Things To Do In Siena For The True Italian Experience

Siena offers something most of the other Italian tourist areas do not; a true Italian experience without the masses of the tourist crowds.

If you plan to visit Siena, here is a rough guide of places you should visit: 

Visit the Roman ruins: The origins of Siena date back to the first century AD, and the city is full of historic places to visit. You will find Roman evidence in most of the building’s structures around the Piazza del Campo. Take a look at the structures themselves, the materials used within the buildings, and even the odd inscription can be found if you look hard enough. Keep a watch for the red dappled bricks, as this will indicate a Roman construction technique.

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Have you ever wondered what the small square shaped holes on older buildings were used for? Well, they were used as places to hold scaffolding during building construction. These square holes can be found on plenty of the medieval buildings in the area.

Check out the city’s Contrada: The Contrada is a form of clan, and the clans within the 17 districts of Siena had their very own symbol, flags, colours and church. Some had fierce rivalry, with plenty of blood being spilt during these darker, historical ages.

The Contrada can still be seen in each of the districts, and as you walk through Siena, try and find each of them: wolf, wave, unicorn, tower, tortoise, snail, shell, ram, porcupine, panther, owl, goose, giraffe, forest, eagle, dragon and caterpillar.

Some districts hold small carnivals or festivals that show their colours and flags proudly.

To take these districts in try looking for one of the Venere hotels in Siena.

Take a walk along the wall: Siena is surrounded by an ancient wall, which historically kept its citizens safe from approaching danger. You can follow this wall almost unbroken around the city. You will have to stray a little off path, down alleys and through gardens, but this makes the experience more interesting. The alleys and gardens are ancient themselves and will always hold a lot of character.

If you do plan to take this walk along the wall, it will take about three hours, but you will get to see the real city and avoid most of the tourists in the process.

Galleries and museums: There is plenty of art galleries, museums and open buildings for you to explore in Siena, that you will soon be wishing for a sit down. The important thing is that you plan your day effectively, so you get to take everything in.

There are varying themes amongst the galleries and museums, with some focused on religion and some on more modern exhibitions. They certainly tell the story of Siena and can captivate even the youngest minds.

Visit the medieval font: Many years ago this font was used for bathing by the local residents. It acted as a meeting point for people throughout Siena, and was always a hub of activity. Even the local residents claim that the water runs so clean you could drink from it

I hope you have an amazing time!

A Weekend Exploring the Beauty of Cairns, Australia

Cairns departure

Cairns is a beautiful city on the coast of Queensland, Australia. Full of beaches, wildlife and plenty of attractions, there is so much to see that it would be hard to get everything done in just a short time, even if you rent a car. If I had a long weekend to spend in Cairns, I would plan my activities beforehand to avoid missing anything important.

On arrival to the bustling city, I would rent a car immediately and then get myself checked in my hotel on the coast. I would probably reserve a beach hotel that was near Trinity Beach, since that’s close to the center of the city; I might pick the Blue Lagoon Resort, a 4 star hotel that’s a four minute walk from the beach. I’d spend my arrival night dinner at a nearby restaurant, such as the lovely Lime Tree Trinity Beach, and then head to bed and crash to prepare for the next day.

Waking up, I would spend a morning having breakfast at the nearby Blue Moon Grill, trying their terrific pancakes or perhaps salmon scrambled eggs. Then I would walk to Trinity Beach. This beach is a small one, but it has several snack shops and a rental shop, so after I had admired the lovely view and tasted the water, I would go rent a paddle board or windsurfer to have some fun in the big waves. Warming up on the sand or cooling down in the shade with a book would fill up my time, and if I felt like staying all day, I could break for lunch at a beach pub or restaurant and enjoy the lovely view. I would make sure to go up the rocky boardwalk and explore everywhere I could, maybe even walking all the way along the coast until I got tired. I would then get some transportation back to my hotel and head out for another lovely meal, perhaps Perotta’s at the Gallery, with a drink afterwards at Snake Gully or The Pier Tavern.

The next day, after a bite to eat at The Swiss Cafe, I would head to Atherton Tableland for some white water rafting during the warmest part of the day. Or perhaps I would take the time for a skydiving lesson at Tandem Skydiving, jumping off anywhere from 8,000 to 14,000 feet in the air. With my adrenaline pumping, I would chill at Chapter One coffee shop for a sandwich or two and coffee until I was able to breathe again. The evening would be spent exploring one of the great wildlife parks over on the north side of the city, having fun with the crocodiles, birds and kangaroos, and ending with a bite at the Barron River Hotel for a sunset view.

One more day in Queensland would give me a chance to go on a tour of the Great Reef Barrier, a 6-7 hour day with travel included, lunch on the tour and a chance to dive into the water from the boat. If that felt like too long of a day, I might spend it instead visiting the Waterfalls Circuit on the opposite side of the city, or taking a ride on the skyrail for one last thrill. Ending the weekend at the Red Ochre Grill for supper, with the flavors of Australian’s unique foods, and then taking a walk along The Marina for some people watching would put me in the best mood for concluding my trip.

Menorca’s Most Beautiful Beaches

Macarelleta Beach, Menorca

The tranquillity of the Menorcan beaches is something which attracts those more discerning tourists during the summer months. While Majorca and Ibiza, the larger and more popular of the Balearic Islands, are overrun during summer by visitors, Menorca manages to keep its beaches relatively unspoilt. By keeping the beaches from being cluttered by facilities and shops, this beautiful island manages to keep its beaches as very few are nowadays: as nature made them.

The beaches tend to be a mix of both clean white sands and rocky coves which add a unique character to these fascinating shores. The coves offer an intriguing chance for exploration: but parents must be warned that the waves can be vigorous around the coves and children must stay as safe as possible. There are a variety of great restaurants as well as traditional market stalls too, which present the most idyllic of locations to have a romantic meal or a quiet drink overlooking the islands’ natural beauty.

The beaches

First of all, Punta Prima is one of the more busy beaches in Menorca which offers the most to do: perhaps most recommended for the family. There is plenty to do for kids, with lots of water sports, and some bars line the coast for the parents. It has easy parking and the breeze means the beach rarely feels too hot but nice and fresh. Another beach which has been popularised with the presence of beach-side bars is Son Bou/San Jaime, just south of Alaior. The three large bars which line this, the longest beach in Menorca, are connected by a long wooden path and serve nice refreshing drinks to cool you down after a day in the sun.

A top tip to visit is the beautiful beach of Cala Turqueta. Menorca goes to great lengths to protect this beach, arguably their most cherished among the many beautiful locations. Entry and parking are restricted so the sand is kept peacefully quiet. It is extremely hot on Cala Turqueta as the breeze is at a minimum. There is nothing quite like the natural beauty of this beach and it almost makes you remember that beaches are in fact natural occurrences and not an invention by man! The coves are magnificent and the sea has rarely been clearer. A must see, so head over to Cheapflights.co.uk and get booking right away!

The coves

For a slightly more quirky day out in Menorca, the coves are a great alternative to the sun drenched beaches. Cales Coves has a short, rocky beach but it is the caverns, sinking deep into the gnarly walls of this bay that make it such an appealing spot for kids and adults.

An afternoon spent exploring the darkness followed by a snorkel in the rocky shores is an unforgettable way to spend the holidays. The site is also completely untouched with no facilities whatsoever. So the experience is one of real freedom that can rarely be achieved nowadays. This is the real epitome of the experience holiday makers can have on the island of Menorca: one which feels genuinely personal.

 

5 Wonderful Tourist Destinations in Asia

Taj Mahal at sunset - Celebrating 150 Thousand Views - Thanks!

Asia is a continent known for its rich and diverse cultures, warm people, and delectable cuisines.  If you are planning on an Asian vacation, here are some destinations that you may want to consider, each one promising to leave a lasting impression in your mind.

Beijing, China

A visit to Beijing would not be complete without seeing and climbing up the Great Wall of China, an imposing structure that is considered as one of the world’s great wonders. Likewise, the Forbidden City, Summer Place, and Temple of Heaven are amazing destinations that offer more than just their poetic-sounding names. After all, Beijing is a city where you can find great architecture.  Another great place to visit and relax when in Beijing is the Beihai Park (Beihai Gongyuan).

Shanghai, China

Everyone loves Chinese food, and there is no better way to enjoy your favorite dishes than to actually have them in Shanghai. The people of Shanghai are known for their boundless energy that is sure to infect visitors. The city offers great spots for a great night out including trendy clubs and bars where you can drink and dance the night away. Shanghai is also not wanting in tourist destinations.  The Garden of Contentment (Yu Yuan Garden, Bund (Wai Tan), and Shanghai Maglev are must-see attractions of the city.

Boracay, Philippines

At only 4.5 miles long, there are a lot of longer and bigger beaches that you can find in Asia, but perhaps not too many that are more spectacular and picturesque. This Pride of the Philippines is among the “happiest” places in the country. It is popular to tourists worldwide because of its stretch of beautiful beaches. The Puka Shell or Yapak beach is famous for the white beautiful shells that abound on its shores. For honeymooners, The Balighai Beach offers the perfect romantic setting. The White Beach, on the other hand, offers an amazing view of the sunset.  Summer is the season when Boracay is most lively.  There are all sorts of fun activities like street dancing, partying, drinking, and boat riding.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai has a rich historical heritage; but aside from the historic sites, it also offers other attractions and activities.  For one, feeding and bathing an elephant in any of the numerous elephant camps provide a one of a kind experience. Visitors are also encouraged to try their delectable street food. In fact, some visitors have discovered that the city is a great place for taking cooking lessons.  Must-visit parks in Chiang Mai include That Doi Suthep, Wat Phra, Elephant Nature Park, and Wat Chedi Luang.

Goa, India

According to visitors, a trip to Goa can pose some problems simply because you will have a difficult time deciding on which among its many beautiful beaches to go to.  Seeing dolphins right on the offshore is common in some of the beaches. There are fine white sand beaches that provide a relaxing atmosphere, especially if you are in solitude. The Sinquerim beach offers a unique experience after midnight as you can enjoy the bright moonlight. Other highly recommended places to visit include the Basilica of Bom Jesus, Agonda Beach, and Old Goa.

NYC, London, Paris, and Rome: 4 Highly Recommended Cities to Visit

Cityscape

New York City (USA), London (UK), Paris (France), and Rome (Italy) are among the most popular tourist destinations in the world. These cities are all from highly developed countries, and you have to personally see them to discover for yourself why they are highly recommended and very popular among tourists.

The Empire State – New York City, NY, USA

The first thing that comes to anyone’s mind when thinking about New York City is the Statue of Liberty. It is not surprising though, as the statue is the most popular landmark in the city. However, the Big Apple offers other popular places to see and experience including the Empire State Building, Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park, Grand Central Terminal, Staten Island Ferry, and Rockefeller Center.

The City of Smoke – London, the UK

The city of London offers the most number of tourist spots in Great Britain, the clock tower Big Ben being one of the most famous. Other very popular tourist attractions to see in London include the National Gallery, London Eye, and Tower of London; but there is a lot more to see in London than the landmarks the city is known for.

There are less popular, but equally noteworthy destinations in London that visitors, especially those who love art and history, are encouraged to see.  One of these is Tate Modern, the UK’s national museum of modern and contemporary art where you can find some of the most amazing works of world-famous artists. You can also experience great views of London from the restaurant located in the gallery. Other great places to see in London are the Science Museum, Royal Museum Greenwich, National History Museum, and Victoria and Albert Museum.

The City of Lights – Paris, France

Also popularly referred to as the City of Love, Paris is perhaps the world’s most romantic city, and debatably the most trendy and fashionable.  The Eiffel Tower is the most popular tourist destination in London. Other popular places to see and experience in the city include The Louvre, Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Musee d’ Orsay, River Seine Boat Tour, Notre Dame Cathedral, Centre Georges Pompidou & the Beaubourg Neighborhood, Sacre Coeur & Montmartre, Arc de Triomphe, and Champs-Elysees.  In addition, London offers a lot more activities to do and less popular attractions that visitors can explore.

The Eternal City – Rome, Italy

One of the most amazing ancient cities in the world, Rome is famous for its grand churches, delicate works of art, and beautiful parks, gardens, villas, basilicas, temples, piazzas, and theatres. The most popular destinations include the Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum, Rome Coliseum, Vatican Museum, Villa Borghese, Sistine Chapel, Spanish Steps, Campo de’ Fiori Piazza, Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Trastevere, Roman Catacombs, St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Pete’s Square. Villa Borghese, in particular, is fast gaining popularity among visitors in Rome.

There are other lesser known places to see in Rome. One just needs to have the patience to explore on foot. Likewise, visitors will surely enjoy sampling authentic Italian cooking.

Sydney, Florence, and Buenos Aires: 3 of the World’s Best Tourist Destinations

Sydney Opera House

If you are looking for an ideal destination for your planned vacation overseas, Sydney (Australia), Florence (Italy), and Buenos Aires (Argentina) are three of the best and most popular cities among tourists.  Read on to find out why.

The Cradle of the Renaissance – Florence, Italy

Known as the Cradle of the Renaissance, Florence is among the most amazing cities in Italy. It is famous around the world for its ancient architectural marvels that have stood the test of time, well-preserved through centuries. The city is also home to some of the world’s best art galleries including masterpieces of famous artists like Michelangelo.  With Florence being home to people who love great food, you must be ready to whet your appetite when you sample the city’s mouthwatering delicacies. Florence is also known as a Fashion City so expect to discover the latest fashion trends when visiting.

Following are some of the must-see tourist attractions in Venice: Santa Croce, the biggest Franciscan Church in the country; Boboli Garden & Pitti Palace; Galleria dell’ Academia where you can find very important scriptures and works of art from hundreds of years ago, particularly the 13th – 16th centuries; Galleria degli Uffizi that houses some of the important works of art from the Renaissance era; Campanile, a historic bell tower; Il Duomo, the cathedral of Sta. Maria del Fiore; Ponte Veccio, an ancient structure that was the first bridge built in Florence; and the Baptistery, another popular ancient building. Spend some time exploring the city and you will discover other less popular ancient and modern attractions of the city.

The Paris of the South – Buenos Aires, Argentina

Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, is the country’s largest and most popular city. Just like tango, the dance that traces its roots to Argentina, Buenos Aires is both graceful and alluring. Known for its rich historical heritage, the city is home to numerous theaters as well as some of the most exquisite European architectural designs.

Must-see tourist attractions in Buenos Aires include: Puerto Madero, the city’s most modern area; Palermo, a trendy destination that is excellent for sightseeing; San Telmo, a town where you can find traces of its rich history through its architecture and structures; La Boca, a delightfully colorful town in the old Buenos Aires port; Plaza de Mayo, the most important political structure in Buenos Aires; Recoleta, an urban center that showcases French-style buildings and architecture; Congress, a stunningly beautiful building made of grey stone; Tigre, a town that offers fun and exhilarating outdoor activities; and Belgrano, popular to tourists because of its excellent restaurants, shopping malls, and other modern essentials.

The Emerald City – Sydney, Australia

The largest and oldest city in Australia, Sydney is best known for the Sydney Harbor that is considered as one of the world’s most magnificent harbors.  The Sydney Harbor offers picturesque and fascinating views of Sydney from the bay.

There are a lot more places to see and visit in Sydney including the Observatory Hill, and Harbor Bridge & Opera House. The bridge is among the best in the world in terms of aesthetics and design. You can climb it to enjoy amazing views of the city from the top.

4 Top Beaches to Visit in Europe

Smugglers Cove

To most adventure seekers and ordinary travellers, Europe is among the dream destinations, what with its old gothic churches, medieval castles, grand museums, and delicately-designed gardens.  However, other than these great tourist attractions, the continent also offers some of the most stunning beaches that feature ivory shores, blue waters, and wonderful sunset views. Here are some of them.

Shipwreck Beach – Zante, Greece

Despite its name, Shipwreck beach is among the most stunning beaches you can find in Europe. It attracts a lot of visitors on a daily basis, especially from 11:00 in the morning until about 3:00 in the afternoon. So if you want to enjoy the beach without the busy crowd, you may want to come early in the morning or later in the afternoon when most visitors have already left. The place offers turquoise blue waters and white sandy beaches ideal for swimming and sunbathing.  The main highlight of the secluded cove, however, is the smugglers’ shipwreck that rests on the shore. The vessel was swept ashore by a violent storm while it was being pursued by the navy. Today, tourists flock to the beach to see the shipwreck.

Curonian Spit, Lithuania

The Curonian Spit is a narrow 98 km. stretch of sand dune standing right in the middle of the Baltic Sea and the Curonian Lagoon. It has been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO. It connects Lithuania and Russia that both serve as gateways to the beach. Visitors will surely enjoy basking under the seemingly endless sun, as well as the clear blue waters, and the golden sands of the beach. The warm water is ideal for fun water activities like swimming and snorkeling. In summer, the sun is up until way into the evening.

Praia Da Marinha Beach Algarve, Portugal

Algarve in Portugal is home to numerous warm-water beaches, the most notable being Praia De Marinha that is situated between Armacao de Pera and Carvoeiro. Considered as the most stunning beach cove this side of the world, it is bound by breathtaking rock formations and cliffs. Soaking in the crystal clear waters or lying on the sand while enjoying the magnificent views are enough reasons for tourists to flock the beach. Snorkeling is also ideal as the place teems with unique marine species. The towering cliffs and mysterious caves are just waiting to be explored.

Zlatni Rat Beach, Croatia

Another highly-recommended beach destination in Europe is the Zlatni Rat Beach that is conveniently located west of Croatia’s Bol Harbor. Golden Horn, as it is otherwise known, is a world-famous sandbar surrounded by lush green forests and blue waters. The half-kilometer stretch of sandy beach interestingly changes position and shape relative to wind intensity and direction.

Other than being an ideal spot for sunbathing and swimming, the beach features marine life diversity and is perfect for diving and snorkeling as well as other fun water activities such as boating, kayaking, and surfing. The more adventurous and thrill-seeking visitors can try exploring the forest trails. The place can get a little bit crowded, though, in summer.

Why Visit Prague

Vltava River Prague

Today, the Czech capital of Prague is fast emerging as a favorite tourist destination primarily because of the old world appeal and charm it exudes. Situated in Central Europe, Prague draws millions of visitors every year to see the city’s famous architecture and medieval landmarks, and soak in the city’s rich cultural heritage.

From the age-old towers and churches to the cobblestone streets, exploring the city on foot gives the impression of travelling through time. This is particularly true when traversing the Old Town where you can find the famous Church of Lady Before Tyn and the Astronomical Clock which have both been declared by UNESCO as World Heritage sites.

A vacation in Prague will never be complete without visiting the famous Prague Castle, the world’s largest ancient castle. It is one of the most prominent structures in the city and offers a sweeping view of Prague.  There are other interesting attractions in the castle’s vicinity such as the intricate Royal Garden, Castle Picture Gallery, and the St. Vitus’s Cathedral nearby.

Another must-see attraction in the city is the Charles Bridge that connects the Old Town to the Lesser Town. The 500m-long bridge was built sometime in the 14th century.  Baroque statues line the bridge that offers picturesque river scenery. It is best to visit the bridge early in the morning, in time to view the amazing sunrise as the bridge can get crowded and busy during the day.

Also known for its thriving art scene, Prague is home to several galleries and museums like the Czech National Gallery, Czech Museum of Fine Arts, and the Jewish Museum that feature contemporary pieces and the works of some of the world’s greatest artists such as Mucha’s art nouveau gallery and Mozart’s famous masterpieces.

It is best to explore the city’s tourist attractions on foot as you can discover lesser known attractions and take a closer look at the way people live, although public transport options are easily accessible. The main train station can be found in Praha-hlavní nádraží while the Florenc Bus Station, the main bus terminal, is also nearby.

Biking is also a good alternative, although it can be quite challenging to navigate through the cobble streets. Taking the tram to go around the city is likewise a good idea, but it is never advisable to take a cab when touring the city as cab drivers are quite notorious for overcharging tourists.

Depending on how long you intend to stay in Prague, there are tour passes available for tourists. These packages may include bus and tram passes for one or two days, as well as walking tours to some of the more accessible city attractions. Walking tour participants are provided with pamphlets and literature that include an overview of the visited tourist destinations.

The best time to spend a Prague vacation is during the months of May to September as these are considered the “lean” months for tourists. The city offers visitors a different kind charm during this period without the noise and bustle of the busy crowd. Emerging from its troubled history, the Czech capital has slowly reinvented itself as one of Europe’s most stunning capitals and tourist destinations with its massive reconstruction and restoration efforts.

 

South Africa: Site of the Cradle of Humankind

mesa

South Africa is a favorite tourist destination because of the many different attractions it has to offer; but not too many people are aware that a lot of historians believe that the place where the earliest humans thrived can be found in South Africa.  Aptly named the Cradle of Humankind, this UNESCO Heritage Site is situated 50km NW of Johannesburg.  The place is also a mere hour’s drive from Gauteng Province, South Africa’s richest and most populous province

Historians concluded that the Cradle of Humankind is the place where humans first came about after discovering a significant collection of the oldest hominid fossils onsite. The first of the ape and human-like discoveries was fondly called Mrs. Ples, a fully grown Australophitecus. The remains were unearthed by Robert Broom in 1935. More similar finds were dug up in subsequent excavations.

Likewise, primitive stone tools were recovered.  This further bolstered the belief that this is indeed the first human settlement, and cemented the Cradle of Humankind’s place in history.  More than 850 ape-human fossils have been unearthed from various excavations in the area to-date.

Visiting the site, you will notice the strip of caves known as the Sterkfontein Caves that are made out of dolomitic limestone, a section of which is open for public viewing.  This is among the most popular attractions of the UNESCO heritage site simply because it is where Mrs. Ples, estimated to be 2.6 million years old, was unearthed in the 1930s.

With at least 500 fossilized remains uncovered, the Sterkfontein Caves is considered as the single most significant archeological site in the history of humankind. Here, you will see awe-inspiring depictions of pre-historic life as recreated by John Gurche, a world-renowned artist whose other similar works are featured in the Smithsonian Institute and the American Museum of Natural History.

This alone is enough reason to make your long trip to the African continent worthwhile.  Just imagine walking along the same caves where our first ancestors dwelled millions of years ago. It will probably be the most spine-tingling experience you will ever have.

Of course there are skeptics who would disagree and argue that hominids may have actually lived in different places the world over, and the big number of discoveries at the Cradle of Humankind is mainly due to the site’s ideal conditions for fossilizing humanoid remains. Be that as it may, there is no denying the fact that the place was inhabited by the oldest human ancestors ever found.

Other than the Cradle of Humankind, there are other activities to do and tourist attractions to see nearby. There are also good restaurants and a number of hotels, including a 4-star hotel where you can stay during your South African vacation.

The underground boat ride can provide an unforgettable experience as you will have a feel of how early man lived. For the more adventurous, the game reserves and balloon rides are a must-try. More relaxing activities include horseback riding, fly fishing, and getting pampered at the spa. Likewise, not to miss is a sampling of the famed South African wines and the native delicacies.