May 6, 2015

Things to do in Toronto

1. Go over the edge
It may be a 90-minute drive from Toronto, but Niagara Falls is well worth the trip. Watching close to 750,000 gallons of water a second hurtle down the curved cliffs is sure to impress. Take in the view from the top – the Table Rock site allows you to stand barely a metre from the edge of Horseshoe Falls – or head into the falls themselves with the Journey Behind the Falls, descending 38 metres through solid rock in a lift to stand next to the curtain of water. If that still doesn’t grab your attention, take flight with Niagara Helicopters and soar over the falls. As an added plus, you’re standing on the Canadian- United States border, the longest international border in the world.

2. Survey the wide blue yonder
It’s impossible to visit Toronto without seeing the CN Tower, mainly because at 553.33 metres high (1,815.4 feet) it dominates the landscape. Once the world’s tallest tower, it’s still impressive. Take in the view from the LookOut Level at 346 metres (1,136 feet), walk on air on the Glass Floor and outdoor SkyTerrace at 342 metres (1,122 feet), at check out the views from the highest perch of all: the SkyPod at 447 metres (1,465 feet) above the city!

3. Root for the home team
Hockey is more than a sport in Canada, it’s a national obsession, and Toronto is no different. And even though they’re currently having the longest dry spell in NHL history (the last time they won the Stanley Cup was in 1967), the Toronto Maple Leafs still draw a crowd. Maybe if we cheer hard enough, Torontonians will get to see the Stanley Cup somewhere other than the Hockey Hall of Fame.

4. Then join a home team
Every winter, over 50 outdoor ice rinks take over the city, the most popular in Nathan Philips Square where the fountain becomes a skating spot. So get your skates on.

5. Take in some history
Toronto is full of museums, like the Royal Ontario Museum, which houses a massive collection of cultural and historical items, as well as rotating exhibitions, or the Bata Shoe Museum, with over 13,000 footwear items in their collection.

6. Scare yourself fit
But why not get out and explore? It might not be 100 per cent the truth, but the Haunted Walk offers up some spooky tales and gory facts from days gone by. It’s also a great way to acquaint yourself with the place’s nooks and crannies.

7. Shop until you drop
Toronto has a handle on shopping. Toronto Eaton Centre is jammed with shops, from high street brands to more chi chi designers. Grab some fresh produce and antiques at the St. Lawrence Market, before scouring Toronto’s many independent bookstores for a good read. Still looking for that special buy? Twice a year the One of a Kind Show, the largest consumer craft show in North America, takes over. Everything sold at the show is hand made in North America, much of it local, and all of it awesome.

8. Eat your way around the world
Almost half the population of Toronto was born outside Canada, so it is entirely possible to take your tummy on a trip around the world without ever leaving the city limits. Head to Chinatown, Little India, Little Italy and more to stuff your face, or sample fusion cuisine like the Hungary Thai. It’s so popular, every summer Taste of the Danforth celebrates it’s Greek history with a celebration of everything Greek—especially the food. But make sure to leave room for that oh-so-Canadian favourite, poutine.

9. Behold delusions of grandeur
Every city needs a castle, and Casa Loma is Toronto’s! Designed by grandiloquent architect EJ Lennox for Sir Henry Pellat and finished in 1914, this ostentatious masterpiece includes marble floors in the stables and room after lavish room. And if you’re still craving the lifestyles of the rich and famous, check out Spadina Historic House & Gardens , financier James Austin’s lavish manse.

10. See a big show
Toronto bills itself as ‘North Broadway’, and with many touring companies coming through town, the city has an impressive theatre scene. There are theatres aplenty but two of the most popular are Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre, North America’s only double-decker theatre complex and Young Centre for the Performing Arts – three stages in 19th-century tank houses in the Distillery District.

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May 5, 2015

Things to see and do in Cuba

Baracoa
A visit to this lost-in-time corner of Cuba is a must for history and nature buffs. Getting to the quaint seaside town and nearby sites was made feasible only in the 1960s with the construction of 'La Farola' – one of Cuba's most scenic roads.

Bask on the beach
Soak up some glorious sunshine from one of Cuba's beautiful beaches, including Playas del Este near Havana, where the locals play, to exclusive island resorts like Cayo Coco. Just 20 minutes from downtown, the beaches of Santa María, known as the Havana Riviera, offer the soft sand and turquoise waters for which the Caribbean is famous. Other picture-perfect beaches include Playa Ancón near Trinidad; Cayo Coco north of Ciego de Ávila; and Playa las Tumbas on the Guanhacabibes Peninsula, a UNESCO biosphere on the island's western tip. Varadero is a particularly lively resort that combines beach life with nightlife.

Bay of Pigs
Take an emotional journey to the museum at Playa Girón, scene of the US-backed 'Bay of Pigs' invasion in 1961.

Capitolio
Take a tour of the Capitolio in Havana's centre. Built by a dictator to mimic Washington DC's Capitol (though the detailing on Havana's version is finer), it housed a puppet parliament until the Revolution.

Castillo de la Real Fuerza
Wander around the Castillo de la Real Fuerza and its new shipwreck museum. The oldest of Havana's three forts is still standing because it was, to all intents and purposes, built in the wrong place. Raise a glass to Hemingway at his old haunt La Bodeguita del Medio =

Climb Torre de Manaca Iznaga
Enjoy outstanding views of the Valley of the Sugar Mills from the Torre de Manaca Iznaga – a former slave watchtower by an old plantation house-turned restaurant.

Daiquiris in El Floridita
Follow in Hemingway's footsteps with a pub crawl to his favourite haunts, having a daiquiri (or three) at El Floridita and a mojito at La Bodeguita del Medio. Follow up with a visit to his suite at the Hotel Ambos Mundos, where he penned part of For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Dive into the deep
There are 30 dive sites at Varadero alone and more reefs around Isla de la Juventud – Robert Louis Stevenson's inspiration for Treasure Island. With few crowds and teeming marine life, the Hotel Colony on the Isla de la Juventud makes a great base for a dive vacation. Wreck diving is also possible here. One of the world's biggest reefs is offshore at Cayo Coco, and the underwater eye candy at María la Gorda, a dive camp in the western extents of Pinar del Río, is spectacular.

Explore mountains and caves
Pinar del Río is arguably Cuba's most beautiful province, and its most outstanding feature must be the mogotes: oddly rounded limestone mountains, covered in lush vegetation. The caves here are awash with stalactites and stalagmites, and underground rivers.

Feel the beat
Experience the country's best musicians and dancers hard at work in Santiago de Cuba. Unmissable are Ballet Folklorico Cutumba: their Afro-Cuban performances are simply spectacular (www.cubanfolkloricdance.com/cutumba.php).

Horse riding
Saddle up and gallop through the scenic sugarcane fields around Trinidad and the Valle de Ingenios, or the hills, tobacco fields and valleys of Pinar del Río. Kids love pony rides offered at bigger Havana parks like Parque Almendares.

Meander the Malecón
Join fishermen, families and couples, and take a stroll along the Malecón, the sea wall that links Old Havana to the western edge of Vedado. Careful though: during high seas and storms, the surf surges over the wall, the boulevard is sometimes closed to traffic as a result.

Museo de la Revolución
Visit the Museo de la Revolución for a historical context of modern Cuba. Outside is the Granma, a cabin cruiser built for 12 people. In 1956, 80 exiled rebels (both Castros and Ché among them) came perilously close to sinking the overcrowded yacht, as they sought to return to Cuba.

Museo Emilio Bacardí
Visit the Museo Emilio Bacardí in Santiago de Cuba ('the heroic city'). It contains the rum magnate's collection of antiques and fine art and the Moncada Barracks, where Fidel Castro launched an abortive uprising in 1953. The Castillo El Morro is now a museum of piracy.

Palacio de los Capitanes Generales
Head to the Plaza de Armas in Old Havana for a glimpse of colonial majesty at the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, former residence of the Spanish Crown's representatives, and now the Museo de la Ciudad.

Party in Havana
Live the high life in Havana's Vedado district. The Hotel Nacional (www.hotelnacionaldecuba.com) has hosted gangsters and film stars and is well-placed for Carnaval processions along the Malecón.

Relax on Cayo Largo
Cuba's most pristine beaches ring this small island off the southern coast developed exclusively for tourism. Accessible only by plane, the beaches here are also sea turtle nesting areas.

Santa Clara
Visit revolutionary Santa Clara, and the monument, museum and mausoleum of Ché Guevara. His body was only returned from Bolivia in 1997, 30 years after his capture and execution. In 1959, he and 300 rebels defeated 3,000 of Batista's troops here, leading to the dictator's flight just days later.

Trek tropical paradise
Walk in the footsteps of the revolutionary army, including to Cuba's highest peak, Pico Turquino (1972m), in the Oriente's Sierra Maestra range. Other hiking gems include the Sierra del Rosario and Viñales areas of Pinar del Río province and around Baracoa in Guantánamo.

Trinidad
Feel the history in colonial Trinidad, founded in 1514. Locals ride horses down cobbled streets, past houses painted in pastel colours. Elegant mansions are now museums in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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May 4, 2015

10 Top Tourist Attractions in Panama

The original meaning of the word “panama” means “abundance of fish,” and fishing is just one of the many water sports and activities that visitors to Panama can enjoy. More highly developed than neighboring Central American countries, Panama enjoys a modern infrastructure, making travel through the tropical paradise easy and convenient. Here are the top tourist attractions in Panama that are well-worth visiting.

Playa Las Lajas

Playa Las Lajas is a beautiful beach that extends for more than 13 km (8 miles) along the Gulf of Chiriqui on the Pacific Coast. With little current and perfect water temperatures, Las Lajas is ideal for swimming and bodysurfing. Rustic shacks and cheap restaurants are clustered on the beach at the end of the road. For now it remains a hidden treasure still undiscovered by the large hotel chains and hordes of tourists.

Isla Taboga

Located about 20 kilometers from Panama City, Isla Taboga is Panama’s favorite escape out of the city to bathe in its sandy beaches, ride Jet Ski’s, speed boats and fishing charters. First settled by the Spanish in 1515, Isla Taboga has a charming village with the second-oldest church in the western hemisphere, a few narrow streets with a few restaurants and great views to Panama City from the top of the Island.

Pearl Islands

Indigenous peoples populated the Pearl Islands until Spanish Conquistadors discovered the archipelagos’ wealth of pearls in the 1500s. The islands gained new popularity after being featured on the reality television show Survivor. The islands feature lush forests surrounded by white sandy beaches. Contadora Island is the most developed of the Pearl Islands, with several resorts and an airstrip. Visitors can charter private yachts to cruise and explore the islands.

Amador Causeway

The Amador Causeway connects the three islands by the entrance to the Panama Canal to the mainland. From the causeway, there is a terrific view of Panama City, and the Bridge of the Americas. Many Panamanians like to spend their weekends jogging, riding a bicycle or rollerblading down the causeway, or having a meal or drinks in one of the many restaurants and bars on the islands.

Sendero Los Quetzales

Sendero Los Quetzales near the small town of Cerro Punto is one of Panama’s most beautiful trails. The 9 km (5 miles) route starts east of town and takes between four and seven hours. The trail winds through the cloud forest of Parque Nacional Volcán Barú and follows the Río Caldera, crossing it several times en route. It ends in the mountains above Boquete. The trail can also be hiked in reverse, but it’s entirely uphill from Boquete. Because the trail is not well marked it is recommend to hire a guide or join an organized tour.

Santa Catalina

The international surfing community has tried to keep this idyllic spot a secret, but the word is out that Santa Catalina offers world-class surfing. Located on the Chiriquí Gulf, the town doesn’t offer a lot in the way of amenities, but its beautiful beach surrounded by jungle forests makes it an ideal destination for those who wish to enjoy Panama’s natural beauty.

San Blas Islands

Located in Eastern Panama, the San Blas Islands is the best place to explore the rich culture of Panama’s indigenous people, the Kuna. The Kuna people view this area as their own but are warm and welcoming to visitors. One member of the tribe is stationed on many of the area’s tiny tropical islands, and for a nominal fee, they allow visitors exclusive use of the island for the day.

Coiba

The waters of Panama are unmatched in their level of marine diversity, and nowhere is this more evident than in the Coiba National Marine Park. The island of Coiba is the largest island in the park, as well as the largest island in all of Central America. More than 800 species of marine life are present in the area. The park is known as one of the best places to enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving on the Pacific Coast.

Bocas Town

The capital of the Bocas del Toro Province, Bocas del Toro is a favorite spot for scuba divers, and as the dives are shallow, it’s particularly suited for particularly for beginners. An extensive coral reef features colorful varieties of tropical fish. Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502, the area remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in Panama. In Bocas del Toro, visitors routinely hike through the lush rainforest to enjoy empty stretches of beautiful shoreline.

Panama Canal

The Panama Canal stands as one of the world’s greatest feats of engineering. Visitors can take either a partial or complete crossing of the canal. Crossings take four to eight hours. Many visitors choose to explore the canal by visiting the Miraflores Locks Museum. From the restaurant located at the top floor of the museum, visitors can watch transiting vessels in the canal below.

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May 2, 2015

Bermuda Attractions & Things To Do

World’s most beautiful pink sandy beaches, breathtaking marine life, wonderful scenery & architecture, warm weather, exciting recreational activities & tours, dining, shopping, nightlife.Numerous operators in the island offer all sorts of motorized and non motorized water sports, guided island tours, boating & sailing, nature walks, cultural & heritage tours etc. And the island is full of great places to visit like museums, caves, forts, aquarium, lighthouses, churches, lovely parks & gardens, harbors, nature reserves, and lovely villages. The pastel color houses with slanted white limestone roofs look picture perfect on the lush island landscapes.

(1) The Lovely Beaches : Almost everybody keeps the beaches in their list of must visits.  There are 34 of them and all are so beautiful and unique!! We visited and spent long many hours in each one of them. Some of the south shore beaches have unbelievable pink sands. While some are vast stretches of sands, some are tiny secluded coves.

(2) Top Sightseeing Places: Bermuda is not just about beaches. There are many wonderful tourists places that capture the flavor of the island, its history, culture, tourism offerings, and life in general. Such sites include forts, caves, parks & gardens, aquarium, museums, historical buildings, lighthouses, churches, harbors and more.

(3) Great Tours & Excursions: One of the best ways to experience & explore Bermuda is by taking guided or self-guided tours. You can take such tours by bus, boat, taxi, van or just walk.

(4) Activities & Entertainment: You can remain immersed in numerous recreational & sporting activities in Bermuda and your time will literally fly. Swimming & snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, birding, golfing, fishing, whale watching, diving, riding … the list is endless.

(5) Great Dining: We have dined in many restaurants of different types in Bermuda. American, Continental, Italian, French, Indian … there is no end to culinary skills in the island. Bermudian cuisine itself has so much to offer. And when in mood to indulge, Bermuda's own cocktails like Rum Swizzle and Dark n' Stormy have no parallels.

(6) Shopping: At the minimum you will plan to buy a small gift or souvenir item. Best buys in Bermuda are the unique local products like art & craft items, glass ware, jewelry, gifts & souvenirs, perfumes & cosmetics, clothes and lot more.

(7) Nightlife – Bars Pubs Nightclubs: There are so many bars, pubs and nightclubs in the island that you will need to spend good amount of time making a selection for yourself. In fact one of the oldest pubs in Hamilton city was the inspiration for 'Cheers Pub' of Boston and another one invented a unique island drink which has almost become synonymous as Bermuda's national drink. And most bars and pubs offer great live music & entertainment in the evenings during the high season.

Other than the parishes, there are three places in Bermuda that are of great tourist significance: 1) Hamilton City which is the capital of Bermuda and the main hub of commercial activities, 2) St. George's Town which is a UNESCO world Heritage site and steeped with history, and 3) Kings Wharf Port or the Royal Naval Dockyard which is the largest port area in the island and also a complex with many historical buildings, craft centers and other tourist attractions.

Hamilton City: Being the port capital of Bermuda, Hamilton city is really the heart of the island. Starting from many glittering shops and great restaurants, to some of the finest hotels and sightseeing, are all here.

St George's Town: A town steeped with history and located in a parish with the same name. St. George's was once the former capital of Bermuda and is now a designated world heritage site.

Kings Wharf & Royal Naval Dockyard: Kings Wharf is the original cruise berth in Royal Naval Dockyard where the large cruise ships dock. The dockyard is a place with great historical significance and also a large complex with many tourist attractions including National Museum, Dolphin Center, Art & Craft centers, Shopping, Pubs & Restaurants etc.

Here are the parishes of Bermuda from west to east:

Sandys Parish: This is the western most parish in Bermuda where the dockyard is located. The parish comprises of several islands that are joined by bridges and offers wonderful landscapes and scenic beauties.

Southampton Parish: Southampton has a perfect mix of everything – pink sandy beaches, best of hotels and restaurants, and great sightseeing places.

Warwick Parish: Warwick Bermuda is a great place to stay with some of the greatest hotels, sightseeing attractions and above all some of the best beaches of Bermuda.

Paget Parish: Paget is a centrally located parish with many great hotels and attractions.

Pembroke Parish: A central parish where Hamilton City, the capital of Bermuda is located.

Devonshire Parish:
Devonshire has flourished mainly based on farming. It has beautiful landscapes and other attractions.

Smith's Parish:
For a tourist, the parish offers delightful country rides and charm. It has its boundaries on north shore, south shore as well as on the southern part of Harrington Sound.

Hamilton Parish: This is the second most eastern Parish of Bermuda connected to St. George by a causeway.

St George Parish: St George parish is located at the eastern end of Bermuda and comprises of two large islands – St George's Island and St. David's Island. The historic town of St. George is located in this parish.

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May 1, 2015

8 Places in Haiti

Haiti is a vibrant and fun place to visit.

1. Marigot

Located near Jacmel, its a great city to visit with nearby mountains Loma La Peloma, and Mt. Pico Duarte also known as Massif du Nord, which is the highest peak in all the Caribbean. During the summer months fruits such as mangoes are the sweetest and abundant in the region.

2. Petionville

Petionville is a tourist magnet with a bustling nightlife and business scene. It’s a hillside suburban town, that’s so normal, you almost forget that your in Haiti. There are lots of nightclubs and plenty of restaurants to choose from. Its very safe and stable.

3. Jacmel

Also known by its original Taino inhabitants as Yaquimel this beautiful port town with it’s beautiful white sandy beaches hasn’t changed much. It’s one of the safest places in Haiti to visit. It’s a tourist magnet with a music as well as film festival. The carnivals are a blast to attend. Also while in Jacmel be sure to visit the beautiful Bassins Bleu.

4. Les Cayes

Les Cayes is home to one of Haiti’s major ports. It’s the world’s largest supplier of vertiver, which smells incredible. It’s a peaceful yet bustling town. It’s four hours by car from the capital.

5. The Citadelle Laferrière

The Citadel the largest structure in the western hemisphere, it was the first monument built by slaves after they had won their freedom. Its a popular tourist destination. Bring your hiking shoes and lots of water if you plan on visiting this mammoth fortress. There’s a seven mile hike (all uphill) that’s not for the faint at heart.

6. Cap Hatien

Cap Haitien is the second largest city in Haiti.  It’s a tourist magnet because there’s plenty to do. It’s where you will find Labadee, and The Citadel, Sans Souci, and Ramiers monuments.

7. Camp Perrin

Be sure to visit the beautiful waterfalls of Saut Mathurin, beautiful natives, it’s a laidback town where at night the stars seem to be just at your reach. The waterfalls of Saut Mathurin alone are worth the visit.

8. Kenscoff

Located in the SE regions at an altitude of 1500 meters just 10 kilometers of the capital. Kenscoff is a beautiful city with a vivid nightlife, beautiful restaurants and  friendly locals. Bring your sweater it gets chilly up here.

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April 24, 2015

Top Things to Do in Rome

 

Hang Out in the Pantheon

The Pantheon in Rome is, hands down, my favorite building in the city. In a city that is simply replete with important historic buildings and monuments, the Pantheon still manages to stand out. Because while the Forum requires a spectacular imagination (or a spectacular guide, or both) and even the Colosseum is a shell of its former self, the Pantheon looks today – inside and out – much the way it has for nearly 2,000 years.

Walk Through History in the Roman Forum

Circle the Colosseum, Inside & Out

Get a Tour of Vatican City

While Vatican City is technically its own independent city-state, no one visits Vatican City on its own without visiting Rome as well. For most travelers, touring the Vatican is one day out of a trip to Rome.

Stroll the Trastevere Streets

The cobbled streets are mostly car-free, the restaurants and cafes serve up some of the cheapest eats you’ll find in Rome (and it’s good, too), the shops aren’t hawking the usual tourist crap, and the piazza in front of the Santa Maria in Trastevere church (which is beautiful) is as charming and delightful as you’d find in any Tuscan hill town. After nightfall, the Trastevere becomes the place to be for young locals and travelers alike, so it loses its “retreat” quality after dark, but it then becomes interesting for many other reasons.

Check Out the Cappuchin Crypt

Cappuchin Crypt, one of my favorite sights in Rome, isn’t going to be up everyone’s alley. It’s not big, so it’s a quick visit, but seeing several small chapels decorated (if one can use so mundane a word for this) with the bones of more than 4,000 Cappuchin monks definitely falls into the “creepy” category for some people. While it used to also fall into the off-the-beaten-path-sights list as well.

Eat Something Typically Roman

Do Some People-Watching at the Trevi Fountain

 Trevi Fountain is seriously touristy, and can even be kind of a pain in the you-know-what to visit in the height of the tourist season because of the crowds. But if your agenda at the fountain isn’t the same as everyone else’s, then it’s not as much of a pain. See, if you’re intent on clawing your way through the hordes to throw your coin in the water (right hand over left shoulder, remember!), then you’ll get annoyed by the sheer number of humans milling about taking pictures and silly videos. But if you can skip the ceremonial coin-toss, then you can just relax, hang out, and watch the throngs of people repeating the same ritual over and over again. It gets pretty amusing, actually – especially when the designated photographer or videographer goofs up and the whole process has to be repeated (there goes another euro!).

Browse the Campo dei Fiori Markets

Every Italian city has an outdoor market where you can buy foodstuffs, and cities the size of Rome have several. But the one that’s worth your time to visit is the market at Campo dei Fiori. It’s not far from the famous Piazza Navona, and while the name means “field of flowers” it’s been the setting for a daily morning food market since the mid-1800s. Far from being just a tourist attraction, the market at Campo dei Fiori – like nearly all Italian food markets – is where locals come to stock their kitchens. If you’re staying in a hostel in Rome or have an apartment rental with a kitchen, you can peruse the offerings and buy what you need to cook your own meal.

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April 23, 2015

The 20 Best 'Free' Things to Do on a Cruise

Cruise travelers who feel like they get onboard and immediately start emptying their pockets of nickels and dimes are not alone. Today's mainstream mega-ships offer an ever-increasing number of eating, drinking and entertainment options that levy fees atop the base fare.

1. Blue Man Group.  Norwegian Epic  is one of only a handful of venues in the world where you can watch the confused blue mutes of the Blue Man Group perform their out-of-this-world percussion-and-paint mime melee — and it's surcharge free.

2. Cruising's Best Pizza. Long prized by Cruise Critic readers for its best-at-sea slices, Carnival gave its cooked-to-order pizza a makeover on Carnival Breeze in 2012.

3. Sunset Over the Ocean. It's one of the most beautiful sights in nature, and it doesn't cost a 15-cent piece extra. Grab a loved one's hand (or your favorite cocktail), walk over to the ship's railing, and take a deep breath. You've seen it before, sure, but watching the sunset over the ocean never fails to give you that, "I'm on vacation, and life is good" moment. Enjoy.

4. Ham & Cheese Croissant-wiches.
 When is a sandwich more than just sliced bread and filling? When it's Royal Caribbean's addictive ham and cheese mini-croissant, a flaky, cheese-y, three-bite morsel topped with lettuce, tomato, mustard and mayo. The fee-free mini-wich has long been a staple in Royal Caribbean's signature 24-hour Cafe Promenade.

5. Big-Screen Wii Battles.
 If you've been honing your video-gaming skills, but never had an audience who could appreciate your expertise, you're in luck. The entire Norwegian Cruise Line fleet is outfitted with Nintendo's interactive gaming system, Wii. "Boxing," "bowling" and other tournaments are offered on most sailings. We recommend you show off properly on the two-story screen in the atrium.

6. All-You-Can Eat Indian.
 To us, the lack of line for Carnival's fee-free Tandoor dining option is hard to fathom. The aromatic grab-and-go counter, typically open for lunch, serves up Indian comfort food made by the line's Indian cooks. Dig into grilled meats and fish, curries, daals and basmati rice alongside essential accouterments like mint chutney, raita and achar (pickle).

7. Dancing Lessons.
 Country line-dancing, waltz and tango, the electric slide — cruise ships are great places to try out a variety of dance genres. It's okay to have two left feet — until you try out your new steps during pre-dinner live music. The couples there have been burning up dance floors for decades.

8. Milk and Cookies.
 You're lounging poolside in the afternoon, and all of a sudden you get a craving for something sweet — but you're perfectly comfortable and don't want to move. What do you do? If you're onboard a Princess cruise, you relax while the waitstaff bring over fresh, soft-baked cookies and ice-cold milk. And then you silently wish that you could afford to employ someone to do the same for you at home.

9. Free Cabin Toiletries.
 We can't figure out why, but finding Carnival's famous complimentary in-cabin toiletry baskets always inspires a stupid grin.

10. Surfing at Sea.
 At-sea surf simulators first debuted on Freedom of the Seas, offering passengers a chance to surf and boogie-board, minus the ocean. It's now on a number of ships throughout the Royal Caribbean fleet. Although it's free to participate, you'll have to sign a waiver, hold on to your bikini top and embrace the possibility of public humiliation by way of wipe out.  It's also free to grab a seat on the nearby bleachers and enjoy the spills.

11. AquaSpa Cafe. With its AquaSpa Cafe concept,  Celebrity Cruises is out to prove that healthy cruising is not an oxymoron. The bathrobed, post-gym or -spa treatment crowd flock to the fee-free venue, which proffers salads, sushi and other light-fare foods alongside a few a la carte items (grilled pork, poached salmon). The standard location, Celebrity's lovely adults-only, glass-covered Solarium, provides just the right backdrop for the guilt-free offerings.

12. Poolside Milkshakes. Most ships do free soft-serve ice cream, but  Oceania Cruises  steps it up a notch with three flavors of milkshakes (vanilla, chocolate and strawberry) made to order by the pool deck. The ambience is way nicer than a diner, but the treat is just as tasty.

13. Outdoor Movies. The flicks may not be first-run, but admission is free, and you can bring in treats from your cabin or the buffet without having to smuggle them under your jacket. Lido Deck movie screens are even more romantic than the real deal, with prime viewing from the pool by day and on snuggly loungers covered with warm blankets (and popcorn!) at night.

14. Climbing the Mast. Tall ship line Star Clippers lets you embrace your inner pirate by allowing passengers to climb one of the masts up to a crow's nest lookout. As you sway gently, high above the ocean, you'll get one-of-a-kind views — if your eyes aren't shut tight in acrophobic terror. (Don't worry though: the line doesn't let anyone climb without a harness.)

15. People-watching. There is no better free entertainment than positioning a chair in a high-traffic zone on the pool deck, promenade or atrium and watching the antics of your shipmates. From fashion snafus to bizarre behavior and juicy conversations overheard, what you witness on a cruise ship can rival the best reality TV.

16. Time to  Eat the Donuts. Sick of paying extra for sweets at the "specialty cafe"? Step out onto  Oasis of the Seas ' Coney Island-style Boardwalk, and grab a surcharge-free donut at the onboard, er, donut shop. With a rotating lineup of flavors from glazed to key lime, you're sure to find something you'll like. (Coffee and other items are also available there, but you'll pay up to $4 for them.)

17. Broadway Onboard. In the mood to see a Broadway show without paying Broadway ticket prices? You're in luck. Check out "Hairspray" on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, "Chicago" on Allure of the Seas, "Saturday Night Fever" on Liberty of the Seas, "Rock of Ages" on Norwegian Breakaway or "Legally Blonde: the Musical" on Norwegian Getaway. You can also catch West End and TV stars such as illusionist Derren Brown and classical singing star Russell Watson. And the best thing about this entertainment? — it's all gratis.

18. Bathrobes for All. Carnival takes a proletariat approach to cabins — there are no 1,000-square-foot suites with baby grand pianos on the Fun Ships. And everyone, from the inside cabin occupier to the passenger in the modest-sized suite, gets a bathrobe. Who is to decree that only cruisers with money should be able to spend their post-shower moments in comfort? Not Carnival. (Note: Holland America also provides robes to all.)

19. Coronary Burgers. If you're craving a complimentary heart attack on a bun, give one (or several) of Guy Fieri's burgers a try at Guy's Burger Joint. This fee-free venue will be added to the pool decks of 14 Carnival ships through 2015, offering burgers on buttered buns with a choice of toppings like blue cheese crumbles, onion rings and chipotle mayonnaise.

20. Mini-Golf. For anyone who wants to avoid crowds and catch some sun without lazing by the pool, top-deck mini-golf is a great option — and it's free. Offered on some Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Disney, Princess and MSC ships, to name a few, the courses generally aren't a full 18 holes, but they can still be challenging, as your putting will be affected by the ship's movement. For an even more competitive twist, join a mini-golf competition, usually offered once per sailing.

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April 21, 2015

7 Things To Do in Genting Highlands Malaysia

1. The Visitors’ Galleria

A place where you will discover how this fully integrated family holiday resort became a reality because of one man’s dream and determination. Take a walk down memory lane and get to know the history of Genting highlands Resort and the Founder’s Visition!

2. Outdoor Theme Park

Genting Outdoor Theme Park is one of Malaysia’s premiere centre for wholesome family entertainment. Once you’re in Genting Highlands, be prepared to experience exciting, thrilling and sky-high rides in their theme park. Some of the attractions are Space Shot, Corkscrew, Pirate Ship, Astro Fighter, Cyclone, Flying Coaster, Dinosaur Land, Flying Dragon, Turbo Drop, Gun Simulator, Rolling Thunder Mine Train, Grand Prix Fan Kart, Matahari, and many more.

3. Indoor Theme Park

Genting Indoor Theme Park is for the young ones. It is part of the Genting Theme Park Complex and is located inside the older part of First World Plaza. To be able to ride the attractions here, you must have an all day pass ticket that you can purchase at the ticket counter of the outdoor theme park. Inside this indoor theme park, you can find six themed areas from around the world. Each of this area features unique rides with theme from Champs Elysee (France), Venice (Italy), Times Square & Universal Walk (America), Swiss Alps (Switzerlands) and Genting Walk (Malaysia). The indoor theme park is a fantasyland full of fun and adventure with numerous exciting video arcade games.

4. Casino de Genting

For some, the main attraction in Genting Highlands are the 24 hours casinos. I noticed that there are several big casinos around Genting and only those above 21 years of age can enter. Patrons wearing sunglasses, hats, slippers, short pants, sandals and sports attire are not permitted into Casino de Genting. Cameras and backpacks are also not allowed inside, they have a locker rental at the entrance of the casinos that you can rent for 2RM.

5. SnowWorld

A snowy summer awaits. Is winter your favorite season? Have you always longed to visit a winter wonderland? Want to engage your friends in a snowball fight and make snowmen? well, Resort World Genting is bringing winter to your doorstep. SnowWorld is one of the largest snow attraction in Malaysia. Come and experience the most magical season of all at SnowWorld and bring home the fondest memories of winter!

6. Sky Venture

Genting Sky Venture is a state of the art sky diving wind tunnel that gives ordinary people the chance to feel the thrill and sensation of jumping out of an airplane and freefalling through the sky just like a skydiver. You will experience the ultimate skydiving simulator fly in winds up to 193 km/hr in the one and only wind tunnel in Asia. Sky Venture very experienced and friendly Body Fly instructors are at your service.

7. Shopping on Highlands

The First World Plaza has got to be the coolest, if not highest shopping destination in Malaysia. There are more than 60 Retail and 70 F&B outlets plus attractions for all ages. You don’t have to wait to plan a personal or family vacation.

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April 17, 2015

Best Places to Visit in Vietnam

A long, narrow country squeezed in between the South China Sea and the Laos and Cambodia borders, Vietnam is a land of striking landscapes that range from the lush rice terraces and forested mountains in the north to the picturesque valleys of the Central Highlands and the fertile delta and beautiful beaches of the south. Included in the mix are booming modern cities, colonial towns, traditional villages, archaeological sites and otherworldly islands. An overview of the best places to visit in Vietnam.

Dalat

Year-round cool weather and idyllic scenery of misty valleys, lush pine trees and colorful flowers are some of the reasons that Dalat was once used by Vietnamese emperors and French colonials as a summer retreat. Today, this charming town in the South Central Highlands of Vietnam is a popular destination for those looking for relief from the heat. A walkable city, Dalat is a beautiful scene of French colonial architecture and villas set amid picturesque landscapes.

My Son

Located on the central coast of Vietnam near the Duy Phú village is the important archaeological site known as My Son. One of Southeast Asia’s most notable ancient sites, My Son was once a significant center of religious Hindu ceremonies where the kings of the Champa Kingdom built numerous temples devoted to the worship of the god, Shiva, between the 4th and 14th centuries.

Ho Chi Minh City

Lying along the Siagon River near the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City was formerly known as Saigon and served as the capital of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Today, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city of the reunified country, offering plenty of reasons to visit, from its blend of historic and modern attractions to vibrant shopping, dining and nightlife.

Mekong Delta

Colorful floating markets, fruit orchards, rice paddies, sugar cane groves, bird sanctuaries and quaint villages are all what draw many to the Mekong Delta in southwestern Vietnam. Nicknamed “Vietnam’s Rice Basket,” the Mekong Delta is an agricultural region made fertile by the maze of canals and streams fed by the Mekong River. Stretching from the Gulf of Thailand to Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta feeds more than a third of the country from its rich plantations, orchards, rice paddies and fish farms.

Nha Trang

Located on one of Asia’s most beautiful bays off the coast of South Central Vietnam, Nha Trang is a popular seaside resort city. Picturesque mountains, beaches and lush islands all make it a favorite destination among tourists, Vietnamese and scuba divers. Adorned with resorts, palm trees and a lovely promenade, Nha Trang’s beach is its main draw. Amusement and water parks provide fun for everyone with roller coasters and wave pools.

Sapa

Surrounded by pictorial mountains, rice terraces and a diversity of hill tribes in the remote northwest of Vietnam, Sapa is a quiet town frequently used as a base for trekking in the Hoang Lien Son Mountains and touring rice paddies and traditional villages. From the town, there are many organized tours that aide tourists in mountain hikes and exploring the nearby rice paddies and remote villages. These tours present views of beautiful waterfalls and the opportunities to experience the food, customs and way of life among the local tribes.

Hue

Situated on the banks of the Perfume River in Central Vietnam, Hue once served as the imperial capital of the Nguyen dynasty. Today, the vestiges of this former glorious period are reflected in the city’s architecture, culture and cuisine, making it one of the best places to visit in Vietnam. Of the city’s monuments, the Citadel is the most famous. Once the seat of the Nguyen emperors, the Citadel is a sprawling complex of grand palaces, ornate temples, walls and gates Another important landmark on the river is the city’s official symbol, the Thien Mu Pagoda.

Hoi An

Located off the coast of the South China Sea in South Central Vietnam, Hoi An is a beautiful, old city dating back 2,000 years to the Champa Kingdom. The city’s historic architecture, traditional culture and textiles make it a popular destination in Vietnam. At the heart of Hoi An is its atmospheric Old Town which is small enough to walk around easily. The narrow, winding lanes of the Old Town are lined with beautiful old architecture, traditional wooden houses and hundreds of tailor shops selling clothing, shoes, bags, souvenirs and custom-made services.

Hanoi

For the last century, Hanoi has the Indochina and Vietnam Wars to emerge as the booming capital city of a reunified Vietnam. At the heart of Hanoi is its Old Quarter, an open-air museum of historic Asian and French colonial architecture that has largely remained intact despite the bombings of the Vietnam War. Here among scenic tree-lined boulevards, tourists can browse busy markets, sip coffee at quaint cafes and visit prominent sites like the Grand Opera House, the Presidential Palace and Saint Joseph Cathedral.

Ha Long Bay

With its aqua-green water and cluster of limestone rocky outcrops rising from the water like sea dragons, Ha Long Bay resembles a scene from a fantasy story. Located about 130 km (80 miles) east of Hanoi in northern Vietnam, this otherworldly bay features more than 2,000 jungle-covered islands pitted with intriguing caves, grottoes, sinkholes and lakes. Many of the islands have been sculpted over the centuries by natural processes into fantastic formations.

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April 16, 2015

Top attractions in Denmark

1.Tivoli Gardens - Tivoli Gardens amusement park in Copenhagen is a must for all visitors to the city, young and old. Tivoli is located just a few minutes walk from City Hall, and with the Copenhagen Central Station as its nearest neighbour it is very easy to get to.

Tivoli Gardens was founded in 1843 and has become a national treasure and an international attraction. Fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen visited many times, as did Walt Disney and many other celebrities, who all fell in love with the gardens.

Part of Tivoli Gardens' secret is that there is something for everyone. The scenery is beautiful with exotic architecture, historic buildings and lush gardens. At night, thousands of coloured lights create a fairy tale atmosphere that is completely unique.

Magical and nostalgic rides

The rides are all designed to match Tivoli's architecture and gardens. Some rides are wonderfully nostalgic. Others will match the expectations of the keenest thrill seekers, e.g. the Vertigo which will turn you upside down at 100 km/h and was voted Europe’s Best Ride in 2014.

Tivoli’s oldest and most popular ride, the wooden Roller Coaster from 1914, is one of only seven roller coasters worldwide which have a brakeman on board every train.

Tivoli Gardens in 2015

In 2015, Tivoli Gardens opens its doors to the longest summer season ever in Tivoli Gardens, with many exciting international events.

The opening of the old amusement park 1 April 2015 means that the gardens are open during the Easter holidays. Thus Tivoli will be dressed for Easter, the rides and restaurants will be open and there will be special activities for kids. For the first two weeks you can enjoy a beautiful, large tulip park at Plænen in front of the open air stage.

In Tivoli Concert Hall you can see Dirty Dancing – The Musical with a cast of some of Denmark’s finest dancers and actors. Tivoli Gardens also boasts an extensive programme of live music events every day.

Among the concerts in 2015 are open air concerts with Mark Knopfler (14 June) and Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga (8 July), not to mention the Friday Rock concerts every Friday during summer at 22:00.

2. Bakken Amusement Park - Just north of Copenhagen you will find Dyrehavsbakken – in short Bakken – which is the world's oldest amusement park.

The 431-year-old amusement park is located in the lush woodlands of Jægersborg Dyrehave, a wonderful green area, where you find yourself surrounded by 400-year-old trees and almost 2,000 free range deer. It is the perfect spot for a ride in a horse carriage or a picnic before your visit to Bakken.

With 33 roller coasters, ferris wheels, drop towers, and many more exciting and extreme adventures, Bakken offers more rides than any other amusement park in Scandinavia.

If you are more in the mood for quiet relaxation Bakken abounds in many places to eat, snack, or enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Or perhaps you fancy a pint of beer in the old London bus converted into a pub.

Among the evening entertainment not to be missed is the good old-fashioned cabaret at Bakkens Hvile. Here the 'singing girls' sing the frivolous songs they have been singing for the last 132 years.

3. Legoland - See the world's biggest LEGO® model, Luke Skywalker's X-wing Starfighter, built from more than 5 million LEGO® blocks! The X-wing measures an impressive 3m in height, with a 13m wingspan and a weight of 20 tonnes! Find out how the world's biggest LEGO® model was built, meet many of your favourite LEGO® Star Wars™ characters and enjoy audiovisual shows – you'll feel like part of the films!

4. Copenhagen Zoo – Elephants, hippos, lions, monkeys and polar bears. A visit to Copenhagen's Zoo in the Frederiksberg area is always a wild and exciting experience.

Copenhagen Zoo houses over 3,000 animals, which together form 264 exciting species. Whatever the weather Copenhagen Zoo offers tropical experiences in the Tropical Zoo.

Snakes, crocodiles, marmosets, hornbills, dwarf deer, free-flying birds and butterflies are just some of the animals you can experience in the 1,500 m2 large rainforest.

In the Children's Zoo it is possible to pat the African dwarf goats and meet the farm animals at the Zoo stage. Here you can also experience the horses being trained, and you can pet them when they are fed at the grooming stations.

Elephant house and The Arctic Ring

In 2008 Copenhagen Zoo opened a new elephant house designed by Norman Foster. The plant is considered one of the best elephant facilities in the world. Here the animals can be seen at close quarters, for example, when they bathe in a water tomb, which is deep enough for the elephants to dive under so their entire bodies are covered.

In 2013 Zoo opened The Arctic Ring, which gives you a unique opportunity to get close to polar bears, North Atlantic birds and seals both above and below the water surface – an experience unparalleled in Europe.

The daily programme is displayed on Zoo's website and on information screens at the entrance. Here you will find information about feeding times, newborn animals, the Zoo stage programme as well as other events.

5. The Blue Planet - The Blue Planet – Denmark's Aquarium is Northern Europe's largest aquarium and offers a unique experience for children and adults.

The Blue Planet has water on all side and is intended to give the visitors a feeling of being under water. The new building has five "arms" from the center of the aquarium. That way the guests can choose their own way around the aquarium to see the exotic animals.

Ocean tank, Amazonas and Coral Reef

Experience the Ocean Tank, which is the biggest aquarium at The Blue Planet, where hammerhead sharks swim together with rays and moray eels in four millions litres azure sea water.

The Coral Reef shows colourful fish and other animals that live in the coral.

In the area, Amazonas, you will find butterflies and birds flying around. You can experience four aquariums from above or from the water level. Under the big waterfall, 3,000 piranhas and anacondas swim.

6. Djurs Summer Land – Bring your family to Djurs Sommerland! Days of fun for all ages!Djurs Sommerland – Scandinavia’s biggest summerland.

Ready for speed, thrills and fun for all the family? World-class fun awaits you in Scandinavia’s biggest summerland. Enjoy eight themed areas, the biggest roller coasters in Denmark, the huge Aqua Park, wonderful playgrounds and more than 60 other rides and attractions for kids of all ages. Come and see why the park was voted the best summerland in Scandinavia in 2014.

7. The National Museum - Denmark's National Museum in Copenhagen has exhibitions from the Stone Age, the Viking Age, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and Modern Danish History.

The National Museum is located in The Prince’s Palace, which was built by Nicolai Eigtved between 1743 and 1744 for Danish Crown Prince Frederik V and Crown Princess Louise. It is no longer used by the royal family, but the Great Hall still appears elegant enough to fit princes and princesses.

The Gallery consists of a wide corridor that linked rooms and sleeping quarters, and featured plenty of space for exquisite handicrafts. The stucco in the ceiling, the panels and the oak parquet floor are all thought to be original. The furniture and stove are from the early 18th century.

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April 14, 2015

Best Honeymoon Destinations In India

  1. Agra – it’s all about eternal love

    When it comes to plan a honeymoon trip to Agra, one doesn’t need words to describe it, but to feel its love and romance. Admire the magical beauty of the Taj Mahal and immortalize your love for your better half!

  2. Udaipur – a royal ride to the Venice of the East

    Well, a honeymoon trip to the ‘City of Lakes’ or the ‘Venice of the East’ can be merely described in words! Just plan your honeymoon trip in this alluring city; feel love and romance captivating every moment of your life!

  3. Jaisalmer – Let the hearts fondle each other at the heart of the Thar Desert

    Honeymoon in Jaisalmer is truly a hearty affair! Located right at the heart of the great Thar Desert, honeymoon in the ‘Golden City’ or Jaisalmer is all about art and crafts, culture and tradition, the warmth of each others’ company and promises for life.

  4. Pushkar – where Love and devotion completes each other

    Love without devotion is just like a temple without a God! The holy lands of Pushkar, with all its rustic charm and sacredness, will surely urge both of you to pour your hearts and devote all your life for the happiness of each other.

  5. Rishikesh – love and adventure on the rocks

    If living life on the edge excites both you and your other half, no other destinations in India can replace the charm and appeal of Rishikesh. Home to some of the strenuous treks, gruesome rapids and several adventure activities, every bit of this city will make your honeymoon an enthralling experience for both of you!

  6. Kovalam – where Love gets mixed with relaxation

    Get swayed away in each other’s arms…add a little amount of relaxation to your honeymoon trip and enjoy each other’s company in the most romantic way!

  7. Goa – Love in the air

    Do not let pass a single moment without love and romance! Make her feel your tenderly emotions, give her all the reasons to shower all her love on you and let the alluring breezes do the talk for you!

  8. Andaman & Nicobar Islands – get infected with the Love-bug

    Let the love-bugs in both of you caress each other in the most adorable ways! As both of you get bitten by these bugs, let the silver sands and azure waters of Andaman cure both of you with a sting of romance and passion.

  9. Alleppey – at times, silence talks more volume of Love

    Words are not always to make each other feel the love and romance! Plan your honeymoon trip to the silent backwaters in Alleppey and allow silence do the talking for you!

  10. Pondicherry – Love the French way

    Witness love growing deep in the most passionate ways as the time flows! Add a pinch of French essence to your honeymoon and make every moment of your honeymoon memorable in the surreal locales of Pondicherry!

  11. Tarkarli -where every moment makes you fall in love with each other

    Begin the new phase of your life with a memorable honeymoon trip to the romantic beaches of Tarkarli. It is in this quaint hamlet, you will find all the reasons to fall in love with each other once again!

  12. Darjeeling – make your yesterday jealous with a Love-filled today

    As you witness the sun rising over the horizon from the Tiger Hills, promise a bond that will make both of you love each other even more than yesterday! Caress and pamper the honeymoon trip with stunning views of the Himalayas, Mt Everest and the enthralling Kanchenjunga Peak.

  13. Srinagar – truly a paradise for the honeymooners

    Take a shikara ride in the stunning Dal Lake, visit the many colourful gardens and fill your honeymoon with the most romantic moments! Well, when in Srinagar, words can’t just define the experience; you need to feel it!

  14. Jodhpur – Love and feel Loved in the Thar Desert

    Step into the wonderful bond of marriage with a candid honeymoon trip to the ‘Blue City’ Jodhpur and curate some of the most loved moments of your life! Like the openness of the Thar Desert, open your heart to your partner and make each other feel loved amidst the romantic sands of Jodhpur.

  15. Ranthambore – The most adventurous jungle stay

    Unlike others, if you and your partner are inclined towards the nature or the fascinating wildlife, you must plan your honeymoon in Ranthambore National Park. The enthralling wildlife safaris, tracing the beasts and moments in the luxury camps will surely make it for an amazing honeymoon trip.

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April 13, 2015

Top 10 Dublin Attractions

1. Guinness Storehouse
Located in the heart of the St James’s Gate Brewery, which has been home to the black stuff since 1759, this massive seven-storey building, a former Guinness® fermentation plant, has been remodelled into the shape of a giant pint of Guinness®. A visit will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about this world famous beer. The highlight for many visitors is the Gravity Bar® where they receive a complimentary pint of Guinness® and a chance to relax and enjoy the breathtaking 360-degree views across Dublin City.

2. Dublin Zoo
See many rare and exotic animals living and roaming in a wide variety of natural habitats. Wander through the African Savannah and gaze at the giraffes, zebras, scimitar oryx and ostrich, then head to the Kaziranga Forest to see the magnificent herd of Asian elephants that call this beautiful place home. Dublin Zoo, located in the Phoenix Park in the heart of Dublin City, allows you to discover amazing animals that include tigers, hippos, bats, rare monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees, red pandas and reptiles, to name but a few!

3. National Aquatic Centre
AquaZone, at the National Aquatic Centre, is one of the most innovative water parks in Europe. A whole host of exciting features ensures that there is lots of family fun, thrills and something for everyone. If you crave extreme thrills, raging water adventures, flying through the air, or just an enjoyable family day out in Dublin, AquaZone at the National Aquatic Centre has Europe's biggest and best water rides and attractions waiting for you!

4. The National Gallery of Ireland
Today the collection includes over 2,500 paintings and some 10,000 other works in different media including watercolours, drawings, prints and sculpture. Every major European School of painting is extensively represented. It also houses a renowned collection of Irish paintings. The gallery's highlights include works by Vermeer, Caravaggio, Picasso, Van Gogh and Monet.

5. Book of Kells
The Book of Kells was written around the year 800 AD and is one of the most beautifully illuminated manuscripts in the world. Its 680 pages of vellum contain the Latin texts of the Four Gospels. It was written around 800AD by Irish monks and later buried in the ground for fear of the Vikings. After being eventually rediscovered, it was deposited for safe keeping in Trinity College Dublin in 1653.

6. National Botanic Gardens
The Gardens, 19.5 hectares on the south bank of the Tolka River, contain many attractive features like an arboretum, sensory garden, rock garden and burren area, large pond, extensive herbaceous borders, and an annual display of decorative plants including a rare example of Victorian carpet bedding.

7. Farmleigh House
Built in the late 18th century, Farmleigh was purchased by Edward Cecil Guinness, a great-grandson of Arthur Guinness, in 1873. The house contains many beautiful features including the Main House area (a fine example of Georgian-Victorian architecture), the Sunken Garden, the Walled Garden, the famous Clock Tower and the Lake and The Benjamin Iveagh Library. The library holds some of the finest examples of Irish bookbinding from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The collection was donated to Marsh’s Library by the Guinness family.

8. St. Patrick's Cathedral
Built between 1220 and 1260, the Cathedral is one of the few buildings left from the medieval city of Dublin. Today, St Patrick's is the National Cathedral for the Church of Ireland and still the largest cathedral in Ireland. Visitors can learn about the building’s fascinating history, including its most famous Dean (head) Jonathan Swift, who is one of around 700 burials on site.

9. National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology
Walk into the National Museum of Ireland on Kildare Street and be magically transported back in time. Take time at The Treasury and see examples of Celtic and Medieval art, such as the famous Ardagh Chalice, the Tara Brooch and the Derrynaflan Hoard. Gaze in wonder at the finest collection of prehistoric gold artefacts in Europe, which is to be found in Or – Ireland's Gold. Ramble through prehistoric Ireland and experience life at the same time of the Vikings in Viking Age Ireland.

10. Science Gallery at Trinity College
Dublin’s Science Gallery is a world first. The collision of science and art is the key DNA strand of this international success story now being cloned worldwide. A new type of venue where today's white-hot scientific issues are thrashed out and you can have your say. A place where ideas meet and opinions collide. Unlike most galleries, they don't have a permanent collection, meaning that there’s always something new to see.

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April 10, 2015

Must-see locations in Athens

Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world. Though Greece is still recovering from a well-documented economic crisis, locals in Athens feel like the tide is turning and that neighborhoods both old and new are experiencing a resurgence of vibrancy, excitement and optimism. Recently Athens was named one of the top 50 places to travel in 2014.

Sounio

Good for: Sightseeing, history, sunsets, beaches

Located at the southern tip of Attica and an easy 45-minute drive from Athens, this historical site tends to be underrated compared to the Acropolis and its surrounding ruins. At Cape Sounion you'll find the Temple of Poseidon as well as some amazing beaches near the lower resort area. The area tends to fill up come time to watch the incredible sunset over the Aegean Sea, but if you're not into stunning clichés, plan your visit for the early morning.

A for Athens

Good for: Views, drinks

For those of you who don't want to climb up hill to the Acropolis, go ahead and enjoy it Athenian-style: Taking in the incredible view from this rooftop boutique hotel bar. You can sip on coffee by day or cocktails by night. While the crowd can be a little bit snobby, the drinks are reasonably priced, especially when compared to more mainstream spots like the Galaxy Bar at The Hilton.

Glykys

Good for: Coffee, ouzo, ambiance

While drinking traditionally prepared Greek coffee may no longer be popular among younger Athenians, café culture is still very much a way of life. Head to Plaka, an old-school neighborhood downtown, which is full of small cafes overlooking the Acropolis. Glykys is a particularly picturesque one, located on a cobblestone side street that serves up freddos and frappes along with espressos and cappuccinos. Oh, and plenty of ouzo (an anise-flavored aperitif) to go along with your mezes.

GazARTE

Good for: Casual food and drink, events, movies

This is a multipurpose art space located in the newly gentrified downtown neighborhood of Gazi. There's a movie theater (usually screening two Greek or foreign indie films) and a bookstore downstairs, while upstairs you'll find a "library lounge," somewhat similar to the Library Bar at the Hudson Hotel in New York. There's also an adjoining outdoor area called "Teratsa," which simply translates to terrace, with an outdoor bar and seating scattered amongst pomegranate and tangerine trees. This is a cool, laid-back space where you'll find a mixed crowd enjoying dinner and cocktails.

Technopolis

Good for: Museum, concerts, cultural events

Located nearby to gazARTE, Technopolis is an event and art space within an old natural gas processing plant. It has sort of a MoMA PS1 vibe. The industrial museum is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday. Visitors learn about the work conditions in the old plant and its experiential approach to its operations during the 19th century. Most Athenians, though, will simply tell you to check the venue's events calendar for any upcoming concerts, parties, DJ sets and exhibits.

Kolonaki

Good for: Shopping, cafes, bars

To bring in a New York comparison, this is pretty much the Soho of Athens: A great little neighborhood for walking around, browsing through a mix of designer and affordable shops and grabbing an afternoon coffee or cocktail outdoors. The bar scene has a slightly more upscale and trendy vibe at night and there are plenty of cool spots to check out, but keep in mind that they're all pretty small and tend to fill up quick during the weekends. You know, just like Soho.

Papagalos

Good for: Classic Greek food, live music

If you'd prefer a classic dinner to trendy bars, head back towards Gazi and hit up this restaurant, which, in English, translates to "Parrot." A favorite among locals for long, traditional meals, Papagalos also has live music on Friday and Saturday starting at 11 p.m. and Sundays from 6 p.m. It gets packed—and rowdy—on the weekends, so it's good to make a reservation. That way you'll also ensure you have your own chair to dance upon if the crowd is feeling especially rambunctious, which tends to happen after a few bottles of Xinomavro.

Baba Au Rum

Good for: Specialty cocktails, lively atmosphere

As strange as it sounds, this Greek, rum-focused cocktail joint has actually been named one of the world's 50 best bars. The cozy spot has a groovy 1950s feel and is located on a small, pedestrian street close to Syntagma Square. With tables outside and no cars to worry about, visitors tend to simply take over the street, turning the small bar into an awesome block party. It boasts a ridiculous selection of rums from Cuba, Trinidad, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the list goes on. While there is a set cocktail menu featuring everything from Tiki drinks to non-rum varietals like Pimm's Cups and Bloody Marys, patrons can simply tell the bartender what they're in the mood for and they'll mix something unique up especially for you. Don't despair if you can't make it to an island during your first visit to Greece, you'll definitely get the happy-go-lucky summer vibe here (even if it's more Barbados than Mykonos).

Drunk Sinatra

Good for:
Cocktails, soul and jazz music

Athens is a great town for soul and jazz music, so it's no surprise that this downtown bistro has become incredibly popular. With a giant photo of the bar's namesake Rat Packer gazing over the crowd, the décor, like Baba Au Rum, is decidedly 1960s and the menu features an eclectic mix of international cocktails. The hangout opens at 10am and stays open until 5am, Thursday through Sunday. Whether you're looking for breakfast, brunch or a late snack, it's all here—and it's all set to a solid mix of classic tunes.

National Gardens

Good for: Sightseeing, history, scenery

This gorgeous public park in central Athens is surely in the tour guides, but Athens insiders claim that it may not actually be something most people (tourists and locals alike) know about or simply tend to gloss over during their visits. With 38 acres of greenery featuring a duck pond, small zoo, café and Botanical Museum, it's especially beautiful during the spring and summertime.

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April 9, 2015

The Top 10 Places in Sweden

Sweden is an incredible country that is often missed by those who only venture about Southern, Central or Eastern Europe. It has a spectacular landscape, incredible cities, an educated population (most of whom speak English) and a history and culture much older than  North America. Up north you’ll find a pastoral landscape and dense green forests, while to the south there are all those little red island cottages scattered across the Stockholm Archipelago. In between is a pastoral countryside filled with ancient Viking burial grounds, wonderful biking and hiking paths and a heartland in which tradition is still king. And in its cities you’ll enjoy first-rate cultural opportunities, upscale restaurants and wonderful shopping.

For those who would like to explore a bit of this Swedish Smörgåsbord, here are the most-visited areas of Sweden

1) Stockholm

Stockholm is widely celebrated not only as the capital of Scandinavia, but also as one of the world’s most beautiful cities, built where lake meets sea, on fourteen islands, with ten centuries of history and culture. The Swedish Royal Capital is also widely known for its remarkable modernity, progressiveness and trend sensitivity in everything from lifestyle to fashion, design, food and drink and usage of new technology. The combination of magnificent scenery, ancient history and tradition, and a pervasive innovative spirit combine to give Stockholm its truly exceptional character and charm.

Swedes like to claim that Stockholm is a city that has all of the qualities and allures of a major international metropolis but few of its usual downsides. It’s a city where it’s easy and efficient to move around, where the air is fresh and the waters clean, with vast green areas permeating the city with plenty of space for everyone to roam freely. Few other places let you experience the pleasures and enchantments of nature, urban sophistication and cultural history, all in a single day.

2) The Stockholm Archipelago

One of the most fantastic parts of Stockholm and Sweden is still a secret for many — the magnificent Stockholm archipelago. This maritime landscape of more than 30,000 islands, islets and skerries, of which just some one thousand are inhabited, is unique in the world both in summer and winter.

Stockholm’s archipelago is accessible from central Stockholm all year round thanks to the characteristic and historic white archipelago boats, some of which are well-preserved old workhorses dating back more than a century and still steam powered. You can choose from shorter excursions lasting just a couple of hours, to day tours or even longer excursions with overnight stays. Many boat tours also offer gourmet lunch or dinner.

3) Gothenburg

City breaks don’t often come more perfect than they do in small, beautiful Gothenburg, the capital of West Sweden. Here you can discover quaint canals, the cobbled streets of historical Haga and countless green open spaces, including Sweden’s biggest botanical garden, boasting over 16,000 species. Immerse yourself in the Swedish lifestyle, soaking up the buzzing outdoor café culture with ‘fika’ (a break for coffee and a sweet bun) or indulge in the intriguing food markets, impressive museums and multitude of enticing restaurants — five with Michelin stars.

4) Malmö

Malmö is the biggest city in Skåne and a multi-cultural place full of energy. In recent years, Malmö has developed into an exciting city with a focus on cultural offerings, innovative architecture and a strong organic social character. Malmö was certified as Sweden’s first Fairtrade City in 2006 and this has spurred the city’s organic and fair trade offerings. In Malmö, it’s easy to shop with a clear conscience and to enjoy ethically produced food and drink. Here, you can dine at one of Sweden’s most acclaimed organic restaurants and shop for the latest fashions made with the environment and ethics clearly in mind.

5) ICEHOTEL

Located in Jukkasjärv, ICEHOTEL is the world’s largest hotel made of ice and snow. The 5,500 square meter complex includes an Ice church and an Icebar. It is constructed anew every November-December and melts in April-May, but you can, of course, visit the area all year round.

ICEHOTEL’s accommodation features snow rooms, ice rooms and Art suites. Additionally, guests may book a wide range of snowmobile excursions such as Arctic Trail that takes one through the wilderness trails of Swedish Lapland’s aboriginal people, the Sami, whose life is integrally tied to reindeer migration. Fishing for char, trout and grayling, sauna and dinner programs, ice driving, moose watching, ice sculpting, Northern Lights viewing, and dog sled safaris are just a few more of ICEHOTEL’s tour options.

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April 8, 2015

8 attractions you must visit in Nainital

A beautiful emerald lake surrounded by green hills, quaint old cottages and markets, and a web of walking tracks—there are plenty of picturesque places to visit in Nainital. One of the most popular hill destinations in India, Nainital is also a part of the 'lake district' of the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, with lakes such as Bhimtal, Sattal and Naukuchiatal in the vicinity. Nainital's charms include everything from boating and sailing to old temples and heritage buildings, and of course, scenic views at every other step.

Naini Lake

This beautiful lake lies at the heart of Nainital, with its waters reflecting the colour of the surrounding green hills. The hill station itself is divided into parts: Mallital, the northern side of the lake, and Tallital, the southern end of the lake. Boating in the lake is a favourite tourist pastime. There are rowboats and pedal boats available at various spots. For a more thrilling alternative, try sailing on the lake with a small yacht. The Nainital Boat House Club has facilities for renting yachts, guided by a boatman. A promenade circles the entire lake and is a good stretch for walking, taking in the views and the cool breeze from the lake.

Naina Devi temple

Perched on the banks of Naini Lake, this temple plays a central role in the origin myths surrounding Nainital.

Gurney House

Located on Ayarpatta Hill, this beautiful cottage was the former residence of British hunter, conservationist, and beloved writer Jim Corbett.

Raj Bhawan

Also known as Governor's House, this was the official residence of the Governor of North-West Province in colonial India. It is now the residence of the Uttarakhand Governor, and is one of the few Raj Bhawans open to the public. Built towards the end of the 19th century, the imposing building is spread over an area of 220 acres. Its Gothic-style architecture was inspired by the Buckingham Palace.
The two-storey mansion contains around 113 rooms, but visitors are only allowed in its vast lawns and in the 18-hole golf course within its premises. Constructed by the British in 1924, the golf course is set around a scenic forest, and is home to several rare species of flora and fauna. Visitors can play a game of golf for a small fee or lounge in its clubhouse and restaurants.

Govind Ballabh Pant High Altitude Zoo

This well-kept zoo houses several high-altitude animals such as the Himayan black bear, the Siberian tiger, the hill fox, along with other species such as wolves, palm civet cats, ghorals, barking deer and sambhar.

Tiffin Top

Situated at a height of 2,292 metres in the Ayarpatta region, the Tiffin Top peak provides panoramic views of the Himalayas.

Snow View

With a towering height of 2,270 metres, this hilltop is an old tourist favourite for its beautiful views of the surrounding hills and aerial ropeway.

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April 7, 2015

9 Fun Things to Do in Coorg (Kodagu)

1. Stay in a Home-Stay 

The charm, the aura and the surroundings of a home-stay are really very special. Coorg has plenty of options for home-stays. Stay at Eco Habitat in Kushalnagar which is slightly off Coorg but a fantastic property and well connected.

2. Visit the Dubare Elephant Camp

Dubare Elephant Camp near Kushalnagar is a good place to enjoy the good old elephant rides, elephant bathing and more. Across the river, you can also enjoy water rafting.

The Camp is The Property of Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd, Govt. of Karnataka

3. Chikli Dam, 3km from Eco Habitat

Chiki Dam which is 3km off Kushalnagar. It offers picturesque spots and is a delight for the shutterbugs.
Here is another black and white shot of the mountains/river near the Chikli Dam. It's a heaven in the evenings.

4. Visit the Golden Temple, Coorg

Located at about 30 minutes from the Eco Habitat, Bylakuppe is a Tibetan Refugee settlement, the magnificent Monastery in Kodagu state. You would see Tibetan refugee monks, their families and the golden statues of Buddha and other gods across the Namdroling Monastery.

5. Don’t Miss out on Abbey Falls, Madikeri

8km from Madikeri, Abbey Falls are in the mountains of Western Ghats.

6. Go for the Jungle Trek in the Western Ghats

With lush green jungles & waterfalls all around, Coorg is a heaven for those who love trekking.

Go for the Jodhpala jeep trek, 12km of Madikeri  with the help of local ex-army man. The narrow lanes of the jungle will make it an experience of a life time.

The jungled will open upto some pictersque during your trek. The beautiful view of the western ghats, with rudraksha trees calling for the rains and waterfalls all around.

7. Adore the Mountain View at Raja’s Seat, Madikeri

Raja’s Seat (Seat of the King) is a seasonal garden of flowers and artificial fountains and was a favourite of the king during ancient times. It is a popular tourist spot in Coorg and you would see large groups of youngsters out here at any time during the day. The garden offers breath-taking views of low rise mountains and you can spend hours here adoring the sunset.

8. Experience the Natural Beauty of Coorg

9. Grab a Copy of Short Escapes from Bengaluru

Lastly, before you pack your bags, do grab a copy of the travel guide Short Escapes from Bengaluru by Lonely Planet

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April 6, 2015

Things to do in Lakshadweep

 

Lakshadweep, a cluster of islands located 400 km,off India’s west coast in the Arabian Sea, is a
perfect destination to unwind. It consists of 36 coral islands spread in an area of 32 sq. km. Lakshadweep easily enchants it visitors with its grasslands, dazzling turquoise ocean and the tawny kissed beaches. Here are some interesting activities outlined for your much awaited trip to Lakshadweep:

1. Water SportsScuba diving in Lakshadweep

Scuba Diving is a thrilling underwater activity offered at many islands in Lakshadweep such as Minicoy, Kadmat, Kalpeni and Agatti and one of the best things to do in Lakshadweep. Scuba diving offers you an amazing experience of marine life and provides an opportunity to explore the enticing looks of corals, anemones, turtles, ornamental fishes and sharks. There are some other fun-filled, famous water sports activities like parasailing, boating, kayaking and water skiing that provide you ample reasons to fall in love with this place and cherish it for lifetime.

2. Deep FishingDeep Fishing in Lakshadweep

Lakshadweep is a perfect place for adventure seeking visitors. Whether you are looking to indulge in some adventurous activities or whether you want to be still and relax at a place, Lagoon fishing is the right activity for you. Lagoon fishing provides a fun-filled and loving experience of watching many colorful, known and unknown, species. Night lagoon fishing option is also available at some of the resorts and is actually an ideal time for fishing, given the peaceful environment without any distraction and disturbance.

3. Kite SurfingKite Surfing in Lakshdweep

Love to race with wind and play with water? Kite surfing is the right option for enthusiastic lovers such as you. Kite surfing is available at Kadamat Island in Lakshadweep. However, you need to learn the art of being steady and still in water, even amidst strong wind, in order to undertake surfing. This activity is not meant for people who are averse to water or to strong wind.

4. Lighthouse at MinicoyLighthouse at Minicoy

Minicoy is the oldest island which is most famous for its historic British lighthouse. After climbing 120 stairs, you reach the top of the lighthouse to enjoy unobstructed, panoramic view of the island and to sight the flock of birds flying high in the clear sky.

5. Nature Walksnauture walk at lakshdweep

Love to walk amidst nature? Enjoying your holidays while sightseeing the beautiful Lakshadweep islands will definitely be appealing to you. Nature walks offer complete calm environment, unforgettable views of sparkling blue lagoon water, sight of chirping birds at the white sand beaches and the feel of gushing wind.

6. Shopping Fundashopping in Lakshdweep

Retail therapy or shopping therapy is always a best activity to undertake in order to have perfect closure to your holidays. Shopping here is an art due to lack of any malls or high ended shops. Nonetheless, beach handicraft items, ornaments prepared from seashells and corals available at local shops do help you indulge in shopping.

7. Eating is Not Cheatingfood options in Lakshdweep

It is often said that food options in Lakshadweep are equivalent to the number of islands. For sea food lovers, Lakshadweep has a lot of varieties to offer. You cannot escape the aroma of Tempting traditional dishes like octopus fry, appams and tuna cooked with a special tang of coconut flavor. There are also several restaurants which serve amazing Chinese and Continental dishes. Coconut water is a super drink that you can find at almost every corner shop in Lakshadweep.

8. Enjoying FestivitiesFestival in Lakshdweep

Watching and participating in the festive celebrations at Lakshadweep islands is an excellent way of spending your holidays. During festivities, you get close to the culture and people of this place and get an opportunity to relate to the lives of the people. In Lakshadweep, most of the population follows Islam as their religion. The islands are hence most lively during festivals such as Eid-ul- Fitr, Bakrid, Muharram and Milad –Ul-Nabi.

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April 3, 2015

India's best honeymoon destinations

From picturesque beaches to tranquil mountain hideaways—India has an abundance of post-wedding getaways. Here are some of the most popular honeymoon destinations that you and your significant other can reminisce about in the years to come.

Lakshadweep
Exotic and sun-kissed beaches, verdant landscapes and turquoise-hued waters—what more could you ask of a tropical honeymoon? The real attraction of the Lakshadweep islands, however, rests underwater: the pristine lagoons, unspoiled coral reefs and warm waters are a magnet .

Goa
Goa has always been a natural choice amongst honeymooners—home to miles and miles of scenic beaches, swaying coconut palms, old colonial Portuguese buildings, delicious cuisine and an easy-going, laid back atmosphere. In Goa, there's a sense of revelry, merriment and abandon in the air that is totally contagious.

The Andamans
Jet-setting couples favour Andaman and Nicobar Islands for the near-deserted beaches, incredible corals and marine life, and an intriguing colonial past. Newlyweds can enjoy everything from scuba diving and snorkelling to spending time soaking in spectacular views of deep forests and magnificent hills. Plus, the resorts here know only one standard of luxury—extravagant.

Coorg (Kodagu)
Spread out across the Western Ghats, the misty valley of Coorg makes for the perfect honeymoon destination. Fondly referred to as the 'Scotland of India' due to its verdant beauty and pleasant climes, Coorg has a special place among all hill stations in India. Elite resorts nestled into the landscape offer couples an unparalleled window into the Coorg's lush flora and fauna.

Udaipur
Fantastical palaces, temples, havelis and countless narrow, crooked streets add to the charm of this Rajasthan destination. Even if you are just wandering around the city taking in the majestic sights or cruising the calm lakes on multiple boat rides—the city is bound to sweep you off your feet.

Nainital
An erstwhile summer retreat of the British, Nainital is a small town settled amidst Uttrakhand's Kumaon range. The cool waters of the the Naini Lake, the busy town bazaar and a web of walking tracks around the forested hillsides make for the perfect honeymoon backdrop.

Kerala
The rich vegetation, biological diversity and gentle pace of village life in the backwaters beckon all kinds of honeymooners to Kerala. Spend an evening lounging on a serene beach or a day exploring the splendid backwaters, and you have your perfect getaway.

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April 2, 2015

Top 10 Things to Do in Scotland

Combining breathtaking scenery, one-of-a-kind art and science museums, and castles unlike any in the world, Scotland is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Take a second to enjoy these gorgeous photos, and discover 10 stops you have to make on your next tour or sightseeing expedition through Scotland.

Loch Ness and the Great Glen
A geological rift split the land from coast to coast, once dividing Scotland in two. Glaciers deepened the trench and the result today is a long glen of steep-sided, wooded mountains and dark, mysterious lochs. Castles and forts abound, bearing witness to the Great Glen’s strategic importance and enhancing its dramatic grandeur with intrigue and nostalgia. And, of course, there’s the legendary Loch Ness monster, elusive but irrepressible, and still attracting scientific interest – keep that camera to hand.

Edinburgh Castle
Dominating the city’s skyline as it has done for over 800 years, this castle is a national icon and, deservedly, the country’s most popular visitor attraction. Din Eidyn, “the stronghold of Eidyn”, from which Edinburgh takes its name, was the vital possession in Scotland’s wars. Varying roles as royal palace, barracks, prison and parliament have all helped shape this castle, home to the Scottish crown jewels and the fabled Stone of Destiny.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Scotland’s most visited collection is more popular than ever, since a 27.9 million pound refurbishment allowed even more of its fascinating collection of art and artifacts to be seen. Some 8,000 works of major international significance are displayed over three floors of gallery space. The diverse collection takes in world-wide ancient cultures, gives a comprehensive view of European and Scottish art across the centuries, and provides insights into 20th-century Glasgow life. Contrasting displays in open spaces demonstrate Kelvingrove’s quirky sense of fun.

Isle of Skye
The product of violent geographical upheavals, the “misty isle” is justly famed for its towering, ragged mountains and wild coastline. Add to these a colourful patchwork of crofts (farms), waterfalls, an exceptional whisky, a castle linked to the fairy world and the historical romance of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and you find on Skye all the ingredients that best symbolize the Highlands.

Glasgow Science Centre
This £75-million millennium project is a pure delight. The heart of the centre is the Science Mall, a glass-sided silver crescent with three floors of hands-on exhibits, demonstrations and special-effect theatres. Adjacent to this is the world’s only revolving tower and an IMAX cinema projecting gigantic 3D films.

Glencoe
Nowhere else is the traveller confronted so abruptly by the arresting impact of Scotland’s mountains. The road twists below the towering bulk of these characterful peaks, sometimes dark and luring, sometimes light and enticing. This ancient and celebrated pass is also imbued with history: cattle rustling, clan feuds and – most notoriously – the “Massacre of Glencoe” in 1692. In summer the area is a favourite haunt of walkers and climbers; in winter it is one of the leading ski resorts.

National Gallery of Scotland
A striking Neoclassical building midway along Edinburgh’s Princess Street, the National Gallery defies you to miss it. Widely regarded as one of the finest smaller galleries in the world, this collection is a manageable concentration of excellence. Housed here are works by the greatest names in Western art – Raphael, Titian, El Greco, Rembrandt, Rubens and Monet, to name but a few – as well as the most comprehensive array of Scottish masterpieces. While some galleries tend to intimidate, this one is refreshingly intimate.

The Cairngorms
The highest mountain massif in the British Isles comprises a magnificent range of peaks, wild lochs and ancient forests, as well as bird sanctuaries, nature reserves and sports amenities. It is a region of exceptional scenery and habitats that have not been divided by roads. Activities take place on its fringe, but the heartland remains open only to those who travel by foot or on skis. It is this relative isolation that makes it so appealing both for the wildlife that inhabits the region and for the people who thrive on the testing terrain.

Culzean Castle
Formerly a rather dull fortified tower house, Culzean (pronounced “Cullane”) was transformed by the architect Robert Adam into a mansion of sumptuous proportions and elegance. The work began in 1777 and lasted almost 20 years, the Kennedy family sparking little expense in the decoration and craftsmanship of their clifftop home. Culzean – a masterpiece in a land full of magnificent castles – was gifted to the nation and fully restored in the 1970s. Its grounds became Scotland’s first public country park in 1969.

Royal Museum and Museum of Scotland
The best and rarest of Scotland’s antiquities have been brought together in two treasure troves. Although they occupy adjacent buildings on Edinburgh’s Chambers Street, they maintain separate identities: the Royal Museum concentrates on international artifacts, while the modern Museum of Scotland is dedicated to the story of this land and its people.

Read more at http://www.readersdigest.ca/travel/world/top-10-things-do-scotland#UglflDLfrKSMbjJt.99

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April 1, 2015

Food and drink in Dumfries & Galloway

Dumfries & Galloway is bursting with the very best in Scottish food and drink. Chefs of the region have an abundance of raw and award-winning ingredients at their finger tips including fresh salmon, organic farmhouse cheese, delicious local game and much more. Show less

Experience this authentic cuisine for yourself by stopping off at the many restaurants, hotels, cafes and bars across Dumfries & Galloway. There really is something to suit all tastes and budgets, from Michelin-star dining to cliff-top cafes and bars at the harbour-side bars.

If you want to find out more then why not visit one of the regular farmers’ and community markets from Lockerbie to Gatehouse of Fleet where you can pick up excellent produce and talk to the stallholders.

Food and drink is such an important part of Dumfries & Galloway life that the region is also home to Scotland’s only dedicated Food Town. With over 50 independent foodie retailers over the very best in local-sourced produced, Castle Douglas really lives up to its Food Town title.

You can also discover the secrets of what makes the perfect pint or dram with a behind the scenes tour of Sulwarth Brewery at Castle Douglas and Bladnoch Distillery, Scotland's most southerly.

Explore great food and drink and discover the true taste of Dumfries & Galloway.

Drink attractions in Dumfries & Galloway

If you want a great variety of whiskies, ales, ciders and wines, look no further than Dumfries & Galloway. Pay a visit to the region's only brewery and take a behind the scenes tour to discover how these unique drinks are made. You can even pick up a treat to take home with you at fantastic specialist shops.

Whisky
Enjoy a range of whiskies in specialist shops, farmer’s markets and retailers across the region, including T.B Watson’s in Dumfries, where you’ll be spoiled for choice with over 800 different whiskies for sale.

Beers and ales
Scotland’s Food Town of Castle Douglas is also the location of Dumfries & Galloway’s only brewery. Sulwath Brewery creates a range of unique craft ales and refreshing lagers with truly distinctive flavours. Learn the art of making the perfect craft ale, meet the brewers and enjoy a tasting at the end of your visit. The brewery also hosts an annual beer festival which features speciality beers.

Ciders and wines
A growing number of locally-produced ciders and wines are also proving popular across the region. Using only apples sourced from the local area, Waulkmill near Langholm is the only traditional brewer of Scottish cider in the country. If you’re looking for something a little milder, the apple juice is a delicious alternative. The Glebe House Winery in Ecclefechan produces delicious fruit wine and tours of the winery are available by appointment only.

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