Granada Is The Best City To Visit Of 2018!

granada best city 2018 spain

Granada, Spain, picked up steam early in the Best City To Visit Travel Tournament this year and never slowed down. Dubrovnik, in a first trip to the final, didn’t offer much resistance as you overwhelmingly voted for Granada as Best City to Visit of 2018.


Granada’s win means it has achieved several things no city ever has in 9 years of The Best City To Visit contests. In 2017, Granada was the first winning city I had previously visited. This year, Granada becomes the first city to win twice and the first city to win back-to-back tournaments and repeat as best city.

Last year, we had a big party to celebrate Granada’s win in the city, this year, I hope to have even bigger plans. Even if you voted for Dubrovnik, I recommend you subscribe to my newsletter or YouTube channel, it might send you to Granada.

alhambra granada spain

Congratulations also to Daniel, who nominated Granada and wins $250. Thank you all who participated in the contest this year – I hope to see you in early February 2019, for the 10th anniversary of The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament.

Time for me to start planning my trip to Granada…

Pimsleur Is The Best Way To Quickly Learn A Language Before Your Next Trip

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The answer I can give without hesitation to the question, “what’s the best way to learn a new language before a trip,” is use Pimsleur. People ask me a lot about language learning, with two important caveats. The first being they’re traveling soon (short time to learn) and they need to be able to communicate with people (not necessarily translate names of random objects).

After booking flights, hotels, planning what to pack, language learning is usually a last that-would-be-nice-touch most never get around to. Pimsleur is the fastest way to learn another language at a conversational level if you’ve got 30 minutes a day and a few weeks to practice.

Quickly Conversational

The majority of language courses are designed to teach you a language with the aim to become fluent – an undertaking that often takes years. You’ll learn a lot of words that won’t be immediately useful which is why most travelers bounce around language tutorials and courses so broadly, you end up with nothing once you arrive at your destination. (English it will have to be then!)

pimsleurPimsleur Spanish Conversational Course – Level 1 Lessons 1-16

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The Pimsleur Language Program works differently. Basically, the 30 minute audio-only courses piece together seemingly random sounds with oddly specific visualizations over 10-20 lessons. At the end you’ll be surprisingly able to hold a conversation in that language.

How Pimsleur Works

Pimsleur is incredibly efficient. For example, you listen to one lesson on your commute. Pimsleur notes two important things: you’ll need to repeat what it tells you to repeat out loud and not do more than one lesson a day. A typical lesson is you saying some random sounds, then imaging e.g. a red bird on top of a house. Pimsleur is designed like Pulp Fiction, it’s all out of order at first, but as you go on the lessons start connecting.

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The main drawback of Pimsleur is it won’t help you read or write in another language. Pimsleur is audio only, designed to get you talking with people at soon as possible. Pimsleur gives you the mechanics of a given language making you usefully conversational – and if you want to expand beyond that – a solid structure upon which you can add vocabulary and more advanced grammar.

Target For Travelers

Pimsleur has been used by aid and relief organizations to linguistically prepare their staff and volunteers in a short amount of time. (The company donated their Haitian Creole courses after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, for instance). The United States military has also distributed Pimsleur for troops in Afghanistan.

The efficiency of Pimsleur is what makes it so beneficial for travelers interested in learning usable parts of a language in a short time. I’ve found 2-6 weeks and 30 minutes a day (4-5 days a week) is enough to be able to hold a respectable conversation in a foreign language. All you have to do is listen to the audio file (or CD) and repeat as it instructs.

Somehow Pimsleur hacks your memory to install a new language. I wasn’t paid to write this (I legally have to disclose paid reviews) but I can’t say enough good things about Pimsleur. The lessons you learn are also extremely durable – I recall lessons from nearly 10 years ago. You’ll just have to give yourself the time to finish the lessons. Since Pimsleur courses aren’t structured in a conventional way, the more dots it will connect the longer you continue. And it’s not a long or expensive journey. The first entire lesson of Turkish is a total of 8 hours, costing just $40, for example.

Obviously, the more time you have the more of a language you can learn, using these other tools, adding some colorful curses to your vocabulary as well.

JOBY GorillaPod Focus Is A Strong, Portable Tripod Capable Of Supporting Your Heavy Camera

Making a tripod small enough to be portable but strong enough to effectively hold a DSLR or mirrorless camera with lens isn’t an easy engineering feat, particularly when the tripod legs are designed to bend. The GorillaPod series is innovative but their cost often causes people to buy a JOBY model that won’t support the camera they’ve got.

joby gorillapod focusJOBY GorillaPod 5K Kit

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A tripod that drops your camera will hit your wallet much harder than gravity; therefore the GorillaPod Focus is worth taking a close look at. You can see my full review of the GorillaPod Focus after a year of heavy use, in the video above.

Granada Smashes Lisbon, Dubrovnik Awaits: Vote Now In The Best City 2018 Final!

best city 2018 final championship

Granada is one round away from doing two things no city ever has in 9 years of The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament: win more than once, and win back-to-back years. But doing well in one round doesn’t help you in the next and Dubrovnik’s supporters are looking to pull off a major upset. Voting begins now and is open through 12pm US EST on Sunday, April 8th.

Readers, it’s time to vote! You will need to enter your email address, then click to verify your vote from an email that comes from Poll Daddy. Your email address is not used for anything other than verifying your vote. Your privacy is important to me, always.


Also, in this final round there’s a new way to vote. You can vote using the poll below and vote by leaving a comment with your pick (Dubrovnik or Granada) on this YouTube video I just uploaded.

The winner of The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament will be announced on Tuesday, April 10th. Good luck to both Granada and Dubrovnik!

United Business Class Review: Maybe Mile Worthy

Flying business class is costly (unless your business is paying) so whether its miles or money, if you’re spending either it’s worth shopping around. United, which pretty much has the worst public relations of any airline at the moment, has locked down some key North America to Europe routes – meaning though you may not particularly want to – you might find yourself leaning toward flying business with them.

You can watch my full review of what United’s business class offers in the video above or read on.

Bed Basics

For any flight worth its business class, if the seat doesn’t recline into a bed it’s not worth paying for. United’s transatlantic have seats that have multiple recline settings, including fully vertical. They’re not the newest seats but being able to lay down on a long flight significantly reduces both jet lag and the heavy grogginess that comes with otherwise sitting upright for 10 hours 10,000 meters up.

united business class

The entertainment center is also loaded with one of the best movie selections of any airline on large screens. (American carriers tend to excel in the movie selection, especially latest releases compared to the rest of the world.) Unfortunately the screens have very poor viewing angles and not being adjustable means if you’re even modestly reclined, viewing is difficult at best. These small inconveniences are where United’s business class continually falls short. United has the basic components of what’s become standard for business classes worldwide but it’s just that: standard.

The staff are friendly and you get access to the United and Lufthansa lounges. Neither are particularly noteworthy when comparing to the business classes of other competing airlines like British Airways, but it’s definitely a noticeable step up from economy.

Better Food But Not Good Food

United’s business class is certainly better than flying economy and that’s true of the food too. Meals are better than United economy (albeit the bar is pretty low) but nothing spectacular. Considering United business class seats are several thousand dollars, one would hope the meals would have a bit more quality. Even the presentation is lacking – again, it’s not bad but it’s not good either – almost like a poor copy of what true business class should be.

united busines vegan meal

Vegan meals are 80% not vegan, vegetarian meals are just vegetables, and the small meat or fish dish portions are hidden in pools of mystery sauce.

Effortless, Not In The Best Way

United has a business class which doesn’t have much sincerity to it; missing from the small touches you’ll find on other airlines. United Airlines is clearly banking on their route dominance, so they’re not trying too hard to take or keep your business.

They fly some of the most efficient routes from North America to Europe so you might find yourself stuck with them. I wouldn’t spend money on their business class if there’s even a slightly worse layover or connection on another airline. But, if you can’t find a better alternative and want to get a legs up from economy, using some frequent flyer miles will certainly enhance your trip. United often run saver mile deals through their site where you can use less than 50% of the miles for business class on certain days or times of the year – they’re worth waiting for if you can.

The Cocoon Grid-It Is Cable Management For Your Backpack

Traveling with a lot of electronics means traveling with a lot of cables. Charging cords are especially difficult to manage inside a backpack and the Cocoon Grid-It is one of the few organizers that’s portable enough to be useful for travelers. The Grid-It isn’t for every backpack but for those it works for, can make frequent trips though airport security much simpler.

You can watch my full review of the Cocoon Grid-It in the video above or read on.

Grid-It Basics

The Grid-It comes in several sizes, though I found the most effective one to be the 10.5 x 7.5 inch (26.6 x 19 cm) version. That’s because the smaller the Grid-It is horizontally, the more space it takes up vertically. More on that in a bit, but first, how the Cocoon Grid-It works.

cocoon grid it

Basically the Grid-It is a flat panel with 12 elastic strips across, 6 down on one side, and two on the back. The most effective way to use the Grid-It is to coil a cable and place it under one of the bands. Longer or thicker cables should go under the longest bands and it’s important to spread out the cables as much as possible. Otherwise, you’ll only accentuate the Grid-Its main drawback.

Advantages

Once you’ve got your cables all under the gentle, but firm grip of the Grid-It, taking all of your cords in and out of your backpack is a breeze. Being able to take all of your cables out at once, organized, makes going through airport security much, much faster than pulling out of a clump of cords. Plus you won’t have to worry about losing everything else that tends to get tangled up in cord clumps as you yank it out of your bag.

cocoon grid itCocoon Grid-It CPG8BK 10.5 x 7.5-Inch Organizer (Black)

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It’s also worth noting it makes the job of airport security easier too and the clear view of all your cables seems to put you on their good side. Always a good thing for a frequent traveler who wants to get to the lounge or gate as quickly as possible.

Organization Costs Space

I mentioned above, the Grid-It has one major drawback: the amount of usable space it takes up inside a backpack. Although it’s excellent at organizing cables, it takes up a lot of usable backpack space to do so. The more cables you have, the larger its horizontal profile – creating a bump that can be awkward to fit inside of a tight backpack. Coiled cables also have a lot of space in them which isn’t practical to fill up.

cocoon grid-it

Sure, you can stuff as much of your other gear inside the cable coils as possible, but chances are the Grid-It is going to occupy a lot of empty space. For travelers whose backpacks are less than 80% full, the Grid-It can provide much needed cable organization. If your backpack is in need of a diet, already stuffed, the Grid-It is probably going to take up too much additional space to be useful.

Clumps of cables are ugly but more easily smashed compressed inside of a bag. Chances are if you don’t have space for a Grid-It, you need to start with some basic backpack organization first.

About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutI'm the blogger and computer security engineer who writes foXnoMad while on a journey to visit every country in the world. I'll show you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter. Read More


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