Posted by Laura Orange | File under :
When it comes to dream vacation, our thoughts undoubtedly turns to hot warm waters and shiny white beaches of the Caribbean. The Caribbean has a rich history of settlers from Africa, French and England who all have contributed to its rich culture in a number of ways. Only a few places can offer more vibrant and happening night life, vistas and perfect weather conditions. If you are planning and got your heart set to visit this exotic destination, take a glance at the points which may help you get a broader view of the things they have to offer. Make your travel arrangements with Passport agency contact.

Caribbean near Tulum

Antigua 

Being located on the western hills of Caribbean, Antigua is a heaven on earth. It is filled with exotic plants, animals, geography and breathtaking scenery which will surely leave you spellbound. It is also well known for its exotic villas and resorts like Blue Waters which provide you with options like parasailing, surfing, beautiful gardens and jet skis. It is the perfect place to admire nature's beauty, it also have two huge beaches nearby with shiny white sand and crystal clear blue water which will add more value to your visit.

Bermuda 

Bermuda is one of the oldest British Territories in the world and is located 670 miles off the coast of North Carolina. It is internationally known for its pink sand beaches, exotic natural views and hospitable population. You can enjoy the unhindered vies of Bermuda's lush and beautiful landscape as well as enjoy the scenic beauty of the Atlantic. You would find a wide variety of internationally flavored cuisines and would love the big golf courses. The night life at Bermuda is also quite happening where you can enjoy the traditional dances and songs.

Shell Games

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is the best known vacation destination and one of the most loved gems of Caribbean. It is sparsely populated and offers wonderful beaches with soft sand and crystal clear waters. It has a vivid geography with an exotic collection of flora and fauna and world famous night life. You can enjoy island's culture at various night parties organized by bars, clubs and dance halls. If you are an adventure seeker, you can enjoy the off road jeep safari in the rain mountains and scuba diving in warm waters of the Caribbean.

Jamaica 

Jamaica is located in south of Cuba and is world famous for its exotic culture, landscapes and first class resorts. You can enjoy activities like fishing, dolphin watching or can just hang around the beaches. It also has well guided tours of the islands which help you to experience its traditional culture as well as enjoy the breathtaking scenery. It also has several water theme parks where you can enjoy water games like surfing and rain dance. It has three main beaches which offer beach parties and games like beach volley ball and not to mention, one of the beach has one clothing options.

With diverse and interesting geography and perfect climate conditions, both physical and cultural, the Caribbean is perfect to spend a vacation which you will remember for your lifetime.

Photos via Flickr Creative Commons

Posted by Laura Orange | File under : ,

Cairns - A City Tour


The city of elegance, Cairns is a well-renowned destination in Queensland admired for its calm, tropical climate and a poised atmosphere. Housing picturesque islands surrounded by rainforests and expansive waters, Cairns is the place to have an exclusive holidaying experience with your loved ones far away from the city buzz.

Cairns offer an exquisite bouquet of diversions ranging from snorkeling, diving, swimming and sailing along the spectacular Great Barrier Reef. People book cheap flights tickets to Cairns to experience the entrancing excursions and beach life at the place. But only some delve into the spots off the beaten path that treasure immense pleasure for the wanderers.

Let’s take a look at some of such places that give an added blow of thrill and excitement.


5 Offbeat Places in Cairns


Gallo Dairyland, Cairns


A visit to Gallo Dairyland with let you witness the intriguing process of making chocolate and cheese and is an interesting place for chocolate lover’s and foodies. Just an hour drive from Cairns city center to Atherton tablelands, this dairy farm offers an exotic range of rich chocolates and other dairy products to delight your sweet tooth after cheap flights deals.

De Bruey Boutique Wines, Cairns


Being home to the first tropical fruit wine of the world, Cairns is the best place to dig into the finest wine producers of tropical fruits like lychee, mango, jaboticaba, bush cherry, mulberry and passionfruit. De Bruey Boutique Wines is the place to sample some high quality fruit wines. You need to take a 50 minute drive to the winery to get into the mood of trying some irresistable liquor tasting.

Cairns Mud Markets


For those looking for some unique shopping trails in the town after last minute flights, Cairns Mud Market is the place. Located in the an indoor craft market, the mud market offers beautiful jeweler, pottery, artwork, glassware and some delectable local delights to pamper your tastebuds. You’ll find some real great things to do here with family and kids ranging from face painting to balloons and much more. Don’t forget to pick up souvenirs from the market for your friends back home.
Josephine Falls

A site free from crowd and noise, Josephine Falls is a stunning place to visit while holidaying in Cairns. A drive on the Bruce Highway south of Babinda towards Mount Bartle Frere will lead you to this mesmerising location. You can stroll along the falls, swim in the clear waters or unwind at the beach enjoying the scenic backdrop. The Josephine waterfalls are ranked among the most beautiful in the Tropical North Queensland and have featured in many TV commercials as well.
Daintree Rainforest

An amazing place to give you that much needed outdoor delight, Daintree Rainforest awaits you with the most diverse range of plants and animals in its 1200 km expansive area. It is the largest tropical rainforest in Australia. There’s a Daintree village inside, which is worth a visit before heading to your scheduled or last minute flights.

Photo by 04marjess via Wikipedia CC
Posted by Laura Orange | File under : ,
Spending time on Mallorca, the largest island of the Balearic Archipelago and one of the jewels of Spain at any time during the year means to go through the history as in some kind of historic spectacle, but spending summer vacation on one of the most beautiful island of the Mediterranean means to have an ideal combination for a perfect holiday one could only wish for.

Cap de Formentor

Beautiful, pristine turquoise sea, miles of paradise coastline composed of fine sand on which you can tread as on the finest carpet, fabulous caves lagoons and bays are the things that will provide the most unforgettable summer vacation.

300 sunny days, fascinating nature, idyllic villages and towns, the most modern nightclubs and cafes, pleasant local people, rhythms of the summer and music, seductive flavors of food specialties and sangria are only at the beginning of the list of the pleasantries that Mallorca generously offers.

Fortunately, there are over 80 beaches on which the urban lifestyle and atmosphere are not imposed. Also those beaches are not in the possession of luxurious hotels or renters. They are more like public national assets.

The days here are mostly spent on the beaches soaking up the hot sun that magnificently spills its rays over the surface of the pristine turquoise sea. The pleasant nights with pulsing rhythms of the music at the beach parties are something everyone should experience.

La Seu, The Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma

Here everything has its rhythm. The sun sets late and the heat is neutralized by the pleasant breeze because of which not even in July and August you will have to use the air conditions devices. No matter how much partying until the early morning under the moonlight occur, afternoon nap or siesta as locals call it is the rule that is strictly obeyed.

Even the loud British and German tourists obey this rule, so while passing through the smaller towns and villages on your way to the one of the beautiful beaches you get the impression that they are empty or displaced.

Palma, the capital of Mallorca, is with no doubts one of the most beautiful places in Europe, the city with really eloquent history.

The city is founded in the time of Moors, and has buildings with specific designs, small alleys, lots of charming squares, plenty of greenery… The city exudes with its beauty and charm and attracts many of tourists each year. Palma is really classy and glamorous, but in fact very simple in its beauty.

The most beautiful islands and beaches

Balearic archipelago in addition to Mallorca has also Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera. Ibiza, the white island, as it is called because of the old and beautiful white houses, with the homonymous capital is the favorite destination among the young people in the mood for endless beach parties and also trendsetters and world adventurers.

There is a boat from Mallorca to Ibiza that runs on daily basis. The departure is in the early morning and the boat returns in the evening hours which means you will have a whole day at your disposal unless you decide to stay more than one day. To experience lively nights and fun beach parties that last until morning Ibiza should find its place on your must visit list. The world famous disco Bora Bora is also located here.

Each year Menorca gets like more of a place for those with deeper pockets and for the bays and beaches of Formentera some say that beats the gorgeous sandy beauties of Dominicana. On Mallorca that has more than 80 beautiful beaches and numerous coves the ones that stand out are Cala Mondrago, Cala D'or, Es Trenc, Alcudia…

In Alcudia, the old town from Roman times and one of the favorite summer resorts, there is an old amphitheater where the bullfights are being held. Tourists from the entire island come here to see the amazing fights between the bulls and toreadors. Tickets are obtainable in advanced through the agencies. At the same time many people in front of the amphitheater demonstrate against the killing of the bulls and bullfighting. The fights have become more suppressed and in Catalonia they are even prohibited.

And so we have reached the end of our journey to Mallorca and its nearby islands. We tried our best to give you our impressions but there is still a lot of left to say. For those with thick wallets this is a must visit destination.

About the author: Aleksandar Mijailovic, part blogger part marketing manager. He loves to travel, loves sunny days and beautiful summer and beach destinations. Aleksadar tries really hard to visit as many beautiful destinations as he can whether they are famous or relatively unknown.

Photo via Flickr CC

Posted by Laura Orange | File under : , ,

Not every neighbourhood is the same


One of the greatest things to do in Barcelona is to explore the city and get lost. Barcelona is very navigable with a quick and easy-to-use metro system, lots of cycle paths and rental bike shops; with the majority of the city being easily walkable as long as you are relatively fit. The main thing to remember when travelling to Barcelona is that not every neighbourhood is the same, so if you have seen one part of Barcelona do not be fooled into thinking you have seen it all. Barcelona has become a hot spot for city breaks ever since it held the Olympic Games in 1992. 

Barcelona

While this has been great for the city in terms of tourism, it unfortunately means that tourists, with only a couple of days to spend in the city, congregate around the city centre and ‘Las Ramblas’ – the main high street. While this is indeed a lovely area, it does not epitomise the rest of the city where there are other neighbourhoods of great charm and beauty. These include the cobbled streets, boutique shops and ethnic restaurants of the Gothic Quarter and EL Born, the greener areas of Arc de Triumph and Mont Juic and the local, neighbourhood bars and restaurants of Rocafort, Poble Sec, Sants and Sant Antoni.

More than Tapas:


While tapas are indeed a delicious form of cuisine and form a fundamental part of any Spanish holiday, Barcelona is a diverse city with an international mix of people offering plenty of other culinary options. Aside from traditional Catalan food, such as butifarra sausage and alubia beans, crema Catalan or pan con tomate, there are a number of other great ethnic restaurants all over the city. For example, there are some great Chinese buffet-style restaurants and Japanese sushi restaurants where you can eat really cheaply. There are also a number of Moroccan and other African influenced restaurants and bars. There also some great Latin American restaurants, particularly Mexican and Argentinean, as well as multiple Italian pizza places. 

One of the best ethnic cuisine restaurants in Barcelona is Restaurante Puerto Plata around the Gothic Quarter. This is a Dominican restaurant just off Via Laietana, near the Jaume 1 metro stop, that serve quite possibly the best Caribbean and Dominican fusion food in Barcelona. Although the restaurant is relatively small, it caters for large groups and usually runs a set menu for a fixed price per head. There are generally three courses included in this with all sorts of delicious food and drink options, including various rum samples. It is run by a burly gentleman who is partial to dressing up in drag and putting on a karaoke show mid-meals. With regulars from the Caribbean community often eating here there are also impromptu salsa dancing sessions over the course of an evening. This is a great place for a real taste of the craziness and diversity of Barcelona.
Barcelona

Tapas restaurants: The dingier the better


While there are more than just tapas restaurants in Barcelona, checking out one or two tapas restaurants is a must on your holidays in Barcelona. The key to eating well in Barcelona is knowing how to differentiate between authentic tapas restaurants and ones that have been purposely set-up for tourists. There is a temptation when looking for restaurants abroad to look for the cleanest and busiest restaurant with the nicest décor. In Barcelona, these are likely to be the more expensive chain restaurants purposely established as the perfect tourist trap, with tapas as the bate. While the food here is good, it not as authentic as it could be and is most likely geared towards more of a pan-international taste-bud, and will also be more expensive. 

If you are looking for cheap traditional tapas then the rule as far as décor goes is – the dingier the better! The best tapas bars don’t look much from the outside and are no better on the inside, they’re likely to have old wooden chairs, wooden or plastic tables, a middle-aged man behind the counter and another propping up the bar, behind which a row of tapas should sit beneath a glass window. There is also usually a kitchen out back for making the tapas fresh in the morning and for preparing hot tapas or more elaborate meals. These places, if any good, will be rammed between 2 and 4 p.m. and again around 9p.m. but will be practically empty the rest of the time, apart from the said-gentleman sipping a cortado (expresso coffee with milk) at the bar, chatting to the owner.

Barcelona

Barcelona is the capital of Cataluña.


You are right in thinking Barcelona is located on Spain’s Costa Brava, and that it is part of the Kingdom of Spain. Nevertheless, Barcelona is recognized as the capital of the antonymous community of Cataluña. Catalan culture is quite different from the more stereotypical Spanish culture of Andalucía in the South. For one, they speak Catalan as opposed to Castellano (Spanish from Spain), a much more guttural sounding language with linguistic elements of French and Spanish. Most Catalans prefer to speak in their native language as opposed to Spanish as they were banned from doing so for years under Franco’s regime. For example, shopkeepers and waiters are likely to speak to you in Catalan and will continue to do so even if you respond to them in Castellano and explain that you don’t speak Catalan. This is simply a matter of showing pride in one’s regional identity which people often misinterpret as rudeness, persevere and you might pick up some Catalan phrases. Aside from the language, there are many other uniquely Catalan elements to Barcelona; these include festivals and holidays, music, fashion and food. Embracing the Catalan culture and showing it respect will only enhance your holiday in Barcelona.

About the Author: Written by music journalist, travel writer and blogger - Jessica Kitt. Jessica is the owner of WorldMusicTravelBlog

Photos via Flickr Creative Commons

Posted by Laura Orange | File under : , , ,
When in London, after visiting the usual suspects like The Tower of London and Trafalgar Square and experiencing all the urban charms, head outside of the city. The London that you see today was once a series of separate villages. The nearby village of Hampstead, with its adjacent heath land, still retains its rural charm and makes for an excellent mini day trip.

Spring Evening on Parliament Hill

Hampstead and Hampstead Heath 

Although only 15 minutes by Tube from Central London, Hampstead maintains its old-world charm. It’s filled with Regency and Georgian houses (many set in lovely gardens) favored by artists and writers, from Keats to John le Carré. Flask Walk, the village’s pedestrian mall, provides an eclectic assemblage of historic pubs, shops, and chic boutiques. The village itself has a lot of old alleys, steps, courts, and groves just begging to be explored. Adjacent Hampstead Heath is 800 acres of high parkland offering an opportunity for picnicking, swimming, and fishing. On a clear day, you can see St. Paul’s Cathedral and even the hills of Kent. An excursion here takes up at least a half-day or more.  The Hampstead Tube stop is 1 minute from Flask Walk and the Hampstead Heath at Parliament Hill, is right behind the Tube stop. A short walk will  lead you up into the park itself.

Kenwood House, Hampstead Heath

Kenwood House 

This lovely neoclassical villa sits on the shore of Kenwood Lake in the northern section of Hampstead Heath. The villa was remodeled in the 1760s by Robert Adam. Inside, you find a small but impressive collection of jewelry and paintings, with works by Gainsborough, Rembrandt, Reynolds, Turner, and Vermeer. You can get something to eat in the cafeteria in the former coach house. For an enjoyable summer outdoor concert experience, visit the Kenwood Lakeside concerts. A series of outdoor concerts are held at 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays in July and August. A free shuttle bus runs between the East Finchley Tube station and the concert bowl. From Central London, you need at least 20 minutes to get to the Tube stop and another 15 minutes for the ride on the shuttle bus. 

The Pergola, Hampstead Heath
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Nelson's Column and the statue of Charles I, from outside Trafalgar Square, London


Until very recently, Trafalgar Square was an island in the midst of a roaringly busy traffic interchange surrounded by historic buildings, such as St. Martin-in-the-Fields church and the National Gallery. Then, after a major urban redesign, it reopened in 2003 with one side attached to the steps of the National Gallery, so visitors can easily get to the square without crossing any streets at all. Besides being a major tourist attraction, Trafalgar Square is the site of many large gatherings, such as political demonstrations and holiday celebrations.

Trafalgar Square, London

The square honors military hero Horatio Viscount Nelson (1758–1805), who lost his life at the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar against the French. Nelson’s Column, with fountains and four bronze lions at its base, rises 145 feet above the square. At the top, a 14- foot-high statue of Nelson (5'4" tall in real life) looks commandingly toward Admiralty Arch, passed through by state and royal processions between Buckingham Palace and St. Paul’s Cathedral. You don’t need more than a few minutes to take in the square.

Palomas en vuelo en Trafalgar Square para la celebración

The neoclassical church on the northeast corner of Trafalgar Square was the precursor for dozens of similar-looking churches throughout colonial New England. Designed by James Gibbs, a disciple of Christopher Wren, St. Martin-in-the-Fields was completed in 1726; the 185-foot spire was added about 100 years later. The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, a famous music ensemble, frequently performs here. Lunchtime concerts are held on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday at 1 p.m., and evening concerts are held Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The church is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.; admission is free.

See also: The Tower of London

Posted by Laura Orange | File under : , ,
Tower of London

The Tower of London offers enough to keep you captivated for a good three to four hours. The Tower of London is the city’s best-known and oldest historic site.

There is an architecture to the Tower, and it is not uninteresting. Within the complex as a whole, the 27 m tall White Tower is the central feature that remains substantially as it was in when completed, as the conquering sovereign’s forbidding foothold in the eastern boundary of the City – a dominant place from which he could oversee the City’s cowering and unfriendly inhabitants. The Tower remained an imposing place of imprisonment and executions until World War II although, officially, it was still a royal residence. Inside, residential conveniences included the St John’s Chapel: a small Norman space of distinctly massive charm and it was not until the reign of Henry VIII (1509-47) that the sovereign moved to Westminster Palace and St James’ Palace, in the west. 

The entrance to the Tower is on the west side – at the Middle and Byward towers (adjacent to a Norman Foster building), along a stone causeway that replaces the original drawbridge. The Byward Tower acquired halftimbered parts during the reign of Richard II (1377-1399), but what you see now is the later restorations which paralleled rising tourist interest in the place. 

Tower Hill - The Tower of London

The fortress was completed in stages, mostly between 1066 and 1307, beginning with the so-called White Tower, completed in 1080, which replaced a timber fort built by William the Conqueror, it was "white" because it was constructed from creamy-coloured Caen stone brought over from France. However, the White Tower as we see it now is partly the product of restorative work by Wren, between 1663 and 1709 (he altered all the windows, for example). Not long after, certainly by 1750, the Tower was being opened to the public as an historical attraction. Anthony Salvin undertook further restoration work in 1851. And he was succeeded, in 1870, by the 'medievalising' John Taylor. 

The outcome of it all is an overlay of architectures: a medieval one as a fortress; a more theatrical one of restoration, of mixed qualities; a tourist one of attractions that now includes Stanton Williams’ fine approach work on the west side (2004; ticket office, cafes, etc.); and one of inhabitation (in the north-east corner, where yeoman warders and their families live). It is remarkable both to experience this set of overlays as one architectonic whole, and also to stand at the nearby vantage point of Tower Hill and look around: at nearly two thousand years of London history, from fragments of medieval walls on Roman foundations next to the Underground station, across to the Tower, beyond to the Mayor’s City Hall (Foster again), Canary Wharf, and behind to the old Port of London Authority building, Lloyds.

Tower of London