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Top 10 Foods in Peru You Have To Try

By Claire Sturzaker 

Peru is renowned for its cuisine, and rightly so. Immigrants from Europe, Asia and Africa all came to Peru with their own style of cooking, and fused it with traditional flavours to create some of the most exciting and delicious food in the world.  Peruvian cuisine showcases the very best of ‘fusion’, and from street food to Michelin starred restaurants there is a huge range of dishes in Peru to choose from.

Traditional Peruvian cuisine is based on potatoes, corn, quinoa and legumes; and the spicy yellow ají and rocoto peppers add heat and colour to many dishes.  Restaurants will often offer a daily ‘menu del día’, a cheap 3 course meal including a soup, main course and a dessert or juice.

Peruvian food

Prices can vary from 7 soles (approximately 2.50 CAD or 2.00 USD) & up to 25 or 30 soles (9.50 – 11.50 CAD or 7.50 – 9.00 USD) in more touristy areas, but the menu is always a great way to sample local dishes for rock-bottom prices.  In the evenings, the à la carte menu is more expensive but of course you get more choice!

Food can vary wildly according to the region of Peru where you are, and dishes you find in the North are very different to those found along the coast or in the Andes.  Wherever you visit in Peru you are sure to find delicious food, but here are my top 10 must-try dishes in Peru that you simply have to eat while you are here!

10 Must-Try Dishes in Peru

1. Ceviche

peruvian ceviche




This classic Peruvian dish is made of pieces of raw fish marinated in lime juice and chilli to ‘cook’ the fish. Ceviche is usually served with sliced raw onion, choclo (corn), a slice or two of sweet potato, and perhaps some lettuce for a bit of colour.  More popular (and fresher) around the coast, this delectable dish has just the right amount of spice to mix with the tart lime and fresh fish. Generally, ceviche is made with a white fish such as sea bass or sole, although you will also find mixed ceviche including cooked prawns, a ceviche of concha negra (black blood clams) in the North of Peru, or trout ceviche around Lake Titicaca where the lake provides an abundance of the freshwater fish.

2. Anticucho

Not for the faint hearted, this is street food at its best.  Marinated slices of beef heart, threaded onto skewers and barbecued over an open flame – a delicious, iron-rich snack for the meat lovers out there!  If you’re not sold on the beef heart, you can also find anticuchos of normal chicken or beef meat, although the beef heart is the most traditional.

3. Palta a la Reina

Peruvian Avocado Palta a la Reina

Avocado is king in Peru, or should I say queen?  There are many simple starters made with sliced or halved avocado, the creamy pale green flesh needing little to compliment it. Palta a la Reina, is ‘Avocado, Queen Style’ and usually includes one, or even two, avocados stuffed with a mixture of shredded chicken, carrot, potato, green beans and mayonnaise.  It makes great light lunch or starter for your main meal, and lots of healthy vitamins too!

4. Papa a la Huancaina

Of course the potato is the real king in Peru.  There are over 3000 types potato in Peru and this dish, originating from Huancayo in the central highlands of Peru, highlights the yellow potato as its main ingredient.  The potatoes are boiled whole, then sliced and served smothered in a creamy, spicy, cheesy ‘Huancaina’ sauce.  Accompanied by lettuce, boiled eggs and black olives, this is a great dish for veggies too.

5. Lomo Saltado

Lomo Saltado Peruvian food

This fabulous dish showcases the blend of traditional cuisine with the Chinese stir-fry style of cooking.  Slices of juicy steak are stir-fried with onions, tomatoes, cilantro and aji, and served with fries and rice on the side, or sometimes all mixed in together.  This dish truly has everything!

6. Aji de Gallina

A scrumptious dish made from shredded chicken in a creamy yellow sauce, served with rice, boiled potatoes, and black olives.  At first glance this is very similar to Papa a la Huancaina with chicken – but the secret is in the sauce.  The famous aji amarillo (yellow spicy peppers) give the sauce its unique flavour, together with mixed walnuts, milk and cheese.  A Peruvian classic and definitely one of the must-try dishes in Peru!

7. Arroz Chaufa (Chifa Style)

Arroz Chaufa Chifa peruvian rice dish

A whole style of cooking evolved from the mix of Chinese immigrants who came to Peru in the 19th century and starting serving up their traditional dishes.  Chifa comes from the Mandarin word meaning ‘to eat rice’, and the fusion came from the lack of availability of Chinese ingredients in Peru and the immigrants used what they could find in their dishes.  Chaufa is a stir fried rice which combines Chinese and Peruvian flavours, and can be made with beef, chicken, hot dog sausages or a mix of all three.

8. Causa Rellena

Another classic Peruvian food where the potato reigns supreme.  In this traditional dish, mashed yellow potato is layered with tuna or chicken, avocado, sometimes other vegetables, and plenty of mayonnaise.  Served as a starter or a snack, the key is in its pretty presentation and combination of layers.

9. Cuy

cuy Peruvian Guinea Pig

You can’t have a list of must-try Peruvian dishes and not include our furry friend the guinea pig. Viewed by many of us in Europe and North America as a cute family pet, here in Peru guinea pigs are a sustainable, easily reared, and tasty source of meat. Andean families keep cuy in their homes to add warmth in the winter, entertain the kids, and even diagnose illnesses, but they simply love to eat them!  Usually roasted on a spit and served whole (including the head, teeth and feet) this dish may be a step too far for the squeamish, although you can ask for it to be served without the head.  With a flavour somewhere between chicken and rabbit, the meat is surprisingly tasty if cooked well, so be sure to seek out a restaurant with a good reputation to get the best guinea pig!

10. Rocoto Relleno

Rocoto Relleno Peru food

Peruvians are definitely fans of stuffing things.  Palta (avocado), papa (potato) and rocoto (a kind of spicy bell pepper) are often served stuffed with various delicious fillings.  My favourite of these is the rocoto relleno.  Traditionally from Arequipa, though also common in Cusco and the rest of Southern Peru, these spicy peppers are served stuffed with a tasty minced meat mixture, and usually deep fried in batter.  Served with rice, potatoes, or perhaps a bit of salad, this is comfort food at its best!

Watch out for Inca Kola!

Not technically a food, so I haven’t included this in the Top 10 list, however Inka Cola is a Peruvian national institution.  More popular in Peru than Coca Cola, the American giant bought shares in Inka Cola, as they were worried about the competition!  This freakishly yellow, ridiculously sweet fizzy drink is sure to rot your teeth if you drink too much, but to Peruvians it is sweet, sweet nectar and they drink it like water.  If the yellow colour doesn’t put you off, prepare for a taste like bubble gum or cream soda.  Be sure to give it a try to get a ‘real’ taste of Peru!

 


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Creator & writer of Tales of a Backpacker. Claire Sturzaker is currently backpacking South America sharing her adventures, tips, tricks and thoughts about life on the road. You can also find her on Twitter & Instagram!

 

 


 

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Famous PEOPLE Players Theatre – Where to go in Toronto to Find Happiness

Happiness. At times elusive, at times all-encompassing. It’s what we all chase and yet it’s what many of us can’t seem to find. In Toronto however, there is one place where happiness isn’t just found… it’s the norm.

Famous People Players Front Entrance

Finding a Treasure – One of the Most Unique Things To Do in Toronto

We didn’t know what to expect when we pulled into the commercial lot in an area outside downtown Toronto. The nondescript multi-unit building is not what typically comes to mind when the term “dinner-theatre” is used but we threw aside our first impressions and parked the car. What we didn’t know in those moments from the time we turned into the lot until we opened the front doors, was that hidden within the unprepossessing exterior, was a pearl of a treasure.

As we stepped through the doors and took our place in line to enter the dining area, we were greeted with a friendly ‘hello’ and directions to the washrooms, should we need. Already we were smiling in reaction to the warmth of the greeting. Those smiles seemed to reappear frequently throughout the entire evening. As the line continued to move, we took a look around the entrance. What we saw spoke of an amazing history and a profound impact on the community.

From the ceiling hung large stars adorned with the photos and names of former and current employees, and a description of all that Famous PEOPLE Players Theatre meant to them, in their own words. Along the wall, photos of performers and performances throughout the years were displayed along with pictures of famous personalities who have attended one of their shows around the world at one time or another.

It was, in fact, Liberace who discovered this spectacular show, bringing it to Vegas as his opening act for years where it captured the hearts of stars and audiences alike. Touring the world, collecting experiences and fans, the show settled back in Toronto and delivers the same kind of sensational performances for which it was first recognized.

What we hadn’t fully realized was the profound impact it has, and has had, on the performers and staff as well as the community as a whole. That is, until we were seated for dinner and had the privilege of talking to the staff themselves.

Famous People Players Dining Room

It’s More Than Dinner & A Show… It’s Where Special Happens

The slogan of Famous PEOPLE Players Theatre, “Where Special Happens”, hints at something deeper than just a spectacular show of dazzling talent and entertaining puppetry. It breaks down, into three words, what is at the very core of the company, its history and its purpose.

Diane Dupuy, the founder of Famous PEOPLE Players, began working with individuals with learning disabilities over 40 years ago when she started the theatre. She herself had struggled in school failing to find an outlet for her creativity and suffering from difficulties with attention that, at that time, were not regularly identified or aided in the school system. Identifying a need to remove limits and offer hope she developed a much sought after production that impressed audiences and saw them heading to Broadway, Las Vegas, and many countries around the world. At the same time, she provided a creative outlet and a unique form of expression for herself and those involved.

The staff and performers are still largely comprised of people with learning disabilities who have found a home with Famous PEOPLE Players and whose stories are a testament to the amazing impact and work of Diane as well as an inspiration to all who hear them.

Diane Dupuy Famous People Players Theatre Toronto

While we ate our dinner, we were fortunate to have been able to start up conversations with many of the waiters and staff who were busily working around us. Each one had a unique story. Each one changed because of Famous PEOPLE Players. Each one brightening as they spoke, eyes shining with happiness.

There was Nastasha, the girl who refreshed our water. In fact, we don’t remember when our water was ever empty over the entire course of our meal and each time our glasses were refilled, a smile was on her face. We were told when she first came to the theatre she was so shy she didn’t want to let go of her mother, her chin tightly hugging her chest in an attempt to avoid eye contact. It didn’t take long before she found her place and became the talkative, smiling girl we met.

Then there was Michael, one of the kitchen staff, who we spoke to as he passed. He’d worked at other places, he said, but none of them understood him or what he needed, When we asked him what it was that he needed he said simply, “patience”. That is what he has found at Famous PEOPLE Players and he said that he is now happy every day he comes to work.

Perhaps one of the most memorable of the staff was Benny. With Famous PEOPLE Players almost from the start, he leaves an impression on all who have the chance to meet him. It was his story that really stuck with us. Joining the theatre at age 16, Benny still had yet to speak. Not one single word. Though he was uncommunicative verbally he was still able to participate as a performer. Unfortunately, he struggled on stage, missing cues during practice and twice during performances. Diane reminded him that three mistakes on stage meant he would be reassigned to a job off-stage. After making that third mistake, knowing that he would be removed from the show and his mother would be present for a performance that day, Benny looked at Diane and spoke his first words…ever: “I have to perform because my mother will be watching!”

Stories like these abound and showed us that the experience was more than just a dinner and a show… it really is where special happens.

famous people players toronto black light show

A Truly Entertaining Black Light Show

It is true that the history and purpose of Famous PEOPLE Players is extraordinary. It made us especially happy to be present for the evening. But beyond its inspirational story is an internationally-renowned, simply entertaining performance using puppets and black lighting, music and humour. The magic produced on stage is often spell-binding. Performers are not seen but instead, illuminated objects are brought to life by the cast dressed from head-to-toe in black. Then there are the puppets. Some of the show includes songs performed by, often life-sized, puppet-versions of the original artists. The movements so life-like that you often forget you’re watching an imitation of the real thing.

As the puppets and bright shapes and objects floated and danced across the stage, our smile that had carried on from the beginning of the evening grew wider, our laughter a common occurrence. At the end of the show, when they turned up the lights and provided the audience with a behind the scenes glimpse as to how the puppets are brought to life by the cast, our appreciation for the talent and hard work only grew. It is a show unlike anything we’ve seen before.

famous people players dinner

Where To Go In Toronto For An Unexpected Fine Dining Experience

The evening started with a meal in the dining room before we were lead to the theatre to watch the performance. It was during this meal that we were able to speak to so many of the staff whose stories touched us deeply. It was also here that we enjoyed one of the best fine dining meals we’ve had in Toronto.

Our culinary experience started with a fresh salad and some entertainment by a phenomenal jazz quartet. While they are not present every evening, we were lucky to have them there to enhance our dining experience. When the main came out we were pleasantly surprised. Though we knew celebrity Chef Christopher Woods created the menu, we weren’t expecting the exceedingly high level of fine dining fare. Between us we had a perfectly cooked steak and a deliciously seasoned salmon, served on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes with a side of veggies.

dessert at famous people players theatre

With happily sated appetites, and equally full hearts after speaking to so many happy staff, we moved onto the theatre before returning for dessert. The dessert was a special treat by Chef Dufflet and for those who are familiar with Toronto’s food scene, the name Dufflet Pastries will ring a salivating bell. We were treated to a mini cake each for dessert – one black and white mousse mini and one lemon raspberry mascarpone mini – and without leaving a single crumb, we finished both while being serenaded by an Elvis impersonator.

Though the mealtime entertainments change, we can’t imagine the quality of the culinary experience doing so as well!

A Night In Toronto That Leaves You… Happy

From the minute we walked into Famous PEOPLE Players theatre in Toronto, when we were greeted by that first smile and the rotating stars hanging overhead, to the exquisite meal we enjoyed over conversation about the incredible impact the theatre has had on its members. From the one-of-a-kind performance of lights and music, to the 5 star dessert we gobbled up. The night started with a smile that held throughout and it ended with us realizing that, for several hours, in a theatre just outside of Toronto, we felt simply and purely, happy.

 

Heading to, or in, the Toronto area? Find out more information about Famous PEOPLE Players, their showtimes and their not-for-profit work by visiting FamousPeoplePlayers.com or calling 416-532-1137 / 1-888-453-3385.

 

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More Beautiful Sunset Destinations Revealed

We’ve already shared some of the best destinations in the world to see the most beautiful sunsets and some incredible places to see sunrises. Fellow travellers have shared places like Mongolia, Easter Island, El Salvador and Turkey. We ourselves had mentioned the spectacular sunset we witnessed while driving down the Keys in Florida, USA. But throughout our travels, we’ve been fortunate to behold many moving sunsets.

sunset on elephant mountain taipei

One of our other memorable sunsets was in Taipei, Taiwan. We were told about a viewpoint where locals go to watch the sunset and get one of the best views of the city. What we weren’t told was that we would be hiking up a mountain, Elephant Mountain, in order to get there. Approximately 20 minutes of steep stair climbing and we reached the lookout. Though it wasn’t a horrible climb it was still tiring and completely worth it. an almost panoramic view of the city greeted us and as the sun started to dip, more and more people made the climb to join us. The brilliant reds and oranges that the sky was soon painted with, and the fireball of light that moved slowly toward the horizon offered an incredible show with the ever-darkening contrast of the cityscape. It was a beautiful memory of one of our favourite cities.

While we were able to provide some incredible spots, the world is a large place, and who doesn’t want to see as many gorgeous sunsets in a lifetime as possible? With that in mind, here are more suggestions on where to find the most beautiful sunsets in the world!

Beautiful Sunset Destinations Around The World

Caye Caulker, Belize

By Randi & Michael of Just a Pack

beautiful belize sunset

For more great photos, check out Just A Pack on Instagram

The motto on Caye Caulker, a small island off the northern coast of Belize, is “Go Slow”. We spent two lazy weeks on this island paradise where the only transportation options are golf carts, pedal bikes, or your own two feet. Visitors and locals alike spend their days soaking in the sun, swimming, and sipping rum cocktails and Belkins at the most popular spot on the island called The Split, a waterway that divides the island in two parts.
The end of each day at The Split is bittersweet. The buzz and activities wind down as the sun sinks into the sea. Gloriously intense rays burst forth and transform the bright blue sky into hues of purple, indigo, red, pink, and orange.

Every day’s sunset is different and so special that they made it into our Top Ten Things to Do in Caye Caulker, Belize

St Georges Basin on the New South Wales South Coast of Australia

By Jen of The Trusted Traveller

St Georges Basin sunset

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Mick and I spent a long weekend in winter of 2014 exploring Jervis Bay and the St George’s Basin area on the New South Wales South Coast of Australia. It’s about a three hour drive south of Sydney and easily achievable for a long weekend.

One afternoon while out looking for kangaroos that come out at dusk to graze, we stumbled across this vacant block of land on Naval Parade in the tiny town of Erowal Bay. The sun was close to setting so we hopped out of the car and wandered down to the water’s edge. Perfectly placed on the edge of the water were two old logs carved out into seats.

We sat and took in one of the most beautiful views of the Basin we’d seen so far. We watched the sunset for around an hour enjoying the company of a pelican and his smaller bird friend sitting on the end of the wharf. It was the perfect end to the day and by far one of the highlights of our weekend.

Zadar, Croatia

By SJ & Mate of Chase The Donkey

Beautiful sunsets croatia

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It’s well known that Croatia is the home of the world’s best sunset. Well, that is at least according to Alfred Hitchcock, who in 1964 was staying in room 204 of the now closed Hotel Zagreb along the Riva in Zadar and claimed:

“The sunset of Zadar is the world’s most beautiful and incomparably better than in Key West, Florida.”

I have to say I completely agree with Alfred. Why I here you ask? Zadar is a beautiful, historic town on the north Dalmatian Coast. Just off the coast of Zadar are numerous islands which make up the Zadar archipelago which all play a part in producing the spectacular Zadar sunset. Every evening of the summer months, people flock to the Riva to bask in the orange glow as the sun descends into the horizon. The best place to watch the sunset is on the western end of the Zadar Riva at the Sea Organ. The Sea Organ is a unique installation which allows the movement of the sea to push air through 35 underwater pipes, popping up along the promenade, known as the Riva. The sound that the Sea Organ produces in enchanting and perfect for watching a sunset. Take a seat at the sea organ and watch as the sun dips below the islands and sea while listening to nature play the sea organ or if you prefer a more personal experience visit one of the villages around Zadar and find your own vantage point like us.

Deep Cove, Vancouver Island

By Shannon of Sole Seeking

Beautiful sunsets Vancouver Island

For more great photos, check out Sole Seeking on Pinterest

There is a place in Deep Cove on southern Vancouver Island that provides a perfect spot for watching sunsets over the North Pacific Ocean.

I decided to cycle there and found myself in a race against the clock to arrive in time for the sun’s final showing. My thighs burned as I panted and pedalled frantically up a steep hill until I reached a modest patch of grass and bushes nestled above the water’s edge. From the comfort of a bench I watched the sun slowly sink into a melting pot of gold.

After the sun had streamed into the ocean, colours on the sky’s canvas morphed from soft caramel to pastel pink to a purple haze, oozing a soothing sense of peaceful warmth.

This place is special because it is off the tourist trail. I’ve watched sunsets in canyons of the United States and from hills over European cities, but all contained an element of commercial hype whereas this place is a humble haven where one can simply bask in serenity free from distraction.

In the media there is a lot of emphasis on having extras to make a `perfect’ sunset, such as a glass of wine or some romantic music. This place is minimalistic in its accompanying features and just lets the view do the talking. It’s a place to come to in solitude in order to find inner peace, a place to share a secret with a best friend, and a place to whisper three magic words to a loved one.

Negombo, Sri Lanka

By Irina of Are You Happy Travel

Beautiful african sunsets

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One of the best sunsets seen in our travels was definitely in Negombo, Sri Lanka. Negombo is a hub for tourist coming to Sri Lanka when arriving or leaving for the airport due to its proximity to the International Airport in Colombo (closer than Colombo itself) as well as due to the liberal place with luxury hotels and wide beaches with plenty of private pools for the ones that want to experience more of the resort life. You will find plenty of restaurants and pubs in Negombo, very touristic and Western look alike. More expensive than the rest of Sri Lanka ocean side and not that authentic but still if offers a nice escape from the stiff and crowded Colombo when you are arriving or leaving Sri Lanka and it’s perfect for one – two days stay and for experiencing unforgettable sunsets.

Mauna Kea on the Big Island in Hawaii

By Carole of Travels with Carole

Beautiful sunsets in Hawaii

For more great photos, check out Travels with Carole on Instagram

For spectacular sunsets, it’s hard to beat the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island in Hawaii.  At the 13,600-foot summit, 13 of the world’s largest telescopes from 11 different countries line up to take advantage of atmospheric clarity that is better than anywhere else on earth.  From here, you can watch the sun set above the clouds.  After, most people descend to the 9,200-foot level, where the visitor center is located, and stay on to view the night sky filled with 90 per cent of all the stars visible from earth.

Steps Beach, Nantucket, MA.

By Alison of Green with Renvy

Nantucket sunset beautiful sunset destinations

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Thirty miles out to sea, off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts sits the island of Nantucket. Although only 14 miles long and 3.5 miles wide there are over 82 miles of beautiful coastline. The beaches are as varied as the sunsets you can see, each unique in its own way. Steps Beach is on the north shore and protected by Nantucket Sound. Because there are few waves, the sunsets are peaceful and serene.  When the skies start to fade a glorious shade of pink, it’s time to grab a cocktail and rush to the nearest stretch of sand. I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite on island locale, but the great thing about sunsets on Nantucket is they never disappoint!

Petersbourg, Italy

By Nikoleta of The Bonfire Dream

Beautiful sunset destinations Italy

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Sunset in Petersbourg, the Venice of the North is so special because it is just like cut out from a romantic movie. Enjoying the glass of wine and watching the sun go down is something that will make your heart beat faster in excitement. The music plays, the laughter is loud and the view is stunning. Or you could choose to walk through the countless bridges, hand in hand with your loved one. Single? There is option for you to enjoy the sunset as well. Go and explore this beautiful city from the rooftops, just sitting there and having the whole city on your hand. Sounds good? So what are you waiting for??

Gili Trawangan Island

By Crystal of Castaway With Crystal 

Gili Island sunset through water

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Oh, you want a good sunset? How does sitting on the edge of a pool that’s on the edge of a beach with a cocktail sound? Gili Trawangan Island is an extremely attractive getaway for everyone. With islands big enough to have your own space but small enough to circumnavigate in a few hours they are the perfect place to see the sunset and the sunrise! You can dive, snorkel, hire bikes, party or chill. It’s an addictive Isla catering to both backpackers and resort-goers. This photo was taken poolside at Ombak Sunset Resort during happy hour (half-price sunset cocktails? Yes please!). That day we’d hired bikes and slowly made our way around the island, stopping to have massages and mushroom shakes along the way. Ombak Resort is on the quieter, West-facing side of the island and accessible by either pushbike or horse taxi. To get to the Gili Islands you can catch a ferry from either Bali or Lombok. Enjoy!

Boracay, Philippines

By Samantha of Travelling King

Beautiful sunset in Boracay Philippines

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Boracay is a small island in the Philippines located approximately 315 km south of Manila in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. Boracay is becoming more and more popular with tourists but it hasn’t ruined the island. Sunsets in Boracay are unique and different everyday, so grab a cocktail and a spot on the beach and enjoy this everyday miracle.

Potato Head Beach Club, Bali

By Courtney of Jetset Brunette

Stunning Sunsets in Bali

For more great photos, check out Jetset Brunette on Instagram

There are so many places to see an amazing sunset around the world, but one of my favourites so far has been Potato Head Beach Club in Seminyak, Bali. Get there late afternoon and enjoy cocktails and a swim in the gorgeous infinite pool. The sunset is vivid and sits against a pretty amazing tropical backdrop. Once it sets, it’s the perfect opportunity to stroll down the beach to choose a nice restaurant to enjoy a relaxing dinner. It can really be a magical end to your day.

 

Between the last collection and these destinations, we’ve provided an extensive list of the world’s most beautiful sunset destinations. The one thing we’ve noticed while travelling, is that there is an inexhaustible amount of places to go to watch an incredible show of light and colour at the end of the day. While trying to see every amazing sunset spot in the world may prove trying, these lists will get you off to a good start!

 

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beautiful sunset destinations from around the world

 

 

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Romance & Wine: Riverbend Inn in Niagara-On-The-Lake

From our first visit to Niagara-on-the-Lake, in Ontario, Canada, we understood why people claim this region as one of the best for a romantic getaway. The area offers incredible scenery of seemingly endless stretches of vineyards and natural beauty with wineries offering tours, views and festivals and hotels with luxury, character and history. Add to that a close proximity to the many attractions of Niagara Falls and you’ve got a pretty fantastic destination overall.

The Niagara Region wine festivals are a huge draw for us and we often find ourselves heading that way when we can. We love what the festivals mean: a series of wineries providing wine tastings, and often food and wine pairings, on given dates with passes that allow you to hop from winery to winery (with a designated driver of course) tasting the very best the area has to offer. It’s an amazing time, with some incredible flavours, and becomes a romantic outing for us each and every time as we explore the wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara on the whole.

Driveway to Riverbend Inn & Vineyard Romantic Getaway in Ontario

What we’ve had difficulty doing however, is pinpointing which of the many accommodations would be perfect to turn our outing to a romantic getaway. That is until we discovered Riverbend Inn & Vineyard, one of the best hotels in Niagara-on-the-Lake for just that purpose, and combined it with one of the wine festivals of the region.

Riverbend Inn: The Perfect Setting For Romance & Wine

Riverbend Inn & Vineyard Niagara-On-The-Lake

Though it was winter, there was no decrease in the beauty of the Niagara wine country. We drove through frozen countryside, sunlight sparkling off the snow and ice that clung to the branches reaching up from the vineyards on either side of us. Our final turn had us following one of the most scenic roads, the Niagara River Parkway, with views of the Niagara River and more beautiful landscape. When we reached the sign for the Riverbend Inn & Vineyard we were greeted with a view of a Georgian mansion surrounded by acres of lawn, garden and vineyards.

Riverbend Inn & Vineyard Niagara-on-The-Lake

This was definitely a place to enjoy a weekend together, with privacy for acres surrounding the property, stunning views over the vineyard and a stay in an intimate historic hotel. In fact, the history of Riverbend Inn & Vineyard can be traced back to 1809 and has changed from farmhouse and farmland to schoolhouse to art gallery and, eventually, to the 21 room Georgian-style inn that it is today. With so much history, charm and character, it is no wonder we felt so enchanted with the place.

We found the location perfect for making our way to the wineries that often participate in the festivals and is only a short drive from Niagara Falls, a romance destination of the world. Even in winter, with the falls frozen over and the coloured lights creating a rainbow over the solid white mass of previously free-flowing water, Niagara Falls remains an awe-inspiring sight. We passed by to take a look and headed to a nearby restaurant with window seating that faced the Falls to enjoy a candlelight dinner before returning to the hotel for the night.

Find out more information about Riverbend Inn & Vineyard and their prices!

The Property: A Unique & Scenic Experience

view from Riverbend Inn over the vineyard

Though we realized the property was special when we first arrived, it only became more interesting as we explored. The stunning views were found from all directions and the history of the hotel was reflected from the front lobby to the original front entrance of the mansion. Photos, artwork and pieces of furniture and decor paid homage to its origins, while new additions and friendly service added to its luxury.

Riverbend Inn is also home to a restaurant serving meals in the elegant dining room. There is an antique bar where some of the vineyards own wine is served and offers a patio to enjoy both food and drink during the warmer months. Regardless of when you go though, we’re pretty sure that view never gets old.

gazebo for weddings at the Riverbend Inn Niagara-On-The-Lake

We noticed the gazebo and were told that weddings take place outside and that it is one of the only hotels in the Niagara region that has views of the vineyards for an extra special ceremonial backdrop. Though that’s not quite the romantic escape we had in mind when we went, we could definitely see it as being a perfect venue for a wedding in the Niagara region and having a bridal suite doesn’t hurt either!

The Room: Comfort & Luxury In A Historic Setting

Room at RIverbend Inn NIagara-on-the-Lake

It wouldn’t be one of the historic hotels in Niagara-on-the-Lake if the rooms didn’t live up to the promise of the exterior. Twenty-one uniquely decorated rooms provide a cozy and comfortable experience with some added luxuries. We absolutely loved the fireplace, especially in the winter, and snuggled up to enjoy the warmth as it permeated the spacious room.

fireplace in the room at RIverbend Inn Niagara-on-the-lake

When we weren’t out hopping from winery to winery for the festival, we spent a large amount of time in the comfort of the room. The flat screen TV offered entertainment, the in-room refreshments kept us going and we found ourselves lulled into a relaxed state over the course of the weekend.

Added to that was the incredible view from the balcony that overlooked the vineyard. It was a pleasure to wake up every morning, slide open the curtains and have such a stunning view waiting… especially after a solid sleep on a bed that was so comfortable it was difficult to pull ourselves from in the mornings.

Planning a Romantic Getaway in Niagara-On-The-Lake

While a wine festival may not be everyone’s cup of tea, a food and wine festival can be an altogether different matter. Food and wine paired right is a spectacular culinary experience and if you aren’t one for wine or alcohol, buying a designated driver pass enables you to enjoy the amazing food created by some of Niagara regions top restaurants and chefs with water instead of wine. Moving from winery to winery allows you to enjoy the scenery of the area and should you crave something more substantial, many wineries have world class restaurants for a romantic meal together.

If a wine, or food and wine, festival is still not something that interests you, the region boasts so many views, restaurants, and activities and with a short drive to Niagara Falls, you can partake in some popular tourism before heading back to Niagara-on-the-Lake for peaceful nights.

Though where we call home is a short 45 minute drive from Niagara-on-the-Lake, for us staying in the region and making an overnight or weekend vacation out of the visit is something we enjoy. It’s one of our favourite destinations for a weekend trip and now that we know there is accommodation like Riverbend Inn that adds to the romance and experience while being located right in the heart of it all, we’ll be planning many more of them in the near future!

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reverbend inn & vineyard Niagara-on-the-Lake

 

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6 Secret Beaches in Sydney For A Romantic Getaway

By Roxana Oliver

‘Beach’ is synonymous with the word ‘romantic’, but how does that work when they are full of crowds, children screaming, volleyballs flying above your head and curious eyes all around you? To be honest, not very well. So, considering this fact, we must presume that for a beach to be actually romantic, it should be a secluded beach… a secret beach. Luckily for Aussies, Sydney is filled with such beaches where loving hugs can be exchanged and where statements of love can be spoken out loud instead of in whispers. It is at those secret beaches in Sydney where trips to the beach become romantic activities with the ones who hold our hearts.




Here are six of those secluded beaches in Sydney, where couples can enjoy spending a romantic day or evening in privacy.

Discovering The Secret Beaches in Sydney

Chinamans Beach

CHinamans beach secret beaches in SYdney

A stretch of no more than 250 meters of sand, Chinamans Beach is a perfect little getaway from the crowded and loud city. The beach is located in a pretty quiet residential enclave in Mosman and it is well secluded inside the Middle Harbour. It is an ideal setting for a romantic picnic by the sea or a relaxed swim. Chinamans provides a great deal of intimacy, because not many people know about it and it is uninteresting for surfers, usually scouting around these areas. So, bring a blanket, pack a picnic basket, cool a bottle of wine, and head to Chinamans.

Shark Beach

Shark Beach Sydney Romantic Getaway

Despite its very terrifying name, Shark Beach gives you nothing to worry about. On the contrary, as a part of Nielsen Reserve, this beach has reliable shark-net protection and it is perfectly safe. The Shark Beach is hidden in Vaucluse and it provides plenty of foreshore walks, sheltered areas and calm waves. Plus, it is a great chance to explore the reserve itself and start a mini-Sydney adventure. Even locals are not so familiar with this ground.

Long Reef Beach

Long Reef Beach Sydney Secret Beaches in Sydney

Elegantly nestled on the northern end of Dee Why Beach, Long Reef is not only perfect for romantic picnics and relaxing, but it is also the ideal backdrop for beach weddings. Because it is not as well-known as some of the other northern beaches, this one is a true hidden gem made of 2 km (approx 1.25 miles) long sand stretch where you can spend your time together and enjoy your privacy. Long Reef is also great for day trips, since it has free electric barbecues, picnic spots and amazing waves for the surfers.

Shelly Beach

Shelly Beach Sydney

Located between Coogee Beach on the north and Clovelly Beach on the south, Shelly Beach is a scenic little bay with an atmosphere of a sheltered oasis. The serene blue waters and friendly waves are made for everything from swimming to surfing and snorkeling. Since it is a part of protected aquatic zone of Gordon Bay, Shelly Beach is well guarded, clean, peaceful and pleasant. It also offers picturesque view of the Northern Beaches and North Headland if you take a walk down the bush track.

Reef Beach

Romantic Getaways Sydney Reef Beach

This beach is situated in Balgowlah Heights and offers prime views across Sydney’s North Harbour all the way to Manly. Once heaven for both sun lovers and dedicated naturalists, the Reef Beach is today mostly deserted and we assume that couples that discover it are very lucky because of that. This beach is made for those kick back days when you feel like doing nothing but catching the sun rays. Add to that its historic significance and Aboriginal carvings on the rocks and you will get a nice and unique day trip in Sydney.

Collins Flat Beach

Collins Flat Beach Sydney

Just north of the city in one of Sydney’s most fabulous cluster of beaches, you will find Collins Flat Beach and its scenic view to the harbour. It stands out from the other beaches in the crowd by the special atmosphere of being a world away from the bustle of the city, while being so near the Sydney’s CBD. Whether you are planning a picnic or an overnight stay at the local heritage accommodation, you will find this piece of romantic heaven just perfect.

 

We have done our part and told you about some of Sydney’s best kept secrets, now it is up to you to explore them and feel the love in the air.

Looking for more romantic activities around the world? Planning a romantic anniversary trip? We’ve got a list of great romantic getaway ideas for any couple!

 


roxana guest post

Roxana is a travel enthusiast and lifestyle consultant from Sydney and she loves to write about her adventures. She is all about the healthy lifestyle, loves to run with her husband and dogs and has fun cooking exotic meals for her family. Being a typical Aussie, she often hits the waves and loves beaches and sunshine! You can find out more about her writing following her on twitter.

 


 

Keep this secret beaches in Sydney list for later or share with others on Pinterest – just hover over the image below and click “Pin it”!

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Travellers Reveal Where To Find The Most Beautiful Sunsets

There seems to be a draw to beautiful sunsets. An urge to witness the sun as it dips below the horizon as the day ends and see the colours of the sky explode and amplify before the darkness falls. This stunning dance of clouds and sky, colour and light, often draws up an emotional reaction that lasts longer than the fleeting display above. It can touch your core and leave you hopeful and it can shake your soul and leave you moved. And as with anything that touches the heart, it imprints itself and leaves a lasting memory which is exactly why most people love to look for the most beautiful sunsets in the world and seek out those epic sunset photos.




Key West Sunset

One of the most beautiful sunsets we’ve ever witnessed was while we were travelling through the Keys in Florida. We decided to take a road trip to Key West and on the way, we stopped to watch one of the most spectacular, and emotional, sunsets. It was the first of many moving scenes we’d see during our travels but it is a memory we have held on to and cherish.

We’ve already asked fellow travellers to share where to find an amazing sunrise and now they share where they found the most beautiful sunsets in the world in an effort to aid those in the search for that moving moment and for a bit of sunset eye-candy!

Where You’ll Find The Most Beautiful Sunsets In The World

 

Khongoryn Els, Gobi Desert, Mongolia

By Stefan and Sebastian of Nomadic Boys 

best sunset in mongolia

Fore more great photos, check out Nomadic Boys on Instagram

We visited Mongolia in July 2014 and set out to explore the Gobi Desert, living with the nomadic families in their gers. They lead a basic life, which they are extremely proud of, holding on to traditions they’ve strongly maintained since the days of Genghis Khan.

They also keep a lot of animals, particularly goats, sheep, yaks and camels.

There’s a famous film, The Story of the Weeping Camel in which a camel mother fails to connect with her new born baby and a fiddler is employed to play his morin khuur (horse headed fiddle) to her. The sound of the fiddle resonates with her, making her cry and is therefore supposed to make her reconnect with her calf. Well, this is what happened in the film.

At our camp we got lucky and watched a fiddler playing to the camels. The aim was just to soothe them so they could sleep (in this case there was no mother/child issue).

And you know what? It worked! Tears started to fall down the camels’ cheeks and gradually, one by one, they closed their eyes and went into a deep slumber.

This was one of the most beautiful moments we’ve experienced during our travels.

And what made it even more special? The whole thing was with the most incredible sunset over the Gobi Desert.

El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

By Alice of Tea Cake Travels

Secret Sunset in El Nido Palawan Philippines

For more great photos, check out Tea Cake Travels on Pinterest

As I pushed my feet into the golden grains and perched my refreshed frame on the only wooden bench available, another day on this hidden slice on El Nido was drawing to a close. I’d discovered this secret spot the day before and consequentially went back to it every night I could until I left El Nido in the Philippines. With no tourists around and local kids relishing in their own creative yet beautifully simple games here, it’s a welcome respite from the chaos that has been building up near the port since El Nido has become increasingly popular. A simple shack sells cheap beer here and funnily enough, old Avon products that my Mum used to sell. I love that retro touch. Head to the beach away from the port to Corong Corong and you’ll find what the little adventurer within you needs!

Koh Phangan, Thailand

By Dave Brett of Travel Dave

Most Beautiful Sunsets in Koh PHangan

For more great photos, check out Travel Dave on Instagram

Whilst being based on the island of Koh Phangan, my highlight of every day was packing away my laptop by the end of the day, making my way over to the beach in Haad Rin, looking for a deck chair, ordering up a fruit shake, then sitting back and enjoying the sun setting over the sea.

It was like experiencing a 3D movie each and every day. Breathtaking.

The sun sets, as you look over the jungle hill tops, watch the water glitter overlooking Koh Samui, and if you have a nice clear day you can explore and discover all the different colours projecting off the sea. It’s like a light show, both magical and enjoyable.

The best spot on the island to watch a sunset is along the southern coast where you will find a large majority of the resorts which unlocks many wonderful sunset spots.

One of my hidden tips for a sunset on the island of Koh Phangan is to either Tuk Tuk up to the Amsterdam Bar, or head to the silent temple of Wat Koh Tahm, where you will have to be quiet and respect the local monks at the retreat, but you can walk up to a wonderful viewpoint looking over the island.

Enjoy the show!

El Cucu, El Salvador

By Jules & Christine of Don’t Forget To Move

Beautiful sunset in El Salvador

For more great photos, check out Don’t Forget To Move on Instagram 

The small Central American country of El Salvador might not be the first stop on a traveller’s itinerary, but because of this it’s been able to preserve untouched destinations all over the country. For a long time El Salvador’s beaches have only been known to the surfing enthusiast, with some of the world’s best making regular stops to ride deep point breaks and long sandbank waves. However, travellers who make the effort to get out there are also rewarded with long stretches of white sand, pristine waters and amazing sunsets.

This stellar sunset comes from the small beach of El Cuco on the southern coast. It’s a bit of a mission to get to, but once you’re there you won’t want to leave. Gaze in amazement as the sun sets over the cliffs and lights up the whole beach with splashes of yellow, orange, pink and red. Take a walk down the beach and watch the sky dance with colours and change before your eyes, before setting down for a beachside beer and a couple of fresh pupusas.

If the timing is right there are also sea turtles that regularly lay eggs along the beach. When you get there be sure to check out La Tortuga Verde, where you can get involved with helping protect the eggs and releasing hatched turtles back into the water. Otherwise just kick back and enjoy a gorgeous beach all to yourself!

Seminyak, Bali

By Paula & Gordon of Contented Traveller

Sunset in Bali

For more great photos, check out Contented Traveller on Instagram 

Seminyak is north of Kuta and Legian on the Indonesian island of Bali. It is a trendy and very popular area because of its amazing sunset beaches, great shopping, and excellent food. It is also close to Pura Petitenget where a line of temples is found going right up to Tanah Lot. It is common to be able to see the blessings and ceremonies occur that Bali is so famous for. The very best thing to do in Seminyak, Bali is to head down to the beach in the afternoon, grab a colourful bean bag and a beer, listen to the music as the sun sets dramatically.

Encinitas, California, US

By Jason Will of Zipkick

Beautiful sunset in California

For more on Zipkick and great travel info, check out Zipkick on Twitter

This stunning sunset was taken in Encinitas, CA from a drone overlooking surfers at Moonlight Beach. Growing up in Minnesota meant the beach was a distant concept and we instead resorted to lake life. The colouration, ocean waves and endless surfers during sunset make this a lasting memory.

Encinitas is located in the northern part of San Diego county and close to scenic Highway 1, which spans the western coast of California.

Uskudar, Istanbul, Turkey

By Nat & Rob of Love and Road 

Istanbul sunset

For more great photos, check out Love and Road on Pinterest

Our third time in Istanbul, and I thought we already knew everything about this sizzling city, until one Turkish friend asked us if we had already watched the sunset at Uskudar. Of course we answered no. Most of the tourists never go there. The same day we got a public ferry from the Eminonu pier, close to Sultanahmet and all the ancients attractions in Istanbul, and crossed the Bosphorus Channel. When we got to the Asian side we walked along the coast and stopped in front of the Maiden’s  Tower.

The place is full of locals, small tea shops and comfy cushions. A truly inviting place to sit and relax! The view was already amazing, the Bosphorus on your right side, the Marmara Sea on the other. In front of you is the Maiden’s Tower, and far away you can see the Süleyman Mosque, the Turkish palaces and the whole of Istanbul, ancient and modern. It’s when the sun touches the ground that the real spectacle starts.

The sky gets completely orange, the minaret silhouettes draw an incredible skyline. The seagulls flying and the sound of prayer from the mosques create a unique moment. It’s so special that words can’t describe it. It’s a powerful sunset, the sky is so intense, the architecture is so beautiful and dramatic. It seems that even the boats crossing the Bosphorus are frozen in time.

I used to think that a stunning sunset should be on the beach however, after that evening I discovered that the most beautiful and unique sunset is in Uskudar, Istanbul. Where Asia meets Europe, where culture and nature blend to perfection.

Cayman Islands

By Matilda of The Travel Sisters

Most Beautiful Sunsets in Cayman Islands

For more great photos, check out The Travel Sisters on Instagram

While certainly not obscure, the Cayman Islands are a great place to catch spectacular sunsets.  During a particularly brutal Chicago winter, we traded the cold for some fun in the sun on Grand Cayman.  Our only expectation was warm weather and a beautiful beach.  We arrived to our hotel on Seven Mile Beach a bit before sunset and as soon as we could toss our luggage into the room went for a sandy stroll.  Although we expected to be wowed by clear water and coral sands, we were absolutely surprised by the stunning sunset before us.  Wow, how fortunate of us to catch such a rare event!  Or not.  Apparently, stunning sunsets are not such a rare event on Grand Cayman but rather a typical occurrence.  Still we were fortunate enough to have four days on the island- each one ending with a breathtaking sunset.

Tahai on Easter Island

By Sarah & Kris of Jetsetting Fools

Easter Island Sunset

For more great photos, check out Jetsetting Fools on Instagram

We’ve been fortunate to watch the sun set from many corners of this beautiful world. We have watched the sky turn a vibrant, glowing pink in Lisbon, a silhouetted sun gradually dip below the horizon from Flic en Flac Beach in Mauritius and stretching shadows of karsts as the last of the day’s rays lit everything else on Halong Bay, Vietnam. But, the most magical sunsets were those we witnessed from Tahai on Easter Island.

As one of the most remote places on earth, the island is shrouded in the mystery of the moai – the tall, stone-carved protectors that are found on platforms around the island. While they are a sight to see in any light, the scene was mystically enhanced with the backdrop of the setting sun.

Like a crowd taking their seats in a theater, people would begin to gather on the sloping hill of Tahai facing the five standing moai about a half hour before the sun set. As the sun inched closer toward the horizon, the clouds and sky were lit in bold hues of blue, gold and pink. The moai stood solidly in place while the dramatic show played in the background.

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Natasha and Cameron of The World Pursuit

Sunset over water in Santorini

For more great photos, check out The World Pursuit Blog on Instagram

We were fortunate enough to enjoy a spectacular sunset in Oia, Santorini.  The blue and white houses that are seen in movies really do exists! We were ecstatic to enjoy such a beautiful sunset in a surreal location. Watching the local fisherman bring in their daily catch and letting daily Greek life pass by is the perfect end to the day.

 

Could use some more beautiful sunsets? Check out the second part where travellers reveal more great destinations for amazing sunsets!

 

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