Subscribe to isango! RSS feed
World’s leading site for travel experiences - Tours, Activities, Shows, Excursions and more
Find amazing experiences Book before you go. Local rates. Handpicked suppliers Find out more >>
Home Blog Support Why isango!
call us +44 (0) 870 049 2331
We’re funny (usually), controversial (sometimes) and insightful (always!). Our travel experts share their experiences below in hopes of hearing back from YOU. So read, comment and enjoy!

Author Archive

Architecture of Vietnam

0

Vietnam has endured decades of war, civil unrest and deprivation.  Despite its tumultuous modern history many architectural and scenic gems have survived all across this beautiful country.  In fact so well preserved are some of these locations that they are UN World Heritage Sites.  They include Phong Nha-Kè Bàng National Park, Hôi An, Halong Bay and M? S?n.

The beauty of Nha Trang and the Marble Mountains has also been attracting visitors for quite some time.  The Binh Durong tourist complex is being developed and will become the largest artificial sea in Southeast Asia.

The Vietnamese diet relies largely on fresh herbs and vegetables making it one of the healthiest cuisines in the world.  Vietnam’s reputation as a rewarding cultural, historical and picturesque destination has been growing since the late 1990s.

Hanoi

Hanoi is over a thousand years old and for 800 of those it has been Vietnam’s premier city.  Hanoi’s ancient past and French occupancy have coalesced into a unique cultural and architectural purée.

Sitting on the banks of the Red River, Hanoi also has many lakes, prompting it to be referred to as the “city of lakes”.  The historical and cultural heart of Hanoi lies in the Old Quarter, along with Hoàn Ki?m Lake, also known as Sword Lake.  Other prominent lakes are West Lake, Halais Lake (H? Thi?n Quang in Vietnamese), and Bay Mau Lake.

The Old Quarter of Hanoi still retains the original street layout and architecture.  Most of the streets were named for the specialised trades carried out on them.  For the most part that still goes on today.

Hanoi contains some wonderful architectural examples of its history such as the Temple of Literature, which is a 1,000 year old university and the One Pillar Pagoda and Flag Tower.  French colonial influence can be seen in the National Museum of Vietnamese History, the Fine Arts Museum and the Medical College.

Halong Bay is not too far from Hanoi.  Legend has it that this wonderful collection of about 1,600 forest clad rocky islands, was created by dragons. The pillars of limestone rocks rising straight out of the emerald seas has fashioned a spectacular marine wonderland. These elements have contributed to UNESCO designating it a World Heritage Centre.

H?i An

H?i An is a wonderfully preserved city, for many centuries it had the largest harbour in the region and was an important trading centre.  It also controlled the spice trade bringing its citizens much wealth and power.  In the course of time the Chinese, Japanese, Dutch and Indians settled here. Their cultural influences are everywhere – in the centuries old wooden buildings, street layouts, quays, canals and gardens.  An outstanding example of this eclectic heritage is the 16th century Japanese Bridge.  It is a red-pillared and roofed bridge, uniquely, the only one, with a Buddhist temple at one end.

The wonderful fusion this has wrought prompted UNESCO to recognise it as a World Heritage Site, ensuring that it stays intact.  The acknowledgment has further added to the reputation and attractiveness of this charming and delightful city.

Ho Chi Minh City

This is Vietnam’s hot spot, affectionately referred to as the ‘Diamond of the Far-East’ it was previously called Saigon (and still commonly known as such).  Once a small fishing village, it was the capital of French Indochina. Today it is one of Asia’s fastest growing cities and the heart of a booming economy.

Its historic past and future aspirations to live happily side by side.  HCMC has managed to blend speeding modernity and French Colonial rule with its Vietnamese qualities.  A large number of classic Western buildings and villas reflect its recent past.  Some of its most notable buildings are the War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City Museum, the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Hotel de Ville, Quan Am Pagoda and the Jade Emperor Pagoda.

Ho Chi Minh City is the best place in Vietnam for entertainment.  Its vibrant nightlife is propped up by a large number of colourful bars, clubs and restaurants.  Vietnamese style tea houses host live music performances.  HCMC is an exciting city.

Best Time To Visit

Vietnam is a tropical country with a hot and wet climate for most of the year.  Winter however can be chilly and windy.  Mid May to September can be oppressively humid.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Hidden New Zealand

0

There are few places on Earth with as much natural grandeur as the small island nation of New Zealand. Although it is only a small country located off the coast of the much larger Australia, groves of people have discovered the beautiful bays, towering cliffs, and expansive forests that stretch across this seemingly under-the-radar island. But what most visitors don’t know is that there are many unique and off-the-beaten path experiences to be had in this country that has now topped the must-travel list of nearly every traveler on the planet. To help you find and experience the best that New Zealand has to offer visitors, we have outlined four of the most interesting and rewarding excursions you can take on your trip to New Zealand.

Mount Cook and Tasman Glacier

If you are not far from Christchurch, NZ, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t experience a tour of Mount Cook in the Aoraki National Park. Not only will this tour include breath-taking sights of New Zealand’s highest mountain, but the tour also makes notable and equally as captivating stops along the way.

See the turquoise blue waters of Lake Tekapo as the sunlight reflects off the waters while you have your morning tea. View and hear the history of the Church of the Good Shepherd that provides spectacular panoramas of the nearby Southern Alps. Head to Lake Pukaki and take in the natural beauty of the national park. And lastly, climb the incredible Tasman Glacier where you can see the beauty that nature causes all on its own. This New Zealand tour of Mount Cook is like no other you’ve ever seen!

Waiheke Island

Another under-the-radar but incredibly worth doing trip in New Zealand is exploring Waiheke Island for a day. The island is only a short 40-minute ferry ride from Auckland, NZ, and the ride itself provides stunning views of the New Zealand coast and islands around Auckland. While on the island, discover Waiheke’s beautiful beaches, where you can go swimming and sea kayaking. Witness the brilliant sands, pristine coastline, and seaside villages while walking around the island. You can even go wine tasting on one of the 30 vineyards on the island or mountain biking in the nearby mountains. If you are looking for a day of taking in beauty and relaxation on your trip, book your Waiheke Island ferry!


Waiheke Island ferry

Rotorua

If you’re interested in the arts and cultural roots of New Zealand and the Maori People, a morning tour around Rotorua is exactly what you’re looking for! Enjoy a sightseeing tour around three of Rotorua’s iconic attractions: Te Puia, the Rainbow Springs Nature Park, and the Agrodome. Visit Te Puia and the Maori Arts & Crafts Institute to see boiling mud pools, geysers, and the traditional culture and arts of the Maori people. Trek to Rainbow Springs and discover the unique wildlife and vegetation that covers New Zealand. And learn about New Zealand’s history at the Agrodome Sheep Show. Along with all of this, see five of the beautiful lakes surround Rotorua, Mount Tarawera and the Buried Village. There is no better tour for the history lover in you.

Rotorua Tour

Bay of Islands and Cape Brett

Last but definitely not least, for a unique New Zealand excursion the Bay of Islands and Cape Brett are a must-see! The tour heads out from Auckland and takes you by coach across Auckland Bridge and along the Hibiscus Coast to the Bay of Islands. Experience both natural beauty and compelling history on numerous legs of this tour! Visit Paihia, one of the earliest towns in New Zealand, and Waitangi, dubbed the “birthplace of the nation” where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the Maori’s and Europeans. Cruise in the Bay to Cape Brett Lighthouse on Motukokako Island where you will see the fames Hole in the Rock and Grand Cathedral Cove. This tour is led by expert crew that will help you appreciate the historical significance wrapped in the natural grandeur around the Bay of Islands.

Bay of Island Tour

If you’re looking for a truly memorable and out-of-the-fox trip experience in new Zealand, these four excursions provide all of that and more!

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Visiting Cape Town in November

0

Cape Town is located around the shores of Table Bay and the iconic Table Mountain in South Africa. Table Mountain has an amazing biodiversity with an estimated 2,200 species of plants, found nowhere else in the world. The region is proud to be apart of the World Heritage Site status. Nature has blessed the Cape Town area with land-based natural beauty of every kind, including abundant exotic fauna and flora. Even the sea shows off the city best here. Marine life reveals its dramatic side in the waters around the Cape.

All this natural wealth provides many opportunities for adventure/ sports enthusiasts and regular sightseers. The weather too, plays a large hand in the attractiveness of the Cape. November through March is summertime and the weather is known to be beautiful- ideal for holidaying and outdoor activities.

8217

In November, the gentle and cool southeasterly winds prevail, which make for perfect whale watching conditions. Probably the best shore-based place in the world for whale watching is the waters around Hermanus, a pretty little seaside town tucked in between the protective mountains and the sea. Whole pods of massive yet graceful Southern Right Whales often come within 20 metres of the shore.  A counter point to the awe-inspiring whales, is the antics of the loveable and delightful penguins crowding the shoreline and rocks.

The piece of land stretching south from Cape Town to Cape Point, jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean is known as Cape Peninsula. The Cape Town is a wonderfully scenic region with a rich and unique biodiversity. Much of this area and its rare plants are protected by the Table Mountain National Park and Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.  A drive down the meandering and picturesque roads offers stunning views of the coastline. The charming fishing village of Hout Bay offers plenty of photogenic spots. You will see plenty of seals, ostriches, penguins and other wild life during the drive.

Table Mountain is also a majestic piece of real estate. Taking a hike up its slopes will bring you up close and personal to the wonderful wild plants and flowers along the way.  You only have to be reasonably fit to negotiate the climb.  From its summit the eye-popping vistas of the city, the Cape and the surrounding ‘fynbos’ will be a well-earned and fulfilling reward for your efforts.

The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens is a jewel in the glittering tiara of Cape Town’s attractions. This wonderful place, neatly tucked away at the foot of Table Mountain, transforms into a musical paradise.  Every Sunday afternoon, from November till April, it becomes an outdoor concert venue with a wonderful line-up of South African musicians gracing the stage. This year will be the return of some old favourites as well as new acts like The Soil, Barbara Hendricks, the SA National Youth Orchestra, Jeremy Loops, Johnny Clegg and Goldfish.

You can take your picnic basket and a couple of wine bottles, spread your blanket on the magnificent lawns sloping towards the stage and get your groove on as the brilliant sun sets behind the mountains.

Some other great activity options you could indulge in are a speedy and hair-raising trip down South Africa’s first summer toboggan track at the Cool Running’s Park.  You could also roar across the trails of the beautiful Cape countryside on a powerful quad bike. Or else there are more sedate yet just as fulfilling activities like taking a wine tour through some scenic Cape Town wine-growing areas like Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch.

There is much that to recommend about Cape Town, but the place sells itself!

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Nightlife in Tenerife

0

Tenerife is one of the most southern islands in Europe. It still retains verdant forests containing interesting and colourful vegetation. It also has deserts, mountains, volcanoes and incredibly beautiful beaches. The backdrop to this scenic paradise is Mount Teide, the third largest volcano in the world.

The island has plenty of activities and attractions for the visitor. It also has a varied and exciting nightlife with options ranging from famous cafés, bars, raucous nightclubs, exhilarating discos, cabarets, live entertainment and children friendly venues. Most of the after-dark action happens around the Playa de Las Americas on the southern side of Tenerife.

In a place dedicated to giving the tourist a good time, two shows are standout – the Medieval Games at the Castle San Miguel and the Carmen Mota Show.

Castle San Miguel is a survivor from medieval times. The towers themselves stand to the rear at 16+ meters tall, above carefully maintained gardens and landscaped grounds. The entrance itself is enough to get your jousting juices flowing, for it is artfully adorned with authentic armour, swords, strongboxes and scrolls. Being greeted by knights at the door and escorted to your table by only heightens the expectations.

The entertainment is a throwback to a romantic period when men jousted, battled and fought for glory and honoured at the hand of a fair maiden. The costumes are superb and the scenery and choreographed drama will have you all worked up as you cheer for your hero.

The evening also includes colourful equestrian performances and a number of games. The after dinner entertainment includes an orchestra performance, comedy numbers and acrobatics.

The dinner is a treat too. You will be served a medieval style banquet meal in the vast tournament hall. Your chicken is cooked whole and you eat it with your hands – no cutlery – to maintain that medieval aura.

The other wonderful entertainment option, the Carmen Mota Show, takes place at theMare Nostrum Resort in the south of Tenerife. This show is a spectacular and exuberant performance by a group of phenomenal flamenco dancers. This is something you will not see anywhere else.

The latest choreographed show from the company is called “Evolución”. It is the evocative story of flamenco and the many influences that are embedded in the most vigorous of dance forms. The high-tempo music, choreography, costumes will simply sweep you away in its passion and colour.

The two-hour show has been running for 16 years and the quality, exoticness and presentation is pure flamenco that has not changed over time.

November is especially a great time to visit Tenerife. The temperature is wonderful, hovering around the mid-twenties Celsius. Go and book your trip now!

 

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Top 5 Cities For Shopping In The World

0

Shopping is one of the great must-do activities for tourists no matter where in the world they go.  Something has to be bought as a keepsake to remind them of where they had been and also as a showpiece.

However, the shopping that we will be talking about is about other bands of the shopping spectrum – from the glamorous to the bargain varieties.  We will also try to give you a flavour of the experience that you will encounter in the top 5 shopping cities we have chosen here.

Milan

Milan is often associated with haute couture fashion and deservedly so.  However, she has much more eclectic offerings.  Scattered across different areas and amidst her brilliant Medieval and Renaissance architecture you will find a variety of shopping choices.  Some are speciality areas, while other areas stock a mix of fashions and products.

Some of the upmarket streets are Via Montenapoleone, Via della SpigaVia Sant’Andrea, Via Manzoni, Via Borgospesso and Via Santo Spirito.

The less wallet emptying shopping areas are Corso Vittorio Emmanuelle, Corso Buenos Aires, Via Torino and Corso di Porta Ticinese where you will find more casual styles.  Around the Navigli area are the second-hand stores, eccentric designers’ boutiques and a vintage market.

No matter where you are you will never be far from a café, to have an aperitif and rest from your shopping exertions.

MilanShopping

Dubai

Dubai’s original attraction for visitors was it’s shopping enhanced by the duty free tag.  The Emirate has evolved and moved into other business streams including the world of finance.  However, it is still the lure of huge glittering malls with over-the-top decor, entertainment features, discounts and a host of offerings will lighten any ones purse, that is draws visitors from all over the world.

What sets Dubai’s experience apart from other shopping destinations are its malls.  Some like the Ibn Battuta Mall, The Dubai Mall, Mercato Shopping Mall and Mall of the Emirates have acquired legendary status.  These vast complexes house the brand names of just about every fashion, retail, electronic, home appliance and other goods from around the world.  The magnificent decor, endless rows of attractively arranged stores will spoil you for choice.  Some malls, like the Gold Souk, specialise in one item – jewellery.

Besides the modern malls, Dubai is famous for its traditional souks.  There is the nasal bewildering Perfume Souk offering thousands of scents; the aromatic Spice Souk and the Antique Market with shops filled with Arabian pots, chests, daggers and Bedouin carvings.

So indulge yourself in this made-for-shoppers’ paradise where you will be sure to find some incredible bargains.

DubaiMall

Paris

Paris to some is considered the spiritual forerunner of shopping destinations. ‘Boutique’, ‘haute couture’ and ‘chic’ are French words that are intricately linked with fashion and spending your francs.  No one leaves “La Ville-Lumière” without plunging into its many and varied markets, galleries and shopping districts.  The wonderful aspects to shopping in Paris are the amazing range of choices that it offers. From the discreet Avenue Montaigne to the atmospheric Marais or the bustling, shoulder-rubbing flea market of Clignancourt.

Many of Paris’ shopping places are now iconic and representative of the goods sold.  For instance the Avenue Montaigne and Rue Saint Honoré is where you will find all the famous designers like Yves St Laurent and Gucci.  The wide and famous Avenue des Champs Elysées has a mix of shops and price ranges.

The Rue de Rennes offers a wide assortment of boutique clothing, accessories and shoe stores right next to the church of Saint Sulpice.  Boulevard Haussman is where Printems and Galeries Lafayettes are located.  These famous department stores are worlds unto themselves and sell cosmetics, fashion and home accessories.  Each floor has a theme. A complete contrast is the Les Puces de Saint-Ouen at Clignancourt. With over 3,000 stalls and shops you can get great bargains in antiques and find just about anything.

Paris shopping is a wonderful world of elegance, galleries, boutiques, old-fashioned toy shops and roadside stalls selling everything from luxury goods to books to antiques and more.

London

Cornhill, Bread Street, Poultry and Ironmonger Lane are names so redolent of the goods that were once sold on them.  That hoary London tradition continues with many markets still organised according to specialities and themes.  London has a very large number of shopping districts and we hope our selection will help you on your shopping spree.

Oxford Street is a good place to start.  It is London’s shopping heart. There are Hundreds of shops from designer to general retail outlets and they line both sides of the road.  It is here you will find famous department stores such as John Lewis, Debenhams and Selfridges. Not too far away is the elegant Regent and Jermyn Streets where you can browse through a wide choice of mid-range priced goods at London’s oldest and most famous stores.

Exclusive Bond Street and Mayfair are home to the best in luxury and designer brands where you just might bump into a celebrity or two. Not too far away is the street that is synonymous with fashion, the legendary Carnaby Street.  Hard by, yet a fashion world away is Covent Garden Market offering brash urban street wear, cosmetics, shoes and funky arts and crafts.

On King’s Road you get unique and trendy designer wear along with the regular brands and lovely cafés to rest your aching feet and tired credit card. Harrod’s is Knightsbridge’s most famous resident with nearby Brompton Road providing excellent shopping back up.  Saville Row, Notting Hill and Portobello Road Market are just a few of the other legendary shopping places.

In London you can easily spend the whole day shopping while sightseeing (or vice versa). 

LondonKingsRoad

New York City

In New York you can get anything, from the proverbial pin to an elephant.  The choice of shopping venues, stores, and streets is mind-boggling.  Every brand and chain store has a significant presence in the city.  For the beginner, occasional or diehard shopper New York is the city.

BJ’s, Costco, and Kmart stores are in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island. While Target stores can be found in Manhattan and Brooklyn.  The flagship stores of Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdales and Henri Bendel are popular New York shopping stops.

Saks and Fifth Avenue are synonymous with each other.  The humungous Macy’s department store is large enough to get lost in and has a tempting choice of goods so vast you may never come out. Another 5th Avenue stalwart is Tiffany and Company the queen of jewellery with every gem bought presented to you in their trademark blue box.

Whether it is Macy’s famous window displays matched by those of Citarella’s “fish only” or the brightly lit pleasures of shopping malls; whether you are looking for the bargain of a lifetime or just browsing you will find decision making a wonderful yet difficult pleasure when shopping in New York.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Sydney – Tops Down Under

0

The city of Sydney and its suburbs are spread around of the world’s largest natural harbours.  Its near perfect characteristic curve is located on the south-east coast of Australia on the Tasman Sea.  It is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse cities in the world.  It is also one of the most beautiful.

It is a city that has it all – a boisterously interesting history; great natural features and a vibrant art, fashion and cultural scene.  It is the site of two of the world’s most famous and outstanding man-made structures in the world – the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.  To crown it all, it sits alongside miles and miles of fantastic golden sandy beaches, which are visited by some of the best surfing waves in the world.

SydneyBridge

For a visitor, Sydney has a bewildering choice of things to see and do.  Just touring the harbour area will take days.  There are other things to do as well though such as climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge  or taking a guided tour of the Opera House. This is a fascinating way to spend the day as you explore the unique design and engineering of the building, the Concert Hall and its acoustics.

Harbour cruises are a terrific way to experience the city because you get to visit Fort Denison, Taronga Zoo, Luna Park, Shark Island (so called for its shape), Darling Harbour and the Maritime Museum.  Night cruises across the harbour with a gourmet dinner are an exquisite experience too.

Once you have done the harbour you could make your way to the glorious shimmering sands of Bondi Beach.  A dip in Bondi’s clear blue waters alongside the beautiful people should be top of your list of things to do.  The other major attraction is the Royal National Park, known by Sydneysiders as the ‘Nasho’

 Sydney’s nightlife is enviable and must be sampled.  It is effervescent yet laid back in true Oz style.  Its bars, clubs, performing arts and other entertainment options are as diverse as its people and very often on the cutting edge.  But it’s the traditional beer and ‘tucker’ along with the warming friendliness and great charm of its people that sets this magnificent city apart from all others.  Whatever your style, sparkling Sydney is always entertaining.

SydneyNightlife

 Best Time To Visit

From a weather perspective the best time to visit Sydney is September to early December.  Other times to visit are February to April.  During both these periods, the weather is pleasant and the temperatures moderate.  December to February is the peak tourist months.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Popular Australian Wine Tours

0

Australian wines are now well-established around the world.  They compete for space with the best of European wines on the racks of bars, restaurants, and household tables.  It has taken a little while but the vintners and vineyards from Sydney to Perth and places in between have a large world-wide base of loyal tipplers.  Some of these wine producers have a history going back 150 years and more.

 Now that it’s spring down under hop on to one our comfortable air-conditioned coaches and come along with isango!  Get a tour of some of Australia’s most popular wine-making regions.  While on them you can pleasure your palette with a variety of heavenly wines.

Hunter Valley

The wonderfully lush green and picturesque countryside of Hunter Valley is just a two hour drive north from Sydney.  This is the oldest wine making region in Australia and home to more than 80 wineries including such renowned names as Lindemans, McWilliams, Rothbury, Hardy’s, Wyndham Estate and McGuigan. There are also several independent family-owned boutique wine makers like Tyrells and Draytons.

This tour not only takes you through picturesque Hunter Valley but also gets you a-behind-the-scenes view of wine making.  Since it is spring you will get the added visual pleasure of seeing the ‘budburst’ on the vines.

 Your expedition will involve 3 to 5 wine tastings when you sample up to 30 delicious premium wines.  You will also sit down to a gourmet lunch at one of Hunter Valley’s best restaurants.  The meal will feature fresh local grown produce.  Post lunch you will have a chance to indulge in postprandial snooze under a shady tree.

HunterValleyWine

 Swan Valley

Swan Valley is the oldest wine producing area of Western Australia.  It is just a 25 minute drive from the centre of Perth city but the best way to get there is to take a cruise up the Swan River on a wine tasting tour.  The tour incorporates the best of all worlds – a gentle cruise on a beautiful river, stunning scenery, plenty of fine wine and delicious food.

 Many of the wineries are award winners, producing a wide range of speciality whites, full-bodied reds and some of the world’s finest fortified wines.  This tour focuses on one of the best known and finest wine makers in Australia, Sandalford Wine Estate.  The house is one of the oldest and largest family owned winemakers.

 You get to see how they conjure up their liquid magic in a behind-the-scenes tour.  This is followed by a tasting of 6 varieties of their finest premium wines.  While sipping, choose your favourite wine to accompany your sumptuous two course lunch.  Fresh bread rolls, roasted free range chicken and Mediterranean salsa are just some of the treats on your lunch menu.

 The Swan Valley Cruise and Wine Tasting is such a memorable experience you may want to repeat it.

Barossa Valley

The Barossa Valley lies 60km Northeast of Adelaide.  It is a premier wine producing region of Australia.  This picturesque valley is distinguished by the vast acreage of vineyards.  It is one of Australia’s oldest wine regions and started by German settlers.

 It is famous for excellent red Shiraz and other varieties such as Reisling, Semillon, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon and several fortified wines.  It is also renowned for its over 80 Cellar doors and 160 wineries.  Some are still owned and run by the original families.  It is also famed for its food, cultural experience and the biennial Barossa Valley Vintage Festival.

 A Barossa Valley wine tasting tour is a must and the isango! tour covers five of the best world renowned names including the Wolf Blass, TeAro Estate, Kellermeister,  Pindarie and Saltram Wine Estate.  The tour also includes a delicious gourmet lunch at the Wolf Blass Visitor Centre with wonderful views of the spectacular Barossa Ranges.

This is a perfect tour for wine enthusiasts.

BarossaValleyWines

Yarra Valley

Just an hour from Melbourne is the wine-producing region of the Yarra Valley.  The entire area is pristine, dominated by gorgeous views and stunning mountains.  It has a richly deserved reputation as one of the world’s great wine and food regions.  The Yarra Valley has a relatively cool climate allowing for the production of excellent Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and sparkling wines.

 Our tour is a special, guided one with an expert accompanying you to three top wineries – Yering Station, Yering Farm and Balgownie Estate.  You will learn how to swirl, sniff, slurp and then taste a wine.  You will also find out how they put the ‘bubbly’ into sparkling wines along with being able to sample them.

 In the Yarra Valley many of the wineries have world-class restaurants attached and Balgownie Estate is no different.  At the tasting you can make your wine selection and have it with an à la carte lunch at the restaurant.

 Your tour ends on a brilliant note with a visit to Domaine Chandon, who are the Australian producers for Moet & Chandon, the French Champagne company.  They also produce fine quality sparkling and cool-climate wines.

YarraValleyLandScape

Margaret Valley

It has been only 45 years since viticulture began in the Margaret Valley.  Yet its superb weather and other growing conditions have seen it become one of the great wine regions of the world.  The wines from here sit right next to the finest in the world.

Margaret Valley is conducive to producing Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Cabernet blends from here are valued because of their fruity and multi-layered flavours.  Many other varieties including Shiraz, Semillon blancs, Sangioves, Merlot, Verdelho and Viogniers are produced too.

Our Margaret Valley Wine Tours leave from Perth and visit four of the world’s best wineries.  Also part of this pleasurable experience is a two-course gourmet lunch at the Voyager Estate plus a barrel room wine-tasting session at Moss wood.

The superb wine tasting tour ends with a thoroughly sinful flourish. You stop off at the Margaret River Chocolate Factory where you can indulge yourself in rich chocolate.  This tour is a wonderful experience for the connoisseur and the novice.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Morocco – Exotic and Unusual

0

Morocco is every tourist’s dream. There are various exotic, exciting and unpredictable things to do in Morocco.  It is a land of outstanding beauty – both the rugged and picture postcard kind – attracting adventure enthusiasts, seekers of the unusual, foodies and the regular ‘been there, seen it’ types.  Vast stretches of desert sands compete with the fabulous beaches on the Atlantic and Mediterranean, deep wooded valleys and orchards.  The tall craggy Atlas Mountains contrast beautifully with the green and flower bedecked Rif Mountains. Morocco is also blessed with weather that is wide and varied.

Atlas mountains morocco tours

Many of the sights, sounds and activities on offer are in or fairly close to Morocco’s cities.

Marrakech

To the Berbers Marrakech is the “Land of God” and it is easy to see why. The nearby Atlas Mountains dominate the skyline and the true Sahara is not far away.  To Europeans, Persians and Asians, it is still Morocco. Marrakech’s magic is its seamless blending and fusing of myriad influences and cultures.  For instance the elegant and towering Koutoubia Minaret, so symbolic of Marrakesh, it is a mix of Moorish and Andalusian architectural styles.  So are the 16th century Saadian Tombs, the Private Museum and Bahia Palace.

The raucous calls of food stall owners vie with the castanets of the water-sellers.  The attention-grabbing snake charmers, acrobats, dancers and other entertainers battle potion-sellers at the world famous Djemaa el Fna Square.  The aroma of spices wafts through the air along with scent of the mouth-watering street food that stays with you long after you have left the country.

traditional market morocco

The labyrinth souk alleyways are crammed with shops and stalls selling everything from hand-crafted Moroccan goods such as babouche slippers, woodworks, brass works, ironworks, bronze works, jewellery, kaftans, carpets, spices, and pottery. You will find the best leather, antiques and hand crafted gold jewellery.  Amidst all this, there are beautiful landscaped gardens filled with fruit trees and flowering shrubs.

Agadir

Agadir is considered the gateway to the tall rugged Atlas Mountains, which are only a short distance away.  Tucked into their rocky folds is the breathtaking and untouched beauty of Paradise Valley.  The word Agadir in Berber means “wall enclosing a fortress or town”.  Part of the original fortress still remains at the top of the hill just outside the current city.

Agadir has gained a reputation of being a resort town with visitors from all over Europe descending upon it.  One of its major attractions is a fabulous 10km long beach/bay and a carefully planned waterfront promenade.  The weather is magnificent all year round and so is the surfing.  This in turn has spawned a large surfing community of schools and camps.  Agadir offers plenty of cafés, bars and live music and the evenings are great for unwinding after a hard days touring.

Fez

If ever a place really deserved the adjective ‘legendary’ it is Fez!  More than 1200 years old it was the ancient capital of Morocco and is home to the world’s oldest university – Qarawiyyin.  Its ancient roots still exist in the walled city and the twisting, complex maze-like lanes of the medina Fez el-Bali.  Here goods are still transported by donkeys and handcarts adding to its timeless atmosphere.Fez has the best examples of ancient Islamic arts and architecture preserved in the 14th century Bou Inania Madersa (a college), two forts (Borj Nord and Borj Sud), the Merenid Tombs and the Moulay Idriss II tomb.

Tangier

Tangier is where the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea meet.  This beautiful city, also known as White City, has been the playground of millionaires and the retreat of writers for over a century.  It exudes charm and sophistication aided by beautiful beaches and a vibrant beach café culture.

Tangier’s various cultural influences abound in its architecture and nightlife.  There are many excellent restaurants serving a wide range of cuisines, street cafés, attractive bars and interesting cabarets. The Grand Socco is a great market where you can get nearly everything you could think of and the surrounding Mendoubia Gardens are an inviting place to spend an afternoon.

Not far out of town are the Caves of Hercules.  It is supposed to be the place that the mythical hero rests while on his labours.

Casablanca

Casablanca is a European city transplanted to North Africa.  The architecture is a mix between French Colonial and Moorish.  It is a very cosmopolitan and liberal place with French still widely spoken.  Originally built by Berber fishermen in the 10th century it has been visited and ruled by the Phoenicians, Romans, Portuguese and the French.

Hassan II Mosque Casablanca tours

Casablanca is Morocco’s largest city and economic capital.  One of its most notable features is the Hassan II Mosque and its 210-metre minaret is the world’s tallest.  Another man-made marvel is the port, which is the largest artificial port in the world. With all of this and the mild Mediterranean climate Casablanca attracts visitors all year.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Oktoberfest 2014, Munich

0

It began, bang on time, at 12:00 noon.  Munich’s mayor Herr Dieter Reiter used a wooden hammer to pound a tap into the first Oktoberfest beer barrel at Schottenhamel Beer Tent.  It was the opening act of the Oktoberfest 2014 at Theresienwiese on September 20, 2014 in Munich, Germany.  It was the 181st such occasion of one of the world’s most famous and largest fairs.

The show then kicked off in earnest with a large and colourful parade put on by the tent operators and breweries. Their horse-drawn wagons loaded with huge beer barrels decked with flowers rolled sedately by.  The parade was led by the traditional Münchner Kindl (Munich child) mascot.

Oktoberfest1
Six days into the festivities and about 6 million visitors are expected to attend by the time it ends on Sunday 5th October.  It is also estimated that 6 million litres of beer will go down their thirsty throats.  Somehow that doesn’t seem excessive when you consider the numbers and the drink or bust attitude of attendees.  Folks ‘sleeping it off’ in parks and gardens is one of the more common sights, in the mornings, during Oktoberfest.

Not wanting to give a false picture that Oktoberfest is all about drinking and falling over, there is plenty of other interesting stuff going on all the time.  There is a parade of some kind nearly every day, dancing (traditional and a la carte), music and lots of costumes.  On the fourth day there was the usual special lunch for senior citizens.  The next day there was the solemn yet moving religious Oktoberfest mass.

The men donned their Bavarian best, with hats, braces, Wadlstruempfe stockings and lederhosen and participated in the Parade of Costumes and Riflemen on the second day of the fest.  The ladies on the other hand showed up in traditional Dirndi garb at the funfair tent “Festzeit Tradition.”  They hitched up their pretty bright red skirts and vigorously twirled and kicked their heels on the stage to lively music.

Beer oktoberfest
Comes the evening and night you would be forgiven for thinking that Munich was one overgrown fun fair and theme park.  As dusk gathers, the whole place is lit up by thousands of coloured lights from the beer tents also the blinking and flickering ones from various rides and roller coasters.  It is almost fairytale and Disneyland-ish and looks very pretty.

All this festivity and gathering of people from across the globe was actually sparked off in 1810.  What happens every October began as a wedding celebration for Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese from Saxony-Hildburghausen (hence the name of the Theresienwiese).  The commemoration soon morphed into the Munich Beerfest lasting for 16 days up to the first Sunday in October.

If you are fortunate enough to have got hold of accommodation during the fest and looking to plunge into the action here is what to expect in the coming days.

Sunday      28/9/2014    Traditional concert of brass bands
Tuesday    30/9/2014    Family Day:  All rides and performances are cheaper
Sunday      05/9/2014    12 noon: Traditional gun salute at the Bavaria monument

Timings:
Beer Serving Hours
Opening day 12.00 noon – 10.30 pm
Weekdays 10.00 am – 10.30 pm
Saturday, Sunday & holiday 09.00 am – 10.30 pm

Stall Opening Hours
Opening day 10.00 noon – midnight
Monday – Thursday 10 am – 11.30 pm
Friday 10.00 am – 12.00 midnight
Saturday 9 am – midnight
Sunday 9 am – 11.30 pm

More activities to check out while you are in Munich for the Oktoberfest-

Neuschwanstein Castle

A trip to the Neuschwanstein Castle
A visit to the Oktoberfest Museum
Road trip to Harburg and Rothenburg

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

5 Things You Can Do In Sydney Under AUD50

0

Sydney is one of the world’s most exciting, multi-cultural and best looking cities in the world.  There is always something happening no matter what your interests and objectives are.  You could see a show at the Sydney Opera House, take a harbour cruise, visit Madame Tussauds, take a walking tour or head off up to the mountains to enjoy the views there.

You don’t need a large wallet to do these things.  isango! brings you 5 activities that you can do in Sydney under AUD50.

Sydney Opera House Tour

Opers house sydney

This tour of one of the most iconic buildings in the world is an eye-opener.  Your perspective will be from the inside out.  Did you know that the Sydney Opera House became a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 28 June 2007?  Your guide will take you through the interior of the Sydney Opera House giving the facts, figures and drama that make up the story behind it.  You will see the 10,000 pipe Grand Organ, the Concert Hall and the massive glass windows of the Opera Wing that give you unbeatable views of Sydney Harbour.  Sydney Opera House comprises of multiple performance venues that hold about 2,500 performances every year.

Sydney Harbour Cruise
Get on board your ship at the famous Circular Quay and set out for an hour and a half of sheer night-time Sydney magic.  After a hard day of sightseeing it will be great to sit down and relax with a refreshing drink in hand.  Start your Sydney evening with a sunset cruise across the city’s world famous harbour.  Your cruise ship will drift smoothly past some of Sydney’s iconic sights such as the Sydney Opera House and under the unmistakable Sydney Harbour Bridge.  All of them enchantingly lit up.

Madame Tussauds

madame tussauds sydney

Where else could you get up close and cuddly with the likes of Nicole Kidman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Albert Einstien, Ned Kelly, Captain Cook or Marilyn Monroe?  Maybe even sit next to Queen Elizabeth II?  Only at the newly opened Madame Tussauds Darling Harbour branch, Sydney of course!

Once again Madame Tussauds’ unbelievably real wax models provides an eclectic mix of stars from history, sport, film, music, culture and science.  With 75 iconic personalities from the past and present you won’t get a better opportunity to interact, mingle and pose with your favourite celeb.

Kings Cross Razorhurst Walking Tour
What a time!  What an era!  Sydney in the 1920s and 30s was a heck of a town.  Explore that seamy, violent underworld driven period when Tilly Devine, Kate Leigh and Nellie Cameron ruled most of Sydney through their razor-wielding henchmen.

Your Razorhurst tour will take you to the places where these ‘ladies’ operated.  Kate Leigh ran more than 20 sly groggeries.  Tilly famed as the ‘Queen of the Bordellos’ ran the biggest and most profitable brothel network in Sydney while Nellie Cameron refined the art of ‘gingering.’  For two hours you will learn about a Sydney that very few Sydneysiders know.

Hop-on-Hop-off Blue Mountain Explorer Bus Tour

Blue mountains sydney

After the frenetic pace of Sydney you should take off for an easy, relaxed trip to the fabled Blue Mountains.  On a clear day you can see them from Sydney – inviting you to explore.  Declared a World Heritage site, a visit to the Blue Mountains National Park is a perfect day trip.

The best option is the Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour.  You drive through some magnificent country with the option of stopping off so you can explore tempting forest trails, plunging waterfalls and a ride on the Katoomba Scenic Railway – the steepest in the world.  Then there are the towering Three Sisters and the Everglades Gardens to make your day full, wonderful and totally idyllic.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS