Tag Archives: attractions

Experiencing the best of Cartagena Colombia

Standard

photo by CC user 43355249@N00 on Flickr

Heading to Colombia soon? If you plan on experiencing the best of Cartagena Colombia, it is advisable to look up a guide to plan your travels there. Thankfully, this article will do much to help you in this quest, as you will see below…

1) Walled City of Cartagena

Constructed to fortify this vulnerable trading settlement from attacks by opposing colonial powers and pirates, the Walled City of Cartagena became a formidable challenge to any invading force upon its completion in the early 19th century.

In the present day, it is a charming place for travelers to explore and discover sights and experiences that can be found around any given corner. From historical and cultural sites that will be explored in further detail below, to bars and restaurants offering up the finest in Colombian cuisine, there is much to like about this corner of South America.

2) Castillo San Felipe de Barajas

The spearhead of this cities’ offensive prowess was Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, as it is located on a point of land where the comings and goings of ships could be tracked. This allowed the highly valuable shipments of gold bullion to be protected from pirates within sight of land, and it also acted as a deterrent to those that sought to lay siege to the city.

Its superior positioning ensured its survival to the present day, with tons of battlements in pristine condition compared to similar fortifications around the world.

3) Las Bóvedas

When invading buccaneers were caught by security forces over the years, they were taken to Las Bóvedas, the city’s dungeon. While these thick cell blocks within this section of Cartagena’s walls once held prisoners that despaired their bad fortune, today they are home to a number of boutiques that trade in a variety of Colombian handicrafts, making it a great place to pick up souvenirs for loved ones back home.

4) Plaza Santo Domingo

If you are looking for a place to chill out, people watch, and enjoy a great meal, there is no better place within Old Cartagena then Plaza Santo Domingo. With statues, lots of classic Spanish architecture, and numerous restaurants to choose from, it is the perfect place to enjoy the Old City after the sultry equatorial sun has set.

5) Cathedral de San Pedro Claver

Finally, make sure you make time to see Cathedral de San Pedro Claver before moving on in your Colombian adventures. Named after a priest that made it his mission to help newly freed slaves get their footing after being liberated from their servitude elsewhere in the West Indies, the story of the padre behind this place will be equally as captivating as soaring arches and design of this place.

Whistle stops on the Trans Siberian Railroad that you won’t forget

Standard

photo by CC user InvictaHOG on wikimedia

While many romanticize the process of traveling on the Trans Siberian Railroad, many people don’t realize how tedious spending seven days and nights on a train can be. Break up your trip by visiting the following whistle stops along the way…

1) Suzdal

A short trip from Moscow (relatively speaking), Suzdal will make a great first stop along the Trans-Siberian Railway, as it is a small town that has the distinction of having the most churches per capita in the country.

Preserved by the government as is dating back from Soviet times, those looking for a peek into Russian country living will be in for a treat here, as elderly women washing clothes by hand down by the river, loose livestock wandering through the streets are common sights here. Try some medovukha (a cider made from honey) but watch out for fakes – ask a local where you can find the real stuff.

2) Perm

Getting deeper into the vast Russian interior, the Siberian city of Perm may not make a favorable first impression due to its industrial appearance, but its location in the foothills of the Ural Mountains make it a great hub to enjoy a variety of recreation options year round.

Skiing, hiking and whitewater rafting are just a few activities of which you can partake, while those that are less athletically inclined can indulge in the city’s rapidly growing arts scene, which includes frequent events and a number of excellent museums and galleries.

3) Tomsk

While Siberia is a wild and interesting place, it can be hard to find a person with which an intelligent exchange can be had. Tomsk is the exception that rule, as this university city of a half million people offers much in the way of cafes, culture and boisterous nightlife.

4) Lake Baikal

Being one of the most famous natural attractions on the Trans-Siberian Railway, Lake Baikal will nonetheless surprise you with its deep blue hue, which is a shade produced by being the deepest fresh water lake in the world.

This 1,637 metre deep, 636 kilometre long rift lake contains over a fifth of the world’s drinkable water (in most places, you can drink right out of it, as its purity approaches distilled water). Camping, diving, boat trips, fishing and other outdoor activities are possible here, so take your time in this natural paradise.

5) Ulan-Ude

When it comes to religion, most associate Russia with the Orthodox Church, as its onion-bulb cathedrals are practically one of its national icons. However, Buddhism has a strong presence in the city of Ulan-Ude, a city founded in Asiatic Russia due to its proximity to well-worn trade routes with Mongolia and China.

Get the lowdown on how this faith is practiced within Russia at Rimpoche Bagsha, a relatively new temple on a hill overlooking the city. Also, the world’s largest head statue of Lenin can be found here … so you could see that if Buddhism isn’t your thing.

Discovering Dutch Culture: 3 Unmissable Historical Attractions in the Netherlands

Standard

2yaap_winmilinthenetlan

Occupying a particularly historical corner of Western Europe, the Netherlands holds its fair share of historic treasures within its compact borders. From the times of the Roman Empire, through the Middle Ages and countless wars to the present, this country has many sites waiting to be discovered by the intrepid traveler.

With farmland that has been tended to for close to 2,000 years, historic districts that have either survived bombardment in the wars of the 20th century or have been lovingly restored, and a people that values their existence, there are places here that you shouldn’t miss in the Netherlands on your next Euro trip.

Even if you only have a few days in this tiny Low Country, these three historical attractions in the Netherlands will have you coming away from this place feeling like you did it justice on your first visit. Let’s explore them together!

Tour the classic windmills of Kinderdijk

If there’s one icon that people inevitably associate with the Netherlands, it’s the windmill, and we’re not talking about the modern variety that generates renewable energy. Our minds instead take us back to the days where their wooden precursors provided the necessary energy to pump water out of the surrounding land, as the nearby river and high water table had caused problems with soaking wet fields in prior centuries.

One of the windmills in the Kinderdijk area, recognized by UNESCO for its cultural significance to the history of the Netherlands, can be viewed from the inside (Museummolen), and rest can be viewed from their exteriors via a leisurely bike ride through the pancake-flat countryside that dominates much of the area.

Visit the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam

The worst wars in the history of humanity raged through much of the first half of the 20th century, and in Europe, the Netherlands was in the middle of it all. The nation fell to Nazi Germany in 1940, and suffered on a much larger scale than neighboring nations when it came to the horror of the Holocaust, as it lost 75% of its Jewish population. Anne Frank and her family were among those targeted, but they managed to hide from the Gestapo for most of the war thanks to their sympathetic neighbors. They hid them in a series of hidden rooms at the rear of a canal house in the middle of Amsterdam, which concealed them for two years until an anonymous tipster blew their cover.

Thanks to the popularity of Anne Frank’s diary that has found amidst the strewn remains of their former hiding spot, this space eventually became the Anne Frank Museum, which expands more on her and families’ lives, and has exhibits that tell the story of other persecuted peoples around the world.

Walk the medieval streets of Utrecht

Founded as a fort by the Roman Empire in 47 AD, Utrecht has a lengthy history that tells its story visually via the copious quantities of medieval era buildings found within its city limits. The Dom Tower, built in the 13th century, is the tallest church steeple in the nation, with the view from its 112 metre high perch being nothing short of breathtaking. On the other end of the scale, one of the world’s first houses built in the modernist style (Rietveld Schroder House, built in 1924) can be seen here, a fact which speaks to the diversity of structures in this vibrant Dutch city.

Experiencing San Diego In Style

Standard

2yaap_balparsandiecal

California has long been a favored destination by many travelers craving the abundant Californian sun, its ever-present surf creating a pleasant din in the background, and its many soul rejuvenating vistas. Of all the cities in the state, San Diego best exemplifies all three of these qualities, and as a result of this, its stock has been rising among travelers.

The time for you to experience this stylish city has arrived, as it offers a wide variety of inspired activities for the culturally attuned. In the following article, we have picked out what we feel are the best aspects of San Diego that you should experience if it is a peak experience that you seek.

It may be not a be all, end all list of things to do here, but it will ensure that your time here will be filled with highlights.

DO: Balboa Park

If your time here is restricted to a quick weekend or business trip, do take the time to experience Balboa Park, if only for a few hours. It is San Diego’s most celebrated greenspace, as it is beset with many well-tended gardens and shady palms, but there is so much more to this place than that. It is also home to art galleries, the San Diego Zoo, and structures like Casa de Balboa that date back to the founding of this relatively young city.

EAT: Addison

Critically acclaimed as one of the best restaurants in San Diego, this fine dining establishment elevates French cuisine to a place where you be begging for extra courses, despite their six to eight plate offerings. Traditional continental offerings such as Risotto Balls meet fusion dishes like Kobe Beef Short Ribs to create an evening that your tastebuds won’t soon forget!

STAY: Hotel del Coronado

Your stay in San Diego won’t be complete unless you at least visit the Hotel del Coronado, a Victorian style beach resort that has been welcoming guests for well over one hundred years. Its massive wooden frame has harbored presidents, royalty and the top flight ranks of the wealthy over the years, and continues to do so to this day.

Even if you aren’t willing to shell out the $611 it takes to stay in its most basic rooms, a stroll through its gorgeous lobby with its massive chandelier and a long walk along its inspired waterfront will make you feel like you’ve been magically transported back to the gilded ages when this hotel was in its prime.