“But Edinburgh is a mad god’s dream.” – Hugh MacDiarmid
“If London was an alien city, Edinburgh was another planet” ―Jess Walter
“There’s no leaving Edinburgh, No shifting it around: it stays with you, always.” – Alan Bold
“This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.” – Alexander McCall Smith
“Half a capital and half a country town, the whole city leads a double existence; it has long trances of the one and flashes of the other; like the king of the Black Isles, it is half alive and half a monumental marble.” Robert Louis Stevenson
Planning a visit to Edinburgh?
“I am a rootless individual, but when I land in Belize, I have that feeling of comfort that I am returning home.” – Michael Ashcroft
“Belize is so raw and so clear and so in-your-face. There’s an opportunity to see something about human nature that you can’t really see in a polite society, because the purpose of society is to mask ourselves from each other.” – John McAfee
“Belize suits me because I’m active and I like diving. I learnt when I was 18, in Thailand, and I have dived in Vietnam, which wasn’t great, the Red Sea, which was incredible and reasonably priced, and then the Maldives, which is like being submerged in an aquarium.” – Georgina Chapman
“I learned to dive in Belize, which is sort of like learning to drive in an Aston Martin. The reefs and refuges are some of the most dramatic in the world. But the real reason I went was to dive the Blue Hole, a 400 ft. sinkhole near Ambergris Caye. Google it, and you’ll see why.” – Marcus Sakes
Planning a visit to Belize? Then visit our favorite vacation properties in Belize
“Prague never lets you go… this dear little mother has sharp claws” – Franz Kafka
“I personally think Prague is more romantic than Paris. If you have a girlfriend, take her there.” – Stephanie Sigman
“Prague is the Paris of the ’90s.” – Marion Ross
“The ancient splendor and beauty of Prague, a city beyond compare, left an impression on my imagination that will never fade” – Richard Wagner
“If European cities were a necklace, Prague would be a diamond among the pearls” –Anonymous
Flamingos are one of the most flamboyant bird species in the world. Their favorite habitats are briny marsh areas where they feed on shrimp, krill, crayfish and algae. The feathers of the Flamingo species can fluctuate from deep iridescent pink to a soft blush white depending on their diet of carotenoids that are found in shrimp and krill that affect the color of the feathers.
Flamingos can be found in the following regions: Caribbean, South America, Middle East and Europe.
The American Flamingo is a native on many of the Caribbean Islands including the Bahamas, Aruba and Cuba plus they can be found along Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico to Venezuela and Colombia in South America. Sometimes they even travel further to north, where they can be seen in the National Park Everglades.
Top Flamingo Destination to visit in the Caribbean – Inagua Island Bahamas
The native flamingo types are: Puna, Chilean and Andean flamingo plus American flamingo too. they are all residents here, and it would depend on the specie regarding the linking to their habitat- starting from a coastal marsh to a mountain plateau. The popular spot to see a flamingo here is Laguna Colorada in Bolivia, and the wild types are commonly noted in northeast Chile, Argentina, Venezuela and Ecuador.
Top Flamingo Destination to visit in South America – Lago Argentina, Patagonia
After the breeding season ends, the flamingos can be seen migrating to the Middle East. They migrate to areas like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Qatar and Turkey but, to a much lesser extent, they can be seen in Kazakhstan as well, even though their populations have a noticeable decrease there.
Top Flamingo Destination to visit in the Middle East – Lake Tuz Turkey
Flamingos can also be found near the Mediterranean. The greater ones are often sighted near the south Mediterranean Sea area that spreads from Tunisia all the way to Egypt, and in quite large numbers. A major breeding area is located in Southern France where the Rhone River flows to the Mediterranean Sea. Over 20,000 pairs of flamingos are estimated to breed in the area.
Top Flamingo Destination to visit in Europe – The Camargue of Languedoc France
The modern landscape has a secular ancestor, the venerable historic English gardens. Encompassing centuries of life, different gardening styles and mixtures, each of them has its uniqueness thanks to its past and influencers. Oasis of joy far from the city’s hustle and bustle, these gardens and parks offer inspiration and relaxation. Let’s walk through some of the most amazing English gardens:
A mix of elements put together, on an otherwise common land, succeeded the exploit of becoming UNESCO World Heritage Site and this has a name – Studley Royal Water Garden, in North Yorkshire. Developed on the basis of the Fountains Abbey, a 12th century monastic ruins, some of the most complex Cistercian ruins in Europe, together with a medieval era deer park and a 18th Georgian style water garden results a spectacular English flavored spot. The centuries old garden with its woods, cascades, ornamental lakes, neo-classic temples, canals and statuary samples compose dream vistas and a serene out of time atmosphere. Other not to be missed attractions here at Studley Royal Water Garden are the impressive Jacobean mansion and the Victorian style church. Simply gorgeous!
Hidcote Manor Garden, in Gloucestershire, proved to be a true “Arts and Crafts” style garden, masterpiece of a passionate plantsman and product of his artistic and aesthetics sense. Hidcote Manor Garden is famous for its collection of rare species of shrubs, trees and plants brought from other continents and its original design. Conceived as a cascade of “rooms”, each with its own personality and plants combination, and flowering during different periods of the year, a year round spectacle is directed. The gardens hide several inviting spots carefully pictured, splendid views of the Vale of Evesham, the central gazebo, a glasshouse or a circular pool crowned with roses. A small piece of heaven not only for botanists or avid gardeners, but for all those who adore the nature in all its phases and aspects.
An internationally famed garden, in the proximity of London, Sissinghurst Castle Garden tends to be an oriflamme of the English style garden and is the last century creation of the writer Vita Sackville-West. Sissinghurst property owned an Elizabethan Palace that was saved from ruin and brought to life, to what is nowadays a charming spot. The turbulent history of Sissinghurst from prison, to private home, to the Rose Garden of England, that became today, can be traced through ancient walls and remains. What is called the Sissinghurst’s garden is in fact a suite of about ten different gardens, each with its character and separated by hedges and walls, the most loved among them is the Rose Garden that still conserves great part of Vita’s original roses among the several hundred cultivars planted here. Riding, calm peaceful walking or local wildlife spotting are some of the activities that you may enjoy here. Poetic, romantic and serene, an expression of the majestic mother nature would be the definition of this garden.
A premium botanical garden in England today, unknown two decades ago, the historic garden of Heligan was considered by The Times a revelation after “…the garden restoration of the century”. Covered by weeds for too much time, a real secret garden, today The Lost Gardens of Heligan were given their well-deserved place. This exuberant 200-acre area hides jungle promenades with tropical species, mysterious grottoes, a selection of lakes and a farm. A great place to explore on sunny days, through this somehow wild environment, among rhododendrons of Sikkim, tree ferns of New Zealand, alpine ravine or Italian style garden. Or maybe you prefer loafing within the bamboo tunnels, banana plantations, luxuriant arbors and striking views, dreaming to distant territories.
Vestige of a glorious past, Leeds Castle is the testimony of a millennia old history and a long row of metamorphosis: Norman fortification, royal residence of medieval queens, Jacobean provincial residence, Georgian mansion, refuge for the rich and famous and lately one the most popular historic spots within the country. Influences of the former owners can be felt within the various rooms of the castle, showing accents of the medieval age or the Tudor’s, within the collections of furniture, porcelain or art. This former palace of Henry VIII, with its today’s gardens and parkland is a place of historic adventure for the whole family. The principal attraction is the yew trees Maze, composed of no less than 2400 trees, in circular shape, reflected in a queen crown form. Once the maze solved, an underground grotto is your way out to the civilization. Some curious falconry display, or a ride on the castle’s train to visit the property by land or by water with the Black Swan Ferry Boat will make your day special. Positioned on two islands in the middle of a luxuriant lake, together with its glorious gardens, adventurous playgrounds and events schedule, Leeds Castle offer a privileged experience to each visitor.
The Douro Valley of Portugal is the true home of the famous Port Wine. The wine region was established many centuries earlier and is ready to share with its visitors the old secrets of wine making, though various types of wine tours, vineyards tours and lunches, gourmet local food and wine tasting. Douro Valley is universally recognized as one of the regions producing the best and finest wines on earth and is classified UNESCO World Heritage Site. See below some of the oldest and most interesting wineries – quintas.
The oldest Port wine producer, Croft Port, has been in existence since 1588 and is known as the inventor of the rosé Port. Croft Port has their main headquarters Quinta da Roeda. Having an almost half millennia history, the owner of Quinta da Roeda prouds with its rare collection of Vintage Ports, wood aged tawnies that passed the test of time. An authentic and unique vineyard experience waits for you here, together with Port wine tours, Roeda vineyard tours and other unforgettable activities dedicated to wine lovers, such as grapes foot-treading. Also enjoy a gorgeous landscape and the magnificent panorama of the Douro River.
Claiming to incorporate “the true spirit of Douro Valley” Quinta da Pacheca, dates back to 1738. It is one of the most famous and one of the oldest wineries in Douro and among the first to bottle wine under its own brand. Quinta da Pacheca hosts the international awards winner “Wine House Hotel” an emblematic entity for the ‘tourism of charm’ specific to Douro, specialized in oenological and gastronomic tourism. During your visit, you will be able to experience wine tasting in its own home, winery tours, local food flavor, wine courses and discover the process of winemaking and the history behind the scene.
The largest winery in the Douro Region is without doubt Quinta das Carvalhas. And thanks to its privileged position on the mountain of Carvalhas and the scenery surrounding the vineyard it is considered to present dramatic images that are found on postcard of Douro Valley. The Quintana das Carvalhas is a jewel among vineyards, with a positioned on the left side of the Douro River lining to Pinhão and on the Rio Torto’s right bank, with the guest house of Casa Redonda right on top, visible from all surroundings. Some of the best wine tours are organized at Quinta das Carvalhas, together with never forgettable wine tasting sessions during which fine wines like Douro DOC White wine, Douro DOC Red wine and Superior Tawny Port Wine are to be enjoyed.
Among the first vineyards opened for public visits in the region, Quinta do Panascal pioneered also in offering audio guides for the wineries and vineyards, allowing tourists to wander in their rhythm through this fairy tale landscape of Távora River during a very educational and original tour. Having a prestigious, bicentenary history behind, Quinta do Panascal and Fonseca company are producing the “Bentley” in terms of Port wine, made with the highest passion by true enthusiasts for the connoisseurs.
Besides all traditional activities offered to visitors like Port wine tasting or workshops, you can enjoy here also boat trips on the Távora and Douro rivers, archery, canoeing, mini challengers or traditional games.
A character winery, erected on a superb terroir on the Douro River, reflecting the history of a family and the projection of a dream, Quinta do Pôpa, shows the intimacy and the passion for wines passed from generation to generation. This is one of the most appreciated quintas by tourists and offers among the most wonderful wine experiences in Duoro area, delivering delightful endeavours as winery individual guided tour, wine tasting, wine blending, wine pairing, local gastronomy products, wine brunch, lunches in the vineyard.
Two and half centuries of traditional wine making, Quinta Nova is considered to be “One of the most beautiful sceneries in the country”. The main attractions of this area are: 1) the Quinta Nova Luxury Winery House – a nineteenth century manor, among the firsts Portuguese wine hotels, gifted with splendid panoramas over the river and vineyard. 2)Mirabilis Grand Reserva White – a valuable wines collection; “The Wine Studio” – a traditional winery. 3) Conceitus Winery Restaurant – a favorite in the region for its exceptional local dishes. The hosts receive their guests with a special selection of activities like: winemaker for a day, wine tasting, food tasting, one day in the crop, train tours, pedestrian trails, elicopter tours, boat tours, historical tours, golf, jeep tours and mobile spa.
Europe has a famous paradise known as the Greek islands! Greece inherited the lion’s part of the islands that are located in the Mediterranean Sea. The Greek islands are in fact a huge puzzle with 1200 and 6000 islands depending on various criteria. Each has its own atmosphere and unique charm. Which island is the most interesting and unique? That is tough question!! Let’s have a look…
Crete is nestled midway between the two continents of Europe and Africa. It is the largest Greek island, an emblematic representative and a sample of the country’s culture, landscape, gastronomy and hospitality. An impressive mix of hectic waters, gorgeous beaches as Frangokastelo or like the unique pink sand Elafonissi, Venetian style towns like Rethymnon and Chania, reminiscences of magnificent civilizations as the palace of Knossos and extravagant mountain views. Don’t forget to take a ride to some of the wineries spread all over or visit the home of Zorba the Greek. There is nothing more appealing than enjoying the sunset on the seafront, while indulging in Cretan cuisine dish and a glass of fine Cretan wine.
Among the most beloved vacation destinations in Greece are the Cyclades Islands, an archipelago of 24 islands in the Aegean Sea. Its two most famous islands are Santorini and Mykonos. The dramatic blue and white architecture, folk music, traditional villages connected by singular Byzantine footpaths, scenic landscape with pristine beaches and surrounded by an emerald sea contribute to the magic of this area. Mykonos is popular because of its amazing beaches and vibrant nightlife. The island of Milos is known for its rocky coastline and wild picturesque beaches. The island of Delos has an astounding collection mosaics and monuments and is also a world heritage site of UNESCO. Kea is a magnet for those that enjoy bird-watching and exploring the largest oak forest. Santorini is preferred by honeymooners in search of romance and luxury. And don’t forget about the food, a real delight: pitarakia cheese pies in Milos, capers and fava in Santorini, and kopanisti cheese in Mykonos, taste the wine – an absolute must in Santorini.
Sprinkled over the Saronic Gulf, near the region of Athens, a series of islands very popular among Europeans and local visitors. They are Aegina, Hydra, Poros, Spetses and Agistri. Visitors will experience a splendid nature, traditional local architecture, historical treasures and glamorous atmosphere. Aegina is the host of the temple of Athena Aphaia, a spectacular Doric temple and a Byzantine village now in ruins. The small island of Agistri has ancient scenic villages and inviting turquoise waters. Poros is called paradise by the sailing fans and also hides some ancient ruins – the Temple of Poseidon. Hydra has a historical harbor, with plenty of stylish boutiques, well preserved ancient stone dwellings and flavored tavernas. Spetses a pine scented Eden, dotted with myriad of aqua creeks and a nautical history.
Luxuriant and ever green, the Ionian Islands bear the mark of their turbulent history, resulting a unique cultural heritage, architecture and gastronomy. The Old Town of Corfu, a UNESCO monument site, is the perfect symbol of the historical influences, with its Italian style buildings alleys, varnish palaces and imposing squares arranged around churches. Also, pay a visit to Achilleion, the summer palace of Empress Sissy and Kaiser Wilhelm of Austria. The masterpiece of mother nature around here is indubitable Kefalonia with its impressive Mount Aenos National Park where you will find waterfalls and gigantic caves. In terms of seclusion and sumptuous beaches Shipwreck Beach of Zakynthos is the place to visit and is accessible via boat. Plus do not forget these beautiful beaches: Porto Katsiki in Lefkada or Myrtos in Kefalonia.
The Sporades Islands are an archipelago of 24 islands, but with only 5 inhabited: Skiathos, Alonissos, Skopelos and Skyros. The main attraction of the Sporades are the gold sand fine beaches, but supplementary offers are present too like sea kayak, sailing boat, mountain bike, wind surfing, hiking trails or scuba diving. Skiathos means particularly nightlife and beaches, like the splendid Ambelakia and also impressive trekking routs thorough the Koukounariés forest, around Lake Strofilia or Kanapitsa Peninsula. Skopelos, is a natural green paradise, covered with oak forests, traditional villages and monasteries and together with Alonissos are hosting a National Marine Park, great place for spotting endangered Mediterranean species like the monk seal, fishing or birds watching.
The Northeast Aegean Islands, are a set of 13 islands and located near Asia Minor. The most notable are Chios, Limnos, Samos and Lesvos. Again, it is a region that is known for exquisite beaches and natural treasures. In Lesvos you will find a petrified forest Ikaria has warm thermal springs. Limnos landscape is dotted with sand dunes and volcanic rocks. Archaeological tours of the Temple of Hera are popular in Samos. The ancient city of Ifestia can be found in Limnos. The medieval fortress found in the village of Mesta on the island of Chios. There is an ancient acropolis in Kastro, Thasos. If you like to indulge in sport activities: wind surfing on Keros Beach, Limnos (the best location in Europe), swimming at sparkling Seitani coves in Samos, or relaxation in thermal springs of Ikaria and Lesvos.
A new rising star of international tourism, a tropical wonderland, flanked by the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica contains spectacular flora and fauna. A wide diversity of parks and reserves invite you to indulge in Costa Rica.
The most popular touristic attraction in Costa Rica is indisputable Poás Volcano National Park, part of the Central Volcanic Cordillera Conservation Area. Its great merit is that everybody has the possibility to explore an active volcano. Poas is supposed to be the largest active crater volcano in the world, nestled at about 2708 m above the sea level. Laguna Botos is an extinct crater filled with water and exposes the fauna and flora of the local cloud forest and dwarf forest. Being a powerful geothermal area, it’s not unusual to observe exploding, bubbling geysers that reach up to 250 m height. Tempting, right?
If you want to experience a major ecosystems of Central America, then Corcovado National Park of Osa Peninsula is a must see and a never forgetten backpacking vacation. This stunning collection of biodiversity and exotic wildlife are worth the endeavor. Here is sheltered the last old growth wet forest of the Pacific side of Central America, and thirteen major ecosystems of the area which includes: mangrove swamps, highland cloud forest, lowland rain forest, jolillo palm forest, and a coast line that contains no less than 39 km of pristine beach. Corcovado is called home by the four monkeys species of Costa Rica, particularly the endangered red-backed squirrel monkey, sea turtle, harpy eagles, scarlet macaws, jaguars, Baird’s tapir and many more.
A genuine tropical paradise adventure can be found in the Tenorio Volcano National Park where a virgin rainforest combines with cloud forest and flavored with emerald waterfall. Walking through suspended bridges into the rainforest dome, hiking to the turquoise sparkling blue Rio Celeste Waterfall, trail to Lago Danta or to Miravalles volcano, are a rare pleasure. Even if the two volcanos, Tenorio included, are regarded as dormant, there is still enough geologic activity for hot springs to bubble or geysers to throw away boiled water and chemical gases. The volcanic soil combined with the springs embroider a mind-blowing color for the waters of Rio Celeste, a piece of heaven grabbed in a river, as the name states.
Respecting the proverb tough essences are to be used in small doses, Manuel Antonio National Park is the perfect fit, the smallest park in Costa Rica but rated in 2011 by Forbes as one of the world’s most beautiful parks. A mixture of white sand beaches, trails, wild life, panoramas and waterfall compose one of the richest biologic places on earth. Spotting wildlife is among the best at Manuel Antonio National Park, about 180 birds’ species plus around 100 mammals’ species: 2 and 3 toed sloths, iguanas, lizards, white face monkeys and squirrel monkeys.
One of the most famous cloud forests, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, gained its fame particularly for its extremely rich biodiversity with over 3000 species of plants among which over 755 trees, inhabit here. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is the perfect exponent of the cloud forest and thus the perfect place to experience it. The rampant vegetation, the variations in temperature and altitude produced a heterogenous selection of greenery and creatures as ocelot, jaguar, quetzal, Baird’s tapir, three-wattled bellbird or bare-necked umbrellabird.
An important reservation for aquifers and the largest national park of Costa Rica is Braulio Carrillo National Park. The wide area of virgin dense rainforest includes a highway that pass through the forest and allows splendid views without descending from your vehicles. Birds are everywhere: hummingbirds, snowcap, black-crowned antpitta, brown-billed scythe bill, golden-browed chlorophonia, flame-throated warblers, tanagers or latticed-tailed trogon are the happy ever inhabitants of the zone.
As each reserve has its uniqueness and Tortuguero National Park has its own. You can observing the sea turtle nesting and explore the park by water via small boat, kayak or canoe. Tortuguero, with its protected beach areas, is considered a major location for sea turtle nesting, one of the most important on earth. The exaggerated rainfall together with the lagoons, canals, beaches and wetlands compose a rich habitat for river turtles, sea turtles (green sea turtles, leatherback and hawksbill), southern river otters, spectacled caimans, crustaceans, fish and the endangered West Indian manatee.