Author: Michelle Thomas

My name is Michelle Thomas and I am a freelance writer and photographer. I love to travel the world and experience new places and cultures. I love writing for as it helps me to share with others about what a wonderous place this world really is. Thank you for reading!

10 of the World’s Most Intriguing Caves

10 of the World's Most Intriguing Caves

Have you ever thought about exploring a cave? Imaging what it would be like deep inside one of these interesting formations. Let’s take a look at 10 of the world’s most intriguing caves.

Fingal’s Cave, Scotland

Fingal’s Cave is located on Staffa Island. This natural formation is breathtaking to behold with its arched roof and hexagonal basalt columns. The cave is 72 feet tall and 270 feet deep. Although the island is uninhabited, except for the puffins, there are tours that allow visitors to view the cave, and the entire island is walkable by trails.

Son Doong Cave, Vietnam

Son Doong is the largest cave in the world. Entire ecosystems exist inside this cave. The main cave is over 3 miles long and 700 feet high. It even has its own beach. This magnificent cave system opened to the public in 2013. If you want an adventure in cave exploration, visit Son Doong.

Wind Cave, South Dakota

Wind Cave is one of the longest and most complex caves in the world. It is named for the air that blows out of the entrance. The wind is caused by differences in air pressure inside and outside the cave. Wind Cave was the first cave to be made into a National Park. You can explore Wind Cave but it can be dangerous and it is easy to get lost.

Reed Flute Cave, China

Reed Flute Cave, also known as “The Palace of Natural Art,” is approximately 787 feet deep and 1,640 feet long. The cave is well-maintained and features beautiful stalactites, stalagmites and pillar formations that have formed over millions of years. There are inscriptions on the cave walls that date back to the 8th century BCE.

Sima de la Cormisa, Spain

This cave is both magnificent and terrifying. The cave is situated in the Peaks of Europe mountain range and the cave drops down the middle of the mountain. Sima de la Cormisa is the second deepest cave in the world with a depth of 4,944 feet. Although the depth of the cave can be frighteningly dangerous, it doesn’t deter adventurous climbers. If you are the daredevil type, this might be the cave for you.

Eisriesenwelt Cave, Austria

Bundle up if you plan on visiting this amazing cave. Eisriesenwelt Cave is the largest ice cave in the world. The ice walls, figures and sculptures are amazing. The cave features unique ice and rock deposits as well as frozen waterfalls. It is an ideal winter wonderland.

Yucatan Cenotes, Mexico

The Yucatan Cenotes isn’t just one cave but a series of sinkholes. It is fed by a massive underground river system. These underground pools are filled with cool water and surrounded by lush greenery. However, reaching the water requires a 20 foot downward rock climb. The serenity and beauty of the Yucatan Cenotes makes it a paradise. However, it is definitely a place for those with an adventurous spirit.

Blue Caves, Greece

These beautiful caves are situated on the west coast of the island of Zakynthos. These caves are more like remnants of caves that were worn away by water. There are many passageways and caverns. Blue Caves has a surreal appearance with its white arches, surrounded by the ethereal blue waters of the Adriatic Sea. The site is accessible only by boat.

Marble Caves, Chile

These unique caves are located on a peninsula of solid marble bordering a remote glacial lake. Thousands of years of waves slapping against the rock formation created smooth, swirling walls in pretty shades of teal, yellow, purple and green. The azure blue waters of the lake reflect off the cavern walls creating a beautiful, serene appearance. The caves are only accessible by boat.

Erebus Ice Tongue Caves, Antartica

An ice tongue is a glacial formation created by an ice stream that flows faster than the surrounding ice, and pushes out to sea ahead of the glacier’s edge. Small holes on the surface of the ice open into majestic spaces in the glacier’s interior filled with hanging ice bridges and crystalline structures.


Caves aren’t just dark, scary places. They are often filled with intricate passages, beautiful ice formations and unusual rock formations. They are serene, surreal and spectacular. They are places of wonder to explore, learn and have an adventure. Plan your next trip to one of these amazing caves.

8 (Completely Free) Things to Do in Paris

8 (Completely Free) Things to Do in Paris

Paris regularly tops lists as the most expensive city in the world, with hotels, restaurants, and even the flight itself making vacationers on a budget wince.

But despite being pricey, Paris is also one of the world’s most beautiful and cultured cities — and contrary to popular belief, it can be enjoyed on a smaller budget. If you want to experience Paris but don’t have much money to work with, don’t let Paris’s reputation as a money pit put you off. Instead, take advantage of all the free activities, museums, parks, and landmarks the City of Lights has to offer.

Here are eight of the best completely free things to do while you’re on vacation in Paris.

Take a walk through Père Lachaise Cemetery

Tucked away in the more secluded 20th arrondissement is the famous Père Lachaise cemetery, home to some of history’s greatest figures.

From Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, and Chopin to Jim Morrison and Marcel Proust, Père Lachaise is an enormous cemetery filled with the graves of some of the best-known figures in history. The cemetery is both beautiful and haunting, with winding tree-lined avenues, intricate gravestones, and several monuments to soldiers who gave their lives during the second and first World Wars.

Entry is completely free and getting to the cemetery is easy, as the 20th arrondissement is accessible via the inexpensive Metro system, and there’s even a stop (also called Père Lachaise) just outside the cemetery itself.

Visit the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur

Montmartre’s gorgeous Basilique du Sacré-Coeur is free to enter. While there is a charge to explore the church’s crypt and dome, the church itself can be explored without paying a thing.

This white marble church is one of Paris’s most beautiful and intricate buildings, built in an unusual Romano-Byzantine style. Inside, its stained-glass windows and colorful chapels are a truly beautiful sight, but the crowning glory of the church is the enormous grand organ, built by celebrated organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. The organ is a national monument and is considered one of the world’s finest musical instruments.

Enjoy the art of Musée de la Vie Romantique

Tickets to the Louvre may not come cheap, but entry to the lovely Musée de la Vie Romantique is free. This unique little museum exhibits the work of writer George Sand and painter Ary Scheffer.

Sitting at the foot of the picturesque Montmartre hill, the museum is a work of art in itself, with a greenhouse, garden, and paved courtyard.

Sand’s own delicate watercolors, plus casts of her own right arm and Chopin’s left hand, are on display on the first floor. Meanwhile, Scheffer’s paintings — including his famous portraits — can be seen on the second floor

Watch the Eiffel Tower’s light show

8 (Completely Free) Things to Do in Paris

While ascending to the peak of the Eiffel Tower itself costs money, you can watch its light show for free from the Parc du Champ de Mars, which runs southeast from it.

The Tower’s lights and beacon light up every evening from sundown until 1 a.m., glittering with hundreds of colored lights on the hour every hour for five minutes. Tourists and locals alike often sit on the Parc du Champ de Mars’s grass to watch the light show in comfort. Bring a blanket and some snacks and make a picnic of it, or simply stop for five minutes to watch the light show’s crowning glory at 1 a.m.

Stroll the Jardin des Tuileries

The Jardin des Tuileries represents the peak of Parisian gardens and landscaping, with rows of colorful flowers, meticulously maintained greenery, and some beautiful 17th-20th century sculptures.

The public garden, which is located very close to the Louvre, was created by Catherine de Medici and only became a public park after the French Revolution. It’s an ideal spot for a picnic, romantic walk, or that all-important holiday selfie.

Explore the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is an elevated public park that’s free to enter – and if you’re a fan of green spaces, it’s definitely worth a look.

With an artificial lake and waterfall, plus the famous Temple de la Sibylle, which sits at the top of a cliff, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is one of Paris’s most unique parks and its fifth-largest.

The park also includes a grotto, which has been sculpted with artificial stalactites and is fed by its own artificial waterfall, and a 63-meter-long suspension bridge designed by the creator of the Eiffel Tower.

Tour the Petit Palais

Built in 1900, the Petit Palais is a famous art museum housing the City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts. Its exterior facade is striking, built around a beautiful courtyard and garden.

It can be entered for free, with a range of exhibits to enjoy. The museum includes paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Greuze, and many others, plus sculptures by Ingres, Delacroix, Monet, Sisley, and more. It also houses a collection of ancient Greek and Roman art, plus a collection of royal French furniture.

Check out the Le Marais neighborhood

Located on a swamp, Le Marais is one of Paris’s most interesting neighborhoods. Once a hotspot for Parisian culture, Le Marais fell into hard times during the French Revolution — but has since made a comeback, cementing itself as the place to be for trendy Parisians.

With markets, boutiques, gay bars, and more, Le Marais is home to tree-lined promenades and the former home of writer Victor Hugo, which is now a museum that you can enter for free.

Paris may be one of the most expensive cities in the world to visit, but that doesn’t mean that you need to break the bank when enjoying this beautiful city. From unique public parks to underrated little museums to one-of-a-kind landmarks, Paris has plenty to offer travelers on a budget.

Exploring History: The Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror

Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror
Photo Source: Wikipedia

When Northwest Passage explorer Sir John Franklin and his crew disappeared in 1848, the fate of the men and their ships, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, remained a mystery for more than a century. Then in 2014 and 2017, researchers from Parks Canada found both ships in the Qikiqtaq area. Since the discoveries, new adventurers have been seeking the truth about what might have happened during the ill-fated journey.

Last Encounter

The last known encounter with the Franklin crew was in 1845 during chance meetings with local Inuit communities. Franklin’s widow Lady Jane Franklin continued to send explorers to the region with the hope of locating her husband. Sad news came in 1859 when Lt. William Hobson found a message Franklin had left in a cairn, stating that he and many of his crew had died after the ships got stuck in ice.

The Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit was a key component to finding the ships’ final resting places. Using traditional stories of the Inuit people, and armed with modern technology, searchers embarked on a recovery mission in 2008. After more than six years, Doug Stenton led a helicopter party from Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and they saw a piece of metal on a remote island. The next day, archaeologist Ryan Harris found the wreckage of the HMS Terror on his sonar screen.

The search for the HMS Erebus continued for two more years until local Sammy Kogvikabout spotted a piece of wood sticking out of ice in Terror Bays. That piece of information led to the final discovery. The search crew found the wreckage using a sonar scanner. A video camera lowered into the water revealed the crew quarters and a mess hall were intact.

Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror
Photo Source: Baylor University

Item Recovery

The wealth of artifacts recovered from the structures included brass cannons and a cast-bronze bell. The finds also provided researchers missing pieces to the puzzle of what happened to the crews.

In September 2017, the ships were named national historic sites by Parks Canada with a ceremony at the Umiyaqtutt Festival in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut. Members of the Franklin Interim Advisory Committee attended the event.

Committee chairman Fred Pedersen said at the ceremony, “Inuit traditional knowledge played a huge part in locating the wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. I am pleased that the national historic significance of the wrecks is being commemorated and that Inuit have had a say in how Parks Canada has managed the national historic site to date …”

As historical sites, the landscape around the ships receives government protection. Inuit Guardians are posted to the locations to monitor the sites and report to Parks Canada if any unauthorized vessels are in the area. The Guardians also tell visitors the story of the Franklin expedition, and how the Inuit culture played a part in solving the generations-long mystery.


The remains of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror are among the most exciting Arctic discoveries in recent decades. By keeping the area protected, future adventurers will be able to explore these historical finds for years to come and gain a better understanding of what early explorers faced in the frozen Arctic.

Five Inexpensive European Vacation Destinations

Five Inexpensive European Vacation Destinations

Europe is the perfect vacation destination for anyone who loves exploring and wants to experience some culture. Yet traveling to Europe can be costly. Do you want to plan a visit to Europe without spending too much money? If an inexpensive European vacation appeals to you, here are five of the continent’s cheapest travel destinations:


Poland is a country in the center of Europe. Poland has several fascinating historical sites that are well worth visiting. It is a land full of medieval castles and is home to the Wawel Cathedral in Krakow. The most somber destination in Poland is undoubtedly Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi concentration camp.

If you visit Poland, you should make a point of sampling the local cuisine. There are countless Polish recipes you can try at local restaurants. The best Polish food includes a fermented soup called zurek, pierogi dumplings, and a sweet pancake called racuchy.

Poland is also a great country to visit if you love places with vibrant nightlife. Nightclub aficionados have positive things to say about The View in Warsaw. Hipsters are fond of a bar called Josef K in Gdansk. The trendiest clubs in Poland are probably Lordi’s Club and Fu Fu Bar in Lodz, which Polish celebrities often frequent.

The cost of living in Poland is low. Food, transport, and entertainment are much cheaper than in the United States. In Poland, a standard meal is less than seven dollars. You can buy a domestic beer for just over two dollars. A brand-name cola costs little more than a dollar. Accommodation in Poland is also inexpensive. If you vacation in Poland, you can do lots with your travel money.


Portugal is in the southwest of Europe. It neighbors Spain. Do you like warm beach vacations and fresh, delicious Mediterranean cuisine? If so, Portugal might be the right inexpensive European vacation spot for you. However, there is more to Portugal than gorgeous sunny beaches. Portugal boasts a variety of landscapes. These include rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, snowy mountains, lush vineyards, and plains that stretch for miles.

If you decide to visit Portugal, you can enjoy a beach swim in the Algarve, visit a vineyard, or spend time seeing the sites in the country’s capital, Lisbon. If you go to Lisbon, include a visit to the oceanarium on your itinerary. There, you can learn more about the spectacular diversity of life in the ocean.

The best nightlife in Portugal is in the Algarve. Well-known places to enjoy a few drinks in the Algarve include Dunas Douradas Beachclub, Le Club, Libertos Club, and Matt’s Bar.

Portuguese food favorites include piri-piri chicken and a salted cod called bacalhau. The cured meats and cheeses in Portugal are of high quality. You should check them out if you have no objection to animal products. Are you a dessert fan? If so, you might enjoy a Portuguese egg custard tart or a crème caramel.

Portugal is inexpensive compared to other western European locations. A fast-food meal costs less than seven dollars, cappuccino coffee is one dollar and fifty cents, and a bottle of beer is less than two dollars. Groceries are very cheap in Portugal, too. By staying in self-catering accommodation and cooking some meals there, you can eat cheaply and significantly reduce the cost of your European vacation.


Hungary is a wise location choice for people who would rather spend less on their European vacation. Hungary is a landlocked country located in central Europe. It shares borders with Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, and Croatia.

Hungary is famous for the thermal springs in its capital city, Budapest. Locals and tourists use the thermal springs to help them relax. Hungary also has some gorgeous scenery and architecture that make tourists feel glad that they decided to visit.

Tourists in Hungary like to visit The Valley of the Beautiful Women or the Caves of Lillafüred. Alternatively, you might wish to plan a trip to Hortobágy National Park while you are there.

If you are a nightlife fan, you will find the best Hungarian clubs in the capital Budapest. Renowned nightclubs include Ötkert, Peaches and Cream Club, and Instant-Fogas Complex.

If you are interested in sampling Hungarian cuisine, try the goulash, paprika chicken, or fisherman’s soup. Dessert lovers should not miss out on mouthwatering Hungarian krémes. Krémes comprise puff pastry filled with vanilla cream and dusted with a light coating of icing sugar.

You can enjoy your vacation without spending a lot of cash in Hungary. A glass of wine costs two dollars and forty cents, a cappuccino is one dollar forty, and you can get ice cream for about sixty-six cents. It is more than fifty percent cheaper to live in Hungary than in the United States.


Some people would say that Croatia is in central Europe. Others describe its location as the southeast of the continent. The southwestern area of Croatia borders the Adriatic Sea. The Adriatic Sea is the northernmost part of the Mediterranean. If you would like to enjoy a cheap beach vacation, Croatia is a sensible destination choice.

In the unlikely event that you grow bored of the magnificent Croatian beaches, you will find plenty of other fascinating things to do there. For instance, you can see Plitvice National Park, visit one of the country’s gorgeous waterfalls, take a trip to one of the country’s beautiful islands, or learn more about the history of the Balkan Wars that occurred there during the 1990s.

Barbarella’s Discotheque in Pirovac will delight you if you like clubbing. Alternatively, check out Aquarius Club in Zagreb or Noa Beach Club in Novalja.

Would you like to eat some traditional Croatian food? If so, why not try the black risotto, pasta with tomato sauce, or a phyllo dough stuffed with fresh cottage cheese called Zagorski strukli? If you have a penchant for sweet foods, you might enjoy Croatian walnut roll or cherry strudel.

Vacations in Croatia are not costly. A beer will cost you between two and three dollars. You can expect to pay around seven dollars for a fast-food meal or have dinner in a mid-range restaurant for less than forty dollars. It would be hard to spend more than one hundred dollars a day for accommodation, food, and entertainment in Croatia, even if you did your best to splurge as much as possible.


Slovenia is in the Balkan region of Europe and shares borders with Hungary, Croatia, and Austria. It is a country with lots of forests and mountains to explore. Because of the hills and mountains, Slovenia is the ideal destination for hiking fans.

If you get bored of hiking in Slovenia’s breathtaking mountains, you could visit one of its charming coastal towns to swim, explore the museums in Ljubljana, or visit St. George’s Cathedral in Piran.

Nightclub lovers should spend a night at Cirkus Club in Ljubljana. The city of Ljubljana is also home to Klub K4, Jazz Paradice, and Klub Daktari. You are sure to find a venue that pleases you there.

Does checking out Slovenian cuisine appeal to you? If it does, you should see whether you enjoy Slovenian dumplings or nibble on some Žganci with sauerkraut and sausage. If sweets are more your thing, you should sample the potica. Potica is an unleavened pastry dough with various fillings such as walnuts or raisins.

How much do things cost in Slovenia? Although tourist areas cost a little more, Slovenia is much cheaper than the United States. You can get accommodation for just over thirty dollars a night. Dinner at cheap restaurants will only cost about ten dollars per person. A glass of wine costs between two and four dollars, and a bottle will set you back between ten and fifteen US dollars.

Start Planning 

Now you know you can enjoy an inexpensive vacation in several European destinations. Flights to Europe can be rather pricey. However, you will find that the cost of living in many European countries is much cheaper than in the United States, especially if you visit outside the peak summer months. If you have not been to Europe yet, perhaps you should start planning your trip there. That way, you can enjoy the vacation of a lifetime without worrying about the cost.

Dogs Can Recognize Bad People, Research Shows

Americans love their pups. These four-legged friends happen to be one of the most popular choices as companions. In fact, more than 89.7 million dogs were owned as pets in the United States in 2017. What’s more, new research indicates humans may have another reason to love dogs as much as they do: dogs can detect bad people.

A recent study, published in the journal, Neuroscience & Behavioral Reviews, shows that not only can your dog tell when you’re being a jerk, but they’re probably judging you for it, too. While many people trust their dogs to be great judges of character, adding a bit of science and research to back up this claim never hurt.

Man’s Best Friend

Dogs are some of the most loyal animals on the planet. Often protective of their owners, there’s no question that they’ve earned the title of “man’s best friend.”


Many people believe the bond between humans and dogs is so strong due to domestication, that humans and canines developed alongside each other after thousands of years together.

Others think that dogs love humans so much because they consider themselves equals to their humans.

However, a group of researchers out of Japan wanted to know more. They sought to uncover whether dogs’ responses to humans are simply automatic, or if they change depending on the humans’ actions.

Behind The Study

“Dogs are known to consistently follow human pointing gestures,” the researchers explained. “In this study, we asked whether dogs ‘automatically’ do this or whether they flexibly adjust their behavior depending upon the reliability of the pointer, demonstrated in an immediately preceding event.”

During the study, several dogs went through various scenarios. In one scenario, a volunteer was instructed to assist someone struggling to open a jar.

In the first group, the volunteer helped the person open the jar. In the second group, the volunteer refused to help. Then, the same volunteers offered the pups a treat to determine how, if at all, they responded to the volunteers’ behavior.

As it turns out, the dogs were way more receptive to the volunteer who helped open the jar and took the treat from them. However, the dogs completely ignored the volunteer who refused to help, even with a treat in the volunteer’s hand.

This indicates that dogs can understand and evaluate when people are being mean. In addition, they favor those who exhibit kind, helpful behaviors and choose to ignore people with bad attitudes.

Incredible Inferences

“These results suggest that not only dogs are highly skilled at understanding human pointing gestures, but also they make inferences about the reliability of a human who presents cues and consequently modify their behavior flexibly depending on the inference,” the researchers concluded.

Amazingly, it seems that dogs are an even better judge of character than some humans. The lesson here? Think twice before acting like a jerk in front of your dog. Better yet, think twice before acting like a jerk, period.

Sci-Fi Fantasy Is Becoming The Stark Reality For China

The Better Business Bureau has a system of rating businesses based on past performance. What if you were rated as a person based on your conduct? People and businesses in China are getting social scores, and the system for assigning the scores sounds right out of a dystopian novel.

What’s Your Social Credit Score?

In China, a new system of scoring the actions of citizens is being slowly rolled out until it is nationwide by 2020. Each citizen and business will have a score. The scores will be connected with individual codes that are linked to the business and medical records of the person.

For actions that are considered good, the person’s score goes up. For actions that are considered bad, the score goes down. People with high scores get special incentives. People with low scores get punishments.

How The System Works

There are hundreds of millions of recording cameras already set up in cities around China. These strategically located cameras have the power to record a person’s every move.

As part of the social credit system, all of the cameras will be equipped with facial recognition software. The information gathered from the cameras will be cross-checked with other records to make sure that the right actions are being connected to the right face.

How Your Score Affects You

People with good scores receive advantages similar to the perks of being in an American rewards program like AAA. They get priority seating on public transportation. They get to skip lines in certain businesses, and they have access to better bank accounts.

The punishments for bad scores are more serious. One journalist who spoke out against the Chinese government has been fired from his job and is unable to get any other jobs in the journalism industry. All of his social media accounts have also been shut down. A common punishment for low scores seems to be restricted use of the Internet, and a person with an extremely low score can be ordered not to travel outside his or her city.

Impact On Businesses

The reach of the social credit system spans far beyond China’s borders. Since China is the most populated nation on Earth, international businesses have large operations in China. Recently, major airlines felt pressure from the new and controversial social credit system.

International airlines received letters from the Chinese government expressing anger about airlines referring to Taiwan as a country.  Businesses were threatened with lower social credit scores and reminded of the possible punishment. As a result, airlines in countries that recognize Taiwan as a nation now refer to it as a Chinese territory.

Public Perception

The social credit system is being compared to dystopian fiction, like Black Mirror and 1984, by foreign media, but the Chinese public has expressed approval of it.

The system is active in major Chinese cities, and citizens claim to enjoy the benefits. The world will certainly be watching to see the further implications of this controversial system.