Exploring the Rugged Mountain Ranges of Southern Namibia

Southern Namibia is a vast, arid region with landscapes ranging from the desolate Namib in the west to the rolling Kalahari dunes in the east. The gravel plains merging with the horizon, rugged mountains and fascinating geological features will enchant you. Although stark and forbidding, the terrain is especially attractive…

Las Vegas: a City that Defies All Odds

Las Vegas is situated in the United States, in the western state of Nevada; rising like an oasis from the Mojave Desert, this city of over a million people enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year. If ever there was a city that shouldn’t be, it’s Las Vegas. Starting life…

Morlaix, France: A Historial Haven for the Culturally Curious

Anyone who visits Morlaix goes away with an abiding memory of the massive, multi-arched railway viaduct soaring 190ft above the roofs and spires in the valley of the River Dosssen. The dock basin in the town below still bustles, but with yachts rather than cargo-carrying vessels. Historical Significance Its importance…

5 Places to Discover in Faro, Portugal

Despite its off-putting suburbs, Faro at heart is a lively place whose old quarter has one of the most elegant squares in the Algarve. This walking tour is best done in the relative cool of the morning. Allow 2 hours.

1. Rua Muzinho de Albuquerque

The streets in this area are named after Portuuguese writers and poets, and the street signs, made of attractive tiles, give short biographical details of each. The area has some interesting buildings, including the astonishing Vivenda Mardlia, on the corner of Rua Almeida Garret, an ochre-coloured creation of fantastic decoration. At the end of the street, Alfarrabista is a bookshop in the old tradition.

2. Teatro Lethe

Formerly the Jesuit college of Santiago Maior, today this building houses occasional exhibitions – and one of the Algarve’s greatest treasures, the Teatro Lethe, During office hours, enquire from the concierge if you can see the teatro, por favor, and you should be escorted to the tiny ornate masterpiece – a reproduction in miniature of Milan’s opera house, La Scala.

3. Largo do Carmo

To one side is the Baroque Igreja do Carmo, the Carmelite Church, whose cemetery contains the macabre Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones). Nearby is the smaller Igreja do Sao Pedro.

Take Rua Filipe Alistao – looking out for the traditional grocer’s store at No.26 – and cross the small square to reach the busy pedestrianised shopping streets which lead to the harbour. Turn right for Praca Francisco Gomes and the palm trees of the Jardim Manuel Bivar.

4. Museo Maritimo

For the best view of the harbour walk out of the Museu Maritimo (Maritime Museum). The harmonious frontage of harbourside buildings is thanks to one of the city’s most prominent citizens – Francisco Gomes de Avelar, Bishop of Faro in the late 18th century – under whos instructions much of the town was rebuilt after the earthquake of 1755.

5. Largo da Se

Elegant Rua do Municipio climbs to the picturesque Largo da Se, dominated by the cathedral (open weekends 10am – noon) and the Paco Episcopal (Bishop’s Palace). Follow the narrow streets to the statue of Alfonso III guarding the Museu Arqueologico.

Leave the old town via the restored Arco de Repouso, where you can see a bronze casting of the city’s Moorish charter. To the right is the vast Largo de Sao Francisco and its church. Turn left along Rua Jose Bandeiro.

6. Rua Jose Bandeiro

Beneath the walls a low plaque of azulejos depicts the Tomada de Faro – the reconquest of the city from the Moors by the Christians in 1249. On the corner behind stands a remarkable Art Nouveau-styled decorative building.

Continue along Rua Manuel Belmarco to join Rua de Santo Antonio, the main shopping street, which leads back to Praca da Liberdade and the Museu de Etnografia Regional.

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Exploring the Rugged Mountain Ranges of Southern Namibia

Southern Namibia is a vast, arid region with landscapes ranging from the desolate Namib in the west to the rolling Kalahari dunes in the east.

The gravel plains merging with the horizon, rugged mountains and fascinating geological features will enchant you.

Although stark and forbidding, the terrain is especially attractive during the early morning and late afternoon when pastel shades soften the landscape.

Keetmanshoop and Luderitz are the only major towns in this sparsely populated region where distances between small settlements are great. The south is well suited to small-stock farming, and most of Namibia’s sheep are found here – the black-headed  Dorper are reared for mutton; karakul are bred or their pelts.

Most visitors explore central and northern Namibia, so tourism in the south is fairly low-key. Recently, however, several guest farms have sprung up in the region which offer visitors an opportunity to discover lesser known scenic attractions and the local way of life.

Attractions of the area range from spectacular geological features such as Brukkaros, an extinct volcano, to the awe-inspiring Fish River Canyon, the second largest in the world, to the Quiver Tree Forest near Keetmanshoop. Along the desolate west coast lies Luderitz with its romantic history of diamonds, its ghost villages and beautiful German colonial architecture.

For the adventurous, there is the tough Fish River Canyon Backpacking Trail, or the challenge of the white-water canoeing on the Orange River.

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Las Vegas: a City that Defies All Odds

Las Vegas is situated in the United States, in the western state of Nevada; rising like an oasis from the Mojave Desert, this city of over a million people enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year.

If ever there was a city that shouldn’t be, it’s Las Vegas. Starting life as a windswept watering-hole on the pioneer trail, this is a city that continually beat the odds. Over the decades Las Vegas grew into a kind of neon Camelot, whose casinos and rat-pack style has become almost legendary. But if your ideas about Las Vegas look like an old super 8 movie, prepare to be blown away, and I mean really blown away!

This is not just a city, the Las Vegas of the 21st century is like visiting another planet, a pleasure planet. It’s a total escapist fantasy – everyone is here for a good time from grandma Joe to superstars.

Whatever you want, you can have it here – looking for a taste of classic Vegas ghettio? Head down-town to Freeman street and into a world of old-school cocktail lounges, piano bars and classic casinos.

Ok, now it’s time to hit the strip! If everything’s big in Vegas, it’s a hundred times bigger here. We’re not talking casinos anymore – we’re talking mythical cities, whole worlds geared around you having the time of your life.

Whatever move floats your boat, you’ll find it here. Fancy three days of unbelievable indulgence? Say Bonjourno to the Ballagio and her incredible dancing fountains. Step back in time with the luxury of Ceaser’s palace – this is what ancient Egypt and Rome might have been like if they’d discovered electricity and cocktails or happy hours a little sooner.

Feeling more tropically inclined? Kick of those heels and feel the sand between your toes at the marage and madellae bay resorts. The resorts of the strip are so vast and self-contained it’s possible to land in one and not step outside again until the rest of your stay. But you will step out and explore the unique themes of at least a few others, sampling the incredible shows, dining and shopping experience each one has to offer.

If this neon paradise still ain’t enough for you, Mother Nature has a few surprise of her own. That is, if you can find your way out. The valley of fire is just 50 miles out of town and the Grand Canyon is a half a day drive away. But as the night time descends, Vegas calls. Like an incredible cluster of neon jewels under the desert sky. Las Vegas dazzles like no other city. She’s here to remind us that we’re here on earth not for a long time but for a short time. And Las Vegas will be the best time you ever had!

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Philadelphia: the Cultural Hub of the United States

Philadelphia is located in the north east of the United States, in between New York and Washington D.C., the Pennsylvanian city is home to over one and half million people and is the nation’s fifth largest city.

Philadelphia is considered to be the birth place of the United States, it was here that the nation’s declaration of independence from Britain was first read publicly back in 1776. the tolling of a two thousand pound bell marked the occasion. The bell has since become a symbol of freedom and can be admired in the liberty bell centre.

Philadelphia is also the birth place of the constitution which was debated eleven years later across the road in the state house which is now the independence hall.

America’s founding fathers walked these old city streets and the many heritage building in this area are preserved as part of the independence national historical park. While you’re at the national constitution centre, take in the rollicking story of prohibition in the roaring twenties. Protest against the anti-liquor law was fierce and the many arrests threw the justice system of balance. Perhaps the most infamous bootlegging gangster was Al Scarface Capone who spent his first prison sentence in the eastern state penitentiary in 1929. Take an audio tour and hear gripping stories that bring the world famous jail back to life.

To hear more voices from the city’s past, head to the African American museum, its audio visual projections and artefact collection are aimed at preserving the heritage of African Americans.

Within Washington square lies the tomb of the unknown soldier of the American Revolution. The city’s colonial past is still apparent but nowadays Philadelphia is a modern city with plenty of art, shopping and culture. Do as locals do and explore the city by bike or public transport. Or hop on and off a sightseeing bus.

Fairmount park is the city’s public back yard – it’s great for a walk and it showcases many archetectual tresures. Admire outdoor art on the Bejamin Franklin parkway but check out the Smith Memorial arch dedicated to the military heroes of the Civil war.

Strike Rocky’s pose on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Set upon a hill, the neoclassical building is one of the largest museums in the country. It has over two hundred themed galleries displaying nearly two hundred and thirty thousand paintings, sculptures and objects.

The please touch museum means playtime for the kids even toddlers will love this handson museum where they are never hushed – who doesn’t want to get lost in wonderland for a while? The interactive displays in the museum are fun and educational. Children can also learn a great deal in the academy of natural sciences on Logan Square.

Admire the displays of the various species that roamed the far north and take the opportunity to pet live animals.
To sample the local food head straight to old reading terminal market. Find out why the locals love their cheese stick so much or hand-picked deli treats from the colourful stalls. For more culinary discoveries visit Philadelphia’s Italian market on 9th street. The district’s Italian community was establish in the 1880s, their love for quality food and organic produce still prevails today.

Philadelphia’s climate is very pleasant in the springtime and fall, the most colourful seasons bring out the best of the city but it’s fair to say that Philadelphia is stunning all year round. Come to Philly any time you want, you’ll soon discover why Philly is so cherished by Americans.

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Morlaix, France: A Historial Haven for the Culturally Curious

Anyone who visits Morlaix goes away with an abiding memory of the massive, multi-arched railway viaduct soaring 190ft above the roofs and spires in the valley of the River Dosssen. The dock basin in the town below still bustles, but with yachts rather than cargo-carrying vessels.

Historical Significance

Its importance as a port and shipbuilding town goes back to the Middle Ages. This was underlined in 1505 by a visit by the Duchess Anne of Brittany when the wealthy Morlaix burghers presented her with a jewel-studded miniature ship of solid gold.

Attack of the English

During the same period the town attracted the less welcome attention of English raiders bent on reprisal for a French attack on Bristol. They landed to find a strangely deserted place, many of the citizens being away at a festival in Guingamp, and proceeded to help themselves to everything they wanted, especially wine. They were sleeping it off when the absentees returned and fell upon them ferociously. This is commemorated in the Morlaix coat of arms by the lion facing the English leopard above the legend: ‘S’ils te mordent, mords-les’ – ‘If they bite you, bite them’. 

As a precaution against further surprise attacks the Chateau du Taureau or Bull’s Castle was erected in 1542 and still stands on its island off the Pointe de Pen-al-Lann where the estuary meets Morlaix Bay.

Visiting Morlaix

The best day to visit Morlaix in peak season is Wednesday when the town is en fete. Mercredis de Morlaix are held throughout the summer months of July and August, continuing an ancient tradition. There is folk singing and dancing, pageants and tableaux, and stalls selling refreshments.

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