Will McGough of Travel Pulse has written a timely article describing 10 U.S. cities that should be on your must-see list this year. Maybe this year will be the year to scratch that travel itch. Read on here:
Santa Barbara, California
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Wilmington, North Carolina
Photo credits from Flickr: Woody Hibbard; Eneko Bidegain; Ty Nigh; John; Prayitno; Patrick Nouhailler; Michele Singer; Ron Reiring; Richard Hurd
You say you need a break ? It’s the dead of winter here in Chicago, and, yes I could use a break ! Somewhere far away to a city that’s a treat to the senses. Fortunately, Travel Den has 20 city destinations for you to consider.
Craving a romantic getaway? Paris is the perfect place. The City of Lights remains one of the most popular destinations on the planet — with millions of international visitors flooding into France each year. With so much to see and do on the banks of the River Seine, it’s no great surprise that tourism continues to boom here.
It can be busy, but with tourists spoiled for choice in this iconic city, it is still possible to beat the crowds and take things at your own pace. The most popular spots include The Louvre — the most visited art museum on Earth — as well Notre Dame (?), the Champs-Elysees and, of course, the Eiffel Tower. But Paris is perhaps best experienced from a quiet café on the Left Bank. Head here for coffee and croissants, before strolling the city’s grand boulevards en route to Montmartre, where the artists await and the bistros beckon.
There’s nowhere on Earth quite like Venice. Located in a shimmering lagoon in the attractive Adriatic, and built upon 118 small islands, there’s no question that this Italian gem is a unique place. It’s also popular — the streets teeming with tourists and the major spots often crowded. Planning a visit? It is possible to beat the hustle and the bustle and the cruise ship hordes. Like to see the sights? Take our advice and head out early.
St Mark’s Square — home to the famous Basilica and Campanile — demands a visit, as does the Grand Canal, that serves as the city’s main thoroughfare. Look out for the Rialto Bridge, before retreating to the backwaters as the crowds begin to build. Lined with Renaissance and Gothic palaces and abodes, there are some hidden treasures to be discovered just off the beaten track. Interesting, attractive and forever unique, this is a destination that must not be missed.
Well that’s two cities. Eighteen more to go. Will your next adventure await your click on the link below ?
Visiting London this year ? If you are a fan of art deco, these landmarks are a must visit. They don’t build them like this anymore. A feast for a photographer, or a tourist. Enjoy !
By Andrea Cambaro
Art Deco left visible signs in London’s urban landscape during the 1920s and 1930s. Many landmarks are still scattered across the city, conveying a modernist and exhuberant approach to architecture.
Debuted at the grand Paris exhibition of 1925, the Art Deco movement flourished in Europe and the US until World War II. It was a bold and eclectic wave of decorative styles which influenced both design and architecture, promoting exuberant shapes and geometric motifs, bright colours and Ancient Egyptian revival. In London, that period of modernist enthusiasm is often associated with lidos and cinemas, factories and institutional buildings. Both famous and lesser-known landmarks can be included in an Art Deco tour of the UK capital.
This imposing 19-storey building was commissioned in 1932 to provide a new home to the University of London. It remained an unfinished project due to the start of World War II, but even so, it defines the architecture of Bloomsbury to this day. Designed by Charles Holden, its austere exterior style falls somewhere between traditionalism and modernism, while the interiors feature typically Art Deco marble elements and decorations. Senate House inspired George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth in his best-known novel ‘1984’.
Senate House, Malet St, WC1E 7HU
Carreras Cigarette Factory
Ancient Egyptian Revival is a recurring theme of Art Deco architecture, and the Carreras Cigarette Factory is one of the most striking examples in London. A bright colonnade, the cat motifs above it, and two black cats guarding the entrance are only some of the Egyptian features found on the facade. The original project also included a solar disc to the Sun-god Ra, covered during the war because of its resemblance to the symbolism of the Third Reich. Turned into offices in 1961, the building lost many of its original details and decorations, some of which were replaced during an extensive renovation in the late 1990s.
Hampstead Rd, NW1 7DF
Not far from Regent’s Park, 66 Portland Place is home to the Royal Institute of British Architects. It has served this purpose since opening in 1934, when it was inaugurated by King George V and Queen Mary. The bas-relief figure above the entrance is titled ‘Architectural Aspiration’, while five more figures decorate the facade on Weymouth Street. Architecture is also celebrated by two more sculptures depicting a man and a woman as creative forces. The interiors feature wide floor-to-ceiling windows, bright spaces, marble, carvings and other decorations. To have a look around, the RIBA library and cafe are open to the public.
66 Portland Pl, W1B 1AD
Daimler Car Hire Garage
The Daimler Hire was a company that hired out chauffeur-driven luxury cars. It had its headquarters at 7 Herbrand Street, a four-storey concrete building with a distinctive horizontal motif contrasted only by a narrow tall window in its central section. To the right is the iconic spiralling ramp that best defines this building, and which served as the main entrance. Particularly remarkable are the continuous windows following the shape of the ramp. The Daimler Hire Car Garage was designed by Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, who were also responsible for the Alaska Factory described below.
7 Herbrand St, WC1N 1AF
Dating back to 1869, this former sealskin factory is a curious throwback to Bermondsey’s industrial days. All that remains of the original building is a stone arch decorated with a relief of a seal, while the Art Deco tower standing at the back was added during the 1930s. Unlike much of Bermondsey, the factory survived World War II thanks, in part, to an unexploded bomb, but closed in the 1960s due to the declining popularity of fur coats. The building has been converted into apartments, and the elegant red letters ‘Alaska’ on its facade still command attention from passersby on Grange Road.
61 Grange Rd, SE1 3BA
Also known as Ideal House, this seven-storey office block was erected in 1928-29 as the London headquarters of the National Radiator Company. Ancient Egypt-inspired detailing and polished black granite are the first features to be noticed while looking at the facade, but the building wouldn’t look as chic without the gold and green decorations on the upper floors. Palladium House was declared a Grade II-listed building in 1981, and today it hosts private flats as well as a restaurant on the ground floor.
1-4 Argyll St, W1F 7LD
The Daily Express Building
Once home to the British press, Fleet Street is also famous for its iconic buildings and architecture. The most striking of all is n°120, which housed the Daily Express until 1989. Its black facade features vitriolite and chromium panels, and distinctive rounded corners. An oval staircase and a remarkable pendant lamp stand out in the lobby, which is pure Art Deco joy in the form of plaster reliefs and silver decorations. Founded in 1930, the Daily Express Building remains the most futuristic architecture on Fleet Street.
2be, 120 Fleet Street, EC4A 2BE (closed to the public but may open during Open House London every September)
This nine-storey building has been the headquarters to the BBC since opening in 1932. The impressive curved facade is its most defining feature, made of Portland stone and topped by a large clock. Above the entrance, a statue depicts ‘Prospero and Ariel’ from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, while ‘Ariel between Wisdom and Gaiety’ is the theme of another bas-relief to the side of the building. The Art Deco interior was designed by Australian-Irish architect Raymond McGrath. Today, Broadcasting House also comprises a glass-panelled wing completed in 2005 as part of an extensive refurbishment.
Portland Place, W1A 1AA
Cheap drinks are the only good reason one needs to visit a Wetherspoons pub. The patterned carpets are soaked in years of passing feet and beer spills, but it wasn’t always that way at The Coronet on Holloway Road. Originally known as the Savoy, this was one of many cinemas lining this street. But as larger televisions and home cinema units became more affordable, many cinemas, including the Savoy, were forced out of business. It held its last screening in 1983, and briefly turned into a snooker club before falling into disuse. The pub chain restored part of its former glory, making it the booze palace it is today.
338-346 Holloway Rd, N7 6NJ
The 1930s were the golden age of British lidos, and their design was often influenced by the Art Deco aesthetic and modernist architecture. Brockwell Lido is one of the best examples surviving to this day. Its Olympic-sized swimming pool is circled by elegant, horizontal architecture. Located in Herne Hill, South London, the lido opened in 1937 and closed in 1990 due to cost-cutting plans by the council. It re-opened only four years later thanks to a local campaign, and today it’s still a very popular summer spot.
Tourists ride on elephants in front of Viharn Phra Mongkol Bopit (Photo: Paul Stafford for TravelMag)
Siam’s former capital city still holds plenty of glimpses of its former spiritual and political glory. But to get those glimpses, it’s necessary to navigate the trappings of modern, urban Thailand.
There are two versions of Ayutthaya, and they couldn’t be more opposed. One is hardly distinguishable from some of the more suburban stretches of Bangkok, the Thai capital two hours by train to the south. Busy roads clamour with traffic; the shrill wails of barge whistles sound out as cargo is pulled along the Chao Phraya river, or one of the many other waterways that circumvent and enclose the main city; and swarms of wires slalom from one overloaded pylon to the next, while daily life somehow finds a way through the sultry heat and smog.
It was this Ayutthaya to which I was introduced outside the city’s train station late one evening. It was this city that kept me awake most of my first night, tossing and turning in sweat-drenched sheets, or startled awake whenever I was fortunate enough to drift off. It was these roads that seemed certain to pose major challenges to me, as I tried in vain to find what I’d been assured was a safe cycle route around the old city the next day. But then, ‘safe’ is a relative term.
As I pedalled along, dodging tuk-tuks packed with tourists, whose very existence seemed proof that it was possible to explore the city without sweating profusely, I caught a glimpse of the other Ayutthaya. Well more accurately, it was an Asian openbill stork that first caught my attention, with its thick beak seeming too cumbersome for its dusty frame. The stork was perched atop a weather-beaten structure that formed a shape somewhat like an upturned ice cream cone, with a much thicker, derelict column behind it, built of red bricks. This was not the chaotic, modern Ayutthaya; it was a glimpse into the past, of the Ayutthaya Kingdom’s (a Siamese empire) former capital city.
Buddha statue at Wat Mahathat (Photo: Paul Stafford for TravelMag)
To read more of Paul Stafford’s article, Click on the link below.
I think it’s safe to say, Sanibel Island, FL, has the world’s best shelling beaches. There are a few other shell beaches that make the top list, such as the one on St. Bart (Caribbean) and at Shark Bay (Australia), but none come close to Sanibel’s variety of shells. So let’s shellebrate Sanibel, a lush shell hunting paradise where waves and currents funnel hundreds of species of shells right onto the beaches! Photo by Anne McKinnell.
Sanibel island has 15 miles of beaches, 22 miles of bike paths, abundant wildlife and the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the country. So there’s more to Sanibel island than just shells! Well, not technically. The island is actually made of shells.
Sanibel fishing pier and lighthouse beach, is one of the six public beaches on the island. You can bike to this beach on the Periwinkle pathway. Lighthouse beach, along with Blind Pass (between Sanibel and Captiva) are the two top destinations for shelling.
And here are some Sanibel shelling facts and tips you want to know:
The east-west torque of Sanibel’s south end acts like a shovel scooping up all the seashells travelling from the Caribbean and other southern seas.
The types of shells on the beaches can vary according to the time of year.
Seashells are important to the island’s chain of life and it is against the law to collect live shells, same is true for neighboring Captiva island.
The best shelling is during the winter, at low tide, preferably after a storm.
Up to 30,000 visitors come to Sanibel and its neighbor island Captiva each week at peak season (December to April).
While on the hunt for shells, chances are that you will see dolphins and manatees.
Sanibel island has an annual Shell Fair and Show that is held every March.
Since Sanibel is made out of shells, created by nature over thousands of years, when locals dig in the backyard they often find perfectly intact conchs, whelks, scallops and clam shells.
Much, much more to see and read at the author’s web site:
Looking to REALLY get away. How about to a private island ? One catch, you have to take a cruise to get there. Read about the best islands to cruise to in this article by Lissa Poirot of Far and wide.com Then start packing your bikini !
Great Stirrup Cay
Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas may be “just” 268 acres, but Norwegian Cruise makes up for its relatively small stature with style.
Forget the barbecue lunches the other islands provide. On Great Stirrup there is a beach grill, taco bar and Caribbean-fare food truck, along with Bacardi, Patron and Bertram’s bars. When not dining, guests enjoy immaculate and groomed white-sand beaches.
Sample review: “WOW, is all I can say about GSC the Norwegian Cruise Line private island. We had a private villa for the day with its own AC, TV, bathroom with shower, butler service and living room. We had a front porch with lounge chairs and lounge chairs on the beach. There was a champagne bar and all the food you could eat. The beach was so beautiful. We can’t wait to go back.” – cathy s
I’m just going to show you one of the best. Fear not. Click below to see the whole article and the rest of the best.
Need something to do this holiday period ? Those living in the Southern Hemisphere have 26 best day and 2 day hikes right in your neighborhood in New Zealand. Check out this hiking guide from moonhoneytravel.com
The best way to experience New Zealand is with your own two feet. New Zealand is a hiker’s paradise. During our three months traveling in NZ, we sought out the best trails and hiked as much as possible. We’ve assembled our favorite hiking trails below for both the North and South Islands. You’ll find a range of short and long day hikes as well as 2-day hikes. We’ve also included trails we didn’t experience due to poor weather, or lack of proper equipment (basically our wishlist for our next trip). So, if you’re asking “where should I hike in New Zealand,” or “what are the best backcountry hut hikes,” keep reading because we’ve got you covered.
26 Best Hikes in New Zealand Overview
Tongariro Alpine Crossing, North Island
Mount Ruapehu’s Crater Lake, North Island
Taranaki Falls, North Island
Tama Lakes, North Island
Mangorei Track to Pouakai Range, North Island
Wilkies Pool and Dawson Falls Loop, North Island
Cape Kidnappers Gannet Reserve, North Island
Pinnacles Track, North Island
St. Arnaud Range Track, South Island
Robert Ridge Trail to Angelus Hut, South Island
Sealy Tarns Track, South Island
Mueller Hut, South Island
Hooker Valley, South Island
Roys Peak, South Island
Isthmus Peak, South Island
Ben Lomond, South Island
Tiki Trail to Skyline Complex, South Island
Lake Alta, South Island
Lookout, The Remarkables, South Island
Routeburn Track to Routeburn Falls, South Island
Routeburn Track to Harris Saddle, South Island
Mount Aspiring Hut, South Island
French Ridge Hut, South Island
Rob Roy Glacier, South Island
Key Summit, South Island
Avalanche Peak, South Island
Click on this link to find location and particulars of each hike, and much more.
Yesterday, I posted an article about an Ice Castle being built in Lake Geneva, Wis. I thought today I would post another article on all 5 USA locations as there could be one near you to visit. So here there are:
A company called the Ice Castle Project sets up ice castles all over North America, in places where the climate is suitable for ice.
As soon as winter approaches, they start a drip system to create the ice castles, which are then carved into magical creations. Lights and music are added, creating a winter wonderland for visitors willing to brave the cold for a unique night out.
The ice castles usually open after the holidays and continue to grow throughout the season as more ice is added and some daytime melting takes place. In 2018, they had five US locations and one in Edmonton, Canada.
Dillon, Colorado – located about 90 minutes from Denver near Dillon Reservoir, this is a great addition to your ski trip in Keystone, Breckenridge or Copper Mountain.
Excelsior, Minnesota – this Midwest ice castle is located about 30 minutes west of the Twin Cities, near the Minnetonka Lakes area.
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin – Two hours from Chicago or 90 minutes from Madison, Lake Geneva is all about winter fun. In addition to the Ice Castle, they have an annual Winterfest that includes the US National Snow Sculpting Competition.
Lincoln, New Hampshire – nestled in the White Mountains, the New Hampshire Ice Castle is less than 2 ½ hours from Portland, Burlington, and Boston.
Midway, Utah – not far from Park City, Deer Valley and Salt Lake City, the Utah ice castle is the perfect add-on for your Wasatch Mountains ski trip.
Photo Credit: AJ Mellor
Tips for Visiting Ice Castles
If you haven’t visited ice castles before, these tips will help you have a good time!
Warm Boots are a must. Make sure you have warm snow boots with good traction and warm socks underneath.
Insulated gloves will help keep your hands warm, which is key if you want to crawl through some of the tunnels and slides.
Wear warm layers that you can easily add and remove. Most ice castles sell hot drinks and many have a fire pit where you can warm up, so having good layers for you and your kids will keep everyone comfortable!
Need to get away this holiday season ? Discover 10 highlights for garden lovers on the beautiful Caribbean island of Grenada.
I’ve always admired Grenada’s gold-medal-winning displays at the Chelsea Flower Show, so I jumped at the chance to visit the island to see where the famous plants come from. And I wasn’t disappointed. I managed to visit lots of beautiful gardens during my week-long trip, most privately owned and with wonderful owners giving the tours themselves.
While the gardens were a treat, Grenada has so much more to offer. I adored hiking around the Grand Etang Rainforest, and fell in love with the waterfalls and landscape. Grand Anse beach was remarkable, and I visited chocolate factories, nutmeg processing stations, markets and a rum distillery, filling my case with delicious goodies to bring home.
Narrowing down my highlights to just 10 was a challenge, but here they are.
Sunny Side Garden
Sunny Side Garden, Grenada
I experienced pure joy at Sunny Side when I took a turn on a wooden rope swing hanging from a tree. Everyone should give it a go. The setting helped of course, with five acres of gently sloping garden complete with koi ponds and no end of palms, orchids, hibiscus, bromeliads, all adding to the experience. I was shown around by Randy, the son of the garden’s creators, who recommended I take the tour bare food – I did and didn’t regret it.
Grand Etang Rainforest
Grand Etang Rainforest, Grenada
I wasn’t expecting to see rainforest in Grenada, so the 300 acres that greeted me came as a welcome surprise. The forest sores 1900ft above sea level, with steep, winding roads making their way through the lush landscape – the driving isn’t for the faint hearted, but it’s worth it. I was lucky enough to go on a short hike led by Simon from Hidden Treasures, and I’ve never seen such large bamboo plants in my life. There’s also Grand Etang Lake in the middle of it all, which is essential for a pit stop.
Smithy’s Garden, Grenada
I met the owner of Smithy’s, Anne Campbell, a few times during my trip so it was a real pleasure to visit her garden too. It was absolutely beautiful, and perhaps the garden I related to the most out of all those I visited – just like me, Anne has too many plants and an endless list of gardening jobs to do! Anne is a talented florist, and grows as many flowers as she can for arranging and donating to Grenada’s Chelsea exhibit.
Balthazar Estate, Grenada
I’d read the estate grows flowers commercially, many of which head to Chelsea, so I was expecting to see regimented lines of blooms. What greeted me couldn’t have been more different, with all the plants growing naturally to form an incredibly beautiful landscape. The estate is skilfully cared for, and one of the knowledgeable staff gave me a fascinating tour, but the experience was more akin to trekking in the jungle than visiting a commercial grower. Utterly thrilling!
River Antoine Rum Distillery
River Antoine Rum Distillery
I’ll try anything once – and once was enough when it came to Rivers Rum! It’s 75% proof, and I managed a measly sip. How locals drink shots of the stuff, I’ll never know. The distillery where the rum is made is completely fascinating though, with the process unchanged for hundreds of years. Sugar cane is processed in machinery powered by a water wheel, and the distilling equipment is wood fired – it really did feel like stepping back in time.
Palm Tree Gardens
Palm Tree Gardens, Grenada
It was pouring with rain when I visited Palm Tree Gardens, but that didn’t stop me enjoying a fantastic tour. In fact, the plant-filled veranda of the main building was possibly the garden highlight of my whole trip. Among the myriad gingers, heliconias, bromeliads and more, I spotted resident tortoises and the most enormous toad I’ve ever seen. The gardens creator, Lawrence Lambert, is buried in the garden and it’s now cared for by a team of dedicated staff.
Grand Anse Beach
Grand Anse Beach, Grenada
A local told me to head to Grand Anse Beach and go for a dip on the afternoon I arrived on Grenada – the perfect refresher after the long journey. What wonderful advice that was. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the never-ending stretch of white sand, palm trees and turquoise water – everything you’d imagine of a Caribbean island and more. The beach wasn’t overcrowded, with tourists and locals happily enjoying the place together. Needless to say, I visited more than once.
Gem Rose Eden
Gem Rose Eden, Grenada
I adored Gemma Flemming, the owner of this remarkable garden. Her enthusiasm for plants was infectious, as she checked the progress of each and every one, while showing me her garden’s highlights. Like all the gardens I visited, Gemma’s was bursting with tropical blooms the likes of which I could only dream of growing at home. But there was more than that – I loved her paths, steps, small ponds and the odd garden building dotted about the place. They created beautiful garden views with an intimate feel.
Hyde Park Garden
Hyde Park Garden, Grenada
The views from Hyde Park alone, make it worthy of a spot in my top 10. It’s set high above the town of St George’s, making it possible to see the town itself, the sparkling Caribbean sea and beautiful views to the south of the island. The garden is lovely too of course, and owners John and Fay Miller worked with landscape designer Chris Baksh to bring it all together. As with all the gardens I visited, John and Fay donate blooms every year for Grenada’s Chelsea exhibit.
Sailing with Savvy’s
Sailing with Savvy’s, Grenada
You don’t have to spend long on Grenada to feel the lure of the sea, and I took a sunset sailing trip that will live in my memory forever. Savvy’s boats are wooden and built by hand, drawing on the islands rich sailing heritage, meaning the experience feels every bit authentic – which it is. My trip was a treat, with my boat expertly sailed by Danny and his crew. Add to this a few cold beers and the sun disappearing into the Caribbean sea, and you’ve just about got a perfect evening
The beginnings of the Ice Castle near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Mega-tons of ice are used to built it.
This is what it will look like in about 3 weeks.
Ice Castles is an award-winning frozen attraction located in six cities across North America. The experience is built using hundreds of thousands of icicles hand-placed by professional ice artists. The castles include breathtaking LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, fountains and much more.
Built with thousands of lit-up icicles, the one-acre interactive Ice Castles display is projected to open on Geneva National’s driving range in early January 2020. Featuring tricked-out tunnels, thrones, slides, and fountains, this over-the-top Instagrammable ice kingdom will be yours to discover through early March.