Revealing the Best of Rio

rio - Christ the Redeemer

Rio de Janeiro, famous for its carnival, is one of the most tourist friendly destinations in South America. Almost every tourist visiting Brazil will include Rio on the list of destinations to visit during their visit. Rio is a busy city, the second biggest city in Brazil after Sao Paulo, and has a lot to offer.

Here are a few of the things that have made Rio one of the most popular tourist destinations in South America. Make sure to include them when you visit this beautifulcity.

Mount Corcovado and Christ the Redeemer

Don’t know why, but the body language of Vin Diesel when he said “This is Brazil!!” in the Fast and Furious 5 movie always succeed reminded me of Christ the Redeemer in Brazil. The statue is an infamous landmark and you just have to visit it! The statue was completed in 1931 and is certainly a must visit when you are in Rio. Some people say that it is better to visit it in early morning as it’s less crowded. The afternoon is still nice though and it’s a great time of day to get a photograph of the city.

Beaches

‘The girl from Ipanema’ highlights one of the best parts of the city, the many beautiful beaches. Two of the busiest are Ipanema and Copacabana. When it comes to picking the most classy beaches in Rio, then Ipanema beach just might win. This beach has a beautiful setting and the area is one of the richest in the city, with beachside cafes and bars. The area is just the right place to relax, play around by the beach and drink some beers. Just remember the weekends get really crowded.

Sugarloaf

If you would like to get a birds eye view of the city then visiting the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro is the right thing to do. You’ll get spectacular view from the top overlooking the whole of the city and the beaches and bays. Don’t forget to pack some lunch (it is no secret that its a bit challenging to find a good restaurant up there) and you can spend an enjoyable and relaxing few hours on the hill.

Bars and shops

Up for some live music and dance? Rio Scenarium, which is located in R. do Lavradio, 20 – Centro is one of the most famous bars in Rio. It seems that everyone is guaranteed to have a great time there! Besides the music, the people and the ambiance, you should definitely pay some attention to Rio Scenarium interior design. It is unique and full of antiques.

Visiting Arcos Da Lapa during Friday and Saturday night will give you a very authentic experience of the live music and dance that makes Rio so famous. The party, which usually starts around 9 pm, is going to happen on the street. Don’t worry there are plenty of stores, bars and restaurants nearby if you would like to find a calmer place to sit down.

Cathedrals in Rio

Two cathedrals that are really worth a visit are the Old Cathedral of Rio and the new cathedral of Rio the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian, better known as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio. These two buildings are architectural wonders and are to walk around.

These are just a few of the sites that make Rio such an interesting city to visit. If these ideas aren’t enough to get you started you can always check out the Tijuca Forest Waterfalls, do some fruits shop at the local markets, enjoy some random street musicians and learn come capoeira moves straight from the locals on the beach. It is surely one of the best ways to enjoy Brazil!

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Travel Surprises: The Different Faces of Orlando

Orlando places to go

Wandering around the streets of a city can be a really interesting activity. It is a great way to get an overview of what the city is all about and even learn a bit about the history behind it. Orlando, which is nicknamed “The Beautiful City Beautiful” and also being famous of being the Theme Park Capital of the World, definitely not only about theme parks.

A quick glance at the history of the city will quickly teach you that it is not only the Walt Disney World Resort. The cityscape of Orlando is beautiful. A lot of the tall buildings around the city function as offices, apartments, observation towers and hotels, but these are mixed in with large public open spaces such as public parks, public highways and roads.

However, before you can explore Orlando, you need to get there. To get the best value holiday experience, don’t forget to do a bit research on how to get cheap flights to Orlando. Afterwards, set up an awesome itinerary and pack all the holiday essential in your luggage. Here are some ideas on what you can do while you are here:

Going to the Malls

Though visiting shopping malls sounds a bit odd for a tourist, there are plenty of great places to just wander around (and probably do some shopping too!). You should check out the Florida Mall and the Premium Outlets Orlando. I prefer the last one, because it has a nice open area to walk around and enjoy the day.

night at orlando

Visit Something Different

Wonderworks is located at 9067 International Dr, Orlando and is a great place for families with school age children. But hey, this place might be perfect for you too since its all about fun! Go there early or get a pre-booked ticket to avoid the long queues. Oh btw, Rogers building is located at 39 South Magnolia Avenue and is also a great building to wander around. You’ll think the same, just look at how different it is from the buildings that surround it. Btw, visit during the day since some say that this place is haunted!

Enjoying Nightlife

While hanging out around a nice cafe or a restaurant in the downtown area can be a bit expensive, is worth it for a big splash. The various desserts and drinks make this worthwhile! One of my favorite places to get desserts is the Dessert Lady Café. If you want to grab a really nice dinner, you should try checking out the Melting Pot.

Do you know that Orlando is also a great place to enjoy live music? Just one of the many reasons to spend the night strolling around the city! So have a drink and enjoy live music, because in Orlando, the city wakes up as the sun sets.

Pictures from Wikimedia

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Summer in London: Sunshine, Shopping and Sightseeing

summer in london explore market

London is a city that is steeped in history. The grand museums and government buildings are a reminder of an empire now past while the gleaming skyscrapers of The City point to the beating heart of the present. It is a mish mash of architectural styles, of decay and regeneration, which makes London so fascinating to explore.

The cities hotels are a reflection of this diversity. They offer a place for all tastes, styles and budgets. From the grand pomp, red carpets and silver tea services of the Ritz to the buzzing youth hostels full of backpackers, they offer a glimpse of the cosmopolitan nature of London, a city which attracts world wanderers from every corner of the globe. Yet with so many possibilities, it can be difficult knowing where to start, which is where sites like Hotel Direct (because the last thing you want to do is arrive in the city without a reservation) can be useful.

For me, the history of London really comes to life in the summer and 2014 is set to be a fine example. The hot rays of the sun bring the music out onto the busy streets and the people into the spacious green parks. On such days, walking the streets feels less like a necessary chore and more like a pleasant stroll. It’s the perfect time to hang up that winter coat and set about exploring the delights of the city.

around london

Two particular highlights that no tourists should miss are the markets and museums of London. Portobello road market, Camden Lock market and Alfies Antique market are the top three in the city, especially for vintage lovers. You can guarantee that the markets will be bustling at this time of year. The smells of mixed spices and sizzling meat hangs in the air of Camden Lock. The bellows of stall holders can be heard ringing around Alfies Antiques Market.

A welcome respite from the sunshine can be found in London’s vast museums. What’s more, in a city famous for its hefty costs, most of the museums are free of charge! While I’m sure you’ll already have a few ideas of which museum you’d like to visit, let me list you some of my favorites, starting with the London British Museum. Located on Great Russell St, the London British Museum is open daily between 10am-5.30pm (Fri 10am-8.30pm). The museum has an enourmous collection and it is easy to loose yourself for hours at a time in the exhibitions.

If you want to see something a bit different then consider visiting the Chocolate Museum. Unfortunately this is not where Willy Wonka makes his chocolate, but it’s still an interesting place to visit. The museum is located on Ferndale Road in Brixton. It’s open Wednesday to Friday from 2pm till 7pm and Saturday from 10am till 6.30pm.

I’ve been overlooking the best of London though, for the city really comes into its own during the long summer evenings. As the sun hangs on the horizon, the street cafes become busy and the fancy restaurants slowly fill up with diners. A nice alternative to the civility of European street cafes are the heaving bars. Whichever option you do choose, make sure to avail yourself of the cities famous hospitality.

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A Guide to La Rochelle

things to see

La Rochelle is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful French city cities and is a particularly popular destination for tourists to visit. Situated right in the middle of the west coast of France, La Rochelle has spectacular views of the sea that can be seen from various points throughout the city, including from the city’s historic Old Town.

Getting To La Rochelle

La Rochelle is an easy city to get to cheaply, with a number on low-cost, no-frills airlines, such as flybe.com and ryanair.ie offering flights to the city form a variety of UK destinations, including Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh. There are a large number train and bus services which offer frequent services to visitors, including connections via the Eurostar service, which allows visitors from the UK with shorter than expected journey times. Anyone traveling to La Rochelle is advised to get hold of single trip insurance in advance to ensure that they are fully covered should something unexpected happen, such as losing luggage or having a hotel booking cancelled.

aquarium

Things To Do And See In La Rochelle

There are a large variety of fabulous attractions to go and visit in La Rochelle. The famous Chatelaillon Beach, stretching 3 kilometres in length, recently which won the highly regarded Traveler’s Choice award for beaches. It is free of charge to enter and the perfect place to relax, work on your suntan and enjoy stunning ocean views. La Rochelle is also steeped in history and has several interesting museums which are both informative and entertaining for any visitor. One of these, the New World Museum, brings delivers some incredible facts and information about voyages from France to the New World over a period of decades. Wide-ranging in the content of the New World that it delves into, perhaps most fascinating is its unique look at the history of America in its early years.

The La Rochelle Aquarium is another exceptional attraction which all tourists should be encouraged to see. As would be expected of a coastal city, the sheer number of different species of fish and other varieties of sea life available to be seen is massive. The pricing for entry to La Rochelle’s aquarium is low when compared to what would be expected to be paid to enter similar aquariums in larger European capitals. The excellent English audio commentary is another reason why this compelling attraction should not be missed.

Summary

La Rochelle is a unique and interesting French coastal city, which has a pleasant climate and offers a lot in terms of attractions without being too busy or expensive. It is definitely a city you should consider visiting, especially for a long weekend break.

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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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