News from Around the World
On the Cover This Month…
A world-class city of parks, plazas and perfect weather, Ecuador’s capital, Quito, has so many attractions it’s hard to pick a favorite. Nestled in the Andes mountains, the city is home to the largest, best-preserved historic center in the Americas. Walking its cobbled streets in the shade of colonial mansions is like traveling back through time. Yet, you’ll also find superb shopping and top-class restaurants where prices are a fraction of those in the U.S.
In the center of the old quarter and flanked on all sides by grand historic buildings, the Plaza del Independencia is known to locals as Plaza Grande, “the Big Square.” And there’s no better place to soak up the atmosphere while people-watching, reading the day’s news, or just relaxing.
Roaming in France
The bane of cell-phone using travelers, the roaming charge is one of those expenses that can sneak up on you, ruining your happy memories when you get that exorbitant phone bill. Here’s a tip on how to save on these charges in France.
FrenchConnection.fr is offering visitors daily mobile wireless broadband Internet, geared toward international travelers, at low prices. Get a pocket WiFi device posted to your hotel or office when you reserve online before traveling. The little gadget can connect up to five devices, with a 100MB daily allowance from 0.06 euro per megabyte (or €6 per day). According to the folks at French Connection, roaming charges in France currently average €2.50 per megabyte—40 times more!
Nicaragua’s new eco-friendly golf resort, Guacalito de la Isla, is going to be a “game changer” for the country, says its developer, Don Carlos Pellas. At time of writing, the 1,670-acre resort is set to feature a hotel, spa, beach club, vacation homes and a par 72 golf course designed by David McLay Kidd.
It’s a $250 million development, no small sum for this Central American nation. The magnate’s fourth-generation family conglomerate, Grupo Pellas, has an asset value of nearly half Nicaragua’s GDP. And the group spans every industry from banking and insurance to sugar and rum. To make the project as eco-friendly as possible, thousands of specimen trees are to be planted. Plus, Kidd’s design will spare dozens of 200-year-old trees.
There’s even wildlife—white-faced monkeys, miniature deer, iguanas, anacondas, and a wide array of birds—giving the place what Kidd says is a Narnia-effect. You can find more information at: Guacalitodelaisla.com.
Some say winter is the perfect time to cruise the mighty Yangtze River, one of the world’s three longest. Cool and foggy, the weather is pleasant around key riverside destinations like Chongqing, where summer temperatures can reach 116 F, with humidity near 95%.
The river is best known for the towering cliffs that form the Three Gorges, where visitors can see jade- and ruby-hued pagodas, extravagant rock formations, and caves that once housed ancient poets.
Now is a good time to save on winter Yangtze sailings aboard Victoria Cruises vessels. The only U.S. cruise line on the river, the company is offering steeply discounted winter rates on Three Gorges Highlights sailings.
Tip: Avoid the Chinese New Year sailings (Feb. 10, 11, 13, and 14) and save up to $500 (depart Thursday or Sunday in January or February) on regular fares. See: VictoriaCruises.com.
Ecuador’s Movie Boom
Free symphony performances, streets roped off for festivals, and local art on display at the park… Ecuador has long been known as an artistic destination. With a rich, vibrant culture and a growing cadre of talented painters and performers, it surprises most visitors.
Now there’s a movie boom. Turns out, Ecuador is one of Latin America’s new filmmaking hot-spots. With national productions up by 300%, the movie biz is now the country’s most dynamic cultural sector.
It’s all down to Ecuador’s National Film Council, which was created in 2006. Every year, the council hosts a jury of Latin American film-makers who decide which local projects to award with grants.
More than 40 films have received grants since 2006, and in 2012 more than a dozen were being released or going through post-production. These include a gritty “punk ballad” directed by Mora, as well as a few firsts: the first film in the indigenous Quechua language and the first science-fiction flick.
Since funds are so limited…and the nation has relatively few theaters… Mora says the films are about true artistic expression, rather than a desire to make money.
Japan’s Budget Travel
Made up of 6,800 islands spanning almost 145,947 square miles, Japan isn’t an easy country to tour if you’re pressed for time. It’s also one of the world’s most expensive destinations.
That doesn’t stop the millions of tourists seeking out its shrines and sacred mountains or exploring cities like Tokyo and Kyoto. Now if you want to join them, there’s good news…because a nation that’s been lagging in the budget-air industry is catching up fast.
In 2012 alone, three budget airlines came on the domestic scene, and their fares can be 50% less than those of the “luxury” competitors. The airlines—Air Asia Japan, Peach Aviation and Jetstar Japan—offer mostly in-country flights, with a few exceptions. You can catch Peach Aviation flights from Hong Kong and Taiwan, and Jetstar from Seoul. At time of writing, Peach Aviation was offering domestic fares for as little as $20. It’s a good time to travel in Japan. More here.
Editor’s Note: This article was taken from a past issue of International Living’s monthly magazine. To get full access to all past and future articles and to receive the magazine in the mail or online each month, simply click on the below button to subscribe to International Living magazine at the special introductory price of $49. You will get instant access to the current issue of the magazine as well 10 years of back issues. As an added bonus, we will also send you a FREE report – How to Retire in Paradise on $30 a Day. (You can cancel your subscription at any time.)