Category Archives: Luxury Arts & Culture
- Published:August 7, 2014 8:57 am
- Published:February 28, 2013 3:34 pm
With Easter Sunday just about one month away, time is running out to book the holiday of a lifetime – an Easter vacation in Israel. If the significance of Easter means more to you than the Easter Bunny and chocolate eggs, than what better way to experience Easter than by coming to the place where all the events surrounding the festival transpired?
Although Israel is the Jewish homeland (Jesus was a Jew after all) with a Jewish majority population, it is also a democracy in its truest sense that fully respects the rights of other religions to practice their faith in freedom. Jerusalem is a holy city to the three major monotheistic faiths and the right of all these faiths to enjoy this city for their religious events.
Easter is a festival steeped in symbolism. You will find numerous visitors dressed in white and gold, the colors that represent angels and victory respectively. Christians from all over the world will be dragging modern day crosses along the Via Dolorosa just as Jesus did all those centuries ago. These days, adherents stop at the 14 “Stations of the Cross” along the way, the last 5 of which are located in the magnificent Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the place where it is believed that Jesus was crucified and now has his tomb. Holy Week, the final week of Lent, is full of significant sites and activities for Christians.
Even though it would be tempting and entirely possible not to leave the environs of Jerusalem during your stay and still be spoiled for choice of what to do, it would be remiss of you not to do some traveling in Israel to reveal more of what this amazing country has to offer. Israel is tiny. The oft quoted comparison is that it is smaller than New Jersey, yet even without Tony Soprano I venture to state that Israel puts NJ in its little pocket for its history and attractions.
Perhaps the best way to explore Israel is to organize car rental in Israel. This is easily done either via the Internet or in person. The car rental industry is well established with reputable local players competing with the large multinationals ensuring a good selection of vehicles and competitive pricing.
Just be sure to book hotels in advance as, this year, Easter coincides with the Jewish festival of Passover. Consequently, many Jews will visit the Holy Land to celebrate resulting in string demand for luxury accommodation.
- Published:November 15, 2012 8:23 am
Over the past few decades, Bangkok has blossomed into one of Asia’s premier cosmopolitan destinations. The expansive Thai capital has it all – world class shopping and nightlife, exotic cuisine and a rich history and culture. In order to see all of Bangkok’s best sights, be prepared to hop on the city’s modern transit system. Air-conditioned, fast and affordable, the combined skytrain (BTS) and subway (MRT) systems service a majority of metropolitan Bangkok.
What to see in Bangkok
For many of the city’s older cultural sights, taking a trip on an iconic tuk-tuk is the best and most authentic way to go.
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is Bangkok’s crown jewel. Sitting along the banks of the Chao Phraya River, the entire palace complex spans over 2 million square feet. Construction of the palace began in the late 1700s and has remained intact over the centuries. The complex shows off distinctive architectural features native to the Thai culture as well as incredible murals and statues from local folklore. In the centre of the palace is Wat Phra Kaew, known in English as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Steeped in history, the temple contains a green Buddha sculpture which dates back several centuries.
When visiting the Grand Palace, keep in mind that long trousers and sleeves are required. The easiest way to get to the palace is either by river taxi or by tuk tuk.
Chatuchak Weekend Market and Or Tor Kor Market
Bangkok’s largest weekend market is popular with both tourists and locals. Located on the outskirts of metropolitan Bangkok along the Mo Chit BTS or Kamphaeng Phet MRT stop, the expansive market is the perfect place to pick up souvenirs for friends and family. Visitors will also find great traditional Thai street food, handmade textiles, pottery, wood carving and more. Fully open on weekends only, visitors can easily spend a day at Chatuchak browsing through the hundreds of stalls and shops.
Adjacent to Chatuchak is the Or Tor Kor Market, which features some of Thailand’s freshest and most exotic produce and food. A culinary experience all to itself, Or Tor Kor has been featured numerous times on television due to its low-priced, high-quality authentic Thai food.
Baiyoke II Tower
Thailand’s tallest building stands 304 meters above the ground. Open to the public, visitors can stop by the 77th floor observation deck to witness unparalleled views of Bangkok. There is also an 83rd floor bar and restaurant in addition to a 360 degree revolving deck on the 84th floor.
Siam Paragon and Siam Ocean World
The Siam Paragon is a luxury shopping mall located right in the heart of Bangkok. Featuring the best brands from Europe and the Americas, it’s a shopper’s paradise. When purchasing anything at a shopping facility in Bangkok, make sure to collect and save the receipt. Tourists can reclaim VAT expenses and the airport.
The mall is divided into a food court, cinema, shopping facilities and Siam Ocean World on the basement level. Siam Ocean World is the largest aquarium in Southeast Asia and is a great place to take children. Catering to English-speaking tourists, visitors can take behind-the-scenes tours of the aquarium and take boat rides within the exhibits.
Perhaps Thailand’s most revered Buddhist temple, The Temple of Dawn is located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. The temple has been in existence since Ayutthaya stood as the kingdom’s capital and held the Emerald Buddha before the Grand Palace was completed. Visitors can enter the temple after paying a modest 50 baht entrance fee. Inside, the Wat mixes 17th and 18th century Thai architecture with ornately adorned interiors and murals.
Thailand and Bangkok in particular features a thriving Chinese community, which has been present in the region since the 1700s. Bangkok’s Chinatown dates back to this time and is still a busy and vital neighborhood to this day. Featuring a complex network of side streets and alleys, it’s naturally the best place to sample Chinese food, which numerous Chinese restaurants open late into the night.
Khao San Road
This infamous stretch of road near central Bangkok is popular with backpackers due to the high density of hostels and low-cost hotel accommodation. During the day there is a small Wat, market and a few other attractions available to visit, but at night the neighborhood comes alive. For those seeking the ultimate Bangkok nightlife experience, Khao San Road is a must-visit spot.
- Published:October 11, 2012 1:49 pm
Tall Places You Should Visit
If you’ve had enough of beaches and holiday resorts, bring a little adventure to your next retreat. Mountains that are accessible by hiking provide some of the greatest getaways from city life and provide amazing sights.
Even if walking or mountain-climbing isn’t your thing, there are many places to get a fantastic view of what feels like the entire world.
For those who don’t like climbing, taking a trip to the world’s tallest building is a breath-taking experience. Dubai claims the boasting rights for having built the worlds’ tallest building, standing at a staggering 808m/2,651ft. Whichever way you look at it, it’s tall.
Travelling to the top takes little time in the high-speed elevator, travelling at 10 metres a second. When at the top, take in the view of one of the world’s most rich and modern cities at the 360-degree observation deck.
The Empire State Building is the third tallest in the US (only 15th in the world) but is as much an American cultural icon as the Statue Liberty. Not only is it the tallest building in New York, it is a great entertainment centre. Live music is available most evenings and you can even visit by night, as it is open until 2AM. The colours of the Empire State Building also change for milestones, charities and holidays across the world, so it’ll be a different colour every time you visit it.
London Millennium Eye
Opening in the year 2000, the London Eye is not necessarily a tall point in the world, but has made a significant impact on the skyline of London. Taking a trip on the Eye will take 30 minutes and have a variety of packages. You can go for just a standard ride, a guided tour of the great British skyline, or make an occasion of it with wine tasting or a champagne experience. To get a great view a great, influential city, take a trip on the London Eye.
One of the most beautiful occurrences in nature is Pilot Mountain in Northern Carolina. The Big Pinnacle is easily recognised by its ‘lump’ shape on the skyline, with bare rock walls and topped by bountiful vegetation. Although you can’t visit Big Pinnacle, a paved road can take you to the park visitor centre. From here, trails can take you around the base of the Big Pinnacle, being able to take in the vast greenery and untouched countryside.
This is the hardest height on this list to conquer. Although no technical climbing skills or equipment is needed to climb this mountain, it is still no mean feat. To reach the top of the highest point in Africa requires a physically demanding walk, but it will be worth it. Once you reach the peak, you’ll be above the clouds and be able to see for miles. Reaching a point this high without the aid of an aeroplane is certainly holiday worthy.
These may not be the highest points in the world, but they’re accessible to most people. Some are built up and some are in the barren country, but all offer a view of the world that can’t be seen from the ground. There certainly is a magical experience to be shared when climbing to a tall point in a city or country.
Beth O’Brien is a Bournemouth University student, who’s passionate about technology and gaming.
- Published:September 26, 2012 9:27 am
Travellers are always bragging about finding destinations and attractions that are off the beaten path. In fact, there seems to be some sort of underlying competition amongst globe-trotters to see who can veer the farthest away from the popular travel guides. In fact, some travellers will even stubbornly avoid the big-ticket sights and attractions just because they are popular and well-travelled. Can you imagine going to Egypt and not seeing the pyramids? Can you imagine booking a tour to Peru and not hiking to Machu Picchu?
At the same time, when you travel to a foreign country it is always nice to find things that you did not know about. Peru is a perfect example. While most people are familiar with Machu Picchu and the country’s pre-Columbian ruins, there is more to Peru than an archaeological holiday. Here are 5 attractions that you might not be aware of.
Maras and Moray
Maras is famous for its pre-Incan salt mines, and Moray is well known for its agricultural terraces. These cities are perfect for a quick day trip. Inquire about taking a hot air balloon ride over the Sacred Valley.
Now *This* is Mountain Biking
Biking is extremely popular in Peru and Ecuador. If you are feeling fit and adventurous, why not take a mountain bike tour? The bike route from Chinchero to Maras is popular.
Urcos is known for its colourful markets and pre-Inca Wari ruins. Where else can you shop and get a history lesson at the same time? Peru is known for its excellent arts and crafts. Weavers, woodworkers and silversmiths will all have their work on display.
Rafting and Riding
The landscape may be dotted with must-see archaeological ruins, but that does not mean you can’t enjoy some adventure sports too. The Urubamba River is a popular location for river rafting. If rafting is not your thing, then the Sacred Valley has numerous places to go horseback riding.
There are many festivals in Peru, so why not plan your South American tour around one of these annual events? In June, the town of Cusco holds the Inti Raymi Festival. The celebration lasts for a week. The festival of El Senor de los Temblores takes place in Lima a week before Easter, and it is a ritual that has been taking place in Peru since 1650 AD.
A Vibrant Nightlife
- Published:August 13, 2012 2:48 pm
If you’ve been watching a luxury travel forum for a good place to visit, consider searching for one that covers vacationing in Marrakech. Located in Morocco, Marrakech is an oasis in a sea of sand and stone. Here you’ll find a little known paradise, both loved and appreciated by all who live there and all who visit. While you won’t find African safaris or pyramids in Marrakech, you will find a culture rich in history and pride, and teeming with luxury and serenity.
A Brief History Of Marrakech
Founded in 1062, Marrakech was circled with pink and red walls for the sole purpose of defense under the guidance of Youssef Ibn Tachfin. This is also the year he commissioned the building of the Ben Youssef Mosque, which became the first of many.
Marrakech quickly became a cultural center and became well known for its commercialism and religion. Abdel Moumen took Marrakech in 1147 to become the ruling power and begin the Almohad Dynasty. It was during this time that the city had a veritable golden era of intellect and art. This era ended in 1269 when the city was again taken by the Merinids and slowed the march of progress in Marrakech. The 16th century marked the end of this period however, when the Saadians came to power. These rulers built the palaces that are a major source of tourism today. In the 17th century, the Alwites gained power and Marrakech lost its title as capitol. After the French protectorate of 1912, Marrakech was governed by Pasha El Glaoui.
Watch your luxury travel forums for mention of luxury hotels in Marrakech. You’ll likely find mention of the Kasbah Tamadot. Perched atop the Atlas mountains, this luxurious accommodation will likely become your favorite part of the vacation. With its intriguing staircases and divine luxury, this resort offers a luxury not often found in any other part of the world. With a phenomenal spa service and five star cuisine, this luxury hotel will amaze and delight you from the moment you enter the wooden doors until the moment you exit.
You may also find mention of the Palais Namaskar in your research. This luxury resort is nestled amidst Balinese gardens and has a distinctly Feng Shui design. With its glorious cascading waters, this resort will likely ruin forever any other luxury accommodation you view. Featuring Jacuzzis, private pools, and butler service, you’ll want for nothing in this amazing resort that is a destination in itself.
The Koutoubia mosque towers above Marrakesh and is surrounded by beautiful gardens that are the pride of the Muslin population. Built inj the 12th century, Koutoubia Mosque is the largest Mosque in Karrabech, reaching 230 feet in its tallest tower. Though non-Muslims cannot enter the Mosque, it’s still a remarkable sight to see. You can tour the gardens and revel in the majesty of its lovingly tended foliage. Consider also visiting the gardens at night, as the Mosque is well lit, even in the gardens. Though luxury travel forums covering the Mosque will likely be oriented towards Muslims who can enter, it’s still a sight worth seeing.
While Marrakech may be a difficult destination for travelers on a budget, it’s certainly worth the effort to find good travel deals to visit. Consult a wide variety of luxury travel forums to find the best deal, and the best time of year to go. You’ll likely find a great deal of information that can help you take the vacation of a lifetime. Even those on a strained budget will appreciate the history and beauty of Marrakech.