Andrew Zimmern: Why it's okay to eat seafood right off a Croatian beach
"Bizarre Foods" host Andrew Zimmern has racked up more than a few airline miles in his day.
The Travel Channel host and brave taste-tester came in to talk to use about his travel tips and best picks for vacation. So what is this world traveler's top spot? Croatia.
"It is what Italy was 200 years ago," Zimmern said of the Mediterranean country. "In Italy on the East coast, you can no longer - because of the boat traffic and the number of people - reach down in the water, and I'm talking about right off the beach, and pull out fresh seafood and eat it. Fifty miles across in Croatia, you actually can."
Zimmern says Croatia is one of Europe's best values. While Croatia is in the European Union, it still uses the country's currency, the kuna, instead of the euro. And with today's strong dollar, the exchange rate is a favorable 6.8 kuna to $1. (A beer is less than $2 and you can get a nice meal at a to tier restaurant for about $40).
Zimmern also says South America is a bargain because of the untouched beauty and what you see.
"The best deals in the world right now are in South America," Zimmern said. "Santiago, Chile is unbelievable. Ecuador – coastal Ecuador is one of the most beautiful spots on Earth and you never hear anyone say that they're going there."
But where ever you decide to go, don't let the prices be the only deciding factor, he says.
"Don't fall prey to the bargain hunters mentality, where you're going to waste your money, to take a trip just because it happens to be discounted," Zimmern said. "Find something you really like to do. If you don't like to sit on the beach and read a stack of books, don't go on a beach vacation."
If you're not looking to get your passport stamped, Zimmern suggests rediscovering new spots at home.
"Most people are forgetting how much fun it is to get in the car and drive one hour to the other side of town, or two hours to the town nearest to you, or six to seven hours and just explore," Zimmern said.
"The best vacation I ever – and I travel for a living nine months a year – we flew to California, my wife and son and I rented a car, and we had no agenda we just went. We knew when we were flying out of LA, so we just drove all around and discovered places and stayed in motels and watched stupid movies at night in our room and just had that kind of family fun that you can only have when there's no agenda."
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