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Top Five Places to Visit in New Zealand Suggestions By Kevin Ford

I have lived in New Zealand for over fifteen years and do not plan on leaving anytime soon. New Zealand consists of two main landmasses – the North Island and the South Island – and is filled with beautiful landscapes and a wonderland for those in love with nature. With average temperatures in the summer ranging from 68°F-77°F, New Zealand’s seasons run opposite to those of the Northern Hemisphere, summer being December-February and winter being June-August.

The North Island

The North Island is about 657 miles from bottom to top (about a 13.5-hour drive) and, for the most part, volcanic, with three active volcanoes in the middle. Settled on the edge of the Ring of Fire, New Zealand contains the world’s largest concentration of youthful volcanoes. Shaped like a horseshoe, the Ring of Fire stretches from the southern tip of South America, along the west coast of North America, across the Bering Strait, down Japan, and ending around New Zealand. About 30 miles off the mainland, White Island is home to New Zealand’s most active cone volcano (and visible from my house).  We also have several hot areas where the lava comes close to the surface, and as a result, you could compare some of it to Yellowstone National Park in the United States.

Cape Reinga

At the top of the North Island sits Cape Reigna. Enjoy a walk to the Cape Reinga Lighthouse, capturing the Tasman Sea view meeting the Pacific Ocean. Visit Toputatputu Bay for a relaxing beach day and stay the night at the beach’s campsite. Want to be one with nature? Take a multi-day hike along the Te Paki Coast Track. 30 miles long, this trail takes about 3-4 days to complete but provides the best scenery of Cape Reinga and the Far North Area. About 12 miles south of Cape Reigna lies the Te Paki Sand Dunes. Grab a bodyboard and something to cover your mouth – you don’t want to get a mouthful of sand on the way down!

The Capital City of Wellington

At the bottom of North Island lies the capital city of Wellington. Enjoy a scenic ride in the Wellington Cable Car from the city’s heart through the hillside houses of Kelburn up to the lookout perched above the city. On the way up, get off at Kelburn Terminal to enjoy a walk through Wellington Botanical Garden or head to Space Place to get a view of the Southern skies. Get off at Lambton Quay Station and head to Wellington’s “Golden Mile,” home to the highest quality shopping center with stores ranging in styles from music to books to fashion.

The South Island

The South Island doesn’t have active volcanoes and is about five hundred miles from top to bottom. It is famous for winter skiing, trout fishing, and some of the world’s most impressive glaciers due to the significant mountain ranges on the west coast. The South Island marks where Captain Scott set off from Dunedin to race to the center of the Antarctic in 1912. The north end of the South Island houses Wineries, many known for their world-famous Pinot Noir. Known as the Adventure Capital of the World, Queenstown has an adventure for everyone. Fuel your adrenalin with bungy jumping, white water rafting, sky diving, river surfing, and so much more. Queenstown is the place to go to for those that love to get their adrenalin racing.

Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit

After Lord of the Rings was released in 2001, New Zealand became known as the ‘Home of Middle Earth.” Filmed on both islands, you can visit multiple famous filming locations and be transported into the mythical world of Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit Trilogy. On the North Island, the Hobbiton™ Movie Set was used for both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and now provides daily tours of the village. Enjoy a beer or sample the banquet dinner at The Green Dragon Inn. New Zealand’s South Island’s mountain ranges and wilderness provide a dramatically beautiful background for many of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit scenes.

I want to leave you with one of my favorite memories of living in New Zealand. Here is a picture of me taking a flight on one of the few passenger DC3s still flying. It was built in 1944 and is currently managed and owned by Air Chathams, a small, privately-owned airline. I am afraid there is no Disney or Universal here; you just get what nature has to offer, and most of it is free, including parking.  The flight is only $70, which is a bargain to experience this classic aircraft!

Top Five Places to Visit in Ireland Suggestions from our Colleague David Byrne

After Great Britain, Ireland is the European continent’s second-largest island. Nicknamed the Emerald Isle, Ireland is filled with lush green fields, and many things to do and places to see.   We checked in with our colleague David in Ireland to find out his “must do” list when visiting.

Dublin City

No trip to Ireland would be complete without a few days in Dublin, the Capital City. Take in an evening in Temple Bar with its famous pubs and pedestrian cobbled streets after a day of shopping on Grafton Street and museum hopping around the city. Be sure to visit the Book of Kells, housed in Trinity College, and pair with a walk around St. Stephen’s Green. For the history buffs, be sure to visit Kilmainham Gaol to learn about Ireland’s fight for independence and the 1916 Easter Rising. Pair this with a visit to the GPO (General Post Office) where, during the rising, the leaders of the Irish rebellion set up their headquarters.

Cliffs of Moher

Due to its exposure to the Atlantic Ocean, the West of Ireland has some of the most impressive coastline attractions in all of Ireland. Top of the list has to be the Cliffs of Moher by the Burren in County Clare. The cliffs run for nine miles and, at their highest, stand a dominant 702 feet above the ocean. When visiting the cliffs, be sure to take in a visit to the Burren, the Ailwee Caves, and the historic market town of Ennis.

The Aran Islands

Located off the west coast and visible from the top of the Cliffs of Moher are the Aran Islands. The islands of Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer,  are home to just 12,000 people, with Irish (or Gaelic) being the first language. Take in the rugged landscapes, and be sure to visit the stone fort of Dun Aonghasa. Perched over 320 feet above Aran’s cliffs, the fort is a world heritage site dating back to 1100 BC. Rent a bike and explore the islands and spend your evenings taking in traditional Irish food and music.

Kinsale, Co. Cork

A historic sailing town in Cork in the south of the country, Kinsale has a uniquely Spanish feel in the summertime. Famous for its scenery and seafood, it is perfect for anyone who loves sailing, walking, fishing, and eating! Sample the renowned fish and chips at Dino’s and, for more formal dining, check out Fishy Fishy restaurant. Grab a beer at the Spaniard Bar before embarking on the famed Scilly Walk, which will take you along the outskirts of Kinsale. Stop at the Bulman Bar to reward yourself with another drink to take in fantastic views of Kinsale harbor.

Wild Atlantic Way

For those wanting to commit to a more extended experience, the Wild Atlantic Way is a must. Stretching 1,500 miles from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal down to Kinsale in Cork, this driving route takes you through nine counties and three provinces. Depending on how many sights or attractions one would like to see, this trip can easily be spread over three weeks but can be done in much less if one is time-constrained. Be sure to take in Malin Head (Ireland’s most northerly point), Donegal Town, Streedagh Beach to see the Spanish Armada shipwrecks, Achill Island, Salthill, Dingle, and Mizen Head (Ireland’s most southerly point).

If you are looking for beautiful cliffs or exploring cities, Ireland has everything you need for an unforgettable trip.

Taisteal Sábháilte agus Sona (Safe and Happy Travels)

Top Five Places to Visit in Washington State / By Stephen Toutt

I took my first trip to Washington State in the Pacific Northwest in 2017 to visit Seattle and can’t wait to go back.  Here are five of my favorite places from this trip.

Olympic National Park – Located on the Olympic Peninsula and comprises three distinct ecosystems (snow-capped mountains, Pacific coastline, and temperate forests), Olympic National Park is the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts.  At almost a million acres, this national park offers an endless array of beautiful sights, wildlife, and flora.  If you’re a fan of hiking, climbing, or photography – or looking to get away from the city’s hustle and bustle – Olympic National Park is a perfect place to camp out or visit on a day trip.  Notable and worthwhile destinations within Olympic National Park include Hoh Rain Forest, Hurricane Ridge, Sol Duc Valley, and Lake Crescent.

Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market is one of the oldest running farmer’s markets in the US.  Walking distance from the Port of Seattle and with a view of the Elliot Bay Waterfront on Puget Sound, Pike Place Market is a multi-level shopping destination featuring a variety of independent and unique shops. Local art, antique, and collectibles vendors and over 30 restaurants offering a wide array of cuisine occupy the lower levels, with the upper street level being comprised of fishmonger and produce stalls.  Be sure to check out the Pike Place Fish Market if visiting to watch some high-flying fish acrobatics.

Olympic Game Farm
Definitely, an experience I won’t forget, Olympic Game Farm is a drive-through wildlife refuge that puts you face-to-face with various wildlife, including Llama, Tibetan Yak, Elk, American Bison, and Spotted Fallow Deer, Sika Deer, European Fallow Deer, Zebra, and Brown Bears.  No need for binoculars to spot these animals, as they will eagerly approach your car window to grab a piece of bread (not the bears), allowing for some great photo opportunities.  The drive-through tour lasts about an hour and is a great way to break up the car trip to Olympic National Park.  Make sure to wave to the bears as you leave; they will wave back!

Snoqualmie Falls
Just East of Seattle, Snoqualmie Falls is a 270 waterfall located on the Snoqualmie River and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Washington (thanks in part to being featured in the credits for the 90’s cult TV show Twin Peaks).  Considered by the Snoqualmie Tribe as humanity’s place of origin, the falls attract more than a million annual visitors and feature a two-acre park and observation deck.  Aside from being a top tourist destination, the falls also generate electricity for Puget Sound Energy.

La Push Third Beach
Located on the Pacific Coastline of the Olympic Peninsula approximately 15 miles from the historic timber town Forks, La Push Beaches (First, Second and Third) offer 70 miles of protected coastline with some of the best ocean views in the country (provided it’s not raining).  While we didn’t make it to the First and Second beaches, the third alone was enough to make the top five.   Adorned with giant driftwood pieces and with spectacular views of sea stacks and surrounding cliff sides, La Push Third Beach is serene and picturesque.  With rental cabins available walking distance from the shoreline (you’ll probably want to book in advance), La Push Third Beach is a great place to stay the weekend and enjoy some of the US’s best natural landscapes.

Top NINE Places to Visit and Eat in Delhi

Our daughter’s wedding celebration began in October 2019 in the beautiful town of Monterey, California.  However, that was only the beginning, the celebration was to continue at a reception for our son-in-law’s extended family and friends in Delhi!

Of course, a trip to India was more than a one-day event, so a nine-day adventure was planned in and around the Indian capital. The sights and sounds were incredible at every turn…here are some of my favorite memories.

  1. Red Fort – This historic fort was the home of Mughal Emperors and was reconstructed in the mid-1600s when Shah Jahan moved the capital from Agra to Delhi. As the name implies, 1.5 miles of massive red sandstone walls guard the complex of pavilions, apartments, and gardens. The Red Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  2. Raj Ghat – Located near the Red Fort, the Raj Ghat is a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, built on his cremation site. The black marble structure is the centerpiece of the peaceful, solemn grounds that includes engraved headstones of his many words of peace and wisdom.
  3. Taj Mahal – Of course, no trip to India would be complete without visiting one of the world’s most recognizable structures! Located in Agra, Emperor Shah Jahan built this as the tomb of his favorite wife.  The visit was made even more special as we were there during sunset – I definitely suggest you go at that time for the beauty and smaller crowds.  Fun Fact:  Did you know that there are two spectacular structures on either side of the Taj Mahal? One is a mosque and an identical building on the other was built primarily to maintain visual symmetry.
  4. Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple – This temple is the central focus of a large campus that presents the spiritual-cultural history of Hinduism. When you enter the grounds, you are overwhelmed at the size of the temple, one of the world’s largest. I was most struck by the intricate carvings of the building and surrounding life-size elephant sculptures – all 148 of them. You might be surprised to learn this temple was built in only five years and opened in 2005.
  5. Chand Baori Stepwell –  A hidden gem off the beaten tourist path between Agra and Jaipur, this is one of the best-preserved examples of wells that were built between the 8th and 9th centuries. It has 3,500 steep, narrow steps that go down 65 feet, but to really appreciate the engineering, just look at the picture!
  6. Chandra Mahal – This palace in Jaipur, known as the Pink City, still serves as the residence of the Maharaja – descendants of the Royal family. Tours of the public areas include beautifully tiled doorways, royal sitting rooms, and an armory of historical weaponry. Afterward, stop for drinks at a rooftop café overlooking another magnificent palace, the Hawa Mahal, and Jaipur’s surrounding hills. What a memorable Christmas Day!

And you have to experience the tastes of India. So many great restaurants, it’s hard to remember them all.

  1. Saravana Bhavan – Yes, it’s a chain, but this restaurant featuring South Indian vegetarian fare is a great place for friends to share so many different options. And you don’t have to travel to India to sample the menu as they have locations in over 20 countries, including the U.S.
  2. Yeti, The Himalayan Kitchen – If you’re looking for a change, definitely try Yeti. A three-story climb up the stairs and you feel like you’re in the Himalayas.  Try a curry dish but with a Nepalese twist, which offered goat, fish, buff, and my favorite, mutton.
  3. Indian Accent – For a once in a lifetime dining experience, go to Indian Accent. Located in the Lodhi Hotel, we went to experience the Chef’s Tasting Menu. Offering Vegetarian and Non-Veg options in a serene setting of glass walls and reflecting pools, this multi-course meal was one of the highlights of the trip.

I believe this trip reflects the international DNA found in all of the GA Telesis family and hope this inspires you to consider a visit of your own! There were so many more places we visited and would be happy to share with you.

Top 5 Things to Do in Miami

Super Bowl is almost here, so we thought it was fitting to put together the top things to do in Miami for all those out-of-towners heading this way. We’ve asked the team to round up their lists of fun things to do in Miami and the answers are in! We hope you enjoy. . . (more…)

By |January 30th, 2020|Categories: Destinations, Travel Blog|Tags: , |0 Comments

Top Nine Restaurants in Vail

Top Nine Restaurants in Vail

It’s time for another GA Telesis Travel Blog! We asked our team to let us know their favorite restaurants in Vail and, as usual, they delivered! I must warn you – these restaurants will make you hungry, so grab a snack and take a read of our Top Nine Restaurants in Vail. (more…)

By |January 14th, 2020|Categories: Dining, Travel Blog|Tags: , |0 Comments

Top 7 Ski Resorts in the United States

Are you still deciding where to take a winter vacation? Well, we have got some ideas for you! Let’s take a little trip to the colder regions of the US and dive into some of the top 7 ski resorts in the United States. We asked a handful of our execs where their favorite places to ski are and they certainly did not hold back. This is a list you will definitely want to bookmark to reference when you are planning your next ski vacation! Without further delay, here are our top 5 ski resorts in the US. (more…)

By |December 12th, 2019|Categories: Destinations, Travel Blog|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Top 5 Restaurants in Fort Lauderdale

It’s that time! We’ve asked our Fort Lauderdale offices to spill the tea on the best places to eat in Fort Lauderdale.  We have some great travel lists going that you’ll have to check out for your future travels, but first, let’s get into the Top 5 restaurants in Fort Lauderdale. (more…)

By |November 26th, 2019|Categories: Dining, Travel Blog|Tags: , |0 Comments

Top 5 Restaurants in Miami You Don’t Want to Miss

Restaurants in Miami: A List of Must-Tries

Hola y Bienvenidos a Miami! It’s time to explore the melting pot of cultures Miami has to offer and check out some of the best places to eat in Miami. While beaches and nightlife typically come to mind when someone utters the word “Miami,” restaurants in Miami are also notably high on the list of things to do while visiting. Our team sent in their favorite spots to dine at, and in this blog, we’ll take a dive into the top 5 restaurants to eat at, as told from the GA Telesis Team! Without further ado, here is our list: (more…)

By |October 8th, 2019|Categories: Dining, Travel Blog|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Top Five Things to do in Istanbul

GA Telesis’ Istanbul Team Celebrates 5 Years and Shares their Favorite Places to See in Istanbul!

Now that we know the Top Ten Places to Eat in Istanbul, we’re circling back to check out some must-see destinations. Our team was happy to share their favorite spots and travel suggestions. Since it’s the Istanbul Offices’ 5 year anniversary, it’s only fitting to highlight the top FIVE places to see in Istanbul! Go ahead and bookmark this page – you’ll want to refer to it if you’re ever visiting! Let’s get into it… Here are the Top 5 Places to see in Istanbul: (more…)

Top Ten Things to Do in Nantucket in the Summer

Having trouble deciding on things to do in Nantucket? You’ve come to the right place!

Located just 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Nantucket is the ideal summer vacation spot. With beautiful beaches, a charming town, and an adventure around every corner, the small island is filled with fun things to do. If you’re looking for a travel guide to what to do in Nantucket, look no further. Check out this list of the top ten things to do in Nantucket. (more…)

Top Ten Places to Eat in Nantucket

Wondering where to eat in Nantucket? Don’t worry – check out these places to eat in Nantucket!

Despite the island’s small size, Nantucket is filled with charming and tasty restaurants. From seafood to sandwiches, the restaurants in Nantucket are limitless. There are places to eat in Nantucket for everyone, but here are a few island favorites. Be sure to add these spots to you best places to eat in Nantucket list! (more…)

By |July 18th, 2019|Categories: Dining, Travel Blog|Tags: , |0 Comments
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