Russia: 3 Stunning Buildings to See in Moscow

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3 Stunning Buildings to See in Moscow

Moscow is an incredible place to visit. Russia’s capital city is full of buildings that are centuries old and that have designs that are completely unique from the rest of the world. Its historic center in particular is home to buildings that are not only spectacular to look at, but also important to the history of Russia and the rest of the world. Here is a look at three stunning buildings in Moscow that you have to check out if you visit.

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

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The first building on our itinerary is the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Not only is this huge, white building with high-rising, gold-painted domes beautiful, but it is also the tallest Christian church on the planet. It reaches heights of around 338 feet, and its main sanctuary area can fit more than 10,000 visitors. Completed in 1883, the original version of this cathedral took over 40 years to build, only to be tragically destroyed on the orders of Joseph Stalin in 1931 in his attempt to enforce atheism on the entire country. His vision was to replace the cathedral with a skyscraper dedicated to Vladimir Lenin, but construction was stalled during World War II, when the property was turned into the world’s biggest swimming pool… in which many Russian citizens drowned. Finally, in the 1990s, plans to rebuild the cathedral to its original glory were put into motion, and the breathtaking building was restored.

State Historical Museum Moscow

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Moscow’s State Historical Museum holds more than 4.5 million pieces of art and other artifacts that date back hundreds of years. It holds all aspects of Russia’s history, including manuscripts from famous leaders, records describing Russia’s adoption of Christianity and an in-depth look at how it defended itself against invaders. What makes this building truly stunning, though, is its architecture. At first glance, this towering, red, castle-like building might look intimidating, but it is actually a work of art in and of itself. Built in 1872, the museum building has elements of the luxurious, baroque style of Imperial Russia, but these are united with elements of Neo-Russian architecture, making it both appealingly sophisticated and impressively modern at the same time.

St. Basil’s Cathedral

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Taking the number one spot on our list is St. Basil’s Cathedral, located right next to the famous Red Square. This stunningly ornate structure has become symbolic of Moscow as a whole, and perhaps even the entire country of Russia. Its colorful, spiraling domes reach high into the sky, making it look like something made of gingerbread and candy toppings and draws visitors from all over the world. St. Basil’s was built in the 16th century as per the orders of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, who wanted to memorialize the capture of the city of Kazan. Inside this one cathedral are 10 separate churches, as well as another smaller chapel on the side. The interior is just as awe-inducing as its exterior, leading to it being named one of the “Seven Wonders of Russia” in 2008.

3 Lesser-Known Hawaiian Destinations

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3 Lesser-Known Hawaiian Destinations

The 50th state is the Paradise of the Pacific, an exotic archipelago of eight major volcanic islands and dozens of atolls and islets. It’s a place with perfect turquoise waves breaking onto the shores of dazzling beaches, idyllic waterfalls, lush rainforests and cloud-breaking volcanoes. Give these destinations a try if you want to get away from the usual tourist haunts of Hawaii.

Ahupuaʻa O Kahana State Park, Oahu

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Discover lush scenery and uninterrupted views without the crowds at Ahupuaʻa O Kahana State Park, an ancient land division located on Oahu’s windward side. It spreads across 5,300 acres between Kahana Bay and the 2,670-feet-tall Pu’u Pauao mountain, at the edge of the Ko’olau Range. Kahana, the park’s largest settlement, started life as a remote fishing and farming village. Numbers declined after the creation of the Kingdom of Hawaii and later due to the region’s use as a WWII training site. Today, 31 families reside inside the park and help to promote and preserve their culture.

Experience the park along its two public hiking trails. Kapa’ele’ele Trail is a 1.2 mile-long loop that cuts through a native forest canopy to the Keaniani Lookout. Here you can admire jaw-dropping views of Kahana Bay and Hailua Fishpond. Nakoa Trail is a 2.5-mile round-trip that brings you up close to koa, hala, and octopus trees. Several stream crossings add a touch of adventure to the hike. End your day by kicking back on the gorgeous golden sands of Kahana Bay Beach Park.

Hanapepe, Kauai

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You’ll find it hard not to slow down in Hanapepe, a town characterized by its plantation-style buildings on Kauai’s south shore. Inhabited long before Charles Wilkes arrived on the United States Exploring Expedition in 1840, the town boomed in the 1880’s with an influx of sugar-farming immigrants. In the first half of the 20th century it became one of the island’s liveliest towns, largely due to the soldiers and sailors stationed here. Little has changed since then and the authentic facade was an inspiration for Kokaua Town, from Disney’s Lilo & Stitch movie series.

Spend your time here visiting the boutiques, cafes and galleries housed in well-preserved colorful buildings. Treat yourself to delicious ice cream at Lappert’s, Hawaii’s biggest ice cream chain. Views of the surrounding green countryside are exquisite from the rickety Hanapepe Swinging Bridge. About 2 miles from the center is Salt Pond Beach Park, whose shallow pools and crystalline waters are ideal for snorkeling. Bring a tent and spend the night camping beneath swaying palm trees.

Makawao, Maui

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Head inland on Maui to see a slice of Hawaiian paniolo (cowboy) heritage in Makawao. Paniolos, Californian cowboys brought to Hawaii by King Kamehameha III, first arrived to this enclave on the northwest slopes of Haleakala in the 1800s. Ever since, they’ve been cattle ranching in the sprawling fields of Upcountry Maui and clinging hard to their roots. Check out July’s Makawao Rodeo for bona fide bull bashes, calf roping, parades, and rodeo shows.

Beside the cowboys, Makawao has a thriving arts scene and artisans have set up workshops inside Western-style buildings. Browse the independent galleries and stop to watch glassblowers and wood sculptors plying their trade. If you are a budding artist, sign up for a class at the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center. History buffs can learn about the town at Makawao Museum. Don’t miss out on an indulgent cream puff from the iconic T Komoda Store and Bakery.

4 Chinese Cities You’ll Want to Get Lost In

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4 Chinese Cities You’ll Want to Get Lost In

When you travel to a large country, you know that there are countless options for places to visit. Just like in the United States, China is a massive place with a number of major cities that make for excellent stops on your itinerary. If you’re thinking of planning a trip that will take you through the land of the Great Wall, be sure to consider stopping into one of these four cities.

Beijing

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Of course, with any trip to China, Beijing should be on your “must-see” list. In addition to being a bustling home to 20 million residents and the nation’s capital, the city is also rich in history and centrally located to a number of popular attractions. If your goal is to walk the Great Wall, Beijing is close to some of the best-preserved stretches of the structure. Even if you don’t want to leave the city, you should check out the Forbidden City, a former imperial palace that also has the distinction of being the world’s largest palace.

The city is full of countless museums and historical sites, making Beijing a perfect stop to understand the nation’s rich culture and history. But don’t fall under the impression that Beijing can offer a window into only the past. The 798 Art District is full of modern and quirky pieces ranging from sculptures to paintings. And at night you can head to Nanluoguxiang for a taste of Beijing’s nightlife and foodie culture.

Hangzhou

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If the hustle and bustle of bigger Chinese cities like Shanghai and Beijing leave you feeling a tad overwhelmed, then dial it back with a more laid-back city like Hangzhou. The southern city is part of the original Silk Road and is best known as a blend of “old world meets new world.” Tourists from China and around the world can enjoy the countless shrines, temples, bridges and pagodas dotted throughout the city and around West Lake.

But Hangzhou is also a popular business destination that has encouraged the metropolitan and tech vibe that can be felt in the newer parts of the city. The city is home to the Alibaba headquarters — the e-commerce platform and Amazon rival. And even if you’re not into the tech world, enjoy a bit of whimsy with the Hello Kitty Park, the only theme park outside of Japan that’s dedicated to that anthropomorphic sweet cat.

Xi’an

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History buffs should make sure that Xi’an (pronounced “shee-ahn”) is on their priority list. Xi’an is most famously known for the 1974 archeological discovery of the Terracotta Warriors. The UNESCO site showcases more than 8,000 statues of warriors, horses, and weapons—and that number is still growing as excavators continue to unearth more. Expect to spend about half a day visiting the Terracotta Warriors as they’re located about an hour outside of the city.

If you prefer to stay close to town, Xi’an still has plenty to offer. The city wall closely resembles the Great Wall because it was built within the same time period during the Ming Dynasty. And it is one of the best-preserved defense walls that isn’t part of the Great Wall. For a unique experience, rent a bicycle and cycle on the wall to get a different view of the city.

Lhasa

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Depending on who you talk to, Lhasa can be a technicality. According to most travel guides, Lhasa is considered a Chinese city. However, it is located in Tibet and is an important place for Tibetan Buddhists. Regardless of the geography, Lhasa is a high-elevation city (11,647 feet above sea level), so you should plan to spend quite a few days here to give your body time to acclimate and avoid altitude sickness.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Famous Statues

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Famous Statues

You know the statues, but do you know much about them? Usually, we just take a statue for face value – as a piece of art. That’s just as true for the famous statues on this list. Let’s jump right into it. Here are five things (and more) that you didn’t know about famous statues.

The Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial

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The statue honoring President Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial was unveiled in 1922, when the memorial was completed. The building itself was constructed from 1914 to 1922. The statue, made by Daniel Chester French, weighs 170 tons and is composed of 28 blocks of white Georgia marble. Urban legend has it that the artist sculpted Lincoln’s hands to form the “A” and “L” in American Sign Language, a nod to his legislation creating a university for the deaf.

Venus de Milo

Venus de Milo

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The famed Venus de Milo ancient Greek statue, housed at the Louvre in Paris, is also made of marble, but crafted sometime between 130 and 100 BCE. It is believed to depict Aphrodite and named after the Greek island of Milos, where it was found. The statue’s arms are missing, for unknown reasons. The mystery shrouding the statue is part of its fame and charm, symbolizing all of ancient Greece.

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid

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The Little Mermaid is a fascinating icon of Copenhagen, Denmark, unveiled in 1913 and a major attraction there ever since. What might be most striking is the statue’s history with vandalism. It’s been damaged many times and is often in need of restoration. In 1964, the head was sawed off and stolen by political activists. It was never recovered and a new one was made to replace it. In 1984, the arm was cut off but returned two days after it was stolen. There was a failed attempt in 1990 to cut off the head, leaving a gash in the statue. Continuing the awful history: another decapitation in 1998 (the head, this time, was returned anonymously). It was also knocked off its base in 2003 by explosives. Paint and other vandalism have occurred numerous times over the years. Rough history.

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Christ the Redeemer

Christ the Redeemer

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Located on Corcovado, a mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the world-famous Christ the Redeemer statue overlooks the city. It was created by French sculptor Paul Landowski and built by Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa and French engineer Albert Caquot. It weighs 635 metric tons and is a symbol of Christianity throughout the world. So impressive, that you may not know it was listed as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, along with Chichen Itza, the Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu, Petra, the Taj Mahal, and Colosseum.

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

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Quite arguably the most famous statue in the world, it was a gift from France given to the United States in 1886 that still welcomes travelers into New York Harbor, holding a torch and tablet with July 4, 1776 inscribed on it – the date of the country’s independence. The seven spikes on the Statue of Liberty’s crown represent the seven continents of the world, indicating the universal concept of liberty. Formerly placed on New York’s Bedloe Island, it’s now called Liberty Island. But the main thing you didn’t know about the Statue of Liberty is her full name: Liberty Enlightening the World (or, in French, La Liberte eclairant le monde).

6 Oldest Theaters in the World

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6 Oldest Theaters in the World

As ancient civilizations developed, citizens grew an appetite for different forms of entertainment. Along came theater, with its many forms written to please audiences. Today, theater buffs will love learning more about the first constructions where comedies, tragedies and concerts took place. All of them are popular attractions in their own corners of the world. These are the oldest theaters in the world.

The Roman Theater of Orange, France

The Roman Theater of Orange, France

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Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1981, the Roman Theater of Orange dates back to the 1st century. It sits near the French city of Avignon, and is so well preserved that people today still attend the Chorégies festival during the summers.

Originating in 1869, Chorégies is the oldest festival in France today. The acoustic wall of the theater, which is completely intact, is the key that allows the opera and lyrical theater performances to take place with an impeccable sound.

The Theater of Mérida, Spain

The Theater of Mérida, Spain

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Built between the years 15-16 B.C.E., the Theater of Mérida was sponsored by Consul Marcus Agrippa. It could seat up to 6,000 spectators, who were divided into their social rank. Its original architecture is considered classical Roman, but later restorations introduced a melange of design and decoration.

Considered one of Spain’s (many) gems, this theater is currently used in an annual winter festival.

The Theater of Taormina, Italy

The Theater of Taormina, Italy

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The Taormina Theater, also known as the Graeco-Roman Theater of Taormina, is located in the eastern part of Sicily. It is constructed in a particularly privileged area, as visitors can see the Etna Volcano and the Mediterranean Sea while walking around the top of the theater.

Built in the 2nd century B.C.E., the theater was constructed by the Greeks and later extended by the Romans. Currently, it hosts the Taormina Arte festival every year.

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The Theater of Epidaurus, Greece

The Theater of Epidaurus, Greece

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This Greek theater is said to have the best acoustics in the world. In fact, tour guides famously have their groups dispersed throughout the theater and show them that no matter where they are standing, they will hear a match drop on the floor on stage.

Located near the town of Ligurio, the Theater of Epidaurus rests in the middle of a pine forest. It was designed by Polykleitos the Younger in the 4th century B.C.E. Archaeologists believe that he made use of the natural unevenness of the land to build it.

The Theater at Delphi, Greece

The Theater at Delphi, Greece

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Further up along the hill where we can find the Temple of Apollo, sits the beautiful Delphi Theater. Its position at the top grants spectacular views of an entire valley.

The theater was built in the 4th century B.C.E. with limestone from Mount Parnassus. Archaeologists estimate that its 35 rows held around five thousand spectators who enjoyed plays, poetry readings, musical events and various festivals that were carried out periodically in Delphi.

History also shows us that this theater was remodeled several times. The seats in the lower rows were built during the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

The Theater of Dionysus, Greece

The Theater of Dionysus, Greece

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The Theater of Dionysus was the largest construction of its kind in ancient Greece. It is located in the northern part of the Acropolis of Athens and dedicated to Dionysus, god of the wine and theater. In fact, it was tradition for worshipers to pray to him in a manner that attracted spectators. Later, these rituals became the classic tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes.

Even though this theater was built in the 5th century B.C.E., records show that it carried on being a popular venue for many centuries. In fact, around the year 407, the performance time was extended to about six hours and the entry fees were deemed expensive.

5 Most Romantic Spots in Europe

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5 Most Romantic Spots in Europe

Europe is made up of 50 fascinating countries, each of which has its own individual charm while also sharing similarities with its neighbors. From the heartland of two of the world’s greatest civilizations, to Mediterranean islands and mountainous regions, it is a continent of immense diversity. Its cities are often considered among the most romantic on the planet and visited year-round by couples and honeymooners. Here’s five spots to visit for when you want to add a touch of romance to your travels.

Amsterdam

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Rent a bike and explore the endless miles of canals that meander around the Dutch capital. Stop at a waterfront bar for lunch and admire a cityscape characterized by medieval merchant houses. At night, antique street lamps illuminate the cobblestone streets to create a fairytale-like setting. If biking sounds too energetic, consider renting a boat, or go one better by staying overnight on a houseboat. In summer, bring a picnic to Vondelpark and be sure to cross to quieter Amsterdam-Noord to hang out in the shadow of a windmill. Of course, there’s the coffee shops and a superb collection of museums to visit, too.

Budapest

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Budapest straddles the mighty Danube with magnificent works of architecture rising up on both sides of the river. Soak up the sights from one of the benches that line the embankment, traverse the zigzagging alleyways of Castle Hill and find a quiet spot to snuggle in the leafy grounds of the Citadella. After a busy day of sightseeing, you’ll want to indulge in some therapeutic treatments at thermal spas, such as Rudas Baths and Széchenyi Thermal Bath. Finish your evening with a champagne and sunset Danube cruise.

Florence

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Forget Rome and Venice and opt for this glorious city in the heart of Italy’s Tuscany region. Renaissance art and architecture give Florence an old-world charm like no other, and you can pass the time strolling hand in hand through the narrow lanes of the Centro Storico. Take breaks at pavement cafes and grab a gelato at a traditional ice cream parlor. Sit on the steps of Piazzale Michelangelo for exquisite views of the city, and don’t miss the sunsets on the Arno River. If you simply want to relax, head to the beautiful gardens of Giardino Bardini and Giardino di Boboli.

Mykonos

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From kicking back on secluded beaches during the daytime, to dinner and drinks at Little Venice, Mykonos is a dream come true for couples. Jump on a quad bike and feel the breeze in your hair as you travel the twisting, hilly roads to stunning beaches. Agios Sostis and Lia Beach are two of many perfect spots for sunbathing and swimming in crystalline waters. Dress up for some excellent photo opportunities in Little Venice, whose quaint whitewashed and blue houses could have been lifted straight from a movie set. Why not take a snorkeling tour and spot exotic fish together?

Vienna

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Once home to the House of Habsburg, Austria’s imperial capital has enchantment at the turn of every corner. With labyrinthine lanes, arcaded courtyards and grand palaces, the Old City is a wonderful place to amble aimlessly and discover hidden treasures. Ride a horse-drawn carriage between major attractions or see the city from the water on a Danube river cruise. Make sure to spend an evening at either the Burgtheater or Vienna State Opera. Smell the roses in springtime at Volksgarten and follow footpaths through Vienna Woods. December’s Christmas markets add another welcome dose of romance.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Cuba

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Cuba

When many people think about Cuba, their mind goes to rum, cigars and Fidel Castro. But there is so much more to this Caribbean island than that! It is an interesting and exciting place, and it is only within the last five years that U.S. citizens have been able to legally travel there. Here are five things about Cuba that you probably didn’t know.

Christmas Was Once Banned in Cuba

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When The Grinch – ehem, I mean, Fidel Castro – came to power, he went right to work banning things that everyone loves, like Monopoly and, yes, even Christmas. He declared the entire country atheist and abolished Christmas and the paid work holiday that went with it because he wanted people to work on harvesting sugar instead of celebrating and giving gifts. After 30 long, sad years for the people of Cuba, whose population is truly largely a Catholic one, the Pope visited Havana and convinced Castro to reinstate Christmas. Even though it was January at the time, Cuban citizens ran right out to buy the Christmas trees and religious statues they weren’t allowed to have before. It is unclear whether Castro’s heart grew three sizes that day, but it seems unlikely.

Cubans Only Recently Got the Right to Buy a New Car

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If you have ever wondered why Cuba is full of so many classic, 1950s-style cars, the answer might make you a bit sad. Beginning in 1959, Cubans were not allowed to buy a new car, so there were no cars on the streets newer than the 1959 models. In 2013, though, the laws changed, and citizens were able to start buying new cars without getting special permission from the state. The only problem? These cars are marked up by 400 percent, with prices running between $91,000 and $262,000. The average monthly earnings for a citizen of Cuba is equivalent to between 20 and 30 U.S. dollars, making owning a new car an impossible dream for most.

Cuba Once Had a Toilet Paper Shortage

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In 2009, Cuba faced a crisis that no one else wants to think about: a shortage of toilet paper. While this seems a bit preposterous for a country like the U.S., keep in mind that Cuba produces some of its own toilet paper but has to import the rest. In 2009, the country did not have enough natural resources to make its own toilet paper and was also facing an economic crisis. Luckily the country eventually recovered enough to allow people to stock up on this bathroom essential, but it was surely a tough few months.

Cuba Is Home to the Largest Colony of Flamingos

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Cuba is home to many beautiful and rare species of birds, including the bee hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world. The birds stay here because the habitat is both perfect for their needs and located within protected areas. Flamingos are no exception, with the largest colony in the Western Hemisphere nesting in Cuba’s wetlands. In Humedal Rio Maximo-Caguey in particular, nearly 70,000 nesting flamingos have given birth to more than 50,000 chicks. That is one big feathery family!

Hardly Anyone in Cuba Can Access the Internet

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While travelers can usually buy a scratch-off card that allows them to use the internet, as a rule, internet is hard to come by in Cuba. In 2011, a study reported that only around five percent of the population was able to access the worldwide web instead of just a government-created intranet that didn’t let them view anything that their leader didn’t want them to see. It was only in 2008 that Cubans were allowed to start buying computers at all, even if the prices were ridiculously high. The number of internet users has surely increased as technology has advanced, but it is highly likely that our friends in Cuba won’t be reading this article.

5 European Cities That Are Breathtaking in Spring

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5 European Cities That Are Breathtaking in Spring

Spring is the perfect season to visit Europe. Airfare and lodging options are more reasonable, and museums and attractions aren’t as crowded. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, which European city should you choose? Here’s a list of potential destinations that are absolutely breathtaking in the spring.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

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Ideal for travelers with a modest budget, Budapest is a city that lies on both banks of the Danube. The city was initially three separate towns of Buda, Óbuda and Pest until they were combined in the year 1873. Today, you can visit Budapest in the springtime, stroll down cobblestone streets and enjoy food-themed festivals that highlight Chilean and Moroccan cuisine. Visit the historic Jewish quarter, go to the opera or see a play at a theater. Don’t forget to check out the Aquincum, a museum housing the reconstructed remains of an ancient Roman city.

Paris, France

Paris, France

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Sure, Ella Fitzgerald sang the praises of “April in Paris.” But May and June are even better. That’s because during those two months, the sun is out for 16 hours before it finally sets. This allows you to enjoy so many outdoor activities like sipping wine at a cafe in the sun, strolling by the banks of the Seine or taking a romantic boat ride with your significant other.

What’s spring without flowers? Fortunately, Paris offers plenty of green space for quiet reflection and relaxation. The city boasts over 100 gardens, from simple pocket parks to more flamboyant ones such as the Tuileries.

Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow, Scotland

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Arts lovers will definitely need to consider a springtime visit to Glasgow, Scotland. Visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum to check out the work of various artists, including the designs of artist and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Mackintosh was born in Glasgow in the year 1868 and is considered one of Scotland’s most influential artists. If you visit Glasgow in April, you shouldn’t miss Glasgow International, a bi-annual art festival featuring contemporary art.

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Lausanne, Switzerland

Lausanne, Switzerland

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Located on Lake Geneva, Lausanne is a Swiss city that offers medieval architecture and beautiful vineyards. A quaint mixture of holiday resort and commercial town, Lausanne is a wonderful place to visit in the spring. Tiny, narrow roads and winding alleyways comprise the city, and many of those roads and alleys contain cafes and quaint shops. The city abounds with opportunities to eat mouthwatering cuisine. And if you visit Lausanne in the spring, don’t forget to visit its parks which boast Mediterranean plant species. There’s plenty to satisfy art lovers too. Art museums, theater, music productions and ballet performed by the world-renowned Béjart Ballet are just a few of the cultural activities available in Lausanne.

Lisse, Netherlands

Lisse, Netherlands

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When you think of Netherlands, you think of tulips. Lots of them. And that’s exactly what you’ll get when you visit Lisse, Netherlands, in the spring. If flowers are your thing, check out Keukenhof, a lovely garden located in Lisse. It has 7 million planted flower bulbs, making it one of the world’s largest flower gardens. Flowers are planted in a specific pattern to fit a theme that changes each year. So the effect will always be stunning, no matter how many times you visit Keukenhof over the years. And, of course, since this is the Netherlands, the garden has plenty of tulips. Don’t miss the rare black tulips that are featured there as well.

Australia: 3 Best Ways to Explore the Outback

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3 Best Ways to Explore the Outback

The Outback is a remote stretch of land on Australia so vast that it covers 70 percent of the island continent, while holding only 3 percent of its population. It’s one of the world’s largest remaining intact areas home to not only deserts, but woodlands, mountains, and sub-tropical savanna as well. It’s a great place to really step into nature and discover some of the harshest, most beautiful environments in the world. Here are the three best ways to explore the Australian Outback.

In Search of Wildlife

In Search of Wildlife

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The Australian Outback is filled with animals you can only find there, and lots of wildlife in general. The most famous, of course, is the kangaroo, hopping all throughout the country (which, remember, is mostly Outback). Dingoes, friendly lizards like the Blue Tongue Lizard, wild camels, koala bears, wombats, platypuses, wallabies, toads, and just about anything you could think of dwell here, too. It’s also home to some dangerous creatures, such as crocodiles, spiders and, most famously, snakes. There are approximately 170 species of the reptile slithering throughout the country (many in the Outback), and about 100 of them are venomous. While Australia is home to the top three most venomous snakes in the world (Eastern brown snake, Western brown snake, Mainland tiger snake), there are very few fatalities annually. The country’s Outback is also great for bird watching, as parrots, emus, and thousands of other birds can be found all throughout the country.

Leaving the Pavement

Leaving the Pavement

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Going off-road in the Outback is essential to the experience. Yes, it’s already “off-the-beaten-path” no matter which highway you take through it, but getting onto dirt roads and then hiking into areas even further off the beaten track is so rewarding. A few places to start: the Old Telegraph Track, which was once the northern region’s only line of communication and home to many waterfalls and swimming holes; the Simpson Desert French Line, with its frequent dune crossings; and Gibb River Road, which follows a river that offers fresh water gorges, secluded swimming holes and unrivaled Outback landscapes.

Visiting National Parklands

Visiting National Parklands

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Going to national parks in the Outback is the best way to explore it. Doing it overland would be something special, too, because you get to see the thousands of miles in between some of them. But the national parks themselves show that the Outback isn’t all barren deserts. Places like Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory have wetlands and ancient rock art. Kings Canyon, located within Watarrka National Park in central Australia, can be enjoyed from the rim or gorge, deep within the sandstone formation. Mutawintji National Park offers a more “classic outback landscape,” its website says, with dirt roads and rugged gorges and desert stretching to the horizon. Or there’s the wildly remote Culgoa National Park, which has free camping, the largest continuous tract of coolabah trees and a rich cultural history.

8 Most Remote Islands You’ve Never Heard Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

8 Most Remote Islands You’ve Never Heard Of

Ever spin a globe and dream of exploring those tiny isolated dots in the middle of the sea? Maybe you long to go off-grid for a while or dive near some exotic coastline. Here are a few far-off retreats for those willing to trade in a cell signal and some amenities for some captivating travel tales. These are eight of the most remote islands you’ve never heard of.

Heimaey Island

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If Iceland itself isn’t remote enough for your taste, then hop the ferry for a 40-minute ride to Heimaey Island. If your travel plans include witnessing puffins in their natural habitat, then you’re in the right place. The island is home to the largest population of these stunning birds. Puffins are known as the “clowns of the sea” for their amusing antics. Visitors can hike the Eldfell volcano, walk miles of trails or rent bikes to take in the tranquil scenery.

Tromelin Island

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Located 300 miles east of Madagascar, this tiny speck in the Indian Ocean is a bird watchers paradise. The island is a seabird breeding site and known for its abundance of green sea turtles. History buffs will be fascinated with tales of the 1761 slave ship wreckage just off the island’s reef. Landing on the island takes a well-skilled pilot as the airstrip is no more than a dirt path.

Flores Island

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Flores is one of the Azores Islands of Portugal. This isle locale is brimming with stunning lagoons, peaceful creeks and lush green hills. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors with a hike or bike ride before cooling off in one of the island’s natural swimming pools. Local cuisine has a taste all its own, as the volcanic soil and salty sea combine to give the local produce a unique flavor.

Faroe Islands

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Located between Iceland and Norway is a collection of remote isles known as “Europe’s Best Kept Secret.” Faroe Islands are officially part of Denmark but don’t brush up on your Danish just yet. These islanders have their own unique language — safe to assume not found on Rosetta Stone. This landmass is peppered with grassy roof-topped buildings and colorful clapboard houses. There’s no need to sacrifice fine dining as Faroe is home to Kok, a Michelin-starred, 23-seat venue with breathtaking cliffside views. The expert chefs use the sparse ingredients found locally to create their innovative dishes.

Raoul Island

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Raoul Island — halfway between New Zealand and Tonga — is so secluded it’s not even open to the public. Arranging a visit to this remote location is a journey in itself. The only travelers granted access are those chosen to be Raoul Island Rangers. To make the cut, adventurers will spend five days in a remote part of New Zealand participating in a “shakedown.” Those who prove to have what it takes to endure the island’s challenging conditions will spend one year on the island as a ranger. The prize for being one of the chosen few is tackling the island’s overgrown weeds and the promise of some unforgettable snorkeling.

Saba

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Known as the Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean, this St. Maarten neighbor embodies the true meaning of island hospitality. A warm welcome awaits visitors as they set out for world-renowned diving, a hike on the rain-forest trail or relaxing on the sandy beach. Flying in and out of Saba is not for the faint of heart. This tiny island is home to the world’s shortest airstrip, providing an added element of excitement to the adventure.

St. Kilda

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Located in the most remote part of the British Isles is an archipelago only accessible by boat. Adventurers making the 2.5-hour sea journey will be privy to one of the most unique island tales. The last of the inhabitants evacuated the island in 1930 due to the challenges of self-sufficiency. The ruins of the abandoned homes give insight to its early dwellers. Each house is adorned with a plaque providing a detailed account of the home’s last residents and the date they set sail for a more civilized existence.

Tristan da Cunha

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If this list of islands seems intriguing but not quite remote enough for your liking then head to Tristan da Cunha. Located between South Africa and Argentina in the middle of the Atlantic, this secluded spot holds the title of The Most Remote Island in the World. This archipelago is made up of six volcanic islands with Edinburgh of the Seven Seas as its principal settlement. The approximately 267 inhabitants use diesel generators for energy as traditional electricity is not available. Getting to Tristan da Cunha is no easy feat. Those wishing to visit will endure a seven-day ocean voyage aboard a South African vessel for the honor of these travel bragging rights.