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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 ‘Summer’

Travel Guide for Brazil

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Welcome to South America! Brazil is full of fun and festive things to do. If you’re ready to see top tourist destinations, places such as Rio de Janeiro are a must do. While you’re at it, definitely do a sightseeing tour with a sugar loaf and cable car. The views are absolutely incredible with their top of the line beaches, mountains and more. For the visitor of Brazil who’s not all about the top touristy locations, you’re in luck. Brazil is FULL of wild life. Here, you’ll be able to become one with nature and hike through the Amazon Forest. Finding a traveled route is probably a good idea here, unless you’re going for research or etc. The Amazon is huge, so finding a well traveled path will help you out while still giving you the best views. Since the right hand portion of Brazil opens right up to the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean, you’re able to enjoy Brazil’s top beaches or even take a Sea Turtle Discovery Tour. Brazil is a huge country with endless things to do, so take advantage of every experience while you’re there!

The Rio de Janeiro stands tall and proud in the city center of Rio as one of the seven wonders of the world. Tourists from around the world come here to view, study and get their picture taken with the statue itself, mirroring its body structure with its arms fully extended on both sides. To really get all out of it, purchase a Rio De Janeiro sightseeing tour, covering Corcovado, Christ Statue & Favela. If you’re up for seeing the city from a different point of view, another tour that’s worth taking is the Full Day Rio Sightseeing including Christ Statue and Sugar Loaf Mountain Cable. Getting a birds eye view of the city is something to never forget.

Brazil Rain Forest

If you’re tiring of the crowds and want to see more of the wild side, dare if you will, take a trip on over to and through the Rain Forest. If you’re up for the hike, like mentioned above, make sure you take it on a path that’s monitored or approved. With so much unknown wildlife in this forest, you don’t want to put yourself in danger. If hiking is not you thing, consider taking a jeep. The Tijuca Rain Forest Jeep Tour From Rio De Janeiro is a fun and easy way to see the wild side of things. With this tour, you’ll see more forest in less time, with an expert tour guide and the best photo opportunities around. If your wildlife side is headed more in the opposite direction towards the beach, the Sea Turtle Discovery Tour is the greatest way to see these endangered species close up and personal. Whatever you think you’d like to do or see, Brazil offers plenty of things for you to uncover.

As far as when to go and how long to travel, luckily, Brazil is typically warm all year! The southern part does go through a cool period for a few months between June and September, but otherwise you should be good to go. There is never a bad time to visit. Whenever you want to book your vacation, Brazil will be there waiting for you!

Experience all Brazil has to offer, from the city center of Rio to the depths of the Rain Forest. Get online and book your trip now, at www.isango.com.

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Top 3 Things To Do In Paphos

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Despite its small area Paphos is loaded with historical remnants of its long and colourful history.  Perched on Cyprus’ south-western Mediterranean coast it is the largest port on the island.  The Paphos region embraces a lovely boat-populated harbour, a medieval fort, numerous ancient archaeological sites, a gorgeous countryside, beautiful beaches bounded by mountains on one side and the dazzling blue sea on the other.

Paphos has a lovely, laid-back holiday resort and romantic atmosphere.  The whole package seems to have been designed specifically for those almost ‘too-good-to-be-true’ picture postcards.  While Paphos has a whole range of activities to keep every holiday-maker happy it should come as no surprise that it is the historic and scenic aspects that attract the most attention.

Here are a pick of things you can do on the island where Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of love and beauty, was born and once roamed.

A Comprehensive Tour Of Cyprus From Paphos

This tour is like a delightful box of chocolates of all sorts. A number of great activities are in store for all visitors.  For instance you visit the breath-taking and superbly preserved 2,000 year old Kourion Amphitheatre.  It stands on a cliff-top with amazing views of the coast.

Before you know it you are enjoying a tipple at the Wine Museum.  Next you are wandering through the streets of Byzantine era Monagri village while enjoying an olive pie.  Your trip will take you to Omodhos, the most beautiful village in Greek Cyprus. Here you can take in the Monastery of the Holy Cross and a delicious traditional lunch at Vouni village.

Comprehensive Cyprus Tour Photo

Day Trip to Famagusta and its “Ghost Town”

This is a day excursion that involves crossing the border into Famagusta on the Turkish side of Cyprus. Famagusta was an important stop on the ancient and famous Silk Road leading into Western Europe.  It was once a popular holiday resort.  Today its miles of sandy beaches and turquoise waters lie empty and its hotels abandoned.  Today it is an empty and silent shell.

Among the other sights is the really ancient city of Salamis.  It was believed to have been founded by the Trojan Teucer.  The Romans made Cyprus’ capital in 1100 BC.  Much of the Roman period has survived to this day.  Salamis was buried in sand before being discovered, which helped to preserve it.  The outstanding structures are the large and impressive Baths and the theatre.

The other impressive historical feature on this tour is that of Othello’s Tower.  It was once the lookout for the city of Famagusta and the main entrance to the city.  Shakespeare mentions it in one of his most famous plays, Othello.

Famagusta Day Trip Tour

Day Trip To Kyrenia from Paphos

The Norther (Turkish) sector of Cyprus is relatively unspoiled by the modern lifestyle and is a treasure trove of ancient historical sites.  You cross over from the Greek side through the marvellous Venetian Walls and into Nicosia.  Straight away you will notice the older more traditional side to the island of Cyprus.

The scenery is simply fabulous.  One of the highlights is a visit to the wonderful Gothic Abbey of Bellapis.  Sitting in the heart of a lovely mountain village it has beautiful carvings and murals – reminders of its 13th century origins and 800 year history.

Kyrenia Day Trip Tour

The other wonder is the beautiful port of Kyrenia and the medieval castle.  Built in the 7th century it contains the remains of the ancient ship of Kyrenia and its original cargo. This spectacular castle with its huge rounded towers also houses Roman structures.

As you sip a glass of local wine and enjoy a typical lunch at a local restaurant you can also gaze out at the spectacular scenery and soak in the atmosphere that makes Cyprus a truly wonderful destination.

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Top 5 Adventure Activities in Australia

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If there is one country that can turn your vacation into an everyday adventure then Australia is the place that does it.  From the outback to the great cities; from tropical forests to the Great Barrier Reef; from picturesque green rolling hills to snow capped mountains – Australia has it all.   You will have unforgettable experiences in one of the world’s greatest holiday destinations.

So come let us share with you some of Oz’s greatest experiences.

Sydney Harbour Bridge Dawn Climb

Most of the time you drive across it, sail under it, view it from the window of an airliner.  There is however, one experience related to the Sydney Harbour Bridge you simply cannot miss out on.  And that is doing a Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb.  It is a 3 hour thrill like no other.  You climb the world-famed icon to the summit of its arch at 134 metres with the city, the harbour spread out below and gorgeous sky above.

Our tour is led by experts and you will be provided with a bridge suit, communication equipment, safety harness, lanyards and headlamp.  All you need to bring are your sunglasses, and sense of adventure – we’ll provide the rest!  We will also present you with a certificate and photo after the climb.

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You could also try out the following climbs.

·       The Day Climb

·       The Night Climb

·       The Twilight Climb

·       The Express Climb

Outer Barrier Reef Cruise with Diving – From Cairns

The Great Barrier Reef is one of nature’s most incredible and colourful creations. Words cannot describe it and has to be seen to be truly appreciated.  The Reef covers over 2,600 kilometres of coral cays, wall drop-offs, deep caverns and shoals of tropical fish that will make this adventure to the depths of the ocean an exciting one.

Our cruise takes you in comfort and style on a luxury reef craft. The dive part of the cruise is led by expert instructors.  We provide all the equipment and after a brief introduction you dive down to a dazzling underwater world filled with colour and infused by the sea’s magic.

You will also be treated to a buffet lunch and afternoon tea.

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Tully River Rafting Excursion – From Cairns

The Tully River is a mighty raging beast.  Just looking at its racing waters is enough to get your pulse pounding and the adrenaline gushing.  It is a rush you have to experience to truly come alive.  Running between wild towering rock walls and a rainforest the Tully offers Grade 4 rapids that will have your heart racing as fast as the waters.

Expert rafting guides will lead you along 12 kilometres of the Tully River for a memorable experience.  Remember to bring a swimming costume (you will get wet!) and a towel.  Wear lace up shoes.

After your tussle with the river you can enjoy a sizzling and delicious BBQ lunch on the banks of the Tully.

Helicopter Ride Over Uluru and Kata Tjuta

Spectacularly red, Uluru, better known as Ayers Rock, is located in Australia’s Northern Territories.  The world’s largest massive single rock stands majestically in the National Park along with the Kata Tjuta rock domes.  This is a UNESCO World Heritage area.  Both these rocky formations are sacred to the Anangu Aborigines.

Even if you walked around and up to its summit you will not get a true perspective of this amazing rock structure.  To get that perspective you need to see it from the air.  From the bubble window of a helicopter you can marvel at the wonderful arid land and wonder at the fiery red desert.  Bring your camera to capture this magnificent land.

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Scenic Hot Air Balloon Flight – From Cairns

Don a pair of dark glasses and a peaked hat and pack your camera.  Carried by the wind with silence for your companion a hot air balloon ride is like none other you have embarked upon.

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Take off at dawn from Cairns, the hot air ballooning capital of the world, and watch the sunrise.  Your balloon will carry you on a romantic ride over the Cairns Highlands and the picturesque Atherton Tablelands.  Your photographs and the commemorative certificate at the end of the ride will ensure that you never forget this breathtaking aerial experience.

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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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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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What’s New On isango! In July

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With things picking up nicely on the travel front, now that summer is well and truly here, isango! has introduced some really interesting activities and tours to make your vacation outstanding.

Thames Jetboat Cruise

Thames Jet

When you are done with seeing the sights around London you can get your rush on by getting on a Jetboat and zooming on the Thames a la James Bond.  Up tempo music blasting out of the sound system will accompany you as the boat skims across the Thames.  You will get a unique perspective of London as you roar past The Shard, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.  At 35 knots not only will your hair be flying, so will your heart.

Oxford & Downton Abbey Tour

Downton Abbey1

A visit to Oxford, the world’s second oldest university is a must.  The “city of dreaming spires” is famed for its academic excellence.  Oxford is also celebrated for the architecture of its beautiful buildings.  There are examples of every English architectural period dating back to the Saxons.

The added flavour to this tour is a trip to a Downton Abbey filming locations.  For Downton Abbey addicts, there is an exciting visit to the village and the elegant home used as the fictional Grantham House that features so prominently in the Christmas Special of the TV-series.

Barcelona On A Segway

Barcelona Segway

You are going to love this!  Barcelona is a large city and many of its iconic sites are quite spread out.  So to save you from tramping around in the warm Barcelona sun, now you can zip around on a soundless, smooth-running Segway.  The tour is designed for small intimate groups.  You can visit some of the instantly recognizable landmarks of this wonderful city.  Some highlights of the tour include the Arc Triomf, Passeig Luis Companys, the wonderful park and zoo of La Ciutadella Parc and the statue of Christopher Columbus.

Dubai Aquarium And Underwater Zoo

Dubai underwater zoo n aquarium

In the heart of Dubai, you will find a fascinating and interactive underwater world.  The Dubai Aquarium is located in the centre of Dubai Mall, the world’s largest.  There is a 48 metre long tunnel that runs under the aquarium and gives you a view of the wonderful aquatic creatures swimming all around.

The Underwater Zoo is marvelously designed so that you can interact with creatures as diverse as Otters and Penguins.  You can also observe, up close, such exotic ones as Piranhas and Scorpions and Giant Camel Spiders.  The zoo is divided into different ecological zones that give you a perspective of the creatures’ habitats.

The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil – Vegas Show

Beatles

The Mirage, Las Vegas has custom built a theater for this show.  The unforgettable music and lyrics of the legendary Fab Four is combined by the incredible acrobatics and interpretive freestyle dance of the Cirque du Soleil.  Using over 6,000 speakers and 24 digital projectors, the show is a powerful experience and entertainment at its very best.

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5 Popular Backpacking Destinations For 2014

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With summer 2014 arriving to most of the globe it is time to pull out the knapsack, check the atlas and plan where in the world you will be spending your vacation.

We present to you, our picks for the top 5 destinations for backpacking around the world-

India
India is a really huge country.  With the world’s largest rail system and a vast road network (sometimes bumpy), getting around is not too difficult.  Accommodation, food and transportation are inexpensive.  Choosing where to go is a challenge.  You have the spectacular sandy beaches of Goa and Kerala; the sky scraping, snow-capped Himalayas; the thick forests of Central India and the Ghats; the deserts of Rajasthan and Ladakh.  The ancient cities of Delhi, Varanasi and Puri along with the forts and palaces of Rajasthan will vie for your attention.

Backpacking in India

India has a history and tradition of backpacking going back to the flower power era of the 1960s.

Thailand
Thailand is an exotic and exciting place to explore, especially for the novice backpacker.  On offer are hundreds of miles of pristine sand beaches, lush jungles populated with dazzling creatures, amazingly friendly and helpful locals and fantastic food.  The country’s culture has survived the onslaught of tourism and modernity.  There are still many quiet places where you can chill.  The place is crammed with amazing temples and exciting markets.  Transportation is cheap and the street food very safe.

The country is a well-trodden backpacker destination.  Backpacking Thailand is relatively easy, still inexpensive with amazing deals on offer – just bargain.  It also has a legendary nightlife.

Australia
Australia offers fantastic beauty and adventure.  It’s a very large (we’re talking continent-sized here) country and travel can be a challenge but worth the effort.  The geography ranges from the vast trackless outback, to the incredible Great Barrier Reef.  You can snowboard and ski within a few hours of a sun-kissed sandy beach.  There are strangely named picturesque small towns and very modern and fascinating cities.  You can trek through ancient rainforests or camel-trek the arid and startling Northern Territory.

Australia has a very competitive and inexpensive budget accommodation market where you can get good deals.  The rail network is not extensive and generally hugs the coast.  The best way to get around the country is by road but be prepared for long rides because most journeys take 10 to 20 hours.  You can save a lot of money by buying bus passes.

Indonesia
Indonesia is comprised of thousands of islands, most of which are uninhabited.  It is a really huge country and you will have to pick what all you wish to see. Most of the population is concentrated on Java and around the capital, Jakarta.   Once you get away from Jakarta you will find yourself in vast jungles, with ancient temples, mysterious lakes and hot springs.  There are lively and fiery volcanoes, stunning beaches and some of the best surfing.  The cities of Bogor, Bandung and Yogyakarta have to be visited to be believed.  Then of course, there is Bali and its gorgeous Hindu culture.

Backpacking

Travel is relatively inexpensive but can be a challenge.  The warm, friendly and hospitable people, the food and fantastic countryside will more than compensate for any difficulties you may have.

Brazil
This huge country is a wonder world filled with amazing sights.  It is blessed with naturally varied and rich landscape with thousands of miles of beaches and humungous tracts of rainforests fed by great rivers including the mighty Amazon.  This vast land has incredibly diverse climatic and cultural conditions.  The vibrant hedonistic cities of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Salvador are legendary for their party atmosphere and nightlife.

The main mode of getting around Brazil is by bus.  The buses are generally excellent and services frequent and good.

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4 Reasons Why Barcelona Is Great To Visit In Summers

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Every summer there comes that time when you have to decide where to spend your vacation. Most often the decision making is compounded by what to do. The ‘where’ and the ‘what’ can often cause head scratching. This is where Barcelona scores on every level.

Let’s see now. The weather is warm in summer and just right. There are miles of soft sandy beaches; a hectic nightlife fuelled by a huge variety of bars, discotheques and clubs; entertainment in the form of concerts and fiestas; unbeatable cuisine – Catalan and international; natural beauty with a gorgeous coastline and nearby craggy mountains; an extraordinarily rich culture seen on every street and in museums. There is plenty more, of course, but above all there is endless sunshine!

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Without attempting to push any particular itinerary, here is an outline that encapsulates what you can see and do in Barcelona in the summer!

Beaches
If you are looking to just lay back, get a tan, not do much and release those work-related tensions then the beaches of Barcelona are just the ticket. There are five notable ones with individual characteristics.

Barceloneta Beach is the closest to the city centre with attractive beach shacks serving great cuisine. Nova Icària, is the prettiest and most popular beach with plenty of good restaurants. Marberlla is famed for its free-spirited and nude bathers. It has plenty of eateries and drinking places and easily accessible from the city. Sant Sebastià, the oldest, has calm waters and a long golden stretch of soft sand. Bogatell Beach is the most central. It is populated by the athletic and fitness types who can be found pounding the paved jogging paths and volleyball courts.

Antonio Gaudí
Honestly, this man is synonymous with Barcelona. His works dominate the skyline, are architectural benchmarks and epitomise the city’s Catalan heritage and style in a spectacularly original way. He has done everything from parks to churches. Seven among his brilliant creations have been designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

Barcelona Twitter Parc Guell

His works are worth visiting just to see what a brilliant and creatively unfettered mind he had. Some of Gaudí’s creations are the Casa Vicens (a private residence); La Sagrada Familia Basilica (his definitive work, which is still incomplete); Park Güell (his creative and spatial genius is evident here); Casa Batlló (displays Gaudí’s fascination with nature’s shapes) and Casa Milà (aka La Pedrera, is his most innovative, daring and religiously inspired work).

History
Barcelona can seem like a gleaming futuristic city but it has plenty of history. Many remnants of its past are still in well-preserved condition and can be seen all over the city. The best and most convenient place to see examples of Barcelona’s past are in the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter). The heart of the city, this area has buildings dating to Roman and Medieval times. The beautiful narrow winding picturesque streets are worth wandering through. Highlights of the Quarter are the remains of the squared Roman Wall near Tapineria, Avinguda de la Catedral and Plaça Nova to the west, Carrer de la Palla to the south and El Call, the medieval Jewish quarter.

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Just an hour’s travel out of Barcelona is the magnificent Montserrat Basilica and monastery. The Basilica is where the famed Montserrat Boy’s Choir (l’Escolania) sing every day at 1pm. Across the Basilica and underground is an extraordinary museum with a superb collection of paintings by the likes of El Greco, Caravaggio, Sisley, Picasso and Dalí and valuable artefacts and items from ancient Egypt.

Entertainment
When your day of sightseeing or beachcombing is done the evening and night beckons and there is plenty to fill those hours. There is entertainment and leisure to suit all tastes and budgets.

You can have dinner while taking in a Flamenco show at one of the several notable tableaux. Barcelona is absolutely crammed with a variety of pretty and traditional tapas bars where you can treat your palette and sip on some excellent wine or beer.

La Ramba, one of the most famous and interesting boulevards in Europe is a super place to spend the night hours. This pedestrian only avenue is packed with buskers, living statues, mimes, artists and salespeople selling everything from lottery tickets to jewellery. There are plenty of bars and restaurants.

Barcelona has everything to give you that satisfied feeling of having had a real good holiday.

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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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