Travel

By Alexis Lardieri

We’re sure with the state of today’s economy you’re not really in the mood to book the (expensive and inflated) trip of a lifetime. If you don’t want to give up traveling and are pondering an answer, consider making the most of your dollar and taking in the sights and sounds of a destination with a favorable currency conversion. The following destinations are just the beginning of a number of options that up the travel ante without totally sacrificing your savings.

L to R: Iceland’s most captivating city and the powerful healing Blue Lagoon CREDIT: http://www.icelandtotal.com, http://www.lonelyplanet.com

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Reykjavik, Iceland | $1 US Dollar = 129.5 Iceland Krona
When you think of Iceland, the first two words that may spring to mind are “freezing cold” – but believe it or not there’s much more to this mesmerizing country than its icy climate. In addition to its favorable local currency, Icelandic society offers tradition, unforgettable attractions, nightlife and surprising mythical wonders. Reykjavik, the capital of the country and the heart of their modern movement is known for its wide range of cultural activities and famous attractions, including the renowned Blue Lagoon and the gorgeous Northern Lights. The Blue Lagoon ( http://www.bluelagoon.com ) is a geothermal spa heated by lava that maintains a temperature of 104 degrees all year round. These magical waters are rich in minerals such as silica and sulphur and bathing here has been known to cure many skin diseases and imperfections. But before you get grossed out by the idea of a public sauna filled with strangers, bear in mind that Iceland has an extremely strict code of hygiene – all who attempt to bathe here are required to shower before and after entering.

After a steamy day of relaxation and rejuvenation, be sure to take full advantage of Icelandic nights and drift 70 kilometers into the countryside. Here you will find among the beautiful scenery Icelandic Wonders ( http://www.icelandicwonders.com ). This magical museum is maintained at below-zero temperatures in order to accommodate its unique structure. Two hundred meters of iced walls and even an ice bar awaits you. If that’s not impressing enough, sit back and enjoy their main feature – the Northern Lights. Shiny rays of neon green, red, and in rare cases, violet, shine from the night sky and reflect into your eyes for a perfect end to a magical experience.

L to R: Brazil’s miraculous two mile wide and 262 foot high Iguacu Falls and extravagant Carnival: CREDIT: http://www.cache.boston.com, http://www.etravelphotos.com

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | $1 US Dollar = 2.2 Brazilian Real
Something about this colorful country has millions craving a taste of Brazilians’ carefree attitude, need to party and adventurous rhythm. Brazil is widely known for their legendary Carnival street parade, located in the heart of the country’s capital, Rio de Janeiro. This lively city is tucked between mountainous peaks and pristine beaches – giving you the ultimate choice between exploration and adventure, or leisure and a chance to show off your Brazilian cut bikini. Most locals don’t even bother changing for this traditional wild party held in the beginning of February. The all night party begins at 7 p.m. and lasts into the wee hours of the morning. Although various cities celebrate Carnival in their own unique style, no province does it up like Rio – where Samba, drums, exotic costumes and lively dancers all come to life.

After 24 hours of cultural fun, revive yourself with one of Brazil’s most stunning attractions. Just a quick one-hour plane ride away awaits the mesmerizing Iguaà§u Falls. This massive body of water over two miles wide and twice the height of Niagara falls parades into Brazil’s western region and continues to stretch outward into Argentina and Paraguay. Enjoy the breathtaking views and end your day with a tour of the Iguaà§u National Park, an enormous sub-tropical rainforest – home to thousands of wild and unusual birds that are sure to give you a colorful souvenir of all of the natural wonders Brazil has to offer.

L to R: Peru’s ancient Inca Trail and majestic Lost City of the Incas. CREDIT: http://www.incatrailtomachupicchu.info, http://www.kravciuk.com.

Lima, Peru | S1 US Dollar = 3.1 Peruvian Nuevo Sol
Dive into the past and experience a lost city, undiscovered treasures and unsolved mysteries with this exciting trip to one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Home to Peru is the regal Lost City of the Incas, located in Machu Picchu, just off the coast of Lima, the country’s capital. Accessible only by boat through the ancient Lake Titicaca, or an authentic Inca Trail, the remains of the Incan Empire offer a front seat into history’s most fascinating tale. See how this remarkable civilization was born and in some parts of Peru still exists today.

After a few days of ancient remembrance, drift back into the present just long enough to enjoy all that Lima has to offer. This intriguing place once referred to as The City of Kings is packed with notorious restaurants, nightlife, refined mansions and colonial style buildings – sure to show off all the history and culture Peru offers.

Now is your chance to end the year with a bang – at least for your buck!

Originally published December 2008
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