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Posted on Oct 15, 2013 in Travel Destinations |

Discover the Extraordinary Streaks of Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a nation full of amazing contrasts.  This country has all the elements a tourist looks for-historical, natural and cultural.  The best way to tour this northeastern African nation is by road.  Contrary to perception, Ethiopia’s roads are one of the finest on this continent, thanks to huge Chinese investment in the country a few years back.  A drive on this high quality tarmac surrounded by Ethiopia’s vast stretches of natural beauty was one of the best experiences I have had. I landed in Addis Ababa on a lovely clear day and headed straight to meet Lucy. The fossilized skeleton of the earliest hominid was one of the many interesting relics to see at the Ethiopian National Museum. Addis Ababa houses the Imperial Palace, Grand Anwar Mosque and an impressive array of cathedrals; but I had a grand date with Ethiopia’s history, for which I had to visit the older cities that are still brimming with culture and architecture from all ages! As we exited Addis Ababa, the Ethiopia tour guide told me to keep an eye out for tanks.  Though surprised, my worries were swiftly laid to rest when we came across the first of them.  These defunct war machines were actually burnt out remnants of the Eritrean-Ethiopian war, now used as climbing frames by local kids.  As we went along, there was another surprise.  Even the most dilapidated roadside shack had an espresso machine!  Thanks to Italian troops from the occupation of Ethiopia during the Second World War, coffee has become a national past time.  Ethiopia has been home to some of the most exotic coffees and every café and restaurant in the cities has an extensive coffee menu. Ethiopia is a treasure trove of historical treats; the most outstanding being the eleven monolithic rock-cut churches at Lalibela (originally known as Roha). They were constructed in the 12th century to represent Jerusalem and are still used as places of worship, along with being listed in the Ethiopia travel guides as the 8th most incredible historical site in the world by UNESCO. On exiting Lalibela towards Aksum,...

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Posted on Oct 11, 2013 in Guest Posts, Travel Destinations |

Top Ten Destinations for your Bucket List

What do you want to experience in your lifetime? If money was no object, travelling more would top a great many bucket lists. But strip away the excuses, and how many of us actually do it? One reason for this might be that with so much to see and do in the world, it’s hard to know where to start. The bright lights of New York City and sprawling Great Wall of China feature on a great many to-do list, but there’s so much to see and experience that some absolutely must-see gems go largely unacknowledged. We’ve narrowed down ten ultimate bucket list destinations… Witness the Northern Lights Nature’s own magnificent lightshow, the aurora borealis, is a treasure best experienced from the northerly coast of Norway. Set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains, there’s no more humbling or mysterious sight than the gently twisting multi-coloured display. And as Senior NASA Scientists predict the current period of solar maximum activity will reach a new peak in December 2013, there’s no better time than this winter to witness this brilliant spectacle. Safari on Elephant-back Set in the shadow of the magnificent Himalayan Mountains, and home to eight of the world’s ten highest peaks, Nepal is a trekker’s haven. But it’s also home to subtropical lowlands; rich areas of forestry accommodating spectacular wildlife, from spotted dear and rare birds, to rhinos, leopards and tigers. Chitwan National Park runs elephant-back jungle safaris where travellers have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with these phenomenal jungle creatures. Fiddle, Feast, Dance & Drink “Fiddling, feasting, dancing, drinking, masking, and other things which may be had for asking” so Lord Byron described it. The annual Carnevale di Venezia, is an extravaganza of Venetian culture played out over seventeen days. A celebration of local historical tradition, the festival harks back to the 12th century and is characterised by fantastical masks and costumes, adopted to allow the Venetian people to assume a different persona. Most events take place in Piazza San Marco, from concerts to large masked balls building up to the grand dance on...

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Posted on Oct 10, 2013 in Travel Destinations |

Famous Destinations for Adventure Freaks

Every one of us wants to enjoy enthralling fun and adventure activities during our holidays and relax in the lap of nature. Of course, our mother earth is blessed with various magnificent places, which are highly acknowledged for their natural beauty, breathtaking landscape, rich flora and fauna. Furthermore, it is replete with plenty of adventurous destinations that grab the attention of the travelers who want to undertake exciting adventure sports. Apart from the scenic beauty and peaceful ambience, tourists always look for adventure and thrill offered by certain destinations  before deciding whether to visit them  during the vacations or not. Well, there are many such places located around the world that can be visited by the travelers who want to experience endless joy and fun. However, traveling to the splendid islands is always a great option. This is because it allows the visitors to enjoy refreshing water activities and spend some quality time near the calm and clean sea. Here is a list of famous islands located across the globe that the adventure freaks should consider for amazing international holiday destinations. 1. Bali: Listed among the world’s best island, this destination is most preferred among the beach lovers. The place offers diverse view of landscape of hills, mountains, barren volcanic hillside, rugged coastline and sandy beaches. This beautiful island of the God offers a chance of experiencing fascinating adventure activities such as the mountain hiking, surfing, river rafting and many others. Further, the pleasant and favorable climatic condition of Bali makes it one of the best holiday places for the vacationers. 2. San Juan: San Juan is a capital city of Puerto Rico Island and well-known for its water-related thrilling activities. The island offers a world-class scuba diving and surfing experience along with its appealing Puerto Rican culture. Additionally, the water waves of low intensity and various other tropical natural experiences contribute in making the place more suitable option for the adventure seekers. The mixed Spanish and Latin American culture, ancient architecture, magnificent beaches and Spanish military forts are some of the major attractions of the place. 3. Kailua-Kona:...

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Posted on Oct 10, 2013 in Travel Destinations |

Top Six Destinations for a Want-Away Winter

Love it or hate it, the nights are quickly turning in, the mornings are getting colder, and the sun is disappearing fast. There’s no doubt about it: the festive season is fast approaching, so it’s time to think about where you’ll jet off for your winter break. But where will you journey to lift the winter blues? 1. New York City When Christmas is fast approaching there is no more magical place in the world than New York City to celebrate in style. From spectacular shop window displays to outdoor ice rinks, the city is transformed into a whimsical wonderland. What better way to shop for gifts than being carried by the buzz of Fifth Avenue under the enchanting glow of twinkling fairy lights. And when you’re done, head to Broadway to take in a seasonal show, or head to one of the many bustling markets and craft fairs to seek out festive treasures. 2. Budapest, Hungary Budapest comes to life when the weather gets cold. Wrap up warm and sip steaming mugs of coffee and mulled wine to take in the live entertainment at the famous Gőzölgő food festival, or Fridge Festival if you like action snow-sports. With its sparkling lights and scent of roasting chestnuts, the Christmas Fair is a must-visit for fans of the festive season. 3. Trans-Siberian Railway The Trans-Siberian Railway runs right through Russia connecting the European and Chinese rail networks.   Strictly speaking, the summer months have the most daylight hours and tend to be the more popular time to rattle through the breath-taking Russian landscape. But in the winter there’s something quite magical about looking out onto the Siberian scenery blanketed in a coating of glistening snow from the warmth of a heated compartment. Wrap up warm to wander round the city stops as the Russian air will be crisp at this time of year. 4. Marrakech, Morocco If you’re sick of the ice and snow and desperate for a bit of sun, the cosmopolitan city of Marrakech, Morocco, is gloriously rich in both culture and history. By day, head out into...

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Posted on Oct 3, 2013 in Guest Posts, Travel Destinations, United Kingdom |

Haunted Towers and Gloomy Dungeons: Discover London at Halloween

Do you fancy doing something out of the ordinary this Halloween? Ditch trick or treat for London’s gloomy dungeons and haunted towers. London has a dark and blood-soaked history, ripe for exploring at this spooky time of year. Whether you’re after chilling tales and terrifying gore, or something spook-tacular for the kids, London has a lot to offer. See London from a spookier perspective this October with eight of the best attractions for this Halloween: London Dungeons The London Dungeons may be spooky all year round, but at Halloween things get turned up a notch. Discover the horrors of London’s gory history down in the dark dungeons – what could be better at Halloween? Featuring live actors and special effects, the gruesome tales of the capital are brought to life in the grimy light of the dungeons. With Jack the Ripper and Sweeney Todd for company, you’re in for trick, rather than a treat. The London Dungeons have also rustled up something especially for Halloween, with dungeon brew, trick or treat lollies and a pumpkin-filled production of horrors. Hampton Court Palace This beautiful palace is another attraction brimming with tourists all year round, but beneath the splendour, is a dark past. Many believe the palace to be haunted – by not one, but five ghosts. The two most popular stories involve Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard and ‘skelator’, an eerie presence which stands at the entrance. The ghost of Catherine Howard is rumoured to haunt the gallery, where she was kept under house arrest shortly before her execution. Whether or not it is true, the eerie tale of her shrieking voice echoing through the corridor is a glimpse into the palace’s dark history. ‘Skelator’ is a more recent addition to ghostly inhabitants of the palace. The figure was first spotted on CCTV in 2003 and caused security guards to rush to the spot, only to find no one there. If you’re looking for chilling ghost stories, as well as a glimpse into the beauty and history of London, then Hampton Court Palace would be a spooky day out...

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Posted on Sep 13, 2013 in New Zealand, Travel Destinations |

3 of New Zealand’s Most Beautiful Beach Towns

Summer is coming, meaning it’s almost time to get your beach (or at the very least your swimming togs) on! With its lack of crowds, pleasant weather conditions, clear crisp waters, clean beaches, great surf, and some of the best fish n’ chips in existence, New Zealand offers the very best in beach holidays. Here is a guide to three of the coolest beach towns across both the north and south islands! Nelson With its relaxed atmosphere and stunning weather, Nelson is the perfect place for a family holiday. As well as being home to some of the most beautiful stretches of sand in New Zealand, Nelson is culturally cool with a buzzing food and wine scene, a multitude of artist’s studios and galleries and a casual-chic lifestyle to go with it. In terms of beach action, if you want to stick close to Nelson city, there are a range of beautiful beaches bordering the main town centre with the highlight being Tahunanui. A very family-friendly spot, Tahunanui is a great place to swim, play and picnic. There is even an exercise area for the family pooch! If you fancy venturing a bit farther, located just a short drive away from the Nelson township lies Kaiteriteri beach. Essentially one of the most beautiful beaches in the South Island, Kaiteriteri beach is the entrance to the Abel Tasman National Park. Here you can swim, surf, sun and sea kayak amongst the company of seals, penguins and dolphins. If you’re in dire need of a bit of sun and can’t wait until the Christmas holidays, spring is actually a great time to travel, as you’ll avoid the chaos of tourist season. You can search for cheap hotels in Nelson easily online! Mangawhai Beautiful, historical and culturally cool, Mangawhai is a family-friendly holiday spot, alongside an ideal romantic destination for couples. With its array of colonial buildings, abundance of art galleries, cool café scene and great selection of retail stores, it makes for a great weekend getaway or extended summer holiday. Located a short drive from Auckland city, Mangawhai is a great...

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Posted on Sep 12, 2013 in Europe, Guest Posts, Travel Destinations |

Kinross House – The most beautiful and regular piece of Architecture in Scotland

This was Daniel Defoe’s description of Kinross House, the home built by the remarkable politician “on the make” Sir William Bruce. So grand were his plans that there were even thoughts it was intended as a royal residence. The architect never saw the building fully completed as he soon fell from favour of the new Scottish king. The parts of the interior and grounds that were completed to the original designs were grand enough to attract regular admirers of this fine Scottish estate. Sir William Bruce had designs on building a major role for himself in the brave new world of late seventeenth century Scottish court life. He started his role in royal circles by remodelling Holyrood House and this lead him to acquiring some positions of power in the new Scottish political world. He had helped Charles II to reach the English throne in 1660 which gave him his baronetcy but proved trouble for him in the future. New found wealth prompted Bruce to buy large Kinross Estate and start to create a lasting piece of Scottish architecture. The building was never going to be cheap – extensive drainage works was required to even commence building the house. No one really knows why Bruce fell from favour but his closeness to Charles’ administration would not have proved popular when James II came to power in 1685. There are also questions as to whether his wealth came from sources not entirely legitimate even at a time when abuse of government power was the norm. Initially however, James appointed Bruce as Privy Councillor so he probably thought the money would keep flowing and he would be safe to commence the build of Kinross House in 1685. His success only lasted a year before his fall from grace became complete with the removal of his lucrative government posts. The cost of £10,000 to build the house did not seem to dissuade Bruce with the politician desperately trying to regain favour. Was he hoping that his house would tempt the King to look favourably upon him by creating something beautiful and regal?...

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