Great place to advanture

unduhan-30Shaped like a crescent moon, Perak sweeps across the northwestern corner of Peninsular Malaysia. Limestone cliffs are the state’s most unmistakable landmarks, but Perak is a tapestry of mangrove swamps, jungles and beaches, too – terrain so varied that exhilaration (and exhaustion) are practically guaranteed. Here are four adventures to get your pulse racing…

Get off the grid in Royal Belum State Park

The only sound is a rhythmic swish, swish, as our boat glides across Lake Temenggor. We’re heading deep into Royal Belum State Park (royalbelum.my), a 117,500-hectare wilderness made even more impassable by its water levels. This jungly swathe of northern Perak, right against the Malaysia-Thailand border, was flooded in 1972 when Temenggor Dam was built. And in this remote nature park, the chances of getting phone signal are roughly the same as spotting the elusive sun bear.

The boat thumps noisily against the wooden gangplank at Belum Eco Resort (belumecoresort.com.my), my island home for the next few nights. While resort staff busy themselves securing the boat, my fellow travellers are already wriggling out of their T-shirts and dive-bombing into the lake.  As we bob around in the water, the jungle chorus of whistling blue-rumped parrots and chattering crickets surrounds us.

At daybreak, we gather in walking boots and liberal coatings of mosquito repellent. Boat transportation and a hiking guide are essential in this dense, swampy wilderness. Ours is leading us into the 130-million-year-old rainforest, one of the world’s most ancient. It’s home to tapir, seldom-seen tigers, and rafflesia, one of the largest flowers on the planet. Along slippery trails we spot tiny orchids that cower amid tree roots, while grasshoppers whir past our heads like toy helicopters. Hornbills swoop between branches, their orange beaks easy to spot in the gloom.

Make it happen: Royal Belum is a 170km drive north of Ipoh, Perak’s main city (or 150km east of Penang). Daily buses from Ipoh reach gateway town Gerik from where you can get a taxi towards the park. Stays at Belum Eco Resort include boat transfer from Pulau Banting jetty, a 42km drive east of Gerik.

Board a Jeep safari to Kinta Nature Park

‘No other place in the world can claim to have 10 species of hornbills in one location,’ declares Jek Yap with pride. For Jek, a fanatical local birdwatcher, Perak’s wildlife is hard to beat. And in contrast to remote Royal Belum, some reserves lie in easy reach of Perak’s cities, like Kinta Nature Park.

Around 20km south of state capital Ipoh, this former tin-mining land is a tangle of low-hanging trees and teeming fish ponds. The park is home to around 130 species of bird, and it’s the region’s largest gathering place for herons and egrets.

‘Birds usually show up at dusk and dawn,’ counsels Jek. Despite Jek’s advice, dawn has long broken by the time I trundle into the park by 4WD. But hitting the ‘snooze’ button on my alarm hasn’t caused me to miss out: wildlife is abundant here, and much of it is barely troubled by the sounds of the car engine.

I can see grey herons alighting on fence posts, and plump little herons looking improbably weightless as they perch on fine tree branches. Huge monitor lizards dawdle on pathways. I’m poised to photograph a blue-tailed bee eater, but its flash of jade feathers is faster than my camera’s click. Still, it’s a good excuse to lay down my camera and admire the flourishing reserve, distraction-free.

Make it happen: book knowledgeable Ipoh-based guide Mr Raja for a guided 4WD excursion into Kinta Nature Park for RM400 per head (minimum two people). It’s also possible to cycle parts of the park.

Experience Gopeng’s caves and river rapids

The ceiling of Gua Tempurung yawns above my head. As I hike deeper into the cave, one of the largest in Peninsular Malaysia, every footstep sends echoes bouncing off the walls. Long spindles of limestone reach up from the slippery ground, and stalactites drip from above. Squinting, I can make out other walkers further along the dimly lit trails. They seem microscopic in size, dwarfed by vast folds of limestone.

Gorgeous Place In Peninsula

unduhan-29The frenetic nature of modern times seems to have been kept at bay in this gorgeous part of the world. Don’t let the leisurely pace fool you – the opportunities for nail-biting adventure, outdoor exploration and snow and water sports are endless in the UP in all seasons.

Plenty of room to breathe

Perhaps life isn’t so harried in the UP because there are simply fewer people here. Around 320,000 residents (three percent of the Mitten State’s population) live among the region’s 16,500 square miles – making up 28 percent of Michigan’s landmass. That’s a lot of elbow room. All this bodes well for visitors who want to explore the 4,000 inland lakes, some 40 picturesque lighthouses and 300 waterfalls, sunken shipwrecks, colonial forts and more than a thousand years of Native American history.

Hearty provisions

Stop in at Steinhaus Market (steinhausmarket.com) in the adorable and bustling downtown Marquette for charcuterie, pretzels and a bottle or three of beer.  Lagniappe (marquettecajun.com) serves Cajun fare, and it’s a lively spot, even on the grayest winter day. For locally-sourced, modern small plates and craft cocktails, duck in to The Marq (marqrestaurant.com) for deep fried Wisconsin cheese curds withromesco and giardiniera or smoked whitefish salad with currants, zucchini, almonds and mint. Their sassy Hipster cocktail (Campari, lemon, PBR and fresh lemon balm) may make you want to grow a beard and cuff your jeans.

The very hip and hardworking team at Blackrocks Brewery (blackrocksbrewery.com) nearby will regale you with fat bike stories over one of their beers. Each can has a story, many honoring the area’s seafaring history or showing local love, including the Hiawatha Wheat, brewed just for the three-day Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival (hiawathamusic.org) that takes place the last full weekend of July each year. The bash was founded in 1978 and features bluegrass, Cajun, Celtic, acoustic blues, folk and dance music with a trophy for the best decorated campsite.

Michigan’s winter wonderland

With 17-plus feet of natural snowfall on the slopes, Big Powderhorn Mountain (bigpowderhorn.net) in Bessemer offers up 33 runs from 10 lifts. One of 14 ski resorts in the UP, it shares lift tickets with nearby Indianhead Ski Area (indianheadmtn.com) in Wakefield. These Huron and Porcupine mountain ranges once towered over today’s Rocky Mountains. Successive glacial shifts have brought them down to a still skiable 2,000 feet, Michigan’s highest.

Off piste, fat tire biking is tearing up snowy trails, like the 10.58 miles groomed trail at the Noquemanon trail Network in Marquette. An annual race there is among the 45NRTH Great Lakes Fat Bike Series (greatlakesfatbikeseries.com), the country’s biggest series, which runs between December and March every year.

There are also more traditional Nordic ski trails available throughout Marquette South Trails. The country’s largest ski jump (one of only six in the world) is 80 miles south in Iron Mountain and is set to reopen in 2017. The  man-made “sky flying” hill is a 35-degree, 469-foot structure that sits 26 stories high and saw its last official run in 1994. Check the local calendar for events, or just stand underneath it in a brisk breeze to witness the Copper Peak (copperpeak.com) swaying as much as 18 inches by design.

Inside the Eben Ice Cave on Lake Superior © Getty / dpenn

Explore ice caves (mightymac.org/ebenicecaves) by clamoring over a snowy Lake Superior beach to see where waves, melting ice, wind and extreme temperatures combine to form translucent blue caverns. The tiny town of Eben Junction is just outside Marquette and is the gateway to these fantastical formations. Depending on recent snowfall, snowshoes may be handy for the near mile hike from the well-marked parking lot to the ice caves. Caves start to form as early as December.

Spring’s thaw

May temperatures in the UP will reach the mid-60s and dip back to the low 40s at night, perfect for hiking or exploring. Whitefish Point is located in the northeastern UP and is best spot in the upper Midwest for viewing bird migrations. In the spring, huge flocks of raptors and waterfowl pass by here. Rarities such as the Boreal Owl and Jaegers are occasionally seen. The Whitefish Point Bird Observatory (wpbo.org) has recorded more than 340 bird species on their books. During the last week of April, their Spring Fling is an ornithological riot of workshops and birding.

More of a history hound than a bird buff? The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum (shipwreckmuseum.com) opens each year on May 1, and tells visitors about the lake’s shipwrecks, including the wreck of the famousEdmund Fitzgerald. At 729 feet and 13,632 gross tons, it was the largest ship on the Great Lakes until her demise, which was immortalized in popular culture by the eponymous Gordon Lightfoot song.

Best experiences of the scenic barrier islands

images-15Coastal Georgia’s barrier islands constitute one-third of the entire East Coast’s saltwater marshes and span 150 miles along the Atlantic coast, beginning with northern-most Tybee Island, a 30-minute drive fromSavannah, down to Cumberland Island above the Florida border. Visits to some can be as simple as a stop-over on a drive along the I-95 corridor, while others demand more intrepid seafaring-only means to get there.

This semitropical string of islands is rife with opportunities to enjoy the landscape at a leisurely pace – after all, you’re on island time and in the South. Though degrees of development and infrastructure vary from island to island, encountering nature on each one is a great way to find solace in a bit of solitude.

Tybee Island: Savannah’s offbeat enclave

Twenty miles east of Savannah’s historic district, Tybee Island (known by locals – or at least the ones dwelling on the mainland – as ‘Savannah Beach’) features five miles of easily-accessible public shoreline, popular to visitors from other parts of Georgia and beyond.

Enjoy surfing, kayaking, stand-up paddle-boarding or jet skiing with your own craft or rent from a local outfitter (tybeeisland.com/water-sports). The lively pier on the south end of the island is popular for picnicking and people watching – but if you prefer to peep birds and wild dolphins rather than humans, head to North Beach off Strand Avenue. You’ll also find the oldest and tallest lighthouse in the state here.

If you’re seeking seclusion and feeling adventurous, try a jaunt to Little Tybee Island. It’s completely uninhabited and perfect for camping, beachcombing, birding and hiking. It’s within easy eyeshot of ‘big’ Tybee and might seem close enough to swim to, but the currents can be treacherous, so don’t attempt it. Kayak if you’re experienced or look into boat charter services (visittybee.com).

McQueen’s Island Trail: amble down an ex-railroad track

McQueen’s Island Trail (parks.chathamcounty.org) is a hit for travelers who want to bike (bring your own), hike, or jog along what used to be a stretch of the Savannah & Atlantic Railroad Line. The scenic six-mile path is fringed with cordgrass, cabbage palms and coastal cedar trees. Terrain ranges from hard-packed dirt to pebbly crushed limestone and the western portion of the trail was recently restored due to erosion, so tread with care on this fragile turf.

Paralleling the Savannah River, the trail takes you right up to its marshy banks at some points. These are great resting areas for a deep breath of sea salt-air and a glimpse of the river’s impressive breadth, where massive ships drift out to sea. Spot native wildlife like dolphins, turtles and the occasional bobcat or alligator. A bit of island kitsch awaits at the end, where you’ll encounter an oak tree adorned with buoys, flags and trinkets. The trailhead is just off US Highway 80, 15 miles east of Savannah – keep your eyes peeled for the Fort Pulaski National Monument (nps.gov) sign and park along the road or at the fort for free. The only animals allowed are the ones who dwell here, so leave your pups at home.

Off-the-beaten-track island odysseys

Set southward to see under-the-radar islands that get overshadowed by big hitters like Tybee, St Simons or Jekyll. These tucked-away natural treasures take a little more effort to get to but their unmarred and primordial beauty is worth the trek.

Take Wassaw Island, for example. What it lacks in development is made up for by an experience of primitive grandeur while birding, hiking and biking along 20 miles of trails and seven miles of seashore. Visitors can explore diverse wildlife in their unique habitats year-round and national refuge regulation ensures all species are protected.

Wassaw’s live oak and slash pine trees converge to form canopies where rookeries of herons, egrets and other local birds dwell, and endangered loggerhead sea turtles swim ashore to lay eggs on summer nights. Ensure wildlife here continues to thrive by adhering to all signage and don’t venture beyond areas marked off-limits. Wassaw is open daily from sunrise to sunset and only accessible by boat. Charter services can be booked with eco-conscious outfitters like Savannah Coastal EcoTours (savannahcoastalecotours.com) or Wilderness Southeast (naturesavannah.org).

Sapelo Island sits right in the middle of Georgia’s string of barrier islands and is well worth a visit for die-hard naturalists. Tours of the island’s extensive system of estuaries must be booked in advance through the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve (SINERR) Visitors Center (sapelonerr.org) and ferry service runs from the nearby mainland town of Meridian, accessible from I-95. Camping is also available for groups of 15-25 on close-by Cabretta Island.

Find the fresh air and sea

But forget the zoo and the themes parks and even Ron Burgundy. The US’ eighth-largest city offers some less conventional opportunities for appreciating its fineness by ditching terra firma and taking to the skies and the water. Here are the best options for getting a fish/bird’s-eye view of San Diego.

Rooftop panorama

It can be hard to get a handle on downtown San Diego from the street. More high-rise than you might imagine and more densely-packed than other Californian cities, it is also divided into distinct districts. Happily, some of the best places to get an overview of the city are from rooftop bars which offer sensational vistas accompanied by a tempting array of cocktails.

San Diego’s harbour is dominated by the two towers of the Grand Hyatt Hotel whose 40th-floor Top of the Hyatt bar gives unbeatable sunset views over the marina. Further downtown, on 6th Avenue, the Nolen (thenolenrooftop.com) attracts a more local, fashionable crowd, who down cocktails and local craft beer above the busy Gaslamp Quarter.

Paragliding

Further north in La Jolla, paragliders emerge each morning from the clifftops at Torrey Pines. Taking advantage of the unique soaring conditions (westerly sea breezes deflected upwards by the sandstone cliffs) gliders can stay aloft for hours and land back on the clifftop. Unlike many paragliding venues, flying here is a year-round activity (although they do make a grudging exception for Christmas Day). Tandem flights (flytorrey.com) take you straight out over the sea where, floating above the vast Pacific Ocean and with dolphins and surfers sharing the waters of Blacks Beach below, you can see the expanse of the La Jolla coastline spreading out on one side and North County on the other. The flight even gives you aerial views at startlingly close quarters of La Jolla’s poshest clifftop communities. It’s worth sticking around afterwards for a sandwich at the Cliffhanger Café to watch others in flight and enjoy the views with your feet on the ground.

Helicopter flights

The best way to get the full panorama of San Diego is undoubtedly to take a helicopter tour, which in one flight takes in the city’s entire area.  Most fly over La Jolla (some venturing further north up the coast to glitzy Del Mar) as well as downtown and waterfront San Diego andBalboa Park, with perhaps a swoop down to the Mexican border towards Tijuana. Variations on the theme include a stop-off for wine tasting in nearby wine country. These trips don’t come cheap – prices tend to start at around $250 for the most basic tour – but they do cover a huge distance.

Combat flight

If you’re a fan of classic Tom Cruise movie Top Gun, a trip to San Diego is all about visiting locations from the movie, and a combat flight over the city is the ultimate Top Gun experience. Admittedly less sightseeing and more adrenaline adventure, this is your chance to experience a flight in a fighter jet (skycombatace.com), complete with aerobatic manoeuvres and even the option to take the controls yourself. It’s wildly expensive but, for Top Gun buffs especially, unforgettable.

Harbour cruise

San Diego is built around a sea port and with its grid formation you often get tantalising glimpses of the ocean as you walk around. To get the best water views though, you need to head out into the harbour.  Tours take place at regular intervals throughout the day in cruise ships, and give you a feel of the scale, depth and history of San Diego, as well as impressive shots of the skyline. The tours typically take you past the glamorous residences of Coronado and under the Coronado bridge, passing the military base (where you get an excellent close-up look at navy destroyers and aircraft carriers) and commercial shipyards with huge floating dry docks. If you want to turn the tour into more of an experience there are dinner and champagne cruises as well as blue whale tours on some days of the week.

Seal tours

There aren’t many major cities that don’t have a boat-on-wheels tour in one form or another (often called a Duck Tour) and there’s a reason – it’s an incredibly popular, fun trip, especially for families. After a whistle-stop drive around the city, the San Diego version makes a splashy entry into the bay. From then on, there’s more of an emphasis on wildlife than in most of the harbour cruises – there’s a detour to see the sea lion colony – and the commentary is aimed at a mixed age audience.

Sea kayak trips

For messing about on the water under your own steam join one of the many kayak tours that head out from La Jolla every day into the marine ecological reserve. You need to be tolerably fit to keep up, and you will get wet, but it’s worth a little exertion to paddle with pelicans flying overhead and rays swimming beneath, out to the seal and sea lion colonies. La Jolla has attracted the rich and famous for generations and you’ll get the lowdown from the well-informed tour guides about who has lived in the grand, colonial-style mansions that dot the coastline, as well as picking up a fair bit of local history and geology. The highlight of the trip is venturing into the La Jolla caves, strong waves permitting. Prices vary substantially so it’s worth shopping around; La Jolla Sea Caves Kayak Tour is a good option.

What is the interesting one if you visit in canada

The coming year is filling with warm-up events as impatient revellers begin the countdown. If you’re thinking of visiting the True North Strong & Free, this is the perfect year to do it – and here’s a peek at the best birthday festivities.

1. Ottawa: the biggest party

Not surprisingly, the nation’s capital is leading the way in party planning. With an online countdown to the very second Canada turns 150, Ottawa has a whole year of events planned including world skating competitions down the Rideau Canal, fiery pop-up stunts in public spaces, an enormous picnic on a grass-covered Alexandra Bridge and a long list of wine, food and rural fair experiences. All of this culminates on July 1st at Parliament Hill for the nation’s biggest birthday bash, with flyovers by the Snowbirds, Canada’s air demonstration squad, a giant street party and free concerts and events, many to be held in the new cultural village being built out of sea containers on York Street. There are even rumors that the Queen may attend. For the full scoop, see the event website (ottawa2017.ca).

2. Charlottetown: ahoy mate!

As the birthplace of Confederation, Charlottetown always celebrates Canada Day in a big way, and for 2017 they’ll be cranking it up a notch. A ten-hour concert will showcase Prince Edward Island’s musical talent with everything from jazz to fiddles to rock. Visitors are sure to join in the fun – it’ll be hard to miss the roaring 21-gun salute or the giant birthday cake. The city’s harbor will also be a guest port in a trans-Atlantic 150th Celebration Regatta, bringing around forty traditional tall ships for you to hop aboard, along with a waterfront cultural festival spotlighting seafaring from around the time of Canada’s birth. You can be certain that even at the height of the party, that unhurried island vibe will still shine through, proving that in Charlottetown, you really can have your cake and eat it too.

3. National parks and sites: get choosy

Fancy staring out over the glassy, blue waters of Lake Louise? How about experiencing 18th-century French-Canada at the Fortress of Louisbourg or chilling with moose in Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park? In celebration of the sesquicentennial, Parks Canada (pc.gc.ca) is throwing open the doors to all of its national parks and heritage sites, offering free entrance for all of 2017. With 47 parks and 168 historic sites to choose from, who wouldn’t feel like celebrating?

4. Toronto Symphony: know the score

While music has always been a big part of Canadian tradition, this is the year to really keep your ears open. Linking orchestras across the nation, the Toronto Symphony has initiated a musical mosaic that will bring to life some of the country’s long forgotten heritage composers, as well as commissioning new pieces that celebrate Canada’s eclectic musical traditions. Nearly forty orchestras from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland will be choosing a composer and writing a score – nicknamed a ‘sesquie’ – to be performed and broadcast across the nation. Pieces rooted in French, English, Native, folk, pop and jazz traditions will echo across the land, as well as compositions that celebrate what it means to be Canadian, like a piece honoring the first responders to the Fort McMurray fires. While there will undoubtedly be plenty to keep you musically nourished on July 1st in Toronto, tune into events and performances throughout the year and across the country at the Toronto Symphony website (tso.ca/canadamosaic).

5. Vancouver: the drum is calling

Wedged between towering mountains and a glistening ocean,Vancouver revels in its uniqueness and each year kicks up its Birkenstocked heels for the biggest Canada Day celebration outside the nation’s capital. Events spread across the city include a full-day music concert with impressive headliners, a citizenship ceremony where you can watch new Canadians joining the clan, street performances, an evening parade and a massive fireworks display from two barges in the inlet. For 2017, the city is digging deep into its roots and hosting an eleven-day First Nations’ festival where traditional and contemporary events let you experience a side of Canada less frequently witnessed. Other ethnic communities have also committed to joining the celebrations, promising a party of dizzying diversity.

Paradise in the Tuamotus

A wicked seducer, the atoll of Fakarava has lots of temptations: an assortment of atmospheric guesthouses (with the mandatory terrace overlooking the lagoon), gorgeous stretches of silky sand edged with palm trees, sensational dive sites and a slow-motion ambience. The pretty village of Rotoava is a good place to get a sense of atoll life. You can rent a bike and head to Plage du PK9, a dreamy stretch of white coral sand lapped by turquoise waters.

For divers, Faka, as it’s dubbed, is the stuff of legend – it’s like visiting an underwater safari park. With its amazing drift dives and fabulous array of fish life, Garuae Pass (Northern Pass) is a quintessential site. In the mood for an otherworldly experience? Dive Tumakohua Pass (Southern Pass), where hundreds of grey reef sharks (up to 400 individuals on a single dive) can be seen. Sign up with Dive Spirit, a reputable dive centre with personalised service.

Ahe

Spectacular coral reefs, pristine islets fringed with white sand and an unhurried pace of life make Ahe an ideal destination for anyone looking for an authentic local experience. Only two accommodation options and one village can be found here, so opportunities to decompress abound.

Taking a cruise around Ahe’s lagoon is a highlight of any trip to the Tuamotus, and you’ll get the chance to swim and snorkel in otherwise inaccessible places. Pull on a snorkel mask and drift over rainbow-coloured coral, keeping an eye out for delicate angel fish, friendly turtles and swooping manta rays. Back on dry land, head to Motu Manu, which has the only remaining patch of native forest in the Tuamotus, or learn about cultivating Tahitian black pearls at a pearl farm or simply relax on the terrace of your bungalow with a cocktail in hand. Tempted? Arrange your stay with Cocoperle Lodge (cocoperlelodge.com), which has a stunning beachfront location.

Tikehau

Looking for low-key paradise? The Polynesian speck of Tikehau is lovely and laid-back. Swimming and sunbathing on a rose-golden stretch of sand tops the daily checklist for many visitors, but energetic types can fill their holiday with diving, kayaking and snorkelling. Whether you’re an experienced diver or a novice strapping on fins for the first time, you’ll find superb sites near the extraordinary Tuheiava Pass, about 30 minutes from Tuherahera, the atoll’s only village. Diving Safari Tikehauis a reputable dive centre. Within the lagoon, don’t miss snorkelling or diving at La Ferme aux Mantas, a cleaning station where little fish scour parasites from manta rays.

If you want to do the Tuamotus in style, Tikehau is your answer, with a good range of charming accommodation and a couple of top-notch small-scale resorts. Book a bungalow at Ninamu or Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort, which both overlook wonderfully turquoise waters. All lodgings can organise boat tours that take in idyllic spots on the lagoon, including Motu Puarua (a bird island), fish parks and pink-sand beaches.

Mataiva

The captivating atoll of Mataiva has all the prerequisites for an idyllic getaway, with an added bonus of culture. With only one village, two family-run guesthouses and limited infrastructure, this bijou atoll is a dream come true for those looking to come down a few gears. The slim beach that edges the lagoon is an astonishing sight. Highlighter-pen emerald and turquoise water laps a stage-set-perfect crescent of white coral sand. It’s great for sunbathing, picnicking and swimming.

Activities on offer at the guesthouses range from cruising around themotu (islets) and snorkelling spots to kayaking and fishing. Small-scale diving is also available with Mataiva Plongee. Need some cultural sustenance? Head to Marae Papiro, one of the few noteworthy archaeological sites in the Tuamotus. It consists of a traditional sacred platform built of coral slabs in a coconut grove beside a lovely strip of sand.

New Berlin for Travelling

Budapest? No, Bucharest! Years after taking the back seat to next-door neighbour Budapest, Romania’s edgy and opportune capital is now touted as the ‘new Berlin’. A city of contrasts, where staunch Orthodoxy coexists with vibrant nightlife, Bucharest sets itself apart by a mix of Balkan and Latin spirit, speaking a Romance language in a hotbed of Slavic neighbours.

Dusting off its communist past following decades of transition,Bucharest is increasingly popular for visitors travelling through Eastern Europe. Many come to one of Europe’s most affordable capitals for the gaudy 1100-room Palace of Parliament, the second-largest administrative building in the world that stands as a testament of Romania’s power-hungry dictator. But considering a slew of interesting museums, parks and trendy al fresco cafes peering from art nouveau villas, factor in at least two days before you dash off toTransylvania.

Start with a stroll along Calea Victoriei, lurching with belle époque sensations and upscale boutiques. Bucharest’s oldest artery is arguably its most revealing. From the stately Cantacuzino Palace (today housing the George Enescu Museum) to the grandeur of the Romanian Athenaeum, bordering the scar-marked Revolution Square, it’s clear why the Romanian capital was once dubbed ‘little Paris’. Crowning wide, tree-lined boulevards, the city even boasts its very own Triumphal Arch.

But Bucharest is best enjoyed from the seat of a garden terrace, watching life go by. Contributing to a long-standing cafe culture, the Garden of Eden (facebook.com/gradinaeden107) – so appropriately called – boasts a vast urban garden seemingly veiled behind Știrbei Palace, complete with swings and hammocks. Come fall, sip your coffee inside the covered terrace whose artsy-industrial design scores extra points.

Afternoon

Before you set off into the maze-like streets of the Old Town, refuel with hearty Romanian fare at Caru’ cu Bere, Bucharest’s oldest beer house. Despite the tourist crowds, this stained-glass architectural landmark from 1897 is worth a stop, both for the food and occasional song-and-dance traditional performances.

With your belly full of beer and ciorbă (the customary sour soup), journey on the cobblestone streets of Lipscani, the area named after the many German merchants from Leipzig once retailing here. With quirky street names redolent of the craftsmen of yesteryear – such as Blanari (furriers), Covaci (blacksmiths) and Gabroveni (knife makers) – the pedestrian district will keep you entertained for hours.

On the left as you exit the restaurant, notice the Orthodox Stravropoleos Church, a magnificent example of Brâncovenesc style built by Greek monks in the 1700s. Head to the tranquil garden in the back for the masterfully carved arcades and a few minutes of silence. Moving on, the discreet courtyard of Strada Hanul cu Tei unravels a heap of art galleries and antique shops. Also in the vicinity is the Old Princely Court, built in the 15th century by the infamous Vlad Ţepeş, more widely known as Count Dracula.

But if you’d rather seek the modern, there’s plenty on that front to keep you busy. Envisioned as a cultural habitat where one can retreat to read and savour organic food and drinks, Carturesti Carusel library (carturesticarusel.ro) – an Instagram magnet in the Old Town – is an impressive six-level structure in a restored 19th-century house. Next door, the brought-to-new-life Gabroveni Inn (arcub.ro/arcub-gabroveni) is the capital’s newfangled cultural centre (renamed ARCUB), often hosting free exhibitions and events.

Finally, take a peek inside the oldest operating hotel in Bucharest, Manuc’s Inn (hanulluimanuc.ro). Here, the picturesque balconied courtyard acts as a perfect backdrop for fairs and folkloric acts, while also housing a restaurant, a few bars and a coffee shop.

Evening

Closing in a tireless afternoon of Old Town crawling, cool off with an Aperol Spritz at Bordello (bordellos.ro), a 3-in-1 hotspot thanks to its gastro pub, 1930s speakeasy and cabaret. Whether you start withForeplay snacks or Quickies, you can wine, dine and get your groove on, all in the same building.

Bucharest is known for its nightlife, and Lipscani is where the action is. Try club-hopping on the adjacent streets, a pastime that in Bucharest goes on well after midnight, or hop over to newcomer Energiea (energiea.ro) for some of the city’s most ingenious cocktails.

Atrractive place to visit

For those who want to take it easy (it’s vacation, after all), head to one of the country’s highly touted beaches. There are plenty to choose from, but some of the best vistas can be seen from the south side of Bermuda. Closest to the bustling town of Hamilton is Elbow Beach, which boasts some of the calmest waters on the island. Warwick Long Bay Beach has beautiful streaks of the pink sand and blue sea, and close by you’ll find the world-famous Horseshoe Bay Beach. Perfect for families, Horseshoe Bay offers rentals, changing rooms and food.

Over in St. George’s, hit up Tobacco Bay Beach. The original British settlers grew tobacco there when they first landed in Bermuda, and now it’s home to a pretty stretch of sand that’s beloved by locals – revelers hold popular bonfires at night and there’s a restaurant on site.

Biking

Biking might not be the first activity that comes to mind when you think of Bermuda, but thanks to the Bermuda Railway Trail National Park, it’s an enjoyable option. In the 1930s and 1940s, Bermuda operated a train that ran from St. George to Somerset. That now defunct route is home to nine sections of one mile to three-and-three-quarter mile stretches of biking and walking paths. You can navigate it yourself with a bike rented from companies like We Ride Bermuda (weridebermuda.com), or you can join a comprehensive bike tour such as those done withFantasea.

A word to the wise: in Bermuda, a bicycle is known as a ‘pedal bike’, whereas a moped or scooter is known as a ‘bike’. Be sure to clarify when you’re reserving a rental.

Fishing

Fishing is a huge draw throughout the summer months, when marlin, yellowfin tuna, and wahoo frequent the surrounding waters. Spiny lobster season spans September through March, and the conditions are right for shore fishing year round. Many companies offer charters, including Albatross Fisheries and Charters and Jump Dem Bones (fishwithalbatross.com; bermudabonefish.com). June and July are popular times to go to Bermuda for their fishing tournaments.

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

Because of the hundreds of shipwrecks that dot the waters around Bermuda, it’s often lauded as one of the best dive sites in the world. Many companies (like Dive Bermuda) will do guided tours to the wrecks – expect to see wildlife ranging from parrot fish to sea bream to the occasional sea turtle.

Snorkeling is an excellent alternative, especially for families, and there are many places where the water is shallow enough for children, such as Clarence Cove. It’s a small beach, but it’s rarely frequented by tourists and it’s close Hamilton. Alternatively, check out Church Bay Beach, one of Bermuda’s most popular snorkeling sites, thanks to the close proximity of the reef to the shore.

If you prefer to enlist the help of a guide, try an outfitter like the Island Tour Centre (islandtourcentre.com), where three and a half hours of activities include sightseeing and a snorkel. They also have a shipwreck snorkel available.

Other Watercraft

One of the most adrenaline-pumping ways to explore the island is on a jet ski. They’re fast and furious, but they also afford you up-close views of shipwrecks, beaches, and inlets. Many places will do a guided tour, complete with a brief history of the islands, such as K.S. Watersportsor Somerset Bridge Watersports on the Dockyard end of the island (bdawatersports.com).

If you’re looking for something a little quirkier, try hydro-biking. What looks like the love child of a bike and two kayaks is actually a fun way to cruise the waters around the islands. Speeds top out at 10 miles an hour.

Galway city for visit

Situated at the mouth of the River Corrib, Galway (Gaillimh in Irish) started out life as a fishing village, Claddagh, and really took off in the 13th century when it came under the Anglo-Norman rule of Richard de Burgo (aka the Red Earl) and its city walls were constructed. It’s likely the Spanish Arch, which protected moored merchant ships from Spain, is a remnant of the medieval walls. Another surviving portion has been incorporated in the Eyre Square Centre shopping mall. Fascinating archaeological finds are on display at the Hall of the Red Earl, a medieval tax office/courthouse/town hall whose remains were uncovered by accident in 1997. In 1396, Richard II transferred power to 14 merchant-family ‘tribes’; the most powerful, the Lynch family, builtLynch’s Castle, Ireland’s finest town castle (now an AIB bank). More recent history – from 1800 to 1950 – is on display at the Galway City Museum, where exhibits include a traditional wooden Galway Hooker fishing boat.

To appreciate the city’s storied history, book a guided tour with Galway on Foot, which departs from the Spanish Arch.

Character-filled pubs

Galway is famed far and wide for its pubs, most of which are just a crawl from the next. Join the friendly locals as they bounce from place to place, never knowing what fun lies ahead but certain of the possibility. A brilliant starting point is Tigh Neáchtain (or just Neáchtain’s – pronounced ‘nock-tans’ – aka Naughtons), a bright-blue-painted 19th-century treasure that attracts all walks of life beneath its low ceilings and on its tree-shaded terrace. Old-school O’Connell’s, with stained glass, pressed-tin ceilings and a partially covered beer garden, is another enduring gem.

Pints of ‘the black stuff’ (ie Guinness) are popular, of course, but be sure to look out for Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale, a local success story brewing locally for over a decade. Whiskey specialists include laid-back Garavan’s (garavans.ie).

Live music

Galway’s brightly painted pubs heave with live music. You’ll hear high-spirited trad tunes featuring any combination of instruments – fiddle, tin whistle, bodhrán (goat-skin hand-held drum played with beater), guitar, banjo, squeezebox and more – pouring out from inside. It’s possible to catch a céilí (traditional music session and dancing, pronounced ‘kay-lee’) or spontaneous seisún (pronounced ‘seh-shoon’) virtually every night of the week. Cherry-red-coloured Tig Cóilí is a fantastic place to catch music, as is the two-storeyed Crane Bar.

Bands of all genres get their break at legendary venue Róisín Dubh, which also hosts comedy. You’ll catch buskers along Shop St (and its extensions, High St then Quay St) and around the Spanish Arch.

Seafaring cuisine

Seafood reigns in Galway. Terroir-focused Aniar uses local catches in many of its Michelin-starred multicourse menus. Celebrated seafood bistro Oscar’s is a superb place for Galway Bay oysters. Ard Bia at Nimmo’s serves local flavours like West Coast monkfish with spelt, preserved lemon, spinach and sorrel yoghurt or pan-roasted Atlantic hake with braised fennel, clams, beetroot and grilled asparagus. West Coast crab (washed down with Galway Hooker) is a speciality of hip Kai Café & Restaurant. And down-to-earth McDonagh’s is an essential stop for phenomenal fish and chips at its chaotically sociable communal tables.

Outdoor pursuits

Shoals of salmon and sea trout surge upriver at Salmon Weir in May and June; tackle shops can provide angling advice, or visit www.fishinginireland.info for permit information. The Corrib Princessruns cruises here in summer. Another favourite outdoor activity is a 2.5km stroll along the Prom to Salthill (be sure to kick the wall near the diving boards in true Galwegian tradition). If you just want to unwind in the sunshine, the lawns of central Eyre Square are ideal.

Timeless finds

One of the joys of wandering through Galway is stumbling across its small speciality shops selling everything from Irish-made fashion to local art and jewellery, including its Claddagh rings (with a heart, signifying love, between two hands, symbolising friendship and topped by a crown, representing loyalty), named for the original fishing village; jewellery shops producing them include Ireland’s oldest, 1750-established Thomas Dillon’s Claddagh Gold. Other favourites include the warren of book-lined rooms making up Charlie Byrne’s Bookstore, and P Powell & Sons and Kiernan Moloney, both selling traditional Irish musical instruments.

Delicious Colombian Breakfasts

Arepas – a national favorite and probably one of the first Colombian culinary words you’ll learn. Loosely translated as ‘corn cakes’, arepas are made from yellow or white ground corn and are as diverse as the country itself, with each region preparing them differently – from fried and crispy, to sweet, soft and cheesy. Within the coffee zone, paisas like their arepas thin, flat and crunchy, smothered in butter, with cheese on the side. Arepas from the central Andean region can be sweet, such asarepa de choclo, or stuffed or topped with cheese, eggs, ham, chicharrón(fried pork rind), beef or chicken. Along the Caribbean coast, arepas are chubby, resembling a hamburger patty and heavy on salted cheese, or sinfully greasy and deep-fried with a cooked egg inside, such as arepa de huevo.

The arepa list is endless and can be found on almost every corner in Bogotá. Get a taste of authentic Caribbean cuisine at Narcobollo(narcobollo.com) or Gaira Café (gairacafe.co), which is owned by famous Colombian singer, Carlos Vives. For freshly grilled cheese-and-ham arepas, stop at Puerto Arepa de la Primera(facebook.com/PuertoArepadelaPrimera).

Changua: nutritious milk soup for the soul

The indigenous tribes that once roamed the central Andes may have all disappeared, but a couple of their culinary traditions haven’t been lost.Changua, a comforting soup made with milk, poached eggs and green onions, is easygoing on the stomach and suitable for vegetarians. Each recipe is slightly different, but most come with a generous garnish of coriander and pieces of crusty – often stale – bread that are plonked or grated into the milky broth. The soup is generally enjoyed with a couple of almojábanas, cheese rolls best served straight out of the oven and eaten religiously in the regions of Boyacá and Cundinamarca. Made with corn flour, eggs and cuajada (white cheese made from unpasteurized milk), these crispy pastries are a perfect match to the homey soup.

Try a snug combo at La Puerta Falsa, the oldest cafe in the city; it’s no fake and popular for a good reason. Another downtown favorite is the 80-year-old bakery Pasteleria La Florida(facebook.com/PasteleriaFlorida).

Aguapanela and queso fresco: a Colombian classic

A classic and light Colombian breakfast is a mug of steamingaguapanela and a large piece of locally produced queso fresco (soft, fresh white cheese). Aguapanela is a sweet drink made from unrefined sugarcane juice; it’s enjoyed throughout the country. The ‘warmth’ of the drink depends on the altitude: hot and soothing in the mountains, icy and refreshing along the coast. In Bogotá, the ritual is to drop the cheese into the aguapanela (or hot chocolate). The cheese effortlessly melts in the hot drink, and using a spoon, the sweet and cheesy gooeyness is devoured. For a heartier breakfast, you can combine theaguapanela with huevos pericos (eggs scrambled with tomatoes and onions) and, depending on the region, either a bollo, arepa oralmojábana.  Bollos, also known as envuelto de maíz (literally ‘wrapped corn’), are parcels of ground maize that’s mixed with cheese, enclosed in leaves and boiled.

Most traditional desayunaderos (breakfast restaurants), such as the little corner joint, Hibiscus Cafe, serve authentic aguapanela and its accompaniments.

Caldo de costilla: a soup to raise the dead

The night before was long and you wake up with a splitting headache. Forget painkillers or gallons of water; rather, slurp up a bowl of comforting caldo de costilla, a typical dish from the Andean region that’s eaten nationwide. This slow-cooked broth made with beef ribs, carrots, potatoes, garlic and cilantro is also known as levantamuertos(literally ‘raise the dead’) due to its superpower ability to cure guayabos(hangovers) and ailments. Colombians swear by its curative properties and the soup is sold in most restaurants, especially in Bogotá’s party zones. It is best enjoyed with a couple of warm arepas.

Trip through Ireland Ancient East

The Emerald Isle might be small in size but it packs a powerful historical punch. Hit the road on a fascinating five-day trip through the picturesque landscapes and villages, towns and cities of Ireland’s Ancient East en route from Dublin to Waterford, visiting Neolithic burial tombs, high crosses, castles and cathedrals, and traversing 560km and five millennia of history.

Dublin

Kick off in the Irish capital with an overview of the country’s history at the 1877-established National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology. Just some of its highlights are the world’s most complete collection of medieval Celtic metalwork, and four preserved Iron Age ‘bog bodies’ with intact features such as fingernails. Other exhibitions include Medieval Ireland, and Viking Ireland, featuring finds excavated at Dublin’s Wood Quay.

Brú na Bóinne

A Unesco World Heritage-listed wonder from around 3200 BC, the vast Neolithic necropolis Brú na Bóinne, 50km north of Dublin, predates both Stonehenge (by a millennia) and the Great Pyramids of Egypt (by six centuries). In fertile farmland scattered with standing stones, the complex encompasses three main burial tombs: Newgrange, a white quartzite-encircled grass-topped passage tomb measuring 80m in diameter and 13m high, which aligns with the winter solstice; Knowth, containing extraordinary passage-grave art; and sheep-roamed Dowth.

Less than 10km west, in the 18th-century town of Slane, coaching innConyngham Arms, makes a charming overnight stop.

Hill of Slane

The Hill of Slane is where, allegedly, St Patrick lit a paschal (Easter) fire in 433 against the ruling of the Irish high king. Patrick then described the holy trinity to him by plucking a shamrock to illustrate the paradox of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in one, kindling Christianity in Ireland. Only faint remnants of subsequent religious buildings here remain, but the views are sublime.

Hill of Tara

Once the home of ancient Ireland’s druids, followed by its high kings, the Hill of Tara is 24km south of Slane. This sacred site is one of the most important in Europe, with prehistoric burial mounds and a Stone Age passage tomb, dating back 5000 years. It’s steeped in Irish folklore and history, and visiting the grounds is free.

Glendalough

Glendalough’s Irish name, Gleann dá Loch, means ‘Valley of the Two Lakes’, and the Upper and Lower lakes at this spot 100km south of Tara – along with wild Wicklow Mountains scenery and a cache of religious relics – are magical. In 498, St Kevin set up here on the site of a Bronze Age tomb and the monastery later established here lasted until the 17th century. The Glendalough Visitor Centre (visitwicklow.ie/item/glendalough-visitor-centre) is a mine of information. Next door, the comfortable Glendalough Hotel, makes a convenient base.

Moone

Amid stone ruins 50km west of Glendalough, stop off to see the distinctive Moone High Cross. Dating from the 8th or 9th century, it’s renowned for its intricately carved biblical scenes.

Browne’s Hill Dolmen

Topped by Europe’s largest capstone, weighing over 100 tonnes, the 5000-year-old granite portal dolmen (tomb chamber) Browne’s Hill Dolmen sits about 20km south of Moone and is one of Ireland’s most intriguing prehistoric monuments.

Enniscorthy

A pivotal chapter in Irish history played out at Vinegar Hill, 53km south of Browne’s Hill, during the 1798 rebellion against British rule. Nearby, the National 1798 Rebellion Centre has evocative displays. The rebels used Norman-built Enniscorthy Castle as a prison; it’s now a museum with superb rooftop views.

Wexford town

Named Waesfjord (‘harbour of mudflats’) by the Vikings, who are thought to have landed here around 850, Wexford town is 22km south of Enniscorthy. Traces of the fort built by the Normans, who conquered it in 1169, are still visible in the grounds of the Irish National Heritage Park open-air museum.