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Where To Go This Summer – Part 1

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This summer, travel destinations will not be about temperatures – Celsius and Fahrenheit that is.  The locations for mega sporting events and entertainment will be the hot spots this year.  The biggest inspiration for travellers in 2014 will be sports!

From Golf to Football and the entire athletic spectrum, it is sports that will have folks packing their bags, booking their tickets and accommodation for such diverse lands as Brazil and Scotland.

Brazil
The ‘beautiful game’ has kicked off in one of the most beautiful countries of the world.  The 2014 edition of the FIFA World Cup has generated huge excitement across the globe.  It is not entirely because of the game either.  This is one terrific opportunity to combine passion for the sport and the chance to see Brazil.

Brazil article
The country has amazing beauty that includes huge tracts of forests, stunning white beaches populated by beautiful people, iconic mountains, thundering rivers and ultra-modern cities.  While the football matches will be played in 12 different stadia across the country it is two cities that stand out for their uniquely attractive features.

Rio de Janeiro
The very mention of the city’s name sets the blood racing and raises the pulse rate.  This huge metropolis is dominated by the iconic, gigantic mountain top statue of Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf Mountain.  They look down upon the marvellous Guanabara Bay and Botafogo region.

Every year the city goes mad to the throbbing beats of samba that drive the Carnival parade as it winds its way through the streets to the Sambadrome.  It’s possible to catch some of that ‘Carnival’ spirit, when not watching the football, at the Plataforma Samba Show. The show is famed for its brilliant costumes, infectious rhythm and dazzling footwork – its samba time all year round!

The World Cup Final will be played in Rio on 13th July.  The world will be watching and the city will surely put up a super show – footballing and otherwise.

Manaus
Manaus is the capital of the state of Amazonas and the furthest north of the host cities.  It sits on the confluence of the rivers Negro (Black) and Solimões (how the Amazon River is known in this part of Brazil).  The Encontro das Aguas is where the black waters of the Rio Negro meet the muddy yellow flow of the Rio Solimoes.  The two rivers flow side by side for more than 6 km, their waters divided as though by an invisible barrier.  This is one of the most remarkable sights in the world.

Victoria Regia Artcile
If that is not astounding enough there is the Victoria Regia.  This is an extraordinary giant floating lily for which Manaus is famous.   Another famous highlight of the city, man-made this time, is the fabulous Teatro Amazonas.  The dome of this architectural and cultural landmark is covered with 36,000 green, blue and yellow glazed ceramic and glass tiles, all of which were made in Alsace, France.

Four World Cup matches will be played at Manaus’ Estadio Amazonia.  Other than football, you could explore the nearby jungles of the Amazon with its amazing flora and fauna.  There are scenic river banks and serenely beautiful lakes where you could spend a lazy afternoon away from ‘it all.’

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Paris Cabaret Guide

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Paris has always known how to put on a show and have fun especially at night.  The city is one giant seething mass of bars, cafés, lounges, esoteric drinking cellars, factories-turned-rave-dance-halls, barges converted to snooty restaurants and fancy cocktail bars.  Just about everywhere there are drinking places, clubs and bistros that attract with the pounding beats of electro, retro rock, reggae, jazz, you name it.

‘Life’ Liza Minelli once warbled, ‘is a cabaret, old chum.  Come to the cabaret!’  That urge to taste its pleasures still rings out loud and shines bright in gay Paree.  Paris, always a ‘good time city’, was one of the first in the world to put up street lighting, which only served to extend those good time hours.  The sheer numbers, variety and quality of entertainment choices can, at times, be overwhelming.

But nothing says Paris like cabaret!

Moulin Rouge
Moulin Rouge is probably the most famous cabaret nightclub in the whole wide world and the spiritual birthplace of the can-can.  Its cabaret featuring ladies dressed in feathers, sequins and not much else draws people from all over the world like moths to its bright gaudy iconic red windmill entrance.  The very name and the images it conjures up gets the heart racing.

Moulin Rouge

The Moulin Rouge is about 125 years old; the can-can and cabaret has evolved but the sheer seductiveness of the place has just kept growing. The decor still harks back to those carefree hedonistic days captured by Tolouse-Lautrec’s fabulous posters. The thought of watching a show with a glass of champagne in hand at the Moulin Rouge is inspiration enough to pack one’s bags for Paris.

Lido Cabaret
There is nothing modest about the Lido.  From its grand facade, its opulent interiors, a panoramic theatre style that seats over a thousand people, its six floor height to its Champs-Elysées address – it shouts out flamboyance.  It is over-the-top in a spectacular and glamorous way.

Revue Lido

The Lido puts on amazing shows because it has the space to install lavish sets including a skating rink, water curtain and a swimming pool.  The Lido specializes in jaw-dropping effects and absolutely gorgeous and talented performers.  The current show, Bonheur is a stunning and exotic example of what they are capable of.  It involves 70 performers, 23 sets and 600 costumes with lots of sparkles, feathers and beautiful bodies.  You will not lack for visual stimulation.  Oh yes, the food is superb too.

Paradis Latin Show
The Paradis Latin claims to be the oldest cabaret venue in Paris having been around since 1802.  What is certainly indisputable is that they put on really risqué shows.  Located in the legendary Latin Quarter in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, the Paradis Latin has glamour by the bucket-load highlighted by classy decor that is reminiscent of late nineteenth, early twentieth century Paris.

Paradis Latin Hero

Looks aside, the Paradis Latin puts on sensual shows with unrestrained energy and spectacular settings.  The choreography is breathtaking and involves ballet, tap dancing and even circus-type acts.  They rope in some of the best known talents from around the world who are capable of making you forget the glass of wine in your hand.  At the Paradis, you will never sit back and relax.  It’s all edge of the seat ‘naughty’ entertainment.

Crazy Horse Show
Avant garde, sensual, risqué!  Those are just some of the terms you could use to describe the performances at the Crazy Horse.  It is fairly young (in terms of age) among Paris’ cabaret venues with all the brashness and vitality of youth.  The Crazy Horse puts on a wide variety of turns including musical, magic, juggling and mime but its worldwide reputation is based on its “aesthetic celebration of the female form as an expression of art.”  It is one of world’s most famous burlesque theatres focusing its creative energies to celebrating the female body.  The current revue is a new show called Désirs.

spectacle désirs

A converted wine cellar, The Crazy Horse resides in an imposing building on Avenue George V.  The interior is relatively small in scale with tables, comfortable armchairs and mood lighting providing a cozy atmosphere.  The whole effect and design is to make the experience intimate for the audience and get them close up to the stage and performers.

Mugler Follies
To the Mugler Follies goes the title of the ‘baby of Paris cabarets.’  The brainchild of Theirry Manfred Mugler, the cabaret at this venue is both innovative and enchanting.  Mugler brings all his experience, as an haute couture designer and his work with the Cirque de Soleil, to the revue.

©MTML-Manfred T. Mugler (1)

He has taken over the Comedia, a 1930s theatre and imbued it with his rather unique vision.  He has put together a show that is ultra-modern, giving a fresh spin to the classic French cabaret.  The shows are total entertainment, combining glamorous characters, sophisticated erotic scenes, whimsical dances, fantastic lighting and other eye-popping effects.  They can also be beautiful and shocking at the same time.  The Mugler Follies has acrobats, singers, dancers and choreography combining original scripts, music and songs.

Mugler Follies is Paris’s newest and most mind-expanding while also being the best value Cabaret show!

Remember though when you start out on your aventures nocturnes Parisiens, that attire is very important.  A tie and jacket is not compulsory.  However, short-pants, jeans, sport shoes and sportswear are prohibited.

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Brazil is Wild, Wonderful and World Cup Mad

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This huge and vibrant country is a wonder world and just cannot help itself.  It is blessed with thousands of miles of beaches, humungous tracts of rainforests, historic and futuristic cities fed by great rivers. Then there are the people whose blood seems to be pumped by a machine called “party.”  Add to that the elixir of football and you have all the ingredients for a super carnival.

Great!  So you are going to Brazil to watch the FIFA World Cup football matches.  Remember that this exhilarating and beautiful game takes under two hours to unfold, which is simply wonderful from a sight-seeing perspective.  When not in a stadium cheering your team, you will have so much time at each city to taste the spicy and fabulous banquet that is Brazil.

For instance…

Full Day Tour of Rio
Rio de Janeiro is one of the most exciting cities to visit.  However, it is huge and doing it on your own will eat up your limited time.  So taking an organized full day tour of Rio, also called the Marvellous City, is a great time-saving sightseeing idea.  It will take you to all the main highlights of historic downtown Rio; including Cinelândia Square with its historical buildings, the Municipal Theater, the National Library, the National Museum of Fine Arts, the Metropolitan Cathedral and the famous Sambadrome.

Christ the Redeemer Brazil

You then go through the solid rainforest of Tijuca to get to Corcovado Mountain.  Taking the cable car up is a great introduction to the astounding Christ the Redeemer statue on top and the fabulous views of Copacabana Beach, Ipnema and Leblon.

All in all it is a great programme.

Walking Around Historic Rio
Take a walking tour through the historic Rio and you will get a totally different flavour of this often turbulent city.  Rio’s legacy is impressive and very much in evidence as you wander through its cobbled streets to see the lovely colonial Portuguese influence in the form of the Imperial Palace, the France-Brazil House and the Benedictine Monastery.  Other architectural gems include the Candelária Church, the Banco de Brasil and the Casa França-Brasil and the hugely impressive Arcos da Lapa, which were part of the aqueduct that brought water into Rio.

Imperial Palace Rio

This walking tour is a fascinating one that will forever change your perspective of Rio.

Guanabara Bay Cruise
Another terrific way to see Rio is to take a boat cruise out onto the beautiful and vast Guanabara Bay.  Slowing cruising on its blue waters, you will get a panoramic view of all Rio’s landmarks without the hustle and bustle. Sugar Loaf Mountain and Corcovado dominate an impressive skyline. Flocks of seabirds wheel over your head as you sit down to a delicious meal consisting of delicious Crab Cake and Fettuccine with Pomodoro or Fish with Shrimp Sauce and Risotto.

Guanabara Bay Cruise

Historical Salvador – Capital of Happiness
One of the oldest cities in the Americas, Salvador seems to be in continuous party mode.  It has earned its nickname, “Brazil’s capital of happiness” for the numerous street parties.  But just as attention-grabbing is the long, tumultuous and interesting historical side to this lovely coastal city.  The best part is most of its past is preserved in the music, cuisine and architecture.

Taking the historical tour will reveal many gems of Salvador’s chequered past such as the lively, narrow streets of Pelourinho and its pastel hued houses that are about 300 years old.  Salvador’s colonial heritage shows up in the Forte de São Pedro, the Barra Lighthouse, the church of São Francisco and a thousand homes, churches and monuments built since the 16th century help make up the greatest collection of Baroque architectural heritage in Latin America.

Salvador is proof that there is a whole lot to Brazil you never even imagined.

Bahia By Night
There is an overwhelming perception that Portuguese culture and influence is what makes up Brazilian culture.  That is not the whole picture.  It is the African-Brazilian cultural-mix that puts the pop, crackle and sexiness in to what we perceive of Brazil.  It is the influence of African associated cultural practices that are celebrated and define Salvador.

Imacon Color Scanner

The best time to experience this hedonistic and outrageously colour culture is at night.  The many different expressions of the culture can be experienced if you take this wonderful tour.  Watch capoeira (traditional slave battles), or beautiful performances of Candomblé, Maculelê, Puxada de Rede, Dança do Caboclo and Samba de Roda and you will get a much deeper sense of what drives Brazil and its people.

Manaus And The Amazon Rainforest
Take a break from all the cultural aspects of Brazil because there is a more natural and wilder side to the country.  The incredible Amazon Rainforest, with all its spectacular animals, birds, plants and rivers is enough to take you by the heart and never leave you.

Manaus, in the heart of the Amazon forest region, is the best jumping-off place to explore this fascinating side to Brazil.  Not far from the city is one of nature’s most remarkable sights – the confluence of the Negros and the Solimões rivers.  Their differently coloured waters, which don’t mix as if kept apart by an invisible barrier, are worth every effort to see.  You could get really adventurous and go deep into the jungle and experience the Brazilian Amazon and all its flora and fauna face-to-face.

Victoria Regia Manaus

Another terrific draw is the Victoria Regia.  This is an extraordinary giant floating lily for which Manaus is famous.  Its leaves are over fifteen feet in diameter with a submerged stalk that can grow to over 25 feet in length.  The flowers are white on the first night they open subsequently changing to pink.

With all this and exciting football to immerse yourself in, you are going to find it difficult to return home.

Desfrutar Brasil!  (Enjoy Brazil)

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5 Must-Have Madrid Experiences

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Madrid is one of the prettiest cities in Europe. It has a wonderful mix of the modern and the historic with many classic buildings rubbing shoulders with the finest examples of modern architecture. The Manzanares River runs through its centre making it even more attractive.

Right from Roman times the city has been a colourful, vibrant and happening place. Performances of classical and rock music concerts, cultural festivals, artistic and fashion events are held quite frequently here. Sports, especially football, is given a lot of importance in Madrid. There is never a dull moment in this city and with so much on offer it can be difficult to decide on what to see and do.

Our pick of Madrid’s foremost activities and attractions should help you out.

Flamenco Dancing

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This iconic Spanish art form should be on their postage stamps or currency notes. The body-swirling, foot-tapping, high-tempo, pulse-raising baile (dance) is dramatically enhanced by the music and rhythmic palmas (clapping). Once experienced, a flamenco show is never forgotten.

Madrid has hundreds of flamenco dance academies and many of them put on regular shows. Flamenco can be seen and heard in theatres, tablaos, taverns and bars so finding a performance is not a problem. A few places such as Corral de la Moreria, Cardamomo and Las Carboneras are deservedly famous for the quality of their performances. At one of these premier tablaos you can sit down to a plate of tapas, a glass of wine and soak in the flamenco atmosphere.

The Gardens of Madrid

Madrid has more than 33 million square metres dedicated to 40 parks and gardens. The amazing amount of acreage makes it Europe’s ‘greenest’ city. When the day grows warm, these oases provide a wonderful sanctuary from the sun. However, Madrid’s gardens contain some remarkable sculptures and statues making them open air museums and art galleries. Some also house aquariums and a planetarium.

While locals have their favourites, the larger and better known parks are El Retiro (with its own lake) and the Palace of Velasquez; Casa de Campo (Europe’s largest park), which encompasses the Madrid Zoo and an amusement park and the Campo del Moro and the Sabatini Gardens. The last mentioned are actually the Royal Gardens opened to the public in 1978. The beauty and diversity of Madrid’s gardens ensure that you come away with a hugely satisfying experience.

The Estadio Santiago Bernabéu

Bernabeu stadium

This enormous stadium (the second largest in Spain) is a temple to the beautiful game – football! Just as significantly it is home to the legendary Real Madrid Football Club. As one of the most famous and sought after football venues, the Bernabéu has seen many a thrilling competition finals including that of the 1982 FIFA World Cup.

Besides the magnificence of the stadium itself, there is a museum and gallery filled with portraits of past (and present) football greats, club trophies and a wide collection of memorabilia that recall glorious occasions from the club’s history.

The Prado Museum

Prado Museum Blog

The Museo del Prado is definitely one of Madrid’s finest attractions and one of the world’s greatest art galleries. The museum has a stunning collection of artworks for its visitors to enjoy. The museum is a magnificent 18th-century Neo-Classical building and houses some 7,600 paintings, 1,000 sculptures, 4,800 prints and 8,200 drawings.

This enormous collection includes masterpieces by Velasquez, Titian, Picasso, El Greco, Raphael, Rubens, Bosch, Dürer and Botticelli. The standout compilation, though, is by Goya. It is his works that make up a large part of the museum’s collection. The most famous (and controversial) Goya painting, The Naked Maja, hangs on the museum’s walls. This along with Velasquez’s Las Meninas is among the most popular works in the place.

Fiestas

Madrileños don’t need much of an excuse to get into party mode. And when they do, they dress up bright and fancy and give of their best. Some of the big festivities happen during celebrations for Dos de Mayo, San Antonio de la Florida and La Paloma. The largest and most frenetic festival is that of San Isidro (Madrid’s patron saint). Extravagant floats, bands, colourful costumes, street dancing and a series of bullfights are organised during the fiesta San Isidro.

Guaranteed great fun and excitement during all these celebrations!

Venga a Madrid!

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Ten Reasons To Visit Cairo

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Cairo is a bustling, vigorous city and touring it feels like a journey through time.   A modern city with ancient roots, it straddles the River Nile, blending the old and modern in exhilarating and surprising ways.  With so much to see and do, we thought a few helpful suggestions would come in handy.  Here are just some of Cairo’s exciting attractions.

The Great Pyramids
Great Sphinx and iconic Pyramids of Giza are the foremost reason people come to Cairo.   Those huge and amazing stone constructions, which are the only surviving wonders of the Ancient World, put you in awe of what the ancient ones achieved!  They are not very far from the city centre.  Go early in the day to avoid the crowds and the heat cause you want to have time to explore the chambers within the pyramids without being jostled.

GIZ6

Arabic Roots
Cairo wasn’t built in a day!  It took many centuries to come together and Fustat, founded in the 7th century AD, was the first Arab settlement in Egypt.  The remnants are on display in the Museum of Islamic Art.  They reveal just how influential that period was on today’s Cairo.

The Nile – Life-giver
For all its wonderful sights and monuments, nothing defines Cairo like the mighty Nile.  For thousands of years this waterway shaped and nourished civilizations and people; created a history and culture that is absolutely unique.  Herodotus called Egypt ‘the gift of the Nile.’  The river attracts romantic lovers to its banks every evening while visitors from far and close drift down on it in modern ferries, brightly lit cruisers or ageless feluccas.   A sunset viewed from a vessel on this timeless river; the soft glowing lights from countless minarets; a quiet time just drifting or enjoying a lovely dinner will give you a sense of what the Nile means and has meant to countless generations of Egyptians.  A generous giver indeed!

NILE4

Mosques & Minarets
You just cannot miss out on the Al-Azhar Mosque.  This magnificent complex with a vast marble paved interior courtyard and several iconic minarets exemplifies the very best in Islamic art and culture.  It also houses the Al-Azhar University of Cairo, the second oldest university in the world and an influential Islamic institution.  Islamic Cairo has the greatest concentration of historical monuments of Islamic architecture in the world. The hundreds of mosques are the reason why it is nicknamed “the city of a thousand minarets.”

Treasure Chest of History
Everything about The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, commonly known as the Egyptian Museum is incredible.  It is the largest treasure house of ancient Egyptian antiquities in the world.  No visit to Cairo and Egypt is complete if you have not been to the Museum and gazed on the priceless, haunting golden face mask of Tutankhamen and other relics of a glorious past.

TUTANKAMON MASK
The Living Dead
This is like no housing colony you have ever seen!  Qarafa or the City of the Dead, a Necropolis is an amazing four mile area of tombs and mausoleums in Cairo.  Uniquely, the area is inhabited by a sizeable community of people.  It is not a creepy place to explore; rather it is quite an eye-opener.

Old Cairo – Really Old!
The Romans came, saw and made their mark.  Inveterate builders they left behind the Fortress of Babylon, the oldest structure in the city.  The Fortress sits in Coptic Cairo, which is at the very core and most intriguing part of Cairo providing a distinctly different environment that contributes and enhances Cairo’s diversity.

Symbol of Power
First built by Saladin between 1176 and 1183, the Cairo Citadel is a massive and imposing structure. Originally it was the site for a pavilion to catch the cool breezes.  The Citadel has gone through numerous changes, improvements and renovations – each one adding to its splendour and glory.  Its walls that once enclosed Cairo and Fustat, still dominate the Cairo skyline.  It is the most visited and impressive non-pharaonic monument.  A half day spent in its massive corridors and passages is well worth the time and effort.

Islamic Cairo1.jpg

Shop the Traditional way
Khan el-Khalili is an ancient bazaar dating back to 1385.  It is the most well-known and historic market in Africa and the Middle-East.  The intricate network of streets, lanes and alleyways are the romantic template of what a souq should look like.  Khan el-Khalili had such a stranglehold on the spice markets, that circumnavigators like Columbus were motivated to find alternate routes for goods from the East.  You will find everything from jeans and essential oils to expensive and cheap jewellery made of gold and silver.  You can pick up traditional Egyptian glass, accessories, T-shirts and unique souvenirs.  Remember to bargain and you will come away a very satisfied shopper.

Food
Cairo is not just about pharaohs, tombs, pyramids and mosques.  There is a tasty side to the city.  The cuisine, a product of geography, relies heavily on vegetables, legumes and grain grown in and around the Nile.  Egyptian food is justly famous because it incorporates contributions from all the different peoples and civilizations that came here.  It was then made it deliciously Egyptian.

For example Kushari, considered to be Egypt’s national dish is made from pasta, tomato sauce, rice, lentils, caramelized onions, garlic and chickpeas.  For over a hundred years, it has been the most popular food in Egypt.  However, it was brought in by the British army and relies on pasta from Italy, tomatoes from South America and rice from Asia.  The Egyptians mixed them all together into one amazing dish.  Similarly there are many, many such combinations and permutations.  Oh, the deserts, sweets and cakes are to die for.

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The Paris Pass – Your Best Friend

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Paris – The City of Lights – is probably the most beautiful and romantic city in the world.  Its iconic landmarks, magnificent cathedrals, museums of every kind, beautiful tree-lined avenues, vivid gardens, the scenic River Seine, pretty street cafés, incredible choice of entertainment and world-famous fashion houses will satisfy every visitor’s whim.  Paris never fails to delight.

Paris Pass 1
More than 45 million people come from every corner of the planet every year!  They come to see and experience, for themselves, the many famous attractions of Paris.  The Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles are all synonymous with this wondrous city.

You should remember that very few Paris attractions are free.  You will need to buy tickets to enter monuments, museums, churches and historical sites and they can add up to a large pile of Euros.  Another problem that Paris’ popularity poses is the difficulty and length of time required to enter her majestic attractions.  Queues can be long and winding.  It could easily take you from 45 minutes to an hour to get into highly visited sites and in the summer heat, that is not a joy.  The solution to the above woes is to get yourself a Paris Pass.

Savings!  Savings!  Savings!

That is the best way to describe the Paris Pass.  Purchase a Paris Pass and you save on time, money and your energy levels.  It is a real life-saving sightseeing package that provides you with all you need to make the most of your precious time in Paris.

pARIS pASS 2

The Paris Pass gives you entry to the city’s top attractions as well as public transport.  One of its magic like qualities is that it offers skip-the-line access to attractions so that you enter without having to queue up.  Some highlights of the Paris Pass are:

  • Sightseeing with the Paris Pass with free admission to over 60 attractions
  • Choose from a 2, 4 or 6-day Paris Pass
  • Monstrous savings.  2 Day Adult Pass (€30 savings): 4 Day Adult Pass (€66): 6 Day Adult Pass (€122)
  • Free use of public transport – including Metro, buses and RER services for the duration of the Pass
  • Skip the line entrance to Paris’ most famous attractions, including the Louvre Museum, Musée d’Orsay, Arc de Triomphe and the Centre Pompidou
  • Free entry to Paris’ best attractions including, Musée Grévin and Tour Montparnasse Tower
  • Special offers and discounts at restaurants and shops
  • Free and very handy city map of Paris
  • Free one day Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour with informative commentary
  • Free 120 page Paris guidebook that is a marvelous guide filled with tips and useful information about the city and its attractions.  It is an excellent tour planner

The Paris Pass is an indispensable tool and a comprehensive sightseeing package for anyone who wants to get as much of Paris, into their itinerary, as possible.

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Pompeii Contest – Win a free trip to the Lost City!

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When their world exploded around them, many of Pompeii’s residents tragically (or should one say ‘thankfully’) never saw it coming – literally!  When Vesuvius erupted, the ash it spewed completely blocked the sun’s rays!  The day Mount Vesuvius erupted and covered Pompeii, events happened so rapidly, many people were killed instantly.  In the midst of going about their everyday lives – cooking, carrying out business, domestic chores and even sleeping.

Pompeii Ruins, Italy

Ash totally blanketed the city and her citizens.  Pompeii’s tragedy was unknown for 1500 years!  That was because the ash and debris totally covered the city, hiding it for all that time.  We can view the wonderful houses, mosaics, statutes, jewels, coins and hundreds of artefacts that give us an amazing insight into the daily life and activities of average Pompeian’s – all incredibly intact! Pompeii is like a two thousand year old 3D picture book showing life-size pictures of restaurants, baths, a market, a bar, fountains and even a brothel.

The Movie
This is the epic story of Pompeii’s destruction in 79 AD and the hero, Milo, played by Kit Harington, a slave turned invincible gladiator.  He has to race against Vesuvius’ rapidly brewing ‘eruption’ time to save his true love Cassia (Emily Browning).  As Mount Vesuvius erupts in terrifying and destructive fury, Milo must desperately fight his way out of the arena in order to save his beloved.  The movie is directed by Paul W.S. Anderson.

Pompeii Competition
isango! has come up with an absolutely spectacular way for you to get to Pompeii.  You don’t even have to dip into your wallet or bank account.  All your travel expenses including an extra £200 spending money will be paid by isango!

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It’s no gimmick.  Simply click on the link below and you will be directed to the Facebook app-

https://apps.facebook.com/Pompeii/isangotravel

Once on the page, you watch the trailer of Pompeii, answer the very simple questions based on the trailer, submit your entry and wait for our call.

Don’t hang about!  This offer is too good for you to miss.

Thousands of people have already put in their claim to that airline seat to ancient Pompeii and gorgeous Italy. The last date to enter is 30th June and the winner will be announced in July. Get set go!

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Seeing London – Three Times The Pleasure

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“Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life…,” wrote Samuel Johnson.  More perceptive words were never written, for London never ceases to engage, impress and inspire.  It is a leading financial center of the world, home to the mother of parliaments, art and literary capital, fashion trendsetter and the inspiration for poets, romantics and dreamers.

Visitors from all around the world come to gaze at and admire London’s many historic sites, iconic buildings and monuments and also partake of its varied and exciting offerings.  London never ceases to attract and every year more and more come to stroll through its well-known streets and wander its famous lanes. There are different ways, besides the traditional coach or open top double-decker buses, to see London’s landmarks and experience its allure. You can read about the 3 most popular ones here-

The Thames – London’s most famous thoroughfare
For centuries the Thames has been the main route for commercial traffic and sailors heading off to or returning from distant lands.  That role has become even more exciting.  You can now marvel at most of London’s landmarks from a Thames River boat.  View Big Ben, the House’s of Parliament, London Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral, and the city in an entirely different way.

thames river cruise facebook

You can choose from several boating options.  Take an all day cruise or spend the evening on a Thames dinner cruise and experience the beating heart of London town by day, or night when all the lights are on.  Or you could speed through London at 35 knots on a speedboat along the River Thames and get that James Bond rush!

The Shard’s View
Yes, it is called The View!  When you are standing at 800 feet (244 metres) above London, you understand why it is called The View.  With that great city spread out below your feet and every landmark clearly visible, you finally get a perspective of why it is one of the greatest cities in the world.  It is a visual experience that goes deep into your heart.

This experience begins when you whoosh upwards in one of two high speed lifts to Level 68 and the first of your highs kicks in.  You are at cloud level.  The next part of your skyward journey is Level 69 where you get a true 360? view of London.  You can see for about 64kms into the distance.  To broaden your experience the vista stretching out before you is brought to life in the multimedia displays.

view from the shard Twitter

The pinnacle of your sensory buzz is reached when you get to Level 72.  Here you are open to the wind and the sun and the sky.  With the city sounds drifting faintly up from the streets below, there is nothing above but the shards of glass reaching ever upwards.  As you make your way down to the ground floor of The Shard your memories will forever be up among the clouds above London.

The London Eye View
The London Eye has managed to become the most popular attraction in a city absolutely crammed with so much history, beauty and thrilling things to do.  A sedate half hour passes while you catch, literally, a bird’s eye view of London from one of its clear-screen high tech glass capsules.

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When you get to the top of the wheel’s arc – 135 metres high – you get a wonderful view of central London and all its iconic landmarks.  The River Thames flows below with St James Park in front and the contrasting styles of the Gherkin Building and Big Ben looming upwards from the rest of the city.  As you gaze down on Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London, you cannot help but be in awe of the spectacular view that the world’s tallest observation wheel provides.  It is truly one of the modern world’s architectural wonders and a ride not to be missed.

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Beat The Dubai Heat

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When summer comes around to the desert city of Dubai, it’s time to head for the shady and air-conditioned environs.  The day temperatures can soar to a skin-burning 47 to 50 degrees Celsius.  However, this city has come up with innumerable and clever ways to avoid or beat the heat so you can stay cool.

Here are some ideas and cool attractions that will help you relax and enjoy Dubai through its long summer months -

Wear light cotton clothes and go for the loose fit.  It may sound obvious but what you wear helps cope with the heat.  Also, when you have to go outside, wear sunglasses, apply sunscreen and carry a hat or cap.  Drink lots of water and increase the number of times you shower.  These are basic guidelines but a good start in staying cool.

However, it’s not all about getting into survival mode.  There are plenty of activities that can be fun while keeping cool.  You could hang out at one of Dubai’s many theme parks.

Water Park Dubai

One of the better known parks is the Wild Wadi Water Park right opposite the Burj Al Arab.  It has a variety of water slides and features catering for all ages, skills and levels of enthusiasm.  Other well-appointed ones are The Dolphin Bay, the Aquaventure Waterpark, Marine Animal Adventures and The Lost Chambers Aquarium.  Besides getting up close and friendly with the sharks and stingrays, these parks offer plenty of shade, cool spots and a choice of great food.  You could make a day out of a visit to any of these places.

If you really want to chill out, then Dubai has incredible recreations of polar landscapes- the Dubai Ice Rink and the Ski Dubai Snow Park.  The rink is located within the Dubai Mall.  Here you can learn, practice or hone your skating skills on an Olympic sized rink.  You can get classes or participate in disco sessions and show your stuff.  You can also take a break at other entertainment features, the many eateries or do some shopping, after all this is one of the world’s largest malls.

Another winter-imported wonderland in Dubai is the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East.  The Ski Dubai Snow Park is located within the fabulous Mall Of The Emirates and the temperatures are maintained below freezing point.  You can ski, toboggan, bobsled, frolic or indulge in snowball fights with friends and family.  There is a Giant Ball run, slides and a colony of Emperor Penguins.  There are even snowfalls to keep you in the mood and give you the full Monty winter experience.

Malls Dubai

Of course the biggest reason people come to Dubai is to shop.   Shopping (even if you don’t drop) is one of the best past-times in this emirate.  Dubai’s many dazzling malls offer more than just discounts.  You can stay cool in the shops, restaurants and entertainment centers within their premises.

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5 Must-dos While Visiting the Italian Dolomites

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The Italian Dolomites are one of the most fantastic mountains in the world.  Their sharp pointed pinnacles and steep pale stony cliffs plunge steeply down to green valleys, creating some of the most incredible landscapes in the world.  There are eighteen summits that extend beyond 3,000 metres in height with Marmolada being the highest.

The Dolomites (meaning ‘pale mountains’) are sturdy in contrast.  Rough crags, pinnacles and towers encircle magical green meadows, multi-coloured forests, fields and lakes.  These striking contrasts are at its best in Cortina – ‘the pearl of the Dolomites’.   The whole region has been designated a UN Heritage Centre.

Dolomites article

There are many reasons to visit the area.  Here are our picks on the most satisfying things you can do while touring the Dolomites.

Adventure Activities
The Dolomites are renowned for skiing, mountain climbing, hiking, base jumping, paragliding, hang gliding and free climbing.  The Alte Vie or ‘Alpine Trails’ are world famous and, in some instances, really challenging treks. These mountains are a rock climbers’ dream with different sorts of climbs for all – novices, skilled as well as the seriously professional types.

Soar like an eagle under a parachute or glider’s wings from one of the mountains and thrill to the feeling of weightlessness – and live your dream.  You will get a view which only a few others do – above the spectacular peaks of the Dolomites.

The Dolomite region is a skier’s heaven.  Short summers and long winters make it ideal for extended skiing seasons.  The most famous and best skiing town is Cortina d’Ampezzo.  The 1956 Winter Olympics were held there.

Visit The Tunnels And Galleries In The Dolomites
In the early 20th century the border between Germany, Austria and Italy passed through the Dolomites.  During World War I, it was the frontline.  Soldiers on both sides excavated several series of tunnels in the mountains in order to fire at each other and wrest control of the heights.

Hiding places in the Dolomites (World War I)

Hiding places in the dolomites

These tunnels and galleries contain the remnants and artefacts of that period till date.  You can explore and see the still preserved barrack rooms (complete with sleeping bunks and heating stoves), storerooms, machinegun emplacements and other war relics.

Take Cable Car/Ski Lift Rides
The experience of a cable car or ski lift ride in the Dolomites is unlike any other.  They provide spectacular views unequalled in the world.  Even in this picture postcard world, some locations stand out from the others.  Just to name three – Lagazuoi near Cortina, Pass Pordoi and Mont Seuc.  The Dolomites, with the light on them constantly changing, are a photographer’s delight.  Once viewed, the scenery from the lifts will be sure to drag you back.

The ‘queen of the Dolomites,’ Marmolada is the highest peak in the Dolomites.  The entire journey in getting up to the top is an experience not to be missed.  As your gently swaying cable car lifts you towards the peak and above the clouds, you feel like you have wandered into a movie set.  The views are awe-inspiring and on a clear day you can see Venice!

Tour The lakes
If the sight of peaks of this region leave you in awe, their counterparts, the placid clear waters among the Dolomites are just as captivating.  These numerous pools of magic are flanked by golf-course like meadows and groves of trees while reflecting the pale peaks rising above them.  The picturesque little towns and villages that sit on their banks add to their allure.

Lake Auronzo di Cadore is an outstanding example.  Its fairy-tale surroundings are further enhanced in winter when the waters totally freeze up to the point where polo is played on it.  Another serene and tranquil lake is Misurina which is worth a visit.  Lake Misurina is where the speed skating events were held during the 1956 Winter Olympics (it was the last time Olympic speed skating events were held on natural ice.)  The spectacular scenery of Lake Misurina features in most photos of the area.

Spend The Night In A Mountain Hut (Rifugio)
To round off your Dolomites adventure or make it even more memorable, you should stay at a traditional alpine hut.  You can really soak in the magical atmosphere of the mountainous landscape.  The long history of mountaineering in the Alps has seen the building of many huts (rifugios) along the trails and throughout the high Dolomite massifs.  These wonderful wooden or stone cabins are very often perched precariously on the rocks.  The vistas from here are extraordinary.  There is no greater feeling than the camaraderie of other walkers, sharing an excellent dinner, a good night’s sleep and a generous breakfast before you set off again.

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