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From The Editors Travel

A Travel Guide to Paris

Apart from wanting to hear my stories, I know a lot of my readers here also looking for some good advice. This is why from time to time, I share other blogs that have helped me out a lot as well. I recently discovered INSIDR while I was looking for a clear guide on getting a tax refund from the EU. Their article that shared shopping hacks was really useful because I found out when the sales seasons are in France and got an easy guide to getting my tax refund. I found a lot more information than I intended to get and I’m sure my shopping experience in Paris will be a lot better!

I stumbled upon a complete guide to shopping for shoes in Paris. This is certainly a big temptation for any women. They gave complete recommendations from casual brands to luxurious brands. They recommend Galeries Lafayette as a one-stop shopping solution. We can find shoes, lingeries, even foods in one place. It is a good solution if you don’t have much time to spend to go around. They even offer a macaron class in English. This will be a lot more stories to tell, more than just trying these best macarons in town.

If you are a beauty product enthusiast, you would know that French beauty products have a great reputation! If you’re in Paris, you should seize the moment to go shopping for them! You’ll find INSIDR’s recommendations for the best French beauty products so you won’t get totally lost while you’re hunting for it, and even the best place to do the shopping! For example, in Pharmacie Monge, you can find a wide range of products with the best price, and you can directly get a tax refund there.

Now about the food, they’ve shared countless recommendations and a complete guide of restaurants in Paris, I don’t even know where to start! From a romantic place to have dinner to street food that you can get in Paris, you can get all the information there. You can even find recommendations for gluten-free restaurants and vegan restaurants in Paris. Of course, you would have to try all the typical French foods, like escargot, oysters, and truffles. The other thing that you just can’t forget when you’re in France: the pastries, all of the pastries! You can find all of the best pastries in Paris recommended by INSIDR and for sure, you won’t regret it. Try the best croissants and other delicacies while you’re there!

Another thing I want to share is how much I’ve discovered about going around Paris at night.

INSIDR wrote in length about all the different activities at night that we can do to spend time in the city. Of course, there’s nothing wrong about sitting in a restaurant for dinner and some wine but I’m the type of person who needs to be doing something all the time, and even more so while I’m on a vacation! Paris Red Light District looks like an interesting area, and I loved reading about the Moulin Rouge.

INSIDR’s articles painted a really different picture from what I’ve heard. Their article on the history of the iconic cabaret also described the show and the dinners they have. I wish I could experience it for myself someday. This certainly looks like one of the best among many shows that we can enjoy in Paris. After watching some shows, we can enjoy the night by going to one of the hidden cocktails bars that we can find in Paris.

I also discovered some local brands that sell beautiful French souvenirs In their guide, they even gave some different variations of gifts, from affordable ones that we can get in the supermarket, to the original and more luxurious original made in France products. We can also get some of the typical French food products in Lafayette Gourmet, which is very practical because they basically have everything already. We can even get some of the best French beauty products for our loved ones! I really think you guys should check them out because they write not only for one type of audience but for everyone.

They also have extremely comprehensive guides to different cities in Europe like London and Barcelona. They share a lot about where to stay, what to do, and even what to eat!


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From The Editors Top 5 Travel

TOP FIVE EMERGING WORLD TRAVEL DESTINATIONS

Check out our selection of the top five emerging world travel destinations based on discussions with several travel bloggers who make it their business not to miss out on even the remotest of destinations the world over.

While these destinations may not be completely off-the-beaten-track, they are still a bit overlooked. However, with tourist activity on the rise, they are hovering on the verge of becoming popular getaways of the future.

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN

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At 92 feet below sea level, Azerbaijan’s capital and its largest city, Baku, is the lowest lying national capital in the world.

The city is an architectural cross between Dubai and Paris with a bit of Moscow thrown in for good measure. Dazzling skyscrapers seem to have been plucked straight out the Dubai skyline; neoclassical architectural beauties and cobblestone squares are sure to remind you of romantic Paris; and the Soviet influence can’t be missed, albeit half-camouflaged in the background.

Baku is an emerging travel destination where tourists are still somewhat of a novelty – a fact that becomes even more conspicuous as you enter the UNESCO World Heritage site of the well-maintained walled Old City (Icheri Sheher) at the heart of the capital.

The 15th-century Palace of the Shirvanshahs and its surrounding alleyways are bereft of thronging tourists, or even locals for that matter. It will make you feel as if you have the place all to yourself – a shove-and-nudge-free tourist experience.

However, with the popularity of the city growing as rapidly as it is, it won’t be long before the place is bustling with noisy, jostling tourists.

Some of the must-see landmarks of this beautiful city are:

Palace of the Shirvanshahs – The Palace of the Shirvanshahs is a restored 15th-century palace complex housing a mosque, a museum, and burial vaults.

Fountains Square – Fountains Square is an upscale public square known for its ornate fountains and the surrounding high-end shops, boutiques, fine restaurants, and cafes.

Azerbaijan Carpet Museum – The Azerbaijan Carpet Museum is, basically, dedicated to the art of carpet weaving with a well-stocked display of carpets and rugs of various weaving techniques and material. The museum is also home to Azeri ceramics and costumes.

National Museum of History of Azerbaijan – The National Museum of History of Azerbaijan is a 19th-century mansion-turned-museum, home to a diverse collection of historical artifacts.

Baku Museum of Miniature Books – Situated in the old section of the Azerbaijani capital, the Baku Museum of Miniature Books is home to a unique collection of tiny books from more than 60 countries. It is one of its kind in the whole world.

Nizami Museum of Azerbaijani Literature – Named after the Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi, the 1939-established Nizami Museum of Azerbaijani Literature is the country’s national museum featuring Azeri art, as well as works by International artists.

Absheron National Park – The Absheron National Park is a protected nature reserve with a coastline and an abundance of flora and fauna, including land and marine animals, over fifty bird species, and lush vegetation.

Ateshgah of Baku – The Ateshgah of Baku, or the Fire Temple of Baku, is a Zoroastrian
temple complex once used as a place of worship.

Yanar Dag – Situated on a hillside on the Absheron Peninsula, Yanar Dag is a natural gas fire that is continuously ablaze.

Baku Museum of Modern Art – The Baku Museum of Modern Art is dedicated to contemporary Azeri art as well as works by Dali, Picasso, and Chagall.

Maiden Tower – The Maiden Tower is a 12th-century Zoroastrian structure, now home to a museum of local history.

ISTRIA – CROATIA

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Located between the Kvarner Gulf and the Gulf of Trieste, Istria is the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea.

Croatian Istria is bordered in the north by Slovenia and by the Adriatic Sea in the south and west. Towards the east lies the Kvarner region of the country.

As far as natural, unspoiled beauty is concerned, picture-perfect Istria deserves a place among the top destinations in that category.

Istria boasts some of the most amazing vistas on the planet. Here’s what you can expect to see and experience in this emerging fairytale-land getaway.

  • Gently rolling hills overlooking valleys and fields and clusters of houses perched atop peaks.
  • Streams flowing into the Adriatic after carving paths through deep gullies and valleys.
  • Breathtaking, camera-worthy panoramas of swaying wheat fields, snow-capped peaks, lush valleys, and plateaus.
  • Olive groves and vineyards and blossoming cherries hugging the hillsides.
  • Beautiful church facades, portals and narrow winding alleyways of the small villages with native architectural influence.
  • And, of course, the vast expanse of the sea.

LANGKAWI, MALAYSIA

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Langkawi, or Langkawi the Jewel of Kedah, as it is officially known, is an archipelago comprising 104 islands in the Andaman Sea. The largest of the islands, Palau Langkawi, is fast becoming a preferred international tourist attraction in the region, what with its forested hills, romantic white sand beaches, and crystal-clear waters.

Located 30 kilometers off the north-western coast of the Malaysian mainland, Langkawi is also known as the “Legendary Island” because of ancient myths linked to its unique topography.

Enjoy some of the best cuisines at the vibrant night markets; hike to the spectacular waterfalls, or take a professionally guided dive into the underwater marine park to marvel at some of the marine wonders the place has to offer.

LANGKAWI ATTRACTIONS

Langkawi Cable Car – The Langkawi Cable Car, also known as the Langkawi Sky Cab, is gaining popularity as the island’s major tourist attraction. The gondola-style cable cars with glass bottoms afford sweeping vistas as you ride to the peak of Manchincang Mountain.

Temurun Waterfall – The Temurun Waterfall is a stepped waterfall with deep and shallow pools surrounded by a lushly forested park with plenty of monkeys.

Tanjung Sanctuary – Located at Pantain Kok on the west coast of Langkawi, the Tanjung Sanctuary is a resort spread over 62 acres of forested land, boasting a large sandy beach, five private coves, and freshwater streams.

Seven Wells Waterfall – The Seven Wells is a dramatic waterfall with seven natural pools – a great swimming and hiking spot, indeed.

Art in Paradise – The 3D murals & paintings on display at the Art in Paradise museum are known for their optical illusions.

Beras terbakar- It is a fenced-in area of historic importance where, once, rice was burnt after a battle with the Siamese army.

Tiger! Tiger! Langkawi –Tiger! Tiger! Langkawi is an animal park and nature center where you can get to see tigers up close.

Elephant Adventures – Take a ride on a trained Asian elephant through the tropical forests of Langkawi offering excellent views of a rich birdlife, monkeys, and the unique flora of the region.

Payar Island – Payar Island is a protected marine park in Kedah, known for its amazing marine life and coral reef – an ideal place for snorkeling and scuba diving
Skytrex Langkawi Adventure Park – The Skytrex Langkawi Adventure Park is located within the pristine enclosure of Burau Bay, with the beautiful landscape of Gunung Mat Cincang offering a dramatic backdrop.

MADAGASCAR

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This unspoiled island country of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, off the eastern coast of Africa, covers 587,000 square km of amazingly beautiful and marvelously diverse country, roughly the same size as France.

Vast tracts of uninhabited and largely unexplored terrain with its overabundant flora and fauna attract adventure seekers and wildlife lovers from different parts of the globe. The diversity of the landscape is truly amazing where lush rainforest can turn into desert country in a matter of just 300 km.

Five percent of the island’s plant and animal species are unique to Madagascar – not to be found in the wild elsewhere in the world.

MADAGASCAR’S FLORA AND FAUNA

Fossa – A sinister-looking cat-like predator endemic to the island.

Lemur – Over 100 lemur species exist on the island and almost all of them are rare, vulnerable or endangered. Lemurs have been classified as “Madagascar’s flagship mammal species” by Conservation International.

Birds – Out of the 300 recorded species of birds, 60% are unique to Madagascar.

Reptiles – Madagascar boasts 260 reptile species out of which 90% are native to the island. Two-thirds of the world’s chameleon species thrive on the island including the smallest known.

Fish – Over 100 indigenous species of freshwater fish inhabit the rivers and lakes of Madagascar.

Invertebrates – All 651 species of terrestrial snail are indigenous, as are a majority of the island’s butterflies, scarab beetles, lacewings, spiders, and dragonflies.

MADAGASCAR ATTRACTIONS

  • Isalo National Park – Famous for its canyon and lemur population – ideal for backpacking and hiking
  • Avenue of the Baobabs – An extraordinary stand of huge baobab trees located 45 minutes north of Morondava on Madagascar’s west coast
  • Ranomafana National Park – Features a forest, rainforest, lemurs, and a hot spring
  • Analamazaotra Special Reserve – Nature Reserves, Protected Area, and Eco-Tourism
  • Amber Mountain National Park – Known for its lemur population, rainforest, nature reserves, and waterfall
  • Zahamena National Park – Rainforest, Park, and Nature Reserve
  • Parc Ivoloina – Zoo and Park
  • Pirates Museum
  • Central Park Zoo
  • Namorona River
  • Libanona Beach
  • Maromokotoro Beach

MADAGASCAR MUST-Dos

  • Deep sea fishing
  • Kite and windsurfing
  • Guided kayaking

MARTINIQUE

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North of St. Lucia and south of Dominica, lies the enticing island of Martinique, a French outpost in the Caribbean Sea. West Indian warmth and color combine exceedingly well with French finesse to give you an excellent finished product – Martinique.

This mountainous island is volcanic in composition with Mont Pelée – the volcano that obliterated St. Pierre in 1902 – looming large over the rugged landscape.

While the capital Fort-de-France and its urban surroundings can be chaotic because of overcrowding, the surroundings become increasing pleasant and serene as you make your way north or south through some of the most beautiful scenery you can ever hope to set eyes on.

While the northern part of Martinique is resplendent with lush mountainsides offering great panoramas of the surrounding areas, the south boasts amazing bays and coves and miles of pristine sandy beaches.

MARTINIQUE ATTRACTIONS

Mount Pelée – Mount Pelée is an active volcano at the northern end of Martinique, an island and French overseas department in the Lesser Antilles island arc of the Caribbean. Its volcanic cone is composed of layers of volcanic ash and hardened lava.

La Savane – The La Savane is a large green space with a central lawn and shaded walkways not too far from cafes and restaurants.

Fort Saint Louis – Fort Saint Louis is a seaside fortress in Fort-de-France, Martinique. The historically significant site features a zoo and plenty of common iguanas all around.

St. Louis Cathedral, Fort-de-France – The St. Louis Cathedral is a late 19th-century Romanesque Revival cathedral with a 187-ft. steeple & a large pipe organ.

Château Dubuc – The Château Dubuc is the ruins of a 17th-century castle featuring scenic bay views & a museum with related history exhibits.

ZOO Martinique HOUSING LATOUCHE – It is a small wildlife park in a picturesque setting with winding trails & colonial-era ruins.

Jardin de Balata – The Jardin de Balata is a botanical garden with exotic plants from around the world, a treetop walkway & dramatic mountain views.

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From The Editors Travel

The Amazing “Rich Coast” of Costa Rica

Located in Central America, Costa Rica shares its north and south borders with Nicaragua and Panama, respectively, and is flanked by the Caribbean Sea to the east and the mighty Pacific on its western coastline.

A rich colonial culture and abundantly rich flora and fauna, not to mention the best of two great water bodies, make Costa Rica worthy of its name which literally means “Rich Coast.”

Costa Rica is the second largest exporter of bananas in the world, its plantations covering around 500 sq km of the country.

The business of bananas dates back to the 19th century when a railroad off the Atlantic coast was built through 160 km of a jungle in order to facilitate the banana trade with Europe. When in 1890 the route was completed, bananas were planted next to the tracks and the United Fruit Company was founded.

Costa Rica is not called the Republic of Bananas for nothing!

San José

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Let’s begin our exploration of this amazing country from its capital San José.

A vibrant and thriving metropolis of some 4.9 million people, the Costa Rican capital is blessed with an idyllic location 1,150 m above sea level in the heart of Central America’s coffee country, complemented by an enviable climate.

The arterial road of San José is called Avenida Segunda which bisects the center of the town and is almost perennially crammed with buses and taxis.

The impressive Museo Nacional or the National Museum, situated on the east side of the Plaza de la Democracia, boasts pre-Columbian sacrificial altars made of volcanic and stone sculptures that appear ancient and modern at the same time. Huge balls of stone of various sizes are also exhibited here.

Next to the National Museum is the superlative Palacio Nacionale (National Palace) with its single storied courtyard containing Arabian decoration. Columns and arches frame the corridors on both levels.

Not too far from the Palacio Nacionale, you will find the Parque Nacionale, a large tranquil park featuring a war memorial and a neoclassical circular temple.

The Pre-Columbian Gold Museum is housed in an underground building underneath the Plaza de la Cultura, which, itself, is not much more than a concrete area with hardly any green space.

The Gold Museum falls under the ambit of the Central Bank of Costa Rica and contains some fascinating exhibits dating back to the 5th century BC, including funeral ornaments made of pure gold and ancient chests with their treasures exposed.

San José boasts a superb zoo, mainly featuring animals from the jungles of Costa Rica along with a selection of both African and Asian wildlife.

The Teatro Nacional (National Theater) is one of the finest historic buildings in the capital, known for hosting world-class performances with a high emphasis on artistic excellence.

Credit for funding the construction of this magnificent center of art is owed to the coffee barons whose taxation policies on the export of coffee beans made it possible.

The iconic Grand Hotel Costa Rica, in front of the Plaza de la Cultura, is another architectural masterpiece which was inaugurated in 1930 and served as a meeting place for businessmen, tourists, and artists of the time.

The original 19th-century church, which was destroyed by an earthquake, was replaced by the present day Cathedral Metropolitana featuring a huge timber dome rising above the marble plinth main altar.

With sundown comes entertainment in San José. Song and dance and merrymaking are a way of life here. The female dancers present themselves in wonderful dresses while the men wear colorful Bolero jackets and high trousers with silver buttons.

In the southern part of San José, the Cementerio de Obreros is home to the mortal remains of many of most well-known Costa Ricans, housed in impressive mausoleums and graves artistically decorated with angels, cherubs, sculptures, and ornaments.

Le Parc Métropolitain La Sabana or the Sabana Metropolitan Park is a sprawling green space, the country’s largest and most significant urban park, featuring an artificial lake and shady, romantic walkways.

The city’s exotic Central Market is a maze of narrow streets and noisy market stalls selling every imaginable product.

Some of the finest manor houses of erstwhile coffee barons can be found in the historic neighborhood of Barrio Amón – a fascinating array of Colonial, French, Victorian, Moorish, and Caribbean architecture.

Despite the influx of modern life, it is heartening to see that San José has retained its magnificent treasures and tradition.

Cartago

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Separated from San José by 22 km of highway, the historic city of Cartago was once the capital of Costa Rica.

Over the years, the city has witnessed much destruction from earthquakes, eruptions of the Irazú Volcano, and floods but the resilient residents of this town have rebuilt it every time.

Today, the city’s economy is mainly agriculture-based, evident in the city’s markets abundant with fruits and vegetables grown luxuriantly on the slopes of the region’s volcanoes.

While Cartago may have lost its status as Costa Rica’s capital to San José, it continues to be the religious center of the country.

Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles (Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels) is frequented by many pilgrims. Legend has it that the Virgin Mary appeared here in 1635 and miracles are said to happen even to this day.

Turrialba

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Located 650 m above sea level, in a fertile mountain valley at the foot of a volcano, the quiet town of Turrialba was once an important station on the route of the Jungle Train from San José to the Atlantic coast.
Other than being the hub of sugar cane, coffee, and banana cultivation, the town has little else to offer.
However, it does serve as a good launch pad for various excursions and tours by kayak and raft.

The Irazú Volcano

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At 3,430 meters above sea level, in the central highlands of Costa Rica, the active Irazú Volcano is the highest volcano in the country.

Deep below, in its main crater is a green sulfur lagoon known as the Diego de la Haya. The surrounding lunar landscape gives a surreal feel to the place.

The volcano is part of the Irazú Volcano National Park, which spreads across 5,705 acres of land.

Puerto Limon

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The town of Puerto Limon on the Caribbean coast is best known for being the spot where Christopher Columbus and his son Fernando dropped anchor in 1502. Today, it serves as the main transit hub for coffee, pineapples, and bananas.

Cruise ships bring many tourists each day, which also contributes to the economy of this small, picturesque Caribbean town.

Canal de Tortuguero

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Parallel to the Caribbean coast is the 113-km-long Canal Tortuguero. Gliding through the waters of the canal, up the length of the waterway and back, is a great way of exploring the area and its abundant flora and fauna. The canal contains some rare creatures such as the red-eyed tree frog that becomes active only after sunset.

The first stop is the Laguna lodge where you can enjoy a great meal at the Jungle Restaurant and relax in the comfort of one of the timber-built apartments in the lodge. And yes, there’s a swimming pool to go with it!

The next stop up the canal is the 190-square-kilometer Tortuguero National Park, home to the strawberry poisoned-dart frog, the golden silk-spider, and the elusively shy two-toed sloth, among other wildlife species.

The secluded village of Tortuguero on the northern tip of the canal heralds the end of the up journey.

Jungle Breeze Canopy Tour

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The Jungle Breeze Canopy Tour allows you to experience the wonders of the jungle world from a different perspective altogether.

Equipped with belts, steel ropes, helmets, and gloves, set up with the help of tour professionals, you can glide 800 meters through the treetops at a height of up to 130 m above the ground below, which, for most parts, is hardly visible through the dense foliage and undergrowth.

If you can manage to conquer your fear of heights, you’ll be fascinated by the breathtaking scenery.

Heredia

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A mere 11 kilometers north of San José, the town of Heredia is home to the National University of Costa Rica, one of the largest colleges in the country.

A white cathedral, one of the few buildings to have survived the region’s numerous earthquakes, is known for its French stained-glass windows, Greek columns, and a two-colored marble floor decorating the interior of the church.

The 19th-century Spanish Watchtower is a circular brick fortress and one of Heredia’s main landmarks.

Heredia is a convenient starting point for a trip to the Volcán Barva located within the Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo.

Barva de Heredia

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The village of Barva de Heredia is located 3 km north of Heredia. It’s most impressive building, the Basilica de Barva, features a grotto that attracts those hoping for a miracle. The church was built as late as 1867.

Alajuela

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One of four cities located on the central plateau, Alajuela is best known for being the birthplace of former national hero Juan Santamaría.

It was founded on the insistence of the Catholic Church in 1782 so that the local people would not have to travel to Heredia for Sunday mass.

Our Lady of the Pillar Cathedral with glorious painted ceilings and a huge dome above the altar is a bastion of the Catholic faith and an important Alajuela landmark.

Zoo Ave

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Considered to be the largest zoo in the country, the Ave Zoo is located on the site of former coffee and citrus plantations.

It boasts enclosures that are designed to match the natural habitats of the animals it is home to. The zoo’s special breeding programs are designed to protect endangered animal species.

Parque Nacional Volcán Poás

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Surrounded by dense green rainforest and overlooking the northwestern Meseta Centrale, Poás is one of Costa Rica’s most active volcanoes.

It is also one of the most visited volcanoes in the country, as visitors can take their cars almost to the edge of the constantly steaming and bubbling main crater – the air around it thick with the smell of sulfur.

The natives of the region once sacrificed virgins here to appease the deities.

Café Britt Tour

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A visit to the Café Britt plantation is an educational experience in the growing, harvesting, and processing of coffee, which first came to Costa Rica from Ethiopia at the end of the 18th century.

Rain Forest Aerial Tram

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The Rain Forest Aerial Tram, a brainchild of world-famous American biologist Donald Perry, is a network of cableways above and through the rainforest canopy, making it possible to observe life on the treetops – something which is next to impossible from ground level.

Zarcero

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Located 1,736 meters above sea level in Costa Rica’s central highlands, Zarcero is best known for the artistically shaped cypresses in a perfect little park outside the local church. The trees are expertly shaped to resemble arches, dinosaurs, monkeys, ox-carts, airplanes and the likes.

This region is known for its milk products, fruits, and vegetables and the practice of organic farming. Jams, cheese, and other dairy products are among the items produced here.

Catarata Rio Fortuna

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The Catarata Rio Fortuna, an awesome waterfall plunging 70 meters into the basin below, is the main attraction of the La Fortuna tourist resort, an area dominated by the imposing Arenal Volcano.

The Catarata can be accessed by way of a narrow trail and steep steps.

Maleku Guatuso

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North of the La Fortuna tourist resort lives one of Costa Rica’s indigenous peoples, the Maleku Guatuso tribe. The 600-strong group live in small brick houses rather than traditional grass huts and have a show village where they produce various handicrafts.

The tribe has access to good schools and medical facilities here, and are free to follow their customs and ceremonies uninterrupted.

Playa Hermosa

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Playa Hermosa, a still untouched paradise of nature with its palm-fringed pristine beaches, is one of many such bays and headlands dotting the Pacific coast. Flocks of pelicans assemble in the rocky bay and begin their vigil for fish, which when spotted are soon caught by a spectacular nosedive.

Puntarenas

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Ever since it was founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Hernández de Córdoba in 1524, Puntarenas has been the most important coffee exporting port in Costa Rica.

It is also a popular bathing place of Ticos – a colloquial term for natives of Costa Rica – who make the most of the fine beaches the place boasts.

Some of the attractions in and around the area are the Marino del Pacífico Park, Mora y Cañas Park, Lighthouse Puntarenas, Victoria Park, and the Antigua Capitanía del Puerto, among several others.

Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio

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Undoubtedly one of the top national parks in Costa Rica, the Manuel Antonio National Park on the Pacific coast is home to some of the country’s iconic flora and fauna, including passion flowers, golden silk spiders, and playful Capuchin monkeys.

Founded in 1972, the park is framed by lush forested hills and the sea. Rainforests in the region often extend to the coast where narrow sandy beaches offer heaven to both man and wildlife.

The best way to explore the area is by a catamaran tour which starts from the Port of Capos and covers 12 rocky islands off the coast. You can soak up the sunshine and the sea air as the twin-hulled catamaran glides along the Manuel Antonio Park.

The small rocky islands are part of the 550 sq km conservation area in which several colonies of seabirds nest.

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From The Editors Travel

The Best of Perth, Australia | Top 10 Attractions

The Australian city of Perth ranks fourth among the most populous cities in the continent country and is the capital of the state of Western Australia.

Founded in 1829 by Captain James Stirling, Perth has come a long way since. Today, this city on the southwestern coast of Australia is a prosperous, sprawling metropolis basking in its financial glory.

Perth owes its affluence to a continuing mining windfall in the state since late last century, emerging as the main service center for this booming Western Australia industry involved in mining gold, diamonds, iron ore, coal, gas and more.

Add to it, a wonderful climate, amazing ocean and river beaches, great shopping, fine restaurants, elegant boutiques and a plethora fun activities – right from sailing and surfing to swimming and fishing – and you have the recipe for a world-class city.

It is not for no reason that Perth is constantly ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the world.

From the tourist’s perspective, as well, Perth affords everything that makes an awesome holiday destination.

Let’s take a look at some of the main attractions, landmarks and fun activities this Down Under destination boasts.

KINGS PARK

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Spread over 1000 acres of prime real estate, the Kings Park in Perth is larger than New York’s Central Park. It is home to lush parkland, botanical gardens, and natural bushland atop Mount Eliza, with two-thirds of the grounds preserved as native bushland.

The park is a great vantage point offering amazing views of the Swan River and Darling Range as well as the city itself.

The largest inner city park in the world, Kings Park is home to hundreds of indigenous plant and fungi species as well as at least 80 bird species.

Also housed within the grounds are the State War Memorial and the Royal Kings Park Tennis club.

The Kings Park Festival, held in September every year, is the largest wildflower exhibition in Australia attracting huge crowds of tourists and citizens alike.

HILLARYS BOAT HARBOR

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Hillarys Boat Harbour is the ultimate marina and tourist enclave around 20 km north–west of Perth. It’s is an excellent family spot with fine restaurants, shops, attractions and some great fun activities to indulge in.

The Aquarium of Western Australia, housed within the marina, is an amazing place to spend some quality fun time with family and friends. It is home to more than 200 species of marine life including sharks, dolphins, and manta rays. A glass underwater tunnel makes for some great viewing of these wondrous creatures.

Calm, pristine beaches and walking paths make it an excellent spot for leisurely strolls and picnics or just to laze around and enjoy the surroundings.

Mid-September to November-end is the whale migration season and the best time of the year to watch Humpback whales swim the waters of the harbor. Hillarys Boat Harbour is the departure point for the extremely popular whale-watching cruises – the best way to watch these gentle giants of the ocean in their elements.

CAVERSHAM WILDLIFE PARK

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The Caversham Wildlife Park is not more than a half hour drive from the city. It’s a delightful place for animal lovers and an excellent family spot.

The Park is home to some of Australia’s unique and iconic wildlife species including kangaroos, koalas, kookaburras, echidnas, and wombats.

Housed within the Caversham Park is Molly’s Farm with its friendly, cuddly bunch of barn animals that children especially enjoy.

SWAN VALLEY

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At a distance of 14 km from Perth’s central business district, the Swan Valley is located in the upper reaches of the Swan River.

Travelling to this scenic farming region, home to some of the finest vineyards in the country, can be as much fun as the place itself.

A relaxing ferry cruise up the Swan River is one way of reaching the fertile Swan Valley, enjoying some awesome scenery all the way.
Guildford is the main hub of the Swan Valley region – a charming place with elegant 19th-century architecture and fine restaurants.

Don’t forget to enjoy a cup or two of Devonshire tea – a specialty the place is known for.

The area is also famous for its art galleries and antique furniture stores.

While you are at it, don’t forget to sample some of the farm produce and artisan foods the region is known for, including grapes, melons, strawberries, citrus fruits, nougat, cheese, honey, strawberries, nuts

PERTH ZOO

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Spread over 41 acres of land, about three kilometers away from the city, the Perth Zoo is home to some 1300 animals belonging to more than 160 species.

The Australian Bushwalk and Wetlands exhibits in the Perth Zoo are home to almost all the major Australians of the wildlife world, if you will, including all the favorites such as kangaroos, wallabies, Tasmanian devils, wombats, and platypus.

Other exhibits in the zoo will take you to different ecosystems of the world, including giraffes at the African Savannah, pygmy marmosets in the South American primate exhibit, orangutans in the Asian rainforest, and more.

AVIATION HERITAGE MUSEUM

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Located 15 km south of Perth, the Aviation History Museum boasts fascinating displays of over 30 aircraft and thousands of civil and military aviation artifacts.

Even if you are not an avid aircraft fan, you will be impressed with the way the displays trace the evolution of aircraft over the decades – right from WWI era planes to present-day supersonic jets.

It is worth the additional fee to book a personal tour of a Dakota C-47, a Spitfire Mark XXII or a Lancaster bomber

ART GALLERY OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA

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Housed within the Perth Cultural Center, not far from the Museum of WA and the State Library of WA, the Art Gallery of Western Australia boasts a supreme collection of art, both Australian and International.

Post-WWII works by Australian masters such as Albert Tucker, Russell Drysdale, Arthur Boyd, Grace Cossington Smith, Sidney Nolan, and Arthur Streeton are just a few of the stockpile of art the gallery houses.

The Indigenous-art galleries hold their own in works ranging from canvasses to sculpture and bark painting from the likes of Christopher Pease, Phyllis Thomas, Rover Thomas, and Angilya Mitchell, to name a few.

YANCHEP NATIONAL PARK

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About 55 km north of Perth you will find the Yanchep Nation Park – a bushland and wetland, basically – home to western gray kangaroos, koalas, and emus. A variety of bird species, including the cockatoo, also thrives in this nature reserve.

“Wild About Walking” is a free brochure outlining nine walking trails, including the twenty-minute Dwerta Mia walk and the four-day Coastal Plain walk.

One of the many trails is a raised 240-meter Koala Boardwalk through trees inhabited by koalas.

The park is also known for its wonderful caves, including the underground Crystal Cave of stalactites and stalagmites.

On Saturday and Sunday, local Noongar guides run excellent tours highlighting their culture and tradition, the importance of the park’s plants and animals. Spear and boomerang demonstrations are also included.

PENGUIN ISLAND

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Not too far south off the coast of Perth, about 45 minutes away, lies Penguin Island, known for its white sand beaches and surrounding crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean.

The island is home to a thriving colony of at least 1200 penguins, believed to be the largest population of the bird in Western Australia.

You can join a cruise to see wild dolphins, the rare Australian sea lions, and marvel at the wondrous beauty of this amazing location.

ADVENTURE WORLD

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Located in Bibra Lake, about 20 km from the Perth’s central business district, Adventure World was called “Edgley’s Adventure World” when it opened in 1982. It is fabulous spot to spend a day with family or friends enjoying some of the most thrilling rides you can imagine.

The theme park is a seasonal attraction open from September 21 to April.

(Source: Google, Planetware, Lonely Planet)

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From The Editors Travel

China –The Modern, Mysterious, and Exotic Red Dragon

The pull of the mysterious Orient has never been stronger than now, as more and more people are drawn to China. According to the World Tourism Organization, China is well on its way to becoming the world’s most popular tourist attraction in the not too distant 2020.

And why not! From ultra high-tech megacities to mesmerizing off-the-beaten-path destinations and everything in between, China’s versatility as a tourist destination and the splendor of its myriad sights and sounds will not fail to impress even the fussiest of travelers.

First-time visitors to this vast and diverse country, generally, head for the glitz and glamour of the big cities – the new face of China.

Experienced and adventurous travelers, on the other hand, spread out in other directions to soak in the natural beauty and awesome sights of this ancient land of the Ming, and the Yuan, and the Qing dynasties, to name a few.

Not far from the punishing pace of the gleaming cities and extending to the far reaches of this great country, awaits a different and vastly diverse China; a China of colossal palaces, ancient cliff-top temples, giant Buddha statues, beautiful pagodas, intricately terraced paddy fields hugging the hills and mountain slopes, and much more – it’s truly a painter’s dream come true!

Based on the aforementioned, we present to you the best of both Chinas, if you will, in our selection of seven top places to visit in this country of many surprises – almost all of them pleasant.

Shànghăi

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No matter how many times you have been to Shanghai or how well you think you know the place, be prepared for a shock. Shanghai has grown ten years for every year you have been away.

The Shanghai you return to is nothing like the Shanghai you remember from an earlier trip, even if it was just a year back. It’s this rapid growth that makes Shanghai one of the most amazing places on earth.

If you are seeking a super-city getaway, there’s no place like Shanghai, what with its state-of-the-art modernity, art deco architecture, and an ever-evolving skyline.

Shanghai Attractions

The Bund – The Bund is a famous 1500-meter-long waterside promenade with awesome city views.

Yu Garden – Yu Garden is a 16th-century garden featuring Ming dynasty pavilions, ponds, rockeries, and arched bridges.

Jade Buddha Temple – The Jade Buddha Temple is known for its large, ornate jade Buddha sculptures.

Shanghai Museum – The Shanghai Museum is a science and technology-themed museum, with educational programs, multimedia exhibits & theaters.

Longhua Temple – The Longhua Temple is a reconstructed 3rd-century Buddhist temple complex featuring towers, a library, and a traditional garden

Shanghai Zoo – The Shanghai Zoological Gardens is a storied zoo featuring thousands of native & exotic animal species, an aviary, and a reptile house.

Shanghai Natural History Museum – It is a museum on human civilization and animals, including ancient species including dinosaurs.

Shanghai History Museum – The Shanghai History Museum exhibits city’s past with photos & artifacts

Confucian Temple of Shanghai – The Confucian Temple of Shanghai is a rebuilt temple complex honoring Confucius, with pavilions, a towering pagoda, sculptures & gardens.

Gongqing Forest Park – The Gongqing Forest Park is a sprawling urban park with picnic & BBQ facilities, plus a kids’ playground & boat rentals.

Zhongshan Park – The Zhongshan is a serene park featuring a lush array of plantings, including roses & lotus flowers

Lèshān Giant Buddha

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“The Mountain is a Buddha and the Buddha is the Mountain.” Nothing can be better said about the Lèshān giant Buddha than this local Chinese saying.

Near the city of Lèshān in the Sichuan Province of China, sculpted out of a cliff face, sits the colossal Lèshān Buddha.

Not only is it an important site for Buddhist pilgrims from around the world, this great ancient wonder – a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996 – attracts millions of tourists from across the world every year.

Construction of the 230-foot-tall statue, by far the largest and tallest of its kind in the world, was ordered by a monk named Hai Tong during the rule of the Tang Dynasty.

The project commenced in 713 AD and it took thousands of workers 90 long years of chipping away at the cliff face before it finally finished in 803 AD.

The overall immenseness of the statue can be gauged from the fact that 100 people can sit on the statue’s 30-foot instep, while the 79-foot-wide shoulders almost as big as a basketball court.

Skilfully embedded in the Buddha’s head are 1,021 coiled buns of hair. The ears are made of wood with a layer of mud decoration on their surface, each 23 feet long. The nose is 20 feet long while each eyebrow is 18 feet in length.

The Rivers Min and Dadu converge at this point and flow below the giant feet of the awesome Buddha, making it an even more spectacular sight.

Lìjiāng

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A popular destination in the north-western part of the Yunnan Province, Lìjiāng is a fairyland of majestic snow mountains, gurgling streams, and crisp fresh air.

While Lìjiāng is modern and new, its twin town – the Lìjiāng Old Town – is brimming with history and attracts huge numbers of tourists every year.

The Old Town is a UNESCO Heritage site with a history dating back more than 1000 years. It is a quiet, charming destination with some of the best preserved ancient buildings and a rich Naxi culture.

The Old Town was once the center of Lìjiāng and still retains the original flavor from way back, including the architecture and organized system of bridges and waterways.

Bĕijīng

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Beijing – a sprawling, vibrant, and constantly-evolving high-tech modern city – is the capital of China and the second most populous city in the world.

Formerly known as Peking, Beijing has transitioned into one of the world’s most modern cities and, needless to say, it’s a continuing metamorphosis.

However, the grandeur of its imperial legacy and its impressive socialist realism are evident from its historic landmarks, labyrinthine alleyways, ancient temples, and more.

The new has been made to blend seamlessly with the old and there lies the charm of this great world capital!

Some of the top Beijing attractions

The Forbidden City – The Forbidden City is a massive palace complex and museum featuring art exhibits, guided tours, and restaurants. It served as the Chinese imperial palace between 1420 and 1912 – right from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty.

Summer Palace – This lakefront palace complex is known for its ornate temples, works of art, and extravagantly landscaped gardens. It is a popular tourist attraction and recreational park in Beijing.

Tiananmen Square – Located in the heart of the Chinese capital, Tiananmen Square is a massive city square and meeting place of great historical significance.

Temple of Heaven – A renowned temple complex from 1420 AD featuring distinctive circular buildings set in a popular park.

Ming tombs – Tombs of 13 Ming Dynasty emperors are housed in this ancient complex also featuring impressive statues and enchanting pathways.

Beijing National Stadium – The Beijing National Stadium is a modern sporting complex with a seating capacity of 80,000. Also known as the Bird’s Nest, it was built for the 2008 Summer Olympics. It is now used for concerts and sporting events.

Yonghe Temple – Built in 1694, the Yonghe Temple is an Ornate Buddhist temple complex housing bronze statues and incense burners.

Prince Gong Mansion – It is a grand, well-preserved, historic 18th-century mansion with courtyards and gardens.

Wangfujing – Located in the Dongcheng District of Beijing, Wangfujing is a famous, largely pedestrianized shopping area popular with locals and tourists alike.

Mausoleum of Mao Zedong – Also known as the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, it is the final resting place of Mao Zedong as well as a museum dedicated to the great leader.

Great Wall of China – We have covered this epic landmark separately.

Great Wall of China

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The Great Wall of China is the ultimate tourist experience – an absolutely awesome place to go to, notwithstanding some hassles you may experience reaching this wonder of the world.

Viewed from Badaling, the world’s largest man-made construction snakes majestically across misty mountains, rising and dipping with the contours of the terrain it traverses.

Original sections of the wall are believed to have been built in 888 BC, during an era when walls were made from compressed clay and palisades. It was built as a fortification against invasions from the north.

Further sections of the wall were completed during the reign of Emperor Shi Huangdi, thereby, creating an almost continuous wall that extends from Dandong in the east to Lop Lake along a gigantic arc.

Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces

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The Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces, also known by the names Longsheng Rice Terraces and Longji Rice Terraces, are located in the southeast portion of the Longsheng County.

Layers and layers of terraces coil up the slopes, starting at the foot of the mountain and rising all the way to the top, landscaping the mountain slopes into layers that change dramatically with every passing season.

If you happen to visit the terraces in spring you’ll be treated to a view of layer upon layer of shimmering water which will change to layers of refreshing green rice shoots in summer. Ripening millets in autumn decorate the slopes with layers of and layers of gold, while during the winter months the slopes transform into layers of frost.

In addition to the scenic bonanza Longji affords, it is an excellent place to experience the culture of China’s ethnic minority, largely the Zhuang people and a scattering of Yao nationalities.

Xī’ān

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Xī’ān is the capital of the Shănxī province and one of the oldest cities in China. It is the oldest among the four great ancient capitals of the world and was once the starting point of the Silk Road – or you could call it the end of the Silk Road, looking from the opposite perspective.

It was a thriving capital under some of the most historically significant dynasties including the Qin, Sui, and Tang dynasties, among several others.

The archaeological sites from times gone by lie scattered around Xī’ān, making it an important destination for the historically inclined.

Some of the archaeological wonders include an excavated Neolithic village, many royal graves including the tomb of Qin Shi Huang and the world-famous Terracotta Warriors.

China’s march towards modernity is even evident in this ancient capital. Of late, Xī’ān has emerged as an important tourist hub and cultural center, what with its grand museums, ancient pagodas, an interesting Muslim Quarter and a surprisingly vibrant nightlife.

Source – Google, Remote Traveler

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From The Editors Travel

Vienna, Austria – The City of Music and Dreams

Located on the banks of the Danube River, the UNESCO World Heritage City of Vienna is the capital of Austria and with over 1.7 million inhabitants it is by far the largest and most populated city in the country.

Once the nucleus of the expansive Habsburg Empire, right from the 16th century up till the early 20th century, Vienna continues to serve as Austria’s political, cultural, and commercial hub. This historic European city’s cosmopolitan charm and cultural heritage make it one of the most visited cities in Europe and, indeed, the world.

Owing to its musical legacy Vienna has been dubbed the “City of Music,” and being home to Sigmund Freud, it is also referred to as the “City of Dreams” by many.

Up there at the top, among the most liveable countries in the world, Vienna boasts a very high standard of living and has more often than not enjoyed the top or runners-up position in “Quality of Living” surveys by reputable entities such as the “Economist Intelligence Unit,” “Mercer’ and “Monocle.”

Vienna also has the distinction of being one of the most preferred destinations for international conventions and conferences. In fact, it was the number one destination for such purposes between 2005 and 2010.

The city has much on offer for tourists what with its architectural richness, its stately horse-drawn cabs or “Fiakers” – as the locals like to call them – famous museums and cosy street-side cafés offering a number of coffee variants such as Kleiner Brauner and Großer Brauner meaning “little brown one” or “large brown one,” Mazagran, Verlängerter, Kurzer or Espresso, and Eiskaffee (cold coffee with vanilla ice cream) to name a few.

Here’s a brief look at eight of the top-rated tourist attractions in Vienna.

The Hofburg Imperial Palace

Hofburg (Imperial Palace)
Hofburg (Imperial Palace)

Located in central Vienna, the 13th-century Hofburg Imperial Palace was the seat of power and the official residence of the Habsburg dynasty monarchs for over six centuries. Even today, it serves as the official seat of the President of the Republic of Austria (Republik Österreich).

Covering an area of 59 acres, the Hofburg comprises 18 groups of buildings with 19 courtyards and 2600 rooms. This ornate palace complex with its baroque interiors, imperial apartments, the Sisi Museum (Silver Museum), the Burgkapelle (Imperial Chapel), the Naturhistorisches Museum (Natural History Museum), the Austrian National Library and the Hofburg Treasury with its sizeable collection of Imperial regalia and relics of the Holy Roman Empire draw huge numbers of tourists day after day, year after year.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom)

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Built in the 12th century, the St. Stephen’s Cathedral, also known by its German name Stephansdom, is a medieval Roman Catholic Church with an elaborate spire, catacombs and a treasury museum.

This beautiful Gothic edifice with its multi-colored-tile roof is over 107 meters long and 34 meters wide with four towers. The tallest south tower stands at an imposing height of 136.44 meters with its tower room offering a panoramic view of the great city in all its glory. While the south tower houses 13 bells, the most famous Pummerin bell hangs from the 68.3 meter-tall north tower.

The interior of this magnificent church has witnessed many a transformation over the centuries up until the Baroque period. The catacombs of the church is the final resting place of some very important personalities including Prince Eugene of Savoy, Joseph Othmar Rauscher ( Austrian Prince-Archbishop of Vienna and Cardinal), Frederick the Fair, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III, Albert III (Duke of Austria), Joanna Sophia of Bavaria and many other eminent personalities.

One of the most recognizable landmarks in Vienna, the St. Stephen’s Cathedral is a must-see attraction and should not be missed at any cost.

Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens

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One of Europe’s most impressive Baroque structures, the Schönbrunn Palace is a magnificent architectural specimen in a picturesque, sprawling park-like setting. The palace boasts 1441 rooms out of which only 45 are accessible to visitors.

The Round Chinese Cabinet is famous for being the venue of Maria Theresa’s secret conferences with State Chancellor Prince Kaunitz.

The Vieux Lacque Room is where Napoleon held important conferences.

Emperor Charles I signed the end of monarchy in the Blue Chinese Salon while the Congress of Vienna convened in the Grand Gallery in 1814/15.

The rosewood-paneled Millions Room with its priceless miniatures from Persia and India is considered one of the most beautiful Rococo rooms in history.

The Schönbrunn Palace Park boasts impressive statues, fountains, and monuments with an abundance of trees and flowers all around. It is home to the splendid Café Gloriette famous for its delicious pastries and for the magnificent view of Vienna it offers its patrons.

The palace park is also home to the Imperial Carriage Museum, Crown Prince Garden, Orangery Garden, Maze & Labyrinth, Zoo, Palm House and Desert Experience and can be visited for an admission fee.

The Belvedere Palace

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The Belvedere is essentially two magnificent palaces, the Upper (Oberes) and the Lower (Unteres) Belvedere. The two palaces house some of Austria’s most extensive and priceless art collections including great works of art from masters like Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, and Egon Schiele, to name a few.

Decorated general and art connoisseur Prince Eugene of Savoy had the palace constructed as his summer residence in the early 18th century. Baroque architect Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt was entrusted with the task of building the Palace and Gardens and from what we see today, it was a massive undertaking of the time built to perfection by the military engineer.

The Upper Belvedere houses a ground floor hall resplendent in its impressive statues and a Ceremonial Staircase. Another more than noteworthy feature of the Upper Palace is the stunning two-story Marble Hall with its beautiful ceiling fresco and great works of sculpture and paintings.

The Lower Palace also boasts a Marble Hall with an equally beautiful ceiling fresco in addition to a Marble Gallery, home to a rich collection of sculptures and paintings from the 12th century to the 16th century.

The Winter Palace, the Orangery, the Palace Stables, and the Belvedere Gardens and Fountains connecting the two palaces are some of the other prominent features of the Belvedere Palace and Gardens.

The Danube Tower (Donauturm)

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Locally known as the Donauturm, the 826-foot tall Danube Tower was built as recently as 1964 to mark the occasion of the Vienna International Garden Show. The picturesque Danube Park with its jogging tracks, undulating meadows, beautiful flower beds and children’s playgrounds bears testimony to the grand event of the sixties.

The tower boasts a 564 feet high rotating restaurant with a great menu and mesmerizing views of Vienna and the Vienna Woods – a must-see attraction by any means.

Vienna State Opera House

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The Vienna State Opera House is a 19th-century theater built by the celebrated architect Josef Hlávka. This world-renowned stage offers some of the world’s best productions and performances involving prominent composers, conductors, solo artists, and dancers with a different world-class program every single day of the 300-day season every year.

The high point of the ball season is undoubtedly the Vienna Opera Ball when the Vienna State Opera House is converted into a ballroom. The Opera Ball committee, involving some 150 couples in white ball gowns and tails, is responsible for a sensational opening worthy of the event’s international fame and standing.

Home to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, this French Early Renaissance style structure has an audience seating capacity of 2,211 in addition to accommodating at least 110 musicians at any given program.

*English Language guided tours are available on demand.

Karlskirche

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Located on the south side of the Karlsplatz in Vienna, the Karlskirche is a baroque church dedicated to St. Charles Borromeo, a saint invoked during plagues. Karlskirche was built in 1737 by the father-son-baroque-architect-pair of Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach.

The structure is easily recognizable because of its breathtakingly beautiful 72-meter dome flanked by 33-meter-tall twin Triumphal Pillars somewhat resembling the minarets of a mosque. A 32.5-meter platform inside the domed cathedral offers up-close views of the intricately ornate frescoes.

The Prater Park Giant Ferris Wheel

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Another symbolic Vienna landmark is the 65-meter-tall Giant Ferris Wheel situated inside the 3200-acre Prater Park– a natural park between the Danube and the Danube Canal which once served as the hunting grounds for Vienna’s royalty.

Built-in 1897 to mark the 50th anniversary of Emperor Franz Joseph’s reign, the Giant Ferris Wheel provides breathtaking views of Vienna, the Prater itself and the Danube.

What makes the Giant Ferris Wheel even more famous is the fact that it has featured in several Hollywood blockbusters including the James Bond film “The Living Daylights” starring Timothy Dalton and Carol Reed’s “TheThird Man” with Orson Welles playing Harry Lime in this 1949 film.

It is for this reason that in June 2016 the European Film Academy placed the famous landmark on the list of Treasures of European Film Culture

The entrance area of the Giant Ferris Wheel boasts eight cabins offering insights into two millennia of Viennese history.

Individual cabins can be booked for wedding parties, exclusive dinners, and cocktail receptions.

Here’s a list of some of the other noteworthy and must-visit attractions of Vienna.

  • Kärtner Strasse and the Donner Fountain
  • The Demel: Vienna’s Ultimate Café
  • The Imperial Crypt and the Capuchin Church
  • Vienna Zoo (Tiergarten Schönbrunn)
  • Maria-Theresien-Platz and Memorial
  • MuseumsQuartier
  • Albertina
  • Kunsthistorisches Museum
  • Naschmarkt
  • Imperial Treasury
  • Austrian National Library
  • Imperial Crypt
  • Collegial and Parish Church of St. Peter

Source: Wikipedia, Planetware, Wien

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From The Editors Travel

PARIS – The City of Lights and the Capital of Fashion

Situated on the banks of the River Seine in Northern France, Paris is the capital city of France with a population of over 12 million people with 2.2 million people living in the central city area alone. Often referred to as the City of Lights or la Ville Lumière as the French like to call it, this romantic metropolis attracts more than 42 million visitors every year earning it the distinction of the most visited city in the world.

The city can be conveniently explored by metro, taxi or bicycle but the charm and magical ambiance of this elegant, intimate city are best savored on foot. Paris attractions are never too far apart and, in between, simply walking the streets is like wandering through picture postcards.

The driving force of Paris is La Défense, a modern business district brimming with art and futuristic architecture. It bears testimony to the fact that Paris is designed to be enjoyed even at work. From the Arche de la Défense, more commonly known as La Grande Arche, the six-mile-long historic access to Paris will lead you back to France’s majestic past.

In addition to art, architecture, and culture the city has much more to offer. From the old-world cobbled streets and perfectly pruned trees lining the picturesque avenues, to the intimate tea salons and sophisticated restaurants boasting the best of French cuisine and gourmet dining, there is never a dull moment in this great European destination.

Also dubbed the Capital of Fashion, Paris is home to some of the biggest names in the fashion and cosmetics industry of the world such as Christian Dior, Yves Saint-Laurent, Lancôme, Chanel, Kenzo, and Céline, to name just a few.

While this magnificent city has an overabundance of attractions to offer its visitors, we have selected ten of the most popular ones which would be nothing less than a blasphemy to miss out on.

Top Ten Paris Attractions

Eiffel Tower

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This 324-meter-tall 19th-century wrought-iron tower, with steps and elevators leading up to observation decks, is arguably the world’s most famous structure often referred to as the ‘Edifice of Love.’ Made up of 15,000 steel sections held together by 2.5 million rivets, the Eiffel Tower was designed by the French master architect Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel. It was built for the Paris Exhibition of 1889 marking the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. It certainly deserves to be at the top of the places-to-see-in-Paris list.

Arc de Triomphe

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The iconic Arc de Triomphe was built by Napoleon in 19th-century to commemorate his victories. It rises from the center of Place Charles de Gaulle, historically known as the Place de l’Étoile, and has an observation deck offering commanding views of the twelve grand avenues, including the Champs-Élysées, which radiate outwards like a star.

Avenue des Champs-Élysées

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From the Arc de Triomphe the Avenue des Champs-Élysées continues along the historic axis. This grand avenue is where Parisians and tourists come to dine, shop, enjoy the theatre, and to celebrate life in general.

Place de la Concorde

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Gradually opening into lush gardens and majestic buildings the Champs-Élysées merges into the largest public square in Paris, the Place de la Concorde, with magnificent fountains and statues including an Egyptian obelisk.

Louvre Museum

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Just a short stroll away from the Place de la Concorde is the greatest treasure house of art – the Louvre Museum. Formerly a royal palace situated on the bank of River Seine – the Paris residence of the Kings and Queens of France – the Louvre now serves as a magnificent museum of fine art. Situated between the Tuileries Gardens and the church of Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois, the Louvre Museum is another tourist favorite. The controversial, futuristic glass pyramid in the central courtyard was designed by American architect I. M. Pei and opened to the public in 1989.

The museum boasts over 35,000 works of art including medieval art and antiquities and 15th to 19th-century paintings by European masters including the Mona Lisa.

Centre Pompidou

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Not far from the Louvre Museum stands the Centre Pompidou, an architecturally avant-garde complex housing the National Museum of Modern Art displaying the largest collection of modern art in Europe. It is also home to a library and music center.

Notre-Dame Cathedral

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The Notre-Dame Cathedral is a 13th-century structure with flying buttresses and gargoyles situated on Île de la Cité, a natural island in the Seine. Completed in 1345, this gothic masterpiece has played center stage to some of the defining moments of French history and literature.

Montmartre

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Looking north, the city rises into the hillside neighborhood of Montmartre. With its winding streets and narrow lanes, Montmartre was once the artistic center of Paris and home to all time greats like Picasso, Dali, and Van Gogh. It is the perfect place to lose yourself and discover the special Parisian moments.

Panthéon

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The Panthéon is a 18th-century mausoleum with colonnaded facade housing the remains of notable French citizens. Originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve and to house the reliquary châsse containing her relics, it is situated in the Latin quarter of Paris.

Les Invalides

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Les Invalides, commonly known as Hôtel national des Invalides, or also as Hôtel des Invalides, is a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, France, containing museums and monuments including a church & the tombs of many famed officers, including the great Napoleon.

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From The Editors Travel

Discover the Great Nordic City of Copenhagen, Denmark

Constantly rated as the happiest place in the world, Copenhagen is, by far, the most populous city in Denmark and also its capital. This easy going, laid back city of cobbled streets, vibrantly colored houses, distinctive architecture, and historic landmarks is one of Europe’s most attractive cities.

Add to these world class shopping centers, electric nightlife, a unique café culture, cutting edge restaurants offering great Nordic cuisine, friendly people, and modern architectural brilliance and you’ve got yourself a travel destination par excellence.

A bounty of beautiful beaches, wooded parks, and calm lakes – just minutes away – only add to the charm of this magnificent Scandinavian city.

Here are some of the top attractions and landmarks of Copenhagen;

Tivoli Gardens

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Tivoli Gardens is a famous amusement park and pleasure garden in Copenhagen. The park opened on 15 August 1843 and is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world, after Dyrehavsbakken in nearby Klampenborg, also in Denmark.

The Gardens features a huge rollercoaster, pantomime, puppet, and open air theatres, numerous restaurants and cafés, halls of mirrors, flower gardens, and a concert hall among other attractions.

  • Address: Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 København V, Denmark
  • Official website: www.tivoli.dk/en

Open

  • Sunday–Wednesday: 11 am to 11 pm
  • Friday-Saturday: 11 am 12 midnight

The Little Mermaid

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The Little Mermaid is a bronze statue by Edvard Eriksen, depicting a mermaid. The sculpture is displayed on a rock by the waterside at the Langelinie promenade in Copenhagen, Denmark. It is 1.25 meters tall and weighs 175 kilograms.

         ♦  Address: Langelinie, 2100 København Ø, Denmark

Rosenborg Palace

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Rosenborg Castle is a renaissance castle less than 10 minutes from the famous Round Tower in Copenhagen. The castle was originally built as a country summerhouse in 1606 and is an example of Christian IV’s many architectural projects. It boasts some of Denmark’s priceless cultural treasures including the Danish crown jewels and royal regalia.

The Marble Room, the Knights’ Hall with the Coronation Throne, the famous Rosenborg Tapestries, and a Baroque reception room are sure to make your trip to the castle worth your precious while.

  • Address: Øster Voldgade 4A, 1350 Copenhagen
  • Open – Seven days a week from 9 am to 5 pm

Amalienborg Castle

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Amalienborg is the home of the Danish royal family and is located in Copenhagen, Denmark. It consists of four identical classical palace façades with rococo interiors around an octagonal courtyard.

  • Address: Amalienborg Slotsplads 5, 1257 Copenhagen
  • Open – Seven days a week from 10 am to 5 pm

Strøget

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Strøget is a pedestrian, car free, bustling shopping district in Copenhagen. This popular tourist attraction in the center of town is one of the longest pedestrian shopping streets in Europe at 1.1 km and boasts a plethora of cafés, restaurants, and boutiques.

While international brand-names such as Max Mara, Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Hermès are concentrated towards the end of the street facing the direction of Kongens Nytorv, more affordable shopping outlets such as H&M, Weekday, and Zara are situated towards the City Hall Square down Strøget.

Nyhavn

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Nyhavn is a 17th-century waterfront, canal and entertainment district in Copenhagen. Stretching from Kongens Nytorv to the harbor front just south of the Royal Playhouse, it is lined by brightly colored 17th and early 18th century townhouses and bars, cafes and restaurants.

Christiansborg Palace

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Christiansborg Palace is a palace and government building on the islet of Slotsholmen in central Copenhagen. It is the seat of the Danish Parliament, the Danish Prime Minister’s Office and the Supreme Court of Denmark.

National Museum of Denmark

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The National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen is Denmark’s largest museum of cultural history, comprising the histories of Danish and foreign cultures, alike.

  • Address: Prince’s Mansion, Ny Vestergade 10, 1471 Copenhagen
  • Official website: http://en.natmus.dk/
  • Open – Seven days a week from 10 am to 5 pm

Rundetaarn (The Round Tower)

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The Rundetaarn, or Rundetårn, is a 17th-century tower located in central Copenhagen. One of the many architectural projects of Christian IV, it was built as an astronomical observatory.

A wide spiral ramp takes you to the platform at the top offering magnificent views of the city. A new attraction is the glass floor hovering 25 meters above the ground where you can look down into the castle’s core.

  • Address: Købmagergade 52A, 1150Copenhagen
  • Official website: http://en.natmus.dk/
  • Open – Seven days a week from 10 am to 8 pm

Kastellet

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Kastellet is one of Northern Europe’s best preserved star-shaped 17th-century fortresses. Built in the form of a pentagram (star) it has bastions at each of its corners.

  • Address: Gl. Hovedvagt, Kastellet 1, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
    Open – Seven days a week from 6 am to 10 pm

Dyrehavsbakken

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Dyrehavsbakken, commonly referred to as Bakken, is an amusement park near Klampenborg, but which belongs under Lyngby-Taarbæk Kommune, about 10 km north of Copenhagen. It opened in 1583 and is the world’s oldest operating amusement park.

  • Address: Dyrehavevej 62, 2930 Copenhagen

Open

  • Sunday: 12 Noon to 11 pm
  • Monday: 2 pm to 11 pm
  • Tuesday: 2 pm to 11 pm
  • Wednesday: 2 pm to 11 pm
  • Thursday: Noon to Midnight
  • Friday: Noon to Midnight
  • Saturday: Noon to Midnight

Frederik’s Church

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Popularly known as The Marble Church for its rococo architecture, Frederik’s Church is a 18th-century Evangelical Lutheran church with the largest dome in Scandinavia & a Kierkegaard statue in grounds.’

  • Address: Frederiksgade 4, 1265 Copenhagen

National Aquarium Denmark

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The National Aquarium Denmark (Den Blå Planet) is a huge, sleek, whirlpool-shaped public aquarium with fresh & sea water wildlife, plus educational displays. The original aquarium was located in Charlottenlund, but this facility closed in 2012 and most of the animal collection was relocated to the new and much larger aquarium.

  • Address: Jacob Fortlingsvej 1, 2770 Kastrup
  • Open – Seven days a week from 10 am to 6 pm

Gefion Fountain

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Located on the Copenhagen harbor front, the Gefion is a bronze fountain completed in 1908, depicting Norse goddess Gefion plowing the sea with 4 oxen.

  • Address: Churchillparken, 1263 Copenhagen

Source: Wikipedia, Google, Planetware

Categories
From The Editors Travel

Athens, Greece – The City Of Gods

Considered the birthplace of democracy, Athens, the capital city of Greece, has been witness to an ancient civilization that flourished in the city and has produced some of the wisest men of olden times.

Ruins of the most formidable edifices from that era still bear silent testimony to the rich history and culture of this great city of gods. The awesome Acropolis dominates the city skyline in stark contrast to modern developments – visible from most parts of the city – a daily reminder to Athenians of a great bygone era.

Not only does Athens boast a rich cultural heritage and some of the best ancient monuments in the world, it is also a great party destination with its happening nightlife scene. The city is home to some top notch spots for cocktails, clubbing, partying with a view, or simply drinking the night away after a hectic day of sightseeing.

Check out the top Athens attractions and nightspots we have compiled below for you.

Athens Attractions

The Acropolis

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The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel located on an extremely rocky outcrop above the city of Athens and contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon.

Acropolis Museum

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The Acropolis Museum is an archaeological museum focused on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis.

Parthenon

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The Parthenon is a former temple on Acropolis dedicated to the goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their patron. Construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the peak of its power.

Erechtheion

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The Erechtheion or Erechtheum is an ancient Greek temple on the north side of the Acropolis.

Temple of Hephaestus

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The Temple of Hephaestus or Hephaisteion or earlier as the Theseion is a well-preserved Greek temple; it remains standing largely as built.

Temple of Olympian Zeus

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The Temple of Olympian Zeus, also known as the Olympieion or Columns of the Olympian Zeus, is a monument of Greece and a former colossal temple at the center of the capital.

National Archaeological Museum

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The National Archaeological Museum houses some of the most important artifacts from a variety of archaeological locations around Greece from prehistory to late antiquity.

Plaka

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Pláka is the old historical neighborhood of Athens, clustered around the northern and eastern slopes of the Acropolis, and incorporating labyrinthine streets and neoclassical architecture.

Monastiraki

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Monastiraki is a flea market neighborhood in the old town of Athens and is one of the principal shopping districts in Athens.

Church of the Holy Apostles

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The Church of the Holy Apostles, also known as Holy Apostles of Solaki or Agii Apostoli, is located in the Ancient Agora of Athens, Greece, next to the Stoa of Attalos, and can be dated to around the late 10th century.

National Museum of Contemporary Art

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The National Museum of Contemporary Art, established in October 2000, is the sole national institution focused only on collecting and exhibiting contemporary Greek and international art in Athens.

Herakleidon Art Museum

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Herakleidon Museum in Athens, Greece, has been bringing art, education, and culture to the general public since 2004.

Agios Eleftherios

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The Agios Eleftherios church, also known as Mikri Mitropoli or Panagia Gorgoepikoos is a Byzantine-era church located at the Mitropolis square, next to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens.

Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum

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Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum was created by the renowned Greek jewelry designer Ilias Lalaounis. The ILJM is located near the Acropolis, at the corner of Karyatidon and Kallisperi streets.

Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments

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The Museum of Popular Music Instruments is a museum and Research Centre for Ethnomusicology in the Lassanis Mansion, Plaka, Athens. It displays about 600 Greek musical instruments from the last 300 years and has as many more in store.

Temple of Athena Nike

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The Temple of Athena Nike is a temple on the Acropolis of Athens. It was named after the Greek goddess, Athena Nike. Built around 420BC, the temple is the earliest fully Ionic temple on the Acropolis

Hadrian’s Library

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Hadrian’s Library was created by Roman Emperor Hadrian in AD 132 on the north side of the Acropolis of Athens

Panathenaic Stadium

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The Panathenaic Stadium or Kallimarmaro is a multi-purpose stadium. One of the main historical attractions of Athens, it is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble.

Athens Nightspots

Brettos 

  • Wooden barrels and colorful bottles line the walls of this century-old bar

Galaxy Bar

  • In the words of a visitor: “Located on the roof top of the Hilton Hotel in Athens, the Galaxy Bar and Restaurant is a must visit for sunset! This laid back upscale establishment provides a fantastic panoramic view of the city of Athens overlooking the Acropolis in the distance and Lycabettus Hill! The drinks menu is a bit pricey but worth it to take in that fabulous view of Athens!!”

TAF

  • TAF (The Art Foundation) is an incredibly innovative multi-purpose culture venue that features a cool gallery and performance art space along with a fabulous courtyard-café bar. Recently the Oh!at TAF shop opened on its premises featuring a collection of souvenirs and objects by famous Greek designers.

Seven Jokers

  • Lively and central Seven Jokers has lovely old wood and brass fittings, plus a hip selection of wine and cocktails.
  • The Clumsies
  • The Clumsies is an all day cocktail bar that offers great cocktails and a unique experience.
  • 7 Times Dance Club
  • 7 Times Dance Club was created to be a cosmopolitan democratic place in the historical center of Athens to make people of different ages happy and “provide” them with a “simple” fun.

Wine O’Clock

  • “Great environment, amazing selection of wine and cozy atmosphere!”
  • Alexander’s Bar

Voted Best Hotel Bar in the world by Forbes magazine

MoMix Molecular Mixology Kerameikos

  • The is what the website (https://www.momixbar.com/)says about this unique bar “MoMix is the FIRST Molecular Mixology Bar Concept in Athens, Here you can travel your mind tasting cocktails & drinks in solid form and many other alternative ways… MoMix was created for traveling customer’s senses to another Level…”

Source: TripAdvisor, Google, Lonely Planet, Wikipedia

Categories
From The Editors Travel

Top Ten Caribbean Destinations

Based on factors like quality of beaches, tourist attractions, nightlife, and comfortable accommodations we have compiled a list of ten Caribbean destinations that are worthy of being on this list.

While there are many other Caribbean islands that can easily join this list based on the aforementioned factors, the following destinations are our choice of the ten most visit-worthy Caribbean escapes.

Here they are in alphabetical order

Antigua

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The larger of the two islands that make up the independent state of Antigua and Barbuda, Antigua is an excellent retreat for travelers in search of tropical-paradise islands. Be it the surrounding coral reefs, pristine sandy beaches, the island’s architectural attractions, or simply the peace and tranquillity the island setting guarantees, the Antigua experience remains with you long after you are back to your daily grind – always beckoning you for a repeat visit.

Barbados

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Owing to its long association with the United Kingdom as a British Colony, Barbados is often referred to as “Little Britain.” When it comes to local traditions you will realize that the nickname fits the place perfectly, what with lazy afternoon teas and cricket being the national sport, among other things very English.

This island nation boasts all that makes a great holiday destination: white-sand beaches, a sprawling golf course, a cruise-ship port in the capital Bridgetown, botanical gardens, famous cave formations, architectural delights from the plantation era– St. Nicholas Abbey being a fine example, and much more.

Cayman Islands

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Located in the Caribbean Sea, some ninety miles south of Cuba, the Cayman Islands include the Grand Cayman– by far the largest of the Caymans – and the Sister Islands comprising Little Cayman and Cayman Brac.

The Cayman Islands attract around 2 million tourists each year, most of them being cruise-ship passengers stopping over for a few hours of shopping, sightseeing or simply chilling on the beach enjoying the sun, sand, and sea. Swimming with stingrays is a popular activity among tourists before they call it a day and board their luxury liners.

For travelers who wish to spend some time exploring, the northern section of the Sister Islands has much to offer in terms of unspoiled beaches, luxuriant forests, mystifying caves, and more. The diverse bird life will impress the fussiest of bird watchers while below the surface of the surrounding seas, await some amazing shipwrecks you’d love to explore.

Grenada

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Northeast of Trinidad and Tobago, lies the “Island of Spice” – as Grenada is popularly known as because of its nutmeg and mace plantations. This Caribbean island-nation is made up of three larger islands namely Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique and a group of several smaller islands.

This picture-perfect West Indian destination is ideal for fishing, sailing, and hiking or biking through the lush, mountainous interiors of the islands.

The three main islands boast amazing beaches and marine wildlife. A great place to experience the thrill of diving among sharks and turtles and wonder at the sunken shipwrecks.

Havana

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Havana is not only the capital of Cuba but also its largest city and province and its main port and commercial hub.

The first impression of the place is kind of different for most visitors, in that they are somewhat taken aback with the seemingly chaotic ambiance, but as you settle down you will see a method to the madness.

As “Lonely Planet” has so aptly put: “On first impressions, Havana can seem like a confusing jigsaw puzzle but work out how to put the pieces together and a beautiful picture emerges.”

Jamaica

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A rich blend of African, Asian, Middle Eastern and European cultures, Jamaica is as cosmopolitan as cosmopolitan can be. The diversity is evident in the paradise island’s arts and crafts, sports, performing arts, and unique cuisine.

The island offers all that you can expect from a Caribbean destination, and more, including long beaches, rugged mountains, waterfalls, caves, protected coves, plenty of sunshine, and great nightspots where you can enjoy your favorite drinks and groove the night away to some Jamaican style music.

Martinique

North of St. Lucia and south of Dominica, lies the enticing island of Martinique, a French outpost in the Caribbean Sea. West Indian warmth and color combine exceedingly well with French finesse to give you an excellent finished product – that is Martinique.

This mountainous island is volcanic in composition with Mont Pelée – the volcano that obliterated St. Pierre in 1902 – looming large over the rugged landscape.

While the capital Fort-de-France and its urban surroundings can be chaotic because of overcrowding, the surroundings become increasing pleasant and serene as you make your way north or south through some of the most beautiful scenery you can ever hope to set your eyes on.

While the northern part of Martinique is resplendent with lush mountainsides offering great panoramas of the surrounding areas, the south boasts amazing bays and coves and miles of pristine sandy beaches.

St. Kitts & Nevis

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The Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis is a twin-island Commonwealth country located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea with its capital Basseterre situated on Saint Kitts, the larger of the two islands.

Dominated by the dormant Mount Liamuiga volcano, the island of Saint Kitts is home to a great crater lake, green velvet monkeys inhabiting the lush rainforests, and numerous crisscrossing hiking trails to enjoy the surroundings from.

The country offers some amazing must-see attractions such as the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, Frigate Bay, Mount Liamuiga, Bloody Point, Museum of Nevis History, Romney Manor, Adonis Tour & Beach from Porte Zante, Nevis Botanical Gardens, Dolphin Discovery Saint Kitts, Royal Beach Casino, and many more attractions and sites.

St. Lucia

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The Eastern Caribbean island country of Saint Lucia, dominated by two dramatically conical mountains, like two inverted ice-cream cones – well somewhat, boasts some of the most promising sites for reef diving, amazing volcanic beaches, great luxury resorts, and picturesque fishing villages.

Add to that the interior rainforest leading to cascading waterfalls like the 15m-high Toraille, which pours over a cliff into a garden; sulfur springs and volcanic mud baths or the 88°F Roman bath and you have a destination fit for kings.

The capital of Saint Lucia is Castries – a popular cruise port.

Trinidad and Tobago

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Located just off the coast of north-eastern Venezuela, the two-island country of Trinidad and Tobago is an amazing Caribbean destination, in that it is home to the kind of unspoiled natural beauty that no other Caribbean countries can boast.

The two islands combine magnificently to make a great country; however, they are distinctly different from each other in many respects.

While Trinidad is home to rain forests, pristine mangrove swamps, and lush hills – all sitting side by side with smoke spewing oil refineries and obnoxious industrial estates, Tobago is more along the lines a Caribbean destination is expected to be, with its swaying palm trees and white-sand beaches.

However, the two islands combine to give one of the top Caribbean experiences in the region with:

  • Amazing diving sites
  • Unmatched bird-watching in bird sanctuaries such as the Asa Wright
  • Nature Center and the Main Ridge Forest Reserve in Tobago, which shelters hummingbirds
  • Lush rainforests for the perfect hiking, waterfall-swimming and cycling experience
  • Pulsating nightlife
  • A superb annual Carnival in Port of Spain, Trinidad’s capital, featuring calypso and soca music