I fancy a holiday. No, I really fancy a holiday. I can’t even blame it on the colder weather as it has actually been relatively balmy for October, more likely it’s an attack of the green eyed monster as a friend of mine has recently come back from a cruise, tanned and relaxed and popped round to tell me all about it.
I have to say that I’ve never really been struck by the idea of a cruise. Sure, there is definitely something that appeals to my (not so well hidden) lazy streak. The idea of having nothing to do but idle away the hours on deck, shuffling between the pool and the bar with nowhere much to go and therefore every excuse to ‘relax fully’. But I think I might just have watched far too many re-runs of the Poseidon Adventure to ever ‘relax fully’ whilst out at sea.
I mean just me, a metal outer shell and the deep (undoubtedly shark infested) sea, shudder.
But still the idea had some pull. A cruise, I thought…. Cocktails with the captain, me sporting a sophisticated little chiffon number, perhaps dining at his table…
Nope, that’s it I’ve definitely od’d on The Poseidon Adventure. I’m much more of a sin hiding kaftan, fish and chips eating kind of a gal. And then there’s the ‘entertainment’ … shudder.
The luxury I could live with. The ‘entertainment’? I’m not sure. I’m more likely to run back to my room with a good book than enjoy the sequined and feathered delights of the coca cabana. My friend laughed,’ Iit’s really not like that anymore’ she said. ‘There’s something for everyone even the kids.’ Hmmn.
Later after she’d gone I still couldn’t quite shake off the idea, she’d sold it well and I really did need a good break. Two years of sleepless nights courtesy of my toddler had left me withered … not just physically but mentally as well. However could being trapped in a metal can with my two (possibly sea sick) children actually constitute a rest? Probably not.
An hour or two’s happy googling later and suddenly a whole new world of possibilities had opened up. River cruises! Now that sounded much more up my street, I mean you can actually see land (for most of the time anyway) from a river can’t you? And it brought up happy memories of a long weekend in Venice many (pre-children) moons ago where from the Grand Canal we happily surveyed the architecture at a leisurely pace, hopping ashore from the vaporetto every now and then whenever it took our fancy.
I began to get excited. Rivers, by their very nature, are at the heart of some of the most beautiful cities in the world. What better way to see them than by navigating up (or indeed down) stream? Often it is the oldest, most beautiful part of the capital that sits at the waterfront (bringing with it, of course, an abundance of waterside cafés and restaurants).
I was hooked. Most of the tours I looked at seemed to offer plenty of opportunities to stop and have a good wander perhaps along the shores of the Rhine, through the valleys of the Dordogne or even the Nile or the Seine. When jerked back to reality rather helpfully by my two year old waiving the remote control under my nose I sighed and thought … but not with the children. No.
But just as I was about to turn away, something caught my eye. A Christmas market cruise! Wow! The idea of cruising along the river shore to a spectacularly lit market, full of the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas really appealed.
Best of all I could justify a long weekend without the children. I mean I wouldn’t want to risk them seeing their presents before Christmas would I, it would spoil the surprise …!
Some rapid fire googling later (after I’d put Peppa Pig on of course) and there it was, a ‘Christmas Markets Extravaganza’ four day cruise. Now if I can just persuade Grandma …
Nicola Wilson is a mum, freelance writer for www.rivercruiseholidays.com, entrepreneur, business coach and writer with several years experience of working as a headhunter within the IT sector. Her website is www.infiniteresources.co.uk.
Whether you’re interested in fast food on the go or want to sample something fresh and locally produced, there are plenty of eateries in Amsterdam that won’t break the bank. There are lots of places for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack all within easy reach of the city centre that cater for every taste.
When you’re in a new city you really should try the local cuisine. One of the best places to try is Pannenkoekenhuis Upstairs. As the name suggests, you have to climb some steps but the walk is worth it when your waiter brings you Dutch pancakes, or pannenkoeken, with either savoury or sweet toppings. Everything’s reasonably priced and the pancakes fill a dinner plate so you’ll be full till dinner time. Another unmissable place for local food is Café Het Paleis which is found west of Dam square. There a slice of appelgebak (appletart) won’t cost you the earth but the thick, buttery pastry will be as memorable as any of the city’s famous sites.
If you’re tastes lean towards French or Italian food then Van Kerkwijk could be the restaurant for you. There the menu includes dishes like carpaccio and steak tartare or you could opt for an Indonesian curries or African tagines. Restaurant Azmarino is another place where international dishes are served. The food is served on giant sharing platters and you can expect a mixture of hot, sour, sweet and spicy dishes from East Africa. Thai food is another option in Amsterdam and one of the best restaurants for Thai food can be found near the popular Leidseplein. Sawaddee Ka is a well-respected and inexpensive restaurant where Thai dishes like curries, noodles, fish cakes and soups can be sampled.
If you fancy a stop during a busy day’s shopping or site seeing then the best places for lunch are Singel 404 and Poco Loco. Singel 404 is a bit of an institution in Amsterdam so table can be difficult to find but if you’re lucky enough to get a seat you should try the broodje with smoked chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, melted brie and avocado. You can specify the type of bread and you’ll find it’s more than enough to get you refuelled for the afternoon’s activities. Poco Loco has a terrace that overlooks the Nieuwmarkt but people don’t go there for the views. The place is famous for its club sandwich with crispy bacon, Dutch cheese, smoked chicken and salad.
If you’re interested in quick food there are plenty of places that will serve you a burger or make a pizza for you. One of the best places to go for burgers is Getto. The atmosphere is relaxed and inviting so there’s a chilled out vibe and yet they’re serious about their food. The Jennifer Hopelezz burger topped with guacamole and bacon comes highly recommended, as does the Dolly Bellefleur with tzatziki, each of which are served with chunky chips and salad. Yam Yam is so good they named it twice. The name means “yum yum” and visitors to their restaurant on Frederik Hendrikstraat will attest that the Tartufata pizza with Italian ham, parmesan, rocket and truffle sauce definitely justifies the name.
If after sampling the cuisine on offer throughout Amsterdam, you would like to relax with a beer or two and maybe munch on something light, De Zotte on Raamstraat would be the best place to end a long and busy day.
Visiting the Dutch capital needn’t cost the earth, and there are cheap flights to Amsterdam available throughout the year. So why not book a ticket and experience it for yourself!
Frank Williams is a travel blogger who specialises in finding the best value European city breaks.
What Turkey has to Offer: Why it’s an Amazing destination
Ever Wonder Why So Many People are Going to Turkey for Holiday?
Photo by John Walker / Flickr
Travel to Turkey on holiday? Yes! More people are realizing the benefits of going to Greece all the time. Below is a short look at some of the main reasons so many people enjoy going to this country. You might be surprised at some of the things that make it such an amazing travel destination.
Why Turkey is Amazing
Here’s a closer look at why so many people feel Turkey is so amazing.
History – One of the things that makes travel to Turkey so cool for some people is all the rich history that’s available in the country. Whether you’re in Istanbul or another city, you can hardly turn around without seeing something that has survived through history. From ruins to buildings that are still standing, history buffs are going to love all that Turkey has to offer.
Nature – From scuba diving and swimming with the turtles to exploring the beauty of the country on land, nature lovers are going to find a lot to enjoy about Turkey. Most wouldn’t consider it the most beautiful place in the world, but its natural beauty cannot be denied.
People – The local people you’re going to run into in the country are another reason so many people who have gone sweat they’re going to return as soon as they can. Friendly and welcoming to foreigners, the people can really make your holiday special.
Culture – From museums to art galleries to all the history everywhere you turn, those who enjoy cultural experiences are going to get a lot out of going to Turkey. From Greek to Roman to Ottoman culture, there’s a lot of culture to explore and experience.
Nightlife – If you’re more into the party life, Turkey has a lot to offer you as well. With a lot of great nightclubs and restaurants, you’re going to be able to dance and drink the night away – especially if you’re staying in Istanbul. Even if you don’t drink alcohol, there are a lot of great places where you can relax and unwind socially, and this can make your holiday a lot better.
Turkey is an amazing destination where you can find a variety of beautiful holiday homes when you book online. As long as you do your homework and research before you leave, you’re sure to find a lot of great attractions and events to keep you busy when you’re on holiday. If you have experience visiting Turkey, leave a comment below and share your adventures with the rest of us.
About the Auhtor of What Turkey has to Offer: Why it’s an Amazing destination :
Theresa likes learning about different cultures around the world. She also enjoys writing articles for different Internet publications that accept guest posts – like this one. She has two cats and one turtle she rescued in an incident she still doesn’t like to talk about.
Having put its recent troubled history firmly behind it, Kuwait is beginning to put itself on the tourist map in the same way as some of its Middle Eastern sister countries. Accommodation in Kuwait is certainly of a high standard and there are a number of cultural attractions to enjoy in this prosperous and welcoming country.
The House of Mirrors
Not a funfair attraction but rather one of those quirky must-sees that is the result of one person’s passion and single-mindedness. The mind in question belongs to Lidia al-Qattan, the widow of renowned Kuwaiti artist Khalifa al-Qattan and it was inspired by a piece of dining room furniture. From these humble beginnings grew such grandiose-sounding attractions as the Room of the Universe and the Basin of Sharks. The mirrored mosaics that cover both the inside and outside of the house apparently required the use of 77-tons of glass and 102 tons of cement in their construction.
Souk Al Mubarakiya
As with any Arabian destination, a visit to the local souk is a must for the frenetic excitement, non-stop activity and of course practice in haggling. Despite a number of the traders recently moving into a modern building, it still retains its timeless charm as you haggle amongst piles of dates, olives and cuts of meat. Beyond this the souk spills out into the traditional winding alleyways and near here you will find the Souq al-Hareem where Bedouin women sell the old-fashioned black eyeliner kohl, pumice stones and distinctly non-traditional sequined dresses.
For a complete change of pace a visit to the city’s aquarium should do the trick. Slightly unusually but entirely fitting due to its location, the Aquarium includes a ‘Desert Zone’ which features a selection of local mammals, reptiles and birds that display remarkable adaptations to the harsh conditions and many of which are endangered. The journey continues through the ‘Coastal Zone’ and creatures living in rivers and mangrove swamps including penguins, otters, pythons and seabirds. The spectacular ‘Sea Zone’ contains more the 100 species from the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea and coastal Africa and includes the incredible wraparound, floor-to-ceiling shark and ray tanks. Try and coincide your visit with feeding time if you can.
Once home to the Al-Sabah collection, one of the most comprehensive displays of Islamic art in the world, the museum was systematically looted and vandalised during the Iraqi occupation. The museum is still undergoing reconstruction and restoration and pressure from the UN helped restore many of the antiquities and artworks, many of which have been on display at the British Museum in London and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in the interim. Now there are more than 2000 pieces back on display, charting Kuwait’s history back to the Bronze Age.
Al-Hashemi Marine Museum
The centrepiece of this odd museum – and even odder gift shop selling toy Viking longships and Lord Nelson figurines is the largest wooden boat in the world. The Al-Hashemi II is 80.4m long, 18.7m wide and weighs around 2500 tonnes. It was constructed in 1998 using mahogany from Africa and pine logs from Oregon, US. Its lavish interior is now used as a conference venue while the nearby (and significantly smaller) Al-Boom is a superb restaurant.
Tareq Rajab Museum
Assembled as a private collection of Islamic art by Kuwait’s then Antiquities Minister and his British wife, it fortunately survived the Iraqi invasion because the owners bricked up the doorway to the cellar in which it was housed and disguised the entrance. Still housed in the cellar of this elegant villa, the collection numbers around 30,000 items, around a third of which are on display at any one time. The first section houses calligraphy, miniatures, ceramics, metalworks, carvings and the Islamic manuscripts for which the museum is internationally renowned. The second collection is Islamic objects from the last 250 years and includes costumes, textiles, jewellery and musical instruments.
Transformed in the last two decades, Kuwait should be high on the agenda for any visitor to the Arab Peninsula with accommodation, attractions and shopping all of a high standard.
When Sally recently travelled to Kuwait she visited a number of religious and tourist attractions. She hopes to share what she learned to ensure travellers can plan best.
Thanksgiving is one of the best times of year to make a trip to New York City and this year, there are more reasons than ever to bring the family! Thanksgiving 2013 in New York City includes high profile sports matchups, kid-friendly entertainment and of course, the famed Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This year, there are also plenty of ways to save on your family vacation.
Here are the top 10 family-friendly things to do in New York City for Thanksgiving 2013!
1. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a staple of Thanksgiving every year since 1927! Heading to New York City for Thanksgiving will be a popular choice this year and a huge reason why is this annual parade.
2. Go sightseeing with a tour company. It’s not everyday you’re in New York City, so take some time out of your visit to see at least a few of the city’s iconic sights. There are so many to choose from and so scattered around NYC’s five boroughs that finding your way to one is an easy task! Try booking a tour with Gray Line New York and treat the family to the best sights New York City has to offer.
3. Visit the American Museum of Natural History. Many families will immediately recognize the American Museum of Natural History from the Ben Stiller movie “Night at the Museum”. The whole family will have something to gawk at as the museum is one of the largest in the world with exhibits dedicated to dinosaurs, outer space, the ocean and more.
4. Catch a Brooklyn Nets game. The day before Thanksgiving, the Brooklyn Nets will play host to Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. This November 27th game will pit two of the top teams from each coast in an early season matchup sure to be on everyone’s radar. If you have a sporty family, going to the Barclays Center for this game could be just what your NYC vacation needs!
5. Pay a visit to Central Park Zoo. Central Park is a huge place that the family can have a lot of fun visiting… fun can even be had getting there! Smart Destinations offers tourists the opportunity to rent bikes, ride through Central Park and visit the Central Park Zoo for one cost. If there’s one thing your family should definitely do this Thanksgiving 2013 in New York City, it has to be this!
6. Watch the New York Islanders play. For families who prefer hockey to basketball during the winter months, the New York Islanders happen to be playing the day before and the day after Thanksgiving this year in New York City!
7. Visit Times Square. There are few blocks in the world brighter than Times Square. If you’ve never seen it before, you will hardly believe your eyes when you make the trip at night with the dark sky illuminated by the thousands and thousands of light bulbs of Times Square! Times Square truly is one of the most iconic features of New York of this era and shouldn’t be missed during your family’s stay in NYC for Thanksgiving.
8. Buy a toy from FAO Schwarz Toy Store. This famous toy store on Fifth Avenue is a must-see for any family visiting New York City for Thanksgiving, because Christmas happens to be right around the corner!
9. See The Lion King. Every kid who has ever seen The Lion King is a fan, with very little exception. The Lion King also happens to be a Broadway show in New York City that kids and adults alike have long enjoyed! The show doesn’t have a Thanksgiving Day show, but it does play on every other day.
10. Enjoy a HomeAway. Instead of booking a hotel room when your family visits New York City for Thanksgiving 2013, try booking a rental from HomeAway. HomeAway offers tourists the opportunity to pay for accommodations that are far more homely than hotels because they happen to be the homes of real people!
Sydney is Australia’s culinary hub. Sure, Melbourne has its fair share of exciting restaurants, and the likes of Perth and Hobart are up and coming destinations for foodies, but Sydney remains the first port of call for serious gourmands. It is here that top international chefs like David Chang tend to choose when entering the Aussie marketplace for the first time (and, indeed, the opening of Chang’s Momofuku Seiobo was one of 2012′s most vaunted events) and where local chef’s head to hone their skills at the highest level. Every year brings a new crop of enticing eating establishments. Here are some of this year’s hottest restaurants.
Head downstairs into this basement restaurant and be transported to a bustling Shanghai teahouse. Waiters and waitresses dart about serving the 200 plus customers authentic dim sum, chilli crab and roast duck. Classic cocktails make their way through the room held high on silver trays, while the decor evokes colonial era Shanghai at every turn. A variety of rooms, from private dining options to a vast communal room make for a vibrant restaurant where the emphasis is definitely on fun.
It’s all about provenance at this small restaurant in the Inner West. Sixpenny has a herb garden and beehive out the back and cultivates a plot of vegetable garden in the nearby Southern Highland hills. They also source their meat and fish locally. Fortunately, their eco credentials are backed up with some serious chops in the kitchen. Chef’s Daniel Puskas and James Parry craft dishes that combine farmed and wild ingredients to delicious effect. You can choose either the ‘large’ or ‘small’ set menu − either way, you won’t be disappointed.
The Movida brand has well and truly infiltrated the Melbourne culinary scene. Now extending to three restaurants and a bakery, this bastion of Spanish tapas has now spread to Sydney’s Surrey Hills. Grab a seat at the bar or one of the scattered tables and order a succession of small but perfectly formed grazing plates. The wine list is pretty awesome too.
Cipro Pizza Al Taglio
Whatever Chicagoans may claim, the best pizza is found in Italy. And it is the distinctly Roman take on the dish that Cipro offers. Bounteous slices of pizza perfection, with an array of tempting toppings − pork ragu, anyone? − are worth the visit alone, but if you prefer other Italian classics, their arancini and minestrone soup are most definitely worth a look. A busy, bustling, warehouse space, Cipro Pizza Al Taglio is a great place to start – or end – a night out.
The chef and sommelier behind much-loved Sydney institution Bentley Bar have spread their wings to bring the discerning Potts Point crowd a more casual option − but still with the best quality food and drink. Grab a seat at the bar or one of the tables overlooking Macleay Street and order up some cured meats (made on-site) to start. Then take advantage of the frankly incredible wine list (with options available by the glass, carafe or bottle), and the staff’s expert knowledge, to find the perfect tipple to accompany your meal.
With new restaurants opening all the time in Sydney, it can be quite a job for a new venture to get noticed amid the ever-changing food scene. However, these new additions prove that the best way to get noticed is simply to make great food. There are some good deals for cheap flights to Sydney around at the moment, so it’s a great time to get out there and experience the city’s thriving food scene.
April O’Neill is a freelance travel writer based in Sydney, Australia. When not writing she loves to cook and be cooked for.
There are many things that are unknown about Vietnam. Granted, this is not really the place most people are raring to visit especially since there are a lot of countries that are being promoted in different parts of the world. In Asia for instance, other countries are more well-known than Vietnam but this does not mean that it is less interesting. There are some things that you do not know about the country that will make you want to go there.
Have you ever wondered why is it that a lot of Vietnamese seem to have Nguyen as their surname? This does not mean that all the Vietnamese with this surname are related. Rather, it is actually the most popular surname in Vietnam. It might seem confusing at first especially for people who are not from the country. There are six different tones that Vietnamese use when speaking. These tones will let people know what they are trying to say. Foreigners who have tried to learn the language have had a hard time simply because they cannot use the proper tones with what they are trying to say.
It seems that Vietnamese culture has somehow clashed with the other tourists who have visited the place. Vietnam is a country wherein the culture is still intact unlike in other countries that have already been influenced by the other cultures of people who have gone there in the past.
For instance, even though Vietnamese are also slowly being influenced by the changes with the world now, they can still be highly conservative with the way they dress especially in public places. If you do not want to be the stared at by the locals or maybe even other tourists, it will be best to dress discreetly. This is especially true if you plan on visiting the temple. They will appreciate it more if you would wear long pants and shirts that are decent enough for the place.
One thing about the people in Vietnam though is they are very hospitable. They would like to make sure that foreigners are at ease and they would even invite foreigners to visit their house to eat. It might be a good way to have a taste of authentic Vietnamese cuisine. Just do not forget to take off your shoes before you enter anyone’s house. This is also the same for some public places. Not taking off your shoes will show a sign of disrespect and you do not want to come across as someone who is rude.
Unlike other places wherein taking pictures is considered normal, there are still some Vietnamese who feel that their souls are being stolen when their pictures are being taken. You should always ask the permission of people before you can take their pictures. If they decline, it will not be wise to insist on it since you might only come across as a disrespectful foreigner who does not know how to respect their usual culture and traditions.
Many Authors and Dreamers of the 20th century gave the world the impression that global citizenship would be a reality by now. People wouldn’t be bound by the borders of the country they were born in; they’d be able to roam freely all over the map and money would be the only obstacle in their way. So much for that delusion.
The majority of countries in the world don’t allow dual citizenship, let alone this utopian dream of being “citizens of the world”. Of the 37 countries which do allow dual citizenship, 6 involve hoops and red tape. So what is a dreamer to do? Go into politics and campaign to radically change foreign policy worldwide? Well it’s an idea, but no. Unless a person is politically inclined, life is too short to be wasted fighting nationalistic bureaucracy. So this is an answer to the problem of thwarted wanderlust: becoming a modern nomad by working within the system.
The modern nomad moves from nation to nation, staying in one place for a few years. Practically, this would mean getting permission for short-term stays (anything from 6 months to 5 years typically) in one country and moving on once that permission ends.
But before delving into methodology, many people are not inclined to pursue modern nomadism at all. Let’s try to make them see a reason.
• First and foremost, it may be at least 25 years before it will be possible for anyone to possess legal international citizenship. In the meantime modern nomadism is as close as we can get.
• The modern nomad has the opportunity to be the most financially practical individual on the globe.
- By living all over the world, they can obtain bank accounts wherever they live.
- In the event of a bank collapse in one country, they can retain the funds in their other bank accounts.
- Since they keep money in multiple international accounts, their tax burden is reduced.
- If their country of origin charges inheritance tax, estate tax etc. – which allows their government to tax their assets upon their death, only the assets held within that country will typically be subject to it. There are some exceptions but with good preparation, their international assets can remain exempt.
• Finally, if Thoreau was right and most people do live “lives of quiet desperation”, then the modern nomad is unlikely to be one of them. Nomadic living is conducive to adventure; in any case it is a life lived off the beaten track. If everyone only has one life to live, why not make it fulfilling?
Understand that this list is not exhaustive. There are other advantages to nomadism which haven’t been discussed here. However, those which have been mentioned are applicable to most individuals.
Admittedly, this is not a lifestyle everyone will want to adopt. Some people enjoy living in one place all their lives, with brief, sporadic vacations elsewhere. Others can’t follow their dreams, for one reason or another. But many people are in a position where becoming a modern nomad is a possible option.
For those who are undecided because of financial circumstances, money isn’t necessarily an obstacle to adopting the lifestyle of a modern nomad. This will be addressed in the next article of this series.
For those who read this article out of simple curiosity, it has hopefully made you consider living your life a little differently.
Until next time.
About The Author:
Hozai Ahnungslos, in keeping with his unusual name, strongly advocates living an unconventional life. He became a modern nomad a few years ago, after he experienced something extraordinary in an ordinary disguise. He tells this unusual story on his website, http://www.sophiesgarret.com even as he lives it. He hopes it will inspire others to walk along the less travelled road, wherever it might take them.
The first new major museum open is the Gran Museo Del Mundo Maya (Grand Museum of Merida Maya World), located in Merida, originally opened in September 2012, closed for a while and is now open again. The expansive museum has a collection of more than 500 pieces, including textiles, religious objects, and items reflecting the current lives of the Mayas. They have engravings, books, and historical documents, artistic and religious works from the colonial historic era in addition to artifacts from the pre-Hispanic era including stelas, stone sculptures, ceramics and offerings. The exhibit rooms move from the present into the past through four distinct sections: The Mayab, Nature and Culture; Mayas of Today; Mayas of Yesterday; and Ancestral Mayas. The unique museum has many interactive exhibits and even has a laser light and sound show in the evenings. It also has a large screen projection room for various presentations.
The new Merida museum is open from 8:00am to 5pm, except on Tuesdays. The entrance fee is about $150 pesos. The museum houses a nice restaurant. Complete with a bar, the restaurant offers of regional and international cuisine, including desserts. Please note that Merida’s first Museum of Anthropology located in El Palacio Canton is still open. The grand colonial building alone is worth the visit.
Cancun’s recently opened (November 2012) Museo Maya de Cancun includes 350 archeological artifacts including some that have never been displayed and some discovered in recent excavations. Some artifacts were previously exhibited at the Museo Regional de Yucatan or “Canton Palace” in Merida and the former Archeological Museum in Cancun. The massive 55,000 square feet structure contains three 4,400-square-foot exhibition halls, two for permanent exhibits and one temporary exhibitions. A visit to the museum also includes access to the archaeological site of San Miguelito.
Located in Cancun’s beach hotel zone, the museum is open from 8:00am to 5pm, except on Mondays. The entrance fee is about 60 pesos.
Access to the museums by taxi is easy, or their are educational travel companies like, Explorations Inc., who offer cultural tours in Yucatan. Such tours allows an opportunity to visit both these major new museums. Explorations’ tours in the northern part of the Yucatan Peninsula highlight the past and living history of the Maya with visits to Morida, Valladolid, Campeche, Izamal, Ek Balam, Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Sayil, Akumal, Mayan villages, markets, colonial haciendas, cenotes, three coasts and more. Both the cultural and natural history are explored along with regional cuisines of Yucatan.
In the Northern Yucatan of Mexico, travelers can also experience many of the small wonders to be found there – at small archaeology sites, traditional Mayan towns and villages, beautiful nature areas, local restaurants and markets, and with interactions with local residents.
Kyoto is one of the historical cities of Japan. A previous imperial capital of Japan, the city has survived the bombing attacks of World War II. The precious symbolic temples and shrines you can see in Kyoto are actually remnants from the past, which have existed for centuries. Kyoto is famed for its exquisite architecture and culture and is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Japan. Such recognition is one of the reasons why the city is worth a visit.
Upon your arrival to Kyoto, you will probably be first exposed to a highly urbanized metropolis complete with skyscrapers and its state-of-the-art, glass-and-steel train station. However, you should not make immediate conclusions as the real gems of the city are its temples, shrines, and parks. And if you are patient, you will eventually see Kyoto’s beauty slowly unfolding.
There are several amazing attractions around city that deserve a visit such as the Heian-jingu shrine gardens and Fushimi-inari Shrine. The “Kyoto Walks” pamphlet provided through the Japan National Tourist Organization is a great self-guided tour reference if it is your first visit to the city.
Kyoto is divided into several districts, so if you don’t know where to go, start from the Central District. In this district, you will find the magnificent Nijo Castle, which is the former home of the Tokugawa shoguns, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in the 1600s, the castle features traditional Japanese architecture, sliding doors, and wall painting masterpieces. The Central District is also home to the Imperial Park and the Imperial Palace, which can be accessed by the public through scheduled public tours.
The Northern District contains numerous centuries-old temples and shrines, some of which are also World Heritage Sites. However, the first attraction you must visit in this area is the golden pavilion temple of Kinkaku-ji, which is world-renowned for its impressive design which reflects on the water and its surrounding beautiful and serene landscape.
Higashiyama in Eastern Kyoto is another interesting district to visit, with the picturesque Kamo River and the temple-filled Higashiyama mountains in close proximity. While here, walk the Philospher’s Path, which follows a canal lined by a series of cherry trees. This incredibly scenic walk is about two kilometers long and features small shrines, temples, as well restaurants, shops and cafes along the way.
Another site in Higashiyama that intrigues travelers is the famous geisha district of Gion. Geisha are women who undergone rigorous and extensive training in the fields of performing arts for the purpose of entertaining customers professionally in social engagements. In Gion, you can easily spot charming Geishas and their apprentices called maikos attending events at anochaya teahouses. If you want to see these women in action, there is a regular cultural show held at the Gion Corner. Some of the regular performances conducted by geishas are traditional dancing, flower arranging and puppet plays.
Despite of Kyoto’s lack of airport, visitors can still conveniently reach the city by landing at either of the two airports in the neighboring city of Osaka. The railway and road network between the two cities are quite efficient. Kyoto is also easily accessible from the country’s capital Tokyo. A highly advanced bullet train service regularly travels in between the two cities, and the ride only takes about 2.5 hours.