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15 spectacular places to visit in Scotland

Scotland is not just the land of Braveheart, haggis, and sheep herders. It is filled with castles, stunning lochs and mountains, beautiful parks, and welcoming locals. If you spend time in the bustling cities, you can visit the University of Glasgow, admire the view of Edinburgh from Arthur’s Seat or walk through one of the country’s many museums. Wherever you are, you’ll find yourself occupied with rich culture and history. Make sure you visit the highlands for some of the most stunning views and landscapes in the world.

Visit Edinburgh – Edinburgh is a glorious city filled with beautiful cobblestone streets, parks, museums, history, a castle, and maybe even ghosts. There’s a lot to do here and, after a long day of sightseeing, spend the evening in pub, hanging out with great locals.

Spend an Afternoon at Edinburgh Castle – Not only is this castle beautiful, but it’s an important Scottish monument that provides a fascinating history of the city.

Taste good pub food – Pub food is often the best in the country, which is why you see many locals eating lunch or dinner here. Since it’s so affordable, it’s also a good way to eat out. Pubs are a great place to try good beer, food, and even haggis.

Visit Glasgow University – The university houses an art gallery, museum, and dates back all the way to 1451. You can take walking tours and marvel at the architecture.

Puzzle over Rossyln Chapel – Figure out the Da Vinci code at this historic chapel with its intricate art work and symbolism. The place raises a lot of questions: why is there corn on the wall if it wasn’t discovered until centuries later?

See the Cathedrals – The cathedrals in Scotland are marvelous with their unique Gothic architecture and imposing heights. One of the best is Glasgow Cathedral.

Try the local markets – Scotland is full of farmers markets where fresh produce lies at your fingertips. The bigger cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh have several of them, but you can usually find smaller markets in towns outside of the cities as well.

Play golf – The Scottish invented golf. If you’re not lucky enough to play a round at St. Andrews, there are plenty of immaculate-kept greens to keep any golf player happy. Try to play during the low season (between November and March) if you want the lowest prices.

Try to find Nessie – Visit Loch Ness and try to find the famous monster that is said to be swimming in its depths. When you get tired of that, simply cruise around this amazing lake. The hills nearby provide for good hiking too.

Visit Melrose Abbey – Robert the Bruce’s heart is said to be buried here in the ruins of this Cistercian abbey. The abbey was repeatedly destroyed by the English in the 14th century. The ruins are surrounded by beautiful rivers and are also known for their decorative artwork.

See the Cuillins – This dramatic mountain range dominates Skye and has attracted walkers, climbers and artists for centuries. There are two peaks (red and black) and this can be done as a daytrip or a longer two-day hike.

Explore the Scottish Highlands – Visit the highlands of Scotland for gigantic mountains, rugged terrain, glaciers, lochs, and kilt-clad Scotsmen. For centuries, people have carved out a living here. While the land may be harsh and unforgiving, it’s beautiful landscape and you haven’t seen Scotland until you’ve been here.

Get your history fix in Dundee – Dundee is a bustling student city with a lot of interesting museums. It is known as Scotland’s center of “jute, jam and journalism.” The jute museum is surprisingly interesting. You can also visit Discovery Point to learn about the famous Antarctic expedition that launched from here on the RSS Discovery, which you can actually board at the visitor center.

Visit the Mystical Smoo Cave – The sleepy town of Durness is the access point for Smoo Cave, a coastline cave complex that can be explored on a tour. The cave is eerie and mysterious, and evidence from charcoal samples show that it may have been inhabited over 4000 years ago. It’s not the most impressive cave in the world, but there’s something about it that peaks your imagination.

Head to the Isle of Arran – In the southwest of Scotland, this isle is a popular tourist destination for its charming scenery, good walking trails, and quaint villages. Visit Brodick Castle; go for a hike or a trail ride; keep a look out for seals and golden eagles, and just enjoy the scenery.


The 6 best Greek islands for families

The best Greek islands for families, whether your children are after sandy beaches, wild water sports, unspoilt island life or history and culture.

1. Rhodes, Dodecanese 

If you’re after a bit of R&R, Rhodes’s east coast has a 30-mile stretch of well-maintained golden-sand beaches with warm, shallow water down its eastern coast. 

The coast’s big modern hotels, offer all-inclusive packages: meaning everything is on your doorstep – kids’ clubs, water sports facilities, babysitting, wellness, restaurants and cafes, so you can switch off and truly relax. If you do venture out, don’t miss the magnificent Unesco-listed Rhodes Town on the island’s northern tip, which will take you back through the centuries, with its medieval fortifications and car-free cobbled alleys.

2. Crete

Europe’s oldest civilisation built palaces decorated with magnificent frescos and enjoyed the curious sport of bull leaping on Crete from 3000BC to 1400BC. The Minoans’ capital, Knossos, was partially (and controversially) reconstructed by early archaeologists, making it unusually accessible to children. Finds from Knossos, such the bizarre Snake Goddess, are displayed at Heraklion Archaeological Museum. Kids will also love visiting the (slightly spooky) Dikteon cave on the Lasithi Plateau, which the ancients considered the birthplace of Zeus, with its stalactites and stalagmites.

3. Corfu, Ionian islands 

Head to Corfu for a spot of swimming and sunbathing on one of its varied beaches: sandy Glyfada, on the wild west coast; nearby Paleokastritsa, with its sheltered pebble coves; or Sidari on the north coast, with its peculiar rock formations and warm shallow sea. There’s also Aqualand water park in the island’s lush green interior.

4. Paxos, Ionian islands

Measuring just seven miles long and three miles wide, this is your archetypal Mediterranean island hideaway, with amazing turquoise sea and lovely white pebble beaches. The pace of life is slow and leisurely in its three small towns, Gaios, Lakka and Loggos, which are connected by marked trails. Chill out on the east coast beaches - Monodendri is the best - or hire a boat and explore the limestone cliffs and caves along the west coast. Antipaxos, a tiny island two miles to the south, has two lovely white sandy beaches and is served by regular taxi-boats.

5. Zakynthos, Ioninan islands

If you want to avoid the crowds of an all-inclusive, but have teens who need to mingle, head to the Peligoni Beach Club on Zakynthos. The island’s dramatic coastline will thrill your family by day – Navagio (Shipwreck beach), a blissful cove backed by plummeting limestone cliffs, is unmissable – and Peligoni Club offers families with teenagers round-the- clock activities – and options for socialising in the evenings. It has a cafe-restaurant, pool, tennis court and gym, and a series of decks leading down to the sea, for sunbathing, swimming and organised water sports, including sailing, windsurfing, SUP, water-skiing and wakeboarding. After dark, they stage barbecues, parties, live music and quiz nights.

6. Lefkada, Ionian islands

Lefkada is Greece’s top water sports destination. Besides having a large marina in Lefkaka Town, used as a base for dozens of yacht charter companies, Lefkada is a prime spot for windsurfing. Vasiliki Bay, in the south, is exposed to local thermal winds, creating conditions perfect for beginners in the mornings, and more experienced surfers in the afternoons. It’s also possible to try sea kayaking in Vasiliki. Meanwhile, back in the north, near Lefkada Town, you have kite-surfing at Milos (aka Agios Ioannis). And then there are Lefkada’s spectacular west coast beaches, including Kathisma and the must-visit Porto Katsiki, which has just re-opened following damage in the November 2015 earthquake.


Finding More than Dracula in Romania

People think of Romania as the land of gypsies and Dracula, but there is much more to the country than that. Romania is filled with beautiful, medieval cities, wonderful castles, and picturesque farmland. There’s no Dracula tourism in this country. You’ll be able to explore this great country without the crowds.

Wander through Alexandru Borza Botanic Gardens – Located in Cluj Napoca, this is a massive botanical garden with rolling green hills, an observation tower, a rose garden, and even a Japanese garden.

Get a cultural immersion in Maramures – This medieval region of Romania is a favourite. Peasant culture is still thriving, and there is an interesting blend of traditional music, hand-made wooden structures, and colorful textiles to experience.

Hike at Mount Tampa – Towering above Brasov, this is one mountain that is riddled with interesting history. It’s easy to hop on a cable car, and check out the view from the top, as well as explore with the defensive fortress. Many people like to go hiking here and visit the Brasov sign.

Visit the Romanian Patriarchal Cathedral – As one of the most religious countries in Europe, it should be no surprise that there are churches, cathedrals, and monasteries everywhere, many of which date back several centuries. This particular cathedral in Bucharest still has all of its original interior paintings and icons, in addition to some beautiful frescoes.

Explore Bucharest – With several centuries of architecture in this city, there is a really interesting display of old and new. There are plenty of museums, cemeteries, historical sites, shopping centers, and architectural sights to check out here.

See the wildlife at Northern Dobrogea – Here there are tons of wildlife and exotic birds to see, but you still have a bit of the city to keep from being entirely secluded. There is a decent selection of restaurants and entertainment spots, including theater and opera houses.

Shop at a traditional crafts fair – Every year during the month of June, there is a huge craft fair held in Bucharest. People come from all over Romania to sell goods and provide demonstrations. You can see pottery molding, woodcarving, glass blowing, rug and textile weaving, embroidery, and egg painting.

Visit the Danube Delta – Flowing over 1,700 miles from its source, this is Europe’s second largest and best-preserved delta. There is so much wildlife to see here, and the hiking is surreal. You can go bird watching and fishing as well.

Explore Brasov – A favorite place in Romania, this historic city is the launching pad for trips to “Dracula’s castle.” There’s great hiking around here, a beautiful historic center, and beautiful medieval streets.

Trek in the Fagaras Mountains – For those of you that are major hiking enthusiasts, this is one of those awesome multi-day hiking experiences. Taking you along the main ridge of the Fagaras, the route is one of the longest and continuous high-mountain traverses in Europe. You will trek over Moldoveanu, Negoiu, and Vista Mare that are three of Romania’s highest peaks.

Celebrate Hora de la Prislop – Held every August, this festival is a celebration that brings together Transylvania, Moldova, and Maramures. Known more commonly as the Dance at Prislop, you can probably guess that there is lots of traditional dancing and singing, beautiful costumes, parading, and awesome feasting.

Set up base at Baia Mare – If you are wanting to check out a bunch of the traditional villages, this is a good place to start. It is easy to access many of the famous valleys from here, including Iza, Viseu, Cosau, and Mara – all of which are riddled with interesting villages.

Hunt for Dracula in Sighisoara – Founded during the 12th century, this town is one of the most beautiful and best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. A world heritage site, there is a mass of towers, ornate churches, and burger houses to see throughout the cobbled streets. This is also the birthplace of Vlad Tepes, otherwise more commonly known as Dracula.

Visit Peles Castle – Not too far from Brasov is Sinaia, the site of Peles Castle. The castle itself was constructed between 1873 and 1914 as a getaway spot for the monarch. The building is lavishly decorated, and serves as a great indication of the luxurious lives these rulers enjoyed. A visit to the ground floor of the castle costs $6 USD, but goes up in price for tours of additional floors.

Tour a salt mine — Salina Turda is the salt mine in Turda which has been converted into a subterranean museum. The mine dates back centuries and was used heavily during the Middle Ages. The layout of the museum is really neat and looks almost futuristic. If you’re in the area, this is worth a visit.


Take a trip to Miami this Summer

From the classic splendor of Coral Gables to the parade of vanities that is South Beach, few American cities are so vibrantly beautiful — and so profoundly aware of it. Miami legally belongs to the United States, but it's also the cultural capital of Latin America, and the lingua franca here is Spanish in all its myriad accents: Cuban, Nicaraguan, Colombian, Puerto Rican. The last decade has seen the ascendancy of several cultural institutions, including the symphony and Basel Art Fair, and a resurgent downtown in the Design District. Outside of the city, several lavish resorts offer self-enclosed experiences popular with families and those looking for some straightforward rest and relaxation.

When to Visit Miami
March through May is typically the most pleasant time to visit Miami. Spring is filled with sunshine with temperatures ranging from high 70s to low 80s. Hurricane season (and the hottest time of the year) runs June to November. Expect afternoon showers in summer and fall.

Where to Eat in Miami
Miami has a diverse population to provide culinary inspiration, but this has not always been reflected in the quality of the cuisine. Things have improved recently as the city has become a crossroads and financial center for Central and South America. Inspired by new energy, ingredients and traditions, chefs are creating food that is well worth exploring.

Mandolin
One would think, given the city’s proximity to the sea, that Miami would be jumping with good seafood restaurants, but that turns out not to be the case. Mandolin proves an exception, drawing on the cuisines of Turkey and Greece. In this pleasant, light-washed space, look for mezzes such as the Greek sampler of tzatziki, eggplant purée and taramasalata, or marinated grilled octopus. The simply delicious mains might include fresh whole fish grilled with olive oil, lemon and oregano; a classic moussaka; or grilled lamb chops with an orzo pilaf.

Il Gabbiano 
Miami doesn’t generally bring to mind Italian food, but this restaurant on Biscayne Bay is the Southern sister of esteemed Il Mulino in New York. Look for classic appetizers such as clams casino and arugula salad. The terrific pastas include a fine spaghetti alla carbonara and fettuccine alla Bolognese. The array of main courses features dishes such as veal saltimbocca, chicken scarpariello and roasted branzino. Service is excellent. Closed Sunday.

Palme d'Or 
A makeover has taken the signature restaurant of The Biltmore in Coral Gables from stuffy to stunning. The seasonal menu is as contemporary as the décor. Look for starters such as tangerine-poached Alaskan king crab with sweet peas, carrots, mint and onions; or creamy egg with langoustines and sea urchin. Main courses might include black sea bass and razor clams with a bouillabaisse sauce and a fregola pasta ragout, or prime beef tenderloin and braised Kobe beef cheeks with carrots, potatoes, sauce daube and aged balsamic vinegar. Closed Sunday and Monday.

OLA
Small-plate aficionados will be delighted by the Nuevo Latino flavors at this bright and simple space in South Beach. To begin, an astonishing variety of ceviches might include salmon with white soy sauce, citrus juices, chili-spiced cucumber, tarragon, red onion and crispy garlic. A starter could be the chicharrón plate, featuring crispy rock shrimp coated with rice and corn flour in a sweet-and-spicy sauce with micro cilantro. Among the main courses, you might find filet mignon churrasco.

Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
Michael Schwartz’s airy, modern bistro is a Design District favorite. Schwartz cites Alice Waters as an inspiration, and his creative menu emphasizes unpretentious, locally sourced dishes at reasonable prices. It changes frequently, but look for selections such as house-made country pâté with cornichons and apricot mostarda; stracciatella with heirloom tomatoes, basil and extra-virgin olive oil; and slow-roasted and grilled Harris Ranch beef short rib with roasted cipollini onions, romesco sauce and hazelnuts.

Sightseeing in Miami
Don't overlook these iconic sightseeing attractions while visiting Miami:

• Pérez Art Museum Miami
• Art Deco Historic District
• Adrienne Arsht Center
• Fairchild Botanical Garden
• Little Havana
• Faena Forum
• The Wolfsonian
• Diana Lowenstein Fine Arts Gallery
• Fisher Island
• Bass Art Museum