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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!

Posts in ‘Nature & Wildlife’

Xel-Ha – No Ordinary Water Theme Park

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Xel-Ha is one of those brilliant accidents – where nature’s handiwork meets man’s creativity.  It is located on Mexico’s Caribbean coast and 75 miles (122km) south of gorgeous Cancun.  The drive to Xel-Ha is just an hour and a half down the coast from Cancun.  It is a wonderful, breath-taking scenic trip.

Named after the nearby Mayan archaeological site, the Xel-Ha theme park opened in 1984.  Since then, the popularity of its facilities and attractions has never flagged drawing people from all over the world.

The Xel-Ha park area is created by the ox-bow curve of the coast and peppered with numerous tiny islands.  The area is pockmarked with numerous caves and grottoes.  The incredibly blue waters are populated by innumerable varieties of fantastically coloured tropical fish and underwater plants.  The waters are a mix of fresh underwater springs and the ocean’s salty variety adding to its amazing allure.  It is without doubt the world’s largest and most beautiful natural aquarium.

The sea-side of the park is protected by a shark fence making it safe for snorkelling, scuba diving and swimming.  The top attraction in Xelh-Ha is the opportunity to swim and interact with the super-friendly dolphins. You can hug these endearing creatures, which are not averse to giving you kisses or a speed thrill by pushing you over the water on their snouts.

There are other thrills to be enjoyed at Xel-Ha.  For the daring there is the Trepachanga, a river crossing activity where you hang on tightly to one rope while trying to keep your balance on another.  Then there is the zip-bike ride that has you soaring over the jungle giving you a bird’s eye view while making your heart race.  Test your grit at the Stone of Courage as you jump off a rock into the crystal clear waters below.

The fun and adventure is topped off with a trip to the buffet tables for a mouth-watering breakfast and lunch.  The choices are huge – international cuisine, sea foods and Mexican foods.

Spending the day at Xel-Ha is an experience that will beat most others hands down.

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Hidden New Zealand

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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!

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Visiting Cape Town in November

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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.

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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!

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Nightlife in Tenerife

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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!

 

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Ireland: Poetry In Everything

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Ireland inspires superlative, yet you will run out of them very quickly when trying to describe it.  It is an island whose beautiful countryside and long history have inspired more songs and poems than any other place on earth.  The green of this Emerald Isle is not just the colour of its landscape; it is an apt description of a jewel.

There is much to Ireland beyond her scenic wonders.  Ireland’s magic is also largely due to her history and culture.  It is a land of legends and mystery.  There is a story to every rock and glen and even more in the pubs!

Geography & Climate

Liffey River

Ireland has mountains running along most of its coast making a ring around a central plain and several lakes.  It has a number of rivers including the Liffey, Barrow, Boyne, Bann and Shannon which is the longest.  Ireland’s landscape has a range of moods such as wild Donegal, lonely Connemara and the soft, gentle hills of the southeast.  The western coast is famous for its rugged cliffs, islands and beaches.

Ireland has a relatively mild but very changeable climate because of the influence of the Atlantic Ocean, the Irish and the Celtic Seas.

Culture
Irish culture is broadly defined as being Gaelic but it is a combination of influences going back for more than 1200 years.  The Vikings, Normans, Welsh, English and Scots came, stayed and made significant imprints that are distinctively ‘Irish.’  Ireland has contributed mightily to the world but most extensively to literature, theatre and music.  Religion too has a strong sway on the Irish nation.  Thus, leading it to be called, “the island of saints and scholars.”

At almost any given time of the year, there are lively arts, theatre and music festivals in full swing – particularly in Dublin.  At almost every pub you will hear traditional (or “trad”) music full of upbeat jigs, clever lyrics and heart-tugging ballads.

Cities
Without exception Irish cities are beautiful.  They are packed with history, great architecture, pretty houses and winding cobblestoned streets making them sightseers’ and photographers’ treat.  Every city emits a lively atmosphere, has good food, warm, welcoming pubs and festivals aplenty.  The names themselves are poetry to the ears – Dublin, Cork, Kilkenny, Killarney, Galway, Sligo, Waterford, and of course Limerick.

Places to See

cliffs of moher ireland

Ireland has three World Heritage Sites: Brú na Boinne (superb Neolithic monuments), Skellig Michael and the Giant’s Causeway.  There are loads of other fabulous and fascinating locations to check out such as the Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands and County Galway.  Ireland is awash (forgive the expression) with impressive forts and castles.  Bunratty Castle, the Rock of Cashel, Holy Cross Abbey and Blarney Castle are just some outstanding structures and historically important. One could go on and on…

Best Time To Visit
Weather-wise, summer of course is the best time to travel to Ireland.  Also because it is the theatre, fashion, arts and music festival season.  However, late spring and early autumn are also lovely times on the island – without the crowds.
Whatever time of year you visit, a must-drink pint of Guinness at a thatched roofed pub; some trad music floating through the air; postcard scenery and you will find the Ireland you came to experience.

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Iceland: Travel Guide

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Iceland: where landscapes teem with hot springs and geysers, where wildlife is as interesting as in many equatorial regions, and where modern cities and captivating natural scenery meet. It is also arguably the country with most misleading name on the planet (although it may be a toss-up with Greenland). It appears the folk tale that Iceland was named as such to keep people from invading its beautiful landscapes reigns somewhat true, as far as those landscapes are concerned.

Anyone who has visited Iceland is likely to say that their trip is highly ranked in a list of all their travels, and there is no better time to go than in the summer when temperatures vary between 8°C at night and 15°C during the daytime! We’ve outlined five of the most spectacular places to visit and things to do in Iceland this summer:

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon Blog

Hit the ground running as soon as you arrive in Iceland with a relaxing spa getaway at the Blue Lagoon! Sink into the reviving waters while wisps of steam dance on the surface, unwind under a soothing waterfall, or choose from a range of luxurious spa treatments. You can travel to the Blue Lagoon from the airport or from your hotel. There is no better way to combat the discomforts that come with international travel (jet lag, uncomfortable plane rides) than to soak your stresses away in Iceland’s famed geothermal hot springs at the Blue Lagoon Spa.

Golden Circle

Another must-do in Iceland is venturing along the Golden Circle rated as Iceland’s top attraction! This ever-popular sightseeing route showcases some of the most dramatic natural features of the ‘Land of Ice and Fire’ as well as important historic sites. Witness the majesty of Gullfoss waterfall and visit the geothermal areas of Geysir and Strokkur, where geysers and hot springs span across the landscape.

If you so desire (and we recommend it), you can even do Iceland in a Nutshell for a day on a visit to both the Blue Lagoon and Golden Circle!

Whale Watching

Whale Watching Blog

Although originally the only wildlife on land native to Iceland was the arctic fox, that is not the case with the sea life that fills the waters surrounding Iceland. Iceland whale watching is an incredibly popular pick for things to do while in this island country. Take an unforgettable boat ride on Faxaflói Bay and see whales, dolphins, and porpoises in their natural environment with a Whale Watching Tour, followed by a trip to the Blue Lagoon, because it is that good.

Reykjavik

What trip to any country is complete without a tour of its capital city? Iceland is no exception. Reykjavík city, also known, as “smoky bay”, is the world’s northernmost capital and is full of life at any time of the year! In order to get the most out of the city, we recommend taking the Reykjavik Sightseeing Tour. This tour is a detailed and comprehensive introduction to Reykjavik’s past and present and includes visits to the main landmarks.

Landmannalauger

Landmannalaugar blog

Lastly, explore the thrilling Wonders of Landmannalaugar on your trip to Iceland. Even in a country known worldwide for its beautiful scenery, the landscapes of Landmannalaugar are in a class of their own with the waterfalls, warm natural pools, and active volcanoes dotting the landscapes. Whether you are an adventure seeker, a nature lover, or a combination of the two, this is the tour for you!

Although Iceland is a fantastic country to visit year-round, there is no doubting that the weather in the summer provides a more pleasant atmosphere to enjoy all of the beauties offered to visitors by the natural landscapes that cover Iceland. Get going!

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Greece – An Enchanting Palette

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Greece is like a painter’s palette with (to my mind) two primary colours – astounding natural beauty and four thousand years of history. Mix and blend these two and you get an incredible rainbow of idyllic landscapes, a sophisticated yet languorous culture, artistic and architectural treasures, superb food, great wines and a warm friendly people.

Greece is the oldest tourist destination and has been since before the rise of Rome. It still remains one of the world’s most popular travel destinations.

Natural Features

Broadly speaking Greece consists of the mountainous mainland and thousands of islands.

The Mainland

Eighty percent of Greece is mountainous. Mytikas (9,570 feet) is the highest peak and also the location of the mythical Mount Olympus – home of the Greek Gods. The northern mainland portion is defined by majestic mountains and abundant forests. The central and southern region has vast distinctive wine-producing valleys and olive orchards. Not commonly known is that Greece has some of the best skiing slopes in Europe. The rugged landscape also offers great hiking and rafting opportunities.

The Islands

If ever the colour blue was considered an invention, then the waters around its islands would surely be the place it was created. At last count, there were between 1,200 and 6,000 islands in the Greek archipelagos. The number depends on how you describe an island because many are just rocks thrusting straight out of the water. That aside, 227 of the isles are inhabited with Crete being the largest followed by Euboea, Rhodes and Lesbos.

The Greek islands comprise of seven groupings – the Peloponnese, the Argo-Saronic Islands, the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, the East and North Aegean, the Sporades and Évvia, the Ionian Islands – and Crete. Whatever their location or size, the islands are epitomized by clear blue waters, dazzling white sandy beaches and idyllic villages.

The Cities

Greek cities are widely disparate. Each one is uniquely different from the other. Athens, sophisticated, modern yet firmly rooted in its magnificent past. The mother of western civilization, it is a treasure house. The Acropolis, the Parthenon and the Temple of Zeus are still its dominant landmarks.

Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest metropolis, in the north, is crammed with Byzantine monuments while elegant Corfu is reminiscent of Venice. Rhodes is renowned for the Colossus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The city is now home to the best preserved medieval town in Europe, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Culture

Four millennia of history and legend have made Greece a delectable melting pot. Starting from the Minoans, Romans, Arabs, Latin Crusaders, Venetians, Slavs, Albanians and the Turks, all have left their mark, and almost every town or village has a link to the past. The Greek experience is also about food, which is fresh, uncomplicated, simple and fulfilling just like the warm, genuine and welcoming people.

Festivals

Greece may not be as famous as some other countries for festivals but happily you will never lack one on your visit. Greek festivals are religious based and the largest one is Easter, which does not coincide with the rest of the Christian world. The Good Friday, Saturday night vigil, climaxed by a glorious midnight mass is memorable for the beautiful and moving rituals. If you find yourself in a small town or village the people will warmly include you in the days of feasting and celebration that follow.

Another reason for festivities (paniyíria) is when towns or villages celebrate the local patron saint. There is plenty of music, dancing and drinking that accompany these celebrations. With 330 in the Greek saintly pantheon, the chances of you getting to participate or witness such a happy event are really good.

Weather

Even with the weather, the Gods played favourites and gave Greece the balmiest and gentlest of climates. When exploring the islands, the best time to visit Greece is from mid-to-late May up to the end of August. Though, it is still excellent during September. May is perhaps the best time to visit the Peloponnese and Cyclades islands but the waters will be rather cool.

The northern mountains are usually covered with snow by early November and lasts till May. The long winter makes for great snow sports and skiing conditions.

Off season travel services and facilities are reduced but fear not for you will find at least a couple of hotels and taverns open in any but the smallest town.

Greece will surprise and you are bound to discover something terrific in this land of incredible historic sites, gorgeous beaches and imposing mountains.

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Croatia – A Traveler’s Guide

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The Republic Of Croatia emerged in the late twentieth century from a tumultuous, violent and chaotic history.  Once part of the greater Republic of Yugoslavia, it has very quickly established its own authentic cultural and historic identity.  Croatia has that very rare quality.  It is a terrific mix of the ancient, medieval and modern with a good dollop of authenticity.

Geography
Croatia has a climate to die for, being Mediterranean in character and, moderated by the brilliant blue waters of the Adriatic Sea.  Thickly forested mountains and forests vie for attention with beaches, the sea and a thousand picturesque islands that cry out to be explored.  This treasure house has winding roads that go through the picture-postcard countryside and ancient pretty villages that haven’t changed in generations.

Places to See
Croatia has several fantastic national parks that are carefully protected. Plitvice Lakes National Park is a World Heritage Site.  These parks have spectacular scenery, achingly beautiful lakes, sparkling streams, musical waterfalls and are home to hundreds of bird species and numerous wild animals.

Plitvice

Croatia is wonderful but the southernmost county of Dubrovnik-Neretva is outstanding.  The region is an encapsulated and distilled version of all Croatia.  It has quiet villages; sheltered fishing hamlets; hidden coves; tiny secluded isles and some very, very beautiful and historic towns.

Dubrovnik, the county capital, known as the “pearl of the Adriatic” is a historic walled city and a World Heritage site.  The forts, gates, monuments, market places and 300 year old houses, still intact are a visitor’s delight.  The Renaissance era squares of the city are packed with historical gems like the 11th century Town Hall, the Sponza Palace, the Baroque Cathedral and its magnificent Treasury, the fortress-like Dominican Monastery and the Baroque Church of St Blaise.

Some of the most beautiful islands in the Adriatic Sea are just off Dubrovnik town.  Called the Elafiti Islands they can be reached (among other means) by taking a trip on an old time wooden Galleon.  Each island has its own unique attraction.  Kolocep has its carob and pine woods and neat citrus groves, while Sipan has medieval churches and the opulent summer palaces of Dubrovnik’s departed aristocracy.  Lopud is a bather’s dream with its bath-like waters and superb beaches.

Kor?ula Island is a short drive up the beautiful Adriatic Coast from Dubrovnik.  It has lovely forests, vineyards (wine tasting tours are popular here), colourful and lively markets, quaint timeless villages and sandy beaches.  It is easy to see why the ancient Greeks holidayed here.

Croatia small

Kor?ula has many superb Renaissance era architecture buildings.  The most notable is the 15th century Saint Mark’s Cathedral.  The island also has numerous Ancient Greek and Roman remains.  Korcula has unique folk traditions and festivals that show up in their dances, music and clothes.

Best time to travel
The ideal time to visit Croatia is between mid April to end September.  Croatia has managed to keep a check on mass tourism and there are plenty of budget options.

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Where To Go This Summer – Part II

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Scotland

The highlands, Glasgow in particular, will be putting its best foot forward and donning its party dress this summer.  This is a mountainous, heather covered land of mists, the Loch Ness Monster and other myths, kilts and football mad natives!  It has hundreds of miles of wild, beautiful windswept coastline.   It is a magical land famous for its whisky blended with plenty of history.  So much of Scotland’s treasures are accessible – for free.  Except the whisky!

Scotland Castles

There is so much action on the calendar that it is really difficult to decide what to see and do.  For instance…

The 2014 Commonwealth Games – Glasgow
The XXth Commonwealth Games will see the world’s top athletes compete over 11 days of competition from 23 July to 3 August.  The ancient city of Glasgow dominated by the impressive People’s Palace will host the largest ever athletic gathering of its kind for the first time in Scotland’s history.   This multi-sport event will see the likes of Usain Bolt giving off their very best during the Games.

Homecoming Scotland 2014
The first edition of 2009 Homecoming was marvelously successful.  Following on that success, Homecoming Scotland 2014 is designed to bring people of Scottish ancestry from all over the world back to the country.  It is also an open invitation to people from all over the world.  Homecoming will gain an added significance and poignancy this year because in September the Scottish people will vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum to decide if “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

Edinburgh Fringe Festival
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival will be set against the backdrop of the Royal Mile, the Old Town, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace and ancient Parliament Hall.  For nigh on three weeks, this annual cultural festival will showcase artists of all hues as they perform and delight us with their creative and manic best.

The Ryder Cup

Scotland

After many a long year the Ryder Cup, that pinnacle of golf competition, pitting the best of Europe and the US will come back to Scotland.  The legendary home of golf will see the world’s best golfers swinging their clubs on the magnificent greens and fairways of the PGA Centenary Course in Perthshire where the Highlands and the Lowlands meet.

For all these reasons and more Scotland will be the centre of the world’s attention in the coming months!

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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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