Sunday, June 30, 2013

Baden-Baden, Germany

The playground of Europe's royalty and aristocracy in the early 1800s, Germany's famed holiday resort town of Baden-Baden, in the heart of the Black Forest, still draws thousands of tourists who come to relax in the waters and gamble in the casino. With a name that means 'Bathing Bathing', you would expect that to be the focus of the town, and you'd be right! The Friedrichsbad bathhouse has been the scene of much pampering for over 120 years. Those seeking rest and recuperation on holiday still enjoy its steamy marble confines, soaking in mineral water in the nude. Male and female facilities remain separate, and the roughly three-hour bathing routine follows a strict regimen of showers, hot-air blasts, steam baths and massages. Nearby are the equally famous Baths of Caracalla, which features indoor and outdoor waterfalls, swimming pools and jacuzzis. The complex houses a 2,000-year-old Roman bath, once used by the Emperor Caracalla. The Baden-Baden casino was built in the 1850s in the style of the Palace of Versailles, and is worth seeing while on holiday, even for those who do not gamble. Baden-Baden is also home to several art museums, a concert hall, and the Castle Hohenbaden.

The capital of Canada, Ottawa

The capital of Canada is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River, opposite the French-speaking city of Gatineau across the water in the neighbouring province of Quebec. It's location on the border puts it in the unique position of being truly multicultural and bilingual, with a harmonious blend of French and English culture.

Ottawa had humble beginnings as a small lumber town until Queen Victoria designated it the capital of Canada in 1857. Since then it has grown into a modern, cosmopolitan city, though it is often overlooked in comparison to its larger, more glamourous neighbours, Toronto and Montreal. Its main landmark is the 302ft (92m) high Peace Tower. The tower surmounts the imposing Parliament Buildings, which stand in Gothic splendour at the junction of the Ottawa, Rideau and Gatineau rivers.

The city has a network of waterways and canals that link it to Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay. The historic Rideau Canal is used for boating in summer, and for ice sculpting and skating in winter, by locals and visitors alike. The parliament buildings and other architectural sites have an old-world European charm, and Ottawa has numerous top class museums and galleries, and the National Arts Center, which houses an opera company, theatres, studios and restaurants.

Ottawa Attractions

Parliament Hill
Parliament Hill
Parliament Hill in Ottawa is a place for decision-making, but also a place for people. Visitors can tour the buildings, watch Parliament in action, and enjoy ceremonial spectacles like the Changing of the Guard ceremony. There are three buildings making up Canada’s parliament complex....  see full details

Canadian Museum of Civilisation
Canadian Museum of Civilisation
One of dozens of museums in Canada's capital region, the Museum of Civilisation is one of the most fascinating with its artefacts on display including interesting things such as the world's oldest known boat, several mummies, and the story of the 'bog people'...  see full details

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Budva Riviera, Montenegro

One of the European tourist scene's best-kept secrets is surely the Budva Riviera, a 22-mile (35km) strip of Adriatic coastline surrounding the town of Budva on Montenegro's west coast. For most people, Montenegro does not immediately spring to mind when considering ideal destinations for a beach holiday in Europe - but for those in the know, it provides the perfect setting for a holiday filled with sun and surf.

The Budva Riviera is the heartbeat of Montenegro's tourism industry, attracting 300,000 visitors in 2010, but this figure is only to rise as word gets out of its spectacular jagged coastline, which is home to bays, inlets, caves, small islands and more than 20 beaches - not to mention a vibrant nightlife and plenty of sophisticated restaurants, cafes and bistros. Tourists looking for a piece of sand to call their own will be spoilt for choice, but highlights include Jaz Beach (which hosted a Rolling Stones concert in 2007), Mogren Beach (which gets the most sun), Milocer Beach (which is surrounded by woods filled with rare and exotic tree species, including Lebanese cedar and agave cactus), and Becici Beach (the most famous of Montenegro's beaches, and winner of the 1935 Grand Prix prize for most beautiful beach in Europe).

Innsbruck, Austria

Though less well-known than Vienna and Salzburg, Innsbruck is one of Austria's largest and most interesting cities, home to more than 100,000 people. Despite its size though, the Alpine city oozes small-town charm and makes a great base for exploring the many popular mountain and ski resorts in the Alps. Visitors to Innsbruck will be struck by its picturesque location, affording spectacular views of the region, and by the dazzling displays of sparkling stones at Swarovski Crystal World, one of its most popular attractions.

Established in the Stone Age, Innsbruck has at various times been the property of Rome, Bavaria, Germany and finally Austria. The capital of the Tirol province, the city's beautiful buildings are reminders of its history with Renaissance-style castles, Baroque cathedrals and Gothic monuments, including the Imperial Palace, Ambras Castle, and the Cathedral St Jacob.

There is much to see and do in Innsbruck. The city boasts a number of museums dedicated to art, history and science; many parks and zoos; and plenty of shopping malls and markets. Innsbruck is the cultural heart of the Austrian Alps, and hosts a world-class opera along with a wide range of restaurants, live music venues, bars and clubs. The two universities and numerous colleges in town ensure a lively nightlife.

For many tourists, however, Innsbruck is simply a port of call on the road to the powdery slopes of the Alps. Its location near Alpine ski resorts like Kaunertal, Stubaier and St Anton. Innsbruck has hosted the Winter Olympics twice, and sponsors many winter sports events each year.


Swarovski Crystal World
Swarovski Crystal World
Guarded by a water-spouting giant, Swarovski Crystal World is one of the most popular attractions in Tirol. The museum is underground, featuring14 interconnected rooms with an eclectic multimedia gallery showcasing dazzling work by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, and Marc Chagall, among others, all featuring the distinctive glint of the famous Austrian crystals. Another popular sight is the largest crystal in the world, located in the first room. Just a 15-minute drive from Innsbruck, Swarovski is one of the city's most popular excursions. The Swarovski Crystal World gift shop has an equally sparkling array of souvenirs available at lower prices than in town, with the opportunity for a tax rebate for foreign visitors.

Sparta, Greece

Made popular again by the 2006 film 300, the ancient city of Sparta sits in the middle of the Plains of Laconia in the Peloponnese, which is one of the most historic regions in the world. Sparta emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC and by 650 BC it was rising to be a dominant military power in ancient Greece. It was recognised as the leader of the Greek forces in the Greco-Persian Wars, from which Greece eventually emerged victorious but at great cost to Sparta, and many other city-states. By 146 BC Sparta had lost its independence to Roman conquest. The Spartans were fiercely militaristic and their whole way of life was centred around military training and prowess. The Spartans are a legendary military force, still referenced in military strategy. At the archaeological site you can view the excavations and ruins and visit the tomb of King Leonidas, the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, and the Sparta Archeological Museum in town, as well as view a number of ruins and ancient churches in nearby Mystras. The famous battlefield of Thermopylae can also still be visited and there are several monuments there to the Spartan force that was wiped out after extreme feats of prowess and bravery, including a monument to King Leonidas.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Escape to the Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa

Aruba SunsetIndulge your mind and body with a rejuvenating getaway at the 15-acre Radisson Aruba Resort, a sparkling gem set in the white sands of the most expansive beach in Palm Beach, Aruba. The Radisson Resort completed a $30 million renovation in 2012, offering you brand-new facilities surrounded by enchanting lagoons, fragrant gardens and beautiful, cascading waterfalls.

On-site Larimar Spa
While staying at this luxurious Aruba resort hotel, you can pamper yourself at the on-site Larimar Spa , enjoy the excitement of the Casino or cool off in one of the two swimming pools. You'll also enjoy outstanding, on-site dining options, and you can stay in touch with home or the office using hotel-wide, complimentary Wi-Fi access. Book online today and enjoy an unparalleled Caribbean getaway at the Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa.

The world’s most iconic human-made structures

The world is full of incredible buildings, but what about those that have become truly iconic, the instantly recognisable ones that have come to symbolise a destination or even a period in time?

Let’s take a global tour of those enduring structural wonders — all of them worthy contenders for your travel bucket list:

Taj Mahal, India


This beauty was 23 years in the making (1630-53) and is remarkable for its perfect symmetry. The Taj was commissioned by Emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his wife, Arjumand Banu Begum (also known as Mumtaz Mahal). Made from white marble, this majestic mausoleum features intricate details that were inlaid with precious lapis lazuli — pilfered in the 19th century. Its exterior reflects the changing colours of the day, and its beauty on a full-moon night is legendary.

Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt


For the Egyptian pharaoh Khufu, back in 2560 BC, the notion of digging your own grave transposed elaborately into constructing the Great Pyramid. Around two million stone blocks, each weighing 2 tonnes, were brought together to serve as his tomb. The Great Pyramid is the planet’s original tourist attraction — counting Antony (Cleopatra’s beau) and Napoleon among its many early visitors — and keeps company with three other pyramids and that other illustrious attraction, the Sphinx.

Great Wall, China


Hordes hit the Wall, as they have for centuries. Built from the end of the 15th century to the start of the 16th (using an existing wall dating back 2000 years), it stretches an incredible 6350km (3946m). Though not really visible from space, its jagged, snaking presence across the mountains between China and Mongolia always impresses, and is a tribute to the manic energy we apply to systems of war and defence. The touristed parts of Badaling are not recommended; try instead a walk from Simatai to Jinshanling.

Eiffel Tower, France


How many electricians does it take to change a light bulb on the Eiffel Tower? A whole team is required to maintain the 10,000-odd light bulbs that illuminate the 324m (1060ft) tower. Built in 1889 for the Universal Exhibition and to celebrate the French Revolution, Paris’ tower was designed by Stephen Sauvestre and was named after Gustave Eiffel — who specialised in iron construction including the Statue of Liberty and portable bridges sold around the world in kits.

Chrysler Building, USA


Architect William van Alen planned the dramatic unveiling of New York City’s Chrysler Building‘s ornate tower by assembling it inside the building. Made of stainless steel and modelled on the hubcaps used on Chrysler cars of the late 1920s. Completed in 1930, the Art Deco building’s 77 floors and ornamental top made it the world’s highest structure — not just scraping the sky but piercing it at 319m (1046ft).

Big Ben, England


‘Big Ben’ is the common name for the Palace of Westminster‘s clock and bell tower in London, and speculation reigns as to just which Benjamin was big enough to give his name to it. Perhaps it was Ben Hall, the Chief Commissioner of Works when it was built in 1888. Or maybe Ben Caunt, a heavyweight prizefighter — in reference to the heavyweight bell within: 13.76 tonnes. The tower has a slight lean — approx 22cm (8.7in) northwest — due to ground conditions.

Machu Picchu, Peru


The ‘Lost City of the Incas’, Machu Picchu (literally ‘old peak’) sits at a lofty elevation of 2350m (7710ft) and is invisible from below. The secret city contains the ruins of palaces, baths and temples, and is believed to have served as a country retreat for Inca royalty. Rediscovered in 1911, construction of this ancient city is thought to have started in around 1440. Partly constructed without mortar, the precise joins won’t allow even a credit card between them.

Mount Rushmore, USA


In the Black Hills of South Dakota, this massive monument marks the first 150 years of American history. Carved into a mountain face are the 18m (60ft) faces of four former presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt. The brainchild of Doane Robinson, the original concept was to immortalise figures of American folklore. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum (a student of a Rodin) thought devoting his life’s work to folklore too trivial – hence the resulting busts, built between 1927 and 1941.

Stonehenge, England


No one knows exactly why these 50-tonne stones were dragged from South Wales 5000 years ago. What we do know is that it would have taken about 600 people to move one more than half an inch, and that the complex was constructed between 2500 BC and 2000 BC. Consisting of a ring of stones topped by lintels, an inner horseshoe, an outer circle and a ditch, Stonehenge likely had dual astrological and religious purposes.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia


This temple complex, built early in the 12th century by a succession of Khmer kings, formed part of a larger administrative and religious centre. Built to honour the Hindu god Vishnu and abandoned in the 15th century, many of the stone structures have since been grasped by giant banyan tree roots or covered by the surrounding forest. Apparently the layout of the temples architecturally mirrors the constellation Draco in 10,500 BC to harmonise the earth and the stars.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Loews Miami Beach

 Loews Miami Beach Hotel is located on the beach in Miami Beach's South Beach neighborhood, close to Anchor Shops, New World Symphony Park, and Flamingo Park. Other points of interest near this luxury hotel include Miami Beach Botanical Garden and Port of Miami.
Hotel Features 
Dining options at Loews Miami Beach Hotel include a restaurant and a coffee shop/café. A poolside bar and a bar/lounge are open for drinks. Room service is available 24 hours a day. Recreational amenities include an outdoor pool, a children's pool, a health club, a spa tub, and a sauna. There is a full-service health spa on site. This 4.5-star property has a business center and offers small meeting rooms, limo/town car service, and audiovisual equipment. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available in public areas. This Miami Beach property has event space consisting of banquet facilities, conference/meeting rooms, and a ballroom. The property offers a roundtrip airport shuttle (surcharge). Additional property amenities include a children's club, multilingual staff, and gift shops/newsstands. This is a smoke-free property.
 790 air-conditioned guestrooms at Loews Miami Beach Hotel feature minibars and CD players. Beds come with premium bedding. Bathrooms feature shower/tub combinations, makeup/shaving mirrors, designer toiletries, and hair dryers. Wired high-speed and wireless Internet access is available for a surcharge. In addition to desks and safes, guestrooms offer multi-line phones with voice mail. Flat-screen televisions have video-game consoles and pay movies. Also included are coffee/tea makers and windows that open. Guests may request a turndown service, refrigerators, and microwaves. Housekeeping is available daily.


Greece Cruising the Greek islands

The Greek islands are growing in popularity as a cruise destination. There are hundreds of islands scattered like jewels over the Mediterranean and they offer a combination of picturesque scenery and astounding history that few destinations can match.

So where to start? One option is select a cruise that takes in the main highlights of the region over a 10-day period. Key attractions in the Greek islands include the perfectly preserved harbours of Mykonos; the famous white-washed houses of Santorini; the wonderful beaches and landscapes of Corfu; Kefalonia's magical scenery (setting for Captain Correlli's Mandolin); the castle guarding the port of Kos; and finally the old-walled town of Rhodes. This is only a taste of the full mezze platter of wonderful attractions awaiting you - see the Word Travels resort guides to Greece for more information.

Think carefully about what type of an experience you're after. A large cruise liner offers luxury and comfort, but is somewhat out of place when looming over a tiny, historic port town. Consider looking for a smaller vessel, sailboat or catamaran charter or megayacht to get a little more "up close and personal" with the islands you are choosing to visit. The smaller boats also allow for swimming stops. Another option with appeal to those with specific itineraries is to use the basic ferry system to get from island to island. Don't expect luxuries however, although the scenery is quite pleasant.

Most cruises are round-trips from the Port of Piraeus in Athens, which has become the cruise ship hub of the Mediterranean. Athens, of course, has many attractions to offer, from iconic sights like the Parthenon and Acropolis to fabulous shopping and the best of Greek cuisine. Make sure you allocate a least three days to explore - although do it before your cruise as Athens's legendary traffic might stress you out!

Fajardo, Puerto Rico

Fajardo, on the Atlantic east coast of Puerto Rico, is the island's scuba diving hub. Dozens of boating companies offer charters and diving excursions on a range of craft, most based at the town's Puerto del Rey Marina, the largest marina in the Caribbean. Besides having two beautiful beaches just minutes away from town, there are also several uninhabited small islets just offshore, surrounded by coral reefs, and the neighbouring islands of Vieques and Culebra connected by ferry and air charters. Fajardo is thus in striking distance of a variety of watersport playgrounds.

Fajardo's forest-fringed public beaches, Seven Seas Beach and Luquillo Beach, offer calm, clear waters ideal for snorkelling and swimming, and are equipped with cafes, ablution blocks and lifeguards. For landlubbers, or those wanting a break from the ocean blue, the area also sports El Yunque, the only tropical rain forest administered by the United States National Forest Service, noted for its biodiversity and stunning walking trails.

Fajardo town itself does not offer much in the way of attractions, but it serves as an accommodation centre for this delightful part of Puerto Rico. It is also a social hub for holidaymakers thanks to the presence of the luxurious Wyndham El Conquistador resort, which has a lively casino and world-class golf course.


Bio Bay
Bioluminescent Bay
The water in Mosquito Bay sparkles like stars when disturbed due to the hundreds of thousands of bioluminescent dinoflagellates resident there. Several tour companies offer kayaking and snorkelling in the magical water, often ranked as one of the most romantic places on earth. Of the bioluminescent bays all over the world, Vieques' Puerto Mosquito has been certified the brightest by the Guinness Book of World Records. A trip to 'Bio Bay' (as it's locally known) is one of the best tourist attractions in Puerto Rico, and well worth the excursion from San Juan.

El Faro lighthouse, Las Cabezas
Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve
Located on three promontories on the extreme northeast corner of the island, Las Cabezas reserve is one of the most beautiful and bio-diverse natural areas in Puerto Rico. The reserve is close to Fajardo, a major marina and diving resort, located about an hour's drive from San Juan. The area offers pristine beaches ideal for snorkelling. The reserve contains seven different ecological systems including coral reefs, sandy beaches, lagoons, mangroves and dry forest. It is also home to several endangered species. Boardwalk trails provide easy access to the different natural sites. A restored 19th-century lighthouse, El Faro, is situated on one of the headlands and offers an information centre and observation deck.

Caribbean National Forest (El Yunque)
The Caribbean National Forest, 35 miles (56km) east of San Juan, is the only tropical rainforest in the United States National Park system and was named El Yunque by the Spanish. Its 28,000 acres contain about 240 different species of tree and numerous other plants, from tiny, delicate wild orchids to gigantic ferns. Visitors can start their visit at the El Portal Tropical Forest Centre where there are films, exhibits and interactive displays on the rainforest. Maps are available and you can choose from dozens of walking trails through the forest, graded according to difficulty. Nearby is Puerto Rico's best beach, Luquillo Beach, famous for its soft white sand and towering coconut palms.


Moscow, Russia

Moscow is the capital of the world's biggest country, situated in the centre of the European part of Russia. At the very heart of the city, and indeed the country, is the Kremlin, the Russian place of command for almost eight centuries, and the religious centre. Red Square and the exquisite, colourful domes of Saint Basil's Cathedral, and the jewelled, Fabergé Easter eggs of the Tsars are images that have long been associated with the Soviet Union in the minds of Westerners.

The city of Moscow is a fusion of both splendour and ugliness that is evident in the massive concrete slabs and high-rise apartments of the Stalinist era, and in the ornate churches, beautiful neo-classical houses, and the impressive architecture of the old city. Wide grey thoroughfares give way to narrow winding inner city streets, and golden church domes gleam between the looming skyscrapers. It attracts not only those eager to embrace new business and free enterprise, but also the poor from across the country, and the extremes of affluence and impoverishment are evident everywhere.

Since the fall of communism Moscow has been injected with a sense of urgency to change the face of the 'Mother City', embracing capitalism and shaking off the years of communist-imposed atheism with flashy shop fronts housing western franchises, new restaurants and glossy hotels, and the restoration of lavish Orthodox churches. The once dreary streets are now a vibrant commotion of life with markets and eager vendors offering an assortment of goods that were unavailable during the Soviet years.

It is also a city of entertainment, with theatres and the renowned Moscow Circus, museums and art galleries. It boasts the world's largest and most efficient metro system with gleaming stations deep underground, astonishingly decorated in elegant marble, glittering chandeliers and gilded works of art and magnificent mosaics. It is the soul of the new Russia and an intriguing mix of history and politics, business and culture.

Moscow Attractions

For the most part, Moscow attractions are testament to the city's turbulent past, but there are also a number of cultural and religious venues to enjoy in the city. Sightseeing in Moscow is best during the summer, from May until late August, when it is warmer and the days are longer.

Kremlin minarets
The Kremlin
The oldest part of Moscow dating back to the city's foundation in 1147, and situated at the very heart of the city on top of a hill, the Kremlin is a fortress surrounded by a thick red wall interspersed with 20 towers. The...  see full details

St Basil's Cathedral, Moscow
Red Square
Red Square is a dramatic open cobbled space in the centre of Moscow, originally the city's market place that served as a public gathering place to celebrate festivals, listen to government announcements or to witness executions, especially common during the reign of Ivan the...  see full details

St Basil\'s Cathedral
St Basil's Cathedral
St Basil's Cathedral with its multicoloured domes is the most famous image of Russia, standing on the edge of Moscow's Red Square, a striking design that was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible to commemorate his victorious military campaign against the Tartar Mongols at Kazan...  see full details

Russian Ballet
Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre
Moscow's oldest theatre, the Bolshoi, dates from 1824 and is Russia's most famous theatre, with its world-renowned opera and ballet companies in residence. Completely rebuilt after a fire in 1856, the grand building is a masterpiece of Russian neoclassicism, including an eight-columned entrance porch...  see full details

Tretyakov Gallery
Tretyakov Gallery
The Tretyakov Gallery houses some of the great masterpieces of traditional Russian art from before the Revolution and has the world's finest collection of Russian icons from the 11th to the 17th centuries. The gallery's collection of paintings, graphics and sculptures covers Russian art...  see full details

Poklonnaya Hill
Poklonnaya Hill
Poklonnaya, literally meaning 'bow down', lies in the west part of Moscow and was historically a spot for Western visitors of the city to pay homage before entering the city. Today it is a beacon to Russia's military strength, having withstood invasions by...  see full details

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
After Napoleon retreated from Russia, Tsar Alexander I declared that a cathedral be built in remembrance to the soldiers who had died defending mother Russia. Decades later the cathedral was demolished by Stalin (who found the monument abhorrent), only to be built again on...  see full details

Panorama Museum
Borodino Panorama Museum
The battle of Borodino is regarded as the bloodiest of the Napoleonic wars, seeing over 70,000 casualties in a single day, an event which saw Napoleon brand the Russians as being 'invincible'. The Borodino Panorama Museum was inaugurated in 1960 and serves as an...  see full details

Mocow Metro
Moscow Metro
Moscow's Metro stations together amount to the most beautiful public transport facility in the world. Visitors to Moscow should not miss taking a ride on this glorious underground rail system, and exploring the stations. Each one has its own distinct aesthetic identity, variously adorned...  see full details