California Road Trip Trough Big Sur

Adele Fadier, France

Does the idea of a California road trip makes you dream? From Santa Barbara to Monterey you will discover all the best spots of the Pacific Coast, driving on Highway 1.

The California Coast is one of the most scenic coastal drives in the world. By this way you can discover all the California’s amazing natural life. Obviously, when you drive alongside the ocean you are going to see incredible places and views. That’s the upside of a road trip-you can stop everywhere you want. So, now I will show you the most famous spots of this Highway 1.

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After leaving Santa Barbara, your first official stop will be in San Simeon. In fact, this city located on California’s Central Coast offers drivers many reasons to stop and stay a while. San Simeon is home to 17,000 different animals, offering many opportunities to commune with wildlife and especially the elephant seals. Thousands of these sea mammals can be viewed sun bathing on a sandy beach or having a jolly good time in the water. The second famous place to visit in San Simeon is the Hearst Castle. It’s a National Historic Landmark which was a residence for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst between 1919 and 1947. Actually many people come to visit this castle because of its amazing Roman architecture.

Then, you can continue on the road until you reach Sand Dollar Beach, which is the largest unbroken stretch of sand in Big Sur and is considered to be one of the best surfing spots in Big Sur. Visitors said Sand Dollar Beach is a beautiful and relaxing spot to lay out or have a picnic. The beach is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and it costs $10 to park your car, but another thing that is important to know is that swimming at Sand Dollar Beach is considered dangerous – so be careful.

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22.1 miles later you will arrive to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. A main feature of the park is McWay Falls, which drops over a cliff of 80 feet (24 meters) into the Pacific Ocean. In the same area you will find the Henry Miller Memorial Library, a nonprofit arts center, bookstore, and performance venue, championing the late writer, artist, and Big Sur resident Henry Miller and other creative individuals living in or near Big Sur. But that’s not all, in this place you can also find the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and the Pfeiffer Beach. This state park is massive with several hiking trails, picnic grounds and watering holes where you can see picnickers swimming with joy. About the Pfeiffer Beach, I strongly recommend coming in just before sunrise so that you can have the beach all to yourself. Moreover, it’s an amazing place to take pictures of the sunset or sunrise thanks to the impressive rocks situated in front of the beach.

In the same area, there is Partington Cove which is a beautiful hike to take in Big Sur. As you make your way through a tunnel, you will start to see the beginning of one of the most beautiful coves you will ever see – the water is so clear you can see the kelp and what seems to be the ocean floor below.

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A few kilometers further you can find Point Sur Lighthouse. That’s the only complete light station open to the public in California and it offers you an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean.

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Then, you can continue your road until one of the most famous spot of the Big Sur, the Bixby Creek Bridge. It’s also one of the most photographed bridges in California due to its aesthetic design. It’s like a gate away to Big Sur.

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Now we arrive at the last area of this road trip, Monterey County, but don’t worry there are still many beautiful places to discover.

First, Garrapata State Park, an unknown Big Sur jewel – it’s a treasure to those who have discovered it. Garrapata State Park’s unpopulated hiking trails provide access to both the beautiful Big Sur coastline and the breathtaking Santa Lucia Mountains. So, you can’t miss it!

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After this, you can go to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. This place is outstanding for sightseeing, photography, painting, nature study, picnicking, scuba diving, and jogging. The offshore area forms one of the richest underwater habitats in the world popular with divers. Wildlife includes seals, sea lions, sea otters and migrating gray whales. In this reserve you ought to go to China Cove and Gibson Beach, two amazing places to enjoy the view and the wildlife.

Point Lobos State Reserve at Highway 1 in California

Then, we will arrive at the penultimate city of this road trip called Carmel-by-the-Sea. Carmel is known for its natural scenery and rich artistic history. Here you can visit all the pretty streets of the city and the famous Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo.

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Finally, we will arrive at Monterey, the last place of this road trip. This is one of the most beautiful coastal cities of California. It was originally the state capital of California but today it is best known for its beautiful coastline, its world-class aquarium and from the many John Steinbeck novels set there.

As a conclusion, Big Sur will offer you an amazing road trip to discover the California central coast trough the Highway 1. Do not hesitate to stop whenever you want to enjoy the view or the atmosphere of a place. Let appreciate the nature and the wildlife without human intervention. So enjoy it, but be respectful of all the places you will visit. Another important thing to know is that you have to work on your itinerary before you go. Sometimes, some parts of the Highway can be closed for any reasons, so it’s better to be informed in time.

You can find below a video of a road trip in Big Sur with some places to sleep and to eat.

Enjoy your trip!

What You Can Do When You Visit Amsterdam

Floortje Klein Schiphorst, the Netherlands

History
Amsterdam is the capital and most populous city of the Netherlands. Amsterdam has a population of 851,373 within the city. Amsterdam’s name comes from ‘Amstelredamme’,  of the city’s origin around a dam in the river Amstel.

Facts
– There are 17,620,000 visitors per year
– More then 100km canals
– Daily use public transport: 747,000
– There are 881,000 bikes
– 63% of the people who live in Amsterdam travel everyday with the bike

Things to do
There are a lot of things that you can do if you visit Amsterdam.

Canals of Amsterdam
There are 165 canals that combine for a length of over 100km (about 60 miles). There are 2,500 houseboats in the canals. You can book a boat tour through the canals. There are many different canal cruise companies. You can choose many different types of tours, like hop-on-hop-off sightseeing tours or night time cruises with food and wine.

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Shopping
Amsterdam is a excellent city for shopping. Most of the brands are on Kalverstraat and Leidsestraat. Kalverstraat is close to the ‘Dam of Amsterdam’, also a part that you need to visit. Another nice shopping area is ‘The Nine Streets’ (De Negen Straatjes). It called that because this area, located in the heart, has nine narrow streets. There are a lot of great restaurants, cafés, art galleries, jewelers, boutiques and vintage stores.

In heart of Amsterdam you have also a lot of typically Dutch souvenir shops.

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Parks
If you want to enjoy the sun, you can buy some food at the supermarket and go to a nice park. The most famous park in Amsterdam is ‘Vondelpark’. In the summer, there are also a lot of people from Amsterdam and it is close to the heart of the city.

Located in Amsterdam West is ‘Westerpark’. It’s is a nice place to walk, skate, relax or have a picnic with friends.

Also ‘Amstelpark’, located in the south, or ‘Rembrandtpark’, located in west, are both good parks to go to.

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Museums
There are several museums you can visit in Amsterdam.
– Amsterdam Rijksmuseum is one of the most popular museums. They have historic art by Vermeer, Frans Hals, and the most famous one of Rembrandt ‘ The Night Watch’.
– Stedelijk Museum is at the Museumplein. It presents the best of modern art in Amsterdam.
– Van Gogh Museum is one of the most popular museums in the world and presents all the work from Vincent van Gogh.
– The Anne Frank House is at the Prinsengracht 263 where she lived in hiding with her family for more than two years during World War Two.
– Hermitage Amsterdam is rotating their collection of art from the Hermitage in Russia.

In addition to these museums, there are a lot of other ones like, Het Scheepvaartmuseum, Nemo Science Museum, EYE film, etc.

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In the Night
If you want to go out at night you can go to Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein in the heart of the city. There are a lot of bars and clubs. In Amsterdam South you have also a lot of nice bars, in the neighborhood ‘de pijp’. If you want to know what kind of parties there are, you can go to: https://www.djguide.nl/events.p?city=amsterdam&language=en

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Other things
You can go to ‘Olympic Stadium Amsterdam’, which was built for the Olympic games in 1928. You can also go to the zoo in Amsterdam ‘Artis’. If you go in April, you need to go to King’s Day, on the 27th of April. We celebrate the birthday of the king and wearing all orange clothes, and there are parties everywhere on the street.

Nice places and restaurants 
There are a lot of nice places in Amsterdam that you can visit. We have a lot of festivals in the summer, but you can also relax on a terrace. The best spots in Amsterdam are Hannekes Boom, Waterkant, Cafe de Jaren, pllek, Café de Ceuvel, Tolhuistuin, Canibal Royal, Westergasterras, Foodhallen, Sumo Sushi, etc.

I AMSTERDAM City Card
A good website you can use for research: http://www.iamsterdam.com
There are a lot of good tips and they tell you where you need to go if you want to know more things that you can do in Amsterdam. They also sell a lot of tickets for places to visit. There is a special card you can buy when you are staying in Amsterdam. You can choose a card for 24, 48, 72 or 96 ours. It includes free entrance to over 50 museums and attractions, free unlimited public transport in Amsterdam with tram, metro or bus, free canal cruises, free giveaways and discounts and a lot more things. So you can check the website for more information and prices.

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The Tran-Siberian Experience

By Lisa Pistocco, Italy

Have you always dreamed of travelling through Russia to the border of Mongolia? Seeing the most beautiful landscapes of Siberia? Discovering the Russian culture by meeting locals?
Here’s my story.

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Walking on the Baikal Lake was incredible

After my second year of applied languages, I decided to spend my last year of college in Russia. I had the opportunity to travel a lot, and moreover, to experience the Tran-Siberian Railroad.
For the ones who don’t know, let me explain to you what it is. The Tran-Siberian Railroad is a railway in Russia, extending from Moscow to Vladivostok on the Pacific. This railway was constructed from 1891 to 1916, and is now one of the most famous railways in the world.

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Joanna and I waiting for our train in Ekaterinburg

I decided to experience it because, while I was there, I was so impressed by all that had happened in the country. I was impressed, but also curious. Curious about Russian people’s way to live, to be, and above all curious about this huge country.

Because yes; Russia is the world’s largest nation. It borders European and Asian countries as well as the Pacific and Artic Oceans. Russia has incredible landscapes ranges from tundra and forests to subtropical beaches. How could I not be curious? Most of you know Moscow and St. Petersburg, but in my opinion, Russia is not –or not only- Moscow and St. Petersburg. Russia is all the other things that nobody knows. Russia is humanity, culture, landscapes, and mutual aid for each other.

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Novossibirsk, Capital of Siberia

Joanna –my favourite German friend in the whole world- and I talked about taking this trip one day. “Do you want to do the Tran-Siberian?” she asked me. My answer? “Yes of course!!” and 3 weeks later we were good to go.

Of course, it wasn’t easy to plan, to collect all the information, to book the train tickets, but we had enough motivation to go through with it.

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First of all, we had to find which cities we wanted to visit, because the Tran-Siberian Railroad crosses all of Russia, and stopping in every city wasn’t possible as we had only one month to do it.
We decided where we wanted to go and our decision was to the border of Mongolia; Ulan-Ude.

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Ulan-Ude, capital city of the Republic of Buryatia

To make this trip possible, you need to be conscious of the hard weather in Russia during the time we were going to be there. Of course, if you do it during the summer time, you’ll not have that much of a problem, but we did it during the winter period, which not everybody is able to do.

Temperatures were most of the time below -4F°. The most important to think then is to buy enough warm clothes that allow you to keep you warm!

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It’s really cold in Siberia, but so much fun also

Once we bought our clothes, our train tickets, and booked all the hostels, we were good to go.
Oh, I forgot something really important to take: FOOD.

Because, of course, while you are on the train –for 14h, 21h, 37h, 73h- you need food. And in the train, it’s not really possible to eat. It depends on which train, you can have the possibility to find a restaurant wagon. If there isn’t, you need to buy some dry noodles, and food that you can eat without warming and putting in the refrigerator.

 

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34hours of train on our way to Irkutsk

 

It was one of the best experiences I ever had, I had the opportunity to meet amazing people and I made so many unforgettable memories. I can only recommend to you to take this trip, but also just to enjoy your life. Enjoy your life by meeting people, travelling, and be happy.

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15 Question Interview with an EF Student

  1. If you could drink only one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

– Water.

  1. What is your biggest goal in life?

– To be happy all my life.

  1. How old do you think our substitute teacher Kevin is?

– 28.

  1. What do you think you will be doing in 20 years?

– I think I will have a good job and my own family, and hopefully be married.

  1. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?

– I think, in Spain.

  1. Who is the most important person to you?

– My sister.

  1. What makes you happy?

– The sun, going out with friends, my family, and eating.

  1. What makes you sad?

– If I see other people being sad or unhappy.

  1. Who is your biggest inspiration?

– My grandmother.

  1. Do you have any big regrets in life?

– My ex-boyfriend.

  1. Why did you come to Santa Barbara?

– Because I wanted to learn English in a sunny place and I heard a lot of good things  about Santa Barbara.

  1. What do you talk about to avoid awkward silence?

– Always asking the other person questions.

  1. Where is the best place to spend a Saturday night?

– In a good club.

  1. What would be the first thing you bought if you won 10 million dollars?

– A car and a house.

  1. What is important in a best friend?

– That you can always go back to the same person, knowing that she would never abandon you.

Traveling

By, Ali Alghamdi, Saudi Arabia.

And, Ali Ahmad, Saudi Arabia

Traveling is one of our hobbies. We have traveled since we were young. We have many reasons to love traveling, such as changing our daily routine, learning about other countries culture, meeting new people from different countries, and visiting museums help us to learn the country’s history.

We have visited about 30 cities in 17 countries in the last five years.

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One of the most beautiful cities we visited was Auckland in New Zealand. The weather was perfect and the people were more friendly there. We loved this city because it was amazing.

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Also we would have so much fun in Milan, There was a big mall that has many brands, Italian foods and it was beautiful .

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We visited Selangor also in Malaysia and it was amazing city for tourists to relax. And if you need to marry you can go to there as a honeymoon.

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Eventually, traveling has positive and negative sides but we will keep traveling until the last day of our lives.