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Go On a Cross-Country Adventure in Style

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All aboard! For those who love travelling cross-country and watching idyllic sceneries pass by while you relax in your own comfort and space, Amtrak has the deal for you.

You can now go on a cross-country train ride past some of America’s amazing views with a friend or loved one in Amtrak’s roomette sale. Amtrak is offering a 2-for-1 deal for the roomettes, which are private rooms fitted with large panoramic windows by the sleeping arrangements and offers a variety of other amenities.

The roomettes are perfect for those who are going on a trip in pairs who are, not only looking for a comfortable and private accommodation during a train ride, but also has a scenic view that can keep you and your partner company throughout the journey.

The roomettes are designed with their very own sliding doors, face-to-face seats that converts into a bed, and has services such as complimentary bottled water and towel service. Travellers also have access to the Amtrak Metropolitan lounges that is stocked with snacks and drinks. Work areas and Wi-Fi are also available.

Probably one of the best perks are the sit-down meals that are available for anyone who is part of the Amtrak Sleeper Service, which includes roomettes.

If that isn’t comfort at its best, roomette passengers have dedicated attendants who will look after your needs. From taking down the beds, meal reservations, to even sharing a few tales of living life on the rails.

You Can Now Travel on the Job

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Everyone dreams of travelling the world and taking beautiful pictures to capture those fleeting moments. With a brand new dream job, photography website Perfocal is on a lookout for a family photographer that will be travelling extensively in 2019.

The reason Perfocal is looking for a family photographer is because a wealthy family is seeking a personal photographer who is able to travel internationally with them for at least 12 months so as to take pictures of their vacations.

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The family has warned that travel periods may last up to three months at a time and the photographer may only receive a few days notice before packing up and leaving again. Though the days may be long, totalling up to 10 hours a day, the selected photographer will receive full sick pay and 30 day holidays.

The selected photographer will receive an annual salary of US$102,000 on top of having his or her food, and accommodation expenses to be full covered. At the same time, the photographer will be attending some big events in the world such as th Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the Rio de Janeiro carnival as well as the F1 Grand Prix.

It is required that the photographer has five years of experience in shooting similar photographers and shortlisted candidates will be going through extensive background checks. Next, there will also be a weekend-long interview process with the family to ensure that the photographer is suited for the job.

If you’re ready to sign up for a new adventure in 2019, you can give this role a shot right here.

What Did You Discover During Your Travels in 2018?

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As 2018 comes to a close, it is time to consolidate some of the best travel discoveries that we all made through the year. From a locals’ bar with live music, a family-run B&B to unique museums that made an impression during your trip, it could literally be anything. Not forgetting yummy cafes, hipster vinyl stores, amazing beaches and nature expeditions that you signed up for.

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The Guardian is now on the lookout for travel discoveries of 2018. All you have to do is to submit your favourite travel discovery and provide addresses and websites (or Facebook pages) of the aforementioned businesses, and exact locations of beaches, walks and beauty spots. Take note that your travel discovery should be described in approximately 100 words.

The best tips will be features on the Guardian Travel website and may also be selected to appear in print in Guardian Travel. The winner will then be chosen by Tom Hall of Lonely Planet and receive a £200 hotel voucher from UK.hotels.com, which grants you a change to stay in a hotel of your choice from the selection of 260,000 places worldwide.

The competition closes on Tuesday 18th December at 10am GMT and you can submit your entries here.

Go on a cross-country adventure in style

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All aboard! For those who love travelling cross-country and watching idyllic sceneries pass by while you relax in your own comfort and space, Amtrak has the deal for you.

You can now go on a cross-country train ride past some of America’s amazing views with a friend or loved one in Amtrak’s roomette sale. Amtrak is offering a 2-for-1 deal for the roomettes, which are private rooms fitted with large panoramic windows by the sleeping arrangements and offers a variety of other amenities.

The roomettes are perfect for those who are going on a trip in pairs who are, not only looking for a comfortable and private accommodation during a train ride, but also has a scenic view that can keep you and your partner company throughout the journey.

The roomettes are designed with their very own sliding doors, face-to-face seats that converts into a bed, and has services such as complimentary bottled water and towel service. Travellers also have access to the Amtrak Metropolitan lounges that is stocked with snacks and drinks. Work areas and Wi-Fi are also available.

Probably one of the best perks are the sit-down meals that are available for anyone who is part of the Amtrak Sleeper Service, which includes roomettes.

If that isn’t comfort at its best, roomette passengers have dedicated attendants who will look after your needs. From taking down the beds, meal reservations, to even sharing a few tales of living life on the rails.

The Alaskan town experiencing complete darkness

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Previously called Barrow, Utqiagvik has a small population of about 4,000 and is the United States’ northernmost city. For the next two months, the city has gone into total darkness, also known as polar night.

Polar night is a period of time in which towns located in the polar circle’s experience days with no sunrise during the winter, usually occurring from mid-November to end of January.

Though Utqiagvik isn’t the only town to experience polar night, but because of it being so far north, it is the first one to experience the phenomenon. Other towns on the list of polar night include Point Hope, Kaktovik and Anaktuvuk Pass.

However, Utqiagvik won’t be descending in total darkness for the next 65 days. Instead, it would experience ‘civil twilight’, which is when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon, creating just enough light for one to see things outside.

The residents of Utqiagvik, an indigenous Inuit ethnic group, are used to the darkness that blankets the city for two months. After the 65 days of living without sunlight, residents would then experience 80 days with no sunsets starting in May.

Discover the rainbow river of Colombia

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Known to be the ‘River of Five Colours’ and ‘Liquid Rainbow’, the Caño Cristales river is situated in La Macarena in Colombia. The river dons many colours in which is below the crystal clear waters or the flowing river. Bright reds, yellows, greens and purples flow with the current.

Depending on the both the water conditions and light, the colours can appear to be different in some times. The river can also appear a hot pink, orange, maroon and bright blue on certain days.

As much as we would love to think that the river is magic, it is unfortunately not. What gives the river its vibrant colours is a particular aquatic plant, the macarenia clavigera plant, different from any other algae or moss.

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With the right weather and water levels, the colours of the river would be different. The plant is very sensitive to its environmental conditions. If you wish to see the river with full vibrant colours, the best time to go would be during a bright and sunny day so that the sun can reflect the colours much better. The plants are said to be the most vibrant between July and November.

The water levels should also be just high enough to have the plants thrive, at the same time the water should be low enough for you to see the bottom of the river. If the conditions do not meet, the plants would die and turn brown.

In addition to being an amazing photo opportunity, visitors are also allowed to swim in certain parts or the river. However, in order to protect the plants, only 200 people are allowed to enter the river for a swim each day.

Escaping reality by paying to get locked up

The Wider Image: South Koreans lock themselves up to escape prison of daily life

Kim Hong-Ji / Reuters / The Atlantic

Sometimes, when work and everything else overwhelms us, we tend to dream of escaping from all form of human contact and lock ourselves away. Alone with yourself, only to be accompanied by books and silence.

You could simply escape reality by going to prison. Not to worries, your dreams of being alone with no interference doesn’t have to involve committing a crime. In Hongcheon, South Korea, you can run away from the outside world by going into a ‘mock’ prison.

A hotel of some sort, ‘Prison Inside Me’ is where people could pay to be locked away for 24 hours in solitary confinement. ‘Jail mates’ wear matching uniforms, stay in a 54-square-foot cell and are also forbidden from speaking to others. They also forbid any usage of cell phones and clocks inside the prison.

Meals inside ‘Prison Inside Me’ aren’t in anyway fancy and are kept to a minimal—a steamed sweet potato and banana shake for dinner and rice porridge for breakfast—these meals are slotted in the cell doors.

Since this is not a regular hotel, the cells and the items that are included are identical to one another. Accommodation Kits include a yoga mat, tea set, pen and a notebook. There are no beds in the cells, hence participants have to sleep on the floor.

To be kept in solitary confinement for 24 hours, participants can pay about $90. Since opening in 2013, the prison has had more than 2,000 people, all wanting to get away from reality even for a short while. Most of those who choose to have a vacation are often workers or students whom are stressed out by their daily lives.

Getaway in this Norwegian book town

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The perfect place for bibliophiles and introverts, or simply those who just want to getaway with books, situated in western Norway, Mundal is a village with only about 300 people and more than 150,000 books.

A peaceful escape from the busy world, Mundal is a village of second-hand bookshops, roadside stalls and bookshelves all along the coast of the fjords, embracing its readers. The bookstores sit inside cafes, art galleries and also souvenir store, a book in every nook and cranny for any time of day and occasion.

The best time to make your visit would be during mid-May through June, during this season you can take part in the annual Solstice Book Fair. Dubbed as the Norwegian Book Town, the village has been stacking up their shelves since 1995. It’s said that if you were to line up the towns shelves, it would stretch up to 2.5 miles.

The picturesque book town, the first in Scandinavia, becomes more of an ideal getaway as its surrounded by a beautiful landscape of mountains shaped by glaciers and valleys of supplied by the glacier rivers.

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Though Mundal isn’t alone on being a town of books. In Europe, there are a number of Book towns such as the remote Hay-on-Wye in Wales with a population of only 1,400 and thousands of thousands of books taking residence in the towns open-air ‘Honesty Shelves’. In Saint-Pierre-de-Clages in Switzerland has an enchanting book festival and the town has earned the nickname of Swiss Book Town.

Sail through the caves lit up by glowworms

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About 137 miles south of Auckland, on New Zealand’s North Island, lies the Waitomo Caves. Seeming to be an entirely different realm, thanks to a kind of glowworm—Arachnocampa Luminosa, growing spider-worms—that illuminate the caves and its limestone formations.

Thousands of these glowworms make Waitomo caves their homes, giving out an incredible blue-green luminescent effect both day and night. In Māori, the name of the caves loosely translates to water passing through a hole’, with ‘titiwai’ meaning glowworms in Māori.

For a place as special as this, visitors who wish to explore the caves would have to book a tour. The tour would be in small groups and will take visitors into the dark water on boats, and almost immediately, you would be able to catch glimpses of glowing light.

In addition to the luminescent creatures, stalagmites and stalactites in the caves form all kinds of unusual and cool shapes and sizes, with many of the areas named accordingly to the shapes.

Despite being famously connected to Waitomo Caves, the glowworms can be found throughout New Zealand including Wellington Botanical Gardens and the McLaren Falls on North Island and Arthur’s Pass on the South Island.

Want to witness the magical effect of the glowworms? The Waitomo caves are open to visitors all year round, but advance reservations is highly recommended. During summer in the southern hemisphere, November to March, there are tours every 15 minutes between 8.30am to 5.30pm.

Catch the exploration of the worlds largest sinkhole

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Founder of the Virgin Group, business magnate Sir Richard Branson is taking in the largest sinkhole in the world with Fabien Cousteau.

At first glance, the sinkhole can be seen just as an ink stain in the middle of the sea, but this sinkhole is large enough to fit in two Boeing 747’s and still have room to spare. Located off the coast of Belize in the Caribbean Sea, famous marine explorer Jacques Cousteau named it ‘The Great Blue Hole’ back in the 70’s and has attracted divers from far and wide ever since.

The very first mission of its kind, Cousteau’s grandson, Fabien Cousteau, and Sir Richard Branson will be diving into the depths of the Great Blue hole in a submarine. The expedition will also be streamed live globally on the Discovery Channel.

The depth of the marine sinkhole is reportedly to be around 410 feet. With scuba divers only being able to descend to a maximum 130 feet, what remains at the bottom of the Great Blue Hole will be a first look of a vast uncharted territory.

Branson and Cousteau will be partnering with Aquatica Submarines’ chief pilot, Erika Bergman, and will be making numerous expeditions into the sinkhole in a remote-piloted Stingray 500 submarine.

 The several expeditions won’t just be for sightseeing, collection of data and mapping out the crevices of the sinkhole will be done all throughout. Back in 1997, the Great Blue Hole was measured by scientists with the use of sonar technology, this new expedition will be the first since then and will be the most thorough.

 With this new expedition, the team hopes to gather data on marine features such as the bacterial activity, water quality and as well as a detailed image of the hole’s internal structures. With Jacques Cousteau’s findings of the Great Blue Hole being a karst limestone formation, getting to see a complete make up of the sinkhole could give more insight on environmental forces that has brushed the Earth.

With his involvement in this project, Sir Richard Branson hopes to generate more awareness on ocean conservation and has a goal of conserving at least 30 percent of the ocean by 2030. The expedition will be streamed live on Discovery Channel on December 2, 9-11pm.