The Global Basecamps Blog

Best of Basecamps: Nishimuraya Honkan Ryokan

12.30.2013

by elias

Japan’s Culture Through Ryokan

Nishimuraya RyokanFew countries can claim their hotels as one of their main tourist attractions. Japan is different. Staying in a traditional ryokan provides insight into what Japan values: simple, well-made food, courteous service, tradition, a place that feels like home.

No one travels in Japan more than the Japanese themselves. Part of this is due to the values listed above, and part of this is because of the natural hot springs that dot the islands. Weekends at a hot spring resort are not just common, they’re a necessary respite from the stress of urban living. Knowing this, it’s safe to say that the country’s best ryokan are located near the country’s most popular natural hot springs.

And so we come to Nishimuraya Honkan Ryokan, a traditional yet luxurious basecamp in Kinosaki-cho, Japan.

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24 Hours In: Hong Kong

12.3.2013

by elias

Hong Kong HarborIn our “24 Hours In” series, we present ideas for how to spend a full day in a featured city. The cities we’ll be covering include places often traveled through, but not in. These cities often act as international flight hubs, and layovers can extend from hours to a full day at times. So if you’re in a city on your way to or from your destination, following are some of our favorite things to do there!

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How to See Sumo, Seriously

10.22.2013

by elias

Sumo Wrestlers

Japan is a familiar place, whether we as Americans recognize it or not. Think of a foreign culture with more instantly recognizable symbols. Samurai, geisha, castles, cherry blossoms, anime cartoons. Despite this, between the language and the private nature of its people, Japanese culture can be a tough nut to crack. Global Basecamps' cultural Japan tours aim to change this, by making it as easy as possible to experience old and new Japan. In an effort to pierce the veil just a bit before your trip, we will do our best to outline what to expect in a common day at a sumo wrestling tournament.

Where to See Sumo

Japan’s most popular tournaments are held in a rotation throughout the year in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka. These cities all have international airports and are easily accessible by other means, but foreigners tend to attend Tokyo and Osaka tournaments in greater numbers. Of these, the most popular venue by far is Tokyo’s Kokugikan, which hosts the January, May and September tournaments and seats 13,000 people.

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Best of Basecamps: Titilaka

10.1.2013

by elias

Getting to Lake Titicaca

TitilakaYou get an idea of why Titilaka is so special as you land at nearby Juliaca airport. As excited as any traveler is to see stunning Lake Titicaca, the cities of neighboring Juliaca and lake-side Puno are… not a good introduction. There is poverty in Puno, there is an indigenous culture forgotten by modern civilization, there are incomplete brick buildings, there is a growing urban haze. And bad news for most travelers: most of the hotels on Lake Titicaca are within view of all of this.

But then your private driver keeps driving, and driving, and driving. Almost blissfully, the city gets left in the rear view mirror. City sounds and sights give way to family farms and the families that work them. Long views of the lake compliment the wide open sky that feels closer at this high elevation. And thirty minutes later, you arrive at your country estate.

Titilaka truly feels like your weekend home on the lake. Titilaka feels like it waits for you, like nothing happens when you’re not there, like somehow you’ve earned this level of service and comfort. Upon arrival, attendants host an almost ceremonial “welcome bonfire” on the shore, where a first sunset is enjoyed with tea and tapas. An attendant is available in your living room at all times. Chefs prepare world-class meals in your kitchen. Your guide knows your name and is ready to take you on any excursion around the lake. Titilaka, in some way, says “welcome home” every time you return, even if you were just gone for the morning.

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Is Colombia Safe?

8.19.2013

by elias

 

“Is Colombia safe for travelers?”

 

CartagenaThis is the first question that our Colombia travel specialists often get when planning travel there. Americans in particular have concerns about traveling to a country so recently known for its centrality to the drug trade, and the violence that was born of it. I’m going to be honest with you. There’s part of us here at Global Basecamps that wants to lie to you. Part of us wants to say “wait 10 more years for things to settle down,” or “the security is not quite there yet.” There seems to be an exclusive club of travelers these days, a secret cabal of people in the know. They know Colombia has been safe for years. They know its beaches are top notch. They know it is absolutely one of the best countries to travel in almost because so few people go there.

Really, this is no secret if you’ve been paying attention. In 2008, The New York Times officially declared Cartagena a foodie destination. Travel + Leisure called Cartagena a Hidden Retreat in the same year. Last year, the Times seemed to still be on the Colombia-train, moving onto the great eats in Bogota and its tourist revival. It’s a common topic of conversation in our office. How do we get the message across that Colombia is safe, when the New York Times can’t seem to do it? Consider us stumped. The best we can do is describe the perfect vacation setting as best we can, and travelers can make up their own minds.

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