Best Sights to Visit in Athens, Greece (I)

Author: George Augustine

Best Sights to Visit in Athens, Greece (I)

In 1985 Athens was elected the first European cultural capital, and not without reason. With its 5,000-year history of settlement the city is amongst the oldest in Europe. The most ancient part of the city is the Acropolis, the military and religious centre of the ancient world. Nowadays, Athens is a lively industrial and commercial city, Greece’s economic and cultural magnet. Read more about the Best Sights to Visit in Athens, Greece.


Best Sights to Visit in Athens, Greece: Panathinaikon (Building)


This stadium, built new for the 1896 Olympic games, is shaped like a horseshoe and entirely of white marble. The original Kallimarmaro stadium built in 330 BC was located in the same place. Today, the 60,000-seat circular stadium is only used for cultural or political events. However, the stadium was used as the finishing line for the marathon at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, as well as the venue for the archery competitions.


Location: Metro station: Akropoli (Line 2), Syntagma (Lines 2, 3)


Price: Free


Best Sights to Visit in Athens, Greece: Hadrian’s Library (Building)


Hadrian’s Library is located to the south of Monastiraki Square. The Roman emperor Hadrian had it built in the year 132 A.D. In 412 the building was integrated into the city’s defensive wall. Today, only a part of the outer wall and a few Corinthian columns are still visible.



Best Sights to Visit in Athens, Greece: Lysikrates Monument (Memorial)


The Lysikrates Monument recalls the victory of choreger Lysikrates with this boys’ choir in 335 / 334 B.C. at the annual contest held at the Dionysos Theatre. The small circular temple is 6.5m high and stands on a stone plinth. The exterior is adorned with 6 Corinthian pillars.


Location: Metro stop Akropoli (Line 2)


Price: Freely accesible



Best Sights to Visit in Athens, Greece: Syntagma Square (Square)


This is Athens’ emblematic square – parliament stands here. The Grave of the Unknown Soldier is found outside the building. Every hour, visitors can watch the changing of the guard (who wear historical costumes). The square lies in the centre of the city and is a metro intersection, making it a good meeting point. Down in the metro station you can admire archaeological finds in display cases – items discovered when the metro was constructed. There are plenty of hotels, bars and nightclubs at Syntagma Square.


Location: Metro stop Syntagma (Lines 2, 3)


Price : Freely accessible

Experience a Historic Thanksgiving (II)

Were you contemplating about something to do for the holidays which is out of the ordinary? Why not step back in time — and take the family with you — as you enjoy traditional feasts and celebrations at a historic plantation, settlement or estate.


Historic Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving at Middleton Place – Charleston, SC

Middleton Place is a National Historic Landmark and home to America's Oldest Landscaped Parks. The Garden Club of America has called the 65 acres "the most important and most interesting garden in America, and have been planned so that there is something blooming at Middleton Place year-round.


The annual Thanksgiving dinner at Middleton Place features a menu filled with Turkey Day favorites, involving Carved Turkey and Gravy, Sweet Com Pudding, Carved Honey-Glazed Ham, White Rice, Mashed Potatoes, Herbed Dressing, Green Bean Casserole, Macaroni Pie, Mixed Greens Salad and House Dressing, Cornbread, Cranberry Sauce, assorted Pies and much more.


Thanksgiving at Middleton Place can be attended from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. under the antique Live Oaks of the 272-year-old plantation in the Pavilion and beneath a stylish, heated sailcloth tent.


The cost of the Thanksgiving buffet includes reduced admission to Middleton Place. Visitors are invited to stroll the ancient camellia allees, roam the rolling terraces, and gather around the awe-inspiring Middleton Oak before dinner or afterwards. The Plantation Stableyards will be available as well and guided House Museum tour and Carriage rides will be accessible for an additional fee that supports the not-for-profit Middleton Place Foundation.


Historic Thanksgiving: Houmas House Thanksgiving — Burnside, Louisiana

Houmas House Plantation and Gardens, is a historic plantation compound and house gallery in Burnside, Louisiana. The plantation was founded in the late-1700s, with the present main house finalized in 1840. It was named in honor of the native Houma people, who initially occupied this region of Louisiana. The complex, with its eight buildings and one structure, and the 10 acres was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 27, 1980.


The annual Thanksgiving buffet is an elegant affair. The menu is Creole and Cajun inspired and includes other traditional Louisiana faire skillfully prepared by award-winning executive Chef, Jeremy Langlios. The menu also features Cajun-fried turkey.


Historic Thanksgiving: Oak Alley Plantation—Vacherie, Louisiana

Celebrate the Christmas Season in one of the southland's most beautiful settings as Oak Alley Plantation celebrates its Annual Christmas Bonfire Party. This year marks the 39th anniversary. The mansion will be dressed in fresh fruit, greenery and seasonal flower-patterned arrangements, suggestive of Creole Christmases past. Delightful Cajun / Creole buffet, open bar, animated dance band, and loads of good cheer combine to heighten the holiday spirit throughout the famous alley of oaks and the lovely antebellum mansion.


As guests arrive and walk the illuminated path to the back of the mansion, they will be greeted by tour guides in antebellum dresses. On the terrace, a brass quintet welcomes arriving guests. Upon entering the terrace of the Big House, professionally dressed catering staff will be serving hors d'oeuvres on silver platters. Food stations and open premium taverns are set within and nearby the mansion. This event is held in an open house format with a main buffet net in the formal dining mom and chef style stations set around the veranda. Tables and seats are placed on and around the terrace located in front of the mansion.

Experience a Historic Thanksgiving (I)

Were you contemplating about something to do for the holidays which is out of the ordinary? Why not step back in time — and take the family with you — as you enjoy traditional feasts and celebrations at a historic plantation, settlement or estate.


Historic Thanksgiving: Plimoth Plantations – Plymouth, MA

Plimoth Plantation is a living history museum located in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It brings to live through its 17th-century Pilgrim village, and costumed actors and activities, the original settlement of the Plymouth Colony established in the 17th century by English settlers, some of which later became known as Pilgrims.


Historic Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving Dinner

Enjoy an American Thanksgiving Dinner that features the classic roast turkey with all the traditional New England trimmings. Pilgrim role players and Native interpreters will be on hand to greet you and you'll learn about the 1621 feast that continues to inspire our modern celebration of Thanksgiving.


Historic Thanksgiving: 1627 Harvest Dinner with the Pilgrims

For a more traditional 1627 Harvest Dinner with the Pilgrims, enjoy an evening of entertainment and hospitality with the residents of the 17th-Century English Village. Uncover the table etiquettes and recipes that journeyed across the Atlantic with the Travelers, and learn about the harvest festivity of 1621. Throughout dinner, you will be delighted with psalms and songs and perhaps you will be convinced to join in singing a round or two.


Historic Thanksgiving: Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, MA

Old Sturbridge Village, the largest outdoor history museum in the Northeast, portrays a rural New England settlement of the 1830s. Here guests an explore 40 original structures, including households, meetinghouses, a district school, country stockpile, bank, working farm, three water-powered mills, and trade shops – all situated on more than 200 picturesque acres. Guests can meet heritage breed farm animals and interact with authentically costumed staff.


On Thanksgiving Day, the Oliver Wight Tavern from Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Mass., serves a Thanksgiving buffet while the Bullard Tavern at Old Sturbridge Village serves a traditional Thanksgiving feast.


Historic Thanksgiving: Webb-Deane-Stevens (WDS) Museum – Wethersfield, CT

Located in the middle of Connecticut's main historic region, the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum provides visitors the opportunity to be immersed in life of the mid-18th and early-19th centuries during informative and entertaining one-hour tours.


Chef Christopher Prosperi, one of the most engaging top chefs in Connecticut cuisine, will visit the Museum to share his views on the history of what many consider to be the ultimate comfort food—the traditional Thanksgiving banquet. The menu was designed by a food historian and is based on centuries-old New England recipes. Guests will also enjoy some of the renowned chef’s own Thanksgiving experiences — including a reenactment of the first Thanksgiving.


Lodging in Santa Barbara, California (VI)

Santa Barbara is the county seat of Santa Barbara County, California, located in Southern California. If you’ve planned a tour of the Central California Coast, then Santa Barbara is definitely the best overnight destination. This articles series will reveal everything you need to know about lodging in Santa Barbara, California:


Lodging in Santa Barbara, California: Motel 6 Santa Barbara Beach – Mother of the chain


Back in 1962 the nation's very first Motel 6 opened in a primo spot, just a half-block from East Beach and a block from the zoo.


Mama Motel 6 was also the first in the 900-motel chain to complete a head-to-toe Euro-contemporary makeover, designed by Priestman Goode, the same folks who recently revamped Virgin America's jet interiors. 


Motel 6 still offers rock-bottom rates compared to most other SB beachfront lodgings. The 51 basic rooms don't offer many frills, but they do include Wi-Fi access ($3 per 24 hours). 


This place is mega-popular — book far in advance and try to nab a room with a partial beach view.



Lodging in Santa Barbara, California: Pepper Tree Inn – Uptown lodgings near the mall


The Best Western Plus Pepper Tree Inn is a casual, full-service resort in the Upper State Street area, across from La Cumbre Plaza shopping mall. Five acres of lush gardens surround the buildings (150 rooms) and two large pool areas. 


This is a relatively affordable alternative to pricy waterfront hotels. It's also convenient for car-free travel; as many major bus lines stop nearby, and the hotel provides shuttle service to the airport, train station and UCSB.


The on-site Treehouse Restaurant serves typical American fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner and has a lively cocktail lounge. It also provides poolside and room service. 


Lodging in Santa Barbara, California: Ramada Limited – Midtown oasis


Locals send their friends and relatives to this clean and comfy motel for the resort-style amenities at affordable rates (compared with waterfront lodgings). 


The 126 rooms and three suites surround a tropical oasis: lush gardens, a spacious pool and hot tub and a freshwater lagoon with waterfalls, water lilies, koi fish and ducks. 


Rates include Wi-Fi, refrigerators, microwaves, continental breakfast, athletic club passes and complimentary airport / train station transportation. 


Best Places to Stay in Rome, Italy (IX)

Best Places to Stay in Rome, Italy: Villa Laetitia – Turn-of-the-century Boutique Hotel


I’d always passed by this incredible Art Nouveau villa on the Lungotevere, wondering what it was. As it turns out the semi-abandoned Villa Laetitia belongs to the Fendi family and is used for parties and movie sets. Tucked in behind the turn-of-the-century villa is the foresteria (guest quarters) that Ms. Fendi has restored and turned into a boutique hotel. 


Why hadn’t I been before? Well, it’s pretty far off my beaten track. I guess you could say it’s in Prati, but its location on the Lungotevere delle Armi means it’s not really on the way to anything. That said, the seclusion and quiet can’t be beaten. And it really is only a pleasant 12-minute walk along the river to Piazza del Popolo and Via Babuino.


The Villa is perfect art nouveau, built in 1911, and retains many of the original elements including the massive pair of caryatids at the entrance. A shady walkway leads to the back garden, and the entrance to the intimate and cozy foresteria.


Ms. Fendi has a pitch perfect knack for creating stylish, yet comfortable, interiors that are inspired by turn-of-the-century Europe, yet at the same time feel fresh and modern. The rooms are spacious and each has its own terrace or garden and kitchenette. In fact, these are more like mini apartments than hotel rooms. There are fourteen rooms, which I now recommend to all my design-oriented friends who are staying for a longer period and want more than just a hotel room.



Best Places to Stay in Rome, Italy: Villa Spalletti Trivelli – Country Villa in Urban Setting


How many freestanding villas-turned into hotels are there in Rome? Well, I can’t think of any besides the Villa Spalletti Trivelli. This 12-room boutique hotel is a hidden jewel. Located just next to the Quirinale, it overlooks its own garden on one side, and the gardens of the President’s palace on the other.


The common areas are grand and regal, just what you’d expect in a country villa. But the cool thing is that you are in the middle of Rome. With only 12 rooms, the salons and garden are almost all yours. The rooms are each decorated differently, very traditional, comfortable and luxurious. In addition there is a small gym and even a fully staffed spa to make the country villa feeling thing complete.


If you are staying somewhere else, consider a spa day here, complete with a visit to the marble haman.

Museums at the Wolfsburg Castle in Germany (I)

The Wolfsburg Castle, with its ornamental gables and the onion tower which dates back in the 16th century, is one of the most magnificent architectural marvels of the Northern Germany. Inside the castle you will find: the City Gallery, the City Museum, the Kunstverein Wolfsburg, the Heidersberger Institude, as well as the Teaching Workshop (regional teacher training). Keep reading to discover the museums at the Wolfsburg Castle in Germany. All of them are worth a visit and this is your chance to find out more about their amazing history.


1. Museums at the Wolfsburg Castle in Germany: City Gallery

The City Gallery of Wolfsburg is an institution for contemporary art located in the opulent Renaissance structure of Castle Wolfsburg. Historical architecture and contemporary art create an exciting dialogue in the exhibit rooms. Since the art offers specific insights, alludes to alternatives and helps to understand the problems of our reality, which are becoming more and more complex, the City Gallery of Wolfsburg constitutes a forum from which impulses for the future emanate. A richly varied palette of events is available for all ages. Special focuses can be found in institution’s exhibitions under the motto “Young Art in an Ancient Castle”; the Art Prize of the City of Wolfsburg “A Young City viewing Young Art”; printer’s workshop; cooperative projects with local artists; a collection with paintings, sculptures, works on paper, photographs and videos.


2. Museums at the Wolfsburg Castle in Germany: City Museum

“Living history” is the motto of the City Museum in the Castle of Wolfsburg. In the historical ambience of the coach houses, between the defensive walls and the Fachwerk, this museum presents the history of the castle, the region and the city, in hundreds of original exhibits, from the foundation pile of the Castel Wolfsburg to a complete hair salon from the 1950s. Listening stations provide music and testimonies from contemporary witnesses, while interactive media and films facilitate a very personal encounter with this special city. The City Museum is more than a historical museum; it uses imagination and entertainment to present a comprehensive portrait of the very special city of Wolfsburg. At the same time its exhibitions and castle tours provide information about the history of the Castle Wolfsburg, an architectural monument to the North German Renaissance.


Most Romantic Places in the World to Propose (IV)

"Yes!" It's such a powerful word that it can bring men to their knees. A word that they hope to hear when that big moment arrives. To set the stage to pop the "M" question, here are some of the most romantic places in the world to propose, which help you both relax. These destinations will get her in the mood for romance and create memories that will last forever—till death do you part…


7. Most Romantic Places in the World to Propose: The Oberoi Amarvilas —Arga, India

Located 600 meters from the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra is a tribute to the legacy of Moorish and Mughal architecture and allows guests to explore the region while experiencing the utmost comfort and luxury. The English poet, Sir Edwin Arnold, described the Taj Mahal as, Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor's love wrought in living stones." In terms of the perfect proposal, you may choose to book a private dinner on a balcony overlooking the property with the silhouette of the Taj Mahal in the distance. After she accepts (how could she not?), you and your new fiance can take part in one of the many romantic packages offered by the "Oberoi Experience." These include a Traditional Hindu Blessing Ceremony to ensure the longevity of your relationship and luxurious pampering with the incredible Noor-E-Taj in-suite spa treatment.


8. Most Romantic Places in the World to Propose: Jade Mountain—St. Lucia, French Polynesia

Arising out of the serene Caribbean Sea, the twin Piton Mountains, a World Heritage Site, is the backdrop to Jade Mountain. Architect/Owner Nick Troubetzkoy personally designed Jade Mountain to meld seamlessly into the environment. He achieved perfection by creating Sanctuaries (infinity pool suites) and Sky Suites (jacuzzis) that place guests on the edge of nature in a private setting. The bathrooms in each of the accommodations contain a large whirlpool for two. The on-site service is handled by Major Domos, who are trained by the British Guild of Butlers. The Kai En Ciel Spa (Palois/Creole for "House in Heaven") offers relaxing treatments that couples can share together. The Jade Mountain Club restaurant serves "Jade Cuisine" created by James Beard Award winner, Chef Allen Susser. Private dining can be arranged on the beach or in your own Sanctuary, for that truly special moment. The private yacht, Serenity, can be chartered for the most picture-perfect sunset champagne cruise.


Places to Eat and Drink in Adelaide, Australia

Adelaide is the pretty capital of South Australia, a city of around 1.2 million set on the River Torrens in the middle of a tree-covered plain. Located between the Mt Lofty Ranges to the east and the beaches of Gulf St. Vincent in the west, it has a warm Mediterranean climate and is the driest of the Australian capitals.


Places to Eat and Drink in Adelaide, Australia: Magill Estate

Penfolds ultra-modern Magill Estate dining room, overlooking the original Penfolds vines and historic cottage, is back at the top of its game with new chef Jock Zonfrillo offering tasting menus exclusively. All the dishes highlight South Australia’s exceptional ingredients in whimsical preparations. Think Suffolk lamb with saltbush, celery and choko and fresh tommy ruff and mulloway local fish specialties, served on a stone from Hallett Cove and doused with aromatic crab broth. Every dish is beautifully paired with Penfolds wines including Grange by the glass.


Places to Eat and Drink in Adelaide, Australia: Celsius

Celsius offers stunning presentations of inventive dishes at relatively affordable prices in a dining room that used to be a nightclub.


Places to Eat and Drink in Adelaide, Australia: Vincenzo’s Cucina Vera

Vincenzo’s Cucina Vera features a new degustation menu each night according to what’s fresh at the markets and the whim of chef Vincenzo La Montagna.


Places to Eat and Drink in Adelaide, Australia: The Manse

The Manse offers an elegant charcoal and white setting to enjoy degustation of modern European cuisine.


Places to Eat and Drink in Adelaide, Australia: Auge

Auge has a sleek modern Spuntini (snack) bar with a terrific cocktail menu and Italian wines as well as a more formal restaurant featuring Italian specialties.


Places to Eat and Drink in Adelaide, Australia: Apothecary 1878

The tiny Apothecary 1878 wine bar (and restaurant), located in an intimate heritage-listed building in the West End, gets its name from the antique pharmacy cabinets gracing the front bar. Classic Thonet chairs are dotted around elegant marble and brass tables while marble floor tiles are featured in the main bar. The wine list was the South Australian winner of the Australian Gourmet Traveller’s wine list of the year in 2011.


Places to Eat and Drink in Adelaide, Australia: Saldechin Martini Bar

The Saldechin Martini Bar is set in a magnificent heritage-listed former bank building featuring marble walls and high arched windows on King William Street.


Most Important Temples to Visit in China (IV): Labrang Monastery

Most Important Temples to visit in China: Labrang Monastery


The largest Tibetan lamasery outside of Tibet proper, Labrang Monastery is also the most important in Amdo (northern Tibet). Founded in 1709, it is renowned as both an important pilgrimage site and a monastic university. In total, the monastery is comprised of 18 main halls, six colleges, dormitories and even a printing press; it was once home to several thousand monks, though today the number is believed to be closer to 1,000. 


Walking the nearly two-mile (3km) pilgrimage circuit (kora) and spinning the countless prayer wheels along the way together with sweet old grandmothers, rough-looking nomads and monks in fuchsia-colored robes is an experience you won't soon forget. Some buildings are open to visit, but for access to most, you'll need to join a tour. 


Labrang is located in the town of Xiahe, which has always been a cultural crossroads. Even today, the area is a mix of Tibetans, Chinese and Hui (Chinese Muslims). 


A popular half-day trip from Xiahe is to the Ganjia Grasslands, where there are grazing yaks, a few villages, and two monasteries. 


Most Important Temples to visit in China: Labrang Monastery – Headaches


Unfortunately, Xiahe is not always open to foreign travelers; you should check up on the current situation before you go. Chances are, if there is unrest elsewhere in Tibet or a major political anniversary of some sort, it will be closed.


Most Important Temples to visit in China: Labrang MonasteryHow do I get here?


Buses run between Xiahe and Lanzhou (the capital of Gansu province) throughout the day. Depending on whether or not the bus is full, it can take anywhere from 4.5 to six hours. There is an onward connection to the town of Langmusi on the Sichuan border.


Best Places to Stay in Rome, Italy (VIII)

Best Places to Stay in Rome, Italy: Residenza Napoleone III – Private Suite in Historic Palace


Want to live like a principessa? In your own suite of royal rooms? The Residenza Napoleone III allows you to indulge in this fantasy. Located in the sixteenth century Palazzo Ruspoli, it may be Rome’s tiniest – only two suites – yet most luxurious hotel option.


The Ruspoli family had the grand idea of opening two of their historic apartments, and running them as luxury hotel suites. The Napoleone Suite is the most dramatic. Silk-draped canopy bed, antique paintings and furniture, and brocade-covered walls all lend an aristocratic feel. 


The Roof Top Garden Suite is more staid and classic, but with an amazing view from the roof top terrace.The Palace, which has been in the Ruspoli family since 1713, is located just down the street from the Spanish Steps and Via Condotti. Breakfast is served each morning and Princess Ruspoli (yes, she’s a princess!) can arrange anything from a candlelit dinner for two to dinner for twenty in the grand salon.



Best Places to Stay in Rome, Italy: Rome Sweet Home – Short Term Rentals


If there is one thing a traveling foodie misses while on the road is having a kitchen. The chance to bring home bounty from markets and transform it is a dream. So, if you’re coming to Rome, and want to call it home, Rome Sweet Home has the biggest selection of short-term rentals in the city.


The site is divided by neighborhood, so familiarize yourself with where you want to be before you start searching. A big trend in rentals these days seems to be ground floor studios, so look carefully before you rent. Some of these can be quite nice, but they certainly won’t have a view.


The range of apartments is huge, going from studio flats to multi room palazzi. 



Best Places to Stay in Rome, Italy: The Inn at the Roman Forum – Luxury Boutique Hotel in Monti


This small 5-star luxury hotel is located in Monti and includes only a handful of rooms, strung out over a four-floor townhouse. Each is decorated differently, with rich fabrics and custom made furnishing. Two of the best rooms are located at the very top floor, and look out into a private garden in the back. 


The common area, also located on the top floor, includes a cozy living room with fireplace and a small terrace with amazing views out over the Roman Forum. Make sure you visit the ancient cryptoporticus in the basement.