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The Ultimate California Road Trip

Dreaming or planning your big adventure across California? Thinking of heading to the West Coast for the blissful sun, breathtaking coastline and dramatic national parks? Well, look no further! We have decided to share an ultimate Californian road-tip that will hopefully help you master your very own trip!

1.) Sequoia National Park, South Sierra Nevada
Head to Sequoia National Park to experience the breathtaking beauty and dramatic landscapes that are present within Tulare County! See some of the largest Trees you can ever see! Truly spectacular!

…oh yes, keep an eye-open for General Sherman!

2.) Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles
Nestled on the side of Mount Hollywood in Los Angeles, the Griffith Observatory is a great place to explore the extra terrestrial world that can be viewed within the observatory itself. This world-famous landmark has, since its opening, always been free – so there is no excuse to find a few free hours to explore the mighty wonders that await your eyes! The planetarium is “out-of-this-world” and the views of downtown Los Angeles are as equally spectacular!

3.) Pier 39, San Francisco
Take a stop at Pier 39 in San Francisco. This once working and trade pier has now been transformed into an open are of restaurants, shops and seals that bathe along the front! Take some time to eat some clam chowder from the markets on, and around the pier – it’s delicious!

4.) San Diego Old-Town
San Diego is an amazing place to experience some great Californian Wines and Mexican cuisine! when you visit, make sure you take a trip to the Old-Town ahistoric State Park, which dates back to the early 19th Century!

One of the best Mexican restaurants is, Oscar’s Mexican Sea-Food!

5.) Mono Lake & Mono County
Based in Mono County, this relatively shallow but dramatic lakes formed over hundreds of thousands of years. Mono Lake is a great place to stop for an hour or two! Take a picnic or just relax against the waters edge! Just don’t dare drink this lake water! Its high-salt content makes this lake a unique and very salty body of water!

6.) Route 66
No trip to California would be complete without a trip upon a portion of the infamous, Route 66! Take this historic road west from the ocean and head towards the Arizona and Nevada Border! There are many awesome places to eat (and sleep) along the way! Just make sure to pack lots of water , as the dry and arid dessert can be unforgiving!

7.) Lake Tahoe, Sierra Nevada
Visit Vikingsholm for an awesome look at a modern day castle, nestled within the hills surrounding Lake Tajoe!

8.) Asilomar State Beach, Monterey Peninsula
100km west of Hollister (no, not the shop… the town) is Asilomar State Beach! Situated in Pacific Grove, the beach is famed for its breathtaking sunsets and camping opportunities!

9.) Temecula, Riverside County
Temecula is an inland city that sits neatly between San diego and Los Angeles. This area is famed for its wine-region! Why not book something extra special like a hot-air ballon ride! Or take in the many award-winning wineries that blanket this region!

10.) Big Bear Lake, San Bernardino County
Perched within the San Bernardino Mountains, Big Bear Lake and town is one of the best places to go to see a different side of California. Its relaxed atmosphere, provides a perfect place to really be at one with nature – there are some great camping opportunities too, if you feel like!

11.) Yosemite National Park, Sierra Nevada Mountains
Yosemite. Is. Spectacular! Pack some comfortable hiking shoes and take a trek up the mountains.

Don’t forget to keep an eye-open for El-Capitan and some of the other famous landmarks while your in the park!

12.) Big Sur
Head south (or north) down the Big Sur – this coastline drive, which starts close to Monterey is a spectacular coastline where the Santa Lucia Mountains meet the ocean. Not only is it dramatic, but it makes for one of the most scenic drives.

13.) Santa Monica Pier & Pacific Park, Los Angeles
For some old-fashion fun in Santa Monica, why not head to the double-jointed pier that juts out into the Pacific Ocean! Best of all, you can explore the pier for free. Just make sure to take a few dollars to ride some of the most awesome rides in the city!

14.) Redwoods State Park, Humboldt County
Head to this state park in Humboldt County to see some of the tallest Redwoods in the world! Rising almost 100 metres high, these trees are an epic reminder of how awesome nature is! What is even more interesting is that these trees can live for over a 1000 years!

15.) Alcatraz, San Francisco
Ever wondered what it’s like to be marooned on an island within a high-security and infamous prison? Well, now is your chance! Take a short boat ride from Pier 39 straight to incarceration! Okay, that might be a little too dramatic, but its a significant site to visit in California, which housed some of the most infamous criminals in the country!

16.) San Francisco Cable Cars
No journey to San Francisco would be complete without a journey on the cities cable car network! Head up and down the hills of the city and enjoy a tour of the city! It’s a great way to explore many areas of the city… and it’s a fun ride too!

17.) Marin County, Muir Woods
Just over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Muir Woods is a spectacular place to explore the local habitat of many of northern California’s wildlife! Head here for a few hours on your way north or south along along the coastal roads!

18.) Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
For a truly American sporting event! Submerse yourself within a baseball game at the Dodgers Stadium! There is so much passion in the stands!

19.) Death Valley National Park
Located in Eastern California, Death Valley is one of the driest and hottest areas in all of the United States! In the height of Summer, Temperatures can reach up to 45-50 degrees! Plan, prepare and be responsible when continuing your road-trip through Death Valley!

Things to see and do in Paphos, Cyprus

Want to explore what Paphos has to offer? Well here are the best things to see and do in this historical and culture-packed Cypriot resort.

The town of Paphos is located at the south-western tip of Cyprus, between the Toodos Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. Despite the fact that it attracts scores of sun seeking tourists every year, Paphos has a fascinating history and is renowned as the birthplace of Greek goddess Aphrodite.

Evidence of the island’s past, which includes the main archaeological sites as well as most hotels and tavernas, can be found in lower Kato Paphos by the sea. The Old Town of Paphos as well as the commercial centre and industrial district are located further inland.

But if you are planning on exploring these areas in the near future, what are the best things to see and do? Well, here is a quick guide that also includes how to get there and the best time to visit.

Explore Paphos Archaeological Park

Featuring a unique collection of artefacts that date back to the 2nd Century BC, the Paphos Archaeological Park is a must-see attraction for history buffs. Monuments on display include the basilica of Chrysopolitissa, the Hellenistic theatre and the Saranta Kolones (forty columns).

Wander around Paphos Old Town

On a laid-back afternoon, head to Paphos Old Town and stroll around the local market, where you can find everything from fruit and vegetables to jewellery and lace. In addition to the arts and crafts, you can also sample some local wine, as production goes back as far as 6,000 years. In fact, Cyprus boasts the oldest named wine which is still being made today – Commandaria.

Visit the Tombs of the Kings

Carved out of solid rock and with frescoed walls, this is the last resting place of top officials and members of Paphian aristocracy. Although each individual would have been buried alongside their jewellery and other significant belongings, the Tombs of the Kings were looted many years ago, leaving behind a mysterious stillness.

Take a walk along the coast

From the Tombs of the Kings to Geroskipou Beach there is a paved coastal path that allows you to witness Paphos in all its beauty. More adventurous types may also want to walk all the way from the airport to Coral Bay, just remember to keep cool and stay hydrated.

Out of the city

If you find yourself wishing for some time outside of the city, the district of Paphos has plenty of options. Akamas is a national park just outside city limits and is one of Europe’s most beautiful sites. There is a rich diversity of flora and fauna in the area. A particular favourite among visitors are the loggerhead turtles, which are a protected species and often come to the region to mate. As well as turtles there are plenty of other animals from foxes and hedgehogs through to several species of lizards and snakes.

Akamas is also deeply connected to the mythical past of Paphos. As previously mentioned, Aphrodite is believed to have been born in the area and when you spend time here you can visit the Fontana Amorosa. This is where Aphrodite is rumoured to have met her lover Adonis and the Fontana Amorosa is said to be her Fountain of Love. According to legend, anyone who drinks from this spring is overcome with a youthful sense of desire. Set on the Akamas Peninsula, the amazing Anassa Hotel puts you at the heart of this enchanting landscape and offers a host of luxurious amenities including a decadent spa.

Five reasons to visit Malta in summer

Beach escape or city break? History and culture or warm waters and hidden coves? If decision-making is a problem, head to Malta in summer and do the lot.

Malta International Arts Festival

When 10 July to 3 August
Where Island wide
What A three-week cavalcade of alfresco drama, dance, music and art events celebrating local talent and international artists from across the creative spectrum. This year marks the festival’s 10th birthday, and 2015’s highlights include classical ivory-tickling from pianist Noriko Ogawa; a multidisciplinary music tribute to Marco Polo; an original choral piece featuring 18 hydraulic jacks; and contemporary interpretations of traditional Maltese poetry, prose and song.

Delicata Wine Festival

When 6–9 August
Where Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valletta
What You didn’t know they made wine in Malta? Well, why would you? Very little makes it out of the country, as the Maltese tend to drink it all themselves. All the more reason to seize the chance for a sampling at this three-night winery-hosted event, enhanced by live music, fine food and a tipsily sophisticated party atmosphere. Grab a glass and taste-test more than 20 wines crafted from Malta and Gozo’s homegrown grapes – including the islands’ unique varieties: gellewza and girgentina.

La Notte di San Lorenzo

When 9 August
Where Grand Harbour, Valletta
What Lucky for Malta that St Lawrence was roasted alive in Rome in 258 AD, else the skies above Valletta would be disappointingly empty on 9 August. To mark his martyrdom, Valletta gathers by the harbour to watch one of the year’s biggest firework displays (and the Maltese love their pyrotechnics), kicking off at 10pm.

Valletta International Visual Arts Festival

When 1–7 September
Where St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, Valletta
What Malta is well known for the Baroque beauty of its buildings and its wealth of ornate churches, but contemporary art? Not so much. Now in its second year, Viva is an initiative intended to yank the archipelago’s creative scene into the modern day and earn Malta a place on the contemporary visual-arts map. Featuring exhibitions of local and international artists and a programme of workshops and talks, it’s an intriguing opportunity to see how a country goes about changing its outlook on art.

Isle of MTV

When 28 June 2016
Where Floriana, just outside Valletta
What One for the forward planners, this – possibly the biggest live-music event in the middle of the Med, MTV’s free annual concert in the Granaries of Floriana entices crowds of 50,000 or more to see the latest up-and-coming acts from around the world alongside established names from the contemporary scene, and as 2016 marks the show’s 10th birthday, anticipation is running high.

Holiday guide to Costa Rica: beaches and adventures

This small country is perhaps the best in Latin America for a tropical adventure, thanks to its mysterious jungles, incredible wildlife, active volcanoes and glorious deserted beaches.

We have defined the essential itinerary for Costa Rica: Manuel Antonio for the beach, Monteverde for cloud forest, Tortuguero for turtles, and Arenal volcano for outdoor adventure. Add in the sandy beachfront in Guanacaste and you have the perfect holiday.

There is plenty of adventure on offer. From pelicans flying over your hammock, lightning over a silver sea, pink orchids against turquoise houses, a passing cowboy with silver stirrups, the white sand and deep blue sea that stay in your memory.

San José

Old San José has its sights, from Museo de Jade (Plaza de la Democracía) and Museo del Oro (beneath Plaza de la Cultura), both with unrivalled but unsung pre-Colombian treasures, to the warren of the Mercado Central, and the pay-to-view grandeur of the Teatro Nacional.

Start at the city’s western edge with a visit to Museo de Arte Costarricense in the old air traffic control building of what used to be the airport, then head down Paseo Colon.

Corcovado rainforest

A quarter of Costa Rica is protected parks and reserve, but the crown jewel is Corcovado national park, 164 square miles of rainforest in the Osa peninsula, fringed by empty Pacific beach. Remote and largely impenetrable, it’s home to five species of cat (jaguar, puma, ocelot, margay and jaguarundi) plus tapir, sloth, monkeys, boas (there are lots of snakes: wear boots) and almost 400 bird species. Here’s your best chance of spotting Costa Rican wildlife – and the waters are rich with dolphins and, seasonally, pods of whales.

Access is with guides only, and reservations need to be made well in advance. Hikes range from easy day trips, mainly around San Pedrillo, to multi-day treks with overnights at Sirena, a magical, ultra-basic ranger station.

Cloud forests

Monteverde is the classic cloud forest choice, and the most child-friendly, with sky tram, sky walk and, for over-eights, canopy zip lines. If you are travelling south, San Gerardo de Dota, 46 miles from the capital and 2,200 metres above sea level, makes a top stopover. The (heated) wooden cabins at Trogon Lodge lie inside the country’s newest national park, Los Quetzales, a vast birdwatchers’ paradise, home to flame-throated warblers, emerald toucanets, green violetear hummingbirds and motmots, turquoise cotingas as well as trogons and quetzals.

Worth noting that Central America’s foremost ornithologist, the late Alexander Skutch, chose to live just down the road.

Costa Ballena beaches

Costa Rica has two coasts and more than 300 beaches, some the domain of turtles. But there are two areas that have everything, from surfer bars to top-end retreats, party beaches to silent jungle. The first is the jungly Costa Ballena on the Central Pacific, extending 18 miles down Highway 34 from the grey-sand surfer town of Dominical to mini gastroville Ojochal.

Southern Caribbean beaches

The second beach area is the more laid-back eight-mile stretch of Caribbean coast between lively Puerto Viejo and sleepy Manzanillo. All the palm-fringed white-sand beaches, turquoise sea, parrots, jungle cabins, nightlife, surf camps, gingerbread beach cottages, and pancake breakfast joints a person could possibly need are here. This coast, settled by West Indian fishermen in the 19th century, is English-speaking, and that vibe still dominates, despite a steady influx of more excitable jungle lovers. The obvious thing to do is read in a hammock and visit a beach cafe.

Arenal, the essential volcano

Volcán Poás is easier to visit (it’s virtually a drive-in) and Volcán Rincón de la Vieja is wilder, but Arenal is unmissable. Only one thing beats the thrill of seeing Arenal erupt, and that’s seeing it erupt while you’re sitting in a hot spring. The hot spring industry sprang up as a way of entertaining frustrated visitors who arrived to find the perfect cone shrouded in cloud.