looking for authentic cuisine, unique souvenirs, or simply to immerse yourself in the local culture, street markets are sure to make you feel like a resident rather than a tourist. Here are some of the best street markets around the world for travelers who lust for simple discoveries.

La Boqueria, Barcelona, Spain 

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Known for its beautiful colors, rich history and influence on Spanish gastronomy,La Boqueria is arguably the best market in Europe. Dating all the way back to the 1200s, La Boqueria has been an important culinary center and continues to be reference for Catalan restauranteurs. With hundreds of stalls of produce, seafood, fresh meats, cheeses and ready-to-eat meals, this market is the best showcase of ingredients the city has to offer. Having been awarded “Best Market in the World” by the World Markets Congress in 2005, it is a must-see spot for a trip to Barcelona.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

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For a dazzling mix of color and chaos, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is the perfect place to get lost in the rich culture of Turkey. This market has been an epicenter for trade since 1461 and receives up to 400,000 visitors each day. The Grand Bazaar is home to 60 covered streets with over 5,000 shops, making it one of the largest enclosed markets in the world. Known for its beautiful jewelry, handpainted ceramics, traditional carpets, a plethora of unique spices and countless antique shops, The Grand Bazaar has something for every kind of traveler. Venture down hidden streets, peek through back alleys and wander through exotic art displays to discover the unexpected.

Camden Market, London, UK

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Between Regent’s Canal and the Roundhouse Theatre, discover the flourishing cluster of markets collectively known as The Camden Market.  Home to independent retail stores, global street food, restaurants and bars, the Camden Market is an up-and-coming spot for trendy tourists in search of bizarre urban treasures. The market is made up of three individual markets: Union Street, Lock and Stables. Students and young tourists are frequent Camden-goers for their eclectic clothing stores and hip watering holes.

St. Lawrence Street, Toronto, Canada

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Operating in what was once city hall, Toronto’s St. Lawrence Street Market has a long been an important center for commerce. This Toronto landmark is surrounded by the city’s most famous historical buildings, which is why a visit here is a must. Located in Old Town, St. Lawrence Street is made up of the South and the North Market, comprised of more than 120 installments of food vendors, artisans and merchants.The South Market is home to specialty food vendors and is often considered the best food market in all of Canada. Explore the North Market to experience the antique market, a tradition dating back to 1803.

Kowloon Market, Hong Kong, China

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If there is one thing that’s taken seriously at Hong Kong’s favorite market, its freshness. With fish still in tanks, and food newly shipped in from surrounding farms, Kowloon’s culinary experience is like no other. Because of its devotion to freshness, the market is known as the “wet market” and was ranked 10th inCNN’s survey of the best quality fresh food markets in the world. Kowloon is also home to some unique Southeast Asian fruits popular to as it is the epicenter of Hong Kong’s Thai population. Over 581 stalls are located in this three-story building, reminiscent of a deconstructed cruise ship. If you consider yourself an Epicurean, it would be a sin to skip this unforgettable culinary experience.

Tsukiji, Tokyo, Japan

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Tokyo is undoubtedly the fish capital of the world which is why this notorious fish market tops the itinerary for foodie tourists. As one of the largest fish markets in the world, travelers come from afar for live tuna auctions starting at 5:00 am, perfect for those with jet lag. Tsukiji was named the #1 things to do in Tokyoaccording to Time Magazine for its imperative role in Tokyo’s culinary world. Tourists are even encouraged to try sushi for breakfast! If you’re not a pescatarian, Tsukiji still offers a fascinating display of delectable underwater creatures; making this market one-of-a-kind.


Spend Halloween in America’s Favorite Cities

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By: Natalie Austin, TWIP
At one time or another, we may have been told to see New York at Christmas, New Orleans at Mardi Gras and Los Angeles for a spring vacation. However, traveling during these times can be tampered with inconvenient travel, plagued with tourists, and void of authentic local experiences. As large cities can be overwhelming, planning your trip can be exhausting, which is why most cities are visited during popular calendar year events. Instead of the obvious times to travel to these cities, Halloween makes for the perfect holiday to experience cities like the locals, while also filling your itinerary with festive events. See why these culturally rich cities are best this October.

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New Orleans

New Orleans is on every traveler’s bucket list for its amazing jazz, unforgettable cuisine and melting pot of cultures. With the chaos of Mardi Gras tourists and scorching heat in the summer, October is the ideal month to experience one of America’s favorite cities. As the second most celebrated holiday, Halloween is a perfect time to get the true New Orleans experience. Regarded, “The Most Haunted City in America,” New Orleans boasts real-life voodoo shops, psychic readings, haunted houses and cemetery and swamp tours. In the French Quarter, many of NOLA’s famous watering holes become “haunted bars,” perfect for grabbing a drink before hitting Krewe of  Boo – their annual Halloween parade.
You can also take in local experiences not focused on Halloween. Take a stroll down Frenchmen Street, a trendier spot loved by locals, which offers a four-block stretch of live music, art galleries, restaurant, and bars.

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Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a hub for nightlife, cinema, Latin American culture and countless outdoor activities. Despite its popularity during other times in the year, September through November is the best time to visit according to U.S. News. With over 50 ways to celebrate Halloween, October is the perfect time to experience Los Angeles. From October 14-23rd, head to the iconic Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood for the annual Screamfest Horror Film Festival.  On October 24th, take in the LA Mexican culture at the Day of the Dead, located at the Hollywood Forever cemetery. You can try authentic Mexican cuisine, visit the cathedral art exhibit and see traditional Mexican alter exhibitions. If you prefer nightlife, spend Halloween in West Hollywood on the iconic Santa Monica Boulevard for the world’s largest Halloween street party. The event features a parade, six stages with live music and quintessential WeHo culture. The event runs from 6 – 11 pm, but is continued by most bars and restaurants located along the boulevard until closing time.
Los Angeles is also home to countless local activities, perfect for fall. As the temperatures are still in the high 70s and 80s, a trip to the Venice Beach Boardwalk can be a perfect addition to your LA itinerary. If you want to go the culture route spend a day at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art or take a tour of Paramount Picture Studios.

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New York City

Although New York is packed with events year-round, October is the perfect month to avoid the typical tourist scene. Spend your Halloween in New York’s charming Greenwich Village, at one of the biggest Halloween parties in the US. Anyone who arrives in costume can walk in the parade alongside giant puppets and over 50 bands and dancing troupes, making the event a local favorite. For an easy day trip, Sleepy Hollow is an hour train ride outside the city, home of the timeless tale of the Headless Horseman. Here you can visit the Dutch Burying Ground; the oldest cemetery in the U.S.
To experience NYC like a true New Yorker, spend your visit exploring some of the best outdoor spots all over the city. Have a picnic at Sheep Meadow in Central Park to catch changing colors or shop some outdoor markets such as theGreenmarket at Union Square or Brooklyn Flea Market.

Travel Tips: Where to View The Most Vibrant Fall Foliage in the Northeast

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By: Lauren Durden

Where to see the best of fall’s colors throughout upstate New York and New England.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015, was the first official day of fall, meaning that sweater weather, all things pumpkin spice and vibrant fall foliage will soon be sprouting up throughout the United States. As the temperatures drop, and the leaves on trees gradually shift from their summer greens to spectacular shades of burning oranges, yellows, fiery reds and deep maroons, the Northeast comes alive with some of the most beautiful displays of fall colors in the United States. Throughout the month of September and through October, these are the best towns to visit to view nature’s dramatic autumn showcase.

New York

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Whether you choose to stay in New York City, or venture further north into theAdirondack Mountains, New York has plenty of fall colors to go around. WhileCentral Park is an easy train ride from almost anywhere in the city, other parks throughout the city are worth a bit of a trek to see some fantastic fall foliage.Fort Tyron Park in Washington Heights boasts one of the highest points in the city, with picturesque views across the water to Hudson River Palisades. Outside of the Big Apple, the Adirondack Mountains host some of the state’s most beautiful changing leaves near Lake Placid. Take in the mountain’s sights on a scenic drive, hike or on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad.

When to Visit:

Peak times for the city tend to be later in October, while the Adirondacks reach peak in early to mid-October.

Vermont

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Photo courtesy of fineartamerica.com

A state well known for it’s maple syrup and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream also plays host to some of the country’s most vivid fall displays. The maple trees change in color in Stowe conveniently coincide with Stowe’s Oktoberfest. You can continue the fall foliage viewing throughout Vermont’s Green Mountains in ludlow, where travelers can take in 360-degree views of blazing autumn leaves.

When to Visit:

The best viewing times in Vermont tend to be at the end of September through mid-October.

Connecticut

 

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Photo courtesy of innharborhill.com

Seek out the Berkshire Mountains for oak, beech, aspen and birch trees exploding with color by way of Route 7 which runs along the Housatonic River in Connecticut. Along with foliage viewing, visitors will take in quintessential New England sights, including two covered bridges.

For a little more adventure than a simple drive through the spectacular colors of fall, board the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat in Connecticut’s River Valley. The trip on the train and riverboat only takes visitors 2 1/2 hours to complete, but allows travelers to sit back and relax while taking in the views.

When to Visit:

Connecticut’s fall foliage viewing generally lasts a bit longer than the surrounding states, but visit in mid-to late October for the season’s peak viewing.

New Hampshire

Autumn sunrise on the Piscataqua River in Portsmouth, NH, USA

Photo courtesy of susancolekelly.photoshelter.com

North Conway in New Hampshire is a nature lover’s dream with endless trails fit for hiking, biking and even some rock climbing, set in the White Mountain National Forest. Quaint bed and breakfasts and larger ski resorts make it easy for travelers of all types to find exactly what they’re looking for during a fall visit.

For history buffs, Portsmouth is the place to visit in New Hampshire. With museums, historic homes from the 1600s, and a beautiful waterfront, this New England town has plenty to offer, in addition to stellar foliage.

When to Visit:

Best to visit New Hampshire in early to mid-October.


Travel Tips: The Best Airports in the World for Long Layovers

By: Lauren Durden

These airports have the best amenities, services and dining options in the world of travel.

The dreaded layover is something all travelers have dealt with at one point or another in their journeys. In a perfect world, you would always get upgraded to first class, there would never be a screaming child in the seat next to you and you would always fly direct – never having to endure long layovers. However, sometimes you truly can enjoy the journey, not just the destination. The following airports prove that the layover can be just as relaxing and luxurious as your next vacation locale. So, if you’re looking for a little extra pampering, entertainment or fun during your next layover, book your next flight through one of these stopover points.

Londons Heathrow Airport – LHR

London

Photo courtesy of Telegraph.co.uk

London’s Heathrow Airport keeps things very British with a fully stocked, 11,000 square foot Harrods store, a Gordon Ramsay restaurant and a new terminal named after the Queen with new shops and 17 new restaurants. If your luggage seems to be lost already and you’re in need of a few outfits, Heathrow offers complimentary personal shoppers to assist you in your purchases. If you’re in need of a suit, look no further than the Thomas Pink store where you can purchase one, have it pressed and packed into a flight-ready package.

Of course, no layover in London would be complete without a cup of tea. Take respite in the Sofitel Hotel, located in terminal 5, and tuck into their afternoon tea service offering diners finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, pastries, cakes and a bevy of tea options.

Zurich Airport – ZHR

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Photo courtesy of Zurich.com

After a massive renovation in 2011 the Zurich airport has gone from a sparse airport to a sprawling hub. With rooftop terraces, cell phone charging stations, and multiple areas for long haul travelers to sleep and shower, the airport’s facelift has taken it to the top of traveler’s lists. The airport even has bikes to rent, in case you need to stretch your legs after a long flight.

Singapore’s Changi International Airport– SING

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Photo courtesy of Singapore Changi Airport

Singapore’s Changi International Airport is an oasis for worn down travelers. The free movie theaters, Bloomberg business lounge, free wifi and entertainment zones with video games might entice you, but it’s the relaxing amenities that make this airport a standout. There are designated quiet zones that are free from airport announcements, nap pods to catch up on your beauty rest, a rooftop pool and even a butterfly garden for some added peace and serenity during your layover.

Trying to make it through a layover that is longer than five hours and need to get away from the airport? Try a free 2-hour city tour and experience a little of what the city has to offer beyond your boarding gate.

Hong Kong International Airport – HKG

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Photo courtesy of Golfinhongkong.com

This airport offers amenities not even seen at some hotels. The Hong Kong International Airport is home to the world’s first airport IMAX movie theater, a nine hole golf course and comfortable travel lounges with showers. If you get famished waiting for your next flight, you can always sample the fare at one of the Michelin starred restaurant offshoots, located throughout the airport.

Seouls Incheon Airport – ICN

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Photo courtesy of Travelnation.co.uk

If you think nine hole golf courses are as good as it gets, all you need to do is take a short flight from Hong Kong to your next luxe layover in Seoul. Seoul Incheon Airport boasts an 18 hole golf course, two movie theaters, an ice skating rink, a Korean cultural center, and seven gardens where stressed travelers can decompress. Need a little more relaxation? This airport also has amenities where you can get a massage and areas where weary travelers can shower for free.

While the destination may be the focus of your travel excitement, don’t overlook the possibilities for a little extra entertainment and enjoyment during your next layover. Whether you’re seeking some shut eye, ready for retail therapy, or looking to escape the hustle and bustle of your terminal, these airports have it all.


Know Before You Go: What American Travelers to Cuba Need to Know

Havana

Photo by TropicalHarmony.com

By: Lauren Durden

On December 17th, 2014 President Barack Obama took steps to normalize relations between Cuba and the United States. These changes included easing some of the travel restrictions that barred Americans from traveling to Cuba and ever since travel forums have been abuzz with conversations on visiting the island nation. Questions began to arise… What kind of trips are permitted by the U.S. government? What kind of paperwork do you need before, during and after your trip? How do you actually get to the island? Can I bring back a box of Cuban cigars?

Here’s everything you need to know.

What kind of trips are permitted by the U.S. government?

There are now 12 categories of authorized travel between the United States and Cuba. Previously, before President Obama’s announcement, if you wanted to travel to Cuba you needed to submit a special application that was subjected to a case-by-case review.

The 12 categories of authorized travel include family visits, official trips on behalf of the U.S. government, journalistic travel, research-related travel, religious activities, athletes competing in sporting events, humanitarian work, and research or educationally related travel, among other authorized travel classifications. In most cases, tour companies employ educational reasonings for travel. These trips usually include travelers interacting with people and historic sites throughout Cuba. This is the easiest way for someone without family ties to the country to be granted access, as travel purely for tourist activities is still strictly prohibited. For more information, you can read the entirety of the travel restrictions and authorizations here.

What kind of paperwork do you need before, during and after your trip?

As with all international travel, you’ll need an up to date passport and shouldn’t expire for at least six months after your travel to Cuba. You’ll be required by the Cuban government to apply for a visa in order to enter the country. While you can obtain these yourself, your tour company will often sort out the visas after getting the needed paperwork and information from you and your travel companions.

How do you actually get to the island?

Currently, JetBlue is the only U.S. based airline company with direct flights to Cuba, departing out of Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and New York City. American Airlines announced earlier this month that the airline will begin offering flights to Havana, departing out of Los Angeles as of Dec. 12, and are looking to expand to other departure cities within 2016.

Can I bring back a box of Cuban cigars?

First things first, how are you going to buy those cigars? It’s good to keep in mind that American credit cards aren’t yet accepted throughout Cuba. That means you’ll have to get your hands on enough Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) to last throughout your entire trip. While there is a second legal form of currency available in Cuba, the Cuban Peso (CUP), it’s rarely used by tourists and has a different exchange rate.

Cuban currency is not available internationally, meaning you’ll have to bring your cash with you and exchange it once you arrive in Cuba. While you can covert U.S. dollars, there’s a 10 percent fee to exchange them. However the U.S. dollar is the only currency that gets hit with a fee, bringing euros or Canadian dollars to exchange is a simple way to avoid paying the penalty.

Now that you’ve got your cash in hand, you can finally buy some goods! There is no longer a per diem rate imposed on American travelers and you can now make as many purchases related to ordinary travel expenses as you’d like. New American regulations only allow visitors to return home with no more than $400 in merchandise, of which only $100 of your purchases may consist of alcohol or tobacco products for personal use.

One last tip to remember on your travels is that the infrastructure of Cuba is not the same as what you may be used to. A low number of ATM machines, infrequent Wi-Fi availability or working connection, and difficulty buying travel necessities are the norm. Be prepared with enough cash for your trip, a willingness to disconnect during your travels, a suitcase packed with all of your toiletries and essentials, and a roll-with-the-punches attitude and you’ll be sure to enjoy yourself and the vibrant nation of Cuba.


The Secrets of Amsterdam

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In the travel industry, or The Biz as we call it, attention usually goes to the most popular sites and sounds in town. Tourism, for all intents and purposes, has the unseemly power to make a place lose its touch, its charm, its identity.  You know how it goes: the top of the Empire State Building, Ice Skating at 30 Rock, Times Square with the naked cowboy guy, and a slice of Ray’s pizza…We know what you’re thinking, “I shoulda gone to Chicago.”  Well, not really, but it’s still a nice sentiment.  TWIP is trying to break that norm a little.

TWIP has planned a “Tulips and Tricycles” experience to Amsterdam.  Come and ride through the stunning flowering fields!

Biking in Amsterdam during the springtime amid the blooming Tulips is as symbolic of The Netherlands as Bill Murray is to Ghostbusters. Smooth streams of asphalt specific for bikes are always being laid and their use is encouraged. This isn’t the biking you see your local hipsters or neon spandex gang doing.  No.  Biking in Amsterdam is a way of life, a life of simple pleasure.

Tulips are significant in Dutch culture because they were cultivated in Turkey, back when Turkey was once the Ottoman Empire and imported to Holland during the sixteenth century. The famous Dutch botanist Carolus Clusius introduced tulips by sprouting them in his garden (probably for the many beautiful wooden-shoed ladies he was persuading).  People passing by had never seen this type of flora before, so they would steal them from his garden and plant them in their own yards.  Yada-yada-yada…now there are crazy awesome fields of tulips everywhere.

While most trips to Amsterdam and its neighbor cities are sought after for their leniency with the law on certain, cough-cough, issues, this is about more.

TWIP will provide transportation for you from your hotel room to begin a 4-day biking tour through Haarlem, Holland’s countryside situated about 12 miles outside of Amsterdam. You will drive through copious amounts of cobblestone streets lined with the Dutch’s boutiques, restaurants, art galleries and most importantly, tulips!

We’re inviting you to come get a taste of this place.  You should get to Amsterdam, if not with this trip then some other way.  But remember, maybe drop the guidebook bonanza and try to feel it for yourself.  Tulip fields or not, remember why you travel, why you’ll continue to travel and search for something more.  That’s what we’re here for.  Promise.  But for real you should totally ride a bike through tulip fields, just sayin’.


Bali: Is It Really Worth Visiting?

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Imagine looking at a globe and spinning it a few times. You close your eyes and point to the first spot your finger touches, Bali. The first thought that comes to mind is, “Is this place really worth visiting?” TWIP’s “Escape to Breathtaking Bali” trip will make your time in Bali worth your while.

TWIP will book you a room in the Anantara Simenyak Resort and Spa, one of the most elegant retreats in Bali, located on prime beachfront with views of the sunset from your balcony. Seminyak is known for its classy restaurants, high-end shopping, luxury villas and is one of the largest beach towns in Bali. TWIP only books the best for our travelers as Seminyak is where the most sophisticated travelers stay to forget about life’s obstacles. Services are provided in the Balinese “way of life” approach where it is believed that people should live a life of luxury and relaxation.

Activities planned by us, during your stay, involve an elephant safari ride through the Taro Forest, along with a talent show performed by the elephants that are showing you the glamour of Bali’s nature. If you would like to see and understand Balinese art, check out Ubud, the heart of Bali where the artistic culture is most prominent. Then, take a glass bottom boat to Turtle Island, snorkel in the clear blue water with sea animals, then dry off to interact with the primates of Monkey Forest. If you are really feeling up to it, you can watch the Kecak Fire Dance while having a group dinner. At the end of an eventful day, make time to meditate or take advantage of the variety of spa treatments the resort has to offer.

After coming home from TWIPPIN’ in Bali, you are guaranteed to miss the picturesque beachfront views, the massage treatments and the excursions. Trips are planned by our experts here to help make your experience in an exotic country an unforgettable and tranquil one. When you get the chance to spin the globe again, let TWIP pick where your next life changing adventure will be!

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