Travel

Beach Paradise at Boracay

Beaches – these are the most popular vacation destination. There are a lot of things to do here: sun bathe, swim, play beach volleyball, participate in different water activities, and so many more. It is a perfect place for the family and group of friends aka ‘barkada.’

Every continent, every country has its own beach destination they could be proud off. Here in the Philippines, the most popular beach destination is Boracay. Both locals and foreigners travel here not just during summer, but all year round.

It had been dubbed as the summer tourist destination. For years, it had received praises, recognitions, and awards from various travel publications and agencies both locally and internationally. A few awards received by the island include recognition from Travel + Leisure magazine as the best island in the world in 2012.

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Sand sculpture on the shores of Boracay (1)

Boracay is located northwest the shores of Panay Island; it is about 315 kilometers south of Manila, the capital. It is a narrow island measuring seven kilometers in length, and the narrowest width of less than a kilometer. It has a total land area of 10.32 square kilometers.

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Boracay Island (highlighted in red) located on the northwestern shores of Panay Island

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Boracay Island

To get to the island one would need to fly to either Kalibo International Airport or to Godofredo P. Ramos Airport also known as Caticlan Airport. The former airport, located at Kalibo, is approximately 68 kilometers from Caticlan jetty port.

One would need to ride a bus or van for two to three hours before arriving at the jetty port. However, it is the larger airport compared to Caticlan Airport. It also serves international flights to Taipei, Seoul-Incheon, Busan, Shanghai, Chengdu, Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur.

From the airport, tourists would go to Caticlan Jetty Port to ride a boat and cross the straight dividing Panay Island and Boracay. This is boat ride would take approximately 10 to 20 minutes.

The boat shall land on Cagban Beach when weather conditions are favorable. Otherwise, the boat shall land on Tambisaan Beach which would take an added few minutes on the boat.

Once on the island, there are three modes of transportation: motor-tricycles along the major roads, walking along the white powdery beach, or ride pedicabs or sikads that are available along the beach. There are several stalls renting mountain bikes, quad bikes and motorbikes.

Boracay is an island, thus, one expects to see endless beaches. And the island does deliver this and many more.

Tourists are amazed on the dazzling beauty and crystal waters of the beaches. The most famous beach on the island is the four kilometer long White Beach on the west side. This has been highly developed with hotels, resorts, lodging houses, bars, restaurants, and other establishments.

It is very common to see locals offering massages on the beach to tourists. At night, there are fire dancers, drummers and parties. The nightlife here runs until dawn. The beach could be divided into three stations: Station 1, Station 2, and Station 3.

From the three, Station 1 has the most beautiful beaches. It is the quietest due to less people residing at the area. Prominent and expensive hotels are located here.

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Beach scene at Boracay (2)

An attraction that is hard not to notice is Willy’s Rock.

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Willy’s Rock (3)

At Station 3 one could find the famous souvenir shop called Talipapa. It is a wet market where tourists could find all their basic needs, food, and souvenirs at a very affordable price.

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D Talipapa at Station 3 (4)

Opposite White Beach is Bulabog Beach. This area is recognized for windsurfing, kiteboarding. cliff diving, and parasailing.

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Parasailing in Boracay, Philippines (5)

Aside from these two beaches there are others that are equally beautiful and relaxing. Some beaches worth mentioning include Puka Shell Beach or Yapak Beach, Diniwid Beach, Manoc Manoc Beach, Balinghai Beach, and many more.

A good activity to do while at Boracay is island hoping. A lot of locals offer tourists and guests reasonable prices to visit different islands. They also include activities like snorkeling, helmet diving and scuba diving.

On one island, locals would offer to cook fresh fish for you. This may be more expensive, but it is definitely worth it. Some islands to be visited and seen are Crocodile Island, Crystal Cove Island, and Bat Caves. Island hopping activity could last at least a half day.

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Island tour at Boracay (6)

Spending a night at Boracay is not enough to enjoy everything that the island has to offer. The place is best enjoyed with family and friends. So book your tickets, plan your trip, start packing your bags, and prepare your swimwear.

Ecstatic Globetrotter

References:
“Boracay.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 15 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boracay>.
“Boracay, Philippines – Lonely Planet.” Lonely Planet. Web. 15 Dec. 2014. <http://www.lonelyplanet.com/philippines/the-visayas/boracay>.
“Boracay, Philippines Tourism.” Boracay Tourism and Vacations: 100 Things to Do in Boracay, Philippines. Web. 15 Dec. 2014. <http://www.tripadvisor.com.ph/Tourism-g294260-Boracay_Aklan_Province_Panay_Island_Visayas-Vacations.html>.
“I Love Boracay Beach.” I Love Boracay Beach Site Wide Activity RSS. Web. 15 Dec. 2014. <http://boracay.com/>.
“Kalibo International Airport.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 15 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalibo_International_Airport>.

Images:
1. Capanzana, Kristine. Sand sculpture on the shores of Boracay. June 2013. Photograph. December 15, 2014.
2. Ramos, Angelo Juan. Beach scene, the Philippines. August 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 15, 2014.
3. Capanzana, Kristine. Willy’s Rock of Boracay. June 2013. Photograph. December 15, 2014.
4. Capanzana, Kristine. D’ Talipapaat Station 3. June 2013. Photograph. December 15, 2014.
5. Venezuela, Vilson. Parasailing in Boracay, Philippines. May 2014. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 15, 2014.
6. Capanzana, Kristine. Island Tour at Boracay. June 2013. Photograph. December 15, 2014.

Gastronomic Adventures at Italy

When people travel, whether for work, business or leisure it is hard not to taste and have a bite of their local cuisine. Each and every country would have their own signature dish and taste. Their food is a reflection of who they are and their rich cultural pass as well as traditions. The food becomes part of a country’s identity.

When we ask people which would be their favorite cuisine some would answer Thai, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, French, Mexican, Spanish, and even English food to be the best. According to an article by CNN Travel entitled “Which Country has the Best Food?” (1) the best food would be from Italy.

According to a fan of Italian dishes, “Italy has been a foundation on which the worlds cuisine has been built, it has also been adopted by countless cultures across the globe. With rich aromas, robust flavours and a knack for utilizing everything in cooking Italy comes to the forefront in the world of cuisine.”

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For years, Italian chefs have improved and perfected their cuisine like no other. They have mastered the perfect blend of sauces, art of desserts, and texture of pastries. Their dishes are not complicated, but still exquisite. Truly, Italian dishes are perfect comfort foods.

Let us get started on a gastronomic adventure on different must try dishes of Italy.

Wine is the perfect partner of any Italian food. Do not be surprised when you see tourists and locals drinking wine while having lunch since that is very common. As a matter of fact Italy is one of the largest wine producing countries in the world. Aside from supplying their own wine, they export it different parts of the world.

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The most famous Italian bread would be piadina or piada. This is a traditional flatbread made from flour, lard or olive oil, salt, and water. It had been a staple Italian food. Other breads include michetta, pane sciocco, rosetta, and taralli.

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Piadina (1)

Wine plus bread plus cheese equals the perfect relaxing afternoon. Whip these three foods together for a friend or even for yourself and for sure you will enjoy yourself.

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One could never go wrong with pizzas. There are different variations of pizzas throughout the country. It could be as simple as mozzarella and tomato called pizza margherita. It could also have toppings like rosemary and olive oil also known as a prosciutto, tomato based with oregano and garlic called a marinara pizza, or to more complicated pizzas with mushrooms, artichokes and olives called pizza capricciosa. A unique variation of pizza is the calzone which is folded pizza filled with ricotta and other ingredients.

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Pizza margherita (2)

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Calzone (3)

And how could one forget the famous Italian pastas? Their pasta comes in all shapes, sizes and colors: flat, round, elbow and bow shaped. To start it off they have ragu alla Bolognese or simply spaghetti bolognaise, carbonara, fettuccine alfredo, lasagna, ziti, ravioli, and Tagliatelle.

An added twist to their pasta is gnocchi – soft dough dumplings consisting of wheat, egg, cheese, potato, and breadcrumbs. One could always add an ingredient or two for uniqueness.

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Fettuccine Alfredo topped with shrimp

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Tagliatelle al ragù alla Bolognese (4)

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Lasagna

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Gnocchi with ricotta (5)

Aside from pizza and pastas, Italians also serve rice. Their most famous rice dish is the risotto – rice cooked in broth until it reaches a creamy consistency. More often than not it is served first during dining. Each region it Italy has its own way of preparing and cooking the risotto.

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Risotto

Italian restaurants also serve fish, meat, and vegetable dishes. The most popular Italian pork dish is Ragu which is commonly turned into a thick tomato sauce. Bistecca alla Fiorentina is a native dish from Florence using cattle meat. Veal is also popular in Milan; the best veal meal would be Osso Buco. For vegetable dishes try Caponata.

Always leave room for desserts. One would drool at the site of their desserts. It is esthetically appealing and scrumptious to the eyes. The best Italian desserts are cannoli. These are pastry tubes filled with a sweet and creamy filling. Semifreddo on the other hand are Italian ice cream cakes. Another Italian dessert would be the panna cotta which means cooked cream. And of course, Italian dessert would never be complete without the famous gelato or ice cream.

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Cannolo (6)

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Semifreddo

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Panna cotta (8)

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Gelato

Without doubt, Italian dishes have captured the hearts, stomachs and taste buds of everyone. At every corner of Italy, one could taste an extraordinary dish that will make you crave for more.

Ecstatic Globetrotter

References:
1. “Which Country Has the Best Food?” CNN Travel. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. <http://travel.cnn.com/explorations/eat/worlds-best-food-cultures-453528>.
“Countries with the Best Food – Top Ten List – TheTopTens.com.” Countries with the Best Food – Top Ten List – TheTopTens.com. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. <http://www.thetoptens.com/countries-with-the-best-food/>.
“Italian Cuisine.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_cuisine>.
“Italian Food Recipes And Cuisine Ideas – Italian.Food.com.” Italian Food Recipes And Cuisine Ideas – Italian.Food.com. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. <http://italian.food.com/>.
“The Best Cuisine in the World – as Voted by You | Photo Gallery.” The Best Cuisine in the World – as Voted by You. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. <http://www.roughguides.com/gallery/the-best-cuisine-in-the-world-as-voted-by-you/#/15>.
“To 10 Italian Cuisinea – Ranked by Food Author Howard Hillman.” To 10 Italian Cuisinea – Ranked by Food Author Howard Hillman. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. <http://www.hillmanwonders.com/cuisines/italian_cuisine.htm>.

Images:
1. Kobako. Piadina Riminese (Italian filled flatbread). January 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 17, 2014.
2. Capello, Valerio. English: Picture of an authentic Neapolitan Pizza Margherita. September 2005
3. Mario 56. Pizza-braises. October 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 17, 2014.
4. Vighetto, Ivan. Tagliatelle al ragù alla Bolognese. April 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 17, 2014.
5. Paoletta S. Gnocchi with ricotta. June 2008. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 17, 2014.
6. Piscolla, Paolo. Cannolo siciliano with chocolate squares. November 2008. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 17, 2014.
7. Hiro. Panna Cotta with cream and garnish. February 2010. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 17, 2014.

What to See at Tel Aviv, Israel

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We have been in search of famous tourist destinations around the world. To name a few of those recognized worldwide: Singapore, Hongkong, Malaysia, Sydney, New York, and London. There are also cities that are developed, have great architectural influence, and a unique natural beauty that are less common. One city that is worth mentioning is Tel Aviv in Israel.

The city of Tel Aviv ranks as the fifth most visited city in the Middle East. It had been dubbed as “the City that Never Sleeps” and a “party capital” due to its nightlife.

Location
Tel Aviv, also known as Tel Aviv-Yafo could be found along the Mediterranean coast of central-west Israel. It is about 60 kilometers northwest of Jerusalem. The city consists mainly of flattened sand dunes, cliffs, and the Yarkon River.

Climate
Generally the climate at Tel Aviv is Mediterranean.

People experience the coldest during the months of December to February. Temperatures could drop from 9 to 17 degrees Celsius. August is the warmest month with temperatures ranging from 24 to 30 degrees Celsius. Despite these temperature ranges, people could experience at least 300 days of sunshine. Rainy season starts from September to May.

People
Tel Aviv comprises mostly of Jews (about 91.8 percent of the total population) coming from Europe, North America, South America, Australia, Africa, India, and Arabian Peninsula. Other groups include Muslims and Arab Christians. The predominant language of the city is Hebrew. Although there are some who could speak other languages.

Transportation
Just like any other developed city, Tel Aviv has developed a systematic and organized transportation system.

To get to the city, one could travel by plane and arrive at Greater Tel Aviv’s Ben Guiron Airport which is 15 kilometers southeast of the city. It is an international airport serving to more than 14 million passengers. Airline companies operating here include El Al, Arkia Israel Airlines, Israir Airlines, and Sun D’Or International Airlines. Another airport option would be Sde Dov which is within the city. But this airport only caters to domestic flights.

Once inside the city, the main mode of transportation would be by train. There are a total of four train stations located within the city: Tel Aviv Central, Tel Aviv University, HaShalom, and HaHagana. These trains do not operate on Saturdays and holidays.

The major highway of the city is Ayalon Highway or Highway 20. From here there are exits to other highways.

There are three bus companies operating in the city: Dan Bus Company, Metropoline and Kavim. These buses serve the city and neighboring areas.

Taxis are also available. What is unique to their taxi system is their guidelines. A group of taxis would share the same route number and route that they could operate. Taxi fares could either be standardized or metered.

Tel Aviv is also a bicycle friendly city. The municipality encourages its citizens to use bicycles. As a matter of fact, Tel-O-Fun was lunch in 2011. There were 150 bicycle stations built which provided bicycle rental within the city.

Places to see

1. White City

A place that should not be missed is Tel Aviv’s White City. It became popular due to the unique Bauhaus buildings. These buildings were inspired by German Jewish architects who migrated to the city in the year 1930’s. Tel Aviv had been recognized as the largest (more than 4000 buildings) collection of Bauhaus buildings.

In 2003 the area was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The international organization said Tel Aviv is “an outstanding example of new town planning and architecture in the early 20th century.”

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Modernist building on Ben Yehuda Street, in White City (1)

2. Great Synagogue

Because of their religion, there are a lot of synagogues (approximately 544). The most popular is the Great Synagogue built in 1930’s. It was once a popular place of prayer and worship. But now, few people visit the synagogue including public figures who celebrate their Jewish wedding here.

3. Shalom Tower

Adjacent to the Great Synagogue is the Shalom Tower. It was built during the years 1963 to 1965 as an office tower. It was the first skyscraper of the country. There are a total of 34 floors with height of 120 to 130 meters.

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Shalom Meir Tower (2)

4. Azrieli Center

After establishing Shalom Meir Tower, many skyscrapers were built. One of which is Azrieli Center.

Azrieli Center consists of a single base, a large shopping mall with three towers. The first tower, the Circular Tower, stands at a height of 187 meters or 49 floors which is the tallest. The topmost floor was an observation deck which gives a perfect view of Tel Aviv. The second tower, Triangular Tower, stands at 169 meters and has 46 floors. The third and last tower, the Square Tower stands at 154 meters and was the last to be built.

It occupies a total land area of 34,500 square meters.

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Azrieli Center (3)

5. Rabin Square and Tel Aviv City Hall

There is also a city square open to public at Tel Aviv called Rabin Square. It was established in the year 1964. Just like other public squares, it had been the venue for rallies, demonstrations, parades and public events such as Independence Day.

To the north of the square one could find Tel Aviv City Hall. The city hall followed a Brutalist architectural design and was establish in 1966.

Recently there were criticisms on the aesthetic appearance of the square and city hall. Many planned to renovate the area to complement surrounding modern day skyscrapers. These plans were rejected in preservation of Tel Aviv’s history. To compensate an ecological water pool and a recreational area were built.

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Rabin Square and City Hall (4)

6. Parks and beaches
Aside from the famous Rabin Square there are other developed parks (Hayarkon Park, Charles Clore Park, Independence Park, Meir Park and Dubnow Park) within the city. About 19% of the land is used as urban parks.

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Hayarkon Park (5)

Aside from the parks, Tel Aviv is also famous for its beaches. Year after year it had ranks as one of the best beaches worldwide.

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Beach at Tel Aviv (6)

7. Jaffa Clock Tower

The Jaffa Clock Tower dates back to 1900 to celebrate the 25th anniversary as ruler of Ottoman Sultan Abd al-Hamid II. This is just one of the many clock towers built for the same reason. It is a three story tower build using limestone. At the top, two clocks and a plaque were placed. The plaque gives recognition to Israelis who died during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

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Jaffa Clock Tower (7)

Ecstatic Globetrotter

References:
“Azrieli Center.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azrieli_Center>.
“Bauhaus.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bauhaus>.
“Great Synagogue (Tel Aviv).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Oct. 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Synagogue_(Tel_Aviv)>.
“Jaffa Clock Tower.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaffa_Clock_Tower>.
“Rabin Square.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabin_Square>.
“Shalom Meir Tower.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shalom_Meir_Tower>.
“Tel Aviv – Lonely Planet.” Lonely Planet. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://www.lonelyplanet.com/israel-and-the-palestinian-territories/mediterranean-coast/tel-aviv>.
“Tel Aviv.” Travel Guide. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://wikitravel.org/en/Tel_Aviv>.
“Tel Aviv.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tel_Aviv>.
“Tel Aviv City Hall.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Nov. 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tel_Aviv_City_Hall>.
“White City (Tel Aviv).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_City_(Tel_Aviv)>.

Images:
1. Sambach. English: Modernist building on Ben Yehuda Street, in White City heritage district, Tel Aviv. 2008. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 12, 2014.
2. Shalom Meir Tower from the corner of Rothschild Blvd. and Herzl St. March 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 12, 2014.
3. Rastaman3000. English: Azriely Center, view from “Mifdal-Ha-Yovel,” Tel Aviv, Israel. May 2010. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 12, 2014.
4. Henzel, Ron. English: Rabin Square ecologic pool and Holocaust Memorial after renovation. In the back: Tel Aviv-Yafo City Hall. May 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 12, 2014.
5. Utrecht1. English: Hayarkon Park with Hayarkon river flowing through it. November 2014. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 12, 2014.
6. Sambach. IDF soldiers cleaning a beach in Tel Aviv. 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 12, 2014.
7. Jouan, Remi. Tour de l’horlage a Jaffa. October 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 12, 2014.

Other Beautiful Places to Visit at Sydney, Australia – Part 2

G’day mate!

We have already mentioned about Sydney’s central business district in a previous article. One could not underestimate the uniqueness of the City because of the different famous tourist attractions such as Darling Harbor, Port of Jackson, and Hyde Park. But there are more places to visit, see, and explore outside the City.

The country has been known to be the home of wombats, wallabies, koalas, and kangaroos. One could visit the zoo at Sydney to see and interact with these animals and many more. In addition to this, there are different water sport activities that could be done at the beach or inside a sport complex. Do not forget about a trip to the mountains. All of these are definitely breathtaking and worthwhile.

So what are we waiting for? Let us not waste any minute; it is time to explore other places in Sydney.

Our first stop would be the zoo. There are three prominent zoos in Sydney Taronga Zoo, Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, and Koala Park Sanctuary.

The most famous zoo in Sydney is Taronga Zoo.

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Taronga Zoo (1)

Taronga came from the aboriginal word meaning “beautiful view.” This zoo has a spectacular view of eight zoogeographic regions and 2600 different animals and wildlife. It occupies 21 hectares. Included in the park is a “Rustic Bridge” – a popular landscape, platypus and nocturnal houses, waterfowl ponds and walkthrough rainforest aviary, veterinary quarantine center, friendship farm and seal theatre. As of this day continual improvements are being done to attract more and more tourists and students.

Another popular place to visit to see animals, particularly marine animals is Sea Life Sydney Aquarium. Sea Life Sydney Aquarium is the home to at least 700 species of fishes and other marine life. These animals are divided into 14 zones including Bay of Rays, Discovery Rockpool, Shark Valley, and a replica of the Great Barrier Reef.

If you want to see koalas then visit the Koala Park Sanctuary. As the name implies, the park is the home to numerous koalas. Aside from koalas, the park is the home of peacocks, penguins, cockatoos, dingos, emus, kangaroos, wombats and echidnas.

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Koala Bear at Koala Park Sanctuary (2)

Another popular activity is visiting the beaches. Both foreigners and Australians love the beaches; it is ideal for surfing and sunbathing.
The most popular beach would be Bondi Beach. In 2008, the beach was added to the Australian National Heritage List. The beach is approximately 7 kilometers east of the City. The shores extend up to 1 kilometer. The beach had been divided into several sections depending on the current and strength of the waves. A section is allocated for surfers and the southern section. Other activities include beach volleyball, sunbathing, and simple wadding in the water. There are nearby cafes, restaurants, and hotels.

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Bondi Beach (3)

Another popular beach on the northern areas of Sydney is Manly. Just like the former beach, Manly has several shops, restaurants and bars surrounding the area. One mode of transportation to the beach is via ferry from Circular Quay.
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Manly Beach

Another beautiful beach at northern Sydney is Palm Beach. It is approximately 41 kilometers away from the City. The most prominent landmark of this beach is the Barrenjoey Lighthouse, water reservoirs and lodges. There are also parks, sporting areas, golf club, sailing club, surf school, and life-saving classes. The best way to reach this place is by plane or ferry. One could also travel by bus and pass by all the scenic routes.

sydney05Palm Beach

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Barrenjoey Lighthouse (4)

Aside from beaches, another popular activity is the swimming complex. One popular swimming complex is Sydney Olympic Park. This sporting, cultural and leisure complex is situated 16 kilometers west of the City. In the year 2000 this was used during the Olympic Games. Currently, it is used to host the Sydney Royal Easter Shoe, Sydney Festival, Stereosonic, Big Day Out and other sporting events.

For adventurous people, try the Wet’n’Wild. This water park was recently opened in late 2013. Included in the park are water slides, wave pool, food and beverage stalls as well as retail outlets. The five slide towers surround a man-made beach.

A breathtaking site is Blue Mountains which is located 50 kilometers west of the City. This famous mountain forms a part of the Greater Blue Mountains Area, a World Heritage Site. The site was enlisted in the year 2000. Aside from admiring the beautiful mountain ranges, one would love the different vegetation and animals residing in the area. Tourist attractions in the area include the Edge Cinema, Giant Stairway, Three Sisters, Jenolan Caves, museums, and many more. One could either take a simple walk along the guided path or try rock climbing, biking, hiking and canyoning.

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View of Jamison Valley. From left to right: Three Sisters, Mt. Solitary, and Narrowneck Plateau (5)

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Three Sisters (6)

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One of the columns inside Jenolan Caves

Ecstatic Globetrotter

References:
“Blue Mountains (New South Wales).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Mountains_(New_South_Wales)>.
“Bondi Beach, New South Wales.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bondi_Beach,_New_South_Wales>.
“Manly Beach.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manly_Beach>.
“Official Sydney Website – Things to Do, Accommodation, Events and Deals.” Official Sydney Website – Things to Do, Accommodation, Events and Deals. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://www.sydney.com/>.
“Palm Beach, New South Wales.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_Beach,_New_South_Wales>.
“Sea Life Sydney Aquarium.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Life_Sydney_Aquarium>.
“Sydney.” Australia, Attractions. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://www.australia.com/explore/cities/sydney.aspx>.
“Sydney.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney>.
“Sydney Olympic Park.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Olympic_Park>.
“Taronga Zoo.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taronga_Zoo>.
“Tourism in Sydney.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_Sydney>.
“Wild Life Sydney.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Life_Sydney>.

Images:
1. Dawson, Alex. English: Taronga Zoo. September 2008. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 29, 2014.
2. Jerrye & Roy Klotz MD. English: Koala Bear. October 1970. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 29, 2014.
3. Lao, Athena. Bondi Beach. January 2011. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 29, 2014.
4. Horsnell, Mark. Barrenjoey Lighthouse. January 2007. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 29, 2014.
5. Blah12233. English: Panorama of the Blue Mountains. August 2010. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 29, 2014.
6. JJ Harrison. English: The Three Sisters, Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia. January 2010. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 29, 2014.

Where In New York?

Statue of Liberty seen from the Circle Line ferry, Manhattan, New York

Planning to go to the city of dreams? One of the most famous city and over populated place in the world, New York City. Thinking of the best time to pay that city a visit? NYC is a great place to visit all year round! But each season does have its boon and bane.

If you don’t mind the cold weather, New York is best visited in Winter for tourists who want to see the glamour of this city during the holidays. You can go there in Spring too and enjoy NYC outdoors without the heat of summer or you can go there in Summer to attend free events under the heat of the sun. Fall is the most favorite season to be visited in New York but it can be the most expensive time to go there.

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Location

New York is the 27th biggest state in the United States. It’s located in the northeastern part of the United States of America.

The state shares its northwestern and northern border with Quebec and Ontario of Cana-da, eastern border with Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut, southern border with New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the Atlantic Ocean and western border with Ontario and Pennsylvania. The length of the boundary of New York is 2,301 km.

How to get there

Flying into New York City

New York has 3 major airports:

1. John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) for domestic and international flights.
2. LaGuardia Airport (LGA) for predominantly domestic flights & Canadian flights.
3. Newark Airport (EWR) for domestic and international flights.

If you are frugal, you might want to try Priceline or Hotwire to get the best fares,but they don’t always offer the best deals.

Where to stay in New York:

If you are planning to have a luxurious stay, here’s a small list of the most expensive ho-tels in NYC:

1. Four Seasons Hotel New York

The luxurious Four Seasons Hotel New York is located at 57 East 57th Street, Midtown East. Subway routes are N/R/W to 59th Street/Fifth Avenue. Prices range from $450 to $2100 per night.

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2. New York Palace
The New York Palace is located at 455 Madison Ave, Midtown East. Subway routes areF/B/D/Q at 47th/50th Streets/Rockefeller Center. Price ranges from $225 – $1600 per night. You can visit their website and check their rates at http://www.newyorkpalace.com/.

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3. The Peninsula-New York
Peninsula New York is located at 700 5th Avenue, Midtown. Subway routes are E/V at 53rd Street/5th Avenue; N/R/W at 59th Street/5th Avenue. Price ranges from $425 – $2450 per night. You can visit their website and check their rates at http://www.peninsula.com/New_York/en/default.aspx.

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4. The Waldorf=Astoria
Waldorf=Astoria is located at 301 Park Avenue, Midtown East. Subway routes are E to 51st Street/Lexington. Price ranges from $219 – $899. You can visit their website and check their rates at http://www.waldorfnewyork.com/.

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If you are looking for cheap hotels to stay in NYC, here’s a small list of their cheapest hotels:

1. Chelsea Savoy Hotel
Chelsea Savoy Hotel is located at 204 W. 23rd St.. Subway routes are 1 to 23rd Street. Price ranges from $99-425. You can visit their website and check their rates at http://www.chelseasavoynyc.com/.

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2. Colonial House Inn
Colonial House Inn is located at 318 W. 22nd St.. Subway routes are C/E to 23rd Street. Price ranges from $130-375. You can visit their website and check their rates at http://www.colonialhouseinn.com.

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3. Cosmopolitan Hotel-Tribeca
Cosmopolitan Hotel-Tribeca is located at 95 West Broadway. Subway routes are 1/2/3 to Chambers St. Price ranges from $159-259. You can visit their website and check their rates at http://www.cosmohotel.com.

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Where to go?

Times Square

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Times Square is a major commercial intersection in Manhattan, New York City. It’s where some iconic scenes from iconic movies are being filmed at and you don’t want to miss the glamour of the famous Times Square. It is one of the most visited tourist attractions with over 39 million visitors annually.

Central Park

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National landscapers and architects, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, won a design competition in 1858 to improve and expand the park with a plan they named the “Greensward Plan”. Construction began the same year, continued during the American Civil War further south and was finally done in 1873.

Empire State Building

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Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art (colloquially The Met), located in New York City, is the largest art museum in the United States and one of the ten largest in the world. You can find it on the eastern edge of Central Park along Manhattan’s Museum Mile. There is a second smaller location at “The Cloisters” in Upper Manhattan that showcases medieval art.

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Central Business District of Sydney, Australia

Howdy, mate! Welcome to the “land down under!”

Australia occupies 7,617,930 square kilometers in land area. It is the sixth largest country in the world. The country is divided into six states namely: New South Wales (NSW), Queensland (QLD), South Australia (SA), Tasmania (TAS), Victoria (VIC), and Western Australia (WA). New South Wales together with Queensland and Victoria form the eastern area of the country.

New South Wales occupies 809,444 square kilometers of Australia making it the fifth (out of sixth) largest state. Despite the size, there are many things one can see, do and experience. One of the most popular cities in New South Wales, and perhaps the whole country is Sydney.

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Sydney Skyline (1)

Sydney is the capital, largest and most populous city in the country. It is also the main tourist attraction in New South Wales and the whole country. There are many natural and man-made attractions within Sydney. A few places that should not be missed are Taronga Zoo, Blue Mountains, Sydney Olympic Park, Bondi Beach and many more. But for this article we shall focus on the city which is also known as the central business district.

The central business district or simply the City is the commercial area wherein business, work, transportation are located. Aside from these, there are tourist attractions that one should not miss. These include Sydney Harbor, Darling Harbor, Royal Botanic Gardens, Hyde Park and many more. Here we have listed a few notable landmarks in the central business district.

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Sydney Central Business District (2)

One proud and unique features of Sydney is the famous port is Port Jackson, also known as Sydney Harbor. It became very popular because of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge. It is also the venue for New Year’s Eve.

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Sydney Harbor at Night (3)

The Sydney Opera House is one of the most distinguished building in the world. It is a performance theater that caters to more than a thousand performances each year. In 2007, UNESCO recognized the building as a World Heritage Site.

sydney04Sydney Opera House (4)

The Sydney Harbor Bridge is adjacent to the famous Opera House. It has eight road lanes, two railways, a pedestrian walkway and a bicycle lane. It spans at 503 meters making it the sixth longest spanning-arch bridge. And with a height of 134 meters, it is the tallest steel arch bridge.

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Sydney Harbor Bridge (5)

Other famous landmarks at Port of Jackson include the Gladesville Bridge, Ryde Bridge, Silverwater Bridge, Pyrmont Bridge, ANZAC Bridge, Iron Cove Bridge, Spit Bridge, Roseville Bridge, Tarban Creek Bridge, and Sydney Harbor Tunnel. There are also numerous cruise ship terminals located at Circular Quay, Sydney Cove and White Bay. Aside from bridges and ferry terminal, the port also includes the Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney Heritage Fleet and RAN Heritage Centre.

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Port of Jackson (6)

Luna Park Sydney is an amusement park located across Sydney Harbor. After several mishaps, improvements, repairs, reconstruction, redevelopments and re-openings, the park still lives. The latest re-opening happened in 2004.

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Luna Park (7)

Darling Harbor is not just a harbor, it is also known as a recreational area. Some famous attractions here include Paddy’s Market, Chinese Garden of Friendship, Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Sydney Aquarium, Madame Tussauds, Sydney Wildlife World and many more.

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Darling Harbor (8)

If you want a bird’s eye view of the port and neighboring places, one could always climb Sydney Tower. Sydney Tower is also known as Sydney Tower Eye, AMP Tower, Westfield Centrepoint Tower, Centrepoint Tower or simply Centrepoint. It is the second tallest skyscraper in the southern hemisphere at a height of 309meters.

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Sydney Tower (9)

Let us now visit the park. The famous park at the heart of the city (at central business district) is Hyde Park. It is a 16.2 hectare park which is the oldest in the country. Within the park are famous monuments such as Archibald Fountain, Nagoya Gardens, ANZAC War Memorial, Obelisk, and Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

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Archibald Fountain (10)

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Obelisk (11)

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War Memorial (12)

Near the park are famous landmarks such as the Supreme Court of New South Wales, St. James Church, Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney Hospital, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Australian Museum, and David Jones Limited Store.

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St. Mary’s Cathedral (13)

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David Jones (14)

Other famous parks in the central business district include the Domain and Royal Botanic Gardens. The Domain occupies 34 hectares of land and is very popular for outdoor concerts, open air events and large gatherings. Adjoining the Domain is the Royal Botanic Gardens. This is one of the three major public botanical gardens in Sydney.

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The Domain (15)

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Royal Botanic Gardens (16)

Ecstatic Globetrotter

References:
“Australia.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 24 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia>.
“Darling Harbour.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 24 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darling_Harbour>.
“Hyde Park, Sydney.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 24 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyde_Park,_Sydney>.
“Luna Park Sydney.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 24 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luna_Park_Sydney>.
“New South Wales.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 24 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_South_Wales>.
“Official Sydney Website – Things to Do, Accommodation, Events and Deals.” Official Sydney Website – Things to Do, Accommodation, Events and Deals. Web. 24 Nov. 2014. <http://www.sydney.com/>.
“Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 24 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Botanic_Gardens,_Sydney>.
“Port Jackson.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 24 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Jackson>.
“Sydney.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 24 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney>.
“Sydney Central Business District.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 24 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_central_business_district>.
“Sydney Harbour Bridge.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 24 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Harbour_Bridge>.
“Sydney Opera House.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 24 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Opera_House>.
“Sydney Tower.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 24 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Tower>.
“The Domain, Sydney.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 24 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Domain,_Sydney>.
“Tourism in Sydney.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 24 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_Sydney>.

Images:
1. Giles, Beau. English: Aerial view of the Sydney skyline from the north. December 2010. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 24, 2014.
2. Adam, J. W. C. Sydney sunset from the Balmain wharf. November 2010. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 24, 2014.
3. Lights+shades. English: Sydney Harbour at night. December 2011. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 24, 2014.
4. Hpeterswald. English: Sydney Opera House. July 2013. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 24, 2014.
5. JJ Harrison. English: Sydney Harbour Bridge from Circular Quay, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. January 2010. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 24, 2014.
6. Henning Blatt. English: View of Port Jackson and Sydney CBD, taken shortly after take-off from Kingsford Smith Airport. June 2007. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 24, 2014.
7. Adam J. W. C. English: Luna Park Sydney. March 2009. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 24, 2014.
8. Adam J. W. C. Darling Harbour, New South Wales. N.d. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 24, 2014.
9. Adam J. W. C. Amp, Sydney Tower. 2009. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 24, 2014.
10. J Bar. English: Archibald Fountain Hyde Park, Sydney, Australia. September 2006. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 24, 2014.
11. J Bar. Sydney Hyde Park Obelisk. February 2007. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 24, 2014.
12. Adam J. W. C. The War memorial in Hyde Park Sydney. 2009. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 24, 2014.
13. Amandajm. English: St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Sydney. July 2009. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 24, 2014.
14. Nomad Tales. David Jones Elizabeth St Entrance, Sydney. N.d. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 24, 2014.
15. J Bar. The Domain, Sydney, Australia. September 2006. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 24, 2014.
16. Bidgee. English: Gates at Royal Botanic Gardens. March 2011. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 24, 2014.

Buenos Aires: Paris of South America

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La bienvenida a Buenos Aires, la Reina de El Plata! Or simply, put, welcome to Buenos Aires, the queen of El Plata.

Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city in Argentina. It is the country of tango. Tourists flock the city all year round because of its splendor and beauty. Some have even compared the city as ‘Paris of South America.’ As a matter of fact, Buenos Aires is the number one go to destination in South America. Architectural styles are beyond compare. Plus, the rich culture captivates the hearts of tourists. Aside from art and culture, the city has been the host of several competitions and sporting events.

Getting to and around the city

Getting to and around the city is easy because of the reliable public transportations system.

The city could be entered via planes or ferries. There are two main airports: Ministro Pistarini International Airport – serves flights to most countries, and Aeroparque Jorge Newbery Airport – used for domestic flights and nearby countries like Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. Another airport, San Fernando Airport is could be found in the city. It is used for general aviation like flying clubs, agricultural aviation, light aircraft manufacturing, and similar operations.

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Ministro Pistarini International Airport (1)

On the other hand, ferries connect the port of Buenos Aires to the neighboring country, Uruguay.

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Ferry docked at Buenos Aires (2)

There are different modes of transportation around the city. There are taxis, undergrounds or subways, colectivo or buses, tramways and commuter rails.

Places to visit

With the help of these different transportation systems, it is easy to explore the beautiful city.

The question is: what are the places to see? There are so many things to choose from and do here. One could always join the lively festivity and dances of a tango show and participate in the Buenos Aires Jazz Festival. Let us not forget about shopping. There are indeed a lot of stores to choose from when buying souvenir items for you and your love ones. Dining and tasting local cuisines and delicacies is a must try. Of course, one cannot visit the country without having a tour to some famous destinations.

Here we have listed a few of the notable and beautiful things not to miss.

Plaza de Mayo

Plaza de Mayo is one of the oldest squares in Buenos Aires. It was established in 1580 by Juan de Garay. Back then, the plaza was divided into two: Plaza de la Victoria and Plaza del Fuerte. But in 1884, the two plazas were united by demolition of the colonnade. This resulted into the modern plaza that we see today.

Surrounding and within the plaza are important landmarks such as Casa Rosada, Hacienda Palace, Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires, May Pyramid, Buenos Aires City Hall, Cabildo, and a lot more.

Casa Rosada

Casa Rosada, also known as the Pink House is the office of the President of Argentina. Aside from being an office, it is also a museum which displays several memorabilia from previous presidents. The building is one of the National Historic Monuments of Argentina.

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Casa Rosada (3)

Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral

The Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral is considered to be the main Catholic church of the city. Unlike other Catholic churches, the cathedral has no towers, dome, and portico or porch. Inside the church are numerous statues of saints. It is also the final resting place of General Jose de San Martin, General Juan Gregorio de Heras, and General Tomas Guido, as well as an unnamed soldier during the time of independence.

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Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires (4)

May Pyramid

The oldest national monument in Buenos Aires is the May Pyramid. It was built in 1811 to commemorate the anniversary of the May Revolution. Through years, several modifications were done. Presently, the pyramid stands at a height of 61.5 feet.

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May Pyramid (5)

Buenos Aires Cabildo

The Buenos Aires Cabildo was built in 1608 as a government building for Viceroyalty of the Rio de Plata. Through years reconstruction and expansion had occurred to the building. Presently the building is used as a museum. It showcases the National Museum of the Cabildo and the May Revolution. There are clothes, artifacts and jewelry that originated from the 18th century.

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Buenos Aires Cabildo (6)

Buenos Aires House of Culture

Outside the Plaza de Mayo are other important architectures such as Buenos Aires House of Culture at Montserrat. It was built in 1898 as an office for the newspaper company, La Prensa. The building had an outstanding architectural detail; it is noted for the spire containing a siren and a gilt bronze monument on top of the spire. When the newspaper declined in popularity the building became the Ministry of Culture of Buenos Aires. In 1995, the building was announced as a National Historic Monument.

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Buenos Aires House of Culture (7)

Congressional Plaza

Another important plaza in Buenos Aires is Congressional Plaza which could be found in front of the Argentine Congress Palace. This is a monumental building used by the Argentinian congress for legislative purposes.

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Argentine National Congress Palace (8)

The Congressional Plaza occupies a total land area of 3 hectares. Within the plaza, directly in front of Congress is a Monument to the Two Congresses.

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Monument to the Two Congresses and Congress, Buenos Aires (9)

There is an adjoining plaza called Mariano Moreno Plaza. Within the plaza is a monument erected in honor of Mariano Moreno and intellectual leader during the 1810. Another famous monument is he Thinker by Auguste Rodin. There is also a landmark called Kilometer Zero which marks the center of all national highways.

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Monument of Mariano Moreno (10)

 

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The Thinker (11)

There is another nearby plaza called Plaza Lorea. This plaza has a monument dedicated to Jose Manuel Estrada, a public official.

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Monument Jose Manuel Estrada (12)

Café Tortoni

Café Tortoni is a famous coffee house at Avenida de Mayo. According to UCityGuides it is one of the most beautiful cafes. Aside from being recognized for its beauty, it has been known for its distinguished customers like politicians, idols and foreigners. The basement of the café is used for jazz and tango presentations, and the back has games such as billiards, dice and dominoes. There is also a library inside the café.

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Cafe Tortoni (13)

Obelisk

The Obelisk is another important landmark and icon at Buenos Aires. It was built on March 1936 during the celebration of 400 years after the foundation of the city. It stands at a total height of 67.5 meters with 206 steps. There is a single door at the base that lets tourists reach the top.

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Obelisk (14)

Ecstatic Globetrotter

References:
“Buenos Aires.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 26 Oct. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buenos_Aires>
“Buenos Aires Cabildo.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 26 Oct. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buenos_Aires_Cabildo>
“Buenos Aires House of Culture.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 26 Oct. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buenos_Aires_House_of_Culture>
“Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 26 Oct. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buenos_Aires_Metropolitan_Cathedral>
“Café Tortoni.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 26 Oct. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caf%C3%A9_Tortoni>
“Casa Rosada.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 26 Oct. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casa_Rosada>
“Congresstional Plaza.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 26 Oct. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congressional_Plaza>
“Obelisco de Buenos AIres.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 26 Oct. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obelisco_de_Buenos_Aires>
“Plaza de Mayo.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 26 Oct. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plaza_de_Mayo>
“Pyramid de Mayo.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 26 Oct. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pir%C3%A1mide_de_Mayo>
“Tourism in Buenos Aires.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 26 Oct. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_Buenos_Aires>

Images:
1) St-Amant, Martin. English: Panorama of the Ministro Pistarini International Airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina. January 2010. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. October 26, 2014.
2) Cornelius, Jaan. Das Schiff von Buquebus, das in ein paar Stunden in Richtung Buenos Aires aufbricht. October 2009. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. October 26, 2014.
3) Maia, Nicolas. Casa Rosada, em Buenos Aires, Argentina. January 2005. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. October 26, 2014.
4) Diesterheft, Richie. Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires. July 2007. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. October 26, 2014.
5) Mr Tickle. Pirámide de Mayo (Buenos Aires). January 2006. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. October 26, 2014.
6) Rcidte. Cabildo de Buenos Aires. 2006. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. October 26, 2014.
7) Diesterheft, Richie. The former La Prensa building, today the Buenos Aires House of Culture. June 2007. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. October 26, 2014.
8) Tarrio, Jacobo. English: Argentine National Congress. August 2008. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. October 26, 2014.
9) Diesterheft, Richie. Monument to the Two Congresses and Congress, Buenos Aires. June 2007. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. October 26, 2014.
10) Arcibel. Monumento a Mariano Moreno en la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina. May 2007. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. October 26, 2014.
11) Minetti, Fabian. English: Plaza del Congreso, Buenos Aires, Argentina. N.d. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. October 26, 2014.
12) Sking. Monumento a José Manuel Estrada. October 2006. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. October 26, 2014.
13) Fiadone, Roberto. Café Tortoni, en Avenida de mayo, Buenos Aires. December 2006. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. October 26, 2014.
14) Mr Tickle. Obelisco (Buenos Aires). January 2006. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. October 26, 2014.

Four Historical Cities in Morocco

The Kingdom of Morocco is an exceptional country on the northern part of the Africa. With its geographic location and terrain there are a lot of things to see and visit. In addition to the natural landscape, there are man-made attractions such as buildings and architecture. Their culture influence is a mixture of Arab, indigenous Berber, Sub-Saharan African and European.

LOCATION

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Morocco is located in the northwestern area of Africa. On the west is the Atlantic Ocean, on the north is the Strait of Gibraltar and Mediterranean Sea, on the east is Algeria, and on the south is the Western Sahara.

The country is composed of different land forms. From the northeast to the southwest of the country are the Atlas Mountains, and to the northwest to the northeast are the Rif Mountains. On the southwest of the country, one could see the Sahara Dessert. Furthermore, there are coastal areas on the west and northern section of the country.

PEOPLE

Majority of the Moroccan citizens are descendants of Arab, Berber, or Arab-Berber. A minority of the people are Haratin and Gnawa descendants. There are also Sub-Saharan African and European people.

Majority of the people believe in Islam. Other religions are Christianity and Judaism.

And the people speak Berber, Arabic, Darija or Moroccan Arabic, and French.

GETTING THERE

The best way to reach Morocco is by plane. There are many international flights from other countries that fly direct to the country. Some airlines that fly in and out of the country are Aer Lingus, Easyjet, Ryanair, Royal Air Maroc, Aigle Azur, and many more.

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Rabat-Sale Airport

Other ways to reach the country is by land (by road and railroad), and ferry. If by travelling by ferry, the most common route is from Spain, France, and Italy which would take around 35 minutes to 2 hours.
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On the left train Station at Morocco, on the right Nador Port

There are so many things to see and do at Morocco. There are numerous mausoleums, tombs, mosques, museums and palaces to see. Aside from this, there are various jovial festivals celebrated throughout the country. All of these could be seen in every city of the country.

Here we have cited the four historical cities that is a must to be seen.

FOUR HISTORICAL CITIES TO VISIT

Rabat

The capital and second largest city in Morocco is Rabat. In 2013, CNN awarded the city as the second Top Travel Destination. There are indeed a lot of reasons why tourists should visit the city. There are a lot of places to see and things to experience.

Here are a few of the places to see and experience:

• Mausoleum of Mohammed V

This is the resting place of the King Hassan II and his son, Prince Abdallah. The mausoleum is painted white with a green tiled roof.

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• Hassan Tower or Tour Hassan

This is actually a tower of an unfinished mosque. The tower was supposed to be the largest at a height of 86 meters; unfortunately construction was halted in 1199 following the death of the sultan. The tower reached a height of 44 meters.

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• Rabat Archeological Museum

The museum opened in 1932 and is the home to a wide array of archeological artifacts. Included in the collection are human remains, artifacts, and other objects that date back to the Paleolithic period.

• Kasbah of the Usayas

This is a fortress located near the Bou Regreg River. In 2012, the place was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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• Mawazine

In 2001 Mohammed VI started a joyous music festival. Since then, it became an annual tradition. It is a week-long celebration of culture and music. Aside from performances, there are also workshops for dancing and many more.

Casablanca

The largest city in the country is Casablanca located near the Atlantic Ocean. Aside from being an important city economically and demographically, it is an important tourist destination. Here are a few things to see.

• Hassan II Mosque

Another name for the mosque is Grande Mosque Hassan II or Casablanca Hajj. It is noted to be the largest mosque in the country and the 7th in the world. The tower has a height of 210 meters which is the tallest in the world. On top of the tower is a laser that points towards the direction of Mecca.

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• Morocco Mall

For tourists wishing to go shopping, they should not miss Morocco Mall. The mall opened in 2011 and it is the largest shopping mall in Africa with an area of 200,000 square meters. A stunning feature of the mall is the giant aquarium which is the home to a number of different fishes.

Marrakesh

Marrakesh is the third largest city in the country. It is one of the four imperial cities located at the foothills of Atlas Mountains. It was dubbed as “Red City” or “Ochre City” because buildings were constructed from red sandstone, giving a reddish hue on the buildings.

There are many reasons to visit the city. Listed here are a few things to see.

• Jamaa el Fnaa

Jamaa el Fanaa when translated means “the assembly of trespassers.” It is a place where in the past meets the present. Culture and tradition had blended with modernization. It was and continues to be the main square and market place in the city. In 1985, the place was included in the UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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• El Badi Palace

El Badi Palace, when translated means The Incomparable Palace. Although, the palace had been destroyed and ruined, it is still remains a famous tourist attraction.

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• Bab Agnaou

During the 12th century the city is enclosed with high walls for protection. Interspaced in the walls are nineteen gates. One gate on the south is Bab Agnaou.

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• Menara gardens

In the midst of palaces, walls, and trade lies a relaxing garden, Menara Gardens. It was built under the reign of Abd al-Mu’min during the 12th century.

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• Koutoubia Mosque

The most famous and largest mosque in the city is Koutoubia Mosque. Parts of the mosque were inspired by Giralda in Seville and Hassan Tower in Rabat.
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• Marrakech Museum

For those seeking a cultural immersion, take a tour at Marrakech Museum. It was built during the 19th century inside the Dar Menebhi Palace. It was inspired by Andalusian architecture. In 1997, the building was declared a museum and dubbed “an orgy of stalactite stucco-work.” Visitors would be able to see Moroccan art, books, coins, and poetry.

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Fes

Fes was once the capital of Morocco. It was dubbed as “Mecca of the West” and “Athens of Africa.” With these nicknames, it is truly a place worth visiting.

There are two old towns in Fes: Fes el Bali and Al-Qarawiyin. Aside from these two there are other places of interest.

• Fes el Bali

Between the two towns, Fes el Bali was built earlier during the years 789 to 808 AD. It is famous for two things: having the oldest university (University of al-Qarawiyyin or al-Karaouine) and being a car-free urban area.

In 1981 Fes was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

• Madrasa Bou Inania

In AD 1351 to 1356 Abu Inan Faris founded an educational institution and congregational mosque that followed the Marinid architecture.

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• University of al-Qarawiyin or al-Karaouine

The university was built in 859 by Fatima al-Fihri. It is both an educational and spiritual center. And in 1963, the university became one of Morocco’s state universities. Lessons include Islam, Arabic grammar or linguistics, Maliki law, French, English and IT. Until present, the university is still open to students. With that it gained Guinness World Record and recognized by UNESCO as the oldest educational institution.

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Meknes

Meknes was once the capital of Morocco from 1672 to 1727. During these years different infrastructure and buildings were established. Here are a few of the famous buildings within the city.

• Dar El Makhzen – the official royal palace

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• Bab Mansour gate – The gate’s design was inspired by Almohad patterns, zellij modaics, and Roman ruins of Volubilis.

• Lahboul gardens

• Dar El Beida – it was once a palace, but now it is a Royal Military Academy

Kristine Capanzana

Viva La Espanya

The Kingdom of Spain or simply called Spain is an independent democratic country at southwestern Europe. It was once ruled by Romans, Germans, and Moors. But in the 15th century, Spain rose and become the first global colonial empires.

Spain is an interesting country because of the merger of cultural influences from neighboring countries as well as its own. These have influenced their architectures and artworks. In addition to this, their natural topography and geographical location had attracted foreigners to take a trip to this country.

LOCATION

Spain is located on the Iberian Peninsula of southwestern Europe. It occupies a total land area of 505,992 square kilometers.

The mainland is bounded on the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea, on the south Gibraltar, on the north and northeast by France, Andorra and the Bay of Biscay, and on the west and northwest by Portugal and Atlantic Ocean. Also included in its territory are Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, Canary Islands in Atlantic Ocean, three exclaves in North Africa: Ceuta, Melilla, Penon de Velez de la Gomera, and the islands and rocks of Alboran, Chafarinas, Alhucemas, and Perejil.

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PEOPLE

Approximately 88 percent of the population are Spaniards. The remaining 12 percent are of American, European or African descendants who have migrated and lived in Spain. The predominant language spoken by its citizen is Spanish.

Other languages spoken are Basque, Catalan, and Galician. The main religion in the country is Catholicism.

GETTING THERE

Here are a few travel reminders when travelling to Spain:

• You need a Schengen visa – a Schengen visa is valid for all European countries who have accepted this agreement. Take note that not all European countries signed the agreement.
• The monetary unit of the country is Euro. Make sure to have your local currency changed to euro upon arrival at the airport. Credit card is accepted in most stores.
• Make sure to have accommodations – before entering the country, tourists are required to fill up a form that includes accommodation. If no address is filled, tourists are not allowed to enter the country.

Once all of these are settled, entry to Spain is easy. There are different ways to enter the country. The common is by plane, but there are also road and sea transportation.

• By plane – there are 96 international and national airports in Spain; the largest and one of the most beautiful airports is Barajas International Airport in Madrid. Other busy airports are located at Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Malaga, Seville, Valencia, Bilbao, Alicante, Santiago de Compostela, Vigo, and Gran Canaria. The official flight carrier is Iberia Airlines. Other airlines that operate within the country are Air Europa, Iberworld, Pullmantur Airlines, Vueling Airlines, Binter Canarias, Pyrenair, and Islas Airways.

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Barajas International Airport in Madrid

• By train – the best way to reach Spain via train is from France. There is a railroad connecting Madrid and Barcelona with Paris. There are also railroads connecting Spain with Portugal. There are also metro and light railway trains across the country and important key cities.

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High-speed train from Madrid to Barcelona

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Madrid Metro

• By tram – in addition to trains, there are also trams across the country. These serve as an alternate mode of transportation.
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Eukostran in Bilbao

• By bus – Travelling by bus is a cheap alternative in and out of the city. There are numerous bus terminals along the key cities.
• By sea – There are sea routes from Britain and Northern Africa to different sea ports and harbors in Spain. There are ferries serving tourists who wish to experience something different. These are also used in transporting goods, cargo, and shipments.

TOP FIVE (5) CITIES

MADRID

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Aside from being the capital and largest city in Spain, Madrid is also known for its cultural and artistic heritage. There are a lot of tourist attractions and activities to do; there are museums, plazas, cathedrals, and parks.

Some of the tourist attractions are listed here.

• Puerta del Sol

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El Oso y el Madrono and the Tio Pepe Neon Advertisement

Puerta del Sol or “Gate of the Sun” is a very famous place located at the heart of Madrid. Also known as kilometer 0 wherein other Spanish roads are connected. Mass demonstrations and rallies are also hosted here. It is also the venue for New Year’s celebration.

There are a lot of famous buildings surrounding the square. Included in the buildings is the old Post Office which now serves as the office of the President of Madrid. There is also a mounted statue in honor of Charles III of Spain which spearheaded different public works. Other attractions are the Tio Pepe sign, Calla de Alcala, Carrera de San Jeronimo, and Mariblanca. Of course, the iconic symbol, El Oso y el Madrono, a bear and a madrone tree, is located on the east side.
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Monument of Charles III in front of the former Post Office (now the Office of the President)

 

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Kilometer 0 on the pavement at the entrance of the old Post Office

 

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El Oso y el Madrono, monument of Charles III, and the former Post Office (now the Office of the President)

• Plaza Mayor

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This is another famous plaza located near Plaza del Sol. It measures 129 meters by 94 meters. It is surrounded by a three story residential building. The most famous landmark in the plaza is the Casa de la Panaderia or Bakery House and a bronze statue of King Philip III.

The plaza has been used as a marketplace, bullfights, soccer exhibition games, public executions, and there are also a number of shops and cafes.

• Palacio Real

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This is one of the largest palace in Europe, and the most beautiful and symbolic buildings in Madrid. It serves as the official residence of the royal family at Madrid. However, the family prefers to stay at a simpler palace near the borders of the city. It is mostly used for state ceremonies. Some rooms are open to the public.

• Plaza de Cibeles

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Plaza de Cibeles surrounded by Cybele Palace and the famous Cibeles Fountain

Plaza de Cibeles is famous for its neo-classical design surrounded by marble sculptures and a fountain. It is also surrounded by four known buildings: Bank of Spain, Palacio de Buenavista, Palacio de Linares, and Cybele Palace.

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Cibeles Fountain portrays Cibeles, the Roman god of fertility, being pulled by two lions

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Cibeles Palace

• San Nicolas de los Servitas Church

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San Nicolas de los Servitas Church or Church of San Nicolas de Bari is the oldest Catholic Church in Madrid, built in the 13th century.

• Golden Triangle of Art

This is composed of three museums: Museo del Prado, Reina Sofia Museum, and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which are all in close proximity to each other.

Museo del Prado

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Museo del Prado is a Spanish national art museum. It houses European art collections and pieces that were made during the 12th to the 19th century. Works of Francisco de Goya, Diego Velazquez, El Greco, Titian, Peter Paul Rubens and Hieronymus Bosch are displayed here.

Reina Sofia Museum

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Reina Sofia Museum is the Spanish national museum for 20th century art. It includes the works of Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Juan Gris, Joan Miro, Julio Gonzalex, Eduardo Chillida, Antoni Tapies, Pablo Gargallo, Pablo Serrano, Lucio Munoz, Luis Gordilo, Jorge Oteiza and Jose Gutierrez Solana.

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

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This is one of the three museums included in the Golden Triangle of Art. It is the home to art collections from the “historical to contemporary art.”

BARCELONA

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Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain and receives a great number of tourists annually. It is located at the northeastern coast along the Mediterranean Sea. Just like Madrid, Barcelona is a city of great cultural importance. There are a lot of things to do and see in this city. One would need to stay for a couple of weeks, maybe even days to fully enjoy what Barcelona has to offer.

Listed below are things that should not be missed at Barcelona.

• Beaches of Barcelona

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Being a coastal city, Barcelona has a great number of beautiful beaches. As a matter of fact, it has been named as one of the best beaches in the world by National Geographic and Discovery Channel.

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Barcelonata Beach

• Eight (8) World Heritage Sites Declared by UNESCO

Park Guell

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Park Guell is a public park on Carmel Hill built in 1900 to 1914 and opened in 1926.The park was designed by Antoni Gaudi with a theme of urbanization. He was inspired by organic shapes found in nature. The park was designed with comfortable artistic homes with a lot of symbols. They fused politics with religious belief. UNESCO declared the park as a World Heritage Site under “Works of Antoni Gaudi” in 1984.

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Viaduct

 

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Colonnaded footpath under the roadway viaduct

Palau Guell

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Palau Guell was designed by architect Antoni Gaudi as a mansion for the industrial tycoon Eusebi Guell. It was once used to entertain important guests. But in the year 2008 the mansion was opened to the public.

Casa Mila

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Casa Mila or La Pedrera was designed by architect Antoni Gaudi in 1906 to 1912. It was themed with a stone façade and wrought iron for the balconies and windows. It also became popular due to the underground garage. UNESCO declared it as a World Heritage Site in 1984. Currently, exhibitions and activities are being hosted here.

Casa Vicens

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Casa Vicens is another building designed by Antoni Gaudi. It was originally built as a home for the industrialist Manuel Vicens in the years 1883 to 1889. It was inspired by Moorish architecture. In 2005, it was listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

Façade of the Nativity and crypt of the Sagrada Familia

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This is one of the largest Roman Catholic Church which was designed by Antoni Gaudi in 1883. However, he died before the church was completed. It is expected to be completed by 2026. Although the church is still undergoing construction is was names as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, and Pope Benedict XVI named it a minor basilica in 2010.

Casa Batllo

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It was redesigned by Antoni Gaudi in 1904. Like his other works, it was unique, followed an asymmetrical pattern, and mosaic façade. A striking feature of the house was the arched roof that looks like the back of a dinosaur or dragon.

Palau de la Musica Catalana

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Palau de la Musica Catalana is actually a concert hall designed by Lluis Domenech I Montaner in the years 1905 to 1908. The hall and the architect had also received various distinguishing awards such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The architect was also recognized by the Barcelona City Council in 1909.

Hospital de Sant Pau

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Hospital de Sant Pau or Hospital of the Holy Cross and Saint Paul was built in 1901 to 19030 and designed by Lluis Domenech i Montaner. It served as a hospital until mid-2009. After that it underwent restoration and reconstruction. Currently it is used as a museum and cultural center.

CORDOVA

Cordova is a city situated in southern Spain. Because of its cultural importance, the city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was once the capital of a Roman province, the capital of an Arab State, and a Caliphate. Now, the city boosts its unique art, culture, and entertainment.

Here are some places that should not be missed in Cordova.

• Mezquita

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Mezquita or Mosque-cathedral of Cordova is the most famous attraction in the city. It was originally built as a cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. During the middle ages, it was converted to an Islamic Mosque. And during the time of Reconquista, it was converted back. It is known for the numerous pillars, columns, arches, chapels and beautifully designed doors.

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The massive bell tower

• Roman Bridge

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The Roman Bridge on the foreground and Mezquita on the background

The Roman Bridge was built in the 1st century to cross the Guadalquivir River. It was originally built during the Roman Empire with modifications during the Islamic domination.

• Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos

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Torre de los Leones and Torre de Homenaje – part of Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos

Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos is a castle located near the Guadalquivir River and the Grand Mosque. It was once the home of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II or Aragon.

• Synagogue

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The Synagogue is a Jewish quarter built in the year 1315. It served a various functions such as a prayer room, hospital, chapel, and nursery school. In the year 1885, the place was declared as a national monument.

GRANADA

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Granada is one of the most visited places in Spain because of the place rich history and culture. It is located at the southern portion of Spain and about an hour drive to the Mediterranean Coast.

• Alhambra

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There are different things that could be done here in Granada, but the most famous attraction of all is the Calat Alhambra. Originally it was a small forest built in 889. Through years, there was rehabilitation and renovation until 1333 when it became a royal Islamic palace. It follows Moorish architect and design. Moorish poets dubbed the place as “a pearl set in emeralds.” It 1984, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

• Generalife

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Generalife Fountain

Next to Alhambra is the famous Generalife garden. It is a place for relaxation and recreation of Muslim kings. Together with Alhambra, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.

• Cathedral of Granada

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The Cathedral of Granada was built in the 16th century over the Nasrid Great Mosque of Granada. It was originally built in Gothic design but due to changes, a renaissance inspired design was done. In 1664, the baroque style was introduced and added to the church.

VALENCIA

Another city not to miss out is Valencia, the birthplace of paella and the home to Fallas Festival. It is located along the Mediterranean Sea, making it a nice place to relax and unwind.

Here is a list of things that could be done in the beautiful city of Valencia.

• Go to the beaches

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Playa de las Arenas

It is undeniable that there are a number of great beaches in Valencia. Take some time and relax in the beautiful fine sands.

• City of Arts and Sciences

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The city of Arts and Sciences has a marvelous and stunning exterior as it reflects on the Turia River. It is used as an entertainment complex.

• Valencia Cathedral

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The whole name of the cathedral is the Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia or in English, Saint Mary’s Cathedral. The church is a combination of Gothic, Romanesque, French Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Neo-classical architecture. Christian historians believe that the Holy Grail is kept inside one of the cathedral’s chapels.

Kristine Capanzana

Perfect Weekend at Hong Kong and Macau

Looking for the perfect weekend getaway with family or friends? Look no further, because a trip to Hong Kong and Macau will definitely suite you. It is a perfect weekend destination for all ages – from grandparents, parents, teenagers, to grandchildren.

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Map showing the proximity of Macau(dark green) and Hong Kong (mint green)

Why is it a perfect weekend destination?

Hong Kong, alone has a lot of attractions such as the famous Hong Kong Disneyland, Ocean Park, Madame Tussauds, temples, monastery, and the city skyline. And do not forget about the amazing shopping centers. Accommodations are easy because there is a wide range of prices that is good for budget travelers and those wanting luxury. Travelling and transportation is also easy. There are airports, seaports, and land transportation in and out of the city.

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Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, and Hong Kong skyline

The group can also extend their vacation to nearby Macau which is dubbed as “Monte Carlo of the Orient.” Macau is popularly known for the high-end casinos and the gondola ride at the Grand Canal Shoppes. And just like Hong Kong transportation and accommodation is a breeze.

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Macau

Sit back as we take you on a sample itinerary for four days and three nights to these two places.

Hong Kong

Location

Hong Kong or simply HK is a Special Administrative Region of China. On the east, south and west is the South China Sea. Approximately 60 kilometers to the east is Macau. On the north is Guangdong City of China separated by Shenzhen River. Hong Kong occupies 1,104 square kilometers and over 200 islands.

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Travelling to HK

It is easy to travel to Hong Kong. Despite it being a Special Administrative Region of China, it has a separate and independent immigration system. One does not need a visa to enter Hong Kong if they are travelling as a visitor or tourist for a certain number of days. Each country has its own limitation and duration of visa-free days. If staying for more than those days, then a visa is recommended.

The main airport is Hong Kong International Airport, also known as Chek Lap Kok, and it caters to hundreds of flights from all over the world daily. Some airlines include Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, Hong Kong Airlines, and Hong Kong Express. It is one of the “World’s Best Airport” according to Skytrax.

Other airports that could be used are Shenzhen International Airport at mainland China and Macau International Airport at Macau. These two airports are relatively more affordable. However, a connecting flight to Hong Kong is needed. Furthermore, travelling to China may require a visa.

Other ways to enter are by ferry or by land. These two modes of transportation are advised if the group is coming from nearby countries such as China, Vietnam, and Taiwan.

The best way to enjoy your stay at Hong Kong is by getting the earliest trip to the city or arriving there by lunch. If your flight arrives early and worried about leaving luggage, Hong Kong International Airport has a ‘manned left luggage facility’ at the arrival hall wherein you can leave baggage and claim it later on. The cost of leaving baggage depends on the duration. Or you can always go straight to the hotel and have an early check-in or ask if you can leave your bags at the reservation area. Most hotels would agree to this.

One can always have a pre-booked hotel or find a hotel at the airport. As mentioned, there are hotels to suite any budget and any group.

You are now settled, bags are safe and you have a place to stay. It is time to explore the place.

Getting Around

Transportation system here is easy. Tourists could buy an Octopus card which provides access to public transportation system. All you have to do is tap a loaded card on a reader before entering and upon exit. The system and use is similar to other transport systems in Singapore, London, Chicago, etc. If the card runs out of load, reloading is easy: by value machines, MTR (Mass Transit Railway) stations, stores and credit card. An Octopus card costs $150; the $50 is a refundable deposit. If you return the card within three months, there is an additional charge of $9. You can always maximize the use of the card and keep it as a souvenir.

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Octopus card

Mass Transit Railway

One could always travel by MTR. It offers a fast, easy and affordable means of transportation around the city and nearby places. The downside of riding MTR’s is the absence of view. MTR’s are located underground, thus, tourists would not be able to enjoy the sites.

Tram

If you want to enjoy the view, you could always tray the narrow double-decker city trams. It is slower, ride could be bumpy, and it is sometimes hot (since it is not air-conditioned), but it does provide tourists with a view of Hong Kong. It is the most affordable method for touring the whole city.

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Tram

Bus

They also offer bus transportation at the south side of HK Island and Lantau. There are designated bus stops and schedules. There are different types of buses: double-decker buses and van-sized public light buses carrying 16 passengers.

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Taxi

There are also taxis that have routes going to and from the airport and Hong Kong Disneyland. There are three types of taxis: red – the most expensive and can travel anywhere within HK, green – travels to rural areas and New Territories, and blue – the most affordable and only available at Lantau Island. Remember, as required by their law, it is mandatory to wear seatbelts.

Ferry

Since HK consists of islands, sea transportation is common. The most popular ferry ride is Star Ferry. It provides passengers a view of the city skyline. There are ferries providing upper and lower decks.

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Star Ferry and the Island Skyline

All these transportation system could bring you to popular tourist destinations. Here are some of the destinations at Kowloon and Hong Kong Island that should not be missed.

Popular Tourist Destinations

Avenue of Stars

Avenue of Stars is located at Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. It is a 440 meter path that celebrates HK’s cinematic history and displays plaques honoring celebrities.

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Avenue of Stars

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Bronze sculpture of Bruce Lee

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Handprints and signature of director John Woo

From the Avenue of Stars, tourists could see the Museum of Art, Space Museum, Cultural Centre, and the Clock Tower. It also provides an impressive view of Victoria Harbor during the day, and a spectacular display of Symphony of Lights.

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Victoria Harbor including the Clock Tower and Cultural Center

Madame Tussauds

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Entrance of Madame Tussauds Hong Kong

Speaking of celebrities, one destination that should not be missed is Madame Tussauds. It is located at the Peak Tower in Hong Kong Island is the first branch of the international chain of wax museums in Asia. The other branch is at Shanghai, China. It houses approximately 100 wax figures of international celebrities.

Victoria Peak

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View from Victoria Peak looking at Central, Kowloon, and Victoria Harbor

Victoria Peak is the highest point, at 552 meters in Hong Kong Island. It is sometimes called Mount Austin or The Peak. It provides a magnificent view of adjacent areas such as Central Victoria Harbor and Lamma Islands. Aside from the view, it is also the home to different species of birds and butterflies. There are also a lot of things to do here such as visiting Peak Tower (where Madame Tussauds is located), do shopping, and eat.

To reach the top you can take the tram, bus, or take a hike.

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View at Victoria Peak at night

Wong Tai Sin Temple

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Wong Tai Sin Temple is a Taoist temple located at the southern side of Lion Rock at Kowloon. It is popular because of the many answered prayers. Tourists who visit the temple often participate in a practice called kau cim.

Chi Lin Nunnery

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Aside from Taoist temples there are also Buddhist temples, the most famous is Chi Lin Nunnery at Diamond Hill, Kowloon. Within the temple walls are temple halls, monastery, Chinese gardens, hostels and a vegetarian restaurant. There are also gold, clay wood and stone statues.

Ladies’ Market

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Ladies’ Market is also known as Ladies’ Street is located between Boundary Street and Dundas Street in Kowloon, Hong Kong. It is one of the popular shopping destinations for affordable and quality items. Contrary to its name, there are also products for males and kids.

Temple Street Night Market

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Temple Street Night Market, also known as Men’s Street because majority of the merchandises are for men. The streets are closed and the market is open from 2pm until early morning. Some of the merchandises include phones, watches, jeans, shirts, shoes and a lot more. Bargaining is also common, so do not be afraid to haggle for a lesser price.

These are just some of the places to go to at Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. Neighboring islands also offer something unique and interesting. If you have more time you could try visiting other tourist attractions at nearby islands.
But if planning a day trip is hard, you could always join group tours and packages. The tour coordinator would guide you throughout the city to important and key attractions. It is easy and a hassle free way to explore Hong Kong.

Your groups can also plan a whole day visit at one of the two most popular amusement parks in the world: Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park Hong Kong. To make the most out of your stay, spend the whole day at each theme park.

Hong Kong Disneyland

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Sleeping Beauty Castle

It is everybody’s dream, especially children, to visit Disneyland; luckily Hong Kong offers just that. Visiting Hong Kong would never be complete without a trip to this famous amusement park.

HK Disneyland is located inside the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort at Penny’s Bay, Lantau Island. It is 12 kilometers east of Hong Kong International Airport. It is the 13th most visited amusement park in the world. Despite being an international theme park, it incorporated Chinese themes and culture such as feng shui.

The amusement park is divided into seven themes: Main Street USA, Fantasyland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch, and Mystic Point. Each themed land has exciting and adventurous rides, shops, restaurants, and live entertainment and performances.

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Ocean Park Hong Kong

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Another famous park at Wong Chuk Hang and Nam Long Shan in Southern District HK is Ocean Park Hong Kong or simply Ocean Park. Unlike the former park, this is a marine mammal park. It is also larger in terms of area. This is an internationally acclaimed park and won “The World’s Seventh Most Popular Amusement Park and one of the 50 Most Visited Tourist Attractions in the world by Forbes.” In 2012, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions awarded it with the Applause Award. It ranks as the 12th most visited theme park in the world.

Within the park grounds are different rides such as roller coasters and it showcases habitats of different animals. It is both an educational and entertaining park.

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One of Ocean Park’s roller coasters

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Penguin show

On the third day of your vacation you can travel to Macau.

Macau

Location

Macau is another Special Administrative Region of China. It includes the islands of Taipa and Coloane which is connected with the mainland by bridges and causeway. It is located to the west of Pearl River Delta and southwest of Hong Kong. To the north is Guangdong Province, China; to the east and south is South China Sea.

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Travelling to Macau

Just like Hong Kong, Macau has its own system including immigration. Certain nationalities could enter without a visa depending on the number of days staying in Macau.

There are different ports of entry for tourists coming in from Hong Kong. The most famous would be taking a ferry. This is just an hour ride away. Ferries are stationed at Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and at Hong Kong International Airport.

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Another way to reach Macau from Hong Kong is by plane. Macau International Airport is located at Taipa Island. There are a number of airlines operating at this airport including Air Macau, AisAsia Group, Tigerair, Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, Thai Smile and Jin Air.

And just like Hong Kong, you could always book your hotel in advance. You can also ask the hotel for an early check in or ask if you could leave bags at the counter. Once this settled it is time to take a tour of Macau.

Popular Tourist Destinations

The Venetian Macao

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The most prominent tourist destination is The Venetian Macao at Cotai Strip. This is a luxury hotel and casino resort owned and managed by the Las Vegas Sands. It is considered to be the largest casino in the world.

What attracts tourists here is the famous gondola ride which is similar to The Venetian at Las Vegas. One could experience riding a gondola for a fee and be serenaded by people. Along the sides of the canal are high-end shops and restaurants.

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Casinos

There are other casinos and gambling forms like horse racing, and greyhound racing at Macau. Gambling is legal since 1850’s. It is in fact the primary source of income.

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Casino lights at Macau

Other places of interest include:

• The Ruins of St. Paul – became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005

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• Macau Tower – an observation deck and adventure site. It was also featured several time in the Amazing Race

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• Macau Museum

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• Senado Square

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Just like HK, Macau offers tour and travel packages. You can even find packages that offer both accommodation and a tour to the city.

Below is a sample 4 days and 3 nights Itinerary to HK and Macau:

Day 1:

• Travel to HK
• Check in at a hotel
• Take a city tour (either plan your own or join a tourist group)
• Go shopping at Ladies’ Market and Temple Street Night Market

Day 2:

• Go to HK Disneyland or Ocean Park

Day 3:

• Check out of hotel
• Travel to Macau
• Check in a at a hotel
• Take a city tour
• Enjoy the Macau nightlife and casino

Day 4:

• Do some last minute shopping
• Check out of hotel
• Travel back home

Tips

No matter what your travel destination is remember to:

• Plan in advance. Get early flight and hotel bookings. Some offer discounted rates when tickets are purchased in advance.
• Read about the place. Know tourist destinations, currency, modes of transportation, and prices.
• Bring your camera. A trip would never be complete without taking a picture of the places you have been to.
• Enjoy and have fun!

Kristine Capanzana