BOOK TITLE: The Australia Times - Travel magazine. Volume 3, issue 5

T R Av E L
vol. 3 No. 5 July 2015
Wild Iceland
Starry Eyed
in San Pedro
de Atacama
Dutch authenticity
beyond its Capital
What's Inside?
The American Riviera:
Europe’s Mediterranean
meets Southern
California vibes
Welcome 5
Wild Iceland 8
Starry Eyed in San Pedro de Atacama 14
The American Riviera:
Europes Mediterranean meets
Southern California vibes 24
Dutch authenticity beyond
its Capital 38
Kelly Egan
Elise Assim
Monica Lara
Luke Buesnel
By Elise Assim
Welcome back fellow travellers!
Good travel writing not only equips us with facts
and tips; it offers an escape from everyday life by
transporting us to a new place. We have a range
of destinations covered this month to provide just
that, with some inspiring articles to help you plan
your next trip. In an uplifting piece, Kelly Egan
recounts her experiences camping and hitchhiking
in Iceland. Kelly has developed a deep appreciation
of the region, which is testament to the impact that
travel can have on an individual.
Our feature destination this month is the American
Riviera, located along California’s southern coast.
Monica Lara presents a detailed to guide to this
vibrant area, and captures the unique blend of
cultures with some excellent photography. In
Chile, Elise Assim gives us a glimpse of the town
of San Pedro de Atacama. As well as outlining the
geographical factors of the area, Elise also provides
tips for visiting the town when on a budget.
Finally, Luke Buesnel convinces us to step away
from the capital and visit the charming city of
Utrecht when travelling in Holland. As Luke points
out, visiting lesser known areas can be a richly
rewarding, although there is still something to be
learnt from visiting the tourist hotspots.
Travel is a personal experience, and good travel
writing not only conveys information about a
place, but also offers a glimpse at the impact
the destination has had on the author. With
this in mind, maybe it is time to draw your own
conclusions about a city by visiting firsthand.
Happy travelling,
Rebecc Nadg
Inspiring MindsIndependent Media
Why are some of us bitten by the travel bug, and others are
completely immune?
The TAT Travel Magazine is for the infected, travel-bug-bitten and
passionate nomads. TAT Travel aim to inform, entertain, teach and
celebrate all things travel in Australia and abroard. With real people
and real experiences, come explore the world with us.
Should you wish to contribute to TAT Travel,
contact kelly.sargent@tat.org.au.
We offer both veteran and undiscovered writers the opportunity to get published.
Have something to
COMMUNICATE, or an OPINION to state, we are your voice!
Want to
join a like-minded community in a great project?
he weight of my tent and
backpack became heavier
with each moment that
passed, and I prayed that the
rain would hold off for a few minutes
longer. Throwing my hand out with
my thumb up to the side of the road, I
laughed to myself as each passing car
drove by. Deciding to hitch-hike and
wild camp around Iceland at such a
time wasn’t my most calculated idea,
but it turned one to be of my best.
I had always dreamed of visiting this
wild country and with a cheap ight
Hitching and Camping in
the Land of Fire and Ice
Wild iceland
from Heathrow and a collection of
unused camping gear; the stars just
seemed to align. I had seen a wealth
of movies and documentaries shot in
Iceland and the dark green vegetation
and nomadic landscapes left me
longing for freedom and adventure.
Long bitumen roads would wind
around snow capped mountains
and spectacular glaciers providing a
panorama of natural excellence I could
not seem to ignore.
As a twenty year old female, whenever
I mention my interest in hitch-hiking
Story and Photos By Kelly Egan
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
I am often given the same concerned
and disapproving look. However, not
only did the somewhat conservative
Lonely Planet recommend it, many of
the locals took to this as an everyday
form of transportation. It was widely
known that Iceland was rather
expensive, so a way to save money
was always on a budget traveller’s
mind. With an almost nonexistent
crime rate and friendly faces at every
turn, hitchhiking can be as easy as
putting your thumb up and a smile
on your face. One main road circles
around the island, and it’s never long
before one of the 300,000 bubbly
residents come to your rescue, just as
pleased to see you as you are them.
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
On my rst day, a Land Rover pulled
up and a petite woman jumped out
of the car, her arms waving in the air
as she gestured me over. Throughout
the hours we drove along the striking
main road, stopping off at each scenic
wonder. Whether it was throwing
ourselves on top of icebergs along the
black sand in the south or exploring
the country’s wealth of picturesque
waterfalls, Iceland seemed to be an
explorer’s nirvana and a vacationer’s
dream. As I moved from place to
place, the residents I met and travelled
with seemed to get more and more
charming - hitchhiking was not only a
free ride, it was a new way of meeting
people that left me spellbound.
As well as being a hitch-hiking
hotspot, Iceland is also one of the best
places to ‘wild camp’ in the world.
Wild camping consists of camping
in the wilderness without the use
of controlled grounds; it is legal
to camp anywhere in the country
within reason. More than just free
accommodation, camping provides
freedom in every sense of the word.
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
As I heated my stove, Icelandic ponies
and sheep would circle around nearby
the hot springs. Waking up on top
of waterfalls and setting up camp in
luscious green valleys was something
I would never tire of.
I began to feel a deep and rich
appreciation for this way of travelling.
The weight of my belongings on
my back; packing up my tent each
morning and seeking new terrain
seemed to be the most natural thing
in the world. The days would bring
exploration and awe that had a certain
nomadic feel to it that would leave
me wanting more. A few months ago
I would have turned up my nose
at the idea of hitch-hiking or wild
camping- my high heels and pencil
skirt wouldn’t have permitted it- but
for those two short weeks I felt part
of the land. Iceland proved to be a
magnicent reminder of the natural
beauty of the world, and I had fallen
more in love with the country’s charm
at every turn. I had branched out of
my comfort zone by hitchhiking and
camping, and was richly rewarded
with a deeper appreciation of the
country that may not have been
possible from a hotel room.
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
Starry Eyed in
San Pedro de Atacama
San Pedro de Atacama
The Driest Place on Earth
The Atacama Desert, covering a 1000km
strip of land on the Pacic coast of South
America, West of the Andes Mountain
Range, is the driest non-polar desert in the
world. With innumerable geological wonders
such as geysers, hot springs, salt lakes, snow
capped volcanoes, fascinating ora and
fauna, and charming little towns, this diverse
and other-worldly landscape is evocative of
somewhere truly not of this world!
By Elise Assim
The town of San Pedro
de Atacama, Chile, is the
favoured start/ nish
point for the popular
Salar de Uyuni 4WD
Tour. Situated amidst
spectacularly bizarre
terrain, the local people
of this precordillera
oasis work primarily to
facilitate the tourism
industry. The tiny town
hardly seems big enough
to absorb the hordes
of travellers that arrive
daily; it is little more than
a handful of cobbled
streets surrounding
a central plaza and a
postcard-perfect church.
What this means for
a traveller is steeply
priced restaurants and
accommodation, plenty
of souvenir stores,
a collection of tour
agencies, but above all, a
lively adventurer’s vibe,
animated with positive
energy and a sense of
backpacker camaraderie.
What makes San Pedro de
Atacama so special?
The 3rd largest geyser eld in the
world (El Tatio Geysers)
The 3rd largest salt ats in the
world (Salar de Atacama)
The lunar landscapes of the Valley
of the Moon and Death Valley
The Laguna Cejar that is so salty
you can oat in it like the Dead Sea
The two faces carved in rock walls
(Pukara de Quito)
The deep blue altiplano lagoons
Stargazing – gaze up at the Milky
Way, Saturn and the Moon
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
With the prices of accommodation and restaurants
mildly more expensive than elsewhere in Chile, it’s
benecial to have a few insider tips on how to cut
down your spending, whilst still being able to enjoy
all San Pedro has to oer.
Tips to Enjoy San Pedro de
Atacama on a Budget
Take a turn o the main stretch of
town – this is where you’ll nd the cheapest
accommodation. There are plenty of family-run
hostels, willing to negotiate a cheap price on
rooms, especially outside peak season.
Shop at the local fruit and vegetable
markets – Eating out is expensive in the
town, and there isn’t the option of venturing
elsewhere, not close by at least!
Shop around for the best price on tours
– Most companies oer the same tours for
a slightly dierent price. Do your research,
negotiate the best price and above all, go with a
company that has an armative feel, congruent
to what you hope to experience on the tour.
Cycle rather than taking a tour – Laguna
Cejar, Pukara de Quito, Death Valley, Cartape
Valley and Valley of the Moon are all accessible
by bike. Bikes cost around $14 to hire for the
entire day in comparison to the more expensive,
structured tours you’ll nd oered around town.
Self-guided tours are one of best ways to save
money while travelling. Not only do you save
money, you also get to take your time and have
the freedom to explore as you wish.
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
Rise to fading stars and bitter desert temperatures,
cycle along lonely winding roads to watch the most
unforgettable sunrise you will ever experience.
Gaze through state-of-the-art telescopes into the
heavens, stand in awe of Nature’s ability to create
such beauty and swap tales of adventure with like-
minded travellers. Enjoy all this whilst soaking up
the powerful desert spirit that emanates from San
Pedro de Atacama’s captivating core.
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
The Valley of the Moon
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
The American Riviera and Channel Islands
© Monica Lara
The American Riviera:
Europe’s Mediterranean meets
Southern California vibes
By Monica Lara
ituated on California’s sunny southern coast, the American
Riviera is reminiscent of Europe’s auent Mediterranean
region combined with the Golden State’s laid-back, American
beach town style. Its beaches, stretching 160 kilometres
along the Pacic Ocean, overlook nearby islands. A rich history
characterises the coastline with its Spanish-inuenced architecture
of red-tile rooftops on whitewashed buildings. The beautiful coastal
landscape of the American Riviera has served as a backdrop for
many American movies and television shows. And since the weather
is ideal year-round, this part of California has something for just
about every type of traveller, especially the outdoors people, festival
goers, foodies, history bus, and even the Hollywood star stuck.
The Santa Barbara
South Coast
The American Riviera is the
southern coastal region of Santa
Barbara County, which is about
150 kilometres up the West
Coast from Los Angeles. The
region includes neighbouring
cities Goleta, Santa Barbara,
Montecito and Summerland.
Once part of Mexico, the region
gets its unique cultural style
from the blending of Spanish,
Mexican and Native American
inuences. Just o the coastline
span the eight Channel Islands,
home to the oldest human
remains in North America.
The islands make for an ideal
excursion for those who like to
kayak, snorkel or sh. For those
who like to hike, the American
Riviera backs up to the Santa
Ynez Mountains. Hiking trails
are easily accessible, and
provide ample opportunity to
scale up to beautiful vistas or
discover hidden waterfalls and
caves. From the north, lush
California wine regions seep
into Santa Barbara County.
Haskell's Beach in Goleta
© Monica Lara
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
Follow in Famous
Before Hollywood got its name,
Santa Barbara County was the
place silent lmmakers made
movie magic. Today, it has been
featured in a long list of lms
and TV shows dating back to the
early 1900s. Follow the footsteps
of many famous visitors who
have stopped through, including
royal couple Prince William and
Kate Middleton. Grab tacos at
La Super Rica Taqueria, a family-
owned Mexican restaurant, and
day drink at Wildcat Lounge,
where heart-pumping music
and sexy go-go dancers come
out after the sun goes down.
Take a friend and drive the route
featured in the Oscarwinning
2004 lm Sideways, and live big
by booking a room in the Four
Seasons The Biltmore, which was
featured in No Strings Attached.
Grab a star studded itinerary
and go on a hunt for famous
places all over the region.
Stearns Warf
© Monica Lara
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
Old Santa Barbara Mission
© Monica Lara
2015 Summer Solstice Parade
© Monica Lara
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
Get Festive
Attracting thousands of
people at a time, the year-
round festivals are one of the
area’s biggest draw cards.
The Summer Solstice Parade
and 3-day festival kick o
the peak season in June; up
until the 5-day Old Spanish
Days Fiesta in the rst part of
August, there are festivals every
week. The esta is the biggest
summertime festival celebrating
the region’s heritage. The
Santa Barbara International
Film Festival spans about 11
days in late January or early
February attracting people from
all over the world. During the
2015 festival, big-named stars
attended, including Jennifer
Aniston and Steve Carell. Next
year’s festival, scheduled for
February 3-13, is expected to
screen more than 200 movie
premieres. But foodies, brace
yourself: there is a 31-day
countywide, culinary celebration
in October called Epicure.
sb, which is all about diverse
cuisine, cooking classes and
everything food. Be sure to
check out the top 10 festivals
and the full festival calendar
before your trip.
Arlington Theatre in Downtown Santa Barbara
© Monica Lara
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
Conway Deep Sea Tasting Room
© Monica Lara
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
Wining and Dining
Being a cultural hub, the
American Riviera is chock full
of places to wine and dine,
or enjoy a craft brew if that is
more your style. Four California
wine regions are situated
within Santa Barbara County:
the Santa Barbara County
vineyards, Santa Maria and
Santa Ynez Valleys, and Sta.
Rita Hills. Bringing local wines
straight from the vine to the
tables are tasting rooms along
the region’s urban wine trail,
including the Conway Deep Sea
Tasting Room. Hidden behind a
gift shop backdoor on Stearns
Warf, the Conway Deep Sea
Tasting Room features the
region’s costal wines while
you sip and take in the ocean
view. For the craft beer lovers,
Santa Barbara County has
seven microbreweries. Pair
your drink of choice with an
array of farm-to-table foods
and desserts, for which the
region is known. From family-
owned restaurants to high-end
ne dining, the ingredients in
the region’s cuisines are most
likely harvested, caught or made
locally. Not sure about where
to go rst? The Crave list is a
good place to start with local
favourites including McConnell’s
all-natural ice cream. The Public
Market is a foodie's paradise
with several handcrafted,
regionally sourced food places
under one roof. Or whip out
your favourite restaurant app
and go down the long list of
palate satisfying cuisines.
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
Tips for your trip
The best time to visit: end of June -
beginning of August during peak festival
season and long, hot summer days.
Travelling from Los Angeles: take a
scenic road trip along the Pacic Coast
and 101 Highways, which go through
Santa Monica, Malibu and other coastal
cities. You can also book a Pacic
Suriner Amtrak train trip, or a quick
50-minute ight from the LAX airport.
Accommodation: book your place near
Downtown Santa Barbara and be central
to everything.
Santa Barbara Harbor
© Monica Lara
Dutch authenticity
beyond its Capital
By Luke Buesnel
A Hipster love
© Dianne den Drijver
Barge boats in the canal
© Dianne den Drijver
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
Dutch authenticity
beyond its Capital
The Domtoren Tower
© Dianne den Drijver
A Hipster love
© Dianne den Drijver
A Hipster love
© Dianne den Drijver
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
Amsterdam has suffered the
same plight as many touristy
destinations and become tacky.
I don’t say it lightly, but let’s
review the evidence:
In Amsterdam, dirty
backpackers smoke weed
and descend into pseudo-
intellectual hyperbole, gawkers
creep the red-light district with
sleaze and British stags get the
early flight over to booze, party
and harass sex workers (often
from lower-socioeconomic
European countries).
Its charm is often lost to a
drunk cockney accent yelling
“F***, I wouldn’t pay for her”.
Get the point?
Don’t be too perturbed: The
Netherlands still has a gem, its
name is Utrecht.
Utrecht (the fourth largest
Dutch city) can be reached
within 30 minutes from
Amsterdam Centraal Station
via a train locally known as a
“koploper” (yellow intercity
line) for roughly 8 euro
although act with care when
purchasing a ticket, it’s not a
simple process.
On arrival, your authentic
Dutch experience will begin.
I imagine this place to be
what Amsterdam once was: a
pristine place of significance,
untouched by the mass tourist-
rush.Utrecht is for locals.
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
There’s a strong culture alive
here. Interestingly, after
Amsterdam, Utrecht has the
highest number of cultural
events in the Netherlands.
Landmarks, like the Domtoren
Tower (the tallest church tower
in the Netherlands), create a
sense of history and the fusion
of middle age architecture
and progressive town design
have fostered an attractive and
captivating city.
Cars are seldom seen here.
Natives cruise-by on relic
bicycles and sound a “polite”
Beers and Barrels
© Dianne den Drijver
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
bell to alert strollers of their
approach (done more gently
than in Amsterdam).
There’s a coolness to Utrecht,
akin to Berlin, as young
trendy university students
call it home. Because of
its university (the largest
in the Netherlands), local
businesses and close proximity
to the capital, Utrecht has a
curious mix of students and
professional inhabitants.
The friendliness of the Dutch
is often debatable: some say
they are polite and welcoming,
others argue they’re ruder than
the French. In Utrecht however,
language, creed and age hold
no barriers locals will talk.
Conversations can be struck
up by engaging in another
hallmark of local life.
European culture connotes an
appreciation of
food and alcohol,
and Utrecht
features many
Dutch pubs and
restaurants, like
Beers and Barrels,
along the curves
of the canal.
As opposed to
this canal is not
overloaded with
barge boats and
long queues
waiting to board.
Here a cruise
means sitting
back, relaxed and
perusing local
life, like a moving
picture, as you
drift by.
Town Centre
© Dianne den Drijver
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
Two “delicacies” that need
to be consumed when in the
Netherlands are Holland’s
number one fast food, the
Frikandel Speciaal and the
moreish Stroopwafels.
Frikandel speciaal, a skinless
deep-fried sausage served with
raw onions, hot chips and curry
ketchup and/or mayonnaise, is
not one for the arteries- more
the experience.
Popular at local markets are
Stroopwafels. The heated
waffle warms as it oozes a
golden caramel syrup, perfect
for a European winter or an
accompaniment to a coffee.
After years travelling to Europe
I was shocked standing in main
street Utrecht: locals bring out
the culture, history tells its
story and its natural aesthetics
“sell” the city, with little tourism
to tarnish it. In Europe that’s
almost unheard of.
Truth be told, Amsterdam still
has much to offer historically
and culturally. And its pot-
smoking cafes, tiny laneways
with parading prostitutes are
worth a quick gawk.
But for a true appreciation
of Dutch authenticity, jump
on the koploper and travel
back and experience what
Amsterdam was like before the
joint was rolled by tourism.
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Tat Kuang Si Waterfall, Laos
© Rebecca Nadge
There are no foreign lands.
It is the traveler only who is foreign.
-Robert Louis Stevenson