Tag Archives: culture

Experiencing the best of Cartagena Colombia

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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.

Discovering Edinburgh’s Best Festivals in 2015

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Edinburgh labels itself as the “world leading festival city”, and with 12 major festivals showcasing over 25,000 performers in front of audiences of 4.2m it is hard to argue with the Scottish capital’s claim.

Here are three of the best festivals in Edinburgh that will induce copious amounts of side splitting laughter, unstoppable toe-tapping and intriguing intellectual insight.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Aug 7-31)

It is impossible not to get swept up in the creative wonderland that is the Edinburgh Fringe. Spanning most of August, Edinburgh buzzes with life as the world’s largest arts festival takes over the historic city. Thousands of acts perform in hundreds of venues with audiences spoilt for choice with acts covering a wide variety of genres. From eccentric comedy, to classic theatre and everything in-between- the fringe is like nothing else. It is a hotbed for up and coming talents as well established industry names. You’ll never know what to expect from each original show.

If you are planning to go to the Festival Fringe, you’d better not wait until August and compare possible solutions and costs for your stay soon, for example on venere.com. For artists who are thinking about participating: the registration form will be available early in the year. And for the visitors: the program will be published on 8 April. No matter what are your intentions, both artists and visitors will be able to find more informations on the official site edfringe.com.

Edinburgh International Book Festival (Aug 15-31)

Described as the “largest celebration of the written word in the world”, Edinburgh’s International Book Festival features over 750 events including debates, workshops and book signings with some of the world’s most acclaimed literary minds. Housed in the elegant Charlotte Square Gardens, visitors can engage their favourite writers in conversation and debate. Last year saw the likes of George RR Martin (author of Game of Thrones), Martin Ames and Haruki Murakami attend events at the festival. For more informations regarding the Book Festival, take a look at edbookfest.co.uk.

Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival (Jul 17-26)

The sweet sound of jazz reverberates around Edinburgh for 10 soulful days in July. First set up in 1978 the festival has gone from strength to strength and now produces 140 gigs at 13 venues with some of the world’s finest jazz and blues musicians turning Edinburgh into a New Orleans of the north. Whether enjoying the music in cabaret-style lounges or grand clubs or even in the city’s gardens- the Edinburgh Jazz Festival will endear you to both this charming city and the music. Jazz & Blues fans can learn more about the festival on edinburghjazzfestival.com.

It’s not just in the summer when Edinburgh bursts with festival fun. Between April 4-19 visitors can sample a plethora of innovative and rousing science events at the International Science Festival. Also, for 10 days from October 23 visitors can enjoy the acclaimed Storytelling Festival. And not forgetting Edinburgh’s famed Hogmanay which brings in the New Year in style.

So what are you waiting for? Edinburgh is waiting.

Discovering the posh palaces of Seoul

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photo by CC user aperezdc on Flickr

With the young K-pop stars capturing the attention of the world of the past few years, people have started to shift their sights from other Asian destinations to this tiny but fascinating country. In addition to its musical talent, the cuisine of the nation has begun to win over many adherents for its diversity of taste and texture experiences, as well as its healthy nature compared to other diets in other parts of the world.

All of this has generated a great deal of interest in South Korea, and the tourist arrivals have reflected this trend over the past half decade. While this nation’s break-neck pace of progress, its modernity, and its food are driving visits, Korea also has its fair share of historical attractions that are well worth exploring.

Located within Seoul city limits are a number of palaces built within the past 1000 years that housed members of the Joseon dynasty, ruling over their subjects in the Hermit Kingdom. If you are pressed for time, the following palaces of Seoul will give you the optimal cultural experience that are you are seeking out of your trip here.

Gyeongbok-gung

Being the largest of the palaces built during the Joseon dynasty, Gyeongbok-gung served as the center of Korean government until the invading Japanese burned it in the late 16th century. Rebuilt after this attack and another raid in 1910, this palace is still being restored to its former glory, but large parts are back to the way they were during their heyday.

On the grounds of this former royal residence are two museums, the National Palace Museum and the Korean Folk Museum, both of which are essential for any visitor seeking to understand the cultural background of those that call this country home in the present day.

Changdeok-gung

Also serving as a seat of government after the destruction of the former palace, Changdeok-gung is another temple that you can’t afford to miss as a cultural aficionado. One of the greatest highlights of this historical attraction is the Huwon, or “secret garden”, which is a rare piece of greenery in the midst of uber-urban Seoul that sprawls over 78 acres behind the palace.

Changgyeong-gung

Serving formerly as the summer palace for the monarchs that ruled during the Koryo dynasty, this historical point of interest holds more than 900 years of heritage within its gates. While this palace has its fair share of gates, pagodas, and other aspects of structural interest, Changyeong-gung is best known for its close proximity to the Jongmyo shrine, when many royal family members during the Joseon dynasty conducted holy rites.

Key Stops On Britain’s Literary Trail

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The United Kingdom has given the world much over time: rock bands with a deft taste in lyrics and rhythm, the meditative pleasure of enjoying a spot of tea with a delightfully sweet treat as a counterbalance to the drink’s bitterness, the practice of driving on the left that thumbs its nose as the French and the Americans in one fell swoop.

One area though, where Britain has left its mark from generation to generation without fail, is in the department of creative writing. Ever since the Age of Enlightenment liberated the civilized world from the curtain of ignorance that was the Dark Ages, British authors and playwrights have been cranking out prose, plays, and novels that have inspired countless lovers of the written word throughout the world.

As much as you have enjoyed reading the literary genius of these savants, don’t you think it is time you took the next step and walked the ground upon which they tread in days gone by, desperately searching for the muse they needed to finish writing their tale? If you have the desire to do so, then book your plane ticket for the United Kingdom, as we have prepared an itinerary that will take you through the neighborhoods and backyards of three prominent British authors.

William Shakespeare: Stratford Upon Avon

Located in the English countryside a couple hundred kilometres northwest of London, the birthplace of William Shakespeare is practically a mandatory stop for all fans of literature. With the quaint surroundings of this provincial town dripping with inspiration for the aspiration for the budding wordsmith, William was born, raised, and met the love of his life here, before rising to fame as one of the greatest playwright’s in the history of the English language (he is even credited with the creation of many words, having coined them in his manuscripts).

Charles Dickens: London

As Britain was serving as the epicentre of the unfolding Industrial Revolution, the rapidly increasing economic inequality that resulted from it served as the backdrop for many of Charles Dicken’s works, which included the seminal tales of A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist. Visiting the townhouse in the borough of Camden in the heart of London is a great way to get inside the head of this author, as this is the place where his wife’s sister tragically died in his arms as he wrote the latter work referenced above.

Remembering this, imagining the soot-filled air of 19th century London, along with the radical rich-poor divide that defined this point in history is the ideal way to not just learn about Dickens’ living arrangements, but to feel them as well.

J.K. Rowling: Edinburgh

Moving to the present day, the mantle of fine British authors of the past has been picked up these days by J.K. Rowling, author of the novellas making up the Harry Potter series. Living and writing against the backdrop of Edinburgh, where reminders of its medieval past were everywhere, this perpetually poor artist went for it and produced a fantastical series about a bunch of teenage witches and wizards in training, set against the backdrop of the modern world.

She lit the imaginations of the present young generation on fire, and she has been richly rewarded for it. Those looking to see the sights that inspired locations in the books and subsequent movies have many tour agencies willing to show them around places such as Gloustershire Cathedral, the London Zoo, and even the Elephant House in Edinburgh, where Ms. Rowling wrote the first lines of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Experiencing French Indochina In Style

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When people think about getting away to Southeast Asia, they most commonly envision a fine white sandy beach in Thailand, or increasingly these days, a less trafficked beach in Malaysia. While these destinations have more than their fair share of attractions, there is a more adventurous portion of this region that is begging to be explored. Read the rest of this entry

Three Beautiful Balkan Cities Worth Exploring

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With vacation planning season in full swing, the time to consider your explorations is now, as delaying in putting together your itinerary for much longer is certain to end in disappointment. The best tours, hotel rooms, and cheapest flights are vanishing with each passing day, with fewer and fewer low price/ high value propositions remaining as the future slowly slips in to the present. Read the rest of this entry

Culture Crawling In Sydney, Australia

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Being the commercial centre and the largest city in Australia and Oceania, Sydney has become a magnet for culture.  With all the wealth enjoyed by the thriving middle and upper classes of this cosmopolitan and dynamic metropolis, there is no shortage of places to enjoy some poignant culture Down Under before heading out into the hinterland in search of Aussie’s most famous natural attractions.

In that spirit, here’s how to fill your days and nights in the Harbour City with enriching cultural experiences that will give you a sense of what makes the people down here tick…

Catch A Show At the Sydney Opera House

You may want to file this one under “duh”, as it seems like an obvious thing to do, but you’d be surprised at how many people just click a picture of this iconic building, and then just go on their merry way without stopping to consider that there just might be some worthwhile cultural exhibitions that go on here once the sun sinks below the horizon.  Indeed, this much celebrated hall of the performing arts carries out shows year round, with acts including theatre, concerts, symphony performances, and of course, productions of many famous and new operas!

Take In The Latest In Theatre And Performing Arts At Carriageworks

Formerly a series of railway workshops as recently as 1989, this site was refurbished starting in 2003, with Carriageworks opening to artists and admiring members of the general public in 2007. Here, patrons of the performing arts can enjoy puppetry, dance theatre, visual art displays and many other stimulating experiences.  Located next door is the Everleigh Market, where one can peruse many organic and artisanal foodstuffs and crafts grown and created by local farmers and artists.

Stroll Amongst Aussie Masterpieces At The Art Gallery Of New South Wales

Those that like admiring imitations of life via paint and canvas should make time to explore the Art Gallery of New South Wales.  This museum’s claim to fame is its collection of Aboriginal art, which is the largest in the world.  In addition to this, this gallery also has a healthy collection of contemporary Australian, Asian and European pieces, making it an excellent way to hide from the intense Sydney heat in mid-summer, as temperatures often approach 40c here at the hottest time of year.

Paint The Town Red: Sydney’s Lively Nightlife

After all the culture grazing that you’ll do during the day, it’s likely that you’ll be seeking a few drinks to digest what you’ve experienced with your travel partners.  Depending on your interests, there are several places to go within Greater Sydney.  Those seeking the club vibe should make for King’s Cross, while those seeking to rub shoulders with the after work crowd on a Friday should head to the Central Business District.  If you’re seeking some same sex attention, Oxford Street has this cities greatest concentration of LGBT themed drinking establishments, while those seeking to sip on Australia’s trendiest microbrews would do well to head to The Rocks.

Sydney Is A Happening Place

Being the biggest population centre of a country has undeniable advantages when it comes to culture, nightlife and other trendy attractions.  As such, make time to experience some of the best of Australia’s culture before setting out for the nation’s popular attractions further afield.