Travel Blog

Travel Blog2020-07-20T14:02:18-04:00

Discovering Singapore – Ethan Knowles colloaborates with Avinash Singh

Ethan Knowles collaborates with Avinash Singh

When the city-state of Singapore is mentioned, one typically thinks of its economic prosperity, its cleanliness, and its modern and tall buildings. However, behind these classic trademarks is a country filled with a melting pot of culture, mesmerizing sightseeing, and a plethora of fun activities for visitors of all ages. Avinash Singh, a member of the GA Telesis team, and his family reside in this otherworldly city-state and he shares what makes it a wonderful place to live. “Singapore is a small but prosperous island nation that has lots to offer when it comes to quality of life and individual growth. Although it seems like a little red dot on the world map, the country is ideal for families and raising kids in a happy and safe environment. Singapore has three major cultures thriving together in harmony, a booming economy, very low crime rates, minimal traffic jams, and a peaceful feeling that is unique to the island nation.”

Question: What are your five favorite places to visit in the country?


  1. Gardens by the Bay – Of all of the places to visit in Singapore, Gardens by the Bay should be at the top of your list. These unique, award-winning gardens are an absolutely beautiful place to explore, or simply hang out in. The most recognizable and photographed part of Gardens by the Bay would undoubtedly be the Supertrees. There are 18 Supertrees in total, measuring from 25 to 50 meters tall, the tallest of them measuring in at 16 stories high!
  1. Singapore Zoo – Set in a rainforest environment, Singapore Zoo is home to over 2,800 animals from over 300 species of mammals, birds, and reptiles. The Park also boasts of the world’s first free-ranging orangutan habitat inside a zoo.
  2. Jurong Bird Park – This bird park is a 10 min drive from where we live and an excellent first step into the world of birding. The massive aviary boasts of so many exotic birds ranging from macaws to spoonbills to flamingos. The best part is they have so many bird feeding sessions and other kids’ friendly activities planned during the day that there would never be a dull moment.
  3. Universal Studios – Southeast Asia’s first and only Universal Studios theme park, featuring 24 rides, shows, and attractions in seven themed zones is a favorite among kids. For the adrenalin rush seekers amongst us, not to be missed are the tallest dueling roller coasters ride – Battlestar Galactica: HUMAN vs. CYLON™, indoor coaster Revenge of the Mummy™ and TRANSFORMERS The Ride: The Ultimate 3D Battle. Transformers the ride is a personal favorite of my 9-year-old son!
  4. Art Science Museum – Future World: Where Art Meets Science is a personal favorite and has Singapore’s largest interactive digital playground. Kids just love the dreamscape of sights and sounds that mesmerizes even elders.”

Question: Where/what is the most beautiful part of the country?

Avinash: “Clarke Quay – a stunning historical riverside quay with amazing waterfront views, it’s a wonderous place to visit whether you’re shopping or not. Excellent place to enjoy a romantic dinner date by the side of a river.”

Question: What is the most unique part of the country?

Avinash: “There are so many things unique about Singapore. Here is my list:

  • Efficiency – everything works as planned with clockwork precision. Whether you have an appointment with a government agency or bank, it always starts on time, process and expectations are laid out clearly. The same goes if you call a cab or call a handyman. They arrive on time, do the work professionally and efficiently.
  • Transparency and lack of corruption – all rules and processes are clear and public servants are courteous, open, and transparent about what can be done and cannot be done. No workarounds or corrupt practices. No need to grease any palms to get work done.
  • Safety – Singapore is extremely safe and my wife or kids do not have to worry before stepping out and using public transport to commute even at odd hours.
  • Multicultural environment and cosmopolitan society – Singapore is truly multicultural and there is a strong sense of respect and accommodation for all religions and cultures.
  • Quality of life – apart from super-efficient public amenities, Singapore is also very green with its natural reserves, lakes, and park connectors.”

Question: What is your favorite part of the country?

Avinash: “It has to be the Hawker Centers. For the uninitiated, Singapore Hawker Centers are basically large food courts with stalls around the perimeter serving everything from full meals to snacks and drinks. You’ll usually find a selection of local dishes as well as flavors from across the world, including Chinese, Malay, Indian, and western. Hawker Centers are a unique aspect of Singapore’s culture and lifestyle. It is also an important place for social interaction and community bonding.”

Question: What is your favorite activity to do there?

Avinash: “Relishing the local food delights – there is so much to try – such as good old chicken rice, Hokkien Mee, or Char Kway Teow. And everything is so affordable, you will not feel the pinch yet be able to savor delicious food!”

Question: What is your favorite type of food that is unique/local to the country?

Avinash: “Chili crab and black pepper crab from Jumbo seafood at Dempsey Hills is one of our favorites.”

Question: What is/are the local language(s) spoken?

Avinash: “English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay, and Tamil are all official languages. The most unique and widely spoken language in Singapore is Singlish. It is primarily the colloquial form of English, having a distinct accent, and ignoring the basic standards of English grammar. Having a jumble of local slang and expressions of various languages and dialects of Singapore, speaking in Singlish is seen as a mark of being truly local!”

Question: What is your favorite time of the year there?

Avinash: “Singapore is just one degree north of the equator – which means four distinct seasons are absent however, each month is a time to experience a facet of Singapore’s multicultural diversity. August is a special month for Singaporeans as it gears up for its biggest national celebration, as National Day approaches on the 9th. The small city-state gained independence in 1965 and has been proudly celebrating its independence from Malaysia every year since. At the main event venue at Marina Bay, an impressive showcase of Singapore’s defensive capabilities wows the audience. The Parade begins with songs and performances, ending with a stunning display of fireworks – a spectacular tribute to how far Singapore has come since independence.”


Question: What is the most celebrated festival/holiday?

Avinash:Chinese New Year – The first day of Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival in Singapore, falls on the new moon day. The Lunar New Year (as it is also called) is of great significance to the Chinese who clean their homes to get rid of the bad or the ill-fortune and make way for good luck. The celebration of this grand festival in Singapore continues for 14 days starting on the eve of the New Years. During this time, the Chinese locals visit their families and decorate their homes with red and gold colors. They also exchange gifts and give kids Hong Bao (red envelopes). The Chinatown comes to life through the celebration of festivities. Lion and dragon dances performed as a part of the celebration.”


Question: How do you say good morning/hello/greet people there?

Avinash: “You can say “hello” in Mandarin – Ni Hao, in Indian Hindi – Namaste and in Malay, the greeting is based on the time of day – Selamat Pagi for good morning, Selamat Tengah Hari for good afternoon and Selamat Malam for good night.”


Question: What are the most popular local pastimes?

Avinash: “Shopping and dining out/trying new restaurants seem to be the most favorite past times of Singaporeans. Going to cinemas, playing video games (yes!) and keeping fit also seems high on agenda for a nation that is always on the move and keen to catch on the next big global trend!”


Question: What is the most popular sport?

Avinash: “Football is arguably the most popular spectator sport. Singapore has its own professional football league, known as the Singapore Premier League (formerly the S League)”

Question: What type/genre of music is popular and who are the famous musicians and bands there?

Avinash: “Music is very much a part of Singaporeans’ lifestyles will almost everyone finding time to enjoy listening to music. The two most popular genres are Top 40s/Pop (61%) and Hip-hop, R&B and Soul (27%). The third most listened-to genre is Traditional Ethnic Music (19%).”

Question: What is the most common car/car brand?

Avinash: “Hondas and Toyotas rule the roost when it comes to everyday convenient sedans. Mercedes Benz and BMW are more expensive popular car brands.”

Question: What advice would you give someone traveling there?

Avinash: “Singapore is not cheap. Compared to other parts of Asia, Singapore is quite expensive, especially when it comes to rent, education, medical expenses and car ownership. This city-state apparently has the most millionaires in the world so perhaps this isn’t much of a surprise, but Singapore easily outranks renowned expensive cities like London and New York when it comes to prices.”

Question: What is something we might not know about the country?Avinash: “It’s a city of not just one island, but 64. We may not know it, but Singapore’s land area includes as many as 64 offshore islands that surround the main island. These include Sentosa (the largest of the offshore islands), Pulau Ubin, St. John’s Island and Sister’s Islands. Also, the other fun fact that many people are not aware of is that Durian fruit is eaten quite a lot here and you will smell it when visiting Singapore… especially in the markets. It sounds like a mundane fact until you smell Durian fruit. It stinks (A LOT) – which makes us wonder why people eat it. Apparently, the trick is to try it just before it starts to get too ripe and to buy it at the start of the day before it gets further ripened by the sun.”

By |August 10th, 2021|Categories: Travel Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Discovering Singapore – Ethan Knowles colloaborates with Avinash Singh

Ten Reasons to Visit China — Zach Contursi interviews colleague Cherry Xing

I have done a deep dive into the nation’s rich culture to bring you ten reasons why you would want to visit China. This blog will give you direction on must-see sites, tips for navigating the country, and details you will want to hear from a local before you travel. I sat down with Cherry Xing, a member of our Asia-Pacific Team, who originates from China and visits there often. Cherry shared her exciting stories about her experiences, culture, and “can’t miss” attractions that she hopes everyone will have the chance to check out.

China holds many mysterious and magnificent pieces of history within its borders. There lays an army of soldiers, horses, and chariots that has stood sealed in history for over 2200 years. Water from the same springs that the Emperors of China’s great dynasties drew from rests in natural springs. Tasty recipes that are thousands of years old are just waiting to be tasted! Many more of these thrilling adventures await in the mysterious and time-honored nation of China.

First Stop . . . SICHUAN

Have you ever heard of Sichuan Province? Sichuan is not the typical tourist destination, but rather a sensational city with amazing hidden gems. Residing in Sichuan is a large stretch of the Yangtze River, which is the longest river in all of Asia. For our art enthusiasts, the Sichuanese opera is an experience in itself, as it embraces much more than just exceptionally impressive voices. While you sit on the edge of your seat throughout the performance, you’ll witness fire breathing and illusionary costume changes.

While you’re in Sichuan don’t miss the PANDAS . . .

If you are an animal lover, Sichuan, specifically, is known for being the home of the Giant Pandas! The National Parks and reserves that reside within the region are full of pandas and help protect these adorable giant bears.  While exploring Sichuan, you may encounter a wild panda. As exhilarating as encountering a wild panda is, many people would prefer a more controlled and safer environment with the gentle giants. There are many reserves in China that allow you to have firsthand experience with a panda. Some locations will allow you to hold a “baby” while it gnaws on a honey-covered stick of bamboo. I use the word baby ironically because even a panda, who is only a year old, can weigh around 90 pounds. Cherry referred to this as her favorite activity that she has ever done in China and the most invigorating.

Taste the Springs of Jinan

Jinan is internationally famous for the springs that play a prominent role in the culture of the city. Jinan is not considered a tourist city but a very ancient, significant, and traditional location. It is customary to take water from the spring and make tea with it. This is an age-old tradition that has been practiced since the dynastic period of China’s history. Not only did the local people draw from these springs, but when emperors would visit, they too would use the clear, freshwater to make tea. Jinan is a truly tranquil town that allows you to admire some of China’s traditions and appreciate its natural surroundings.

Explore the Summer Palace (Beijing)

The Summer Palace in Beijing was an imperial garden during the Qing dynasty. The garden takes up almost three-square kilometers in total, the majority of which is water. Throughout the land, there are many ornate palaces and landscaped gardens. As Beijing is one of the most famous cities in the world, these admirable gardens are a must-see while visiting.

Stare Down the Terracotta Warriors

Located in Xi’an, China, remains an army of Terracotta Warrior statues. No two figures are the same as each statue is unique on its own with varying facial expressions. The army consists of not only life-sized statues of men but also life-sized statues of horses and chariots. The figures were created over forty years and took over 700,000 laborers to construct. You can wander through and view the magnificence on your own, or hire a guide, which is recommended for those interested in learning more about the intriguing history.

Savor on some Traditional Chinese Food

If you’re anything like me, then you would be expecting your visit to China to be full of fried rice and Kung Pow Chicken. You’d be rather shocked to see that entrees such as Sweet and Sour Chicken are not authentic nor traditional Chinese food. Cherry commented that her favorite food is a popular dish called “The Hot Pot,” which is a soup broth with an assortment of East Asian foods. Her favorite traditional food was “stir-fried tomato and eggs.”

When to Plan Your Trip

Cherry explained that her favorite times of year to visit were spring and autumn because of the weather. Summers and winters tend to have more intense temperatures and aren’t as radiant as the first two mentioned.

Don’t Forget to Catch a Game…

If you are a sports fan, checking out a Chinese Basketball Association game would be a great activity. The top sport to watch in China is basketball. This sport has grown so popular in recent decades that it is now widely considered a part of Chinese culture. Players like Yao Ming have originated from China, and currently, there are a few former NBA players playing in China, like Lance Stephenson. The most common recreational sport to play is ping pong. Working the paddles and sweating from a fast-paced game of table tennis is a surprisingly fun, exciting, and dare I say, a thrilling way to pass some time.

For Wall-E and the Tech Nerds

When I think of China, my thoughts circulate on tradition, culture, and The Great Wall. I was shocked to learn from Cherry that China is immensely technologically savvy. Cash is still used, but only on rare occasions or by tourists. Just about the entire local population uses the platform “Wechat.” Wechat is a messaging app that has come to be used as a wallet as well. It’s almost a combination of WhatsApp and Venmo. Cherry emphasized that this platform is so integrated that even homeless people procure for Wechat payments instead of cash. The technological integration and dependence that China has employed is a direction that the United States is trending towards. I know anyone who is passionate about technology and innovation would love to observe this technological revolution firsthand!

Cherry’s Final Wishes for You

I asked Cherry for advice on travelers expecting to travel to China soon, and here is what she left with me:

  • Do a tour whenever you can; it will help you truly understand the culture and history of this beautiful nation, as there is so much that simply isn’t known.
  • Split the trip in two: You will need at least one to two weeks in the north and an additional one to two weeks in the South.
  • While in the smaller cities, a translator will most definitely be necessary.

China is a land of rich culture, ancient traditions, superb sports, and enchanting landscapes. I hope that you have the opportunity to visit and not only see the main attractions like The Great Wall, but also the majestic hidden gems that I have uncovered through this interview.

Safe Travels,

Zach Contursi

By |June 25th, 2021|Categories: Travel Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Ten Reasons to Visit China — Zach Contursi interviews colleague Cherry Xing


From the beaches of Jaeren in the south to the Lofoten Islands in the north, Norway has some spectacular sights. Whether it be Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger, Kristiansand, or Tromsø, each city has its own wonderful and unique charm. While the cities are filled with rich history and distinctive architecture, the nature between them has been known to be breathtaking and almost mystical. The reactions and feelings that the scenery invokes are everlasting as it never gets old.


Orre Beach

Covering a stretch of three kilometers, Orre Beach (Orrestranden) is one the longest beaches Norway has to offer. The beach is peaceful, clean, and thriving with wildlife as it is part of the Jaeren protected nature area. Consisting of soft, golden sand with smooth dunes, Orre Beach falls along the Norwegian Scenic Route. The Friluftshuset can be found here, a cultural activity and information center where people can be found kayaking and bouldering.


If you seek the thrill of adventure and you are not afraid of heights, the hike to Preikestolen may be for you. The four-hour journey to the top of Pulpit Rock brings you to a 25 by 25-meter plateau directly above a steep 604-meter cliff that towers above the town of Lysefjorden.


If you think Preikistolen would be too easy for you, then Kjerag is the place to go. At the Majesty of Lysefjord, it is a 6 – 10 hour roundtrip hike where at certain spots, you have to pull yourself up and slide down wires to reach the highest peak in Lysefjorden. With an elevation gain of 800 meters, you will be 1,084 meters above sea level once you reach the top. The world-famous boulder Kjeragbolten rests there, and if you’re lucky, you might run across some base jumpers.


Trolltunga (the troll’s tongue) is a rock extending into a dramatic overhang 700 meters above Ringedalsvatnet Lake. With two different trails of 28 kilometers taking 8 to 12 hours and 20 kilometers taking 7 to 10 hours, calling Trolltunga a challenge would be an understatement. Trolltunga treats you with beautiful panoramic views along the way, but if you can make it to the tongue, it will be hard to find a view that compares.

Lofoten Islands

If you are a fan of the water over the mountains, then the Lofoten Islands are perfect for your outdoor adventures. Lofoten has islands that you can kayak between, excellent fishing, the northern lights, and the midnight sun. There are villages and towns off the beaten path that are great to wander through and experience the local culture. Lofoten also has a strong linkage to the Viking Age with its historical culture and architecture. It is a focal point and cultural center for fishing, kayaking, skiing, and Arctic surfing.

By |June 1st, 2021|Categories: Travel Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on TOP FIVE PLACES TO VISIT IN NORWAY

Five Fabulous Places to Visit in Indonesia Suggestions By Willy Gunarto


Bali is arguably the preferred destination in Indonesia because of its cultural landmarks, traditions, and beautiful beaches.  Bali’s famous landmark is “Pura Tanah Lot” (Tanah Lot Temple).  For the Balinese people, this temple is one of the most sacred temples of all sea temples.  Tourists typically visit during the evening to enjoy a breathtaking sunset.

Bali has many traditional attractions reflecting their cultures, such as the Barong Dance and the Kecak Dance.  The Barong Dance tells the story of a mythological animal that has supernatural power that could protect humans.  The Kecak Dance is based on the Hindu story of Ramayana. It depicts a battle where a monkey-like soldier led by Hanuman helps Prince Rama fight the evil King Ravana. These two captivating traditional performances are a must to see.

Bali is also one of the world’s most popular destinations for beach and/or surfing enthusiasts.  Home to some of the best beaches in the world. The sand is white, and the water is warm all year long.   The most famous beach is Kuta Beach, known for its white sand and its renowned waves.  Nusa Dua Beach is a lovely beach with calm and clear water, which is perfect for families.  Nusa Dua Beach is also home to many famous hotels.

Java – Borobudur Temple and Yogyakarta

Borobudur Temple, the world’s largest Buddhist temple, is in Central Java and is one of the top UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This temple represents the country’s rich history, culture, and religion. Borobudur was built in the 8th century but forgotten for centuries due to volcanic eruptions. Rediscovered in the 1800s, Borobudur Temple was restored with UNESCO’s help in the 1970s. You can climb the entire structure, including the central platform, so make sure you wear comfortable shoes. Best to visit in the early morning to enjoy the sunrise and breathtaking scenery from the top of the forum. Also, do not forget to visit Yogyakarta, an old Javanese city rich in culture and history. Regarded as an important center for classical Javanese fine arts and culture, Yogyakarta is also the center for Indonesian education.

Komodo National Park

In Indonesia’s Nusa Tenggara region (east of Bali), Komodo Island is famous for its breathtaking scenery and its Komodo dragons – the largest living reptile on the planet that can reach 3 meters (10 feet) in length. The park was initially established in 1980 to conserve the Komodo dragon. The reptiles roam free on the island, so a professional tour guide is necessary. The waters surrounding the island contain beautiful coral reefs and rich marine biodiversity. The park also includes the conservation of the ocean.

Komodo is home to more than 250 corals and sea sponges, so diving is another option to enjoy while you are visiting.  Any time of year is suitable for diving, but if you really want to see manta rays at the peak of their season visit between November and February.

Papua – Raja Ampat Islands

Compromised of hundreds of jungle-covered islands, Raja Ampat is known for its beaches and coral reefs. With one of the liveliest underwater scenes on the planet, this world-famous tropical paradise is home to over 530 species of coral, 700 species of mollusk, and 1,300 types of fish. Despite the magnetism of exotic species and a breathtaking island view, Raja Ampat remains pristine mainly because of its remote location.  More than just a divers’ paradise, Raja Ampat also makes an unforgettable destination for birdwatchers, photographers, adventurers, and even those who long for a luxury vacation with an amazing view on a faraway island.

Tana Toraja

Mostly prized for its bewitching funeral traditions, Tana Toraja is a beautiful destination. This highland in South Sulawesi has a majestic backdrop of mountain scenery, lush tropical jungles, and ornate villages with charming traditional houses. Tourists can start the day watching the sunrise from above the clouds, then continue exploring the villages and picturesque hills, including the eerie but fascinating burial cave.

By |May 7th, 2021|Categories: Travel Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Five Fabulous Places to Visit in Indonesia Suggestions By Willy Gunarto

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!

By |April 5th, 2021|Categories: Travel Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Top Five Places to Visit in New Zealand Suggestions By Kevin Ford

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)

By |March 1st, 2021|Categories: Travel Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Top Five Places to Visit in Ireland Suggestions from our Colleague David Byrne

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.

By |September 8th, 2020|Categories: Destinations, Travel Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Top Five Places to Visit in Washington State / By Stephen Toutt

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: , |Comments Off on Top 5 Things to Do in Miami

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: , |Comments Off on Top Nine Restaurants in Vail

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: , , |Comments Off on Top 7 Ski Resorts in the United States

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: , |Comments Off on Top 5 Restaurants in Fort Lauderdale
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