Bucharest: The Heart of Romania

bucharest building

The capital city of Romania, Bucharest is special place to visit. Though famous for various scams, this city never lost it charm. Bucharest has a lot of things to offer. Starting from the beautiful architectural buildings and various kind of museums to places to go shopping that could accommodate anyone! As the centre of the Romanian economy, like most other capital cities around the world, Bucharest has great/easy access for tourists.

Speaking about Bucharest’s architecture and history, there are several buildings and areas that are too good to be true! House of the Free Press, the Arch of Triumph, Cantacuzino Palace, the historical Revolution Square, the Royal Palace and the Romanian Athenaeum.

Amazing museums in Bucharest are easy to find. One that you shouldn’t miss is the National History Museum, which is located on Calea Victoriei street. Probably one of the most important streets that you need to stroll along in Bucharest. Art Collections Museum, the National Museum of Contemporary Art and the Village Museum is also a great addition for your museum trip when visiting Bucharest. The National Museum of Contemporary Art is a relatively new museum in Bucharest. While the Village Museum has been around for 70 years and is perfect to go to if you want to learn more about the history and design of this country’s rural architecture.

Hop on/off bus or the sightseeing bus can be a wise option if you would like to see an overview of this city. With ticket prices around $8, you can see and wander as much as you want in one day (it operates daily from 10 am until 10 pm. Girls, don’t forget to stroll along the Calea Victoriei street and do some shopping. Get some branded fashion items easily on the street, but do hunt around for original embroidered clothing and linen as well, which Romania is so famous for.

If you have done everything in Bucharest and still have one day in Romania, why don’t you try to do a day trip out of Bucharest. Visit the Bran (Dracula’s) Castle, located around 84 miles north of Bucharest. Get a train to Brasov and continue the journey with a bus from Brasov to Bran. What could be better than end up a vacation with a dracula hunt, right?

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Jamaica: Your Once in a Lifetime Getaway

jamaica beach

If you’re planning a honeymoon, forget about Paris for a while. Jamaica, located in the Caribbean, can be just as romantic as Paris. The tropical weather and competitive prices makes this island nation an exotic destination to share one of the most special moments in your life with your partner.  Some obvious things to do together in Jamaica include snorkeling, getting a spa together, being lazy on the beach or just sailing into the sunset. My own dream is having a dinner by the beach, under the stars accompanied with the slow and relaxing beats of a live reggae band. Just a great way to end the day with your partner!

If you are thinking that the idea of a honeymoon in Jamaica is great, then here are some tips for you. One; though Jamaica is synonymous with adventure, getting an all inclusive honeymoon packages is a must. Speaking of all inclusive Caribbean vacations for couples, there are several great Couples Resorts in Jamaica. They will take care everything and pamper you completely. You can be assured that a honeymoon in a luxury style resort is a moment that you will never forget.

Two; Jamaica is not only about the beaches. Try some more adventurous activities like hiking the Blue Mountain tops and trekking to the waterfalls. If you must choose the beaches and you are looking for something different, why not try kite surfing or horseback riding? Being active together with your partner is also a great way to see if both of you can be a good team, right?

Three; though you are enjoying your honeymoon with your loved one, try to mingle or at least interact with the locals. Jamaican people are known for being warm, friendly and fun. Get to know them and learn about the local food, their amazing culture and how music influences their lives. Oh, a visit to one of the coffee factories and shopping in Jamaica’s bustling markets is a mus

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Pula: Discovering the Biggest City of The Istrian Peninsula

beach 2

Most people have heard of three cities in Croatia. The famous Dubrovnik, which is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites that is rich with historical sites. The ancient port city Split, and Zagreb, which is the capital and the largest city in Croatia.

Pula, located in Istria region, is a lot less famous than the other three, but definitely worth visiting and rightly so, because the city has a lot to offer. Located very strategically on the coastline of the Adriatic Sea, the city has a great climate in the summer, a strong culture and a rich history.

With its own international airport that enables direct flights from several cities in Europe, Pula has the potential to become as busy as Split, Zagreb and Dubrovnik. The best way to explore the region surrounding Pula is by renting a car (especially if you want to explore the other cities in Istria region as well).

pula camp site

The region surrounding Pula is incredibly beautiful, especially the rugged coastline. The beaches around Pula are just like the kind of beaches you’d find in a tourist brochure. The coastline is dotted with isolated villages and camping resorts. Stoja is one of the most famous examples. The village is a great place to catch the sunset and it is extremely budget friendly.

A day trip to Brijuni or the beaches around Kamenjak should also be considered if you plan to explore more of the peninsula. Make sure to sample plenty of truffles, since Istria is well known for them. They are the perfect snack for a long day on the beach. Sweet and sunny day, what can be better than that!

pula 1

If you intend to stay in Pula then you just need a good pair of shoes, because the city is not all that big. Be warned, you will be constantly stopping to get your camera out as you explore Pula. There are some amazing spots in the city. The highlight is the Roman amphitheater and the Arena, which every July becomes the venue for the Pula Film Festival – this year it is scheduled for July 12 and lasts until July 26. Taking an audio tour of the amphitheater is definitely a great option if you want to learn more about the history, but don’t expect any gladiator fights!

Besides visiting the roman ruins, walking the streets on Pula is an enjoyable past time. You can discover the small shops, coffee shops and souvenir shops. A bit of people watching is a great way to round off the day.

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Belgrade: Exploring the White City

historical site belgrade

Travelling to Belgrade, the capital of the Republic of Serbia since 1878, is something special. This city has a long interesting history and was influenced by a lot of cultures. This has given the city a unique character that has lots of potential for tourism. People usually explore the core area of Belgrade by foot; that’s the best way to not miss any details anyway. Though exploring the entire city might take a week or so.

parks in belgrade

Walking around and waiting for the sunset at the Kalemegdan Park whilst enjoying the view of Sava and Danube river is one of the most perfect activities to do. A lot of local people spend a lazy afternoon here. As the largest park, this place also offers great potential for exploring. There are plenty of historical monuments for example. Once you have started exploring then you’ll realize how massive this park actually is.

Other things – that somehow you’ll do it even if you are not planning to do – that you can do include strolling around Knez Mihailova Street where you can find loads of cafes and restaurants. Having burek and yogurt for breakfast, spending time sipping coffee and just people watching are also great activities. This street is always busy, day and night. Also you can find a restaurant that has a performance of old Belgrade music. You’ll also find a lot of street arts and brand name stores as well along the street.

belgrade church temple

The St Sava Church, which is located in this white city, is a spot that can’t be missed. The biggest Eastern Orthodox Church in the world remains unfinished, but nonetheless impressive. Visiting traditional or less traditional markets around Belgrade is also interesting to do as well. If you speak a little bit of the local language, try to bargain at the local markets in the morning.

museum in belgrade

Museum hopping in Belgrade is fantastic if you are a history freak. Start from the National Museum, and then go to the Historical Museum of Serbia and then the Etnographic museum where you can see the Serbian costumes, culture and everyday life in past centuries. Don’t miss a visit to Museum of the History of Yugoslavia and the Museum of Roma culture. Keep in mind that most museums in Belgrade are closed on a Monday.

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Revealing the Beauty of Blagaj

Blagaj trip 2

Blagaj, is a village-town that can be reached by bus from Mostar and is a must visit when you are travelling around Bosnia and Herzegovina. This lovely place is situated at the beginning of the Buna River and is enchantingly beautiful, with all the buildings, just like in a fairy tale. The highlight of Blagaj is Derwish monastery (historical tekke), which is also a national museum. Dress appropriately when you are visiting the museum or several places in Blagaj that are considered a place to pray. There are plenty of souvenirs shops, coffee shops and restaurants around as well. When exploring Blagaj, don’t limit yourself to visiting just the Derwish monastery.

Buna river
Enjoying the view of Buna River, a short river in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with its turquoise waters that flows below limestone cliffs. Hours could easily be spent there. Looking for more adventure? A boat expedition into the cave to explore Vrelo Bune is available.

Bridges
There are two bridges that cross the Buna River in Blagaj that deserves to be checked out. One is Karađoz-beg Bridge, which is known as Karađoz and was built around 1570. The other is Leho Bridge, or Lehina Cuprija, which was built around 1664. The two bridges are constructed with rocks and have different number of arches and are different widths.

Architecture
Wandering around the old town that is rich in cultural and historical value is always interesting. The buildings around Blagaj are mostly influence by oriental and Mediterranean styles. It can clearly be seen that the town is more developed on the right bank of the Buna River, meanwhile the left bank is uneven, steeper and is a lot less suitable for construction.

Blagaj trip 1
Religious buildings
There are plenty of mosques and two churches (the Serbian orthodox church St. Basil of Ostrog and the Catholic church of the Holy Trinity) around this area. One of the oldest domed mosques in this region, The Sultan Suleyman or Cavera mosque, is on the top list for most tourists. This mosque is one of the first buildings built in Blagaj, probably around 1520/21.

Traces of war / ruins
Explore more by hiking up to the ancient fort on the top of the hills. Follow the road or ask local people where to start the hike to the top. The total distance is around 2 km. The ruins are special and the view from the top cannot be missed.

Feel hungry after a half-day or almost a day exploring Blagaj? Grab some food at Vrelo restaurant, located close to the Derwish monastery, before heading back to Mostar (or you can also stay over night at Blagaj, there are some options for accommodation here). This attractive yet traditional restaurant can satisfy your taste buds with its selection of Mediterranean and Turkish cuisine.

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Spain Car Hire Adventures

spain holiday andalusia

If you are looking for a European country where you can have a car hire adventure, you will find that Spain is one of the best. There is a great range of cultures, sights and options available in Spain, which ensures that you’ll be able to find a route that is perfect for you and your travelling party. Unless you an infinite amount of time, you won’t be able to see close to what Spain has to offer, so make sure that you take the time to plan a route that appeals to what you are looking for from a driving holiday.

Andalusia
When it comes to images and thoughts of Spain that stick in your mind, there is a strong chance that the natural parks and white villages of Andalusia will be what comes to mind. This is the area where the sun shines all the time and with blistering skies and stunning hillsides, you will spend your time craning your neck at the fantastic views on offer. Stopping off you will find the narrow streets and the tapas culture that permeates the Spanish identity. If you dream of a Spanish car hire adventure where every town you stop off in provides the chance to relax in the sun while a Spanish guitar strums, this is the tour for you.

Castile & Extremadura  
If you are focused on getting touch with the heart of Spain, this is the car adventure that will appeal to you. This is the land of the conquistadores and of the Spanish Empire. When it comes to the historical nature of Spain, and of the massive impact Spain has had around the world, this is the region that will provide you with a fascinating insight into years gone by. With UNESCO recognising the importance of this part of the country, you will learn a lot while enjoying some stunning sights by touring this region.

Catalonia
Be careful not to say Spain too many times here as many Catalonians are backing the battle for independence away from Spain. This means that there is a rich and unique history in this area of the country but you will also find plenty of coastal regions offering stunning views. There is a great deal of architecture on offer, from Roman style churches and cathedrals from the medieval era, to the work of Gaudi. With Barcelona being at the heart of Catalonia, you can enjoy the big city lifestyle but there is a chance to combine it with stunning drives around the beaches and coastal roads of one fo the most popular destinations in Spain.

A splash of colour
When it comes to seeing the colours of Spain in all of their glory, you will find that the north of Spain offers some of the lushest and greenest areas. Backed against the bluest skies, this is a region that has a lengthy and important history, which can lay claim to being the basis for the modern Spain. From beaches to bullfighting, this region captures so much of what people expect and know about Spain, making it an ideal region when it comes to taking an adventure car hire holiday in Spain.

spain holiday the pyrenees

The Pyrenees
If you are looking for a Spanish tour that is slightly different, hiring a car and going around the Pyrenees will offer you something else. There are valleys and mountains, taking you to the highest and lowest points with the mountains of the Basque Country lying in the background. Again, this is an area of Spain with its own culture, history and sense of identity which is surely the point of exploring in a different country.

The way of Santiago
Spain is a deeply religious country with faith being extremely important to the Spanish people. This route, culminating in a visit to the tomb of St James is the perfect way for people to explore their faith and to learn more about the Spanish people’s beliefs.

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3 Local Food in Lhasa – You Cannot Imagine How Bizarre They Are!

tibet lhasa

Tourists who travel to Lhasa should not miss its local food. Most food served there are meats. Due to the high altitude and relatively lower temperature, there are not many vegetables grown locally. Anyway, the local food in Lhasa is worth trying for the food there has the very special flavor. Even if you are on a budget Tibet tour, you should not get rid of the bizarre but absolutely yummy cuisine! Besides, it’s the best way to know one important part of Tibet culture.

food

Ok, here are 3 mouthwatering food we highly recommend!

Thukpa – Tibetan noodle soup
This dish is cooked with noodles and various ingredients, originated in the eastern part of Tibet. It’s also famous among Nepalese. Thukpa is usually served with mutton or yak meat. Having a bowl of hot Tibetan Thukpa is a must-do while wandering in Lhasa!

Tsamba – National food of Tibet
It is a kind of stir-fried barley. This food is usually made of barley flour and mixed with butter. Barley should first be stir-fried and then milled into powder. Tsamba is a universal staple food for Tibetan people, often accompanied with yak butter tea. The procedure of eating it is easy – Pour out half a bowl of yak butter tea and then add Tsamba into the tea, stir it with your fingers, crush it up and voilià! The taste makes you like in heaven. Take a tour to Lhasa and do have this heavenly food!

Yak Butter Tea – Daily drink for Tibetan
It is said every Tibet women can make Yak butter with her own flavor. Making Yak butter is complicated but making Yak butter tea is not. Just put yak butter into a cup of tea, after it is melted, heating it up and then it’s ready to drink. Having a cup of hot yak butter tea is Tibetan’s great pleasure especially in cold weather. Tourists are also recommended to drink it to keep your energy for trekking the next day.

Small tip here: The Yak butter tea is very high in calories. So to pretty girls in diet, just throw away your diet plan for a while. Come on! It’s butter tea anyway.

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SONEVA KIRI RESORT: Luxury and ecology in one design

secret resort thailand 1

The Soneva Kiri Resort in Thailand is a jewel hiding in the middle of a rainforest and for vacationers, the place can be a piece of heaven on Earth.

The Soneva Kiri Resort is an eco-lux resort located at Ko Kut, Thailand. Ko Kut, Thailand’s fourth largest island, is the least populated island in the country. Private planes are chartered to take the guests from the Bangkok airport to the resort. Guests can stay in any of the 35 pool villas in the resort. Overnight stay in Soneva Kiri Resort starts at 820 USD.

One of the best reasons to stay in the Soneva Kiri Resort is its seclusion. There are no roads going to the resort. Guests are taken to the resort’s airstrip by a private plane from the Bangkok International Airport. A speedboat will then take the guests to the resort. An eco-buggy is used to take the guests to their villas.

secret resort thailand

Tourists are greeted by a 50 foot high bridge when going to the Soneva Kiri Resort. The bridge looks like a dragon, hence, walking over the bridge is like walking past through the monster’s belly. The 35 pool villas, where guests can stay overnight, are complete with all the amenities to provide the best luxurious relaxation for every guests. The private beach and the infinity pools give guests the chance to swim and relax without thinking about being disturbed by a crowd of beach goers or other swimmers. Each villa in the resort has its own private pool while a main infinity pool can also be used by anyone. The 12 Oceanfront Villa Suites of the resort are perfect for those who wish to have fast access to the resort’s private beach.

One of the best spots in the resort is its Eco Villa. Since the resort was carefully built to keep the environmental impact at a minimum, the Eco Villa was specially designed and built to have a zero carbon footprint. The advance use of renewable energy makes the villa a great model for sustainable living.

resort thailand 2

24H-Architecture designed a series of ecological icons, the most prominent is The Children Activity and Learning Centre. Aside from providing a wide range of entertaining activities, it also aims to raise the level of ecological awareness among visiting children. Situated on a rocky slope close to the ocean, its Manta Ray-inspired bamboo dome is perched in an elevated position, offering unparalleled views. The entire structure is made from local Thai bamboo, echoing the resort’s ecological approach to architecture. The interior of the structure is made from local plantation River Red Gum wood and rattan structural elements for the inner domes. The whole architectural design of the Den, as it is also called, adopts all bio-climatic aspects to suit the humid tropical environment. The roof itself cantilevers up to 8 meters, like that of an umbrella, providing shade and protection from the heavy rains. The whole open design with the translucent elevated rooftop and setback floors allow natural airflow inside the building, whereas the use of natural daylight limits the whole structure’s energy consumption.

The Soneva Kiri Resort is an excellent choice of destination for that much needed island getaway. The privacy and seclusion that the resort provides is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle brought about by city life.

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Signs of the Times — The Architecture of Turkey

Architecture of Turkey Urban (1)

From the Bodrum Peninsula’s beaches to central Turkey’s dreamscapes to Istanbul’s incredible history, the dynamic and diverse have become synonymous with Turkey holidays. Istanbul has long been identified as the gateway to Asia, with thousands of years of history intact in the form of well-built and well-preserved structures dating back to ancient times helping the country to maintain this reputation. The architecture of Istanbul includes a vast array of structures which reflect a number of influences that have come through the city in centuries past.

Byzantium

The Byzantine Empire was already 1,000 years old when emperor Constantine the Great attempted to make Byzantium (modern day Istanbul) the capital of the Roman Empire. For a brief period the city was called ‘New Rome’ but this name was soon replaced by Constantinople — the city of Constantine. Subsequent leaders that ruled Byzantium after Constantine built upon his vision and added everything from new walls to aqueducts to churches. This has resulted in a modern Istanbul that’s a cultural and architectural melting pot of centuries past.

The Jewel of the Bosphorus

Istanbul reached its zenith during the reign of emperor Justinian during which the magnificent Hagia Sophia (Church of Holy Wisdom) was constructed. The structure dominates the Istanbul skyline and draws crowds from all over the world to behold the grandeur of this Byzantine marvel.

Architecture of Turkey Urban (3)

Restoring Greatness

The Byzantine Empire saw a decline in the 11th century during the Fourth Crusade when a group of western Europeans bound for Jerusalem decided to change their plans and sack and occupy Constantinople instead, forcing members of the Byzantine dynasty to flee to other parts of the country. The Byzantine Empire eventually regained control of the city, but neither the city nor the empire were the same.

Precursors to the Renaissance

At this point, the architecture and design of Constantinople resembled a collection of villages set against a backdrop of massive ruin rather than a majestic metropolis. Byzantine artists then began to restore damaged churches, mosaics, frescos and buildings. Art historians today support direct links between the restoration of Byzantine art and architecture in Constantinople and the Renaissance that would later sweep the continent.

Re-Building an Empire

The Ottoman sultan Mehmet II eventually conquered Constantinople in 1453 and over time re-built it as the centre of a magnificent, sprawling empire. It was at this time that the Turks officially gave the city a new name, in time shortened to ‘Stanbul’ for Greeks and westerners and ‘Istanbul’ for the Turks. During this time Mehmet II began constructing a palace that would add a further landmark to Istanbul’s eclectic and historically precious architectural portfolio. Mehmet’s Topkapı Palace sits on the peninsula where the Golden Horn meets the Bosphorus and was expanded upon over the years to create what is known today as Topkapı Sarayı.

Architecture of Turkey Urban (2)

Islamic Istanbul

Istanbul experienced further development during the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent who led the Ottoman Empire to a time of impressive achievement in architecture, art, literature and law. During this reign, Süleyman commissioned the visionary architect Sinan to design buildings that are today considered some of the best examples of Islamic architecture in the entire world.

Byzantine, Ottoman, Islamic and modern architecture seem to blend rather seamlessly through the streets of modern Istanbul. It’s a city that has always derived inspiration from diversity; building and re-building structures and empires on ancient ground that has seen civilisations thrive and perish through the centuries.

Istanbul holidays are the perfect chance to delve into Turkish history simply by wandering the streets and taking in the didactic architecture that defines the city’s past, present and future.

Images by Christiaan Triebert, MiGowa and Harvey Barrison used under creative commons license.

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Architectural Wonders of Vienna

KARLSKIRCHE vienna 1

The collection of architectural wonders in Vienna never fails to fascinate. The city provides an excellent mixture of old and modern architectural styles and influences. Numerous beautifully built buildings, statues, monuments, cathedrals and other structures can be seen scattered throughout the city.

Majolikahaus vienna 1

MAJOLICA HOUSE
The name Majolica House came from the weather-proof, painted ceramic floral design on its façade. The Majolica House was designed by prominent Vienna architect Otto Wagner. The Majolica House is one of the greatest examples of the emergence of modern architectural style in Vienna. Wagner was one of the frontrunners of modern art and architecture in Vienna. The Majolica House is still considered as Art Nouveau despite its flat and rectilinear shape.

ST. STEPHEN’S CATHEDRAL (STEPHANSDOM)
The St. Stephen’s Cathedral is said to be one of the best examples of Gothic style architecture in all of Vienna. The oldest part of the Cathedral was built in the 13th century. The Cathedral is not only famous for its architectural brilliance but also because of the numerous art pieces kept inside the Cathedral. The nave, choir and side chapels of the Cathedral are all Gothic styled architecture. Romanesque architectural influence can be seen in the Cathedral’s Tower of the Heathens and the Giant Gate. Some of the outer buildings of the Cathedral were built using Baroque style architecture.

HAAS HAUS vienna 1

HAAS HAUS
Haas Haus provides an intriguing contrast to the St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The Building was designed by Austrian architect Hans Hollein. The Haas Haus combines old and new architectural styles. The Haas Haus is made more beautiful with the excellent use of stone and glass in the structure and was completed in the 1990s. Today, the Haas Haus has been transformed into a hotel. Café, restaurants and shops are also seen within the building.

GOLDMAN AND SALATSCH BUILDING
The Goldman and Salatsch Building was designed by Adolf Loos. The buildings design utilises a minimalistic architectural style. The simplicity and lack of ornamentation of the Goldman and Salatsch Building provides a daring contrast to the neighbouring Imperial Palace.

ST. CHARLES CHURCH (KARLSKIRCHE)
St. Charles Church is considered one of the best Baroque churches in the world. The Church was built by renowned Baroque architect Josef Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and was continued by his son Joseph Emanuel until its completion in 1739. The Church boasts an elongated ellipsoid dome and a 1,250 square meter frescoes in its cupola painted by Johann Michael Rottmayr.

Kunst Haus Wien vienna 1

KUNST HAUS WIEN
The Kunst Haus Wien exemplifies architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser fondness of colours and aversion to straight lines. The Kunst Haus Wien was designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser without using any straight lines, in fact, even the floors of the building bends. The Kunst Haus Wien was transformed into a museum and houses the designs and works of its famous architect.

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