My Lovely Day at the Vegan-Friendly Southeast Asian Water Festival in Lowell, MA

The Summer season abounds with outdoor festivals! Music, dance, crafts, and food offerings are plentiful at these events. As a travel & culture enthusiast, multiple festivals had secured a dedicated spot on my summer agenda! During late August, I spent the afternoon at the Southeast Asian Water Festival in the cobble-stoned mill town of Lowell, Massachusetts. After all, visiting a cultural festival can wonderfully prepare you with useful insight for future travels to those countries! These fabulous festivals may introduce you to the culture of a particular region or to the vegan-friendly options of your upcoming vacation destination. This particular festival showcased the music, arts, dance, and food of places such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Burma.

The Merrimack River flows along the Lowell region in northern Massachusetts. Hence, it was the perfect place for the Dragon boat races. Several teams rowed fearlessly along the waters until one by one various teams were eliminated and a winner was declared.
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One of the first food vendors I came across, was displaying an intriguing item that I had never seen in the past. Tall and mighty sugarcane stalks had been carved into shorter vessels containing a sweet purple sticky rice treat. As it was vegan, it was time for me to try this extraordinary find! I must say..it was delicious indeed! It is eaten by scooping out the rice using your hand. When you can no longer reach into the stalk, you are required to break it open into two lengthy pieces to eat the remainder of the rice. If I see this food during any upcoming travels to Vietnam or Cambodia, I will be prepared with the knowledge on how it is eaten! My beverage to wash it down was obviously its sugarcane juice.
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Another festival ‘favorite’ of mine was my encounter with containers filled with various Southeast Asian fruits. Rambutan, longan, and lychee were ripe and ready to consume. I enjoyed eating some lychee! Vegan-friendly exotic fruit is another reason to look forward to future travels to Southeast Asia. I highly recommend sampling all of the local fruit.
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I stumbled upon a food vendor table that offered several vegan Burmese lunch appetizers and meals. Tofu salad, tofu and kidney bean fritters, and noodle salad. Later in the afternoon, when my hunger pangs arrived, I knew that I would return to this vendor for my lunch.
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Crafts items such as intricately woven baskets were proudly displayed for purchase.
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Spectacular art work by Cambodian artists represented scenes from the Cambodian countryside, renowned landmarks such as Angkor Wat, and the closeup expressiveness of its people.
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Buddhist monks in their bright orange garb sat soulfully still in contemplative pose, surrounded by vibrant flowers, while incense permeates the air.
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Within the same tented area, a group of young women in traditional Cambodian attire performed local dances.
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Finally my tummy told me that it was time for lunch. I dined on some tofu fritters and kidney bean cakes that I had luckily noticed earlier at the Burmese food tent. A tasty tomato sauce accompanied the savory bites. They were quite yummy! Burmese food is wonderful, in my experience.
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More entertainment was stirring up the main stage! The next performance that took place was a dance performance by the Angkor Wat dance troupe from Lowell. Their interpretation of Cambodian traditional dances was superb to say the least.
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Next up was a group that showcased dances from Vietnam. This particular one was referred to as the Vietnamese “Fan Dance”. It was another stellar rendition of traditional Southeast Asian dance!
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A flutist rendered some wonderful instrumental tunes.
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For the final stage act showcasing Asian arts & culture(though not Southeast Asian), a Grand Master exhibited sleek and swift moves of Tai Chi.
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I truly enjoyed my afternoon at the Southeast Asian festival! It brought back fond memories of my past holiday in Thailand and has fueled my desires for future travels to Vietnam and Cambodia. The festival sights and sounds, along with the great vegan food options, has given me a nice glimpse into that culture to prepare me for any upcoming visits to that region.

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My Vegan Day Trip To Nantucket Island!

My favorite destination in the entire USA is the island of Nantucket! This is the reason why I could not let summer go by without paying a visit! The quaint island with a length of fourteen miles and width of three, is located thirty miles off the southeastern coast of Massachusetts. During this past Labor Day weekend holiday, I took a day trip to my beloved isle!

The Steamship Authority ferry departs from Hyannis on Cape Cod. As the ship was leaving the dock, I glanced back towards the lovely view of this Cape Cod town. Small boats dotted the harbor along the way, as the homes and retail establishments faded from our view.
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Grassy sandbars protruding from land into the sea came into our sight. Eventually we were surrounded by nothing but the vast ocean!
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Approximately, two hours and fifteen minutes later, we had reached our destination of Nantucket! From a distance, I could clearly recognize that glorious panoramic view with the tall church steeple in the background.
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Visitors are first greeted by the Brant Point Lighthouse, upon arrival to the island. I’m an energetic girl by nature..always on the go…filling my itinerary with non-stop action and sightseeing from morning til night! However, there is a certain “je ne sais quoi” about Nantucket that makes my inner restlessness want to unwind, relax, and just go with the flow here! It is such a tranquil place with soothing scenery that encourages you to exhale a deep breathe of calmness.
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Once the ferry docked, I knew where I was headed first! To the “Juice Bar”!
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The “Juice Bar Homemade Ice Cream”(The Juice Bar Homemade Ice Cream) shop is a longtime Nantucket institution! I had been going there for years just for their fresh fruit juices. Each year, I looked at the throngs of people in line waiting to order one of the many flavors of ice cream for which the shop is renowned. Finally, they offer VEGAN flavors this year! I jumped for joy at this recent discovery! The vegan flavor of the day was chocolate peanut butter. I absolutely loved the smooth and creamy, tasty treat!
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Since this was a Saturday, the summertime Farmer’s Market was taking place during the hours of 9am until 1pm. “Sustainable Nantucket” runs this event to support local agriculture and the local economy. My main reason to drop by, was primarily to see a vegan-friendly vendor called “Fare Isle” (Fare Isle). The owner offers artisan whole food creations such as organic and foraged food items, specialty teas, sauces, herbal oils, jars of vegan ingredients for baking cookies, skin products, and craft items. Sometimes, she brings a quantity of her baked goods for guests to sample, such as vegan bars or cookies. Kaity(the founder) also creates a vegan, specialty item known as “ice cream drops”.
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A woman who hosts a website called “Vegan Nantucket” has sometimes displayed an information table at the Saturday market. She was not in attendance during my visit to the island, however. She basically educates visitors regarding local vegan dining and shopping.

Another vendor nearby offers homemade Nantucket jams, containing the local fruits and berries.
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The next stop on my agenda was the Ack Fresh (Ack Fresh) juice shop. Located by the waterfront on picturesque Easy Street, this storefront sells fresh raw juices, as well as eco-friendly shampoos, clothing, and snacks.
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I purchased a vegan, lemon, coconut milk soap and a nutritiously refreshing, coldpressed juice containing apple, kale, and cucumber.
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Across the road is the “Nantucket Surf Company” (Nantucket Surf Company). Remember those vegan “ice cream drops” from the “Fare Isle” market vendor? Her ice cream drops are sold at the Nantucket Surf Company! I purchased a box containing six pieces of “melt in your mouth”, flavorful raspberry cream drops!
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After my sweet snack, I strolled about the cobble-stoned Main Street for a while.
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Several unique craft shops, gift shops, galleries, and fancy boutiques call this road their home.
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At the bottom of Main Street is one of my favorite spots on the island:the place where the yachts are docked! Tourists enjoy sitting on the wooden benches by the docks and just appreciating the view! Small wooden buildings line the perimeter of the harbor, housing clothing shops and art galleries.
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Further up on Main, I stopped by a couple of larger galleries to admire the paintings and sculptures.
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Not certain about the distance of my lunch spot, I got into a taxi for what turned out to be not even a ten minute ride. The Green (The Green Restaurant) serves up vegan-friendly, inexpensive fare for a quick, mid-day meal. I opted for the burrito with black beans, brown rice, tomatoes, lettuce, olives, and red onions, in a flour tortilla. It was deliciously spicy and flavorful! I also purchased a vegan, banana nut muffin as my dessert. The moist and chewy treat was yummy! The cafe also offers vegan brownies, as well as vegan bagel breakfast sandwiches.
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Back in town, I walked up Main Street to experience the stately old mansions of the elite “captains of industry” from back in the island’s heyday. Guests may visit the interior of a few of these homes when the tours operate.
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A nineteenth century church on the corner of Main and Centre Street stands proudly.
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On the opposite side on upper Main Street, lies a clothing and accessories shop called “Vis A Vis”. I went inside to check out their collection of vegan handbags and wallets.
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Now it was beach time! Nantucket can definitely boast of several stunning beaches! Surfside Beach is one of the most popular on the island. For $2, the city bus from downtown will bring tourists directly to the beach. A snack bar, restrooms, beach shop, and lifeguard stations make this a well-equipped location. This lengthy beach with its soft white sands and crashing waves provides a breath-taking spot to spend a summer afternoon! The water temperature is perfect enough to go for a dip.
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My three hours unwinding and relaxing at Surfside Beach had come to an end. When the bus dropped me back on Main Street, I walked by The Club Car which is a famous spot to spend an evening to hear some music.
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Dinner time was drawing near, so I headed over to Dune (Dune Restaurant ). This exquisite restaurant offers an eclectic menu of entrees and appetizers, including special vegan options. My dinner selection was the vegan tasting plate. Included in my entree was black rice, panzanella tomato salad, watermelon salad, broccolini, roasted fingerling potatoes, and rainbow carrots & beet vinaigrette. The meal was absolutely delicious! Each portion provided a unique and flavorful experience for my palate. If you would like to treat yourself to a upscale gourmet meal, then this is the place to do so! I dined in their covered outdoor patio. The atmosphere and ambiance at this elegant restaurant is worth paying a visit!
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There was some time before my ferry would arrive back in port, so I strolled about the various streets in town.
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I came upon a historic old church; the First Congregational Church, built in 1725.
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Several lovely inns with their flower-trimmed windows met my gaze.
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The Atheneum with its regal white pillars stood before me. The island’s library is housed in a historic building constructed in the 1840s. William Coffin,a wealthy Nantucket banker had heard young abolitionist Fredrick Douglass give an anti-slavery speech in New Bedford and invited him to speak on Nantucket. Mr. Douglass did indeed visit and was persuaded to speak at Nantucket’s first anti-slavery convention.
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As the evening was drawing to a close, the setting sun over the waters on Easy Street provided a gorgeous vision to behold!
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It was eight o’clock in the evening when the ferry had arrived back in port. I caught one last glance of the stunning island cityscape as the ship started to depart for the return journey back to Hyannis.
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I really enjoyed this getaway to my beloved Nantucket! This jewel of an island offers breath-taking vistas, gorgeous beaches, quaint cobble-stoned streets, the arts, and wonderful vegan dining! I encourage every vegan tourist to visit the island.

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My Vegan Road Trip to The Green Mountains of Vermont

The Green Mountains of Vermont are its state prize possession! Although I had visited Vermont several times in the past, this region was new to me. Thus, my road trip adventure was a must for me this summer!

My itinerary was pre-planned, including much research on vegan dining options. You see, this region of the state does not offer much in the vegan dining scene. However, there are just enough veggie-friendly establishments that will satisfy your hunger pangs! When I arrived in the region, I drove to the city of Bennington. Bakkerij Krijnen (Bakkerij Krijnen) is a vegetarian/vegan-friendly bakery. They occasionally provide vegan treats. The day I arrived, the vegan options available were their freshly baked vegan breads. My selection was the kalamata olive sourdough bread. The soup of the day was a vegan spicy Indian curry. I was given a sample to try. Its flavor was superb! The hearty bread was baked to perfection, with the flavorful olives as adding to each tasty morsel!
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After taking a bite out of the bread, I placed the loaf into my tote bag and made my way back on the road to my breakfast destination. The Works Bakery Cafe (Works Bakery Cafe) in Manchester, Vermont includes a vegan cream cheese on its bagel menu. For the lunch time crowd, they offer a veggie wrap with a vegan dressing. I opted for the garlic bagel with the vegan cream cheese! My inexpensive breakfast was really delectable!
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The town of Manchester is in the “heart” of the Green Mountain region. The first stop on my agenda was Hildene. This magnificent mansion was the summer home of President Lincoln’s son Robert. The self-guided tour of the spacious home was a superb experience! Ornate period furniture and belongings were proudly showcased through the interior. Some of Abe Lincoln’s personal belongings are displayed in the home. If time allows, visitors may also take the minibus ride to the century old Pullman car train on the property. Robert Todd Lincoln became president of the Pullman Company in the late 1890s.
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The vibrant green mountains behind the home make for stunning views!
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The palatial home also includes gorgeous gardens on the grounds behind it. Hildene is a must-see on every tourist’s itinerary in Vermont!
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After my visit to the glorious Hildene mansion, I headed to the old historic town center of Manchester Village. The Equinox Resort & Spa is a luxurious accommodation that has historical significance. The Marsh Tavern portion of the inn was the spot where Ethan Allen’s brother held meetings to raise funds to equip The Green Mountain Boys during the American Revolution. President Lincoln and his wife visited the property and their granddaughter actually lived in the 1811 House on site around 1905. The beautiful Equinox Mountain provides the backdrop scenery.
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Heading further on the outskirts of town, my next stop was the Southern Vermont Arts Center. Within the two buildings, one finds works by local artists. Mountainous Vermont landscapes and babbling brooks painted with Fall and Summer color palates are lovely to behold.
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Outside the gallery buildings, one finds many unique and fanciful statues and sculptures on the grounds! Pieces of a game of jax, a silver palm tree, a multi-color horse, and a giant metal person in a dance pose greeted me upon my arrival!
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Onward I went to a town further north, nestled with the Green Mountain region! The quaint village of Weston has gained quite a bit of popularity among tourists! The Weston Village Store was first on my agenda. Nostalgic signs, Vermont souvenirs, local pottery and maple syrup products, and toys are found here. I purchased a couple of yummy maple syrup candies. This historic shop has been serving customers since 1891.
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Across the street, the Vermont Country Store welcomes visitors to peruse its aisles! The massive shop offers difficult to find products of decades gone by. Behind the old fashioned register counter, candy containers are displayed on shelves.
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Even a vegan cookie brand displays on a nearby shelf!
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Jars filled with classic candies greet visitors upon entering the store.
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Various new and classic food items are showcased throughout the shop, offering free samples to visitors. I tried some old fashioned potato chips, pretzels, and some salsa with multigrain crackers.
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Titanic soap, toiletries from the 1970s, and cold and medicinal remedies from the World War II era are just a few of the items I noticed.
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The final shop I visited, was the Weston Village Christmas Shop. What a fabulous gem this is! Unique and beautiful Christmas ornaments, holiday figures of Santa Claus and Snowmen, Nativity scenes, and many other Christmas items can be purchased at this enchanting shop! This is a “have got to see” attraction!
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My visit to lovely Weston had come to an end. Lunch time arrived and I was indeed hungry! I headed to the town of Londonderry, Vermont for my meal. “Garden Market” (Garden Market) is a wonderful market where one can find shelves lined with vegan snacks, beverages, deli foods, produce, and anything that vegan tastebuds can desire! The shop includes a vegan-friendly deli counter where one can purchase sandwiches and beverages. I selected the bbq tempeh sandwich with avocado, red onion, peppers, and tomatoes in a grilled flatbread. It was delicious! My beverage was a lavender, freshly squeezed lemonade. I enjoyed it, as well!

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Driving further south a bit, I appreciated the spectacular landscape of the mountains and valleys.
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My next destination was the town of Dorset. The important landmark to note in this small village is the Dorset Quarry. It is the oldest marble quarry in the United States, dating back to the year 1785. Locals use its waters as a swimming hole. The surrounding large marble pieces are spectacular to say the least. The marble and surrounding trees provide stunning reflections in the water.
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The pretty mountain vistas met my glance as I headed back to the town of Manchester.
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Back in Manchester, the red Kimball Grist Mill built in 1853 looked very picturesque with the gushing waterfalls before it.
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Adjacent to the main mill building, lies a vibrant green one. In the background, an attractive and historic red church stands.
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Farm stands selling local produce are dotted along the roadways in Vermont. I came across one such stand “Dutton Berry Farms”. It was more of a large wooden building selling local fruits and veggies. I purchased a newly harvested tomato and some local black raspberries to take home with me.
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Another popular attraction on every tourist’s Vermont itinerary is any of the splendid covered bridges, along many local routes. I found this one by sheer coincidence heading southeast from Manchester towards Brattleboro on Route 30.
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My final meal of my Vermont excursion was had at Superfresh Organic Cafe (Superfresh Organic Cafe ) in Brattleboro. This Vermont city is actually outside of the Green Mountain Range. However, I wanted to try this vegan-friendly “new kid on the block” on my way back home to Massachusetts. The restaurant is almost all vegan, except for a couple of items. Rice bowls, vegan pizzas, burritos, baked goods, and wonderful smoothies round out their extensive menu.

The vegan, chocolate chipolte cupcake was my first purchase. After taking a bite of the yummy treat, I saved the remainder for the next day’s snack.
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The restaurant serves up several wonderful rice bowls. I chose a quinoa and lentil bowl with avocados, seasonal veggies and greens, an amazing sunseed scramble, cashew cheeze, chipolte aoili, mild salsa, and sprouts. My food was absolutely delicious! I highly recommend dining here for their nutritious and flavorful bowls.
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Thus ended my visit to the Green Mountains! This jewel of a region in southwestern Vermont is a breath-taking experience that any traveler would enjoy! I drove back to my neighboring state of Massachusetts feeling content and fulfilled by my Vermont sightseeing adventure.

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My Vegan Road Trip To New Hampshire Lakes Region & White Mountains

Summertime escapes to the White Mountains of New Hampshire have been part of every New Englander’s agenda since childhood! I recently decided that it was about time for me to visit a couple of destinations which I had never before experienced in that region.

My first stop was the infamous “Polar Caves” heading towards the White Mountains. Contrary to its entrance signage, there are no polar bears on its premises. Instead, the attraction consists of a myriad of caves formed by glacier ice melt from the White Mountains.
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I was famished after my length drive, so I entered the gift shop on the grounds, to purchase a fresh dill pickle. It satisfied my hunger for the remainder of my visit to the Park.
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As I veered right into the Polar Caves Park, I first came across a Maple Sugaring Shack. Sugaring equipment was exhibited within the structure. An old tub used to collect sap from trees, was displayed outside of the building.
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The cave’s interiors were complex in nature. No two were alike whatsoever, as all shapes and sizes could be found. Multiple steps made of stone pushed our limits of strength and stamina as we marched forward with upward and downward steps.
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Indigenous tools were even excavated within these underground caves. Indian populations called this area home in centuries past.
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Many of the caves had tight and narrow passageways that visitors must squeeze their way through.
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Stone benches can be found within a cave or two. One may assume these were placed for gatherings or group meetings.
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Each of the caves had curious names. King Tut’s Tomb is one name that stands out from the crowd.
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A giant boulder displays a sign claiming that it is the largest granite boulder in the world!
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My enjoyable visit to the Polar Caves had completed. This is most definitely a must-see activity for the itinerary of any tourist in the area!

On the way to my next destination, I paid a visit to the city of Lebanon, New Hampshire. Dazzle Cupcakes (Dazzle Cupcakes) offers a vegan flavor or two on their menu, so I wanted to check it out. Unfortunately, they are closed on Monday so I did not get the opportunity to sample their vegan baked goods. It is nice to know that this vegan-friendly bakery does exist heading southbound from the White Mountains to Lakes Region of New Hampshire.
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Lunch time had arrived, so I decided to have my mid-day meal at a vegan-friendly pizza shop called “Cantore’s Pizza” (Cantore’s Pizza) in the town of West Lebanon. My pizza consisted of olives, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes with a vegan mozzarella cheese topping. It was delicious!
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I drove through many small towns towards the Lakes Region for a pleasant afternoon. It was time for dinner, once I arrived in the Lakes Region. “Bistro Nouveau”(Bistro Nouveau) in the town of Grantham offers several options on their vegan menu. I opted for the tofu stir-fry over noodles in a chili sauce. It was fantanstic!
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Onward, I was southwest-bound to Lake Sunapee! The town center was comprised of shops, art galleries, and a lovely, picturesque boat dock area.
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I encountered a covered bridge overlooking spectacular waterfalls, while taking a walk in the nearby woodsy trails.
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Back in the village center, I decided to enjoy some refreshing sorbet. Marzelli’s Sunapee Harbor Sweet Shop and Cafe (72 Main Street in Sunapee Village) offers several vegan-friendly fruit sorbets. I opted for the Blood Orange flavor. It was really tasty!
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After the cool treat, my final destination in the region was the Lake Sunapee Beach nestled in a state forest a few miles down the road. The lake and its views were stunning! This white soft sand beach with its lengthy shoreline is indeed a gem!
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My road trip to the Lakes Region and White Mountains of New Hampshire had come to a close. As I headed back home, my mind was filled of fond memories from this wonderfully scenic and adventurous day!

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Solo Travel Tips For Vegans, Vegetarians, and Everyone!

Solo travel can prove to be both challenging and rewarding. For this solo female traveler, the positive aspects far outweigh the negative! Us females need to be particularly cautious regarding our safety. However, I have never let that prevent me from travel to any destination. With careful planning, any solo traveler can feel at ease venturing out on their own. Vegans, vegetarians, and anyone else can enjoy and benefit from the experience of solo travel!

Regarding safety, there are several points to consider. Some of these concerns can be alleviated with proper research and knowledge of your destination region.

1. Is my destination city safe during the day and at night? How late into the evening can I stroll around town seeing the sights, feeling confident that my safety is not at risk?

Doing a quick google search on the web can alleviate or re-enforce your fears on this topic. Accommodations staff or local police can provide a wealth of knowledge upon your arrival.

While speaking to a local tour guide during one of my previous holidays, it came to my attention that a tall and strong-looking gentleman was mugged and attacked during the early evening hours several years prior. However, he had been walking along a side alley, during the dark winter months.

When I visited that city, it had changed quite a bit for tourists. Police officers wearing bright vests were stationed every few hundred yards along the main road where most hostels were located. That provided a strong sense of safety for travelers. I felt quite at ease going to restaurants along that stretch of town during the evening hours.

The web can provide most of what you need to know for each destination town including recent crime, what areas of town are safe into the evening, where not to tread day or night, and so forth. Guide books are a good resource also, as are local newspapers and tour guides. In general, most tourist towns across the globe are safe enough. I have wandered about town late into the evening, while feeling perfectly safe. Keep in mind, that other tourists are doing likewise. Holiday destinations are packed with tourists, so you never really feel alone. Enjoy the adventure!

2. What modes of transportation are available and how safe are they?

Again, the web and your hotel staff are great resources. In many international cities, both tram and bus are cost effective, clean, and safe options. However, in some destinations, that is not the case. Muggings, pick pocketing, and even physical assault by gangs may occur. When it gets to that level, it typically makes the international tv news. Nonetheless, it is always best to research online and ask the hotel staff for their thoughts on local transportation. I have found that in some regions, a taxi is the best option when a tourist attraction or restaurant is off the beaten path or not located close to bus and train stops. In some cities, there are several types of taxi services. Some are independent cabs. While they may be perfectly safe in some regions, others are known to be either dangerous or to “jack up” prices by taking the tourist on the long route to their destination.

In my experience, the tram(train) is usually the fastest, most cost effective, and easiest form of transportation! I love it!

3. Can I carry any valuables on my person, such as a camera or necklace?

The general “rule of thumb” is no..it is best to abstain from wearing nice jewelry or displaying your camera in the open. Camera bags tucked into a tote or on a string like a necklace are the safest options.

Fanny packs that can be tucked into a pair of pants is a great idea. Another option are undergarments that have been designed with special pockets that can be used to store your cash and credit cards for safety.

4. Is it ok if I chat with the locals, as I usually converse back home or do I need to be aware of certain cultural taboos or expectations?

In most destinations, it is safe to chat with locals or ask for directions. Most people are kind and hospitable to visitors in their country. Unfortunately, as is the case everywhere, those traveling on their own do need to exercise some caution, especially females. Make sure you are never completely alone and that there are others within your range of sight.

Be careful when you bargain in markets or bazaars. At times, savvy shop keepers can fool tourists into thinking that their items are authentic and worth the asking price. This holds even more true for the solo traveler.

Another note of caution.. Certain gestures or signs possess different meanings in different cultures. While making an “A OK” sign in the West, it is seen as a very negative connotation in the Eastern cultures. A simple nodding of our heads to signify a “yes” or an agreement is interpreted as just the opposite in another culture. Guide books explaining local culture are available at travel-related bookstores. We, as tourists, definitely do not wish to offend anyone or any culture during our global travels!

Female solo travelers need to be very aware of their surroundings. While walking from my bed and breakfast inn to the downtown area of a particular tourist town for lunch, I was stopped and ogled at by many young men along my route. Fortunately, they were just being friendly. I just smiled and returned their “hellos”, and went along my way.

Researching this topic on the web, is very beneficial. For example, in some countries, solo female travelers are thought to be lacking in morals, just from the fact that they are traveling alone. In these countries, it is advised that solo female travelers should ask for help or directions from local women, instead of local men. Guide books on certain destinations insist that solo travelers should not say a word to locals who approach them, otherwise the locals may get the impression that they want to purchase some souvenirs from them or that they are willing to pay to get directions.

The “Pros” of Solo Travel:
There are many “Pros” to solo travel. I enjoy all of the cultural experiences during my travels. I would never want to miss out on travel to an exciting destination just because there is no one in my life that is available to travel with me at that time! Many people feel that solo travel is lonely. Indeed it can be. However, you can make the most of it and end up having some great conversations with locals and with other tourists as well!

1. Staying at a hostel or a couchsurfing home are the best options for solo travelers. They provide inexpensive accommodations. Solo travelers have the opportunity to meet many other solo travelers. These conversations can lead to having others to join you for sightseeing trips or simply to experience and learn from other cultures. I truly enjoy speaking with other solo travelers from across the globe by staying at hostels. This is my preferred accommodations choice! It is always wonderful to have these travel-loving room mates to share your day to day sightseeing stories!

Although I have yet to experience couchsurfing, this phenomenon has gained wide popularity across the globe. Local residents provide free accommodations to weary travelers for short stays. Sometimes the tourist gets their own room. While at other times, they may need to share a room with other travelers or stay on a spare couch. The locals and the tourists both benefit from cultural exchange through conversation. In addition, some couchsurfing hosts have been known to prepare a few meals for their guests or to accompany them to favorite restaurants in town. This could prove especially beneficial for vegans! A vegan traveler can request a vegan host on the couchsurfing website. Couchsurfing can be a safe option, as many hosts have been given a rating and positive reviews that a potential traveler can read online.

2. Solo travel means that you can dine wherever you wish. Traveling with others, some of whom may be carnivores could prove difficult when selecting a restaurant for meal time.
Photo: Moroccan pizza in Erfoud, Morocco
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3. Joining a local tour group proves much more cost effective! For solo travelers that book a sightseeing tour from home, it typically includes a hefty ‘singles supplement’ fee. Staying at hostels and arranging day trips with local tour operators at your travel destination, can surely alleviate some of that cost. This leaves more in your budget for souvenirs that will always remind you of your wonderful travels! You will not feel lonely on these tours, since the solo traveler can always strike up a conversation with others on the tour.

4. Take buses to travel to long distance destinations. For budgeting reasons, I took a bus(as opposed to a plane or train) from The Netherlands to Belgium and from Wellington, New Zealand to Auckland, New Zealand. This choice suited me for a couple of reasons. I could view the breath-taking landscape along the route and I could converse with other travelers.

5. You can go sightseeing at your own pace. Maybe there are certain sections of a museum that you wish to visit for a lengthier time span than other areas. Possibly there are certain sights in town that do not interest you at all. As a solo traveler, you create and maintain your schedule and interests.
Photo: The Belgium ComicStrip Center in Brussels – home of Smurf and Tin Tin characters
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6. Finally, I would like to make mention of one other positive. However, I must stress that you need to proceed with caution. Everyone always states that the best part of travel is meeting the local people. What better way to experience local culture and people than by spending an afternoon or evening with a local resident! As a solo traveler, I am frequently being approached by locals for conversation. In a few cases, the locals did indeed invite me to stroll about town with them, converse in a tea shop, and even to meet their relatives in their home. For a female, solo traveler, it is important to determine the safety factor. Fortunately, in one particular town, my tour guide knew the person that extended an invitation to join me for tea. The guide(from a very reputable tour agency) told me it was perfectly safe. So in broad daylight, I got to meet a local family and experience how they live, dine, and to share community. It was a wonderful experience! It is best to accept invitations during daylight hours and in the open, such as a tea shop.

All in all, traveling on your own will provide for satisfying encounters with local sights and peoples! With just a bit of exercised caution, solo travelers can experience just as many rewarding journeys, as those who travel with others!

Photo: Me with other solo travelers at Pamukkale small thermal pools. I met these travelers individually on the overnight bus from Cappadocia to Pamukkale in Turkey.
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