In the heart of Europe, Habsburg family homes offer a haunting glimpse into history


On the 28th of June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo by a Serb terrorist, thus setting in motion the events of World War I, and forever changing the world. It’s intriguing to imagine how different the world might be today had Ferdinand not taken that fateful trip to Sarajevo that day. Would we have had World War II? Would Nazi Germany have happened? Would America have become the ‘last best hope of Earth?’

Well, we can better understand history by going to look at the place Franz Ferdinand lived and spent time before his departure to Sarajevo. By visiting and experiencing the Habsburg family homes around Europe, we can build a picture of what the family was like and gives us a unique look back at history.


The first port of call is checking out Konopiste, the bohemian castle where the Archduke lived during the time he took his ill-fated trip to Sarajevo. It’s curious to think that this three-story chateau, just outside Benesov in the Czech Republic, probably wouldn’t be a tourist attraction were it not for Ferdinand’s untimely demise. If you want to see an important slice of history, the castle museum actually has the bullet that killed him on display. It’s a little morbid, but it shows how important an event this was, and how it shouldn’t be forgotten.


Another important home that needs to be seen is known as Kaiservilla. This stunning mansion was one of the summer homes of Emperor Franz Joseph I, and his wife, Empress Elizabeth. It was at this breathtaking address that Franz Joseph signed the decree that would launch World War I, following the assassination of Ferdinand – his nephew. It’s worth wondering whether Franz Joseph could have envisaged the impact his actions would have on the world. He died in 1916, before the end of the First World War, so he never got to see the legacy of his action unfold across the world. So, this is a residence that plays an important role in world history as well and should be remembered as such.

Miramare Castle

Moving to Italy now, and the Gulf of Trieste, to find the 19th Century castle Miramare. This is not only a stunning castle, but it’s also one that plays a big role in the development of historical events. The castle was designed and built by Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, who would later become Emperor of Mexico. He was the younger brother of Franz Joseph I, and also an uncle of the assassinated Franz Ferdinand. The castle has some truly stunning grounds that are well worth exploring, and it underwent extensive renovation work and restoration and is currently a big tourist attraction.

These are a few of the important residences throughout Europe that are incredibly important. They might just seem like stunning touristy attractions, but the families who lived in these places helped to shape the future of the world. In fact, were it not for these people, the world could well end up being a very different place.


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Six of Britain’s best ‘spring heartland’ walks

The entire British landscape is reborn in spring, but some ‘ultra-special places’ merit a seasonal pilgrimage, says nature writer Matthew Oates

Spring is primarily about transformation and the promise of summer. It fights a titanic struggle, for winter is loath to let go. Eventually spring wins through, and greens the drab-brown land until its flowers cover winter’s grave.

Above all, spring is a mighty metamorphosis that would turn any caterpillar green with envy. Wave upon wave of rejuvenation occurs, over entire landscapes, over whole countries. At its zenith, massive changes occur daily: swallows arrive one day, orange-tip butterflies appear the next, then nightingales, and so on. It offers us new epiphanies each day, each sunny hour.

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Travel | The Guardian


Pathfinders: top video of the month, February 2018

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 16.37.01

Every month, we curate the best videos, blog posts and Instagrams from our Lonely Planet Pathfinders.

This month’s feature is from Hanna and Zach of HandZaround, who take us on an exciting hike through the varying landscape of the Ngare Ndare Forest in Kenya.

‘We visited Ngare Ndare Forest, 4 hours north of Nairobi, and fell in love with its lush, indigenous setting. The 200 year old trees surround the canopy walkway that takes you into the magic parts of the forest, while the blue waters of the falls provide you with a stunning spectacle (and a pretty freezing bath!) Undoubtedly, it’s a very special place to visit in Northern Kenya.’

Ngare Ndare Forest – HandZaround

A big thumbs up to Hanna and Zach who have seamlessly pieced together a variety of shots to take us along on their hike. We particularly enjoy the change of pace throughout the video, which is complemented by sweeping drone shots of the forest, close-up details and first person footage of various points in the journey. The colour treatment of these shots not only ties everything together, but also gives the montage a warm, summery vibe.

Thanks to all the Pathfinders who submitted footage this month; hats off to videographer Mark Hadj Hamou who was back to take us on a wanderlust-inducing adventure to Luzon in his latest video. Nicole Booth also shared a vlog about her recent trip to Jordanwhich was bursting with energy.

Keep your eyes peeled on our Thorn Tree forum where we’ll post the next submission call-out. Find out what else our Lonely Planet Pathfinders are up to (or sign up yourself!) by checking out the Pathfinders video playlist, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

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Ways to survive 14 hours in coach


Flying can be heaps of fun, especially if you’re traveling to some exotic location you’ve never visited before. However, it can also be a bit of a nightmare having to negotiate a long haul flight, especially when you’re stuck in coach. Even frequent fliers can find long-haul flights a struggle, so what hope do the rest of us have? And, some flights can be a lot more grueling than others – that’s just a fact.

Sure, it’s okay if you’re traveling business or first class, because you have all the comforts – and space – you need to get you through the flight. You can get some sleep in nice, comfy surroundings, and keep yourself entertained whenever you need to. So, if you could do with some tips to help you survive 14 hours in coach, read on!

Pick the right seat

You’ll be surprised by just how much of a difference this can make, and, if you get the opportunity to choose your seats, make sure you pick wisely. In order to maximize the amount of space you have, we would suggest trying to go for an aisle seat. This allows you to stretch your legs better, and you won’t feel boxed in by other passengers. It also means you can get up and stretch your legs while moving around for a while.

Eat something

Sure, plane food might be up there with hospital food in terms of being mostly terrible, but this doesn’t mean you should skip eating. In fact, you’ll need to do as much as you can to keep energy levels up, and eating is a great way of achieving that. That’s why we would recommend accepting the in-flight meal, even if you only eat a few mouthfuls. Alternatively, a snack which is high in protein is a great substitute – but make sure you do eat on the flight!

Remember the accessories

All long-haul flights will come with an array of accessories designed to make the flight more comfortable and enjoyable. Things like a blanket, eye mask, earplugs, etc., are essential for helping you be as comfortable as possible. By making use of these as often as you can, you can make yourself more comfortable and peaceful. Sometimes these flights can get rather chilly so you will find that blanket a godsend.

Choose your entertainment wisely

This means reading at the start of the flight when your brain is still awake, and your eyes haven’t been dried out by the air conditioning. When you no longer feel able to read, it’s time to whack on a movie. Again, choose wisely here – if there’s an epic you’ve been wanting to see for a while, get that bad boy on, as it will eat up much of the flight! Maybe follow it with something much more light-hearted afterward.

Use these tips as well as you possibly can in order to make sure you get through your 14-hour flight unscathed. You will find things much less difficult, and significantly more comfortable, by using some of the tips we’ve given. You will most likely have your own flight rituals to follow as well, and we hope you have enough in terms of tips and information to help you enjoy the flight as much as possible.


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Up all night in Norway: land of the midnight sun

The extreme northern coast of Norway is an unspoilt land of wonder, and the perfect place to enjoy the eternal dawn
Plus three more adventures in the midnight sun

Midnight. Morning. A shard of sun cuts through the cloud. Due north, not east, from my lighthouse. Gulls scream below us as they circle Flatøy fyr, our uninhabited island near Nordskot, northern Norway. We are on our own here for a few days, just me and the photographer Howard Sooley. We are 300km inside the Arctic Circle. Standing on top of the world.

I have been getting up around dawn for a year or more, absorbing the daybreak and recording it. I am writing a book, a manifesto for morning, about why it means so much to me, the change from night to light, making time to be (by) yourself. So I’ve come north for the summer solstice to see if there can be dawn without dark, if morning needs the night-time at all.

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Travel | The Guardian


Georgian splendour: trekking in the Caucasus


There are just some experiences you need to make sure you have in your life. We only get one life, and it’s important to live it in the best way we possibly can. And that means seizing opportunities when they arise and doing things you might not normally choose to do. And that, to us, means taking a breathtaking vacation with a difference.

These days, one of the best places you can go is the small European country of Georgia. It might not seem like the obvious choice when considering your next vacay, but there’s one thing in particular that draws people here. And that is the opportunity to trek the Caucasus mountains in style. This is an opportunity you don’t get to enjoy every day – check out this guide to a Georgian trek of the Caucasus.


The Tusheti region of northeast Georgia is the perfect place to start your historical trek. Located on the northern sloped of the Caucasus, and reachable only by a 68km trek, Tusheti is a place like something from a fantasy novel. Bordering Russia to the north, this is a stunning paradise of forests, valleys, lakes, and mountainous peaks. This is one of the most remote places we’ve ever encountered, and time almost seems to stand still for a time.

By horseback

There are some parts of the Caucasus that you will not be able to traverse by foot, and these are the times when you will need to go by horseback. But you’ll have to plan in advance because winter makes this place a no-go area for certain times of the year. Through steep slopes, across rolling canyons, and up precarious climbs, this is the kind of place you might only experience once in your life, so be sure to make the most of it, and go by horse wherever possible.

Make sure you get a guide

Not only are guides invaluable for a trip like this, but they also help you keep you safe. The Caucasus presents treacherous terrain, and it’s so remote that it’s easy to get lost. You need a guide who knows their way around and will be able to take you the best possible routes. It’s crucial to get someone who is informative and friendly, and who knows the trek like the back of their hand. There are wolves and bears sometimes that can be found in Tusheti and other regions, so trekkers need to be cautious.


This is the kind of place you might only get the chance to see and enjoy now and again. So make the most of it – the views are simply unbeatable. And there is every mixture of terrain you could possibly imagine. You will get to stand on mountain peaks and see mind-blowing views, pause by magical mountain streams, and really enjoy the great outdoors in style. This is a new side of Georgia – a gentler and more beautiful side of the country, and one we could all stand to check out.

|If you ever book a trip to Georgia you should make sure you use it to trek the Caucasus Mountains. They are one of the best-kept secrets of this area, and the experience will change your life. This beautiful and windswept mountain trek is one of the most important treks you’ll ever take.


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Europe’s strange border anomaly


Europe is such a weird and wonderful place, and there are so many things about it that continue to surprise us. So much history here is really interesting, and a great way of learning about how the world used to be. But, not only that but Europe also has fascinating politics and can provide a welcome relief from the tumultuous politics going on at home.

It’s not just the different nations in Europe and the long arm of the European Union that provides interest. There are also plenty of political anomalies that make for fascinating reading as well. For instance, did you know that Europe is actually home to a fair few border anomalies? In order to properly understand this, we need to make sure we look back at the history of how this happened.

The place

The place we’re talking about exists in a quiet corner of northern Europe and is called Baarle-Nassau. This municipality in the south of the Netherlands actually has a curious setup whereby many of the buildings here have international borders running right through them! There are countless enclaves here, and, because Baarle-Nassau sits on the border of Belgium and the Netherlands, it has caused a huge border anomaly.

What this means

Well, there are some consequences of this that are actually quite cool when you think about it. For instance, you could have a couple cohabiting, who would technically be in different countries when they go to bed at night. You even get scenarios where people might choose to move the front doors of their homes in order to gain economic benefits. It also gives many of the citizens of Baarle-Nassau dual citizenship of both the Netherlands and Belgium.

What caused this mess?

This complex mess can be dated back to the Middle Ages, where pockets of land were divided up between local aristocratic families. In 1831, following Belgian independence from the Netherlands, this left a complex web of property and border disputes. In fact, it was so complicated that the governments decide not to enforce any particular jurisdictions, and, as such, we have the curious case of Baarle-Nassau and its multiple borders.

Cultural example

One of the best things about this place is that it shows a cultural interweaving of two different nations. Both Belgian and Dutch citizens coexist in peace and use both cultures to help their communities blossom and thrive. This should be an inspiration to all of us and is something we need to look at understanding and implementing. Even Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cited the municipality as an example of two nations existing peacefully together.

If you ever find yourself on a tour of Europe, and you’re going to check out the Netherlands and Belgium, we reckon you should definitely head for this place. Baarle-Nassau is a beautiful and quaint part of Europe, but it is also a place of great historical and political significance, and somewhere we should all go. Experience something unique by traveling to Europe and paying a visit to Baarle-Nassau.


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Italian town Ollolai sells $1 homes to lure new residents


Buying a home can be one of the most expensive and stressful things you can possibly do. Anyone who has ever bought a home will be aware of the complications and pitfalls that are involved, especially when buying in the big city. The cost and complications can become overwhelming, and you are left wondering whether there is an easy way of doing all this. Well, there actually may well be.

Allow us to introduce the Italian town of Ollolai, nestled in Sardinia’s mountain region of Barbagia. This stunning place is actually tearing up every rule in the book, by offering homes for sale for just over $ 1. Yes, that’s one dollar. US. Who the how the what? Well, that was our first thought as well – so, here are a few things to know about Ollolai.

Natural beauty

The first thing you should know about this stunning town is just how much natural beauty there is, both in and around it. This is one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever seen, and there’s no big surprise that it’s attracting attention. How would you like to have a home with winding hills and stunning mountain passes? When choosing a home you want to think about the view and the surrounding space, and Ollolai tops the table for these things.

Cheapest homes in the world

Though not the first Italian town or city to try this cheap homes gimmick, it’s clear that Ollolai has a lot of appeal. In fact, the exact sum would come to $ 1.20 USD. This is the kind of thing that you might hear about and assume it’s a scam to get money from people – but it’s actually completely legit! In a bid to rejuvenate a dying community, the government has put this in place in order to prevent the town from becoming a ghost town. We don’t know about you, but we think this is a masterstroke. The mayor secured a lot of the empty properties here, and the government began selling them in 2017 for peanuts!

Frozen in time

Formerly the capital of Barbagia, Ollolai remains of the most untouched places of Sardinia. In fact, in many ways, this is a place very much frozen in time. With abandoned, disused homes, and the population dwindling each year, it very much has that ancient feel about it. But we think this is a big part of what makes it so popular and appealing. It’s the perfect place for those sick of city life and lonely for the small towns. Fresh air and wonderful views can actually be a really great way of healing the mind and body.

How would you love to get your hands on one of these homes? Sounds too good to be true right? Well, there is one catch, that buyers must commit to a $ 25,000 refurbishment within three years of purchase. Still, $ 25,001 is a steal for a home these days, no matter where you are. We would recommend these homes to any prospective homeowners out there – don’t wait around for them to all get taken.


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The Bay Tree, Broadstairs, Kent: hotel review

Is the Margate effect spreading? An impressive new boutique hotel has just opened in neighbouring Broadstairs, which is pretty radical for this attractive but resolutely old-fashioned seaside town

Much has been written about Margate’s transformation from seaside has-been to hip, arty hangout. Even nearby Ramsgate was reckoned to be reinventing itself a few years ago, with a boutique hotel and a fancy chef at its Royal Harbour Brasserie. But Broadstairs, sitting primly between the two, has never gone in for that sort of thing, thank you very much.

Why would it need regenerating when it has cute fishermen’s cottages, sandy bays – one within a sheltering harbour arm, another a popular surf spot – more literary connections than you can shake a pen at, quaint pubs and two retro ice-cream parlours?

Continue reading…
Travel | The Guardian


Join our Twitter #lpchat on architecture around the world!

#LPChat - architecture

From awe-inspiring ancient spires to innovative, contemporary designs, the world’s varied locales are so often characterised by their architecture. So much of the joy of travelling involves looking up, down and all around at the man-made marvels that form concrete jungles, iconic skylines and world-renowned landmarks of different destinations.

To celebrate the release of our newest title A Spotter’s Guide to Amazing Architecture in April, we’re hosting an #lpchat on Twitter, all about the planet’s greatest buildings, structures and ancient sites. There’ll be chat about chapels, talk on temples and conversation about construction a-plenty, as well as oodles of travel inspiration.

Bring your best stories, pictures, tips and tricks, and meet us on Twitter at 16:30 BST/ 8:30 PDT on Wednesday 28 March. See you there!

The best tweeter will win themselves a copy of our new A Spotter’s Guide to Amazing Architecture book.


    1. Follow @lonelyplanet and the hashtag #lpchat on Twitter on Wednesday 28 March at 16:30 BST / 8:30 PDT.
    2. Questions will be ordered Q1, Q2, Q3 etc. To answer Q1, begin your tweet with A1. For Q2, A2 and so on.
    3. Add #lpchat to all of your tweets during the Twitter chat, so others (including @lonelyplanet) can see what you’re saying.
    4. Bring your best travel tips, pics and ideas!

Terms & Conditions: Entrants must be 13 years old or over. Judges’ decision is final. Promoter: Lonely Planet Publications Ltd of 240 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8NW. The winner will be notified via direct message on Twitter. The winner must claim their prize and provide an address for delivery within 7 days of being notified, otherwise the judges may select another winner. Prize: one copy of Lonely Planet’s Amazing Architecture in book or eBook format, valued at £7.99/$ 11.99.

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What it’s like to visit the country that declared itself the happiest on earth


Are you happy with your life? We understand that is a very existential question, and there might not be an obvious answer to it. One thing we can say is whether we feel like our lives are fulfilled or whether there is something lacking. It seems like it’s so difficult to be fully content with life these days, as there is always something new to worry about, or to covet.

It’s rare to get a collective of people who are perfectly happy with their daily lives. And it’s even rarer still to get a whole nation that would define itself as such. Now, we often hear reports that Denmark, Norway, or some other Scandinavian hinterland is officially the happiest nation on Earth. But, we’d like to counter that with an offering of our own – Bhutan, the tiny kingdom in the Himalayas, and the place that declared itself the happiest country on Earth.

The world’s last Buddhist kingdom

Bhutan only opened its borders to the public as recently as 1974 and is the world’s last remaining Buddhist kingdom. The jewel of the Himalayas, it’s not hard to see why the people here would be so happy – the country is truly stunning. With staggering natural beauty everywhere you turn, it’s the sort of place where you can truly lose yourself in beauty, adventure, and opportunity. Welcome, to the last remaining Buddhist kingdom on Earth.

Long live the King

With a population of 700,000 people, Bhutan has long been viewed as one of the most interesting and attractive countries in the Himalayas. In fact, it has even attracted attention in the past from Buddhist celebrities, such as the actor Richard Gere. The nation first came to worldwide acclaim back in the ‘70s, when the king at the time, King Wangchuck, announced that Bhutan would not be measuring gross national product, but, instead, Gross National Happiness. And since then, this has become almost the unofficial motto of Bhutan.

Unique approach to tourism

Imagine if you lived in a tiny, but idyllic country, and every year, every month, every week, your nation was beset by tourists – loud, ignorant, and materialistic. You’d soon get pretty cheesed off with it, right? Well, Bhutan has taken a clever and unique approach to tourism – limiting numbers, and imposing a tariff on those who want to visit. This helps to boost the economy of the nation, while at the same time keeping the undesirables from entering the country. No wonder the people of Bhutan are so happy all the time.

It’s clear from just a few days in Bhutan that this is unlike anywhere else on Earth. It’s a world away from the crowded sidewalks, honking taxis, and bitter winds of Manhattan. This is a place where nature, religion, and enlightenment converge and coalesce to provide one of the most peaceful and serene places on the planet. The locals here are perfectly happy and contented with their lives – and why wouldn’t they be? After all, they live in one of the world’s most gorgeous places. And the tourism restrictions are bound to be to the liking of the population – they get to keep their magical country just the way it is.


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Is Albania Eastern Europe’s answer to the Amalfi Coast?


The Amalfi Coast is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, rich in luxury, natural splendor, and plenty of incredible architecture. But, it’s not necessarily essential to head to Italy if you want to enjoy the same awe and wonder the Amalfi Coast offers you. In fact, you can find magnificence in the most unlikely of places, and that is something important when choosing a travel destination.

In fact, there are so many hidden gems in and around Europe, that it’s important to look a little more closely. One of the places you probably wouldn’t expect to be offering the same kind of experience as the Amalfi Coast is Albania! But, that is, in fact, just what we have discovered to be the case. So, read on and discover how Albania has become Eastern Europe’s answer to the Amalfi Coast!

The Albanian Riviera

Edi Rama, the Prime Minister of Albania, has often spoken of what he calls the Albanian Riviera, and how breathtaking it is, not to mention the fact that it’s unspoiled in comparison to Italy’s Amalfi Coast. You might not think a Balkan state could offer the same level of beauty as the Amalfi Coast, but you’d be surprised. The port of Saranda is the best place to start if you’re serious about experiencing the true coastal beauty of this place – it’s only a few miles from Corfu as well.


Dhermi is a small town in Vlore County, striking for the fact that it’s built into the slope of the Ceraunian Mountains. This place looks like something you might find in Greece or Cyprus, as opposed to Albania! The town is stunning, and a real treat for anyone who might take the time to pay it a visit, with a wonderful view of the coastline and ocean. There are some stunning hiking opportunities here, and you can check out the surrounding beaches as well.

Enjoy a stunning boat trip

Perhaps one of the images that comes to mind when you think about the Amalfi Coast is the idea of taking a gorgeous and peaceful boat ride. Taking a trip along the beautiful coastline is a stunning experience, and you can do the same here. Take a boat trip to Sazan, the largest uninhabited island in Albania – here you’ll find a place of historical; significance and supreme natural beauty as well.

Stunning beaches

Once Europe’s last untapped beaches, the coastline of Albania has grown in popularity over the years. And, the stunning beaches here are a big part of the reason why. The Albanian Riviera is peppered with amazing golden beaches, including Palasa, Ksamil, and, the aforementioned beach at Dhermi. These are just a few of the amazing choices travelers have to explore, and we recommend you check out these beaches as much as possible.

You might not think it, but Albania actually has an awful lot to offer tourists in terms of culture and nature. This is a country that has remained untouched from the long arm of tourism, but not for too much longer. Now is the perfect time to discover all that is great about Albania, and why it bears so many similarities to the Amalfi Coast.


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Spain’s best islands to visit


Spain is such a diverse nation, with a wealth of wonderful cities to visit and explore. Sure, we all know Madrid and Barcelona, as well as places like Bilbao. But, sometimes it’s nice to check out the islands as well. There are so many great Spanish islands that people never take the time to visit because they spend all their time on the mainland. There’s nothing wrong with this of course, but there are so many stunning islands just waiting to be discovered.

If you want to enjoy a Spanish vacation with Sun, sea, and stunning scenery, you need to travel to some of the great Spanish islands. The most prominent collections of Spanish islands are the Balearic Islands, and the Canary Islands and these remain wildly popular with tourist from all over the world. Check out our list of Spain’s best islands to visit.


One of the largest islands in the Canary Islands, Tenerife is a stunning and hugely popular island – and you absolutely must check it out. The exciting nightlife is an added jewel in the crown, and you’ll never be short of things to do here. The beaches rank as some of the best in the world, and there are ample watersports to enjoy here as well. Tenerife also has some of the finest mountains in Spain, ideal for those who love to hike, drive, or take a cable car across the stunning landscape.


Mallorca, also known as Majorca, is one of the most popular islands in Spain and was developed predominantly for beach tourism. This island in the Balearics has a stunning coastline but also has some great scenery in the northern part of the island as well. The Alcudia area is one of the best areas of the island to check out, especially as a family. If you have the time, we certainly suggest checking out the Tramuntana Mountains, and enjoying the amazing views and hidden secrets they have to offer.

Gran Canaria

One of Spain’s largest and most visually stunning cities, Gran Canaria is a powerhouse of Spanish tourism, and for good reason. Off the coast of the Western Sahara, Gran Canaria is one of the best beach destinations in all of Spain, and the landscape is so varied as well. There are beaches, dunes, mountains, and bike trails. It’s the perfect place for visitors to discover the peace and serenity of Spain, and it’s ideal for a family vacay as well.


Most people know Ibiza as being a hotspot for young party goers, but it’s so much more than that. Yes, you can have a great time here, but you can also take in some of the beautiful natural scenery and great culture on offer. It’s important to make sure you sample some of the stunning carnival-like markets they have here during the day, as well as paying a visit to the Cova de Can Marca.

Spain has so many stunning islands, and they offer so much beauty and coastal magnificence. The beaches are incredible, and the surrounding areas are out of this world as well. These islands are the perfect choice for families looking to explore a new side of Spain.


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Dalmatia’s fjaka state of mind


Many of us are from the big cities, where the pace of life is so frenetic and chaotic that it’s difficult to imagine a day where you don’t have a million and one things to do. There is so much stress and anxiety that can be caused by living in the city, and this is something that many people from small towns don’t have to deal with.

So, sometimes it’s good to detox and escape to a much more relaxed and calm way of life. Taking a vacation is a good way of doing this, but, if you’re visiting a city, you may well have the same problem again. Well, take a journey with us now, to the stunning maritime hinterland of southern Croatian, where life is serene and peaceful, and discover a concept the locals call fjaka.

What is fjaka?

To try to define fjaka sounds strange because it’s such a transcendental kind of idea. Basically, the local definition of fjaka is the state of mind a human being reaches where they want nothing. Now, this might seem a difficult thing to get your head around when we live in a world that is constantly changing and producing new things all the time. But we take fjaka to mean, basically, the concept of contentment. Of being perfectly happy and satisfied with your life, so much so that there is nothing else you feel you want.

Summer slowdown

The time when you really notice fjaka in Dalmatia is in the slow, lazy summers that seem to go on for an age. Where the pace of life slows right down, and everybody seems to be in some wonderful, trance-like state. This has also led to the local saying “He/She’s got the fjaka!” It might seem an alien concept to us, but how much better would life be if we all took a minute to smell the roses, and calmed down more. Replenishing the body and mind is so important, and lazy summers relaxing in Dalmatia, and letting the fjaka wash over you, is the perfect time to do this.

Health benefits

There are so many health benefits to taking this approach and allowing yourself to be overcome by fjaka. So many people are getting ill these days due to issues like stress and anxiety, and these are compounded by fast-paced city life. Having a much more relaxed and laid-back approach to life in general definitely helps with this, and we can learn so much from it. Perhaps more of us need to adopt the concept of fjaka. Maybe we should even try to introduce it into the cities where possible.

Dalmatia is one of those idyllic places you might expect to see depicted in a painting or pressed onto the front of a postcard. The charming and zen-like paradise of Croatia is a place that must rank among the most peaceful and serene in the world. If you feel like the big cities are detrimental to your health and well-being, this is the sort of place you should look to escape to. By understanding and adopting the concept of fjaka, you will be very well placed to become a much calmer and more relaxed person.


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Addis Ababa: 10 best things to do in Ethiopia’s capital


Ethiopia might not be top of your vacation shortlist, but that’s because you haven’t been looking closely enough. Addis Ababa is the sprawling, diverse capital of the country, and it’s chock full of things for tourists to see and do. If you’ve never considered Addis Ababa as a capital city you want to visit, it’s probably time to rethink that mentality. Here are 10 of the best things to see and do in Ethiopia’s famous capital.


Ethiopia and coffee are inextricably linked, and the country is the epicenter of Arabica coffee. You simply have to indulge and try to enjoy as much of the coffee they have here as you can – java back home will never be the same again.

Art and history

There is loads of stunning local art and fashion here that you need to check out. Makush Art Gallery is one of the best places to go to enjoy some of the magical local art. You could also take a trip to Asni Gallery and Cafe too. Also, Ethiopian history might not be something you’re overly familiar with, but it’s high time you became more familiar. The nation has one of the world’s oldest Christian traditions and was one of the only African countries never colonized. Head to the National Museum of Ethiopia to find out more.


Checking out traditional Ethiopian dance is one of the best ways of familiarizing yourself with this rich culture. Ethiopians love a dance, and, on the weekends the cities come alive with the sound of music and dance, and foreigners are welcome to get involved!

Local food

When you’re trying to experience a foreign culture, it’s important to make sure you sample the food. Ethiopian cuisine is delicious, with injera being a staple favorite among the locals here. Addis Ababa has a load of great traditional restaurants that you should familiarize yourself with.

Alternative food

Injera is synonymous with Ethiopia, and you will be eating a lot of it during your time here. But, it’s also important to make sure you sample other food as well. Addis Ababa is a diplomatic and tourist hub, and, as such, there are also a lot of Western-style restaurants here as well.


Sports are great for entertaining people and bringing communities together. Cycling is a big thing is Addis Ababa, and, on the weekends there is always cycling happening. There’s also the soccer stadium at Meskal Square, where the soccer-mad Ethiopians congregate weekly.

Good accommodation

There are a lot of places you might choose to stay in Ethiopia, but you’re likely going to want some good accommodation. There are luxury hotels, such as Sheraton Hotel, and there’s the Hilton as well – these are likely your best bet when staying in the city.


We’re not talking about the obvious ones here, we’re talking about the attractions that are found off the beaten track. Yeka Hill, for instance, gives you excellent views of the city, while 700-year-old Washa Michael Church is one of the cultural treats of the city.

Amharic language

Amharic is the language of Ethiopia, and the locals love it when you try and speak a few words. Go out of your way to try to learn what you can of the language, and try to pick up a few choice words and phrases to pull out during your time here.

These are ten of the best things you can do to improve your time in Addis Ababa, and really make the most of your visit here. These are some of the best things to do in Ethiopia that will allow you to see this wonderful African nation in a different light.


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Travel quiz: April edition


Do you know which country grows the most mangoes? Or the name of the football team who play their home games at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium? Test your knowledge of travel trivia with April’s edition of our monthly quiz. Can you score 100%?


Desperate for more travel trivia? Have a go at last month’s quiz.

Find quizzes just like this, plus plenty of travel inspiration and planning tips in Lonely Planet Traveller’s UK edition.

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The Dutch city that is more like Dubai


Dubai is a place we associate with opulence, luxury, and ostentatiousness. Many people see it as a playground for the rich and famous, while others view it as an example of the evolution of Arabia toward a more Westernised way of life. However, if you feel the UAE is not for you, you most likely want to check out somewhere that’s a little more like home.

Well, the great news here is that the Dutch city of Rotterdam is actually a city that is really like Dubai in a lot of ways. The largest port in Europe, Rotterdam is one of the most fun and vibrant cities in the Netherlands, and an absolute must for anyone wanting to visit Europe. These are some of the ways in which Rotterdam is very like Dubai.

Awesome architecture

One of the most striking correlations between the two cities is the stunning use of architecture that can be found throughout both. The stunning, shimmering skyscrapers of Dubai give a breathtaking skyline to tourists and locals alike. And Rotterdam also has its fair share of stunning architecture, not least Rotterdam Central Station. This is one of the most recognizable and awe-inspiring structures in the whole city. In fact, the city is full of architecturally intense and bold designs, and this makes it similar to Dubai in a lot of ways.

It’s come a long way

Sure, Rotterdam has evolved organically over several generations, as opposed to being thrown up by wealthy investors to boost economic and global reputation. That being said, the two cities have both come a long way from what they used to be like. Dubai has grown to become the cultural, economic, and tourist hub of the Middle East. After being reduced to rubble by German bombers in the war, Rotterdam has slowly rebuilt itself, and has evolved into the great city it is today. Both cities came from humble or tumultuous pasts, and are now both hugely iconic and popular across the world.

A city of experimentation

Dubai is well-known for being an experimental city, full of bold choices, unusual decisions, and striking buildings. And Rotterdam is very much the same; the architectural laboratory of Europe, where stunning constructs offer the promise of a unique and original adventure. Rotterdam is very much a post-war Dubai in Europe. Except you don’t get that feeling with Rotterdam that everything has that artificial feel to it. You very much get the impression and visual aesthetic, that Rotterdam is a magical and exciting city, full of secrets to discover.

There are definitely similarities between Dubai and Rotterdam, most evident in their focus on unusual architecture, and the way both cities have developed over the years. If you’re looking for a Westernised version of Dubai, Rotterdam is definitely the place you need to visit. It’s the culture vultures dream, and like Disneyland for architecture geeks. There is so much here to enjoy and make the most of, and it’s crucial to get a good experience from it. What are you waiting for? Rotterdam beckons!


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Pedro Almodóvar’s Madrid: top 10 film locations to visit

The Spanish capital is the ‘centre of the Almodóvarian universe’. The writer of a new book on the film-maker guides visitors to locations where he shot key scenes

The city of Madrid is no less essential to the films of Pedro Almodóvar than kinky sex, crimes of passion and gasp-inducing plot twists. Though born out in Castilla-La Mancha – Don Quixote country – Almodóvar made his punkish early movies here in the capital, where the death of General Franco gave rise to a buckwild creative scene.

Later, soberer melodramas like the recent Julieta (2016) have shown his adoptive hometown in a more nostalgic, melancholy light. Now one of the most widely admired auteurs in world cinema, the director has become a Spanish brand, says Sacha Azcona, while his Madrid stands as the centre of the “Almodóvarian universe”.

Continue reading…
Travel | The Guardian


Creative ways to document your travels


The great thing about traveling, besides the obvious of experiencing new cultures, new tastes and smells and just taking some time off, is mostly, the idea that you accumulate memories that will stay for a lifetime. You may not realize it at first, because we are so busy, whether we like it or not, to deal with going back to our mundane routine, but the hype and adrenaline you experienced while traveling, doesn’t necessarily have to end once you go back home. The ‘post travel blues’ that many people may feel can easily be cured by just a few simple things. One of them is to find a way to document your experiences and memories in a creative way.

Each and every person absorbs their journey differently, and the things they see in the outside world are taken in in endless ways, therefore it only makes sense that there will be countless ways in which their journey could be documented. The only ‘problem’ is that not everyone knows what to do with all of these memories, and that’s where we step in.

These days, we are used to constantly snapping pictures at every given chance with our phones, so you can only imagine how hectic it can get when traveling. The thing with capturing the moment with our phone, is that it’s just for that given moment, and if we don’t instantly share it on social media, filter it with our Insta account or send it to someone close, it can get lost, not literally, but lost down your phone memory lane. It’s time to go a little DIY and upgrade your personal space and let your inner wanderlust shine through your home’s walls.

Framed Memories

We realize that the idea of actually framing your pictures sounds far fetched, because it involved actually going out to the the store and printing your photos, but if you pass that hurdle, you will come to realize that only good and pretty things can come out of it. However, if you really want yo get creative, you can frame all kind of different souvenirs like the local currency, the tickets you bought along your trip or just postcards you collected from different places.

A Recipe for a good trip:

These are some good news for all you foodies out there. Whether you want to admit it or not, you know that 99% of your travel goals have to do with food and trying out the local cuisine. At the end of the day, it’s really all about the food, the restaurants, the tastes and the smells, so what better way to keep track of your culinary experiences than keeping a recipe journal with all of your favorite dishes from your favorite.

Scratch it off:

If you don’t have that inner DIY bug, you can also just purchase this World Scratch Map from the Urban Outfitters online store. The basic idea is that you get a classic world map that is topped with foil that can be scratched off and that way all the places you’ve been to stand out, so you will always have a memory of where you’ve been to. It’s just a very authentic and raspy way to keep track of your travels and adventures.

Let’s get digital:

Now, we know it’s a little bit of going back to the whole digital sphere and less about ‘home made’ idea, but keeping a travel blog will not only help you keep track of your different experiences you accumulate along the way and document them in the easiest possible way, it will allow you to talk about your journey many more days and months after you return home.

If these walls could travel:

If you really want to make a creative statement at your own personal space, you can always choose one wall or one corner that will be dedicated entirely to your memories. That way, whenever you will pass it by, you’ll have a very sweet memory. Oh, and it’s also a very great way to make a creative statement.

Store it pretty:

This creative bookshelf keepsafe kit is actually one of the brightest and most gorgeous things we’ve seen so far. It’s so simple, yet stylish and useful that we wonder how we haven’t thought about it before. Just take a wooden store box, paint it with whatever color you feel and place on your bookshelf. The secret is to have a box that can open up and can store up things inside, for example all of your tickets, maps, postcards and more.


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Fun days you need to mark in your calendar ASAP


How amazing would it be to have an entire day dedicated to celebrating the less official parts of life that are way too underrated? Apart from the usual holidays that are marked in our calendar, whether it’s a digital one or an actual calendar where you can write things in, there are hundreds of days, 365 to be exact, that you semi-official to be considered a holiday. Some are more fun than others, some are dedicated for important causes and others are simply hilarious.

We all go through our days, weeks and months and just living life as it is, grabbing what it has to offer and rarely do we ever pause and think about how we can change certain patterns or behaviors, until something big happens that makes us want to change something in our life. Maybe it has to do with the routine of things, or maybe it has to do with lack of time, but maybe, just maybe, if we dedicated a part of the day, even a small part to something that is way out of our way, maybe then we could find some peace. Now, these national or international holidays are not meant to be a heavy issue, they are just there, in our opinion, to mark something out of the ordinary, to pause and act out of the daily box, to celebrate life as it should be, really.

We have selected 7 days that we believe are worth celebrating, for all kinds of reasons, and so when you look back at the end of the year and reflect on the things you should have or shouldn’t have done, you won’t say ‘darn, I wish I would have dedicated an hour of my day to celebrate the existence of Lasagna in my life’.

January 17th – Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day

We all know that New Year’s resolutions are prone to not being realized at the end of the year, or at that time that you set them for. It’s more about making yourself feel better at a point in your life that you might be more emotional, motivated and very hopeful for the new things coming your way. If you accomplish even 20% of what you expected of yourself, then you should be very proud. Therefore, we think that having one day to throwing away your New Year’s resolutions and giving yourself a break, might be exactly what you need.

February 9th – Pizza Day

Do we really need to go into details as to why this is probably the most awesome day of the year for all you pizza lovers out there. Imagine there was actually a day that was dedicated to that cheesy slice?! Well, there is and it can’t be any more perfect. It’s time for you to get really creative with your choice of toppings, and whether you like to be in the kitchen and show off your master chef skills, or whether you like your pizza delivered straight to your door step, either way, it’s your day to let all those midnight pizza craves rest.

April 27th – Tell a Story Day

We’re busy all the time with telling stories, mostly with our phones. It can be an Instagram story, a message or a Facebook post, but how often do we really sit down with our friends, family or colleagues and tell them face-to-face stories. This day is usually celebrated in Scotland, the U.K and the U.S, and its purpose it to celebrate the idea of oral storytelling. It can be in the form of book reading, tale telling, ghost story telling or any sort of story you feel like sharing with your community.

May 27th – Cellophane Tape Day

You may not realize it, but cellophane tape has changed life as we know it. How would we wrap a gift or our children’s school books if it wasn’t for cellophane tape? this tiny and sticky treasure really seals the deal and it has been helpful in so many ways that it has to have its own day. By the way, for all you DIY people who love to unleash their inner Martha Stewart from time to time, there is a trendier take on the traditional scotch tape and it’s called washi tape.

June 18th – International Picnic Day

Life’s no picnic, but you can certainly dedicate one day for having a picnic outside. It will give you a chance to do something else in the outdoors and feel the air, especially when you are used to sitting inside a cold office all day long. It’s also a good time to be creative with your culinary choices and. A picnic is usually associated with something fun and some sort of a celebration, so why not celebrate it at least once a year.

July 16th – Guinea Pig Appreciation Day

These fuzzy little creatures are way underrated. Guinea pigs have actually been domesticated thousand of years ago in South America and they serve as a small but a very meaningful companion to many children and their households. Just look at these soft bodies, adorable ears and kind eyes, who wouldn’t want to cuddle with that? It’s time to spread the love and show these little animals just how much they mean to us.

August 10th – S’mores Day

Do we need to say s’more? is there any better trio combo in the world than graham crackers, toasted marshmallows and melted chocolate? we didn’t think so. This amazing dessert can be both be made at home and outside when camping. It’s the perfect treat to bring people closer together. Did you know that the first recipe for S’more can be found inside the recipe book that was published by in the 20’s by the Campfire Marshmallows company?

October 2nd – Name Your Car Day

If you haven’t done it already, then October 2nd is the day for you to do so. If people name their boats or their private planes, why can’t others name their vehicles? Think about it, if you own a car and you use it on a daily basis, it’s pretty much the space where you could potentially spend a lot of time in, especially in traffic. This machine has been so good to you in so many ways, it literally changed your life and helped you lead a better one, so if you don’t already have a good name, you have a few months to choose a proper one.


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Top 20 art exhibitions to visit on a European city break in 2018

From Grayson Perry in Helsinki to Frida Kahlo in Budapest, an exhibition makes a brilliant focal point to city break. Here are 20 of this year’s best, with arty hotels to match

Dates | 8 Mar-3 June
Best in show | Rembrandt
Rembrandt’s wedding portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit – his only life-size, standing, full-length portraits – were jointly purchased by the Rijksmuseum and the Louvre for €160m in 2016, and this is the first chance to see them – in their full glory after restoration. They are joined by portraits of society figures over four centuries by masters including Cranach the Elder, Veronese, Velázquez, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Sargent and Manet.
€17.50, 9am-5pm daily,

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Travel | The Guardian


LP Pathfinders: top posts from February 2018

Scenic traditional post town in Japan from Edo period. Famous Nakasendo trail goes between Magome and Tsumago towns © Milosz Maslanka / Shutterstock

Take a stroll along the scenic Nakasendo Trail in this month’s blog round-up © Milosz Maslanka / Shutterstock

Spectacularly shedding its reputation as something of a sleepy month, this February bombarded us with tales of adventure from the globetrotting Pathfinders community. Thanks to them, we’ve vicariously walked ancient trails in Japan, relived epic battles in Scotland and even searched for erotic artwork in Pompeii.

Selecting our favourite posts is never easy, but here are our top five from February.

Three days of debauchery at the Aalst Carnaval – Lorelei Frey

A little-known carnival featuring monstrous, satirical effigies of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un? Count us in. Lorelei’s report on Belgium’s Aalst Carnaval strikes a balance between humour and respect, noting the frivolity of the spectacle while also taking care to acknowledge its history – the parade dates back to 1851 – and significance to local people. Excellent imagery also helps bring this experience to life.

Nakasendo Trail (following ancient footsteps in Japan) – Paul Farrugia

While wanderlust-fuelled thoughts of modern Japan likely conjure images of Tokyo’s neon skyline, arguably the country’s most rewarding travel experiences lie in its natural landscapes. In this post, Paul details his hike along the Nakasendo Trail, an ancient walking route that linked Kyoto to then capital Edo (modern-day Tokyo). The narrator illustrates his journey with images of wooden villages, steaming onsens and woodland scenery, which left us ready to strap on our hiking boots.

Understanding turbulence: a pilot explains – Kristin Reinhard

Falling somewhere between poor wi-fi and sweaty bus journeys on the list of traveller irks, turbulence is an aspect of long-distance travel we all endure, but what exactly is it? In this post Kristin poses flight-related queries to a senior Swiss Airlines pilot. Opting for an engaging Q&A format and incorporating expert insight, the article makes for essential reading for anyone who starts to sweat as the seatbelt sign is switched on.

Beyond Braveheart: uncovering the real battle of Stirling Bridge – Christophe Gaillard

Simultaneously exploring a picturesque part of central Scotland and correcting Hollywood inaccuracies (in this case, Mel Gibson’s Braveheart), Chris does a great job of bringing a compelling historical event to life while painting a vivid portrait of the city of Stirling, and explaining what it offers to modern-day travellers. Handy illustrations, striking imagery of cliff-edge castles and informative advice on how to reach the medieval market town makes this blog post a must-read.

The erotic side of Pompeii – Ryazan Tristram

Examining a popular tourist site from a fresh perspective is no easy feat (especially one that’s over 2000 years old), but Ryazan’s article delving into Pompeii’s erotic heritage (including the use of concealed phallic symbols to point the way to the nearest brothel) makes for an entertaining read. Yes, it’s a little lewd, but the post offers an insight into how liberal Roman society was, providing a more evocative image of life in this ill-fated city than its weathered ruins.


Find out what else the Lonely Planet Pathfinders are up to (or sign up yourself!) by checking out the Travel Bloggers: your stories forum on Thorn Tree.

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Five wild UK walks with a classic pub


Everyone loves a good walk, right? Especially these days when fitness and health are even more important and play a big role in our lives. If you ever find yourself in the wilds of the UK, there are ample walking opportunities for you to enjoy and explore. Rambling is a wonderful way to pass the time and a terrifically social way of keeping fit and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

Walking might not seem like the most exciting thing in the world, but we think you should give it a chance. And you know the only thing better than a wild walk? One that has a classic pub at the end! So, with that in mind, we’d like to offer up five wild UK walks to take advantage of, all with a classic boozer to visit afterward.

Crickhowell – Powys

This walk takes you across the Black Mountains on the eastern edge of the Brecon Beacons. This is the perfect solitary walk with staggering views of Wales, and a journey through some of the ancient burial sites here, including the Iron Age for Table Mountain, and remote, serene passes. The walk then takes you to the majestic pub The Bear, popular for its excellent food, and the perfect place to enjoy a post-walk feast.

Bamford – Peak District

One of the most staggeringly beautiful parts of the country, the Peak District has so much to explore, and a walk from Bamford is the best way of doing this. This stunning walk allows you to explore the ridge between Mam Tor and Lose Hill, as the Vale of Edale sprawls majestically over the horizon. After a long day of walking, you can relax with an ale (or three) in the quaint, stylish Cheshire Cheese pub. Magnificent.

Malham – Yorkshire Dales

Now, this is a walk that truly has everything, and showcases all that’s brilliant about the north of England. The stunning moors and expansive scenery are simply begging to be explored, and this route starts at the majestic Malham National Park and takes you up through the wonderfully named Gordale Scar. This part is quite the scramble, so perhaps recommended for accomplished walkers only, but you can also head for the scenic Malham Cove for an easier walking experience. End the day in the Talbot Arms, in Settle, where you can indulge in fine wines and delicious food.

Pentland Hills – Scottish Borders

There are few places in the world as delightfully beautiful as the Scottish Borders, and with this walk – starting at Harlow House Visitors Center – you get to experience all of it. Pentland Hills, 8 miles south of Edinburgh, is a range of hills, offering significant beauty, and quite the challenge to go with it as well. The walk takes you all the way to the Edinburgh town of Balerno, where traditional village pub The Grey Horse will take care of all your needs.

Innerleithen – Scottish Borders

We said the Scottish Borders were breathtaking, and this is another of the stunning walks in this area. Starting this time in the village of Innerleithen, this route first lets you stop at an old brewery – but don’t imbibe too much because it’s then on to the Southern Upland Way and the descent into the town of Peebles. Here you can stop at a classic old pub, The Bridge Inn, where you can marvel at their selection of beers – and even try a few!

These are five of our favorite wild, winter walks across the UK. They let you enjoy some of the stunning natural beauty in the UK, as well as sampling some of the most delicious food and craft ales the north has to offer as well. Count us in for the next one!


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Everything you wanted to know about Kurdistan


Kurdistan is often thought of as a country but is actually loosely defined as a geo-political region populated by a majority of Kurdish people. Kurdistan encompasses the countries of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria, and many Kurds wish to form an independent and autonomous nation. It’s important to make sure you understand the geopolitical ramifications of how other parts of the world are affected.

We think it’s important to learn as much as possible about Kurdistan, and the relations within the region. Recognizing and figuring out what Kurdish people want, and how they live in the countries they are in, is crucially important. The Kurds have played an important role recently in helping the United States battle ISIS, so here are a few things you should know about Kurdistan.

It has a unique and difficult history

Kurdistan has had a very difficult and unique history over the years, and this has led it to the point that it is now. The region lies in the Middle East, and its borders overlap Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria. This has led to a big Kurdish influence in these countries, but, also, a lot of infighting and conflict. It is thought that they originated from a mix of Indo-European and Arabic tribes, but they didn’t really become a proper ethnic community before around 1918.

They are so close to independence

The Kurdish people have been controversially campaigning for their own independence for quite some time now. In fact, the Kurds are arguably the largest ethnic group in the world with no independent state of their own. In August 2017, a vote was held surrounding the issue of Kurdish independence, and votes were cast overwhelmingly in favor of independence. So, for the first time in their history, the Kurds could be on their way to becoming an independent nation.

Still not self-reliant

They may want independence, but it’s clear that Kurdistan still relies heavily on the governments of Turkey and Iraq. The main reason behind this is that they are not yet economically self-sufficient, in spite of the amount of oil they produce. So, it remains to be seen whether or not they will try to negotiate some sort of agreement with these nations if they do achieve independence.

They have a strong army

The Kurdish Army is often known as the peshmerga, and they have a reputation for being strong and fierce warriors. They are considered far more effective than the Iraqi Army, but they did struggle badly against ISIS before US intervention. The main problems seem to surround the fact that they don’t have great weapons, not to mention the political element. Whether their army would be strong enough to defend them as an independent nation is debatable.

So, now you know a little more about Kurdistan than you did before! So the next time it gets raised in conversation you will be able to get involved and be more knowledgeable! Kurdistan is a place seeking its own autonomy, and we will have to watch how events unfold surrounding potential independence.


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Pagan ritual: riding Alton Towers’ new Wicker Man rollercoaster

Wicker Man at Alton Towers – it plunges through fire! – is the UK’s first wooden rollercoaster for 20 years, so our writer has a burning desire to try it out

The Beast from the East may have blown itself out in London but as I arrive in Stoke-on-Trent to try out Alton Tower’s latest ride, Wicker Man, the Pest from the West is in full flow, with flurries of snow sweeping across the park. Obviously, I’m underdressed but if anything’s going to warm me up it’s a massive rollercoaster that fuses wood … and fire.

The £16m Wicker Man is a major addition for Alton Towers. It has been in development for four years, involving 500,000 man hours, 7,500 tonnes of wood, 1.8m screws and 65,000 bolts. As with any rollercoaster, it’s a significant feat of engineering – and, in this case, lots of special effects.

Continue reading…
Travel | The Guardian


How Liberia became the new a new holiday hotspot


Choosing the perfect vacation spot gets more difficult the older you get. When you are young, you have simpler tastes and desires, and this can often make vacation much easier. However, the older we get, the more our tastes change, and we have to think harder about where we want to visit. And, if you want to go somewhere with a difference this year, we reckon you could do a lot worse than checking out Liberia.

The West African country, which sits at the base of the North Atlantic Ocean is a place full of proud cultural heritage. After a tumultuous history, Liberia is on the up once more and has started to slowly transform into one of the most popular destination hotspots for tourists. So, let’s explore the magic behind it, and figure out what it is that makes Liberia the go-to choice for so many these days.

It’s got a great capital

Monrovia is the capital of Liberia, and one of the most appealing capital cities in Africa. Among the highlights of Monrovia include stunning beaches, such as Silver Beach. You might also consider checking out the awe-inspiring Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve. This is one of the areas of supreme natural beauty in the country and a must-visit for any tourist. And, when you’ve had your fill of nature, pop along the Liberian National Museum, and learn about the important history of this country.

New infrastructure

Liberia is still in the process of rebuilding itself, and understanding that tourism is a crucial part of the process. Because of this, the country has begun to invest in new infrastructure, most notably hotels and resorts. These are designed to attract more tourism, and give visitors a more memorable and luxurious experience. There’s a long way to go before Liberia fully nails it, but the quality hotels and resorts are certainly making it more appealing.

Unique experiences

The most appealing thing about taking a vacation to somewhere brand new is the unique experiences you can have when you’re here. Liberia certainly offers tourists plenty of unique experiences, and you can really mix with the locals. For instance, if you want to have some traditional Liberian food, you could take one of Pandora Hodge’s cooking classes, which she hosts in her back garden! Get to know Chiquita Johnson, the country’s only tour operator, and find out what she can offer you. Getting to know her on a first name basis is a great way to unlock more opportunities.

Stunning rainforest

If you want to make the most of the stunning surroundings, we suggest a trip to Libassa Ecolodge, which backs onto a gorgeous tropical rainforest. If you’re in Africa, you have to be experiencing the natural beauty as often as you can. The Ecolodge is the perfect base from which to enjoy your exploration of the rainforest. There is even a wildlife sanctuary close by, which is well worth a visit as well.

So, those are just some of the reasons why Liberia has become the fun and hip tourist destination it has. Since George Weah took over as President in January of this year, there has been a renewed optimism in the nation. Though they have a long way to go to put the past behind them, Liberia is making good progress, and it’s the perfect time to discover this African gem.


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LP Pathfinders: top Instagrams from February 2018


There is barely a rolling vista or bustling cityscape that our Pathfinders didn’t manage to picture in February, snapping everything from cobbled city backstreets to mountain monasteries. Beautifully framed and expertly shot, here are the Instagrams that gave us severe wanderlust last month.

Riga, Latvia

‘Dusk in Riga’s old town is a special time, because of the warm yellow light used on the streets and in the office buildings to brighten up the gloomy, Nordic atmosphere. This yellow light somehow adds a bit of magic to everything it touches. I saw a woman walk down one of Riga’s tiny, cobble-stoned streets and for a moment, I became a child again in a Scandinavian fairytale I used to read at bedtime.’ – Yulia, @insearchofperfect

Why we like it: Yulia’s expert perspective in this shot really showcases the character of Riga‘s narrow backstreets and patchwork architecture, set off wonderfully by the technicolor umbrella forming the central focus. What we love most about this image however, is how those strings of streetlights glow, leading the eye from top to bottom in one sparkling swoop. 

Bagan, Myanmar

‘On top of the Pyathada Pagoda you can watch the balloons floating right over your head, and it feels almost like you are in a balloon yourself. This experience doesn’t only draw the tourists – this monk can’t resist capturing the beautiful scene for himself.’ – Christian, @picturesqueplanet_

Why we like it: It’s pretty hard to take a bad photo of Myanmar‘s ancient Bagan temples, but Christian’s image is more than a simple landscape shot. The hot air balloons are perfectly positioned in the sky, acting as a dreamy backdrop to the central temple, and the vibrant oranges of the foreground monk balance out the terracotta hues behind. The fact that said monk is also taking a picture, but from an alternative angle, adds a whole extra dimension and sense of space to the image.

Ifugao, Philippines

‘On our second day of trekking in the rice fields and mountains of Banaue, we were treated to an incredible view of Batad. We had just finished hiking up over 1000 steps in the blistering heat, but instantly forgot all of our troubles as soon as we got to the top, as we were blessed with one of the most incredible viewpoints I have had the privilege of reaching. My legs are still sore from the 40km hike spanning two days, but I would do it again in a heartbeat just for a glimpse of this view.’ – Mark, @pr4w

Why we like it: What’s not to like? The sun streaming in from the corner of this image adds a beautiful colour gradation, from bleached tones at the top to deep, mossy greens at the bottom. The off-centre figure isn’t immediately obvious as he blends into the landscape, but once noticed, adds a great sense of perspective when set against the layers and undulations of the rice paddies below. This is one of those images that has you at hello! 

Istanbul, Turkey


‘A bridge between east and west, Istanbul is home to 15 million people. If your eyes are open, you’ll see magic and beauty at every step. Guaranteed!’ – Inma, @aworldtotravel

Why we like it: Inma’s image is full of movement and power; crossing continents, crossing from east to west and literally making waves. The hazy skyline, sunset hues and perfectly positioned seagull mid-flight add a beautiful, dreamlike quality to the frame.

Catalonia, Spain

A post shared by Deborah Findling (@dfindles) on

‘This wasn’t our first time in Barcelona, but we decided to try and explore more of Catalonia. We took a quick day trip to Montserrat, only about an hour out of the city, and this is what you’re rewarded with. There are hiking trails all around, a monastery in the sky surrounded by mountains, and a place where you can hear an angelic and world-renowned choir as an undeserved bonus. Along the strip leading to the monastery are a group of local merchants selling nougat and cheese amongst other delicious snacks. The must-try is a combo of a light, white cheese with honey.’ – Deborah, @dfindles

Why we like it: In this shot Deborah manages to capture the breathtaking Monestir de Montserrat, perched on its mountainous stage, just as the clouds begin to clear. Expertly framed by silvery foliage in the foreground and partially concealed by wispy cloud trails, this image really showcases the magic of the monastery in the sky.

For your chance to be featured in our next round up, sign up to Lonely Planet Pathfinders – our programme for travel-loving bloggers and social content creators. In the meantime, you can get more Instagram inspiration by following @lonelyplanet.

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Readers’ travel photography competition: February – the winners

Vivid colours and intimate portraits stand out this month. Scroll to see February’s winner, who receives a £200 voucher for an i-escape holiday property. The overall 2018 prize is a nine-night West Greenland trip with Wild Photography Holidays

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Travel | The Guardian


A local guide to porto


Portugal’s second-largest city is a buzzing, bustling gem of culture, history, and opportunity. This gleaming metropolis on the Iberian Peninsula is one of the true jewels in the crown of Portugal. If you are traveling to Portugal, you may well have a specific idea in mind of what you want to get out of the experience. This is a country rich in history and importance, and a place where you can make your dreams come true.

Nestled on the banks of the River Douro, Porto is the “other” city in Portugal. Many know of Lisbon, and they flock to the capital to explore and experience, but so many of them are missing out on the stunning adventure that Porto promises. So, if you want to make the most of a whistle-stop trip to this brilliant European city, you need a local guide to help you – check this out!

Take a guided tour

We always think the best way of getting the right feel for a city is to take a guided tour. This allows you to experience all the city’s hotspots in one go, and get some invaluable insider knowledge along the way. Free walking tours are the way forward, and you should check out the site to make sure you get the best possible outcome from your tour. This is the ultimate way of experiencing the city properly and will help you to make the most of your Portuguese adventure.

Live Porto-style

There are loads of new opportunities for accommodation when you go traveling these days. Gone are the days of having to rely on hotels and hostels. Airbnb is all the rage now and gives people a more authentic travel and accommodation experience. And, in Porto, you can really make the most of this with a visit to This is the perfect site for finding short-term rentals in the city and experiencing the way of life that a Porto local might have.

Check out some of the stunning food

Portugal is well known as one of the best seafood countries in the world – hardly surprising given its naval history. But, that’s not all they have to offer – Porto has some sensational restaurants here that you simply must check out. Special mentions must go to Pedro Limao and Cafe Candelabro as some finest restaurants in the city. If you’re staying in someone’s apartment maybe try checking out the local mercearias (markets) and pick up some of the delicious local food they sell here, so you can knock something together back at the apartment.

Check out the port

You might not know it, but Porto is a place famed for its wine production – where do you think port comes from?! And you should cap off your trip by visiting a port wine cellar in the heart of town. The best place to do this is to head over to Vila Nova de Gaia, the heart of port wine tasting in the city. You can enjoy tours and tastings daily, at the Croft Port Cellar, by the seafront – the perfect experience to cap your Porto adventure.

These are just some of the epic things you can (and should) do when you visit Porto. There is so much on offer here, and no matter what your interests are, we reckon you’ll be able to find something to amuse you. This local guide should help get you started when you set out on an adventure to enjoy the city as much as you can.


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A weekend in Edinburgh


Bonnie Scotland! The land of haggis, Hogmanay, and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry! There’s a lot to love about Scotland, but so many people are yet to discover the magic and wonder of this great nation. Whether it’s the highlands or the lowlands, Scotland is brimming with promise and some wonderful experiences.

If you are new to Scotland, might we suggest taking a trip to the capital, Edinburgh? One of the world’s leading cities, Edinburgh is crawling with culture and history around every corner. Spending a weekend in the Scottish capital gives you a wonderful introduction to the United Kingdom, as well as showcasing all that’s great about Scotland. Here is our guide to spending a weekend in the Athens of the North.

Figure out where you want to go

The best way to enjoy all the delights of Edinburgh is to work out where you want to go. This means getting your bearings right and is something you need to sort out right away. Edinburgh is built on seven hills, and there are plenty of winding streets and alleyways in this medieval city. There’s the Old Town and the New Town, the stunning Holyrood Park, and the unforgettable Edinburgh Castle. Head to the tourist information center when you arrive and get yourself some maps and brochures – you might even decide to undertake a guided tour of the city too!

Stopping for some food

There are so many lovely restaurants, cafes, and bars all across Edinburgh, and they offer a whole host of dining experiences. If you fancy a light bite for lunch, we would recommend The Elephant House, a cafe with magical connotations. This iconic building is actually famed as being the cafe in which J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. If you’re out for dinner, pay a visit to Gardener’s Cottage, a 19th Century establishment. Here you can enjoy some of the best Scottish game in the city – they also do wonderful taster menus that change regularly.

Culture vulture

Now, you can’t come all the way to the Scottish capital, and not enjoy a dose of culture while you’re here. Start your day as you mean to continue it, with a trip to the Scottish National Gallery – here you can enjoy works by famous Scottish artists, as well as the likes of Van Gogh and Monet. Once you’ve had your fill of art, head out on a city tour, before taking a walk around the picturesque Dean Village. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a charming food market in Stockbridge offering homemade food, and local produce you can enjoy.

As you can see, Edinburgh is a city steeped in history and cultural significance. There are so many iconic sights here, and the city is stunningly beautiful. A weekend is not enough time to explore and absorb all the brilliance of this place, but it is certainly a start, and these are some of the things we absolutely think you mist do to get the best out of your stay. Edinburgh is the perfect city to visit whether you’re on your own, in a couple, or with family or friends. Make the most of your time here, and fall in love with Scotland the right way.


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36 hours in Calgary, Alberta


How much of Canada have you truly discovered yet? The Great White North has so much beauty, culture, and history to explore, and there are so many places that you need to check out. If you’re looking for the next great place to visit in Canada, we would recommend heading to the cosmopolitan Calgary, in the province of Alberta.

This is a city that is the capital of Canada’s oil industry but also has a load of great culture heritage as well. If you have 36 hours to spend in this stunning city, you need to know what there is to do, and how to maximize your experience here. This is our guide to maximizing 36 hours in Calgary, Alberta.


First things first, head to the National Music Center and check out a stunning organ demonstration here. The music museum here is fascinating, and one of the highlights of Calgary. You have to make sure you take the time to learn about the science behind the history of sound. Then you should head to the Beltline area of the city, and check out some of the stunning bars and restaurants here – places like Ten Foot Henry and Proof rank among the best in the city. After filling up on tasty food, head for 9th Avenue Southeast and check out the iconic Music Mile, and enjoy some of the best live music in Calgary.


Saturday feels like a day to explore the natural beauty of the city, and the surrounding area. So, we suggest getting out and about and exploring some of the best pathways and trails in North America. You could really embrace local life by going snow biking, and get a really scenic ride by taking the cycle paths that go across the river. After this, it’s time to grab some food, and you should head to Deane House, and enjoy its deliciously contemporary Canadian menu. Now it’s time to take in some stunning art, and you can cap this off with a (free) visit to the Esker Foundation and enjoy the awesome gallery here. Later you can cross the Elbow River, and make your way to Inglewood, with stunning boutiques and independent stores.


Sunday is the final day before you leave, and a good day to check out Calgary Farmers Market. You will get to indulge in some of the awesome local produce, as well as grabbing a couple of things to take home with you too! You can take Sunday Brunch, and a tour of the market for about $ 55 CA, and it’s well worth it. Before you leave the city, make sure you check out some of the old Olympic facilities from when Calgary hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics. Some of these are actually open for public use, and it would be fun to have a go on them.

So there you have it, the beauty and majesty of Calgary is waiting to be explored and uncovered. And you need to make sure you have the best possible experience when you visit this great city. There is so much to see and do here that you need to understand what the best choices might be. Hopefully, you will find the ideas on here as appealing and intriguing as possible.


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Flipping magic: on the turtle trail in Barbados

Watching turtle hatchlings make it to the sea is just one of many good reasons to visit Barbados in low season

Twilight. We’re having dinner, and staring into the sea when the black shadow of a stingray passes through the water in front of the hotel where we’re eating. There’s something sinister about the stingray’s passage: like watching the cape of Count Dracula. Several people get up from their tables to peer at it.

Related: Barbados holiday guide: the best beaches, restaurants, bars and places to stay

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Travel | The Guardian


The story of Monowi, Nebraska


Welcome to Monowi, Nebraska. Population 1. No, that’s not a typo. There are some towns and cities in the world sparsely populated, and with very few residents, but this one takes the biscuit! You may not have heard of this place before, we certainly haven’t, but you won’t forget it in a hurry, once you hear the amazing story behind it.

Enjoying its peak years in the 1930s, Monowi has declined since then and is now one of the most remote places in America. It is also the only incorporated municipality in the United States with a population of just 1. This is the story of Monowi, and how it has come to shape the life of one very special woman. Check out this stunning and almost abandoned village, and meet the woman who lives here.

Monowi, Nebraska

In the remote upper reaches of Nebraska, the sprawling, empty wilderness winds away over the hills, past rivers, and down to dirt roads. Through fields of gold, and lush, green prairies, you find yourself eventually reaching the village of Monowi. Its abandoned church looming large and serving as an indicator of what’s to come. Abandoned, broken down homes pepper the sides of the road, and four street lights stand proudly, looking slightly out of place. There is one home here that is decidedly unabandoned, and inside it is Elsie Eiler.

Elsie Eiler

84-year-old Elsie is the last remaining resident of Monowi, Nebraska. She lived here with her husband Rudy, and they were the only residents. Following Rudy’s death in 2004, Elsie became the last remaining resident of the village. She acts as the Mayor, pays herself taxes, grants a liquor license, and produces a road plan every year. Not only that, but she also acts as the librarian for Rudy’s Library, which she founded in memory of her husband. In addition to this, she also runs her bar, which is the only business in Monowi.

National attention

As you might imagine, something this unique and interesting was always going to get national attention sooner or later. And this finally happened when Elsie, and the town, were featured on the Today Show in 2005, and CBS Sunday Morning in 2006. Clearly, a source of great interest for a lot of people, the town, and Elsie also appeared on the show Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy. This led to Larry himself organizing a fundraiser to try to help raise money Elsie and her village – resulting in around 1,000 people showing up to help out.

This is one of the more remarkable stories we’ve heard about in America, and Elsie is a truly fascinating woman. We’d love to head to Monowi, Nebraska and have a couple of cold ones at Elsie’s bar. These are the sorts of communities that give so much character to America, and they need to be preserved and enjoyed. We hope more people eventually move to Monowi and settle there so that the village can continue the legacy it has already built over time.


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Travel quiz: March edition


Do you know which US state has a name meaning ‘snow-covered’ in Spanish? Or what you’d traditionally find hanging from your door on your 25th birthday in Germany? Test your knowledge of travel trivia with the March edition of our monthly quiz. Give it a go and showcase your score on Twitter and Facebook.


Up for more travel trivia? Have a go at last month’s quiz.

Find quizzes just like this, plus plenty of travel inspiration and planning tips in Lonely Planet Traveller’s UK edition.

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New beginnings: Zimbabwe, back from the brink

With Mugabe’s catastrophic 40-year rule finally over, there’s optimism on the streets of Zimbabwe. Novelist Katherine Rundell revels in the newfound liberty of her childhood home

Three weeks ago a young elephant wound her trunk around my arm and began – politely, elegantly, insistently – to pull my hand into her mouth and suck the salt sweat off my fingers. It was the happiest I’ve been this year, that moment; partly because of the elephant and partly from that knee-jerk joy; the one that says home.

My mother was born and raised in Zimbabwe, and I spent part of my childhood in Harare; we left in 2001, but I go back every year. This January, I returned to a new regime, and a new feeling in the streets. Nothing yet has visibly changed, except that the police road blocks which used to spore across the city on payday have gone, but the air felt newly oxygenated.

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Travel | The Guardian


Visiting Galicia


Galicia is an autonomous region in northwest Spain, governed by the Spanish – the name itself does sound pretty Spanish (or galactic). Forever proud of its individuality and autonomy, Galicia carries its own culture, blending it with Spanish, much like in the Basque region of Spain. In fact, Galicia is one of Spain’s best-kept secrets, and a place we feel it’s high time you discovered!

Choosing the right destination for your next vacay involves a lot of decision making, but we feel like there are a lot of reasons why you should be choosing Galicia. This undiscovered gem is untouched by the long arm of tourism – it has stunning beaches, unbelievable food, and Celtic links to boot! Check out our list of some of the best things you should do when you finally visit Galicia:

Tour the beaches

A beach is a beach, right? Well, that would be true were we not talking about Galicia. The beaches here are like something out of a new dimension. With 800 miles of untapped coastline to explore, there are so many stunningly beautiful beaches to check out. Make sure you spend some time checking out As Catedrais, recently named as one of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. Cies Island is another of the gorgeous secrets here, and we recommend you explore it as soon as you get the chance.

See the hot springs

Did you know that Galicia is the leading hot springs destination in the whole of Spain, and one of the best in the world? There are actually more than 300 hot springs in Galicia, and many of them were used by the Romans way back when. If you are going to visit this stunning Spanish region, you simply have to check out the awesome hot springs they have here. You should head to the famous Santiago de Compostela and check out the stone structures and hot springs here.

Sample the food

You’ve tried Spanish food, sure, but you’ve not tried Galician food before, that’s for sure. They claim to have the best seafood in Spain here, and it’s difficult to argue with that. Head to Vigo for some unbelievable tapas and seafood joints, and enjoy some unforgettable food. You can also choose to wash it all down with some delicious regional wines – there’s a big winemaking culture here don’t you know?!

The great wide open

Galicia has some of the most supreme natural beauty on Earth, and you can experience first hand now. The diverse and stunning landscapes here need to be discovered, along with sensational parks, and areas of protected wildlife. Head to Fragas do Eume, an iconic natural park, and then move on to Baixa Limia-Serra do Xures, another stunning natural park, this time in the Ourense area. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the natural beauty here.

As you can see, there are plenty of great things you can experience when you visit Galicia. You have to remember that this is an area largely unexplored by Spanish tourism, so it’s ideal for those who don’t like crowds. This is a beautiful and idyllic place; a genuine paradise on Earth, and one that so many people have yet to discover.


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The mysterious tunnels beneath Buenos Aires


There are plenty of epic cities in the world, and most of them are known for distinct and specific things. Paris, the Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre; London, Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament; Los Angeles, Hollywood. But, on many occasions, cities hold secrets that we never knew about before, and these totally change our initial impressions of the city.

There are so many places in the world with hidden secrets we are still trying to discover. When you take a vacation, you want a city that’s going to offer you something a bit different. A city that’s going to offer you a secret to unlock – and Buenos Aires would be a fine choice. The capital of Argentina is an important hub of South America but also has a mysterious and exciting secret.

Jorge Eckstein

In 1985, Buenos Aires resident Jorge Eckstein bought an abandoned mansion near his home, in the historic San Telmo neighborhood of the city. Eckstein planned to convert it into a restaurant, which he figured would take a lot of work, and he set to work beginning renovations – but nothing could have prepared him for his discovery. During the process, Eckstein discovered the foundations of the home were unstable, and that the patio floor was sinking in. On closer inspection, it was revealed that a complex labyrinth of tunnels lay beneath the mansion.

The history

The mansion was originally believed to have been abandoned in the late 1800s, following an outbreak of Yellow Fever. For a while, in the 20th Century, it was used for tenement housing, but it had become completely abandoned again by the 1980s. The complex tunnels ran all the way under the mansion, which was built on a complex drainage system.

The labyrinth

What Eckstein stumbled upon would become one of the most important archaeological discoveries, and sites, in the city. The idea of a mysterious subterranean world has long been a part of Buenos Aires culture, with many tales told about it. So, the underground tunnel was discovered to run almost 2 km, but to what end? Well, it seems as though the tunnels were originally built back in 1780, and were designed to try to prevent flooding.


Today Eckstein’s mansion is a museum all about the labyrinth, with entrance to the refurbished tunnels, and displaying items found during the excavation. It is staggering to think that there were whispers about these tunnels, through story and word-of-mouth. And this museum allows people to experience such a profound and interesting architectural find.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Buenos Aires, you absolutely have to check out this stunning archaeological find. It gives a whole new dimension to the city, and it’s one of the great secrets of Buenos Aires just waiting to be unlocked. There are so many excellent opportunities and advantages in this city, and visiting these mysterious and atmospheric tunnels under the city is the way to get the most out of a trip here. There aren’t many places in the world where you’ll be able to experience something this awesome.


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Fishing for plastic: the Amsterdam canal tour with a difference

A trip with Plastic Whale isn’t about sightseeing. Inspired by the plastics crisis, it offers the chance to help clean the city’s waterways, in a boat made from recycled material

We push off from the quay by Amsterdam’s Westerkerk, leaving the tourist bustle and long, fidgety queue for the Anne Frank House behind us. Our little electric boat heads quietly south down the Keizersgracht canal for a tour of the city. Our guide, Erik, points out the sights: a famous hotel, a secret church, the seven bridges view but we are distracted, focused on the plastic debris that bobs by our boat. As with more than 15,000 people before us, we have jumped on board one of Amsterdam’s most unusual boat trips: a plastic fishing tour of the canals – and we are eager to see what we can find.

Related: 10 of the best insider’s tips to Amsterdam

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Travel | The Guardian


LP Pathfinders: top posts from January 2018

A person eating wanton mee with char siew in Penang, Malaysia © Carlina Teteris / Getty Images

This month’s blog round up includes a post on Penang’s street food scene with an innovative twist © Carlina Teteris / Getty Images

The beginning of a new year is a time for both reflection and preparation, and this month’s blog post submissions from our Pathfinders left us with a lot to think about. We’ve been wowed by offbeat wildlife encounters in Mexico, humbled by the sight of mighty eagle-assisted hunters in Kyrgyzstan and left pondering over current issues pervading the online travelsphere.

Though it was a tough task to narrow down our favourites, here’s our pick of travel blog posts from our Pathfinder community in January.

The Monarchs of Macheros, Mexico – Jessie Stringfield

It’s always refreshing to read a travel yarn that manages to completely capture the imagination, and Jessie’s piece on the monarch butterfly migration in Mexico sent us into a flutter. A lesser-known wondrous wildlife experience is brought to life through crisp, colourful images and engaging writing, with Jessie doing a great job of stressing the sustainability of the current infrastructure surrounding the phenomenon – an aspect of the experience that will hopefully endure as the spectacle grows in popularity.

Jessie is a blogger from the USA hoping to inspire everyone to get out and see the world. Sample more of her stories at

Atacama Desert: a no sleeping experience – Javi Lorbada

Javi’s photos are exceptional, and while the images in his visual journey across the Atacama Desert take centre stage, there’s also something enjoyable about his clipped, stringent prose-style that makes for great reading. Like any good inspirational post, his piece left us wanting to pack a tent and bed down for a night under the star-punctured Chilean skies; though our photos would likely pale in comparison.

Born in Madrid, Javi travels far and wide in search of the perfect shot. Keep tabs on his latest adventures at

The golden eagle hunters of Kyrgyzstan – Cynthia Bil

For most of us, one of the major joys of travel is witnessing customs so different from our own they instil you with a sense of awe. This sensation is embodied by Cynthia’s post on the eagle hunters of Kyrgyzstan: nomadic people who spend years training wild eagles to hunt for them as part of a practice dating back generations. A fascinating and informative read about humanity’s bond with the natural world is enhanced further by striking imagery of the hunters and their winged accomplices.

Cynthia and Niko are currently on an epic overland trip crossing six continents from Ireland to Alaska. Follow their journey at

#realwomentravel – Annika Ziehen

Taking a delicate issue and exploring it with a sense of humour and poise, in this post Annika voices her thoughts over what she perceives as a lack of diversity among leading female Instagrammers in the travel industry. Annika is proactive in her approach, creating a campaign to showcase a selection of more eclectic female Insta-stars, with links to a number of wanderlust-inducing accounts included.

Annika is an self-confessed ‘truffle pig’ when it comes to rooting out destinations ideal for both adventure and luxury travel. Read more of her insights at

Painting Penang: capturing the diverse food scene in watercolour – Dan and Lauren

The innovative format of Dan and Lauren’s article could spice up any topic, but its appeal is heightened when considering its subject matter. Penang’s George Town is a magnificent blend of whimsical street art and fantastic food stalls, which makes the pair’s decision to paint what they’ve eaten in the city a stroke of genius. By no means a gimmick, the post’s content is substantial, highlighting a selection of Penang’s celebrated eateries in addition to the excellent illustrations.

Dan and Lauren bring their travels to life through stories and scribbles. Keep track of their experiences at


Find out what else the Lonely Planet Pathfinders are up to (or sign up yourself!) by checking out the Travel Bloggers: your stories forum on Thorn Tree.

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Five places to visit in Portland, ME


The city of Portland, Maine is one of the great undiscovered cities of the United States. Flanked by the stunning visual beauty of New England, Portland is a curious and fascinating place, and somewhere we definitely thing needs to be on your list of places to see. There are so many amazing cities in the US that we never take the time to see, and this is one of them.

A port peppered with fishing wharfs, and a stunning peninsula known as Thompson’s Point, Portland certainly has a lot going for it. If you’re looking to get away for a weekend and experience a city with a difference, we definitely feel that Portland is the place to be. Here are five of the best places to visit in Portland, Maine.

Bissell Brothers

This stunning brewery relocated in 2016, and now has a fresh, new location to enjoy. Expect queues out the door, but don’t let this put you off – you definitely need to come here and enjoy some of the delicious IPA and ales they have on offer. Limited edition beers, new releases, and a friendly vibe makes this one of the best places in the city to head for a beverage of two.

Big J’s Chicken Shack

If you need some food to boost your energy cells after a long day of taking in the city, this is the place for you to be. Opened in 2016 by Jason Loring, Big J’s does some of the best chicken in the state, nevermind the city. For a mouthwateringly good time, check out the chicken waffles with Maine maple syrup. They also do some of the hottest chicken around – essential for you spice hounds!

International Cryptozoology Museum

Taking in the art and culture of a city is the best way of helping to understand and appreciate it. And, one of the most intriguing places here to visit is the International Cryptozoology Museum, which was newly located just a couple years ago. This unusual museum documents the history of the study of creatures from folklore, and legend.

Cellardoor Winery

This stunning winery, located at The Point, is the absolute best place to go for all those who love a bit of vino. You can huddle around a table with friends and a nice bottle of pinot noir, or you can enjoy the tastings, and sample some of the new wines, alongside a selection of cheese as well. Absolutely recommended, and with a stunning interior as well.

Stroudwater Distillery

The holy trinity of booze joints is complete with this handsome whiskey joint. This small distillery opened in 2016, and offers some awesome vodka, gin, rye, and bourbon, in addition to having an epic tasting room with two bars. This is definitely the place to be for a sophisticated and boozy night out.

These are five stunning places in Portland, Maine that you absolutely have to make sure you visit when you get the chance. They will really help to make the trip more memorable and give you a slice of what life is like here, and all the great things Portland has to offer you.


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The Right Way to Order Room Service at a Hotel


Room service is one of the best elements of staying in a hotel, and even if you never use it, it’s good to know you have the option. Sometimes it’s the convenience we look for, while other times it is the indulgence of room service that can be so appealing. But, for many people, room service can be overpriced and dissatisfying.

When you’re on vacation, you’ve already spent money on the trip, not to mention the cost of flights and hotel. The costs all add up, but there might be an occasion on which you feel like you want to make the most of room service. If that’s the case, you’ll need to refer to our awesome hacks for the best way of making the most out of your room service.

Order course by course

One of the best techniques when it comes to room service is to make sure you order course by course. That means you order as you would in a restaurant, so the food arrives to you hot and ready to eat. Sure, this is something that won’t work when you’re in a rush, but we strongly suggest you do it when you can. There’s nothing worse than receiving all three courses together, only for your entrée to go cold while you eat your starter.

Choose wisely

It’s also more important than you might imagine to choose wisely, and make sure you pick the right kinds of foods. Think about how well a dish will travel – if you’re on a high floor, and the food is coming from the basement, it could take a while to get to you. Something like soup or a club sandwich would be ideal to order, and this is something you need to account for. When you’re choosing your dish, make sure you choose sensibly, and always go for a local specialty if you get the choice.

Always speak to someone

Because of technology nowadays, many hotels offer the option of digital room service. This might sound like a really great idea, but we actually recommend speaking to someone in person. It’s much simpler to articulate what you want this way, and you feel more comfortable with the order you’ve placed. This way you’ll also be able to get recommendations from the person taking your order.

Speak to a sommelier

If you like wine (who doesn’t?), you can always ask to speak to the hotel’s sommelier! This is a great way of finding out about the best wines they do and helping you choose something that’s going to take your fancy. This won’t be possible to do everywhere, but you will likely have the option if you’re at a destination hotel, particularly in wine country. Make the most of this option if you have it, and really get a feel for the wine at the hotel.

These are some of the best tips and hints you can use to make sure you order room service in the right way. There are a lot of great ways you can enjoy room service, but you can also make a lot of mistakes too if you’re not careful. Use our ideas and hints to make the process smoother and more fun for you.


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A taste of Greece: the new culinary scene on Tinos island

From beekeepers to winemakers, locals and newcomers are creating a foodie paradise on Tinos in the Cyclades – and turning old buildings into stylish places to stay, too

It’s pretty obvious why the 20th-century Greek philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis called Tinos the “handmade island”. In the 50-odd villages of this 75 square-mile isle in the northern Cyclades, marble sculptors have transformed every lintel, doorway, and fountain into a work of art. Even the For Sale signs on empty houses are carved from marble.

The dry stone walls that corrugate the valleys, the intricate dovecotes and the gaping quarries sprinkled around these sage-scented hills are evidence of hard labour, as well as an artistic sensibility.

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Travel | The Guardian


St. Moritz starts a comeback


When you’re looking for a destination for a future vacation, you might want to try somewhere completely different. Now, you should take a look at one of the stunning Caribbean islands that has so much magic to offer you. One of the best places to take a look at it is the island of St. Moritz. Now, you might not have heard much about St. Moritz, but that’s all likely to change because the island is making a comeback.

Once a thriving cultural and tourism hub of the Caribbean, St. Moritz was one of many islands ravaged by Hurricane Irma. It had to close both of its airports to commercial flights, as well many of its hotels and restaurants. But, since those tough times, the island, which is a dual nation, has set to work rebuilding and reinventing itself and is now once again on its way to becoming one of the most appealing places in the Caribbean.

Hit hard by disaster

Of all the islands in the Caribbean, St. Moritz was one of the hardest hit. The island suffered significant damage to infrastructure and took a massive hit in terms of tourism. Islands such as St. Moritz rely on annual tourism to keep their economy from flourishing, so, as you can imagine, the island was hugely affected by this. While they have undergone extensive work and changes, there is still a lot to do before it returns to what it used to be.


The island had to do something similar in 1995 when it was hit by Hurricane Luis, so we have no doubt it will be fine eventually. However, it will not be possible for St. Moritz to achieve this without aid. Luckily, the Dutch government has already started the process, by providing $ 634 million in aid. And there are hopes that, being a dual nation (Dutch and French), the French government will also provide aid to help get the island back on its feet again.

Up and running

Both the island’s airports are up and running again, and more than 60 of the restaurants and bars have reopened. Tourism is slowly improving, and there will be increases again with every passing month until the island gets back to what is once was. With its French side known for the restaurant and hotel scene and its Dutch side known for its casinos, tourism is already on the rise. By the end of 2018, the island could see tourism improving a little more, and it will be on its way up again.


Another of the great ways for St. Moritz to improve tourism and boost its economy is by way of cruises. These are growing in popularity and have already started returning to the port of the island. This is a great way of St. Moritz getting to enjoy an influx of more tourism, even while not fully back to its best yet.

The devastation caused by Hurricane Irma has hit the people of St. Moritz hard, especially as they rely on tourism to thrive. The government of the island has put into place a 10-year tourism plan, to get the island up to the tourism levels it used to be at. The first few years will be dedicated to recovery from the hurricane, and then it will be a case of boosting tourism as much as possible.


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36 hours in Orlando


There are so many amazing places in the United States that we’ve never considered visiting before. The great thing about America is how vibrant and diverse it is as a country, and how there is so much to explore in every state and city. For instance, when you hear the name Orlando, you probably just think about Walt Disney World.

But, the city has so much more to it than simply Mickey Mouse and thrill rides. It is one of the most magical and appealing cities in the country, and there are so many epic things you can see and do here. So, if you’re planning a weekend in Orlando, you’ll most likely want to know what there is to see and do in this place. Check out our daily guide to spending 36 unforgettable hours in Orlando.


Culture is the name of the game, and you need to make sure you experience all the great art and culture that Orlando has to offer you. We suggest starting off at Orlando Museum of Art so you can check out some of the great contemporary American artwork. Your $ 15 entry fee will get you access to some great galleries and is the ideal place to build up an appetite. After this, you need to head for some food and drink at the stunning Mathers Social Gathering. For dinner, you might even consider heading to downtown and checking out Tin & Taco.


On Saturday you might consider indulging in a spot of sightseeing, and there are some pretty epic neighborhoods to see here. Specifically, we recommend checking out Lake Eola Heights – here you can take a scenic tour of Old Florida, magical. There is also the city of Winter Park nearby, which you can visit for some more art and culture tours. A spot of shopping would go down well here, especially with all the great boutique stores they have. There are also plenty of stunning restaurants and eateries you can take advantage of – check out The Ravenous Pig (you can thank us later).


Sunday feels like a day to be out and about, and enjoy all that nature has to offer. And, there are some great places in Orlando you can go to get this fix – most notably Wekiwa Springs State Park. It’s a wonderful place to come and enjoy the great outdoors. Walk round and take in all that nature has to offer – you could also take a dip in the swimming area of the Wekiva River, or hire a canoe and go paddling. Back to the city you should head for the East End Market for some delicious fresh produce before it’s time to think about leaving the city far behind you and heading home.

As you can see, there is plenty to do in Orlando, and you might consider checking out this stunning US city in central Florida. Forget about all your preconceptions, and instead focus on enjoying the beauty and cultural opportunity within Orlando. There is so much you can get out of this place that you owe it to yourself to check out the beauty and magic of Orlando.


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Why Your Phone’s Airplane Mode Isn’t Just for Flying


Smartphones are so advanced these days that we barely utilize all of the features they offer. And, in fact, some of the features can be really useful, occasionally just what we’re looking for. But, if you don’t know about it, how can use it, right? Well, that is exactly why you have to make sure you come up with ways of using all the features on your smartphone.

One of the niftiest features that people never use is actually known as the Airplane Mode. This is one of the coolest features on your phone and one you need to get into the habit of using as much as you can. It’s going to make you more productive, and do your phone a world of good as well. Check out all these awesome things Airplane Mode can be used for.

Removing distractions

Being productive is so hard these days when you consider the number of distractions that are around these days. And your smartphone can be one of the biggest distractions to modern life, especially because you can pretty much access anything from it. By toggling Airplane Mode on your phone, you will actually shut off the signal and prevent your phone from being able to receive calls and messages. This is a great way of keeping you in the zone and ensuring you are as productive as you can possibly be.

Charging quicker

Another of the stunning benefits of Airplane Mode is that it allows you to charge your phone up quicker. When you charge your phone normally, it can take a while to charge, especially if there are other apps and programs open. However, what you will find is that when you have the phone in Flight Mode, it will actually charge up considerably quicker. The phone uses less power in this mode, so your battery will charge quicker, and will run out much less.


There is nothing more frustrating these days than your phone battery running dead. And this is happening more frequently these days, especially because of how much we use our phones. The great thing about Airplane Mode is that it can be used to preserve battery life, and this is crucial for long business trips. Setting your phone to Airplane Mode at the start of the trip, and leaving it that way will help the battery to last a lot longer, and you’ll have more use of the phone.

You can still use your phone

Don’t think that just because your phone is in Airplane Mode, it means you can’t use it. You’ll be able to use the phone for anything that doesn’t involve a wifi connection, and this is more than you might think. You can listen to music and read documents all while preserving the battery – and you never have to turn the phone off. Think how amazing that’s going to be for your future business trips.

Airplane Mode is one of the most versatile features of your phone, but it’s one that so many people neglect to use. Now you know it’s so much more than just for flying, you can really set about using the feature to benefit you. It’s really useful for saving battery life and improving productivity at the same time.


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Travel news quiz: February edition

Two women drinking coffee in a restaurant © Yulia Grigoryeva / Shutterstock

Have you heard about the Welsh capital’s latest quirky coffee trend? © Yulia Grigoryeva / Shutterstock

What’s noteworthy about the Arctic Circle’s latest hotel? Which US city has been named the most romantic in the country? Test your knowledge of the latest happenings in the travelsphere with our travel news quiz, featuring some of this month’s most intriguing news stories.


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Manhattan transfers: New York’s boroughs by ferry

Downtown New York has sights galore but the city’s expanded ferry service offers a more relaxed way to see its less famous neighbourhoods – and fabulous views back to Manhattan

There are a lot of sights to tick off on a visit to New York City. Lots of tall buildings, lots of parks … and lots of people at all of them. But if you have seen the well-trodden attractions, it can be fun to find a more authentic side to the city. And this has become easier since the city expanded its ferry service.

Two new routes, linking neighbourhoods such as Astoria in Queens and Red Hook in Brooklyn, were added in 2017, and two more will be added in 2018 (see map of ferry network here). For just $ 2.75, the ferry is a far more picturesque and less claustrophobic way to travel than the subway, and goes to places that otherwise might be overlooked.

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Travel | The Guardian


The Surprising Place Where You’re Likely to Encounter Germs at the Airport


Traveling is a fun experience, and going to the airport can be pretty exciting nowadays. Basically, your vacation starts from the second you arrive at the airport – it’s like an extension of your vacay. However, there are certain things that you need to consider when you get to the airport. You need to have a travel plan in place, leave plenty of time, and pack efficiently, but you also need to avoid germs!

This might sound like a strange point to add on the end, but you would be surprised by just how many germs there are floating around in the airport. Let’s be honest, flying isn’t exactly fun for germaphobes, what with countless germs floating around inside the cabin. But, there are other areas you need to watch out for as well. Follow this guide, and don’t let germs ruin your vacation:

Why you need to be careful

It’s pretty clear that there are plenty of areas that can affect us in terms of germs and illnesses when we go traveling. The airport is full of different people from all walks of life, and some of them are going to be poorly. But, you have got to make sure you are careful, and that you don’t get ill because otherwise, you’re going to ruin your vacation. You don’t want to spend half your trip bedridden now, do you?

Wear a face mask

A lot of travelers bring face masks with them and will wear them during the flight, and up until they leave the airport. This might seem excessive, but it is also a very useful thing for those visiting cities where pollution levels are high. If you have a weak immune system, you need to make sure you wear a face mask when you travel – it will certainly protect you against germs.

Bring hand sanitizer

If you are bringing luggage with you to check in at the self check-in kiosks, make sure you bring some hand sanitizer with you. Tests have shown that, of all tested areas in the airport, the self-service check-in kiosk is the one containing the most germs! In fact, even bathroom flush buttons were considered to be more hygienic! So, if you are going to check your own luggage in at the airport, make sure you have some hand gel with you to use afterward!

Stop worrying

Bear in mind that this shouldn’t necessarily be cause for concern. Many of the germs and bacteria out there are not harmful to us and are actually necessary for the body and immune system to function properly. But, if you want to play it safe, make sure you carry a bottle of sanitizer with you and even consider wearing gloves for your journey.

Airports are actually somewhat less hygienic than you might have imagined, and this is why you need to take precautions. It’s important to make sure you are looking after your body and immune system as much as possible, and these are some of the things you should know that will help you with this.


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What Is ‘Hidden City Ticketing’ and Should You Take Advantage of It?


There are a lot of things to take into account when you are booking a flight, and it’s important to consider how you can save money. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting on a plane and jet-setting to some new locale. Unfortunately, the ticket buying process can be one of the more chaotic and stressful parts of the vacation process.

Luckily, there are loads of tips these days you can use to help you save money when booking your flights to go away. For instance, things like booking your flight on a Sunday, setting price alerts, and using frequent flier miles are just a few of the great ways of making savings. But there is another way you might not be familiar with – hidden city ticketing.

What is it?

Open your ears and your mind, because we’re about to drop some knowledge on you. Hidden city ticketing is one of the most effective ways of saving money that nobody knows about. It’s perfectly legal and very simple to do. It’s basically where you book a flight to a destination, but actually get off at the layover city (the place you really intend to visit). This is a sneaky, and frankly, awesome, way of getting to a city without having to pay as much.

Why you should do it

Now you know about hidden city ticketing why would you not do it?! You can save a lot of money by using this method, and there are so many excellent advantages. In fact, by using this approach, you will be shocked by how much money you’re going to save. There are even websites out there dedicated to hidden city ticketing so you can do this much more easily. But, before making a habit of it, you should know that there are drawbacks.


Hidden city ticketing has a lot of positives, but there are also drawbacks as well, and you need to be aware of these. For one thing, regular hidden city ticketing can drive up airfares, not to mention inconveniencing other customers. Another of the major drawbacks is the fact that you won’t be able to check luggage when you use hidden city ticketing. And you will also have to be aware that there are potential re-routing issues as well.

Be discreet

While it’s not essentially illegal, hidden city ticketing is something that airlines are cracking down on. Many of them have regulations in their small print that make hidden city ticketing a violation, and if they catch you, the can punish you by making you pay the full fare, or barring you from the plane. So, if you are going to engage in hidden city ticketing, you need to make sure you do so discreetly.

As you can see, hidden city ticketing is one of the best ways of reducing your airfares, and saving stress in the process. However, there are a lot of drawbacks to taking this path, and there are negatives if you’re going to do this. Just make sure you are careful, and that you do as much as you can to be discreet about it.


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Reasons To Take A Cruise With Your Sister In Your 20s


Taking trips and having new experiences are essential when you are younger. Your 20s are your formative years, and the right time to experiment and find out who we really are. When you are in your 20s, you need to get out and see the world, go traveling, and strengthen the bonds of friendship and family. One of the best vacation ideas would be to take a cruise with your sister.

Your sister is one of the most important people in your life, and, when you’re in your 20s, she is the perfect travel buddy. So, we think you could do a lot worse these days than taking a cruise with your sister. If you’ve ever been on vacay with your sister before, you’ll no doubt remember how great it was. If you never have, this is the perfect chance to build some memories. Here are some great reasons to take a cruise with your sister in your 20s.

Hit the buffet together

Let’s be honest, when you’re taking a cruise, one of the highlights of the trip is going to be the buffet. And your sister is the ideal person to hit the buffet cart with – you can stock up together and share your food with one another. You may well have similar tastes in terms of food, and you can stock up on things you both love. Trust us, the buffet is one of the best sisterly bonding activities you can indulge in.

You can share suitcases

One of the things to account for when you go away together is what you’re packing. Two suitcases can be cumbersome to carry around and might be taking up unnecessary space. But, the beauty of going on a cruise trip with your sister is that you can team up and share a suitcase together. That means extra space in the cabin for you both, and you will still have plenty of room in the case for your things. One case is definitely better than two, and you can both share the load – plus sharing clothes and accessories is also a bonus.

You’re with someone you trust

When you go on a cruise, there are a lot of new experiences to be had, and it’s vital that you have someone you trust with you when experiencing them. This is one of the best reasons to have your sister with you – she’s family, and you know you’ll be able to trust her implicitly. Perfect for when you’re sunbathing, or you need someone to watch your things for you.

You know each other inside out

Another major advantage of vacationing with sis as opposed to friends is that you and your sister know each other inside out. There are so many weird and wonderful quirks you will both have, and you will know each other’s schedules inside out. If you’re a morning person, but she’s not, you’ll already know to slip away quietly in the morning. If she likes to stay out late, but you don’t, she’ll read your body language and decide it’s time to leave earlier. It’s so key to making the cruise more fun and enjoyable.

These are just a few of the fantastic reasons why you should take a cruise with your sister. You need to experience all of the brilliant aspects of going on a cruise, and the way to do that is to make sure you take a cruise with your sister in your 20s.


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10 of the best new UK museums and galleries for 2018

From the reopening of favourites like Kettle’s Yard and the Royal Academy to the spectacular new V&A on the Dundee waterfront, this is an exciting year for the art world

One of the most significant new openings of the year will be Scotland’s first design museum – and also the first V&A anywhere outside of London – on 15 September. The museum building sits on the river Tay and boasts a bold, radical design by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma – its shape and form inspired by cliffs on Scotland’s east coast. It will celebrate Scottish design, objects in its collection ranging from a Cartier “Valkyrie” diamond tiara commissioned by the late Mary Crewe-Milnes, Duchess of Roxburghe, to original artworks of The Beano.

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Travel | The Guardian


A Harry Potter river cruise is a magical dream come true


Shut the front door! It’s finally here, the Harry Potter River Cruise we’ve been dreaming about has finally arrived. Accio tickets! This Hogwarts-themed nautical journey is just about the most rad thing Potterheads could possibly conceive of! This is the magical journey you’ve enjoyed in your dreams, and now it’s time to make your dreams a reality – no Muggles allowed!

Are you simply salivating at the very thought of expanding your Potter experiences? We recently enjoyed the 20-year anniversary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and this is just the icing on top of the cake. Starting in August of this year, the highly-anticipated river cruises are pretty much the highlight of our lives up to this point, and we can’t wait to get tickets. Here’s all you need to know to enjoy your very own Harry Potter cruise.

Barge Lady Cruises

So, to whom do we have to swear eternal devotion by way of the Unbreakable Vow? Well, the geniuses behind this idea are the Barge Lady Cruises company, and we want to send these gals some flowers! This week-long cruise experience will debut in the summer of this year and will take place in England. Anyone who didn’t receive their Hogwarts letter at the age of 11 will have the chance to right a few wrongs, by making sure they get tickets for this stunning adventure!

The cruise

So what does this cruise have to offer? Well, let’s take you on a journey… You’ll start by boarding a ship known as the Magna Carter, after enjoying a cream tea. Here you will meet the crew, get acclimated to your surroundings, and enjoy a Hogwarts-themed meal. Day 2 sees you arrive at Hampton Court Palace for a tour, while Day 3 takes you to Virginia Water, as featured in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. On Day 4 it’s off to Dorney Court, the location of Privet Drive, while on Day 5 you will take the Harry Potter Studio Tour, and on Day 6 you’ll enjoy a tour of the Great Hall at Christ Church College, before heading back to the hotel on Day 7!


As you might imagine, this is a pretty exclusive opportunity and one that many others are going to want to do as well. And it’s not like you’ll be able to bag a place using a Time Turner, or sneak on board via a vanishing cabinet! But, you might also need to start saving big time, because tickets will set you back north of $ 4,000 per person. Holy cricket! To be honest, this is a once in a lifetime experience, and we do think that anyone who loves Harry Potter needs to have this experience. So we would urge you to start saving as best you can, and get your tickets for this stunning experience before you miss out on the chance – we don’t know how long this will be running for!

Are you as excited as we are about this amazing opportunity?! If you are obsessed with everything Harry Potter, how can you possibly pass up the opportunity of a lifetime?! This is a dream come true for Potterheads across the world, and we simply cannot wait!


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Just back from: Uzbekistan

Megan revelling in the beauty of the mosques and mausoleums of Uzbekistan © Megan Eaves

Megan revelling in the beauty of the mosques and mausoleums of Uzbekistan © Megan Eaves

Megan Eaves, Destination Editor for North Asia, recently returned from a trip to Uzbekistan.

Tell us more… I spent seven days travelling around Uzbekistan, one of the biggest travel drawcards in Central Asia. I had been to the region before, but never to Uzbekistan, so the aim of the trip was to see all of the country’s highlights in its main cities – the capital, Tashkent, as well as Bukhara and Samarkand – and to learn about its rich cultural heritage.

In a nutshell… If, like me, you have dreamed about seeing the Silk Road, Uzbekistan is the country that ticks all the boxes. Blue-domed mosques and incredible mosaics covering the outer walls of mausoleums and medressas (Islamic schools) define Uzbekistan’s cityscapes and hearken to a time when Silk Road trade through this region made it among the busiest and most important places on earth.

Dusk over an illuminated Registran Squaer, Uzbekistan

Dusk brings a whole new magic to Samarkand’s main square © Megan Eaves

Defining moment? Watching the sunset in the Registan – Samarkand’s famous main square, flanked by three tiled medressas. The blue hour descended and I could hardly capture the waning light as it softened over the enormous mosaic-covered domes. Hunger pangs set in and I was ready for dinner, but as I started to set off the lights suddenly switched on, illuminating the entire square in the most magical way. I probably stayed for another hour after that trying to savour the moment.

Good grub? Uzbekistan’s food is hearty Central Asian fare that relies on a lot of meat, potatoes, dumplings and plov (the local pilau rice). The most surprising and welcome part of Uzbek cuisine were the incredible salads: beetroot and fresh tomato-and-cucumber salads were served at almost every sitting. Uzbek produce is beautiful thanks to its sunny climate.

Megan wearing a traditional Turkmen hat

No room for the real thing? A selfie will do the trick © Megan Eaves

Fridge magnet or better? Even if you don’t have room to bring home a huge, fuzzy Turkmen hat, you should at least get a photo of yourself wearing one.

You’d be a muppet to miss… Thousand-year-old Bukhara, which was at one time Central Asia’s holiest city. It’s a small and walkable town stuffed with ancient mosques, minarets and holy sites at every turn. Plus the old town is well preserved and is a complete maze – worth getting lost in the dusty back lanes.

Fave activity? Going for a wild swim in Aidarkul Lake. It’s way out in the northern desert of Uzbekistan and was totally empty when I went. Due to its high salt content, you can float around easily. On the day I was there, the sun was beating down and the water was warm. I could’ve stayed in all day.

An up-close details of a mosaic, Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan begs to be explored up-close © Megan Eaves

Quintessential experience? Taking photos of the incredible mosaics that adorn many of the country’s monuments. Close-ups of the Persian-inspired detailing on specific tiles, faraway shots that take in the magnificent colours and of course selfies of you in front of these amazing works of art. Don’t be shy!

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Megan Eaves travelled to Uzbekistan with support from Kalpak Travel ( Lonely Planet contributors do not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage.

Want more behind-the-scenes adventures? Find out what Picture Editor Claire Richardson got up to on her recent trip to Łódź, Poland.

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7 Unique Cities In The U.S. To Travel To Before You Graduate


The US is such a diverse and cosmopolitan nation that it has a truly stunning array of cities to explore and uncover. Don’t think that you have to go away abroad to find your ideal city break. There are so many stunning choices right in front of you, and we feel it’s massively important to make the most of these wherever you can. The independence that college life brings is something you should seize as soon as you can.

Before you graduate, you want to make the most of your time before you get into the real world and have to start taking life more seriously. The best way of doing that is to push your boundaries and explore your surroundings. These are 7 unique and awesome cities in the country that you need to make sure you visit before graduating college.

Moab – Utah

Moab may not be a place you recognize, and it’s probably not somewhere you’ve been before, but this city is the pinnacle of everything great about Utah. It is stunningly beautiful, breathtaking, and the perfect place to enjoy some of the stunning magnificence of nature. Pack a camera, and get ready to update your Instagram!

Santa Fe – New Mexico

Santa Fe is always a city that has had that special kind of vibe to it, and now you can discover why. The art scene here is truly stupendous, and it’s the perfect place to visit for art majors and culture vultures. It also has some stunning architecture as well and is one of the most aesthetically pleasing cities on our list.

Cocoa Beach – Florida

Florida is a paradise of a state, and there are so many wicked cities here to explore – and Cocoa Beach is one of the best. This beach city is great for those wanting to enjoy some Sun, sea, and sand, as well as geeking out at the Kennedy Space Center nearby. Orlando is also pretty close for those wanting to visit Walt Disney World as well.

Mystic – Connecticut

Just as magical as it sounds, Mystic oozes that small town charm so many of us look for when we want to get away. This place is cute, charming, and feels a million miles away from the nearby cities, and is just across the water from Long Island. This is also the setting for the movie Mystic Pizza, one of Julia Roberts’ first movies.

Roswell – New Mexico

More famous for its UFO and so-called ‘conspiracy’ links than anything else, Roswell is a place you will almost certainly have heard of. This quirky town embraces its alien links, and is the ideal travel destination for conspiracy theorists – this is a must-visit place for all college undergrads.

Pigeon Forge – Tennessee

This quirkily named city is one of the most beautiful and unique cities you could ever hope to explore. There is also a massive music scene here, and it is the location of Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s amusement park. Oh, and throw into that the fact that it is one of the most beautiful cities on this list, and we have a winner.

San Antonio – Texas

Austin and Houston might seem like the most popular places in Texas to visit, but that’s just because you’ve not checked out San Antonio before! The weather is sensational for most of the year, and the San Antonio River Walk is one of the dazzling and delightful experiences ever.

As you can see, there are plenty of amazing cities in the United States that you simply must discover right now. These are 7 unique cities, different from what you might be used to, and we think you should check them out before leaving college as soon as you can.


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Italian Village of Ollolai Entices New Residents With $1 Homes


If you’ve ever moved house or even scoured the property market, you’ll know how painfully expensive homes can be these days. It seems like the process of moving home is becoming more and more expensive every year. In fact, it’s become so pricey in some places that a lot of people are considering moving abroad when they buy a home.

Now, there are plenty of stunning places in the world to live, but there aren’t many as picturesque and stunning as Sardinia. Italy is one of the most breathtaking nations in the world and the perfect place for those who are looking to emigrate and move to Europe. If you are looking to move house abroad, we suggest you check out Barbagia, a mountainous area of Sardinia – here’s why!

It’s truly stunning

The first thing to consider is how stunningly beautiful this region of the country is. Italy has some of the most incredible scenery in the world, and Ollolai, the capital of the region, is one of the most striking. This delightful commune in the center of Barbagia is set against the backdrop mountains and rolling hills. It has some of the best views of anywhere in Europe and is a wonderful place to get out and about and enjoy some fresh air. If you want a place with an amazing view, this is the place for you.

$ 1 homes!

One of the most appealing and amazing things about this place is that they have started to sell homes for just $ 1! No, you haven’t read that wrong. That’s one dollar. Well, technically $ 1.20 US. So, what’s the catch, it’s got to be a scam, right? Amazingly, no. See, so many people have left the town and moved to the big cities, and officials have been looking for ways to boost the shrinking local population. In a stroke of genius, they have come up with the step of selling homes for as little as €1, around $ 1.20. The mayor was responsible for securing many of the empty properties here, and, in 2017, the government won a decree to start selling their ultra-cheap homes.

Small town feel

This is the perfect location for those who are tired of city life. The big city is great in so many ways, but it can also be draining, exhausting, and chaotic. And sometimes we just need to get away from it all and enjoy a more simple life. Well, Ollolai allows you to capture that small town essence, with cultural treasures perfectly preserved. This is one of the most sparsely populated places in Europe and is a much more relaxed way of life for all concerned. Fresh, country air, folk traditions, cobbled alleyways, and a great local food and crafts scene. In other words, the ideal counter to the hustle and bustle of the big cities.

What’s the catch?

Well, there isn’t a catch as such. The homes do, indeed, cost $ 1. However, most are in very poor condition, and homeowners are required to refurbish them as part of their contract. This must happen within three years, and at a cost of around $ 25,000. Still, compared with a house in New York this is a pittance! It could just be the perfect opportunity you’ve been waiting for all these years.

If you’re looking for excitement, adventure, and a home that isn’t going to break the bank, the village of Ollolai is the place to be. This slow and small-town lifestyle is a refreshing change of pace from the chaos of the cities and gives you something completely different.


The post Italian Village of Ollolai Entices New Residents With $ 1 Homes appeared first on Worldation.



10 of the best insider’s tips to Amsterdam

With tickets for Eurostar’s direct service to Amsterdam on sale from 20 February, we pick some of the city’s best restaurants, parks and cultural attractions away from the tourist centre

Amsterdam’s reputation for stag dos, spliff and sex tourism belies the rich pickings beyond Dam Square. Described by locals as a village, Amsterdam has the arts, entertainment and startup scene of many larger cities but retains a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. As a resident, I love that all my favourite places are just a short journey away. The vibe is laid-back and the dress code avoids the stiff chic of more status-conscious cities: the rule is, if you can’t cycle in it, don’t wear it. From picturesque narrow streets of higgledy-piggledy houses to sweaty techno nights in converted factories, this city reveals its many faces to those willing to stray from the tourist hotspots.

Continue reading…
Travel | The Guardian


Staycation Ideas For Spring Break With Your Sister If You’re Both Home & Broke


Just because you’re flat broke, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a wonderful vacation experience. Spring break is the one time all college students look forward to, but it can be over before you know it, so it’s important to make the most of it. Take the time to reconnect with your family, and enjoy time with them. If you’re broke, you might not be able to jet away with friends to Cancun for two weeks, but there’s no reason you can’t have a staycation with your sister.

A great staycation is the perfect chicken soup for the soul, and it’s going to save you money in the process as well. It’s easy to get a little down in the dumps when all your friends are going abroad and having a ball. So, here are some of the most amazing staycation ideas you can use to ensure you and your sister have the time of your lives, without ever having to jump on a plane.

Do brunch – sibling style!

If there’s one mealtime that is perfectly suited to a sibling staycation, it has got to be brunch. You don’t have to go out to a fancy brunch joint either, you can (and should) cook up a feast yourselves. Get the griddles ready, and prep the kitchen, because making brunch is an excellent bonding activity, and the perfect way to get your staycation off to a delicious start. Mix things up, and don’t be afraid to have a go at things you’ve never tried before. This is something that can really help make brunch exciting.

Spend a day totally outside

There will be good days and bad days over spring break, and you want to pencil in the best day as the one you choose to spend outside. There will be plenty available for you to do, it’s just important to make sure you spend the whole day outside, making the most of the nice weather. You might think about having a picnic, or visiting the ocean – biking or hiking your way around the city is another really great idea as well.

Revisit childhood hotspots

There are so many wonderful places you will no doubt have visited as a child, and it’s time to retrace your steps and check these out again. Make a bucket list of the favorite places you visited when you were children, and take the time to go see them again on your staycation. This is a great way of reminiscing, and having the best possible experience during your staycation. Strengthen the bonds of sisterhood by taking some snaps of these places, and stick them on your social media.

Do a bit of shopping

We’re not just talking about the generic shopping trips you’d have in the designer stores. We mean going a little farther out and experiencing a different side of shopping. Check out some awesome thrift stores and flea markets, and purchase some bargains in time for the summer – it’s just around the corner! Stocking up on the right summer wardrobe with plenty of time to spare is the perfect way of bonding together as sisters.

How cool are these ideas for helping you have a memorable and nostalgic staycation as sisters?! There’s no rule saying you have to get away for any length of time, and this is a money-saving way of getting the most out of spring break. We just hope the ideas we’ve given appeal to the both of you.


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6 Best Beaches In Europe If Your Study Abroad Trip Needs Some Sand & Sunshine


There are some pretty stunning places in the world, and it’s so important to get out of your comfort zone and go see them. Spread your wings, fly the nest, and take in some of the glorious sights and sounds the world has to offer. And, these days you can further your education and cultural experiences by choosing to study abroad. We would recommend this to anybody who gets the chance to do it.

Studying abroad is essential for improving and developing your scope for learning. There are a lot of places you can go if you’re serious about studying abroad, but Europe is perhaps the best. So much history and wild, untamed beauty lie all across Europe, and it’s time you go out and experienced it. So, why not split your European study sessions up, with a visit to these awesome beaches?

Brac Island – Croatia

Croatia is a country with tons to do, and one of the best attractions here is to head to Brac Island, the stunning beach outside Split. Take a boat out and visit this idyllic paradise, it might just be the best thing you do while you’re here. There’s no sand here, but it’s lovely a pebbly, and the perfect place to relax. You could even bring some books and do a bit of studying in paradise!

Cinque Terre – Italy

This hidden gem is going to be your new favorite place on the Amalfi Coast. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the touristy parts, this stunning place is built into the mountains. You’ll feel like you are on the vacation of your life, and you can escape the rigors of studying for a while. You could do it in a day, or even make a weekend of it, and slip away to heaven on Earth.

Corfu Island – Greece

You might have heard that Corfu is something of a tourist trap these days, but it largely depends on where you go. This is still the best place in the country to find a beautiful, stunning beach on which to relax. The white, hot sand, licked by waves from the Ionian Sea makes this small island a must-visit for anyone. Put the books aside for a day, and discover the tranquility of Corfu.

Lagos – Portugal

A trip to southern Portugal wouldn’t be complete without heading out to Lagos. This is one of the most picture perfect parts of Portugal and home to some of the country’s best beaches. The Atlantic Ocean will be a great departure from the Mediterranean, and there are some stunning rock formations here as well.

Positano – Italy

Italy certainly is the place for all seasons, with somewhere to appeal to anyone, no matter what time of year. Positano is another of the unforgettable places you have to visit when you travel to Italy. Head to the island of Capri while you’re here, and try to visit the Blue Grotto; that’s before we even get to trying the food.

La Barceloneta in Barcelona – Spain

Is there anything Barcelona isn’t great for? Aside from the delicious paella, tapas, and Picasso, this stunning Catalonian city also has an amazing beach called La Barceloneta. We highly recommend you check out this beach, and soak up a different side of Barcelona.

So there we have it, some of the best beaches in the whole of Europe. These are some of the most stunning places in the world, and they can all be found in Europe. Make your European study experience even better by checking out these incredible beaches.


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Your Pyeongchang 2018 Travel Guide


Pyeongchang is a county in South Korea, and, in February 2018 it will host the 2018 Winter Olympics. This seminal event brings together athletes from numerous disciplines of winter sports and sees them competing for medals. The Winter Olympics have always been a fun alternative to the Summer Olympic Games and takes place two years after.

If you are an avid fan of Olympians, and extreme sports, you may well be planning on heading to Pyeongchang to enjoy some of the Asian hospitality, as well as taking in some sporting greatness. In this case, you’re going to need to know all about Pyeongchang, and where to go when you’re there. So check out our 2018 travel guide for this stunning part of South Korea.

Getting around

During the Winter Olympic, Pyeongchang will have free shuttle buses taking people to and from Olympic venues and events. That means you’ll be able to benefit from a specific form of transport dedicated to the Olympics. You don’t have to worry about having to find your own way to the venues or stadiums – you can always just get on the shuttle buses and go straight there. If you visit the Pyeongchang official website, you will be able to find out more information; it might also be worth downloading an app as well to help you navigate your way around.

Where to stay

Now, there are plenty of choices for places to stay when you’re in Pyeongchang, but it’s important to remember that the Winter Olympics is going to be a game changer. This means there will be less space and availability, as many of the places could well have been booked up. Over 35 hotels in the area will be offering special rates on rooms to coincide with the Winter Olympics, so you should be able to get somewhere for an inexpensive rate. But, don’t forget, Pyeongchang is a big region, and there are plenty of other accommodation options if you want to go a bit further out. As long as you choose a place that is close to great transport links, you should have no issues.


Tickets for these events are often released quite sometime before the event, and they will have been available to Pyeongchang natives first. Now everybody can buy them, and you can use this to your advantage. Make sure you buy tickets before traveling and buy them from authorized sellers. However, resale websites will offer reduced prices, and you may well be able to find some bargains this way. Just make sure the tickets you buy are actually genuine – a QR code or hologram is the mark of an official ticket.

The Winter Olympics is a wonderful sporting event and one that everybody has the chance to experience and enjoy. And the gorgeous backdrop of Pyeongchang is one of the best places we could think of for you to experience these Olympic Games. If you’ve never been before, what better option than to combine travel and sports and take a trip to Pyeongchang? By following the ideas in our travel guide, you should have no problem enjoying a wonderful trip to Pyeongchang, and taking in the wonder and excitement of the Winter Olympics as well.


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Ireland’s border country: walking the line and in love with the landscape

Since the Brexit referendum, the Irish border has again become a source of tension but on the ground it remains a fascinating wilderness of low mountains and fantastic hiking country

Today I’m hiking from Thur Mountain to the Cavan Burren along lanes and among prehistoric relics. This is north-west Ireland, not far from the sea but far enough for me to call it midlands. My route goes from Co Leitrim into Co Cavan, staying close to the border with Northern Ireland. For so long associated with violence and up against the appeal of the west coast, Ireland’s borderland has been ignored by travellers. Yet its history is fascinating and there are many beautiful stretches. Word is starting to get out, but this still feels like Ireland’s undiscovered region.

I spent last night in a B&B in Glenfarne, a thinly spread community of farms and homes. Clancy’s (doubles from €89 B&B, walking packages available) appears to be the area’s heart, a string of businesses along the roadside, under one roof. It’s a B&B, a cafe, a shop and a post office.

Continue reading…
Travel | The Guardian


LP Pathfinders: top Instagrams from January 2018


New year, new travel experiences! Our intrepid Pathfinders have kicked off 2018 with a host of incredible snapshots, framing everything from the world’s busiest beaches to its most serene landscapes with their well-honed photography skills. Here are the five Instagram posts that stole the show this month…

Queulat National Park, Chile

‘Morning strolls in Chile are a must – those moments where you can enjoy the foggy, peaceful landscapes of this unique area of our world.’ – Javi, @javilorbada

Why we like it: Chile is home to some of planet earth’s most breathtaking natural wonders and panoramic landscapes, and Javi’s capture of this glacier mid-flow showcases them perfectly. The moody, stormy clouds and dark, thick forests that frame the shot give it an extra flourish of drama, and feel almost as though they are creeping into the camera lens itself.

Tulum, Mexico

A post shared by C Armenta (@armenta.c85) on

‘With its vibrant arts scene and world-class restaurants, Tulum has established itself as one of Mexico’s Premier tourist destination. Blessed with powdery sands, azure waters and looming palms trees, Tulum truly is a paradise.’ – Cristian, @armenta.c85

Why we like it: Travel photography isn’t only about capturing nature at its most dramatic, it’s also concerned with documenting travellers themselves. This image is a great example of that, what with the sun-worshipping beach bums populating the lower third of the image. With the palm tree acting as a central focus and the dazzling, turquoise sea a picturesque backdrop, this is a real moment-in-time shot, showcasing a typical day by the sea in Tulum.

Peak District, UK

‘The power of sunlight. Everything in the shadows is grey and dark, the sun makes everything warm and beautiful.’ – Raphael,

Why we like it: Raphael’s image is real proof that sometimes the simplest shots have the most impact. These gloriously sun-burnished trees of England’s Peak District act as a canvas of colour, with the light changing at exactly the right point of the photograph for maximum effect.

New York, USA

‘I was born in New York City. I lived in New York City. I had my 16th birthday dinner at Windows on the World. I worked at the World Trade Center. This is the first time I have been able to bring myself to see the Oculus and to visit the 911 Memorial. While staying at a hotel nearby I was so close, just three blocks away, and made myself go. I am glad I did.’ – Danah, @danahfreeman

Why we like it: Danah’s poignant capture of New York’s Oculus WTC is a masterclass in image framing, and a beautiful perspective of one of the city’s most important memorials. The Oculus’ fluted ceiling is rendered all the more stirring thanks to the camera angle, which also creates a reverent sense of calm.

Bettmeralp, Switzerland

‘We had a family holiday here over Christmas and whilst a lot of the time we were busy skiing, we also had plenty of time to enjoy the serenity of the place. On a morning walk, just past the village looking over to the Swiss Alps, we captured this beautiful shot. The scene embodied our feeling of peacefulness and anticipation of a fresh new year dawning.’ – Michelle and Lars, @lifejourney4two

Why we like it: What better way to welcome in the new year than with that untouched, pristine, glorious blanket of snow? The calming purple and blue hues of the streaming sun coming in from the edge of the frame make it appear all the more magical, and as for those mountains… they’re the kind of vista you’d want to wake up to every morning.

For your chance to be featured in our next round up, sign up to Lonely Planet Pathfinders – our programme for travel-loving bloggers and social content creators. In the meantime, you can get more Instagram inspiration by following @lonelyplanet.

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In Dubai, Flying With the Falcons


When you hear the name Dubai, you no doubt think about an urban backdrop peppered by skyscrapers and grand, shimmering buildings. But, behind the curtain, there is more to the UAE megalopolis than simply ostentatiousness. Don’t forget that Dubai is a city on the Persian Gulf, and, as such, a place of stunning natural beauty and magnificence, it’s just a case of unlocking this.

One of the first things we recommend you do when you’re in Dubai is to check out Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. This 87-square mile desert paradise is one of the most important areas of Dubai, and a million miles away from the frenetic inner city life. This former camel farm is a fenced wilderness owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. The best thing about this place? You can fly with Falcons! But first, let’s find out what we can about the place and what a journey here is like.

Desert beauty

Gazing out across the wilds of the desert is a stunning experience. Behind you the glass and metal buildings loom in the distance, silhouetted against the bright blue sky. High above, the blistering sun turns the sky pink and casts light across the sprawling desert. Animals rush across the open plains, and the sandy dunes ripple in the desert breeze. This is truly a serene place, somewhere you could lose yourself in the beauty of nature. High above, a hot air balloon floats across the dusty sky, destination unknown – this is your vessel.

The ride

Fast forward a few hours, and you’re packed into your wicker ship, propelled by fire and physics. Gliding high above the wasteland, with the city skyline glinting against the desert Sun. Everything looks so much more breathtaking up here, and the golden sky is the perfect canvas for the experience you’re about to have. As the balloon drifts higher above the stunning Persian landscape, you cock your head to look at the stunning bird of prey, balanced obediently on its trainer’s arm. In a minute you’re going to be having one of the unique life experiences, you’re going to be flying with falcons.

Flying with Falcons

One of the most enjoyable tourist experiences in Dubai is being able to fly with these majestic birds. It’s an hour-long experience, giving a wonderful insight into the flying and hunting habits of these amazing creatures at high altitudes. This is one of those unique experiences you might never get to have again, so it’s worth paying a little extra for the privilege. Since early 2016 this has been a popular excursion for tourists visiting Dubai, and it’s high time you got involved as well.

Unique experience

Join other passengers from all across the world, and make the most of this stunning experience while you can. These Falcons can soar to 8,000 feet, and will plunge after their prey at up to 150 mph! Watching these birds in their natural habitat is a pretty striking experience, and you realize how impressive they are. This is the ideal Dubai experience because it combines unique views and an intimate natural experience.

There are probably a lot of things you have earmarked to do when you visit Dubai. But, we urge you to set aside some great time and money to have a go at doing this. It’s one of the most enjoyable experiences you can have, and something you need to experience as soon as possible.


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Discover the unknown wonder called Kenya


Africa is such a mysterious continent, with loads of secrets that are yet to be uncovered. Africa offers an adventure unlike any you’ve ever had before, and this makes it the ideal choice for a vacation experience. And one of the unpolished gems in the crown of this stunning continent has got to be Kenya. Lying on the equator, and the East African Rift, Kenya is a nation with a stunningly diverse landscape.

It’s an unforgettable place for a travel experience, and something you will remember long after you’ve left it behind. There are so many little treasures here that make the experience one you just simply cannot overlook. If you want to discover the unknown wonder of Kenya, here are some of the stunning things we recommend you do for the full Kenyan experience.

Adopt an elephant

This might seem like a bit of a gimmick ordinarily, but, you won’t understand its importance until you do it in Kenya. Elephants are an endangered species here, and by visiting the conservancies, you will get a fresh and unique experience that will allow you to appreciate the power and beauty of these creatures. You can adopt a baby elephant from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust; you might even consider going to visit the last remaining Northern White Rhino in the world.

Visit stunning coastline

You might not have thought it, but Kenya is home to some of the most stunning and breathtaking coastline in the world. Check out Mombasa, Malindi, and Lamu, and visit some of the many beautiful beaches they have here. This is your chance to get a real, authentic Kenyan experience, and stay in a Swahili beach hut! Go for walks along the beach in the evening, and make sure you try some Swahili food as well – make the most of this unique experience.

Go on safari

One of Kenya’s biggest draws by way of tourism is that it provides the opportunity to experience a stunning African safari. Many places in Africa offer this, but the Kenyan Maasai Mara is truly one of the most awe-inspiring places in the world. Embark on a life-changing safari experience, and try to see how many of the Big 5 animals you can spot during your visit – rhino, lion, buffalo, elephant, and leopard.

Try the local food

You may well not have tried Kenyan food before, but, when in Rome, as they say… Nairobi, the capital, is certainly the best place to go if you want to find some great restaurants. They boast delicious cuisines from all corners of the globe, but, if you want to focus on the local stuff, check out Moorings Floating Restaurant, and Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant. Trying as much local food as possible is so important for the experience.

As you can see, Kenya has so much to offer, and that’s before we even come to talk about the friendly people and the bustling cities. It’s one of the best places to choose for your African adventure, and you need to make the most of it right now. Use the ideas and suggestions in this post to try to enhance your love of this beautiful nation.

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Simple rules for eating when traveling


There are so many hints and tips you need to be aware of when you travel abroad. You are having a new experience, and it’s important to try to make the most of it. You have to understand that experiencing new countries, and meeting new people can give you a bit of a culture shock. So, how can you get comfortable with a new culture? Well, food is one of the best ways to do this.

Put it like this, everybody needs to eat, no matter who they are. It’s essential to try to have the best experience you can while eating abroad, and this is something to focus on. We know how important it is to eat right while you’re traveling, but it’s also something that’s really easy to overlook as well. Check out our smart advice for how to get the best experience of eating when you travel.

Try local stuff

The most important thing to remember is that you are abroad, so, as they say, when in Rome! This is a unique opportunity to sample some of the local food on offer and try to ensure you have a fresh experience. Live out of your comfort zone, and make sure you sample things you maybe wouldn’t normally try. This is so crucial because it’s an excellent way of increasing your experiences, broadening your palette, and giving you a greater appreciation of food from across the world.

Avoid snacking

It’s so easy to slip into the habit of snacking, especially when you’re traveling because it’s convenient. You feel like you’re always on the move, and being able to snack really helps you grab something quick. But, the problem with this is that a) snacking isn’t exactly healthy, and b) you miss out on the experience. Eating is an important experience, and actually plays a big role in your travel experience, so make sure you try to have full meals every meal time.

Plan before you go

One of the best things we can advise you to do is to plan what you want to do for food before you go traveling. That’s not to say you need to plan out every meal, but it will certainly help if you can book a few places in advance to guarantee a wonderful dining experience. We recommend doing this at least a couple of times to make sure you avoid disappointment.

You don’t always have to eat out

There’s no rule that states you have to eat out all the time when you’re traveling. In fact, if you’re staying somewhere like an Airbnb, you will be well placed to dine in some of the time. This can actually work out much more cost effective, and you will be able to have a more authentic dining experience, just like the locals would be able to.

These are some of the great rules we swear by when it comes to eating while traveling. It’s such an epic experience, and one that we feel should be enjoyed by everyone. By using the ideas and advice above, you will be able to get the full and complete eating experience, even while you’re abroad.


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China by train: tracks, tales and a snapshot of everyday life

Chinese new year signals major travel across the country, and railways are at the heart of many journeys. Author and BBC journalist Michael Bristow knows China well – and the insight time on board offers

Chinese people will make nearly 400 million train trips over Chinese new year (16 February this year). Migrant workers will leave the cities and head back to the countryside to see their children; students will travel home for the long winter holiday; elderly parents will visit their grown-up children.

The mass arrival of cars and planes has changed the nature of travel in China but the railways remain the country’s most important form of transport. However, trains do not just get you from A to B: in China, these often long journeys give travellers a snapshot of ordinary life, a sense of where they are.

Continue reading…
Travel | The Guardian


How to get over your jet lag


There’s nothing that can put the damper on a trip more than jet lag. It’s one of the unfortunate side-effects of long-haul flights, and the one thing we wish we could change. No matter how frequently you fly, it’s actually still really difficult to get your body used to jet lag. This can be really immobilizing, because you wind up spending a lot of time in bed, trying to sleep it off.

Traveling a lot is important for broadening your experiences, and it can help with work as well. But, you need to know how you can combat the issue of jet lag, otherwise, it’s going to wipe you out most of the time. So, how can you get over your jet lag? What can you do to ensure you fight the jet lag and get back to being your old self again? Here are some of the options:

Choose the right flight

Crossing different time zones is what plays havoc with your circadian rhythm, and makes it so difficult to fight off jet lag. But, one of the best things you can do to help the situation is to make sure you choose the right flight. What we mean by this is to pick a flight that arrives in the evening, and try to remain awake until 10pm local time. This will ensure you get a good night’s sleep and will allow you to face the day ahead fully refreshed. Try to avoid caffeine and booze before sleep as these may well keep you awake.

Avoid sleeping pills

We all know that sleeping pills for long-haul flights seem like a great idea, but they actually aren’t. See, these will do nothing to aid your jet lag recovery, and will often leave you feeling groggy and discombobulated when you finally do wake up. Perhaps some herbal tea on board would be a great way to get you in the mood, and you can get some sleep the natural way. Try to avoid sleeping pills at all costs, as they will not help with the jet lag, and can wind up being counterintuitive.

Break up the journey

If you’re facing a particularly long journey, you should make sure you split up the trip where possible. Factoring a stopover into your journey is actually one of the most effective things you can do to help combat jet lag. It means you’re actually in the air for less of an intensive block of time, and you get to sleep off the first part of the journey, leaving you refreshed and raring to go at the same time. Planning an overnight stay allows you to relax, unwind, and make sure you are fully prepared for the next part of the journey.

These are just a few of the awesome tips that will really help you to stave off the effects of jet lag. The last thing you want is to have to eat into you journey or your trip because you are jet lagged. The more you can do now to help the process, the easier it will be in the long run, and that’s what’s important.


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6 gorgeous wine country hotels around the world


Two of our favorite things in the world are wine and hotels – so the perfect vacation we can think of would be one that involves a combination of the two! There are so many great places in the world that allow you to experience the natural beauty, opulent hotels, and delicious wine. In fact, if you’re looking for a great vacation, wine country is pretty much the place you need to be.

The best thing about wine country is the fact that you get to enjoy some of the finest wines known to man, take vineyard tours, and enjoy dining in exquisite restaurants. Trying to find the ideal wine country hotels around the world is not easy, but we have come up with some stunning options for you to consider.

Six Senses Douro Valley – Portugal

Portugal is an underrated country in terms of wine but is fast becoming a popular choice among connoisseurs. Northern Portugal is famous for its Port, but in recent times its red wines have grown in popularity. This stunning 57-room retreat is one of the best places in the world to find delicious wines and an enchanting landscape.

Calistoga Ranch – United States

California’s Napa Valley is the ideal place to enjoy a stunning wine tour and some of the most beautiful scenery around. This 157-acre ranch is tucked away in its own canyon and overlooks the breathtaking valley below. This place offers pretty much everything you could possibly ever need – you can start your day off with a spot of yoga, then enjoy a truly stunning tasting experience at the nearby vineyard – and that’s before we even get to the amazing restaurant!

The Vines of Mendoza – Argentina

Argentina might not seem like the obvious choice when it comes to gorgeous wine country getaways, but that’s only because you haven’t been to The Vines of Mendoza. This place is likely to change your entire outlook on Argentina as a wine nation. Set against the backdrop of the stunning Uco Valley, this amazing resort in the foothills of the Andes is one of the best wine country hotels in the world.

Jackalope – Australia

It should come as no surprise to find Australia on this list, and Jackalope is probably the jewel in their crown in regards to wine country hotels. Just an hour outside Melbourne, this place is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway. The modern, black and gold architecture is one of the defining features of this stunning place – and the wine’s not too shabby either!

Canaves Oia Sunday Suites – Greece

Santorini is already famed for its amazing architecture and historical significance, and now, on top of that, you can enjoy some amazing wines as well! The volcanic soil allows for the production of light flavored and unforgettable wines. This cliffside retreat allows you to enjoy some of the most delicious wines in the whole of Greece.

Allison Inn & Spa – United States

This time we’re heading to Oregon, and checking out this mind-blowing resort and spa – the ideal place to have a great wine tasting session. With 35-acres of rolling hills, Allison is the perfect advert for the splendid beauty of Oregon, and unexpectedly has some of the best wines in the United States.

These are half a dozen of the best wine country hotels in the world, and the ideal places to come if you want a memorable getaway. There are so many great things you can enjoy here, and the wine is truly sensational as well. Check these places out, and do what you can to sample them as soon as possible.


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Pathfinders: video of the month, January 2018

A beautiful afternoon at the Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland. ©Chee Seong/Getty Images.

A beautiful afternoon at the Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland. ©Chee Seong/Getty Images.

Every month, we curate the best blog posts and Instagrams from our Lonely Planet Pathfinders.

This month’s feature is from videographer Zach Murray who takes us on a journey through Scotland’s mesmerising landscapes.

Last spring my wife and I went on an incredible road trip in Scotland. We travelled through beautiful mountains, along rocky clifftops, past fairy tale-like castles and stopped off in Edinburgh, Loch Ness and even the Isle of Skye.’

A Scotland adventure – Zach Murray

By combining stunning footage of the Scottish highlands with fun, personal excerpts of their encounters Zach truly brings this travel documentary to life. There are some great transitions throughout the film, which leads us between destinations seamlessly. We particularly enjoyed the (plentiful) sheep cameos!

Thank you to all the Pathfinders that submitted videos this month. Well done to Nomadus Films who guides us through the changing pace of a day in Istanbul. We also rather enjoyed joining The Common Wanderer in their video which documents their time in Swedish Lapland.

Keep your eyes peeled on our Thorn Tree forum where we’ll post the next submission call-out. Find out what else our Lonely Planet Pathfinders are up to (or sign up yourself!) by checking out the Pathfinders video playlist and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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Everything you wanted to know about Casablanca


Most people know Casablanca simply from the classic movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. But, it is also one of the most famous and important cities in Morocco. Bordering the Atlantic Ocean, Casablanca is the largest city in Morocco and considered the primary port and financial hub of the country. But, for some reason, travelers always seem to skip it when they head to Morocco.

Places like Marrakech always seem to be more popular, and Casablanca is often romanticised as being this mythical place that exists within the film world. In reality, Casablanca is a vibrant and bustling city that needs to be explored and discovered – and sooner rather than later as well! Here is a list of everything you ever wanted to know about Casablanca – the city, not the movie!

Fascinating architecture

Morocco is pretty amazing for architecture as it is, but Casablanca is particularly stunning when you consider all the amazing buildings here. There is such a range of varying designs here, from Art Deco to ultra modern. To really get a feel for what the architecture here is like, as well as the history behind it, we recommend you take an architecture tour of the city. This is the best way of seeing all the breathtaking sites in one go, and getting your fill of stunning architecture.

The art and culture scene is huge

This probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to you, but it’s fun to look at the art and culture of Casablanca, and really understand why it’s so special. There is a whole host of galleries and museums that you need to check out. There is also a great deal of street art, musical festivals, and urban dance events that allow you to explore all sides of Casablanca’s entertainment and culture scene.

It’s perfect for foodies

You might not associate Casablanca with being a particularly good foodie city, but that’s because you’re thinking of Marrakech. In reality, Casablanca is nothing like Marrakech when it comes to food and restaurants. In fact, there is a bustling restaurant scene here, popular with locals and tourists alike, and they have a pretty eclectic food scene to enjoy. Casablanca might not seem like the ideal place for foodies, but you’re in for a big treat. You can also enjoy an authentic farm to table experience, in a way that few other places will allow.

There’s a surf culture here!

Believe it or not, Casablanca actually has a pretty rad surfing culture – it kinda makes sense being that it’s right on the Atlantic coast. The beach scene here is actually very similar to Venice Beach in a lot of ways, and this is a good thing. There are some great surfing school here, like La Corniche, not to mention a Quicksilver Pro tournament as well. If surfing is your thing, you could have just unlocked an unknown paradise with Casablanca.

So, now you know that the city is about so much more than a cool movie with some infinitely quotable lines. The magic of Casablanca lives on its streets, in its homes, and through its culture, and this is something you can most certainly be a part of right now.

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Thailand’s Maya Bay, location for The Beach, to close to tourists

The bucket-list beach on the island of Koh Phi Phi Leh became famous when it featured in the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, but environmental concerns mean it will close to tourists from June

It is one of the world’s most famous beaches, thanks to its starring role in Danny Boyle’s film of Alex Garland’s bestselling novel, and is often referred to simply as “the beach”. However, this summer Maya Bay, on the Thai island of Koh Phi Phi Leh, will be closed to tourists as authorities attempt to reverse decades of damage done to the region’s marine environment.

The closure will take place from June to September, during the island’s low season, in order to give its coral reef time to recover. While similar measures have been introduced on other Thai islands – in 2016 local authorities closed Koh Tachai – it is the first time tourists will be forbidden from visiting Maya Bay.

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Travel | The Guardian


What to do in Riga


As the capital of Latvia, Riga lies on the Baltic Seas, at the mouth of the River Daugava. It is officially one of the cheapest capital cities in Europe to visit, and you should start booking your tickets right now. We’re willing to bet you’ve never been, and you’re missing out on so much as a result. A symphony of skylines, spires, sumptuous architecture, and some of the best bars in Europe, Riga has it all.

Okay, so we’ve convinced you, right?! Well, now you’ve decided you’re going you’re probably going to want to think about what to do while you’re there. This is the perfect city to choose for a city break – so perhaps a long weekend will be ideal. Anyway, you have so many incredible things you can experience when you visit Riga, and these are some of the most exciting things to do in the Latvian capital.

Architectural tour

This is another of the cities of the worlds to boast some simply unbelievable architecture. It’s a blend of Art Nouveau, modernism, Gothic, and wooden buildings, and there is something different around every corner. The best way to enjoy all the city has to offer is to take an architectural tour – you might consider doing this in the form of a walking tour. Check out E.A.T. Riga to see the different types of Art Nouveau tours they offer.

Enjoy the open air

Many cities are ugly, urban landscapes with not much outside space, and minimal greenery. They can be very dull and boring places to live, but fortunately, Riga is not one! This is one of the most naturally beautiful capital cities in Europe, and there is plenty of outside beauty. There is a beautiful park here, right beside the river, where you can go and bask in the natural beauty of the city. Maybe consider having a picnic or lying on the grass and relaxing for a while. Even a walk by the river would be a great way of getting the most of these stunning surroundings.

Go see the Freedom Monument

If you head out of the park and into the Old Town, you will find one of the most historically significant landmarks in all of Latvia. This is known as the Freedom Monument and was first erected in 1934 as a symbol of the nation breaking free from foreign powers. Take in the magnificence of the statue, and snap a few pictures as well. When you’re done, you might consider heading to the Museum of Occupation, which is close by and learning a little more about it.

Take in a show

If you’re something of a culture vulture, we have just the place for you – the Latvian National Opera and Ballet. This is a magnificent 1882 neoclassical building, oozing elegance and individuality, and it’s based in the heart of the city. Taking in a show or enjoying some ballet while you’re here is hugely important, and you need to make sure you do what you can to make the most of this opportunity!

Riga has so much to see and do, and this is the perfect city to come to for a weekend city break. Ideal for solo travelers, couples, and friends, there is so much to discover about this stunning city. Hopefully, you will find this an inspiring and beautiful city, and there will be plenty for you to do in while you’re here.

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The beautiful Sri Lanka


The island nation of Sri Lanka is one of the most well-known and popular islands in the Indian Ocean. It is a place that so many people overlook, but it’s also one of the most beautiful places we’ve seen in quite some time. The natural beauty of Sri Lanka is such that we would certainly recommend it to any traveler looking for a destination that will take their breath away.

It’s an island of romantic landscapes, lush greenery, golden sandy beaches, and majestic mountains. Sri Lanka is the perfect combination of Asia and Africa, and that is what makes it so special and unique. So, we’re going to look at some of the most beautiful areas of the country that you certainly have to make sure you check out as soon as possible.


The stunning views here are worth a visit alone, and the Ella Gap is one of the most iconic places in Sri Lanka. Take a train ride through the mountains, and across the sprawling countryside, where you can enjoy the views of garden plots, and tea plantations, with hills and forests sprawling in front of you. This is one of the best places to visit if you are after some stunning scenery, and you want a trip to remember.

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

It might be a little sad, but visiting the elephant orphanage is also an important part of Sri Lankan culture. And, as a plus point, you get to see some really cute baby elephants just chilling! Adorable factor – 10! This beautiful sanctuary, flanked by the stunning landscape, and the warm, shimmering Sun, is one of the most beautiful places on the island.


While you’re here, you need to take in a bit of culture and history as well as the stunning views. And, one of the best ways to do this is to make sure you check out the ancient city and ruins of Polonnaruwa. This is one of the most staggering and sensational places in the whole country, and you have to visit if you want your Sri Lanka trip to be anything like complete. Full of stunning architectural treasures, this place is screaming out for you to bring a camera!

Sigiriya Rock Fortress

One of the most iconic and dramatic sights in all of Sri Lanka, this is a place unlike any you’ve ever seen before. With ancient remains and a stunning water garden, this is a place of supreme natural beauty. The top also offers arguably the greatest view of the whole island, and we definitely recommend that you check it out as soon as you possibly can

There are so many amazingly beautiful sights and experiences in Sri Lanka. And, it’s important that you make sure you enjoy as much of it as possible. You may not be able to get everywhere and see everything, but you will certainly be able to check out the places we’ve listed, and they are among the most stunning on the island.


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A locals’ guide to Buenos Aires

With budget airline Norwegian launching direct flights to Buenos Aires this week, local experts show our writer around their city, and also chip in with a few tips of their own

  • Share your tips on the city in the comments below

I’m not usually one for guided tours, but with precious little time and so much to see in this enormous, fascinating city, I signed up for three with TravelLocal. My first guide, Patricia, had that gift of making history come alive: as we strolled down Avenida Corrientes (the “Broadway of BA”), she described how waves of Europeans immigrants have influenced the culture of Argentina, and its cuisine. On the way, we stopped at Pizzeria Güerrin, opened by a Genoese family in 1932 and buzzing at lunchtime with workers standing at tables wolfing down slices of pizza dripping with mozzarella (no thin crusts here – Argentinian pizzas are rated by how much bubbly white cheese the crusty base can withstand). For dessert we moved onto Heladeria Cadore, originally founded in northern Italy in the 19th century. The family moved to BA and opened the ice-cream parlour in 1957. New flavours are added all the time but the dulce de leche and lime are perennial classics.

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Travel | The Guardian


The end of the world in Argentina


South America is a continent full of mysterious history, varied geography, and a mix of languages. Among some of the great nations here, Argentina is one that we can’t get enough of. It’s actually a really underrated country to visit, and is often overshadowed in favor of Brazil, but, we are here to tell you how much you definitely need to pay a visit to Argentina.

If you choose to travel to Argentina, we suggest you head for the legendary city of Ushuaia. This is the capital of the Tierra del Fuego region of Argentina, and is known for being the southernmost city on Earth! So, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to take the time to discover and explore this amazing city at the end of the world.

It’s the closest city to Antarctica

Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world, a point they are very proud of here. In fact, there are signs all around the city that read ‘El fin del Mundo,’ which literally translates as meaning ‘The end of the world.’ In fact, the city is actually the closest city on Earth to Antarctica – only 1,000 km away in fact! Because of its location, the city is plagued by bitter winter weather and has earned the nickname the Siberia of the South.

Booming tourism

In spite of the unfriendly weather conditions, the city has enjoyed a large growth and boom in tourism over the past decades. It’s a developing city that has proven popular with tourists, largely because of its status of being the ‘end of the world.’ There is actually a pretty good amount for tourists to experience here, and it’s important to understand the appeal of Ushuaia comes from much more than simply being the southernmost city on Earth.


One of the most striking factors about Ushuaia is how remote the city can actually be. In order to fully process and understand this, it’s important to head out to the oldest ranch in the region – Estancia Harberton. It was founded back in 1886, and looks like it never left; around 200 km of stretching islands, lush forests, stately mountains, and shimmering lakes spanning the area. It is a beautifully tranquil and serene place, and the kind of place you could retire to and never leave again.

Guided tour

You can actually enjoy a guided tour of this stunning place, and get to understand better its place in history. The beauty and wonder of this place almost make you forget it’s only 1,000 km from Antarctica. The early years here were brutal because of the weather, but the city has managed to get through difficult times and continues to develop and grow as an important part of Argentinian culture.

This is a fascinating city that has a unique role in the history and culture of Argentina as a nation. The fact that it is also the southernmost city on Earth is also something that’s hugely important, and a big reason for the appeal and interest in this place.


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How to check the safety of a charter airline


Chartered flights are becoming much more popular these days, and people like the idea of having an entire plane for them and their group. However, chartered flights are subject to exactly the same issues and problems that many regular flights can face. Among these issues, it’s important to think about safety checks and ensure that the flight you’re on is going to be as safe and secure as possible.

The trouble is, this can often be difficult to do, especially if you don’t know where to look. Scheduled flights are much simpler because you have the airline as your safety net, and you can always check with them what the issues are. However, with a chartered plane, it is more difficult, and the onus is on you to carry out some of these checks yourself. Here are some of the best ways to check the safety of a charter airline.

Inspect the facility

The first thing you need to do when you arrive at the airport is to inspect that everything is in order. This means you’ve got to inspect the state of the crew, as well as the plane you’re going to be flying in. Make sure you have the schedule with you and ensure that there are no last minute changes or deviations. If there are you need to be very wary and try to decide if you want to proceed with things as they are. If the appearance of the crew or company seems unprofessional in any way, then you need to rethink the flight.

Allow extra time

One of the luxuries you have when you fly chartered as opposed to scheduled flights is that you have a little more flexibility, and you need to use it. We advise allowing extra time to find alternative routes or modes of transport if necessary. You will often have situations where events conspire to prevent a smooth and incident-free journey. For example, the weather could become hazardous, and you might need an alternative plan; that’s why we recommend leaving as much time as possible.


It’s always crucial to have references before you commit to a chartered flight. You can call the company and ask for references yourself, or you could check them out on TripAdvisor. Just make sure you actually read the reviews, as some of the complaints may not be anything major. Making sure you have as many reference points as possible is really important. Ask for information, and find out what you can about the reputation of the company.

Check out the paperwork

Another way of ensuring you check the safety and reputation of the airline is to make sure you see the paperwork. There are three major documents that all chartered airlines should be able to present you with when you ask for them. These are their air operations certificate, their insurance certificates, and the pilot qualifications. Make sure you ask for these and check out what they say – this information is important for the safety of the flight.

These are some of the best ways of checking the safety status of a charter airline. If you’re going to choose to fly charter, you need to make sure this is a safe choice. By using the tips and ideas we’ve suggested, you will have plenty of options to help you enjoy the safest possible journey you can.


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#lpexperthour: solo travel

#lpexperthour - solo travel

Setting off across the world, completely alone, can easily be both an empowering prospect and terrifying notion.

Not having to answer to the call of anyone but the wild, nor worry about the specific requirements of any fellow travellers can make for a truly personal travel journey, allowing you to connect on a deeper level to the places and people you come across. But, undertaking a solo travel trip for the first time is understandably daunting, and presents many challenges alongside its advantages – what if you don’t feel safe? What if you get lonely? What if you can’t afford to pay a single traveller premium? To answer some of these perennial questions, and to celebrate the release of our new Solo Travel Handbook, our next #lpexpert hour will be dedicated to the nuanced subject of travelling alone.

Join us on Thursday 15 February at 16:30 GMT, as solo travel blogger and Lonely Planet Trailblazer Dan Clarke of Dan Flying Solo, and travel writer and solo travel enthusiast MaSovaida Morgan take the reigns of our Twitter account to answer all of your queries regarding travelling solo. They’ll be ready with advice, inspiration and personal anecdotes on everything from planning a solo travel trip to dealing with homesickness and how to make friends on the road.

How do I take part?

  1. Follow @lonelyplanet and the hashtag #lpexperthour on Twitter on Thursday 15 February at 16:30 GMT/ 8:30 PST.
  2. Tweet us your questions by including our handle @lonelyplanet and the hashtag #lpexperthour.
  3. Stay tuned to our feed to see advice and answers direct from Dan and MaSovaida. While we’ll do our best to answer your questions, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to address each and every one.

Introducing our hosts:

MaSovaida Morgan


MaSovaida is professional travel writer, editor, photographer and video host. Throughout her career, MaSovaida has undertaken countless solo travel trips, during which she has hiked through the Andes, learned the traditional Rapa Nui dance in Easter Island, and ridden a sky bike in Ecuador, on a wire 200 feet above a river gorge!

Daniel Clarke


Daniel has been a full time traveller for the past three years and loves the freedom, excitement and local interactions you get from travelling solo. With around 60 countries under his belt, and many of those visited alone, he’s passionate about exploring the world while kicking the fear of going solo. He records his experiences on his hugely popular blog Dan Flying Solo.

Heading off alone? Check out our top trips for solo travel, and ask our Thorn Tree community for tips, advice and inspiration. 

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Everything you wanted to know about French Polynesia


French Polynesia. Even the name sounds like some kind of magical, mythical land. And it’s no coincidence that the places classed as French Polynesia rank among the most beautiful in the world. With stunning geography, gorgeous beaches, glistening lagoons, and some of the greatest natural beauty the world has seen, this is most certainly the promised land for many travelers.

But, though we hear all the time about the beauty of French Polynesia, many of us know so little about it, and that’s a shame. If this is somewhere that interest you when it comes to travel and tourism, it will help to understand more about it. So, here are some of the things you always wanted to know about French Polynesia but never did.

It’s made up of loads of islands

You’ve heard of a few of the places in French Polynesia, like Bora Bora, but it’s about much more than this. In fact, French Polynesia as a place is made up of close to 120 different islands, and 5 archipelagos. Collectively, we like to refer to this group of islands as Tahiti, but that is actually only one of the islands. So, the next time this comes up in a pub quiz, you’ll be right on the money.

They created the overwater bungalow

We’ve all seen those stunning shots of overwater bungalows with thatched roofs, and there are so many of these across the world now. But, we bet you weren’t aware that they were created in French Polynesia! The first ever one was created on the French Polynesian island of Moorea in the 1960s. These bungalows have become such an iconic part of this place, and offer something unique and stunning for travelers as well.

The word tattoo comes from Tahiti

Yes, really! Believe it or not, the origins of the word ‘tattoo’ can be traced back to the island of Tahiti. Specifically, to the Tahitian word ‘tatau’ which is translated to mean appropriate or fitting. So, in a sense, this actually makes it kind of a mixed bag when it comes to tattoos – some of them are anything but appropriate! Tattoos have been a crucial part of Polynesian life and culture for centuries.

It belongs to France

As you might have gathered from the name, French Polynesia is a part of the country of France. If you have ever been to France, you’ll know how diverse it is, but you certainly won’t have associated it with the epic beauty of French Polynesia. The islands were their own kingdom before they were annexed by the French in 1880, and it is now a semi-autonomous region of France.

These are just a few of the things we reckon you never knew about French Polynesia, and they will certainly give you more of an insight into this stunning place. If you’ve nev