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10 Steps to Leverage Body Language in conversations & Public Speaking

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 You must understand your body Language:

It’s necessary to understand the meaning of body language so that you realise not only it’s importance but also appreciate the problems that are face in case of its inappropriate use.  Body language is the non-verbal communication between two persons or between a person and his or her audience. The ability to understand body language ensures that you make the right impression.

10 Steps that we must take to leverage as follows :

Step 1. You must know that eye contact is critical whenever you are talking to someone. How much or how little you have to maintain eye contact is something that you must know. though t there is no hard and fast rule, generally speaking 60 to 70% of the time you meet your eye with that of the Listener is termed as a positive eye contact. Any eye contact less than that will show that you are not interested in your meeting with the other person. At the same time anything more than that will make you very aggressive and companion may feel uncomfortable. So never cross the borders.

Step 2. Your posture is indicative of your confidence, amiability and cordiality. Elegance in posture is a must not only at important places but at any place. You follow this practice day in and day out. Then it will becomes a habit and you always

make a nice impression on others. At the same time you also feel your own importance. Self esteem which is so very important that one’s life depends to a good extent on the positive posture that you maintain throughout the day. What are the blunders to be avoided? Never slouch. Never have drooping shoulders . This shows your lack of enthusiasm and you disregard to life in general. Eradicate such a habits in case you have with whatever it takes.

Step 3. If you do not maintain the correct position of your head that is another blemish. You need to maintain your head position straight horizontally as well as vertically. In case you have any habit of keeping your head tilted or drooping  please ensure that this habit are  removed. When you want to show that you are listening to someone attentively you may only tilt your head slightly towards him or her. Otherwise you must maintain your elegant position of your head.

Step 4. People do not know what to do with their arms. Crossing your arms in front of your body is a negative position. It shows that you are very closed person. It shows that you are lacking interest with the person or persons whose company you are faced. Keeping your arms behind your back is equally bad. Gives and impression that you do not care for the people who are with you. You have to keep arms on both sides of your body. During conversation allow arms  to move whichever way they choose to move as they know.

Step 5.Your legs all the farthest away from your brain. Therefore it’s very difficult to control them. You might have observed many people oscillating side to side or two and fro while speaking. This is not only distracting also confusing to the listeners. Also shows your total lack of confidence. A self conscious person cannot stand still while talking to others. You lose an opportunity to make a good impact on the other if you do not confidently stand. The best way to get your body movement right be is yourself when you are in the company of others. It doesn’t matter whether sitting or standing. The important thing is that all your movement should only emphasise the proposition.

Step 6. Body Angle is another aspect of your body that you must keep in mind. We angle away from others you don’t like. Do this small feature of our body movement is not observed. But the impact that it creates in the situation should not go unnoticed this would be a blunder to angle away while talking when we are actually trying to appreciate someone, when we are actually trying to build relations. Of course there are situations where we cannot control over body language so far is body and body angle is concerned.

Step 7. Gestures are so many that it is difficult to identify and talk about each of them. It is enough to understand that we cannot use excessive too much in company which is rather serious discussing important issues which require contemplation. The same times we should not restrict our hands from any moment when we want to be open friendly and cordial. And movement is particularly important when you are shaking hands with somebody. Position of your hands give indication of your relationship with the person with whom you are shaking hands. The best way to create a good impression is shake cans keeping in vertical position. This insures and exhibits equality which is the best way to go about.

Step 8. Physical distance from the person you’re talking to is equally important. If you’re too close you look very pushy or aggressive. If you are too far it will indicate that two lakh interest in what is going on. If you’re totally I’m aware of this aspect of your body language it is a blunder that you need to avoid. Next time when you are meeting people in a get together or in a party you should observe distance at which other people are standing and what of the impact of such distances. If anyone is moving away when you are trying to go close to a person you should understand the signal that you are moving in a zone which is uncomfortable. Everyone yes your personal space which we need to respect. If we do not do so it is yet another blunder of body language which we must avoid.

Step 9. Next we talk about ears. They also play role in communication. However not many people can move their years if a tall if at all. But one thing is very clear that we are endowed with two ears and only one mouth. Therefore we should use these in the same order it means that listen twice as much as you speak. 

Step 10. Your mouth movements give a clue on what is going on in your mind. We press lips or putted under the teeth when we are angry. Never do this in company of others keeping mouth relax and compost creates very good impression. Simle is another apex which is very important. Practice different smiles  in front of a mirror. afterall, You cannot smile the same way to a  passer by as to your boss or to you spouse.

Thanks for reading !

Paraguay

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Paraguay is a country of South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Although it is one of only two landlocked countries in South America (the other is Bolivia), the country has coasts,[9] beaches[10] and ports on the Paraguay and Paraná rivers that give exit to the Atlantic Ocean through the Paraná-Paraguay Waterway.[11]

Spanish conquistadores arrived in 1524 after navigating northwards from the Río de la Plata to the Paraná River, and finally up the Paraguay River. In 1537, they established the city of Asunción,[13] which was the first capital of the Governorate of Paraguay and Río de la Plata. Paraguay was the epicenter of the Jesuit Missions, where the Guaraní people were educated and introduced to Christianity and European culture under the direction of the Society of Jesus in Jesuit reductions, mainly during the 17th century.[14] However, after the expulsion of the Jesuits from Spanish territories in 1767, Paraguay increasingly became a peripheral colony, with few urban centers and settlers. Following independence from Spain at the beginning of the 19th century, Paraguay was ruled by a series of authoritarian governments who generally implemented nationalistisolationist and protectionist policies. This period ended with the disastrous Paraguayan War, during which Paraguay lost at least 50% of its prewar population and around 25–33% of its territory to the Triple Alliance of ArgentinaBrazil and Uruguay. In the 20th century, Paraguay faced another major international conflict – the Chaco War – against Bolivia, from which the Paraguayans emerged victorious. Afterwards, the country entered a period of military dictatorships, ending with the 35 year regime of Alfredo Stroessner that lasted until he was toppled in 1989 by an internal military coup. This marked the beginning of the “democratic era” of Paraguay.

With around 7 million inhabitants, Paraguay is a founding member of Mercosur, an original member of the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Lima Group. Also, the city of Luque, in Asuncion’s Metropolitan Area, is the seat of the CONMEBOL. The Guarani culture is very influential and more than 90% of the people speak different forms of the Guarani language in addition to Spanish. Paraguayans are known for being a very happy and easy-living people and many times the country has topped the “world’s happiest place” charts because of the “positive experiences” lived and expressed by the population.

Top 5 Must-Visit Attractions in Paraguay

1. Saltos del Monday

On the outskirts of Ciudad del Este lies one of Paraguay’s most spectacular natural wonders: Saltos del Monday. This thunderous series of waterfalls is an astonishing 45 metres tall and 120 metres wide. Adventurers can climb and abseil down the rocky walls, while observers keen to stay on dry land can watch the falls tumble into the depths below from wooden walkways snaking across the river.

2. Itá Letra

These ancient petroglyphs, carved into caves in the Amambay Hills near Villarrica, have recently been dated to between 5000 and 2500 BC. The carvings depict pawprints, fertility symbols and the constellations of our galaxy, and appear to move in flickering candlelight. Revered by the Pai Tavytera tribe, they’re considered one of the great mysteries of early Paraguayan settlement.

3. Itaipú Dam

This immense dam on the border with Brazil is one of the largest hydroelectric dams on the planet. It’s worth the trip to admire the colossal scale of this feat of engineering. The dam has its own mini ecosystem too – head out on a fishing excursion or a bird-watching tour to see the local residents.

4. Bella Vista’s tereré plantations

The bitter herbal tea known as tereré is Paraguay’s most beloved beverage. It was exported to Europe in the 19th century and even used as currency, exchanged for boats and building materials. Head to Bella Vista in the south of the country to take a tour of the immense plantations that pepper the countryside.

5. Ybycuí National Park

Bursting with wildlife and crisscrossed with trickling brooks and gushing waterfalls, this exotic park is the perfect escape after a few days in the capital. Visit the old iron foundry to learn about munitions production during the Triple Alliance War. After a refreshing dip in the park’s many natural pools, wander along the winding paths to spot capuchin monkeys, tropical butterflies, peccaries and coatí among the trees.

Chile

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Chile  is a South American country occupying a long, narrow strip of land between the Andes to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far south. Chilean territory includes the Pacific islands of Juan Fernández, Salas y Gómez, Desventuradas, and Easter Island in Oceania. Chile also claims about 1,250,000 square kilometres (480,000 sq mi) of Antarctica, although all claims are suspended under the Antarctic Treaty.

The arid Atacama Desert in northern Chile contains great mineral wealth, principally copper and lithium. It is thought that due to the importance of lithium for batteries for electric vehicles and stabilization of electric grids with large proportions of intermittent renewables in the electricity mix, Chile could be strengthened geopolitically. However, this perspective has also been criticised for underestimating the power of economic incentives for expanded production in other parts of the world.[9]

The relatively small central area dominates in terms of population and agricultural resources, and is the cultural and political center from which Chile expanded in the late 19th century when it incorporated its northern and southern regions. Southern Chile is rich in forests and grazing lands, and features a string of volcanoes and lakes. The southern coast is a labyrinth of fjords, inlets, canals, twisting peninsulas, and islands.[10]

Spain conquered and colonized the region in the mid-16th century, replacing Inca rule in the north and centre, but failing to conquer the independent Mapuche who inhabited what is now south-central Chile. After declaring its independence from Spain in 1818, Chile emerged in the 1830s as a relatively stable authoritarian republic. In the 19th century, Chile saw significant economic and territorial growth, ending Mapuche resistance in the 1880s and gaining its current northern territory in the War of the Pacific (1879–83) after defeating Peru and Bolivia.[11] In the 1960s and 1970s, the country experienced severe left-right political polarization and turmoil. This development culminated with the 1973 Chilean coup d’état that overthrew Salvador Allende‘s democratically elected left-wing government and instituted a 16-year-long right-wing military dictatorship that left more than 3,000 people dead or missing.[12] The regime, headed by Augusto Pinochet, ended in 1990 after it lost a referendum in 1988 and was succeeded by a center-left coalition which ruled through four presidencies until 2010.

The modern sovereign state of Chile is among South America’s most economically and socially stable and prosperous nations, with a high-income economy and high living standards.[12][13] It leads Latin American nations in rankings of human development, competitiveness, income per capita, globalization, state of peace, economic freedom, and low perception of corruption.[14] It also ranks high regionally in sustainability of the state, and democratic development.[15] Chile is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), joining in 2010. Currently it also has the lowest homicide rate in the Americas after Canada. Chile is a founding member of the United Nations, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Pacific Alliance.

10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Chile

1 Torres Del Paine National Park

One of Chile’s most spectacular natural areas and popular travel destinations is the Torres del Paine National Park. More than 100 kilometers north of the city of Puerto Natales in southern Patagonia, this stunning area encompasses mountains, glaciers, and countless lakes and rivers. The most important region of the park is the Cordillera del Paine, an area that marks the transition from the Patagonia steppe to the subpolar forests of the north. Perhaps the most notable of its many wonderful features are the three 2,850-meter-tall granite peaks of the Paine Massif, which dominate this already breathtaking scenery. Hiking is one of the park’s most popular activities, with numerous well-marked trails, many offering overnight shelters (refugios) with the basics needed for longer treks that circle the mountains. Hot Tip: If you’re planning on anything more than a day’s hiking, professional guides are recommended and, in some areas, mandatory.

2 Valle de la Luna and the Atacama Desert

Valle de la Luna, which means Moon Valley, lies 13 kilometers west of San Pedro de Atacama at the north end of the country near its border with Bolivia. This rugged, inhospitable looking landscape in the heart of the Atacama Desert attracts many visitors for its eerie resemblance to the surface of the moon, an effect caused by the erosion of its sand and stone features by wind and water over countless millennia. Despite its remoteness, this surprisingly beautiful landscape has sustained life for centuries, both human as well as that of numerous species of flora and fauna. Among its most interesting features are its dry lake beds (this is, after all, one of the driest places on the planet), which are white, due to deposited salt, and prone to producing fascinating natural saline outcrops. Other notable features of the Atacama Desert are the region’s many caverns, some containing evidence of pictographs created by early man and where some of the world’s oldest mummies, preserved by the area’s aridity, were found (the most famous of these, the Chinchorro mummies, are now on display at the archaeological museum in San Miguel de Azapa).

3 Easter Island

First visited by Europeans in 1722, the magnificent yet remote Easter Island – so named by a Dutch Explorer who first set eyes on it on Easter Sunday – has been inhabited for thousands of years by Polynesians. Despite being more than 3,500 kilometers away from mainland Chile, this fascinating island with its remarkable stone sculptures remains the country’s most recognizable attraction. All told, 887 of these statues, known as Moai, created by the island’s early Rapa Nui population, have been identified, most of them now protected by Rapa Nui National Park (the island itself has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site). The most impressive collection is at Ahu Tongariki where 15 of them have been re-erected on the island’s largest Moai platform, or “ahu.” Also of interest are the many “hare paenga” ruins near ahu sites consisting of stones that once formed the foundation of boat-shaped houses. Other highlights include the Father Sebastian Englert Anthropological Museum in Hanga Roa, the island’s main community, notable for its exhibits relating to the history of the Polynesian islanders and their traditions.

4 Santiago: Chile’s Cultural Capital

Santiago is not only the financial and business capital of Chile, it also serves as the country’s cultural and entertainment center and is home to its best museums and galleries, along with excellent shopping, dining, and hotel options. Centrally located and the country’s main transportation hub, Santiago is where most visitors begin their Chilean travels before heading to the Andes or other areas of outstanding natural beauty. The smartest travelers, though, will allow time to get to know Santiago. Founded in 1541 and relatively crowd-free, the city features highlights such as the Centro Cultural Palacio La Moneda, a state-of-the-art cultural center occupying part of the impressive Palacio de la Moneda, and the Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts, established in the 1880s with a focus on Chilean artists and boasting a large permanent collection of paintings, sculptures, and photos. Other must-sees are the excellent Museum of pre-Columbian Art, featuring collections relating to the country’s native people, and the Museum of Memory and Human Rights commemorating those who suffered under the Pinochet regime. A highlight of any visit to Santiago is taking the aerial tramway to San Cristóbal Hill for its stunning views over this most hospitable of cities.

5 Chile’s Lake District

Stretching for more than 330 kilometers from Temuco to Puerto Montt and resembling the alpine regions of Europe, Chile’s Lake District is well worth exploring. Like its alpine cousin, this beautiful region of Andean foothills boasts rich farmland at the base of its many snowcapped volcanoes, ringed by thick forests and the kind of deep lakes that water sports enthusiasts drool over. And the connection to Europe doesn’t end there. After the forced resettlement of the region’s indigenous people, the Mapuche, farmers from Switzerland, Austria, and Germany arrived, bringing with them aspects of their own culture that can still be seen in the architecture of towns like Osorno and Valdivia, as well as in the region’s customs and festivals. For adventure seekers, the area offers endless hiking and biking potential, along with other fun activities such as volcano climbing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding, and, come winter, skiing.

6 Valparaíso

Chile’s third largest city, Valparaíso, is nestled between the sea and the coastal mountain range about 112 kilometers northwest of Santiago and makes for an excellent day trip. As popular for its many old cobbled streets and unique architecture as it is for its lovely harbor and beaches, the city offers a great deal to see and do. Many tourist attractions focus on the country’s rich maritime heritage, including Lord Cochrane’s Museum, in a lovely colonial home built in 1842, and the superb Naval and Maritime Museum with its displays dealing with the War of the Pacific of 1879 between Chile and allied Peru and Bolivia, with particular emphasis on the contributions of Chile’s war heroes. A related attraction is the Ironclad Huáscar in the Port of Talcahuano some 600 kilometers south of Santiago. Talcahuano’s beautiful harbor – home to Chile’s navy – is the base for this immaculately restored historic vessel built in 1865 in Britain and one of the only surviving such battleships of her kind.

7 Lauca National Park

In the far north of Chile, just 140 kilometers east of the city of Arica, Lauca National Park covers an area of 1,300 square kilometers and consists largely of high plains and mountain ranges, many of the latter consisting of large volcanoes. Highlights include its many pristine mountain lakes, most notably Cotacotani and Chungara, which reflect the scenery around them to stunning effect. The park also features a number of important archaeological sites, as well as evidence of the early European settlers who left their mark in the region’s many fine old colonial churches and buildings. It’s also especially popular for birdwatchers and is home to more than 140 species including Andean geese, crested ducks, Chilean flamingos, and the massive Andean condor. Another beautiful area popular with nature lovers is Conguillío National Park, also in the Araucanía Region of the Andes.

8 Pumalín Park

Although only established as a nature sanctuary in 2005, Pumalín Park has become one of Chile’s most important and popular conservation areas. Covering a vast area of some 715,000 acres stretching from the Andes to the Pacific, the area boasts some of the country’s most pristine coastline and forests and is notable for being almost entirely untouched by human development. In addition to protecting the area’s rich flora and fauna, including the Alerce, the world’s oldest tree species, the park – owned and operated by the US-based Conservation Land Trust – is easily accessible to visitors and provides one of the country’s best wilderness experiences. Thanks to its extensive network of trails, campgrounds, and visitor facilities, Pumalín Park is a delight to explore, whether for a short nature hike or as part of a longer ecotourism adventure including a stay at cabin-style accommodations overlooking one of the world’s most beautiful, unspoiled backdrops.

9 Los Pingüinos Natural Monument

In addition to its national parks, more of Chile’s important conservation efforts can be seen in its many natural monuments. One of the most popular is Los Pingüinos Natural Monument, just 35 kilometers northeast of the city of Punta Arenas at the southern tip of the island and incorporating the beautiful Magdalena and Marta Islands. As its name suggests (pingüinos is Spanish for penguins), the monument is home to one of Chile’s largest penguin colonies, consisting of some 60,000 breeding pairs of Magellanic penguins. Accessible only by guided boat tours, the islands are also home to large colonies of seals and sea lions. Another of Chile’s important natural monuments is El Morado, an easy drive from Santiago and site of the San Francisco Glacier and the 4,674-meter-tall Cerro El Morado mountain.

10 The Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works

Near the northern port city of Iquique in the remote Pampa Desert and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, this fascinating ghost town was once home to a bustling community. For more than 60 years from about 1880, thousands of Chilean, Bolivian, and Peruvian workers toiled in this hostile environment in some 200 saltpeter mines, in the process forming a distinct culture and way of life that has been preserved here. Although derelict since 1960, the site offers a fascinating glimpse into the tough conditions faced by these “pampinos,” with many of the site’s larger structures still standing and able to be explored. Professional guides are recommended given the area’s remoteness and harsh climate.

Austria

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Austria, is a country in Central Europe comprising nine federated states. Its capital, largest city and one of nine states is Vienna. Austria has an area of 83,879 km2 (32,386 sq mi), a population of nearly nine million people and a nominal GDP of $477 billion. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The terrain is landlocked and highly mountainous, lying within the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 m (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 m (12,461 ft).[9] The majority of the population speaks local Bavarian dialects as their native language,[10] and German in its standard form is the country’s official language.[11] Other regional languages are Hungarian, Burgenland  Croatian, and Slovene.[9]

Austria played a central role in European History from the late 18th to the early 20th century. It initially emerged as a margraviate around 976 and developed into a duchy and later archduchy. In the 16th century, Austria started serving as the heart of the Habsburg Monarchy and the junior branch of the House of Habsburg – one of the most influential royal houses in history. As archduchy, it was a major component and administrative centre of the Holy Roman Empire. Following the Holy Roman Empire’s dissolution, Austria founded its own empire in the 19th century, which became a great power and the leading force of the German Confederation. Subsequent to the Austro-Prussian War and the establishment of a union with Hungary, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was created. Austria was involved in both world wars; it started the first one under Emperor Franz Joseph and served as the birthplace of Adolf Hitler, who provoked the second one.

Austria is a parliamentary representative democracy with a President as head of state and a Chancellor as head of government. Major urban areas of Austria include Graz, Linz, Salzburg and Innsbruck. Austria is consistently ranked as one of the richest countries in the world by per capita GDP terms. The country has developed a high standard of living and in 2018 was ranked 20th in the world for its Human Development Index. The republic declared its perpetual neutrality in foreign political affairs in 1955. Austria has been a member of the United Nations since 1955 and[12] joined the European Union in 1995.[9] It harbours the OSCE and OPEC and is a founding member of the OECD and Interpol.[13] Austria also signed the Schengen  Agreement in 1995,[14] and adopted the euro currency in 1999.[15]

16 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Austria

1 The Vienna Hofburg: Austria’s Imperial Palace

The spectacular Hofburg Palace in Vienna was for centuries the seat of Austria’s monarchy, the powerful Habsburgs. Now the President conducts state business in the same rooms that once belonged to Emperor Joseph II. Nearly every Austrian ruler since 1275 ordered additions or alterations, resulting in many different architectural influences, including Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, and Classicism. Together with its squares and gardens, the entire Hofburg complex occupies 59 acres encompassing 19 courtyards and 2,600 rooms. Highlights of a visit include the Imperial Silver Collection and an array of dining services giving a taste of the lavish imperial banquets that once took place here; the Sisi Museum, focusing on the life and times of Empress Elisabeth; and the Imperial Apartments, a series of 19 rooms once occupied by Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife.

2 Salzburg Altstadt, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

As the residence of Prince Archbishops, Salzburg was a spiritual center from the earliest days of Christianity in Europe. The Benedictine Abbey of St. Peter, in the heart of the Altstadt (Old Town) was founded by St. Rupert in AD 690 and served as the residence of the Archbishops until the early 1100s. The Prince Archbishops employed some of the finest artists and architects of their times to build and decorate their churches, residences, and monasteries, and although these have been “updated” in the tastes of successive centuries, the medieval and Baroque buildings combine to form a beautiful old quarter to explore. Highlights are St. Peter’s Abbey and its church, along with the beautiful cemetery and its catacombs (which you may recognize as a filming site for The Sound of Music). Nearby is the cathedral, and wandering among its colorful Baroque burgher houses, you’ll find charming squares and attractions that include the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, now a museum. Above the beautiful spires and cupolas soars Salzburg’s castle of Hohensalzburg, which you can reach by a funicular.

3 The Spanish Riding School, Vienna

The Spanish Riding School dates back to the time of Emperor Maximilian II, the man responsible for introducing the famous Lipizzaner horses into Austria in 1562. Today, it’s one of the only places where the classical style of riding preferred by aristocracy is still practiced. Viewing the famous equestrian displays in the Baroque Winter Riding School – held here since the time of Charles VI – is a must when in Vienna. Built in 1735, the magnificent hall was designed for the nobility to demonstrate their riding skills. Tickets to watch these magnificent animals perform their ballet are highly sought after, so book online as far in advance as possible.

4 Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna

On Vienna’s outskirts, the Baroque Schönbrunn Palace was completed in the early 1700s and was later converted into a summer residence by Empress Maria Theresa. Highlights of a tour through the 40 rooms of the palace that are open to the public are the Royal apartments; the Great Gallery, with its ornate ceiling paintings; the Million Room; Maria Theresa’s salon, with its carved and gilded rosewood panels; and the Hall of Mirrors, with its gold Rococo-framed mirrors. Behind the 1,441-room palace stretch 500 acres of parks and gardens, also in the 18th-century Baroque style.

Your visit to Schönbrunn should include the many attractions spread throughout these grounds: formal gardens; a labyrinth; the Palm House filled with tropical and exotic plants and butterflies; an Alpine garden with a farmhouse; Europe’s oldest zoo; and the Classical Gloriette, a grand marble structure crowning a hill above the gardens. A carriage museum in the former Winter Riding School displays dozens of historical state coaches and sleighs. The entire palace and gardens complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

5 Innsbruck’s Hofburg and Hofkirche

The Emperor Maximilian I, who reigned in the late 1400s and early 1500s, made Innsbruck the main residence, the seat of the Hapsburg government and a focal point of Europe. His palace, the Hofburg, was remodeled by Empress Maria Theresa in 18th-century Baroque and Rococo style. Highlights of a tour are the sumptuous royal apartments, the marble Giant Hall (Riesensaal), and the painted ceilings throughout.

The highlight of the Hofkirche, or Court Church, is the spectacular Tomb of Emperor Maximilian I, who died in 1519. Widely considered the finest work of German Renaissance sculpture, the monument’s central feature is the massive black marble sarcophagus with a bronze figure of the Emperor. On the sides of the sarcophagus are 24 marble reliefs depicting events in the Emperor’s life, and around it stand 28 larger-than-life-size bronze statues of the Emperor’s ancestors and contemporaries (look out for King Arthur). Other pieces of sculpture include 23 bronze statues of saints from the Habsburg family and 20 bronze busts of Roman emperors. Another landmark of Hapsburg Innsbruck is the Goldenes Dachl, or Golden Roof, in the Old Town. This ornate residence is known for its magnificent Late Gothic oriel window, roofed with gilded tiles and now a museum of Innsbruck history.

6 Melk Benedictine Abbey

Melk Abbey is one of the world’s most famous monastic sites, and its spectacular buildings are laid out around seven courtyards. The most prominent part of this massive 325-meter-long complex is the west end and its twin-towered church rising above a semicircular terrace range. Perched on a rocky outcrop high above the town of Melk and overlooking the Danube, the abbey contains numerous other great reasons to spend a few hours touring it: the tomb of Saint Coloman of Stockerau; the remains of Austria’s first ruling family, the House of Babenberg; the superb 196-meter-long Imperial Corridor with its portraits of Austria’s rulers, including one of the Empress Maria Theresa; and the Imperial Rooms with their displays relating to the abbey’s history, along with statues and paintings.

7 Hallstatt and the Dachstein Salzkammergut

Hallstatt, undoubtedly one of the most picturesque small towns in Austria, is a good place from which to explore the spectacular Dachstein Salzkammergut region, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The beautiful Baroque architecture testifies to Hallstatt’s wealth, which is based on its long history of salt production from prehistoric times. You can visit the underground salt lake in the nearby Hörnerwerk cavern, or explore the Dachstein Caves, one of Europe’s most impressive cavern networks, which are, in places, up to 1,174 meters deep. Highlights include the Giant Ice Cave, with its sub-zero summer temperatures and huge caverns with magnificent frozen waterfalls, and the Mammoth Cave, with its huge pipe-shaped galleries formed by an ancient underground river. Above ground, visitors can tackle the superb 5 Fingers viewing platform, an incredible metal structure hanging over a 400-meter sheer drop with excellent views of the surrounding Alps.

8 Skiing at Kitzbühel and Kitzbüheler Horn

One of the best places to ski in Austria, the famed resort town of Kitzbühel spoils snow lovers with its 170 kilometers of skiable pistes and slopes dotted with little mountain huts, where they can stop for traditional Alpine snacks and warming drinks. Although it’s the site of the annual Hahnenkamm, the toughest of all downhill ski races, Kitzbühel has plenty of terrain for all skill levels in its three skiing areas, and the smallest of these, Bichlalm, is dedicated to freeriders. But Kitzbühel is not just for skiers. With its walls and frescoed houses, and snow-covered Alps for a backdrop, the town is as pretty as Alpine villages get.

The 1,998-meter Kitzbüheler Horn that delights skiers in the winter is a favorite for mountain hikers in the summer, and you can also reach the summit by cable car via the Pletzeralm. It’s considered one of the finest summit views in the Tyrol: to the south from the Radstädter Tauern to the Ötztal Alps; to the north, the nearby Kaisergebirge; to the west, the Lechtal Alps; and to the east, the Hochkönig. To the south of the Kitzbüheler Horn rises the 1,772-meter-high Hornköpfli, also reached by cableway. In addition to the great views, on the summit, you’ll find the Gipfelhaus, a unique mountaintop home; a chapel; a restaurant; and an Alpine garden.

9 Medieval Burg Hochosterwitz

To the east of St. Veit, on a crag rising some 160-meters above the valley, sprawls the imposing Burg Hochosterwitz, Austria’s most important medieval castle. After a turbulent history, the castle – first mentioned in 860 AD – was captured by the Khevenhüllers, and was enlarged in 1570 in the face of Turkish invaders. Never captured by a foe, the castle has remained in the Khevenhüller family since. The steep access road to the castle, the Burgweg, winds its way up through the 14 defensive gates to the beautiful arcaded courtyard where you’ll find the little chapel with its wall and ceiling paintings from 1570 and the church at the southwestern end of the castle with its high altar dating from 1729.

10 The Grossglockner Road to Franz-Josefs-Höhe

The Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse from Bruck, in the Pinzgau, to Heiligenblut, at the foot of the Grossglockner, was constructed between 1930 and 1935. Following the route of an old Roman road, it is one of the most magnificent mountain roads in Europe. Although its importance as a route through the Alps has declined, it’s still a splendid highway through the Hohe Tauern, Austria’s highest mountain massif and one of the country’s outstanding attractions. Running for 22 kilometers through the mountains at an altitude of more than 2,000 meters, the road consists of a long succession of turns leading up to the summit tunnel on the Hochtor at 2,506 meters and then down into the valley on the far side.

The road is the access to the massive Hohe Tauern mountain range, where Franz-Josefs-Höhe is famous across Europe for its spectacular views. Named after a visit paid by Kaiser Franz-Josef in 1856, this wonderful vantage point stands 2,422 meters above sea level and offers incredible vistas of the surrounding country. Prominent in the view is the Grossglockner which, at 3,798 meters, is Austria’s highest mountain. Be sure to stop at the visitor center for its detailed displays relating to the area’s history, as well as exhibits focusing on its glaciers and general tourist information.

11 St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna

The imposing Gothic cathedral of St. Stephen’s (Stephansdom) is a landmark inside Vienna’s old city center. The original 12th-century Romanesque church was replaced in the 13th century by a Late Romanesque church, of which the massive gate and the Heathen Towers (Heidentürme) survive. The later Gothic reconstruction in the 14th century added the choir and the Chapels of St. Eligius, St. Tirna, and St. Catherine, and in the following century, the famous 137-meter-high South Tower (Steffl) was constructed. After significant damage in World War II, the church was rebuilt. The views from the Watch Room at the top of the Steffl are worth climbing its 343 steps, but you can take an elevator to a viewing platform on the North Tower, home to the massive Pummerin Bell. You won’t want to miss the 14th-century catacombs and the cathedral treasury, where some of the cathedral’s most important objects are displayed.

12 Klosterneuburg Abbey and the Verdun Altar

Klosterneuburg Abbey and the Verdun Altar

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A flight of steps in lovely Klosterneuburg Abbey leads down to the 12th-century St. Leopold’s Chapel where Leopold III is buried. It’s also where you’ll find the famous Verdun Altar. Perhaps the finest existing example of medieval enamel work, the altar consists of 51 panels of champlevé work on gilded copper depicting Biblical scenes by Nicholas of Verdun from around 1181. Originally on the reading pulpit of the former Romanesque church, the panels were put together to form the present winged altarpiece after a fire in 1329. Four painted panels affixed to the altar in 1331 and the oldest in Austria – they were painted in Vienna before 1329 – are now in the Abbey Museum.

13 The Pilgrimage Church in Maria Saal

The Church of Maria Saal, perched on a hill high above the Zollfeld, is one of the leading places of pilgrimage in the state of Carinthia in southern Austria. It was here around 750 AD that Bishop Modestus consecrated a church from which the surrounding area was Christianized. The present twin-towered church was built in Gothic style in the first half of the 15th century on the foundations of a Roman basilica, and was remodeled during the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Highlights include the west facade with twin towers and its fine old gravestones. Particularly interesting are the 16th-century Keutschach Epitaph depicting the Coronation of Our Lady, and a Roman stone relief from around 300 AD.

14 Krimmler Ache: Austria’s Tallest Waterfalls

The Krimmler Ache plunges 380 meters in three tremendous cascades and makes for an excellent excursion from the nearby village of Krimml. At an altitude of 1,076 meters, Krimml – perched high above the Salzachtal in a wooded valley – is a wonderful place to stop for a few days if you’re into hiking. In addition to various excellent walks to the waterfalls, there’s a rewarding climb to the Schettbrücke and continuing to the spectacular Krimmler Tauernhaus. From here, expert climbers can tackle the 2,911-meter-high Glockenkarkopf on the Italian frontier.

15 Eisriesenwelt: The World of the Ice Giants

Found on the western edge of the Tennengebirge, the spectacular World of the Ice Giants is the largest system of ice caves in the world. Covering some 30,000 square meters, the caves were carved by an underground river in the Tertiary period. Discovered in 1879, they were opened to the public in 1912, and to date, an amazing 45 kilometers of the network has been explored. After winding along the Great Ice Wall, you’ll be confronted by the massive Hymir Hall with its impressive ice formations and icicles. Stone steps lead to the Eistor, or Ice Gate, a spectacular 1,775-meter-high wall of ice, and the great Ice Palace. Conducted tours last two hours, and the trip to and from the caves takes a few hours, so expect to spend the best part of a day exploring the area.

16 The Styrian Armoury (Landeszeughaus)

In the heart of Graz is the Landeszeughaus, the Styrian Arsenal. Built in 1644, the building houses a spectacular collection of completely preserved 17th-century arms and armor – enough, in fact, to arm 32,000 men, including helmets and weaponry. While in Graz, you should also visit the Landhaus. Built in Renaissance style in 1557-65, its main facade is dominated by rounded windows and a veranda. The lovely arcaded courtyard has three-storied pergolas on two sides and a Renaissance fountain, while in the Knights’ Hall there’s a splendid stucco ceiling from 1746.

Egypt

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Egypt

Egypt is a country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Seato the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie GreeceTurkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.

Egypt has one of the longest histories of any country, tracing its heritage back to the 6th–4th millennia BCE. Considered a cradle of civilisationAncient Egypt saw some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanisation, organised religion and central government.[12] Iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of MemphisThebesKarnak, and the Valley of the Kings, reflect this legacy and remain a significant focus of scientific and popular interest. Egypt’s long and rich cultural heritage is an integral part of its national identity, which has endured, and often assimilated, various foreign influences, including GreekPersianRomanArabOttoman Turkish, and Nubian. Egypt was an early and important centre of Christianity, but was largely Islamised in the seventh century and remains a predominantly Muslim country, albeit with a significant Christian minority.

From the 16th to the beginning of the 20th century, Egypt was ruled by foreign imperial powers: The Ottoman Empire and the British Empire. Modern Egypt dates back to 1922, when it gained nominal independence from the British Empire as a monarchy. However, British military occupation of Egypt continued, and many Egyptians believed that the monarchy was an instrument of British colonialism. Following the 1952 revolution, Egypt expelled British soldiers and bureaucrats and ended British occupation, nationalized the British-held Suez Canal, exiled King Farouk and his family, and declared itself a republic. In 1958 it merged with Syria to form the United Arab Republic, which dissolved in 1961. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, Egypt endured social and religious strife and political instability, fighting several armed conflicts with Israel in 194819561967 and 1973, and occupying the Gaza Strip intermittently until 1967. In 1978, Egypt signed the Camp David Accords, officially withdrawing from the Gaza Strip and recognising Israel. The country continues to face challenges, from political unrest, including the recent 2011 revolution and its aftermath, to terrorism and economic underdevelopment. Egypt’s current government is a presidential republic headed by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, which has been described by a number of watchdogs as authoritarian.

Islam is the official religion of Egypt and Arabic is its official language.[13] With over 95 million inhabitants, Egypt is the most populous country in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Arab world, the third-most populous in Africa (after Nigeria and Ethiopia), and the fifteenth-most populous in the world. The great majority of its people live near the banks of the Nile River, an area of about 40,000 square kilometres (15,000 sq mi), where the only arable land is found. The large regions of the Sahara desert, which constitute most of Egypt’s territory, are sparsely inhabited. About half of Egypt’s residents live in urban areas, with most spread across the densely populated centres of greater CairoAlexandria and other major cities in the Nile Delta.

The sovereign state of Egypt is a transcontinental country considered to be a regional power in North Africa, the Middle East and the Muslim world, and a middle power worldwide.[14] Egypt’s economy is one of the largest and most diversified in the Middle East, and is projected to become one of the largest in the world in the 21st century. In 2016, Egypt overtook South Africa and became Africa’s second largest economy (after Nigeria).[15][16] Egypt is a founding member of the United NationsNon-Aligned MovementArab LeagueAfrican Union, and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Egypt

1. Pyramids of Giza

Pyramids of Giza

The last surviving of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Pyramids of Giza are one of the world’s most recognizable landmarks. Built as tombs for the mighty Pharaohs and guarded by the enigmatic Sphinx, Giza’s pyramid complex has awed travelers down through the ages and had archaeologists (and a fair few conspiracy theorists) scratching their heads over how they were built for centuries.

Today, these megalithic memorials to dead kings are still as wondrous a sight as they ever were. An undeniable highlight of any Egypt trip, Giza’s pyramids should not be missed.

2. Luxor’s Karnak Temple and the Valley of the Kings

Karnak Temple

Famed for the Valley of the KingsKarnak Temple, and the Memorial Temple of Hatshepsut, the Nile-side town of Luxor in Upper Egypt has a glut of tourist attractions. This is ancient Thebes, power base of the New Kingdom pharaohs, and home to more sights than most can see on one visit.

While the East Bank brims with vibrant souk action, the quieter West Bank is home to a bundle of tombs and temples that has been called the biggest open-air museum in the world. Spend a few days here exploring the colorful wall art of the tombs and gazing in awe at the colossal columns in the temples, and you’ll see why Luxor continues to fascinate historians and archaeologists.

3. Islamic Cairo

Islamic Cairo

The atmospheric, narrow lanes of the capital’s Islamic Cairo district are crammed full of mosques, madrassas (Islamic schools of learning), and monuments dating from the Fatimid through to the Mameluke eras. This is where you’ll find the labyrinth shopping souk of Khan el-Khalili, where coppersmiths and artisans still have their tiny workshops, and stalls are laden with ceramics, textiles, spice, and perfume.

Surrounding the market is a muddle of roads, home to some of the most beautiful preserved architecture of the old Islamic empires. There is a wealth of history here to explore. Visit Al-Azhar Mosque and the dazzling Sultan Hassan Mosque, and make sure you climb to the roof of the ancient medieval gate of Bab Zuweila for the best minaret-speckled panoramas across the district.

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4. Aswan

Feluccas on the Nile at Aswan

Egypt’s most tranquil town is Aswan, set upon the winding curves of the Nile. Backed by orange-hued dunes, this is the perfect place to stop and unwind for a few days and soak up the chilled-out atmosphere. Take the river ferry across to Elephantine Islandand stroll the colorful streets of the Nubian villages. Ride a camel to the desert monastery of St. Simeon on the East Bank. Or just drink endless cups of tea on one of the riverboat restaurants, while watching the lateen-sailed feluccas drift past.

There are plenty of historic sites here and numerous temples nearby, but one of Aswan’s most popular things to do is simply kicking back and watching the river life go by.

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5. Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel

Even in a country festooned with temples, Abu Simbel is something special. This is Ramses II’s great temple, adorned with colossal statuary standing guard outside, and with an interior sumptuously decorated with wall paintings. Justly famous for its megalithic proportions, Abu Simbel is also known for the incredible feat, which saw the entire temple moved from its original setting — set to disappear under the water because of the Aswan dam — during the 1960s in a massive UNESCO operation that took four years.

6. Egyptian Museum

Egyptian Museum

A treasure trove of the Pharaonic world, Cairo’s Egyptian Museum is one of the world’s great museum collections. The faded pink mansion is home to a dazzling amount of exhibits. It’s a higgledy-piggledy place with little labeling on offer and not much chronological order, but that’s half of its old-school charm.

Upstairs is the golden glory of King Tutankhamen and the fascinating royal mummies exhibits, but really every corner you turn here is home to some wonderful piece of ancient art or statuary that would form a highlight of any other museum.

7. White Desert

White Desert

Egypt’s kookiest natural wonder is the White Desert, where surreally shaped chalk mountains have created what looks like a snowy wonderland in the middle of the arid sand. The landscapes here look like something out of a science fiction movie, with blindingly white boulders and iceberg-like pinnacles. For desert fans and adventurers, this is the ultimate weird playground, while anybody who’s had their fill of temples and tombs will enjoy this spectacular natural scenery.

8. Siwa Oasis

Siwa Oasis

Way out west, Siwa is the tranquil tonic to the hustle of Egypt’s cities. This gorgeous little oasis, surrounded by date palm plantations and numerous fresh water springs, is one of the Western Desert’s most picturesque spots. The town is centered around the ruins of a vast mud-brick citadel that dominates the view. This is a top spot to wind down and go slow for a few days, as well as being an excellent base from which to plan adventures into the surrounding desert.

9. Alexandria

Alexandria

The most European of Egypt’s cities, Alexandria has a history that not many others can match. Founded by Alexander the Great, home of Cleopatra, and razzmatazz renegade city of the Mediterranean for much of its life, this seaside city has an appealing days-gone-by atmosphere that can’t be beaten. Although today, there are few historic remnants of its illustrious past — feted in songs and books — this is a place made for aimless strolling along the seashore Corniche, café-hopping, and souk shopping.

10. St. Catherine’s Monastery

St. Catherine’s Monastery

One of the oldest monasteries in the world, St. Catherine’s stands at the foot of Mount Sinai, where Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments. This desert monastery is home to an incredible collection of religious iconography, art, and manuscripts (some of which can be seen in the on-site museum), as well as the burning bush. For most visitors here, a trip to St. Catherine’s also involves a hike up Mount Sinai to see sunrise or sunset. Take the camel path for the easy route or climb the famous Steps of Repentance if you want better views.

11. South Sinai

South Sinai

Egypt’s center for beach fun is the South Sinai region on the Sinai PeninsulaSharm el-Sheikh is a European-style resort full of luxury hotels, international restaurants, and bags of entertainment options. Dahab is a low-key beach town with a budget-traveler heart, which is just as much about desert excursions and adventures as the sea.

Up the coast, between the port town of Nuweiba and the border town of Taba, are the bamboo hut retreats that offer complete get-away-from-it-all respites from life. Wherever you choose, the South Sinai is all about diving. The Red Sea is one of the top diving destinations in the world, and the South Sinai region is home to most of the best dive sites.

12. Abydos Temple

Abydos Temple

Dusty Abydos town wouldn’t make much of a rating on the tourism radar if it wasn’t for the incredible temple on its doorstep. Abydos’ Temple of Osiris is one of ancient Egypt’s most fascinating artistic treasures. Its chunky columns and walls, covered in beautiful hieroglyphics and intricate paintings, are spellbinding sights, and even better, you can admire them without the crowds as despite its dazzling beauty, it receives few visitors compared to the temples in nearby Luxor.

13. Thistlegorm Dive Site

Thistlegorm wreck dive

Below the Red Sea’s surface is another world as fascinating as the temples and tombs on land. Among the many coral reefs off the coast there’s also a glut of shipwrecks that have sunk in the Red Sea’s Gulf of Gubal and Gulf of Aqaba. Of all the wrecks, the most famous is the Thistlegorm, an English WWII cargo ship that was on its way to resupply British troops when it was bombed by the Germans in 1941.

Today the site is regarded by divers as one of the top five wreck dives in the world due to the vast cargo of cars, motorbikes, and WWII memorabilia that can be seen both scattered on the sea bed around the wreck and inside the ship itself. Dive boat trips to the wreck are organized from both Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada.

14. Nile Cruising

Cruising on the Nile at Luxor

Egypt is defined by the Nile. For many visitors a multi-day cruise upon this famed waterway that saw the rise of the Pharaonic era is a highlight of their Egypt trip. Cruising the Nile is also the most relaxing way to see the temples that stud the banks of the river on the route between Luxor and Aswan, plus sunrise and sunset over the date-palm-studded river banks, backed by sand dunes, is one of Egypt’s most tranquil vistas.

The two famous sights on a Nile Cruise are the Temple of Kom Ombo and Edfu’s Temple of Horus, where all the big cruise boats stop. If you’d prefer a less crowded and slower experience though, and don’t mind “roughing it” a bit, you can also cruise the Nile by felucca (Egypt’s traditional lateen-sailed wooden boats), which also allows you to create your own itinerary. Cruise boats depart from both Luxor and Aswan, but feluccas can only be chartered for multi-day trips from Aswan.

15. Saqqara

Pyramid and ruins at Saqqara

Everyone’s heard of Giza’s Pyramids, but they’re not the only pyramids Egypt has up its sleeve. Day-tripping from Cairo, Saqqara is the vast necropolis of the Old Kingdom pharaohs and showcases how the Ancient Egyptians advanced their architectural knowledge to finally create a true pyramid with the Step PyramidBent Pyramid, and Red Pyramid being among the highlights here. The various tombs of court administrators, with interior walls covered with friezes describing daily scenes, scattered throughout the archaeological site are just as much a reason to visit as the pyramids themselves.

Netherlands

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The Netherlands sometimes known as Holland, is a country located mainly in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom.[12] Together with three island territories in the Caribbean SeaBonaireSint Eustatius and Saba—it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Frieslandis West Frisian.

The six largest cities in the Netherlands are AmsterdamRotterdamThe HagueUtrechtEindhoven and Tilburg. Amsterdam is the country’s capital,[13] while The Hague holds the seat of the States GeneralCabinet and Supreme Court.[14] The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe, and the largest in any country outside Asia.[15] The country is a founding member of the EUEurozoneG10NATOOECD and WTO, as well as a part of the Schengen Area and the trilateral Benelux Union. It hosts several intergovernmental organisations and international courts, many of which are centered in The Hague, which is consequently dubbed ‘the world’s legal capital’.[16]

Netherlands literally means ‘lower countries‘ in reference to its low elevation and flat topography, with only about 50% of its land exceeding 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) above sea level, and nearly 17% falling below sea level.[17] Most of the areas below sea level, known as polders, are the result of land reclamation that began in the 16th century. With a population of 17.30 million people, all living within a total area of roughly 41,500 square kilometres (16,000 sq mi)—of which the land area is 33,700 square kilometres (13,000 sq mi)—the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Nevertheless, it is the world’s second-largest exporter of food and agricultural products (after the United States), owing to its fertile soil, mild climate, and intensive agriculture.[18][19]

The Netherlands has been a parliamentary constitutional monarchy with a unitary structure since 1848. The country has a tradition of pillarisation and a long record of social tolerance, having legalised abortionprostitution and human euthanasia, along with maintaining a progressive drug policy. The Netherlands abolished the death penalty in 1870, allowed women’s suffrage in 1917, and became the world’s first country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2001. Its mixed-market advanced economy had the thirteenth-highest per capita income globally. The Netherlands ranks among the highest in international indexes of press freedom,[20] economic freedom,[21] human development, and quality of life, as well as happiness.[22][i]

11 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in the Netherlands

1 Jordaan and Amsterdam’s Canals

Jordaan and Amsterdam’s Canals

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Canals are as much a part of Amsterdam’s cityscapes – and charm – as the are in Venice, and some of the most enduring memories of any visit are of time spent exploring the city’s wonderful waterways. While many of Amsterdam’s best tourist attractions can be easily accessed by boat tour or water taxi – including most of the major museums and art galleries – nothing beats strolling along the smaller, quieter streets that line the waterways. Particularly charming is the Jordaan, a neighborhood built in the early 1600s to house workers and immigrants who came here seeking the city’s religious tolerance. Along with its small canal-side houses, look for the neighborhood’s many “hofjes,” inner courtyards hidden behind the buildings.

Another photo-worthy neighborhood is the Grachtengordel, with its many small bridges and quaint 17th-century homes. You’ll be rewarded as you explore these 400-year-old streets with examples of beautiful architecture, small boutique shops, cafés, and gardens. Look for houseboats moored along the canals

2 Keukenhof

Keukenhof

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Think of the Netherlands, and you’ll inevitably think of tulips, the country’s most popular flower. And one of the most beautiful places to visit in the Netherlands showcases these and other spring bulbs in spectacular abundance. Keukenhof, otherwise known as the Garden of Europe, is on the outskirts of Lisse, in what’s widely considered the “bulb belt” of the Netherlands. The largest public garden in the world, encompassing more than 70 acres of what was once the former kitchen (or “keuken”) garden of a large country estate, Keukenhof displays more than 700 varieties of tulips, which are at their height in April and May. But thanks to its massive commercial hot houses, the display continues almost year-round. In these, you’ll see endless rows of flowering tulips, along with thousands of hyacinths, crocuses, and daffodils.

3 The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

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The spectacular Rijksmuseum (aka the Dutch National Museum) in Amsterdam has been collecting rare art and antiquities since 1809. Not surprisingly, its extensive collection today amounts to nearly seven million works of art, including 5,000 paintings in more than 250 rooms, as well as a vast library with some 35,000 books. Apart from its unique collection of old masters, it offers an exhaustive account of the development of art and culture in the Netherlands and is especially rich in traditional Dutch handicrafts, medieval sculpture, and modern art. Be prepared to spend the best part of a day – or longer – exploring this museum’s endless treasures.

4 Anne Frank Museum, Amsterdam

Anne Frank Museum, Amsterdam

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The Anne Frank Museum is a must-see when in Amsterdam. On Prinsengracht, in the home where Anne’s family hid for much of WWII (they were Jewish refugees from Frankfurt), is where this remarkable girl wrote her famous diary. Although she died just two months before the war ended, her legacy lives on through her words, which have since been translated into 51 languages. The back of the fully-restored house where the Frank family had their hiding place has been kept in its original state as much as possible and is a poignant monument to a tragic slice of world history and a brave little girl who continues to inspire people around the globe.

5 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam Marcelo Campi / photo modified

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As befits one of the world’s greatest artists, the spectacular Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is ranked an impressive 35th in the top art museums globally, attracting almost 1.5 million visitors each year. Home to the world’s largest collection of Van Gogh paintings – many donated by the artist’s family – this impressive gallery and museum was specially built to showcase the more than 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and 700 letters in its vast collection. Works by his contemporaries are also on display.

6 The Windmills of Kinderdijk

The Windmills of Kinderdijk

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On the River Noord between Rotterdam and Dordrecht is the famous village of Kinderdijk (“Children’s Dike”), which takes its name from an incident during the St. Elizabeth’s Day flood of 1421 after a child’s cradle had been stranded on the dike. The big draw these days are the fantastically preserved 18th-century windmills. Now UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the 19 Kinderdijk windmills, built between 1722 and 1761, are the largest surviving concentration of windmills in the Netherlands. Originally used to drain the fenlands, these majestic buildings with their impressive 92-foot sails are open to the public from April to October, including special Mill Days when the sails are set in motion.

7 Hoge Veluwe National Park

Hoge Veluwe National Park

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You may be surprised to learn that the Netherlands, a relatively small country, boasts one of the world’s most diverse national park programs. The largest is Hoge Veluwe National Park, between Arnhem and Apeldoorn. Covering nearly 13,800 acres, this national park is the largest continuous nature reserve in the country, as well as being one of the most popular day trip destinations for locals and visitors alike. Featuring dense woodlands in the north, as well as a fascinating sculpture park, the area was once a country estate and hunting reserve, and to this day is home to many red and roe deer. The best-preserved part of the park encompasses an area of dramatic dunes interspersed with heath and woodland and interrupted in the south and east by moraines up to 100 meters high. It’s also a popular area for birdwatching, as well as hiking and biking (use of bikes is free to visitors).

The highlight of this beautiful park for many – and the reason many people choose to come here – is the outstanding Kröller-Müller Museum (Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller), housing the world’s second-largest collection of works by Van Gogh. In addition, the collections include Impressionist and Expressionist paintings by Cézanne, Manet, Monet, and Renoir. Outdoors, one of Europe’s largest sculpture gardens shows works by Rodin, Hepworth, Dubuffet, and others

8 Towns of the Ijsselmeer (Zuiderzee)

Towns of the Ijsselmeer (Zuiderzee)

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Among the most beautiful villages in the Netherlands are the small hamlets along the Ijsselmeer, the freshwater lake that resulted from the closing of the sea entrance to the Zuider Zee. These towns flourished during Amsterdam’s Golden Age, when they had access to the Atlantic and prospered as fishing and trade centers, but lost importance as the harbors silted up. Time seems to have stood still for the fishing village of Marken and the seaports of Volendam and Enkhuizen, where many of the colorful houses have become museums and shops. Enkhuizen has preserved many of its buildings and seafaring industries in the open-air Zuiderzee Museum, where the cultural heritage and maritime history of the old Zuiderzee region is preserved. Here, you can see craftsmen at work learning old maritime skills. In Volendam’s harbor, you can see a collection of colorful old wooden boats.

9 Zeeland’s Spectacular Dikes

Zeeland’s Spectacular Dikes

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Incorporating the deltas of the Rhine, the Maas, and the Schelde Rivers, Zeeland includes the numerous islands and peninsulas of the southwestern section of the Netherlands. Much of this area of recently formed land is below sea level and therefore reliant upon impressive dikes, as well as modern flood prevention techniques. As you travel the area, you’ll see evidence of the engineering project known as the Delta Works. These massive structures – basically hi-tech dams – can control how much water enters the area’s key estuaries from the North Sea. Consisting of dams, sluices, locks, dikes, and storm-surge barriers, this awe-inspiring project has been declared one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

10 Historic Valkenburg

Historic Valkenburg

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For those looking for a little ancient history, the Netherlands is not without its own medieval (and earlier) attractions. Romantic little Valkenburg, in the picturesque Geul Valley, boasts the country’s only hilltop castle. Long a popular holiday resort, the town’s other big draws are its many caves and the spa facilities at Thermae 2000, one of the largest such establishments in the Netherlands. In addition to the ruins of the 12th-century castle on Dwingelrots (Castle Rock), there’s also the interesting 14th-century St. Nicolaaskerk Basilica. Another highlight is the town’s famous Christmas Market (mid-November to December 23rd) held in the Velvet Caves, the maze of old passageways leading to and from the castle.

11 Kasteel De Haar

Kasteel De Haar

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Near the lovely old city of Utrecht, the fourth largest in the Netherlands, Kasteel De Haar is the largest fortification in the country. This spectacular castle, built by the famous Dutch architect, PJH Cuypers, required so much land (it sits on a spectacular 250-acre park) that the entire village of Haarzuilens had to be relocated to accommodate it. While the original castle site was established in the 14th century, this newer structure dates from 1892 and is well worth taking the time to explore. Inside, you’ll be rewarded with impressive collections of antiques, furniture, paintings, and tapestries, but it’s the gardens that really draw the crowds – along with the castle’s fairytale looks.

Bhutan

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Bhutan is a landlocked country in South Asia. Located in the Eastern Himalayas, it is bordered by the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China in the north, the Sikkim state of India and the Chumbi Valley of Tibet in the west, the Arunachal Pradesh state of India in the east, and the states of Assam and West Bengal in the south. Bhutan is geopolitically in South Asia and is the region’s second least populous nation after the MaldivesThimphu is its capital and largest city, while Phuntsholing is its financial center.

The independence of Bhutan has endured for centuries and it has never been colonized in its history. Situated on the ancient Silk Road between Tibet, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, the Bhutanese state developed a distinct national identity based on Buddhism. Headed by a spiritual leader known as the Zhabdrung Rinpoche, the territory was composed of many fiefdoms and governed as a Buddhist theocracy. Following a civil war in the 19th century, the House of Wangchuck reunited the country and established relations with the British Empire. Bhutan fostered a strategic partnership with India during the rise of Chinese communism and has a disputed border with China. In 2008, Bhutan transitioned from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy and held the first election to the National Assembly of Bhutan. The National Assembly of Bhutan is part of the bicameral parliament of the Bhutanese democracy.[10]

The country’s landscape ranges from lush subtropical plains in the south to the sub-alpine Himalayan mountains in the north, where there are peaks in excess of 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). Gangkhar Puensum is the highest peak in Bhutan, and it may also be the highest unclimbed mountain in the world.[11] The wildlife of Bhutan is notable for its diversity.

In South Asia, Bhutan ranks first in economic freedomease of doing business, and peace; and is the least corrupt country as of 2016. However, Bhutan continues to be a least developed country. Hydroelectricity accounts for the major share of its exports.[12] The government is a parliamentary democracy; the head of state is the King of Bhutan, known as the “Dragon King.” Bhutan maintains diplomatic relations with 52 countries and the European Union, but does not have formal ties with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. It is a member of the United NationsSAARCBIMSTEC and the Non-Aligned Movement. The Royal Bhutan Army maintains a close relationship with the Indian Armed Forces.

Bhutan is also notable for pioneering the concept of gross national happiness.[13]

5 Top Bhutan Attractions for Tourists

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1) Tiger’s Nest Monastery

The Tiger’s Nest Monastery hangs on a cliff and stands above an enchanting forest of blue pines and rhododendrons. As this beautiful and very exceptional monastery is a sheer climb the hill (900 meters), a pony can be arranged for the ride up, but only until the cafeteria. From then on, it is another steep walk and some narrow stairs towards the monastery itself. The trail crosses a chapel of butter lamps and descends to a waterfall by the Snow Lion Cave. The view of the Paro valley from here on is breathtaking, and the atmosphere very holy, a place where every Bhutanese will want to come at least once in his/her life. The place where Guru Rinpoche brought Buddhism into Bhutan, arriving on the back of a tigress.

2) Punakha Dzong

Being the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan, Punakha Dzong, or some call it Pungthang Dewachen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness), is also the country’s most gorgeous and majestic dzong. Punakha is accessible from a 3 hours drive east of the capital Thimpu, and after crossing a pass in the mountains, the place is a breathtaking and glorious sight on the first glimpse from the road. It is placed strategically in between two rivers, Pho Chu (male) and Mo Chu (females) that has noticeable color differences between the rivers’ water. Punakha Dzong joined to the mainland by an arched wooden bridge and contains many precious relics from the days when successive kings reigned the kingdom over this valley. Furthermore, it is blessed with a temperate climate, and lovely lilac colored jacaranda trees grow around the dzong during the spring season.

3) Zuri Dzong Hike

The peak of the Zuri Dzong Trek is probably the perfect spot to have a bird-eye view of the entire Paro valley. The Zuri Dzong is the oldest Dzong in Bhutan, and in there lies a cave where Buddha came to meditate in, in the 8th century. This peaceful place allows both Bhutanese and tourists to soak in the tranquil that radiates from the extraordinary view, something one can stare at for hours in wonder and awe. The total journey time to get there will take approximately 30 minutes if one starts from the museum watchtower, and an additional 1 hour to exit out towards Uma. Tourists can expect to sit and relax there, and also remember to catch the amazing side view as you hike through Trek.

4) Uma Paro Hotel

Just a 10 minutes scenic drive from Paro airport, Uma Paro Hotel perches proudly on a Himalayan mountain, flanked by thick pine forests with views that overlay the Paro district. One of the remote kingdom’s only boutique hotels, it offers elegant interiors, exquisite food, a pampering Como Shambhala spa, and a cool pool amid the mind-bending ravishing scenery. You could lose hours just mesmerizing at the magical Himalayan landscape. The rooms available specialize in different sceneries and needs for every individual’s preference, such as:

• Forest view rooms, overlooking the surrounding pine forests.

• Valley view rooms, offering panoramic views of the Paro Valley.

• Como suites, with 180-degree views of the Paro Valley in the bedroom, a kitchenette, a sitting, dining and study area.

• One-bedroom villas, which are spacious freestanding villas that include a sitting area with a traditional Bukhari wood burning stove, as well as a private spa treatment area. (Both villas offer personal butler services)

• Two-bedroom villas come with a living area with panoramic views of the Paro Valley with an open-air courtyard with a fire pit. The villas provide an outdoor hot-stone bathtub, a private spa treatment and offer Personal butler services.

5) Gangtey Valley in winter

The valley of Gangtey is one of the most stunning valleys in the Himalayas, and many call it the Shangri-La of Bhutan, just as how Bhutan is well known for being “one of the world’s happiest nations,” and “the last Shangri-La on Earth.” The surprise of finding such a wide, flat valley without any trees after the hard climb through dense forests is augmented by an impression of vast space, which is an extremely rare experience in Bhutan as most of the valleys are tightly enclosed. This moderate trek visits the villages of Gogona and Khotokha, passing through meadows and fields, then forests of juniper, magnolia and rhododendrons, which will be in full bloom in April. Besides the attractive scenic valley and mountain trails passing through the magnificent forest with its undergrowth changing from rhododendron and magnolia to ferns and dwarf bamboo, we can also visit the historical Gangtey monastery and the blacked necked crane information centre. Additionally, there will be a special treat for those visiting the Gangtey during the winter season, as they will be able to catch the graceful Black-necked Cranes in action as they head to the roost.