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How to Take Better Travel Photos

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I believe that traveling and photography go hand in hand. I invested in a pricey DSLR camera because I wanted to capture moments and remember the places I’ve been to in high-quality photographs. I didn’t want to miss a thing. But I quickly realized that good photography is not as simple as having an expensive camera, pointing it, and pressing a button. As many seasoned photographers say, ‘the best camera is the one you have with you’. Photography is an art form and it takes creativity and practice to produce that amazing picture.

Outside of taking photos, developing a photographer’s eye can even change your perspective and help you appreciate where you are even more.

This skill counts even more when you’re traveling. You can miss out by taking bland photos at an amazing location. Outside of taking photos, developing a photographer’s eye can even change your perspective and help you appreciate where you are even more. Looking at a great photo can take you back to the location and lets you remember the experience and what it felt like to be there.

Forget about tacky filters! Practicing these tips, you will start to see a difference in the quality of your travel photos!

*With the exception of the cover photo, all photos in this post were taken by me! ☺️📸


Utilize the Rule of Thirds

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The rule of thirds is probably the very first thing you will hear when learning about composition in photography. Imagine lines breaking down your screen into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, forming a grid. The idea is to line up the most important part of your photo where the lines intersect instead of directly in the center.

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Having the focal point off-center produces a more interesting photograph that has a balance between the subject and negative space.

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Utilizing the lines themselves also help to frame your images. For example, aligning the horizon or shoreline of your photograph with the imaginary grid lines creates a better photograph.

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Horizon line aligned with the rule of thirds.

However, this is not a hard-line rule of course and can be broken especially if you want to creatively experiment. An exception to this rule is when you want to point out the symmetry of the scene. Framing the scene directly in the center does this job well.

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Center symmetry.

Mix Up Your Shooting Angles

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If your camera has a tilt screen, use it!

Changing the height of your shots can greatly affect the look and feel of the photos you take. Not only does it make the photo much more interesting than just shooting straight on, it changes the perspective of how you see the subject or view. A lot of cameras being produced now have swivel or tilt screens making it super easy to take shots way above your head or down below.

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Camera low shooting up.
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Get low to the puppers’ eye level.

Shooting down low can bring about a smaller, child-like, perspective and accentuate the grandness of your subjects like buildings or mountains. Raising your camera above your head and looking down at your subject creates a wider, bird’s eye perspective of the scene.

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Looking down at a wedding photoshoot.

Make Use of Leading Lines

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Composing your shots with leading lines in mind help in leading the viewer’s attention to a particular part of the image. It also creates a sense of depth and gives dimension to your photos, connecting the foreground with the background.

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Eyes are drawn towards the bridge.

Leading lines can take many forms. The easiest are roads or long pathways. Typically, leading lines start outside the composition leading in. However, it doesn’t have to be straight lines. It can be curved like a beach shoreline or a river. It just has to lead your eyes from one part of the image to another.

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Eyes are drawn towards the end of corridor.

Include a Candid Person

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Having someone candid in the shot adds a genuine personal reaction or emotion that tells a unique story about that time and place.

When we are at a scenic location, we typically would take a photo of what we are seeing without people. Including a person or two in your travel photos can create a more interesting photo, especially if the people are locals in their natural element.

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A stoic businessman waiting patiently for his ice cream.

Even better if it is taken candidly. Nothing wrong with smiling and posing, it’s just that it becomes a typical and cheesy photo. Having someone candid in the shot adds a genuine personal reaction or emotion. This is how someone would naturally look like when exploring and experiencing this location. Capturing someone’s reaction can also create a photo that tells a unique story about that time and place. Finally, a person in the photograph can act as a focal point to emphasize the scale of the location or background.

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Shooting Through a Frame

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This is a neat little trick you could use to make your photos more interesting. Try to place your subject within a natural frame in the scene. Anything, really, can be used as a frame. Doorways, through windows, through foliage, or buildings – use your imagination to frame your subject. It can be used to tell a story of the location or your subject.

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Shooting through a “frame.”

Pictures of subjects taken through bars or a gate can portray a feeling of being enclosed or trapped. A couple framed through blurred out flowers in the foreground creates a candid romantic image.


Bonus: Learn the Mechanical Basics of Photography

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I captured this night view of San Francisco from the Twin Peaks by setting a long exposure time.

Take full creative control of your pictures!

Take time to learn the mechanical basics of photography. I categorized this as optional because I feel a lot of cameras these days, including top smartphones, take really good photos on auto. However, learning about apertures, shutter speed, iso, different types of lenses, etc. can greatly expand your creative capabilities. You know how to control what the final image will look like instead of relying on the automatic algorithm of the camera. You have full creative control.

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A wide open aperture is great for food pics!

It also helps with difficult to shoot situations like low light or action scenarios. Lowering the aperture, decreasing the shutter speed, or increasing the iso settings can help you take photos in low light. Increasing the shutter speed and iso is great for capturing fast moving action shots, like sports or active kids, without the motion blur.

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Fast moving action shot with increased shutter speed.

Practicing these tips, you will start to see a difference in the quality of your travel photos as well as develop a photographer’s eye that can change your perspective and help you appreciate the places that you visit even more!

Again, don’t forget to bookmark or follow Aventures and Things for albums360 photos and videostravel ideasproduct reviews, and advice on my latest travel and adventures!

*With the exception of the cover photo, all photos in this post were taken by me! ☺️📸

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Enjoy!

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Christmas in New York City: Top 5 Places To See and Do in NYC During the Holidays

NYC Christmas

Experiencing the holidays in New York City is magical and uniquely special. New York City does not hold back when it comes to celebrating the holidays – it puts on a show! If New York City wasn’t already buzzing with life and activities, Christmas time adds an extra layer of magic and fun that can soften even the hardened heart of any New Yorker. There is something about the energy of the concrete jungle combined with the spirit of the holidays that make the experience unique. There is Christmas everywhere you turn. The bustling metropolis is transformed into a festive winter wonderland adorned with glittering lights and holiday sounds in the way only New York City can.

There is a lot of different holiday events and places to check out all throughout the city during this time of year. But if you’re visiting and are here for a limited time, here are my top 5 iconic places to see and experience in New York City during the holidays.


Bryant Park Winter Village

Bryant Park Winter Village
Image Credit: TimeOut New York

Bryant Park is transformed into a festive holiday destination lined with artisan and specialty shops and food vendors, centered around a 17,000-square-foot ice skating rink. The Winter Village even has it’s own Christmas tree and tree lighting ceremony featuring a live performance by Olympic and World Champion skaters.

Admission to skate is free, so if you have your own skates you’re in luck! Skate rental is 20$. Enjoy hot cocoa in between skating laps and ice cleanings.

There are many events by Bryant Park Winter Village throughout the holiday season. Visit their website HERE for details and updated information including pricing and hours of operation.


Macy’s Herald Square

Macy’s Herald Square is the world’s largest department store… they own the entire city block!
Image Credit: nycgo/Julienne Schaer

Macy’s Herald Square is a New York City icon on its own and during the holidays, the entire store is transformed to celebrate the season. Before going inside, you can view Macy’s holiday windows featuring themed holiday displays. On the 8th floor, you’ll find Macy’s Santaland, and just like in the classic holiday movie “Miracle on 34th Street”, kids can meet Santa. However, in true New York City fashion, you have to make a reservation to visit Santa.

Macy’s Herald Square is the world’s largest department store, covering an entire city block. The Herald Square area surrounding Macy’s and 34th Street is lined with many popular retail stores making it a great spot to finish all of your holiday shopping.

Macy’s “Miracle at 34th Street” Santa …legit beard and everything!
Image Credit: AP


Dyker Heights

What to expect at Dyker Heights
Image Credit: Business Insider

This iconic residential neighborhood in Brooklyn is known for its extravagant holiday decorations. Describing it extravagant is putting it lightly. Each year, the community of homes in Dyker Heights get overly decked in Christmas decorations that can rival even the most elaborate decorations in the city!  Make sure you have good walking shoes and bundle up before trecking out. Grab yourself a cup of hot cocoa while walking around.

The best lights are on 11th Avenue to 13th Avenue and from 83rd to 86th Street.

There are guided tours available but you can certainly roam on your own.


Wollman Rink, Central Park, and 5th Ave Shopping

Image Credit: Flickr/Charley Lhasa

Wollman Rink in Central Park is another one of those iconic New York City locations that feel even more special because of the holiday season. Located southeast Central Park, it is a nice short stroll from the 5th Avenue and 59th Street entrance. It feels secluded, you are skating surrounded by the trees and the city’s towering skyscrapers. There is a snack bar offering hot chocolate and small bites, perfect while waiting for the Zamboni to clean the ice.

For more information, rates, and hours of operation check out their WEBSITE. It can get crowded at times. However, they now offer VIP reservations to skip lines.

After skating, walk down 5th Avenue and visit the many high-end stores, even if it just to window shop. Practically all the retail stores on 5th Avenue is dressed up for the holidays with dazzling decorations and holiday window displays.

From there you’ll end up at the last spot on this list…


Rockefeller Center and the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Image Credit: Flickr/Michael Vadon

Of course, you can’t forget to visit Rockefeller Center and take pictures in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree! The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is the beacon of the holidays in New York City. You can watch people ice skate at The Rink At Rockefeller Center overlooked by the golden sculpture of Prometheus. The entire plaza is dressed up in lights and decorations.

Don’t forget to watch the Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Light Show directly right on 5th Avenue as well as view their famous Christmas window displays. St. Patrick’s Cathedral is also in the immediate area and is worth a visit.

Image Credit: Flickr/Shinya Suzuki


BONUS: Rolf’s Bar

Image Credit: 6sqft/James and Karla Murray

It is always Christmas time at Rolf’s Bar all year around! Rolf’s Bar is German restaurant and bar known to have elaborate holiday decorations up the entire year! As in any highly Instagram-able spot, this place gets really packed, especially during the holidays. Wait times for table service could be a while. However, access to the bar is far easier here and your best bet to get inside and view the spot’s sophisticated decorations.


There you have it, my top 5 iconic places to see and experience in New York City during the holidays 🎄. If you are visiting during this season, you must put these in high priority. Visiting these places will surely put you into the spirit of the holiday season. No other city does the holidays like New York City!

Cover Image Credit: Flickr/Anthony Quintano

Again, don’t forget to bookmark or follow Aventures and Things for albums360 photos and videostravel ideasproduct reviews, and advice on my latest travel and adventures!

Enjoy!

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NYC Destinations: Untermyer Park and Gardens

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A visit to Untermyer Park and Gardens. Picturesque Victorian gardens with beautifully decorated fountains and slowly decaying pillars at this 43-acre historic park just minutes north of NYC. A dope spot not many New York city dwellers know about.

Untermyer Gardens is located in Yonkers NY, only around 30 minutes north of midtown Manhattan. The property was originally a part of a larger estate known as “Greystone” in 1864 and was later purchased by lawyer and civic leader, Samuel Untermyer and established in 1912. For the next 40 years, Untermyer transformed the gardens and greenhouses in the 150-acre estate into some of the most celebrated gardens in America. After his death in 1940, the park gradually fell into disrepair. The City of Yonkers eventually acquired the core 43 acres of the property while the rest were reclaimed by nature. Currently, the non-profit Untermyer Gardens Conservancy is dedicated to the restoration of Samuel Untermyer’s gardens and has ambitious plans to revitalize Untermyer’s once great gardens.

Alongside the park’s garden features and ancient structures, the park has dramatic views of the Hudson River and the Palisades.

Some of the memorable sections of the park is a rock and water feature called the “Temple of Love” and a “Vista” staircase that overlooks the Hudson River.

If you’re a New Yorker looking for a quick getaway from the concrete jungle or even a visitor looking to see more of New York’s historical beauty, definitely check out Untermyer Park and Gardens.

Here is the Conservancy’s website for more info: Untermyer Gardens Conservancy.

Make sure to bookmark or follow Aventures and Things for albums, 360 photos and videostravel ideas, product reviews, and advice on my latest travel and adventures!


The Vista
The Vista Overlook. Two columns framing the view of the Hudson River and the Palisades

The gatehouse marked with graffiti

The Temple of Love

View from the top of The Temple of Love


All the photos I took in full resolution can be found on my Flickr page here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeprox718/albums/72157662324331088

Again, don’t forget to bookmark or follow Aventures and Things for albums, 360 photos and videostravel ideas, product reviews, and advice on my latest travel and adventures!

Enjoy!

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My Travel Photo Journal of my visit to Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

Magic Garden

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is probably one of the most unique and popular attractions to see in Philadelphia. In 1994, mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar purchased the property and turned the entire building into a giant mosaic work of art. Almost everything in the property is mosaic and is made up of many random knick-knacks and parts. Ordinary and broken items have been put together to make up something interesting, thought-provoking, and beautiful. If you take a walk around South Street, you will notice other spaces that Zagar has adorned with his mosaic style. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is a symbol of creativity and uniqueness that South Street is known for. Currently, the venue is both a popular attraction and gallery space. The organization that maintains Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens also provide educational programming, performances, tours, and mosaic workshops, open to the public.

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is definitely a unique place you must check out when you are in Philadelphia.

Iteniary, tips, and details on visiting Philadelphia can be found on my guide: Top Things to See and Do in Philadelphia for First-Timers.

Make sure to bookmark or follow Aventures and Things for albums, 360 photos and videostravel ideas, product reviews, and advice on my latest travel and adventures!


We’re here! But first things first… Food at Reading Terminal Market and quick visit to the Love Sculpture
we enter Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
giant mosaic wall mural on the entire side of the building

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from ceiling to floor… every inch is covered

I believe these ladies are directly related to Isaiah Zagar
a small production was using the venue as a backdrop for their video
as random as it looks, there is an underlying theme throughout
just hangin’

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hall way to the bathroom
multiple Mickeys found

All the photos I took in full resolution can be found on my Flickr page here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeprox718/albums/72157686242185965

Again, don’t forget to bookmark or follow Aventures and Things for albums, 360 photos and videostravel ideas, product reviews, and advice on my latest travel and adventures!

Enjoy!

NYC Destinations: City Island, Bronx

City Island is the first destination of a series dedicated to highlighting locations, events, and hidden gems around New York City. NYC Destinations will feature fun and amazing places and happenings around NYC that only locals know.

City Island

City Island has been one of my go-to New York City summer day trip destinations for a long time now and I’m sure a lot of people who have been there feel the same way. I always had a sense of pride for knowing this destination – a “secret” spot tucked away in the east corner of the Bronx on the Long Island Sound. I guess it’s not much of a secret as the line of cars trying to get into the island were somewhat considerable over the weekend. Thankfully it wasn’t substantial enough to sway this impatient New Yorker.

After crossing the bridge into City Island you feel like you’ve been transported to a random fishing town in New England. Words like ‘quaint’ and ‘laid-back’ are commonly used to describe City Island, expressions not commonly said about New York City. Even though it’s only roughly 30 minutes away from the heart of Manhattan, City Island keeps its small town charm and easy-going atmosphere, a welcome vibe for those looking to get away from the city’s hustle-and-bustle without traveling too far.

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Counter-service at Johnny’s Reef Restaurant

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Pina colada… because why not

A trip to City Island, for me, typically means seafood. Numerous seafood restaurants line the main (and only) avenue of the island. There are many great options on where to eat, however, though I hate to admit it, I’ve only been going to one spot which is at the tip of the island – Johnny’s Reef Restaurant. What I like about this place is that you can take your food outdoors to the waterfront picnic tables on the patio. Don’t worry, trying the other restaurants on the island is on my to-do list.

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Calamari
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Soft-shell crab
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Oysters

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After eating, a quick visit to Lickety Split Ice Cream is in order. They serve ice cream, sorbet, gelato, coffee, and other beverages, and provide decent outdoor seating.

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Lickety Split Ice Cream

Take the time to stroll through City Island’s main road and check out the island’s numerous small businesses.

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Walking through City Island’s main avenue, lined with cute small shops and restaurants

City Island is the first destination of a series dedicated to highlighting locations, events, and hidden gems around New York City. Everyone knows New York City’s famous landmarks and tourist spots. NYC Destinations will feature fun and amazing places and happenings around NYC that only locals know.

Make sure to follow me here on Adventure and Things for the latest posts on NYC Destinations as well as travel tips, product reviews, and my travel photo journals!

Enjoy!

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My Travel Photo Journal from San Francisco

San Fran Pictures

These are my photo highlights from when I traveled to San Francisco in December 2015.

The places I visited on this trip are: Sutro Baths, Painted Ladies, Dragon’s Gate/Chinatown, Union Square Area, Downtown San Francisco, Ferry Building Marketplace, Hog Island Oyster Co, Brenda’s French Soul Food, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Marina District, Palace of Fine Arts, Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, Muir Woods, Twin Peaks Summit, Mission District, Taquerias El Farolito, and Balmy Alley Murals.

Iteniary, tips, and details about my trip to San Francisco can be found on my guide: Top Things to See and Do in San Francisco for First-Timers.

Make sure to follow me here on Adventure and Things as well as my Flickr page for latest albums and photo journals, as well as travel tips, product reviews, and must-do’s!


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As soon as we landed, we went straight to Sutro Baths Ruins

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epic view!

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Cave
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view from inside the cave

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walked over to Cliff House Restaurant

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dining with ocean views
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after Sutro Baths, we drove to Alamo Square Playground to view the famous Painted Ladies… cue the theme song!
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Mint Mojito Iced Coffee at Philz Coffee is highly recommended when in the West Coast
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Took the BART to get to Ferry Marketplace
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Ferry Building Marketplace

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Food and market hall at Ferry Building Marketplace
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Delicious dinner at Hog Island Oyster Co.
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Clam chowder at Hog Island Oyster Co.
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Clam chowder and oyster sampler
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Southern Bunch spread at Brenda’s French Soul Food
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San Francisco City Hall
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Took the cable car from Downtown to Fisherman’s Wharf
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View of Alcatraz Island in the distance
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Made a stop at Lombard Steet. Cars line up to drive through the steep winding road
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Fisherman’s Wharf
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Seafood restaurants at Fisherman’s Wharf
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old-timey penny arcade games and artifacts at Musée Mécanique
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seafood galore
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Lobsta’
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clam chowder bread bowl

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entrance to Pier 39
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merry-go-round and live show for kids at the pier
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The ROCK! Alcatraz Island
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don’t miss the sea lions at Pier 39!
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…don’t walk like I did. Get a ride to the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre instead

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serene space
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Palace of Fine Arts Theatre

Ghirardelli Square
the famous Irish Coffee at The Buena Vista
Señor Sisig food truck by Union Square
Charming city of Sausalito… right across the Golden Gate Bridge

Eat at Barrel House Tavern and sit at the second-floor terrace
Beautiful Sausalito City

Muir Woods National Park
giant redwood trees

an interesting tour guide

Nighttime view from Twin Peaks Summit
The Golden Gate Bridge in the distance
Dragon’s Gate, entrance to San Francisco’s Chinatown
Sign inside Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
Tried the famous “cruffin” (croissant/muffin combo) at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse.
the path to Battery Spencer where you can see the Golden Gate Bridge up close!
Battery Spencer
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge
Battery Spencer
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge
Eat at Taquería El Farolito – hole-in-a-wall Mexican restaurant in the Mission District
Mission District murals

left my heart in San Francisco


All the photos I took in full resolution can be found on my Flickr page here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeprox718/sets/72157684683077760

Again, don’t forget to bookmark or follow Aventures and Things for the latest albums, travel ideas, product reviews, and advice!

Enjoy!

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A First-Timer’s Guide to Airbnb

Airbnb

A friend asked me today since she knows I travel a lot if I ever used Airbnb and what was my experience with them. I told her it is an awesome service that allows me to save a ton of money on lodging and have had a great experience so far with the owners. I’m sure she’s not the only one who had questions so I was then inspired to write this quick guide.

Use my link here www.airbnb.com/c/geffh1 when you sign up to get 40$ in travel credit with Airbnb!!

So What is Airbnb Anyway?

Airbnb is an online community marketplace that allows people who want to rent out their space (a spare room, apartment, a bed, entire homes, a tree house, garage, a castle, whatever) to connect with people who need lodging.

There are some Airbnb listings that offer amenities and experiences that you can’t get from hotels.

You can really find some great lodging at awesome locations with prices sometimes much cheaper than hotels. In addition, there are some Airbnb listings that offer amenities and experiences that you can’t get from hotels.

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How Does it Work?

airbnb1The host (people who want to rent their space) makes a listing of their space for guests (people renting) to browse through on the Airbnb website. The hosts provide a description, amenities available, posts pictures, announce house rules if any, and sets the daily price and minimum length of stay. When guests make reservations, Airbnb handles the transactions and the company takes a small cut.

Once a reservation is established, it is up to the host and guest to contact each other and work out any details – such as time of arrival, parking, how to enter the property, check out time, special considerations, and any other questions. You can even ask advice on places to check out or dining recommendations from a local.

Trust is built up in the Airbnb community via reviews of hosts and guests established after each stay.

After your stay, the host will leave you a review on Airbnb which you can only see if you leave the host a review back. Trust is built up in the Airbnb community via reviews of hosts and guests established after each stay.

The Experience

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So far my experience as a guest has been very positive. The hosts of lodging I’ve fortunately been with were friendly, accommodating of our concerns, and very quick and easy to respond and communicate with.

Each host is different. Some hosts you don’t even get to meet in person for the entire stay. They might just give you a code to electronically open the door or a key lock box and that is it. Others you’ll meet only when you get there and leave. There are other hosts, especially those whose listings are for an extra room, you will be with the entire time you’re inside their property. Some hosts will even cook and share a meal with you! Pick the listing depending on your comfort level.

Some properties have extra amenities for you to enjoy. For example, I stayed at a place that had beach chairs and a boogie board free for us to use (we were right on the beach). Another place didn’t have cable but had free use of their Netflix account!

The “check-out” process also depends on the hosts. Some places ask you to just leave the key inside of the property and lock the door behind you. Others ask for you to drop off the key to them. They will definitely tell you about the process when you meet or in your communications.

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Tips and Things to Consider

Remember, this is not a hotel room!

Each host and property vary in terms of what rules and amenities they offer. Read the description on their listing carefully. More experienced hosts will have a very detailed description of what is available, special considerations, and house rules. I have once stayed at a place that limited the hot water I used, which wasn’t a big deal but something to consider. Also, renting an extra room may come with more stricter rules, such as a quiet time or restricting visitors. Remember that these are people’s homes and they are not on vacation!

Some places do not offer towels or typical bathroom amenities, like shampoo and soap. Remember that this is not a hotel room. Usually, what is available would be in the description, but if it’s not, ask and I’m sure they’ll be happy to answer. This will save you the trouble by bringing your own towels, etc. or planning to buy when you get there.

This also goes for WiFi!!

If you’re renting an extra room, consider if the host has any animals that you may be allergic to.

Parking space is something worth checking if you’re renting a car.

living room

Consider the location of your Airbnb in terms of neighborhood and distance to attractions. There are some really cheap listings on the site but they might be in sketchy, less desirable locations. If you’re okay with the risks at least you’ll be ready. Also, check how far the Airbnb is to the attractions you’ll be visiting. It may be cheap but if it takes an hour one way to get to places then it won’t be worth it. Do you your HW.

Finally, the cleaning fee for each Airbnb varies and can drive up the cost of the lodging. I noticed that some places are listed for super cheap on the phone app, like 50$ a night for an entire loft, but the cleaning fee is 60$ a night, which will be totaled right before booking. You can check this under the “Prices” section on the Airbnb website listing, however, the phone app is a tad more hidden. The “Additional prices” tab on the phone app will show you any additional fees set by the owners.

Conclusion

So there you have it, my first-timer’s guide to Airbnb! With these tips in mind, you too can take advantage of the many benefits staying at an Airbnb has to offer. It is definitely an awesome alternative to hotels and worth looking into when planning for adventures!

Use my link here www.airbnb.com/c/geffh1 when you sign up to get 40$ in travel credit with Airbnb!!

Enjoy!
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Top Things to See and Do in Philadelphia for First-Timers

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Philadelphia is an amazing city with lots of history and culture. Home of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were signed, along with many other historic sites, Philadelphia is teeming with U.S. history. The city has a wide range of attractions, from its many iconic museums to amazing food venues, or just walking around to view the streets lined with public art and giant wall murals, Philadelphia has something for everyone.

Living in New York City, Philadelphia is a short and easy trek so I’ve been there many times for quick day trips. What I really like is that Philadelphia is small enough that it is easy to get from one site to another, sometimes within walking distance.

This guide is meant for first-timers in Philadelphia but past visitors might find something interesting here that they’ve missed for future travels.

Must See & Do

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  • Reading Terminal Market
    • Bustling food and farmers market at the heart of the city
    • You can choose from a wide range of food from Asian to BBQ and even an Amish market
    • Home of DiNic’s Roast Pork and Beef, which has been featured on top of many food lists and shows
    • I also recommend The Grill at Smucker’s and having their pot roast sandwich with everything
    • Hours and more details can be found at their WEBSITE

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  • Rocky Steps, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Fairmount Water Works
    • The steps of The Philadelphia Museum of Art is the location of the famous running scene in the Academy winning movie Rocky.
    • Along with running up the Rocky Steps, you can pose with the statue of Rocky, located on the right side of the steps when facing the museum.
    • The Philadelphia Museum of Art houses a vast renowned collection of artwork and it’s the third-largest art museum in the country
    • Adults: $20. Youth (13–18): $14. Children (12 & under): Free
    • Admission and hours can be found at the museum WEBSITE

Pro Tip: Every Wednesday between 5:00 to 8:45 pm admission to the museum is “Pay What You Wish”

    • Friday of the month, the museum holds a feature live jazz or international music concerts and a cash bar in the Great Stair Hall starting at 5:00 pm
    • Free parking is available at The Oval in front of the museum. Additional paid parking is available behind the museum, but free after museum hours
    • If you have time, take a stroll through the scenic Fairmount Water Works located behind the museum

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  • Liberty Bell & Independence Hall
    • Located in Independence National Historical Park, The Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall are right across the street from each other
    • Entrance to The Liberty Bell Center is free but requires airport-like security
    • More information about The Liberty Bell Center can be found HERE
    • Entrance to Independence Hall is via timed ranger-led tours only
    • Independence Hall tickets are also free and require going through security
    • Limited tickets for Independence Hall tours are purchased same-day at the Independence Visitor Center or in advanced (with a 1.50$ fee) at their website HERE
    • More information about Independence Hall can be found on their WEBSITE

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  • Geno’s Steaks & Pat’s King of Steaks
    • Which Philly cheesesteak is better? …I’ll leave that up to you
    • A late night staple, these two sandwich shops sit across the street from each other and are known for their rivaling Philly cheesesteaks
    • Open 24 hours
    • Street parking might be difficult during peak hours

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  • Mütter Museum
    • A medical museum featuring a collection of anatomical specimens, abnormalities, and historical medical instruments
    • For those interested in oddities and medicine
    • A little creepy and not for everyone, but I found it very interesting
    • Admission, hours, and more info can be found HERE

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  • Dilworth Park, Philadelphia City Hall, & the Love Sculpture
    • Dilworth Park is a public space in Center City Philadelphia, along the west side of City Hall
    • Nice area to stroll through and people watch. Admire the architecture of City Hall
    • The café provides outdoor seating and hosts happy hour and other events
    • Features a public fountain and an ice skating rink and Christmas village during the winter holidays
    • Across the street is the Philadelphia Municipal Services Building that has the bigger than life board games pieces throughout Thomas Paine Plaza, also known as Board Game Art Park
    • Also across the street, on John F Kennedy Blvd and N15th St, is Love Park, where the iconic Love Sculpture and fountain is located.

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  • South Street
    • A vibrant area of fusion of culture, you’ll find diverse urban mix of restaurants, bars, galleries, coffee shops, stores, and performance spaces at South Street
    • Mainly between Front Street to 9th Street, but stretches past the Magic Gardens to Brad Street.

Pro Tip: Also plan to visit Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens when walking through South Street

    • The area hosts summer block parties, BBQs, and other events throughout the year
    • More information can be found at the community’s WEBSITE

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  • Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
    • Mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar transformed this property to be his largest work of mosaicked spaces and public murals
    • It has become a unique Philadelphia destination that includes an immersive outdoor art installation and indoor galleries

Pro Tip: Try to visit during weekdays when crowds are less and give you more viewing room as a lot of the space is narrow and can easily get overcrowded

    • Tickets for admission can be purchased on-site but they advise people to purchase reserved time slots online… it’s also a good idea to find out if the venue is closed for special events
    • More information and operating hours can be found on their WEBSITE

Map

 

Enjoy!
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