With broad stretches of blue sea, calm turquoise bays where stylish mega-yachts shelter beside colorful old fishing boats, exclusive seaside resorts and sleepy bougainvillea-draped villages, Turkey’s Aegean Coast draws thousands of sun seekers each year. Home to some of the Mediterranean’s most famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it’s also a mecca for culture and history buffs.
This year, Scotland celebrates Homecoming 2014 with scores of music, art and theater events as well as food and whisky tastings. Summer and fall bring Highland games with kilted competitors, garden tours and hill walks, and special editions of top annual festivals like the Edinburgh Festival and Glasgow’s Celtic Connections. The Scots invite everyone to join in the fun, to explore their cities and towns, and their incomparable Highlands, 10,500 square miles of moors, mountains and lochs nearly the size of Massachusetts.
Poland is full of history, culture and modernity, covering a total area of over 120,000 miles of beautiful and historic landscape. There are many diverse experiences and reasons for a traveler to visit this country. Offered here are two vastly different places within Poland, both must-see destinations - but for opposite reasons.
I was standing on the edge of the medieval hilltop village of Motovun, deep in the Istrian peninsula of Croatia, looking out on the beautiful countryside dotted with stone farmhouses, old olive groves and vineyards.
It was spring and everything was fresh and beautiful. Beside me, there were two American women, part of a tour that had arrived the night before, who were looking out in the same direction and they were trying to remember which movie star they’d read had purchased a house in the area a few years ago. They argued back and forth, discarding names, and finally decided it might be Anthony Hopkins.
Italy’s diverse and spectacular region of Piedmont is not only a mecca of enogastronomy, textiles manufacturing and world-renowned shopping, but it is also home to a distinctive interpretation of Jesus Christ’s final days on earth. “Passione Di Cristo” or, The Passion of Christ, takes place every five years in the captivating town of Sordevolo. As part of an alliance with the town of Sordevolo, Central Holidays has been named the preeminent tour operator partner for upcoming events in 2015 of this acclaimed Passion Play of Sordevolo.
Maria Claudia Lacouture, president of Proexport Colombia, says, “The most unforgettable experience for a tourist may be the seven tones of the waters of San Andres, the inspiring streets of Cartagena de Indias, the green canopy of the Sierra Nevada parks or the dazzling sands of the Caribbean shoreline.”
It is estimated that the government is prepared to receive four million travelers by the end of 2014, generating an estimated four billion dollars of revenue.
To date, 27 cruise lines dock in Colombia, and new in 2013 was Disney Cruise Lines, stopping in Cartagena. An additional 39 international weekly flights to the country have been added, the most significant from the United States being American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Jet Blue and United Airlines.
Pulling the blinds open at the Hotel Lago Grey (www.lagogrey.cl) in Patagonia’s Torres Del Paine Park was all the wake-up call I needed - no coffee necessary. The sight was far prettier than a picture; the expansive Grey Lake, snowcapped trees, icebergs and Grey Glacier boldly in the backdrop. It was just as I had imagined it. Minutes later, we were able to board the motorboat, the Grey II, steps from the hotel. It could accommodate as many as fifty. Fortunately, there were fewer than ten of us that morning.
With a Caribbean vibe and American appeal, Puerto Rico is numero uno with travelers from the mainland who can do without the hassles of traveling with passports and visas. Plenty of beaches, bars, city hotels and seaside resorts have earned the US territory kudos as an affordable getaway with deals galore during the summer season. A big hit with foodies, menus are a culinary travelogue of Spanish, African, Caribbean, American and Taino Indian influences. From chefs preparing “nuevo criollo” or island cuisine with a fusion twist to mom-and-pops who ladle stews into big bowls, a variety of eateries showcase the fresh bounty from papayas and plantains to cilantro and coconut.
All about upscale indulgences, hyper-attentive service and pampering over price points, vacationing like a VIP is a grand guilty pleasure. Delivering above expectations, luxury in the Caribbean runs the gamut from personal chefs on private islands and butlers who pour afternoon tea to seaside suites that leave no stone unturned. “Our region continues to deliver by embellishing our natural paradise with offerings that easily exceed the standards of elegance,” said Beverly Nicholson-Doty, chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). “The Caribbean has much to offer in terms of luxury, even in an economy that is making a slow return to a steady state.“
New Caledonia is an overseas territory of France, a rare jewel set in the Pacific Ocean. From coast to coast, New Caledonia stretches over 300 miles, passing through the archipelago of the Loyalty Islands. To give a sense of New Caledonia’s location, it is east of Australia, north of New Zealand, south of the Equator, and just west of Fiji and Vanuatu. Uniting the archipelago is a coral reef, second in size only to the Great Barrier Reef. The reef is UNESCO designated, and is an area of exceptional natural beauty, featuring a unique diversity of coral and fish species. It surrounds an astonishing lagoon, which hides its own preserved ecosystem.