Monday, June 25, 2018

Top Things to Do When in Cuba

Navigation:



There are so many places and things to do when visiting Cuba. One can easily fall prey to its many tourist's traps, losing many travelers to its labyrinth of attractions. But whatever your itinerary is, here are some of the important monuments and places to visit in Cuba.

Museo de la Revolución




Founded in 1913 and 1920, this very iconic museum used to be a Presidential Palace. It used to house some of the controversial and well-known Cuban Presidents. Museo de la Revolución is a great architectural beauty on its own. Designed to resemble Tiffany's of New York and the Palace of Versailles, many are attracted to its architectural design and historic exhibits. 

On its grand central staircase, a bust of Jose Marti will greet visitors with bullets holes sustained during a failed attack on the palace in March 1957. The attack was an unsuccessful attempt at assassinating the former President Fulgencio Batista. There are other interesting exhibits in the museum like the SAU-100 tank used by Castro during Bay of Pigs battle in 1961, a replica of the 18m yacht that carried Fidel Castro from Mexico to Cuba in December 1956. Other exhibits include vehicles, planes, and rockets associated with different uprising during the course of its political turmoil.

Malecón




Many would come to Malecón to witness the most sought-after view of the beautiful crimson sunset, the most dramatic of all in Cuba. Its 7 km-long sea drive, Malecón is a popular meeting place for all people – traveling minstrels, poets, painters, young couples, and fishers. Just overlooking boundaries of the US state of Florida, it’s a laid out oceanside boulevard for Havana’s middle-class people in the early 1900s. Malecón has its own unique vibe and electric architectural design both indicating of neoclassicism mixed with whimsical art nouveau.

As a very popular destination for the pleasure-seeking middle-class in Cuba, it expands into a very busy six-lane highway that attracts many vintage cars like Buicks and Chevrolets. Today, Malecón is known as “the world’s longest sofa”, where people come to meet new friends, debate over their political views, and sometimes just to enjoy the full view of a beautiful sunset.

Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca del Morro




Sitting atop of 60 meters high at the front of Santiago harbor and about 10 km southwest of the city, Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca del Morro has been listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1997. It was initially designed by the famous Italian military engineer Juan Bautista Antonelli in 1587. Antonelli was the same engineer who built La Punta and El Morro in Havana. The fort aims to protect Santiago from pirates who ransacked the city in 1554. But the work didn’t start until 1633 because of financial constraints, 17 years after Antonelli died. Today, the fort houses Museo de Piratería and exhibits from the US-Spanish naval battle that took place in 1898. Tourists who climbed the fort are treated with an amazing view of Santiago’s coastline under the majestic shadows of Sierra Maestra. Every day at sunset, tourists can witness the cañonazo ceremony or firing of the cannon at the Fort where guards dress up in Mambises regalia.

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes




Dubbed as the finest art gallery in the whole of Caribbean region, art lovers are recommended to pay a visit to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. Its entire collection expands over two campuses where 'Arte Cubano' building displays the most comprehensive Cuban art collection in the world. The other part, 'Arte Universal' is designed to overlook Parque Central, with views as amazing as the art it holds within. The museum houses purely Cuban art which display its collection in chronological order starting on its 3rd floor. Tourists can view the artworks of the famous Cuban artists like Guillermo Collazo, the first great Cuban artists, Raul Martinez, the master of Cuban pop art, Rafael Blanco and his cartoon-like paintings, and Wifredo Lam, with his Picasso-style paintings. 

Plaza de la Catedral




Step back in time to see some of the well preserved baroque architecture. Dating from the 1700s, Plaza de la Catedral is one of the most uniform baroque style buildings. The area was originally a swamp but later drained to be used as a naval dockyard. The plaza is known as the grandest mansions ever built in Cuba and houses the Museo del Arte Colonial (Colonial Art Museum). Its popular tourist's destination wherein visitors can stroll its cobbled streets which are lined with many restaurants and cafes. 

Plaza Vieja




One of the most visited sites in Cuba, Plaza Vieja is one place encompasses the true Cuban spirit. It’s one exotic place where music is played in almost every corner, and people enjoying twisting their hips as they go by their famous dance –salsa. Initially called as Plaza Nueva or New Square, its main purposes were to be used for military exercises which were laid out back in 1559. However, it was far from its intended purpose, Plaza Vieja now sits on a busy marketplace teeming with restaurants, cafes, and breweries. At nightfall, the place is buzzing with many touristy activities, and different kinds of music filled the air. 




Thursday, June 21, 2018

Getting Around in UK Rail System Without Breaking the Bank

Navigation:

Combining UK’s complex ticket pricing system with the 25 percent raise of train fares since 2011, many find it extremely difficult to travel at peak times on intercity routes. Therefore, Telegraph Travel has listed down 10 strategies to help passengers save rail travel cost. 

Book in advance


Booking earlier, which helps prevent the hassle of the last-minute booking, can also combat the unreasonable high prices of rail routes. Around 12 weeks before departure, train companies usually release their limited cheapest fixed-time Advance tickets. Therefore, tickets are cheaper the earlier you buy. To find information on how far in advance you are able to book with each company, see National Rail’s chart at nationalrail.co.uk. In addition to this, you can register with The Trainline at thetrainline.com/ticketalert to be alerted via email of when Advance tickets go on sale for specific routes 

Search for great deals, even at the last minute. 


If you are unable to book Advance tickets well ahead of due to circumstances, you are still able to combat the unreasonable high prices of rail routes. This can be done by booking Advance tickets just before traveling—with CrossCountry, you are sometimes able to buy Advance online tickets 15 minutes before departure. It is important to note that when booking Advance tickets last minute, the cut-off times change from one operator to another; cut off times are usually 6 pm or 11.59 pm the day before. 

Avoid Booking Fees


Although online booking fees are small, with agents such as Trainline charging 25p to £1.50 and redspottedhanky.cm charging £1, constant online booking for a frequent train traveler can take more money out of your pocket. To avoid this, book through train operators’ websites for free booking—any train operator can book any train journey at the same price. 

Look for Supersaver tips


Although finding online deals is hard-work, it does not mean they do not exist. On megatrain.com you are able to find exceptionally inexpensive fares on some services operated by South West Trains and East Midlands Trains—this includes Southampton-London Waterloo and Leicester-London St. Pancras). Prices normally start at £1 (with additional 50p booking fee). 

Take a Slower Route


Taking slower routes may result in your money being saved. When traveling, riding on other routes that take longer, but still end up in the same location, are usually a lot cheaper. For example, main route peak time travels between Bath and London Paddington costs £190 for an Anytime Return. However, you can save £108.7 by taking an extra 75 minutes by changing trains in Salisbury. You’re still going to end up in the same location, however, with more cash on your hand.



Well time Your Travel


By avoiding peaks such as Monday to Friday during business travel periods, you can still save significantly, even without booking ahead. Though prices are higher than Advance rail fares, buying Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak tickets don’t restrict you to traveling on a specific train. To see which services are a peak, off-peak, and super off-peak on a specified route, you can head over to thetrainline.com/train-times. 

Get a Railcard


Investing in a railcard can help you save ⅓ on rail fares for a whole year and only costs £30 a year for most— Disabled Persons Railcards are £20. The nationwide 16-25, Two Together, Family and Friends, and Senior and Disabled Persons railcards are able to pay for themselves on just one or two long-distance journeys. To find out more details and information, you can go on railcard.co.uk. 

Research Airport Train Options


Considering cheaper alternatives, such as booking airport express services in advance, can help you travel for a lot cheaper. Traveling at the weekend, when booked 90 days ahead, costs £5.50, compared with £22 bought on the same day of travel on the Heathrow Express (heathrowexpress.com). When services are stopped from London stations to Gatwick, it can take the same time or a few minutes later than the Gatwick Express except, it takes less money and is cheaper. 

Don’t ignore Refunds


When you’re disadvantaged, like your train being delayed, do not hesitate to get a refund—you are entitled to get your money back. To do this, you will need to put in a claim as compensation normally is not automatic. Train companies usually follow the Delay Repay arrangement— if the train is 30-59 minutes late, they pay 50 percent of the single fair and if the train is an hour or more late, they pay 100 percent. However, different train companies come with different policies; policy details are usually on their website and being aware of these can help you with your refunds. With some train companies, such as Southern and Thameslink, you are entitled to compensation if the train is late by 15 minutes. Keep in mind that being late may sometimes be out of the control of rail operators (operators such as GWR won’t pay up if they delay was caused by something outside their control). 

Try Split-Ticketing


Rail bosses have admitted that buying two or more tickets for different connecting segments of your journey, rather than buying one ticket for the whole trip, can be cheaper—this usually applies for long distance trips. Research shows that by doing this, you can reduce the price of traveling by nearly 90 percent. The train has to call at a station, as named on the ticket, and you do not need to get off or change.



Monday, June 18, 2018

Where to Go in Virgin Islands

Navigation:



Formed about thousands, if not millions of years ago, the Virgin Islands sits between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. It’s a group of islands separated from the Renaissance Islands by the Anegada nearby the main island of Puerto Rico. The Virgin Islands have three main parts; United States Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, and Spanish (or Puerto Rican) Virgin Islands.

It’s a common fact that the Virgin Islands is a popular destination for travelers around the world. From the high-end shopping districts, go back in time as you tour Fort Christiansvaern or the Estate Whim Plantation Museum to the nature lover’s abode of Virgin Islands National Park in St. John. Here are other popular destinations along the Virgin Islands.

Virgin Islands National Park (St. John)


The most convenient way to experience nature at its finest is to tour Virgin Islands National Park in St. John. If you are already in St. John, you are probably standing right on the edge of the protected forested area. Two-thirds of the island is a deeply forested area and boasts one of the most scenic views in the area. Caneel Bay, Trunk Bay, and Annaberg Plantation are just a few minutes away from each other. The best part in St. John is it offers different ways to enjoy this paradise. Travelers who want to have a bit of adrenaline rush can go hiking on its 22 trails. For a more family-friendly activity, one can experience sleeping under the stars in its camping camp right on the beach.

Magens Bay (St. Thomas)


The beaches along the Virgin Islands are known to be the best in the world, and nothing is can surpass the beauty of Magens Bay at St. Thomas. The northern coast of the island is the most popular and most photograph beach in the world. A quick drive on top of the mountain, travelers can view a beautiful heart shaped beach. But nothing can compare to the view which is like paradise on earth; glassy clear water and powdery white sand will greet the travelers. Because of the popularity of the beach and great reviews on the various website, be prepared to pay a higher price to experience a piece of this paradise. To avoid crowds, visit the beach in the early morning or later in the evening.

Trunk Bay (St. John)


But for some people, the most idyllic of all beaches are in Trunk Bay. The beach has the most beautiful pearly white sand and turquoise water. Because its part if the Virgin Islands National Park, Trunk Bay maintained its untouched glory of paradise. Its serenity and scenic view are incomparable among the other beaches in the world. The best time to swim in its waters is during the early morning as they are few people walking the beach. You can enjoy a half day of undisturbed snorkeling. Try to follow the beautiful Underwater Trail, a snorkeling path to see the hidden underwater treasures of Trunk Bay. The beach is a perfect spot even for beginner snorkelers. 

Caneel Bay (St. John)


Even though the prestigious Caneel Bay Resort is just nearby, Caneel Bay is free for all travelers who want to enjoy this pristine beach. Most travelers would recommend taking advantage of this freebie. The best way to reach the beach is to hike or bike about 1.5 miles going to Cruz Bay, which is a short distance from the beach. But arriving via a boat is the easiest way to go in Caneel Bay. Another option to enjoy the beach is to go for a swim in its crystal clear waters and have a luxurious meal in one of the hotel’s restaurant. To have a more private swim, venture into the Honeymoon Beach but getting there might be a challenge; you need to swim about 0.3 miles from Caneel coast.

Estate Whim Plantation Museum (St. Croix)


The Estate Whim Plantation Museum shows the early life of the Cruzans during the 18th century particularly their sugar cane production. Tour the Frederiksted museum; venture into the windmill and bath house. Another private residence serves as a great family destination; the Estate Mount Washington Plantation was once a sugar cane plantation that offers tours within its vicinity. There are many lessons to learn to go to this place like the island's sugar cane production and the lives of Cruzan slaves.



Thursday, June 14, 2018

Important Monuments in Italy that’s Worth a Visit

Navigation:



One of the most powerful nations of the ancient times and the fascinating country today, Italy helped shaped the modern day European continent. There are hundreds of different ways to know more about the country and each one of them will surely leave a mark in your hearts. Italy has a lot of historical sites still standing today; it’s amazing to think these are the same monuments which the greatest early thinkers built for their nation without any modern technology and machinery to help them. Would it be spectacular to these some of the most important monuments up close in their most preserved form? Luckily, here are some of them which everyone in the family can enjoy when visiting ‘The Boot’ or some may say the land of great history and diversity. 


The Colosseum




When thinking about Rome, the first thing comes to mind to most travelers is The Colosseum. No surprises there, The Colosseum signifies the grandeur of the Roman Empire. It’s the largest amphitheater ever built by the Romans. Built in the 70 AD and with Greek architecture design it used to host gladiator battles, mock sea games, and animal hunts. It’s a direct contrast to the modern day buildings that surround it. 

The Roman Forum




Once the center of the Roman Empire, it was surrounded by different government buildings and a very busy marketplace. Built like a rectangular plaza, its ruins make for one of the most significant monuments in Italy. During the peak of the empire, The Roman Forum was the center of all important government decisions and negotiations, its historical significance is very much incomparable.

The Pantheon




The Pantheon is hailed as the best-preserved monument of the ancient Roman Empire. Romans built constructed this place to be used as a temple dedicated to the pagans gods of Rome. What makes this monument so spectacular was its marvelous elegant design and precise architectural proportions despite the absence of modern day technology. Beams of light entering the top of the dome would reflect throughout the Pantheon, its strategic placing of windows still amazes experts to this day. 

Milan Cathedral




Milan Cathedral is the third largest worldwide. It took a good long six hundred years to complete the infrastructure. The result? It’s one of the most spectacular and majestic buildings in Northern Italy. It’s associated to the Magisterium of the Bishops based on gothic architecture. The sight of the building will leave you breathless in awe. Those six centuries of patiently building and meticulously planning the cathedral really paid off.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa




What does not destroy you, strengthens you, or in this case, makes you famous. The Leaning Tower of Pisa became a world sensation for its very obvious flaw. Construction began in the 1100s and started to lean towards ground due to weak foundations. Experts predicted that the tower will completely topple over by the year 2000 but Mother Nature decided not to. Every year, thousands of visitors climbed its steps to get the very scenic view of the whole city. 

Pompeii




During the ancient Roman times, Pompeii was a booming city and an important port in the Mediterranean free trades. But the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius stopped the city on its track from becoming one of the most influential port cities in the world. Under the shadows of the volcano, stand the ruins of the once great city. Today, Pompeii is a modern-day tourist attraction in Italy, where visitors can have a glimpse of the ancient civilization. The ruins of Pompeii are now a UNESCO world heritage site. Visitors can explore the desolate remains of baths, temples, and other artifacts of the city. 

The Vatican




After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Pope gradually took over Rome. It was built in memory of the first Pope, St. Peter, it was now a very important destination for Christians all over the world. The Vatican is the center of the Catholic Church, Head of the Roman Catholic Church and serves as a home to the Pope. It houses some of the world’s priceless pieces of art which makes it even more significant. The dome was painted by none other Michelangelo himself that alone is worth a visit to the Vatican. Not to mention, the flamboyant Swiss guards that manage to control the visitors in the vicinity. The St Peter’s Basilica attracts millions of devotees and visitors alike all year round.



Monday, June 11, 2018

Amazing Places in Ireland

Navigation:

The name “Emerald Isle” really suits Ireland because of its vast mountains filled with abundant evergreen. Hailed by many as the most beautiful place on earth, travelers are often left in awe with its lush forest, picturesque cliffs, and dramatic beaches with crystal clear waters. Ireland houses some of the most magnificent castles and small adorable towns on earth. Here are some of the amazing places in Ireland worth visiting. 

Ring of Kerry 




Most people would start their Irish adventure in the Ring of Kerry, hence its popularity. It’s the most scenic of all Irish trails that really worth exploring. This 120-mile route traverses the southwestern part of Ireland with spectacular views of lush meadows, glacial lakes, medieval castles, waterfalls, and vertigo-inducing coastal scenery topped with turquoise beaches. Called the Ring of Kerry because the trail starts and ends in Killarney, a very popular and historic inland town located at the oldest protected wilderness in Ireland – the Killarney National Park. Almost all tourists look out for the country’s only herd of wild red deer and take their most memorable photo-op in a 15th-century castle. 

Slieve League Cliffs 




The Cliffs of Moher are one of the most iconic places in Ireland; Slieve League is the home of the highest sea cliffs in the region. Located at the northwest coast in Donegal, it’s about a good 2,000 feet drop from the very top to the Atlantic Ocean below. Many falls in love with the views where many could see picturesque Donegal Bay and the Ben Bulben Mountains in Leitrim overshadowed by the clear blue sea and the mindless songs of seabirds. 

Dingle Peninsula 




Some say one can find the most beautiful treasure in the farthest corner of the earth. Nothing in the world can perfectly describe such phenomena than the Dingle Peninsula. Situated in Europe’s westernmost point, it’s a place where the ocean dominates the surrounding cliffs. The Dingle Peninsula has many magnificent ring forts and other ancient ruins. It’s a great contrast in the Ring of Kerry but offers the great same post worthy scenery of bright blue waters that surrounded by emerald green hills and golden sandy beaches. Mountain ranges adorned the mystic skyline where the Slieve Mish range to Mount Brandon, Ireland’s second highest peak can be seen. 

Valentia Island, County Kerry




The Valentia Island is another great destination not far from the Ring of Kerry. For travelers who really want to explore the island, this place offers rewarding side trip. The island is located not from the Iveragh Peninsula and to the mainland by the Portmagee Bridge and features great natural beauty. Although its cliffs remain barren at most times, many marvels at its magnificent views of the coastline and a wide range of flowers and vegetation.

Beara Peninsula 




Known as the Garden of Eden of Ireland, Beara Peninsula has the perfect subtropical climate that houses many species of plants, natural gardens, and basking seals in most of its secluded sandy beaches. Resting between Kenmare Bay to the north and Bantry Bay to the south, it’s almost magical to see the area’s picturesque and country back charm. It’s considered as a great off the beaten destination with great seaside views and colorful towns. 

Killarney National Park 




Of all places in Ireland, travelers spent most of the time exploring the Killarney National Park. People go here to witness the most magnificent waterfalls in the country, the Torc Waterfall. This towering 60 feet waterfall plunge down via a river called the Devil’s Punch Bowl. The 41-square mile protected park is home to Ireland’s native red deer which been lived in the country since the last ice age. The native red deer take refuge in McGillycuddy’s Reeks, the tallest mountain range in Ireland. Great scenic lakes scattered all around the park which travelers seek out for. Another great attraction in the park is the old Irish Chieftain stronghold which dates back to the Middle Ages - Ross Castle. Constructed in the 15th century, this castle rests on the shores of Killarney’s lower lake.

Glendalough, County Wicklow


For travelers who love to see the beautiful structures of the past, Glendalough is the perfect place to start exploring these ruins. Known as the “City of Seven Churches”, this city has 6th-century monastic structural buildings. Set within the “Valley of Two Lakes” at the very heart of Wicklow Mountains, the glacial valley is renowned for hiking and walking trails. The most popular destination in the area is the 30-km Pilgrim Path through very scenic Wicklow hills known as St. Kevin’s Way. Medieval churches, stone crosses, and a cathedral highlight the green horizon. 

Boyne Valley 


Just a few hours away from Ireland’s city center, Boyne Valley has the most beautiful green landscapes which were often disturbed by the monastic ruins and passage tombs. It's home to Trim Castle in which popularized by the famous Hollywood film “Braveheart”. One can find the most preserved passage of grain in all of Western Europe called Newgrange. It the oldest renowned pre-historic place which surpassed Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Giza dating back as far as 3000 BC. Another great place to see in Boyne Valley is the Hill of Tara, the former house of the High Kings of Ireland.

Connemara 


Connemara has everything that true blood nature lover is looking for, many hailed as the place as the most unspoiled destination in continental Europe. It stretches from the west coast of the country, teeming with colorful wilderness. Connemara has one of the diverse scenery in Ireland from murky bogs, picturesque lakes to golden beaches and mystic mountain views. Incredible scenic views include the Twelve Bens Mountain Range, Connemara National Park, and the adorable towns of Clifden and Clifden Castle.



Thursday, June 7, 2018

7 Most Memorable Cities in Scotland

Skye




At the top of the seven most memorable cities in Scotland is the Isle of Sky, also simply known as Skye. Known for its rugged landscapes, picturesque fishing villages, as well as medieval castles, the island of Skye is indeed a good place for visitors to start their journey in Scotland. 

On the shores of Loch Scavaig, a beautiful village can be found with a range of rocky mountains, known as the Cuillin mountain range. With the mountain range dubbed as the finest in Britain, visitors can enjoy a scenic view from the meticulously crafted footpaths of Cuilllin, which leads to dramatic peaks and cirques. If the arduous climb on the mountain range was not enough, visitors can also enjoy a hike on The Quiraing between Staffin and Uig--photographers would enjoy the spectacular landscapes of Scotland as they pass through this hill. In addition to this, visitors are also welcome to take a dip in the clear, seemingly vibrant blue and green, waters of the Glen Brittle Fairy Pools at the foot of the Black Cuillins. 

Edinburgh




The well-known capital of Scotland is another one of the top seven memorable cities to visit in Scotland. With this ancient city having a medieval Old Town and elegant Georgian New Town with gardens and neoclassical buildings, visiting this hilly capital is a must. It has a collection of beautiful villages that are picture-worthy, as well as an incredible selection of world-class attractions, hotels, shops, eating, drinking, and nightlife--perfect for tourists coming from different parts of the world. Visitors who are interested in learning about history can visit the National Museum of Scotland with no cost and can visit the Edinburgh Castle for no cost. To those who are into spooky things, going on a tour in the Edinburgh Darkside Walk. It’s a place where you can learn about murders, mysteries, and legends, as well as Underground Ghost tours, are also available. 

Fort William and Glencoe




Visitors who are planning a tour of the West Highlands of Scotland, Fort William and Glencoe are perfect villages to visit. Fort William is a substantial community that is full of salt water; a wide range of accommodation and activities to do in and around the town with cycleway, railways, and bus routes can be found in this village. Glencoe, a steep-sided high-valley village is famously known for its waterfalls and trails that climb peaks. Glencoe is dubbed as “one of the most dramatic, haunting places in Scotland.” Loved by hikers and climbers, Fort William and Glencoe has “mountains and a history of clan warfare. It is a broad highland meadow in the heart of Glen Coe, scene of the infamous massacre of MacDonalds by Campbell soldiers in 1692. Most visitors are happy to drive through the glen, stopping to marvel at three massive, brooding buttresses on one side and a towering, knife-edge ridge on the other. Many would venture to take a more challenging footpath up to the lost valley to seek out the historic hiding place of stolen cattle. This path is not for the light-hearted as its wilderness has been stained with the plotted murder of clansmen. 

With the extra time, Jacobite Steam Train from Fort William to Mallaig is also worth boarding on. The route is said to be one of the most picturesque rail routes in the world; it includes a crossing of the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which was featured in the famous Harry Potter films. 

The Outer Hebrides 




Situated on Europe’s Atlantic edge, the Isles of the Outer Hebrides has 15 inhabited islands with their own unique way of life, and can easily be one of Scotland’s most fascinating destinations. In this isolated environment, visitors can enjoy peace and tranquility as well as the warm hospitality of its communities. Visitors are also able to enjoy a selection of museums and monuments as well as the Gaelic culture where crofting, community events, and ceilidhs bring people together. In addition to all of this, The Outer Hebrides also offer a range of wildlife animals that flourish in their unique environment; a nature-filled environment also comes with many opportunities for outdoor activities such as walking, cycling, canoeing, kayaking, kitesurfing, and windsurfing. 

On the west coast of Harris, Luskentyre can be found situated within its parish. Luskentyre has been dubbed one of UK’s best beaches according to the TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards, and its title is understandable due to its ethereal blur of swirling sands and shimmering blue streaks. Scarista is another beach that often attracts surfers due to its big Atlantic swells. 

Visitors can visit North Uist try Traigh Lingeigh and Traigh Hornais for great sea views, as well as Hosta Beach for surfing.

Lastly on the Outer Hebrides in Barra, Traigh Eais an exhilarating one-mile stretch of sand can be found, the only beach in the world that doubles as an airport are found in Traigh Mhor, and a great spot for sunsets, with fine sand and deep blue seas can be found in Tangasdale Beach. 

The Inner Hebrides




To the south-east of the Outer Hebrides, the Inner Hebrides is found with 79 islands, in which 35 is inhabited, has many of Scotland’s fascinating destinations. Iona, a small island in the Inner Hebrides--surrounded by the remains of 60 Scottish, Irish, and Norwegian kings--, has its Abbey which is a perfect quiet place for peace and reflection. The island of Islay is known for its whiskey and numerous distilleries. Its tranquil beauty, sweeping vistas, and more than 20 beaches are also what makes up this wonderful island. 

The neighboring island of Islay, Jura, is amongst the wildest and most rugged places in Britain. With barely 200 people residing along its only road, Jura has stags on the hills, otters by the shore, and golden eagles in the crags. 

Last but not the least of The Outer Hebrides islands is Mull. Mull offers imposing mountain scenery and is known for its brightly painted waterfront houses and a beach of golden sand and clear waters in the towns of Tobermory and Calgary. 

Glasgow 




Glasgow, a port city on the River Slide in Scotland’s western lowlands and Scotland’s biggest city, is known for its Victorian and nouveau architecture. Glasgow has plenty of world-class museums and galleries, breathtaking architecture, parks, unique attractions, high-street, designer retailers, and a range of bars, restaurants, and pubs. The place is making a comeback with its shipping, industry and commerce activities that reach far and wide around the world. Today it reinvented itself as a cultural hotspot in Europe filled with music, creative arts, design, theatre and much anticipated innovative cuisine.

Cairngorms National Park




Scotland’s national park, the Cairngorms National Park, includes castles, distilleries, family attractions, as well as outdoor fun. The Cairngorms National Park was voted one of the top 20 places to visit in the world by the National Geographic Traveller Magazine. Many would recommend taking a long leisure walk around Loch Muick or cycling the Speyside Way. Visitors may find themselves in awe of the view 1,309 meters on top of Ben Macdui. For skiers, it is good to hear that skiing is possible in winter in the Cairngorms National Park.


Monday, June 4, 2018

Things to do in Wales

Navigation:

The history of Wales began thousands of years ago when Neanderthals first step foot in the country. Homo sapiens arrived in Cymru or Wales about 31,000 BC and the recorded modern human dates from the last ice age era about 9000 BC. Experts consider Wales as one of the significant countries for its ancient discovery of civilizations which dates back from the Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Bronze Age. But like of all Britain, the Celtic Britons and the Brittonic language dominated the country of Wales.

In 43 AD the Romans began their aggressive conquest of Britain, they started their invasion in northeast Wales against the Deceangli. But it’s not until the 79 AD when they regained total control of Wales with their victory against the Ordovices. The Romans retreat from Britain in the 5th century gave way to the Anglo-Saxon invasion in Wales. The largest of these groups, the Welsh people stood as the foundation of the Wales countryside.

Today, Wales is increasingly becoming popular as UK’s most favorite and most beautiful outback destination. Despite its size, it packed with a lot of fun outdoor activities that every family would enjoy.

Ride the Welsh Highland Railway, one of the spectacular train rides in the world




Almost every country has its own railway systems, but the country’s very own railway system is something you wouldn’t miss when visiting the country. Known for its charming green valleys and majestic mountains, the Welsh Highland Railway system is home to some of the oldest and most scenic railways in the entire planet. Many travelers who had been on the trains, claims that it’s the most spectacular ride they had. The journey starts from the Porthmadog station and ending in Blaenau Ffestiniog. It will take travelers to the most beautiful route that runs through the narrow gauge and making its way at the very heart of Snowdonia National Park. It’s hop-on-hop-off, ride so travelers can freely disembark at any of the trailheads, and enjoy a short walk to really enjoy the journey.

Get your gear on and surf the waters of the Gower Peninsula




The Gower Peninsula remains as a very popular destination for Beach lovers and everyone who loves the sea. But the waters of the peninsula attracts most surfers even beginner surfers who want to experience the waves in the region. The area has lots of bays that has swell of waves forming at varying degrees. There are a number of surf communities that offers surf lessons for everyone who wants to be on the water. For adrenaline junkies, the peninsula features vertigo-inducing sea cliffs, rock arches, and hidden coves waiting to be discovered. But for travelers who just want to chill and enjoy the scenery, there are plenty of kayaking and coasteering spots all around the Gower Peninsula.

Discover the most spectacular views at the Wales Coast Path




There really no denying that Wales has one of the most spectacular views on the planet. Dubbed as the most beautiful view in all of UK, the Welsh coast offers an abundance of lush green valleys and majestic cliffs. The 870-mile walk links all the seaside tracks together in Wales, starting from Chepstow in the southeastern region to Queensferry in the North Wales Borderlands. The highlights of the tour are seeing the grand Pembrokeshire coast which looks like a giant chiseled it out from the Atlantic Ocean and the Llŷn Peninsula with views that teeming with wildlife and wild vistas. To celebrate the beauty of the Wales Coast, there are many walking festivals happening each year. Organizers have set a variety of walks to suit every traveler need like experiencing the authentic Welsh cuisine and craft ales.

Be mesmerized with the beauty of Snowdonia




Snowdonia clearly represents the entire Wales scenery, beautiful mountain ranges with lush forestry. Located at the county of Gwynedd, Snowdonia boats of 14 majestic peaks standing at over 3,000 feet high and peeking through the clouds. The most famous of the peaks is perhaps the 3,546-foot Snowdon in which travelers can ride a train to see more of its spectacular view. Snowdonia can be seen as far on the West Coast in the county of Porthmadog. Because of its beauty, the place inspires some of the known legends in the world like King Arthur, who locals insist was Welsh.

Let your imagination soar within the many castles of Wales




Another known fact about Wales is that the regions are teeming with historical castles – where history and myth co-exist, paving the way for many fairy tales like stories of the modern world. Wales houses more than 600 castles with dozens of them in well-preserved conditions. Some of the most famous castles include Harlech, Conwy, Criccieth and of course Caernarfon. Caernarfon Castle was the most extravagant and expensive castles ever built by a king of England.



Thursday, May 31, 2018

Aquatic Ecosystems: Diving Into the Future of Marine Preservation


Winning Scholarship Article for 2018


Thank you to all our applicants who applied. Since we value confidentiality we respecting the request of the winner and not revealing his or her name. Best of luck in the Fall.

-Carved Lake Art Team.

Somewhere deep within our consciousness, we know that we have the duty to protect our environment. Some of us may not know what “aquatic ecosystems” are, but we know that we have to preserve it. It’s just our nature as human beings.

But we don’t have to stay in the dark: we can always seek out new information about the world around us. Staying informed can help us fulfill our role as protectors of nature. We can create a better world for the future generation—not just for humans, but for all species!

Here, we’re not going to get too technical and attempt to be as scientific as possible. We just need a basic understanding of the current state of freshwater and marine life, so that we can understand its implications on the future of aquatic ecosystems. Let’s get started.

A Look at Aquatic Ecosystems




The internet defines an aquatic ecosystem as simply a “body of water” wherein “communities of organisms that are dependent on each other” live and thrive. There are two main types of aquatic ecosystems: marine and freshwater.

In a nutshell, we can say that marine ecosystems cover 71 percent of the Earth’s surface, containing approximately 97 percent of the planet’s water. On the other hand, freshwater ecosystems cover 0.78 percent of the Earth’s surface and inhabit 0.009 percent of its total water. Freshwater ecosystems contain 41 percent of the world’s known fish species.

These are some of the facts you can learn by just browsing the internet and doing your research about aquatic ecosystems. And if you simply look around or watch television, you’ll know that these bodies of water face numerous challenges because of various factors such as climate change, pollution, and even exploitation of marine resources.

Now that we know the basics of our topic, we can talk about the current state of our aquatic ecosystems.

The State of Marine Life: A Silver Lining




Let’s start off with a little message of hope. Marine ecosystems are seemingly “preparing for climate change”. Coral reefs and kelp forests have been found to be more resilient than we think. This is wonderful news, considering all the terrible things that damage our environment on a daily basis.

While climate change may still be ravaging our marine ecosystems, studies show that there are certain examples of sea life that are withstanding its effects. Perhaps we should give these ecosystems more credit for their resilience. According to a survey from a report published in the journal BioScience, 80 percent of the researchers polled have witnessed instances of resilience within ecosystems that are experiencing climatic disturbances.

We can use this knowledge to identify the factors that contribute to this resilience. Hopefully, we can use this data in the future to promote more resilient and diverse ecosystems.

Do keep in mind that this does not render climatic change unimportant. This positive tone should not be misinterpreted—we should still take global warming very seriously. We can only take this for what it is: a ray of hope; a silver lining.

The State of Marine Life: Current Challenges




Aquatic ecosystems still face a lot of challenges, many of which are man made. Because of climate change, heat waves are more common, for example. And if heat waves are deadly for us, it is even more dangerous for marine life.

Heat waves are unusually warm periods that can also occur in the ocean, lasting for weeks or months. It can kill off kelp forests and corals. Climate change is warming ocean waters. Extra exposure can have negative effects on the health of an ecosystem.

Water pollution is another problem that needs to be addressed. It comes as a result of natural and unnatural compounds being added to a body of water. Many animals and plants are susceptible to the effects of water pollution.

Amphibian populations, for instance, are particularly sensitive to pollution because they absorb chemicals in the water through their skins.

Younger animals have a greater sensitivity to these chemical compounds because they have yet to mature physically.

The Future of Marine Preservation: What Could Be Done?




Global warming and illegal human activities (such as dynamite fishing) contribute to the destruction of aquatic ecosystems. But because humans are responsible for this damage, we must also step up and fix it. Efforts are being made to preserve marine and freshwater ecosystems—not only to protect it, but improve its condition.

Long term observations involving water transparency can help provide even more information regarding the extent of damage and what can be done.

Beyond seeking out more information, there are measures being observed in order to actively participate in the rehabilitation of aquatic ecosystems. Marine protected areas are being enforced in order to restrict invasive human activities, or at least limit them.

Sport fishing vessels are being busted for illegal fishing within protected areas.

Creating these marine protected areas is extremely helpful, but it is not enough without enforcement. People must be educated so that they can do their part in preserving these ecosystems, or at least avoid causing further damage.

This is another ray of hope for our beloved environment. Efforts are always being made in the name of protecting marine and freshwater ecosystems—but there’s still a long way to go. As regular individuals, we can’t go out there and enforce marine protected areas by ourselves, but we can still do our part by preventing pollution and encouraging others to do the same.

We can take part in local cleanups if we want to take part in restoring these beautiful aquatic ecosystems. There’s no reason to feel completely helpless. We all live in this world, and we must do our part to protect it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Best Cities in Ireland

Navigation:

There’s really no denying that Ireland has the most alluring and magical charm on the planet. Often described as breathtaking, exceptional, and enchanting even for a relatively small country like Ireland. Its beautiful cities far exceed the expectations of most travelers. Ireland boasts of beautiful landscapes that are amazing and almost out of this world spectacles. With friendly people, great transport systems, and guided tours, the Emerald Isle is fast becoming the top destination for the adrenaline junkies and nature lover. 

Lismore, County Waterford




Lismore is known to have the great historical value of all cities in Ireland, it’s a town located in Waterford County. Tourists can’t help themselves but have long leisure walks within the city to see the famous Lismore Castle and St. Carthage’s Cathedral. The city has a great friendly atmosphere to experience Irish culture as its borders teeming with deep stories from the past. Try to learn a new trick at making crafts at their Heritage Center or scout the perfect souvenir at Lismore Farmers Market. For a bit of nature, the Blackwater River offers good fishing spots and some fun recreational water activities. 

Blackrock, County Louth




There are many travel guides and advice out there, but they all come down to a point – “go where the locals go”, and Blackrock is the perfect epitome of that advice. It’s one of the local’s favorite idyllic small towns with the best Irish beach experience. It’s a rarity to find an almost sunny weather all year round in Ireland, but Blackrock is blessed to have one. Spend the whole day basking in the sun while enjoying a refreshing dip in its waters. Families with smaller children would love to lounge around the promenade with kids having a blast building sand castles and eating delicious ice cream. Don’t let the opportunity pass without having a lovely cup of their traditional Irish tea or a quick visit to one of the village pubs for the world famous pint of Guinness. To cap the day, let your feet wander in its streets that are adorned with iconic Irish storefronts.

Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim




Not far from Dublin, is a beautiful destination famous for its serene rivers and waterways. Another popular local destination, Carrick-on-Shannon has the most beautiful inland scenery that’s been transformed into one of the most progressive commercial centers and home to the country’s major businesses and corporations. With all the amenities of modern day living while having the best of nature at arm’s length, it’s fast becoming a worldwide tourist’s attraction. The city boasts of many guided tours cruising its waterways and many recreational activities for everyone. Either for families with smaller children in tow, or young couples looking for romantic getaway, the city has it all. Carrick-on-Shannon's storefronts and busy marinas make it as one of the most photograph streets in Ireland. 

Kilkenny, County Kilkenny




Many people consider Ireland as the land full of legends and fairy-tale like castles. There’s no denying that its true, especially in Kilkenny. The city is full of historical buildings and home to some of the most memorable buildings in Europe. Tourists will go on their way and visit Kilkenny just to see Kilkenny Castle, St. Canice’s Cathedral, and the Black Abbey. Dubbed as the “Marble City”, it has the unique “Medieval Mile” which has many attractions and fantastic sites to visit. Tourists will truly feel the fairy-tale like the ambiance in the city because of its ancient architecture and stories of legendary people. Kilkenny is becoming a bustling center for music and arts with great exhibits from the National Craft Gallery. For tourists who can’t or doesn’t have enough time to walk in its “Medieval Mile”, a quick trip at the Rothe House can fill their heart’s desire for nature. 

Galway




Galway is another great tourist’s destination in Ireland that has an interesting history and rich cultural heritage like the Galway Cathedral, the Spanish Arc, and the Hall of the Red Earl. But what set Galway apart from other Irish cities is the unique bohemian charm and inhabitant’s love for arts and crafts. The city’s artistic flair keeps the local scene alive and interesting. Many storefronts within the city serve as a great canvas for its unique taste of art, making the ambiance lively and upbeat. People are never bored because of great street performance everywhere, some tourist takes this opportunity to really immerse into the Irish culture. 

Killarney, County Kerry




Killarney tops every best Irish destination there is – filled with deep history and the awesomeness of Mother Nature, the city has it all. The place has been attracting tourists and locals alike since the mid-18th century and there’s no sign of stopping anytime soon. Some of the best attractions include the Muckross House and Abbey, Ross Castle, and St. Mary’s Cathedral. Many left in awe as they traverse one the most beautiful scenery in the world – the Ring of Kerry. Tourists can also visit the Killarney National Park which many considered a crown jewel of all parks.




Monday, May 28, 2018

Fun Water Activities in Ireland

Navigation:



The country of Ireland has more than 5,600 km of awe-inspiring coastlines and pristine waters. With temperate weather conditions, lots of lakes, rivers, and waterways, Ireland is one of the perfect conditions for water activities and extreme water sports. Many ventures up North to experience many sporting activities all year round. Tourists love how they can have adrenaline pumping activities in a breathtaking view of lush greeneries. Ireland boasts of every water sport there is on the planet, so sail away and get those adrenaline rush. 

Canoeing, kayaking, and rowing

Starting with the basic water activity, canoeing is a rare thing in sports, but many find it very relaxing and the best way to enjoy serenity with nature. Kayaking is very much doable in Ireland regardless of weather and different seasons. Tourists can choose from a wide variety of canoeing from sea kayaking, leisurely canoe tours, whitewater racing, canoe trails to rowing challenges events all year round. If you need a bit of adventure and need to challenge your limit, you might want to try to traverse the first dedicated canoe train on Lough Erne Canoe Trail. This 50-km trail links Upper Lough Erne to Lower Lough Erne through the Shannon Waterway. Enjoy the very scenic trail and you might spot some mysterious ruins along the way.

Sailing

Welcome to the country with a long history of sailing. As an island, Ireland has been one of the main countries who just love the sea and set sail to the seven seas. But budding seafarers don’t need to worry; Ireland is pretty much well equipped for all kinds of sailors – and it’s the best place to learn a few tricks of the trade. The country has a number of ISA and RYA approved sailing schools for beginners to advanced levels. They also have expert sailing companies organizing skippered, bareboat, crewed and charter boats. Needless to say, the possibilities of sailing are overflowing in Ireland. As they say, imagination is the only thing that limits your sailing adventure. Ireland has a lot of well-equipped marinas, for those tourists bringing in their own boats to the island. The best time to sail its waters is during one of their many prestigious national, European and world-class sailing championships. 

Surfing

Ireland coastlines make a great variation of breaks perfect for offshore surfing no matter where the wind direction is. Huge waves build up as they travel across the Atlantic Ocean before crashing in its shoreline producing perfect waves ideal for surfing. Although you can surf throughout the year, the perfect time to surf the Irish waters are during spring and summer with temperature averaging around 16°C in months of August to September. But if you feel that the water is calling you, then go ahead and surf even as the temperature dips around 8°C during the coldest months of the year from January to February. Some surfers suggest donning a 5mm wetsuit, boots, and gloves from October to April. While the rest of the months call for a 3mm wetsuit. Beginner surfers don’t need to shy away from this water activity as there are professional coaches offering classes available at surf clubs almost everywhere in Ireland. 

Sub-aqua diving

With a beautiful coastline stretching about 5,600 km, Ireland has one of the most diverse underwater eco-system in the world. Sub-aqua diving runs starting from March until October. Many tourists who tried this water activity love to see the unusual cornucopia of sub-aqua flora and fauna. But the highlights of the tour are seeing the hundreds of sunken shipwreck untouched for centuries in their silent abode. 

Wakeboarding and waterskiing

Extreme sports in Ireland are becoming more popular over the past few years. Thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies want to have the most powerful boats they can put their hands on. Riding these high-powered boats they show off their aerial maneuvers, spins, inverts and grabs on almost every corner of the Irish shorelines. Most beach resorts or facilities are well equipped so thrill seekers just need to bring their own towels and swimsuit. 

Windsurfing

Hailed as one of the best windsurfing locations on earth, Ireland has beautiful lush greeneries views with an addition of historic castles. The top rated places to windsurf in Irish skies include Clew Bay in Mayo, Brandon Bay in Kerry, and Port Stewart in Londonderry. Most facilities have an all-inclusive package, so let the wind take you high on Irish skies. 

Don’t forget safety

Even if the Irish waters call you, and the temptation of fun adrenaline pumping activities keep you on your toes, don’t ever forget about safety. Pack all necessary safety equipment and first aid kit with you whenever and wherever. Always let someone knows where you are going and make sure you have an extra battery pack or power bank at hand in case of emergency.