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Punta Arenas, CL

Punta Arenas, CL

Nov 30 - Dec 1, 2015

November 302015

Punta Arenas is the capital city of Chile’s southernmost region, Magallanes and Antartica Chilena. The city was officially renamed Magallanes in 1927, but in 1938 it was changed back to Punta Arenas. It is the largest city south of the 46th parallel south. As of 1977 Punta Arenas has been one of only two free ports in Chile.

Punta Arenas was originally established by the Chilean government in 1848 as a tiny penal colony. During the remainder of the 1800s, Punta Arenas grew in size and importance due to the increasing maritime traffic and trade traveling to the west coasts of South and North America. This period of growth also resulted from the waves of immigrants attracted to the gold rush and sheep farming boom in the 1880s and early 1900s. The largest sheep company, controlling 10,000 square kilometres in Chile and Argentina, was based in Punta Arenas, and its owners lived there.

Since its founding Chile has used Punta Arenas as a base to defend its sovereignty claims in the southernmost part of South America. The geopolitical importance of Punta Arenas has remained high in the 20th and 21st centuries because of its logistic importance in accessing the Antarctic Peninsula.

(Wikipedia)

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Easter Island, CL

Easter Island, CL

Nov 26 - 30, 2015

November 262015

Easter Island is a Chilean island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle. It is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world and is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapa Nui people. Today the island has about 5,800 residents, of whom some 60 percent are descendants of the aboriginal Rapa Nui.

Polynesian people most likely settled on Easter Island sometime between 700 to 1100 CE, and created a thriving and industrious culture as evidenced by the island’s numerous enormous stone moai and other artifacts. However, human activity, the introduction of the Polynesian rat and overpopulation led to gradual deforestation and extinction of natural resources which severely weakened the Rapa Nui civilization. By the time of European arrival in 1722, the island’s population had dropped to 2,000–3,000 from an estimated high of approximately 15,000 just a century earlier. European diseases and Peruvian slave raiding in the 1860s further reduced the Rapa Nui population, to a low of only 111 inhabitants in 1877.

In 1995, UNESCO named Easter Island a World Heritage Site, with much of the island protected within Rapa Nui National Park.

(Wikipedia)

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Santiago, CL

Santiago, CL

Nov 22 - 26, 2015

November 222015

Santiago is the capital and largest city of Chile. It is located in the country’s central valley, at an elevation of 520 m (1,706 ft) above sea level.

Founded in 1541, Santiago has been the capital city of Chile since colonial times. The city has a downtown core of 19th century neoclassical architecture and winding side-streets, dotted by art deco, neo-gothic, and other styles. Santiago’s cityscape is shaped by several stand-alone hills and the fast-flowing Mapocho River, lined by parks such as Parque Forestal. Mountains of the Andes chain can be seen from most points in the city. The city outskirts are surrounded by vineyards, and Santiago is within a few hours of both the mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

Santiago’s steady economic growth over the past few decades has transformed it into a modern metropolis. The city is now home to a growing theater and restaurant scene, extensive suburban development, dozens of shopping centers, and a rising skyline, including the tallest building in Latin America, the Gran Torre Santiago. It includes several major universities, and has developed a modern transportation infrastructure, including a free flow toll-based, partly underground urban freeway system and the Metro de Santiago, South America’s most extensive subway system. Santiago is the cultural, political and financial center of Chile and is home to the regional headquarters of many multinational corporations.

(Wikipedia)

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Mendoza, AR

Mendoza, AR

Nov 18 - 22, 2015

November 182015

Mendoza is the capital city of Mendoza Province, in Argentina. It is located in the northern-central part of the province, in a region of foothills and high plains, on the eastern side of the Andes. As of the 2010 census, Mendoza had a population of 115,041 with a metropolitan area population of 1,055,679, making Greater Mendoza the fourth largest census metropolitan area in the country.

Two of the main industries of the Mendoza area are olive oil production and Argentine wine. The region around Greater Mendoza is the largest wine producing area in Latin America. As such, Mendoza is one of nine cities worldwide in the network of Great Capitals of Wine, and the city is an emerging enotourism (Wine tourism) destination and base for exploring the region’s hundreds of wineries located along the Argentina Wine Route.

Mendoza is also located along the major road running between Buenos Aires and Santiago, becoming a frequent stopover for climbers on their way to Aconcagua (the highest mountain in the Western and Southern Hemispheres) and for adventure travelers interested in mountaineering, hiking, horseback riding, rafting, and other sports. In the winter, skiers come to the city for its easy access to the Andes.

(Wikipedia)

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Salta, AR

Salta, AR

Nov 15 - 18, 2015

November 152015

Salta is a city located in the Lerma Valley, at 1,152 metres (3780 feet) above sea level in the northwest part of Argentina. It is also the name for the capital city of Salta Province. Along with its metropolitan area, it has a population of 619,000 inhabitants, which makes it the second most populated city in the northwest of the country.

(Wikipedia)

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San Pedro de Atacama, CL

San Pedro de Atacama, CL

Nov 14 - 15, 2015

November 142015

San Pedro de Atacama is a Chilean town and commune in El Loa Province, Antofagasta Region. It is located east of Antofagasta, some 106 km (60 mi) southeast of Calama and the Chuquicamata copper mine, overlooking the Licancabur volcano. It features a significant archeological museum, the R. P. Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological Museum, with a large collection of relics and artifacts from the region. Native ruins nearby now attract increasing numbers of tourists interested in learning about pre-Columbian cultures.

(Wikipedia)

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Uyuni, BO

Uyuni, BO

Nov 11 - 14, 2015

November 112015

Uyuni is a small city of just over 10,000 inhabitants in the southwest of Bolivia and lying at the edge of an extensive plain at an elevation of 3,700 m (12,139 ft) above sea level, with more mountainous country to the east. There is little agriculture in the area because water supplies are scarce and somewhat saline.  Uyuni was founded in 1890 as a trading post, but today serves as a gateway for tourists visiting the world’s largest salt flats, the nearby Uyuni salt flat. Each year the town receives approximately 60,000 visitors from around the globe.

(Wikipedia)

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Potosi, BO

Potosi, BO

Nov 10 - 12, 2015

November 102015

Potosí is one of the highest cities in the world by elevation at a nominal 4,090 metres (13,420 ft). For centuries, it was the location of the Spanish colonial mint. Potosí lies at the foot of the Cerro de Potosí—sometimes referred to as the Cerro Rico (“rich mountain”)—a mountain popularly conceived of as being “made of” silver ore. The Cerro Rico is the reason for Potosí’s historical importance, since it was the major supply of silver for Spain during the period of the New World Spanish Empire. Cerro de Potosí’s peak is 4,824 metres (15,827 ft) above sea level.

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Sucre, BO

Sucre, BO

Nov 7 - 10, 2015

November 72015

Sucre, also known historically as Charcas, La Plata and Chuquisaca, is the constitutional capital of Bolivia and the 6th most populated city in Bolivia with a population of 247,300 (as of 2006). Sucre is located in the south-central part of the country and lies at an elevation of 2,810 meters (9,214 feet). This relatively high altitude gives the city a cool temperate climate year-round.

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La Paz, BO

La Paz, BO

Nov 5 - 7, 2015

November 52015

La Paz is Bolivia’s third-most populous city (after Santa Cruz and El Alto), with a population of 877,363 (2008), and the seat of the country’s government. It is located on Bolivia’s western side at an elevation of roughly 3,650 m (11,975 ft) above sea level. It is, de facto, the world’s highest administrative capital. While the official capital of Bolivia (and its seat of justice) is Sucre, La Paz has more government departments.

The city sits in a bowl surrounded by the high mountains of the altiplano. As it grew, the city of La Paz climbed the hills, resulting in varying elevations from 3,200 to 4,100 m (10,500 to 13,500 ft). Overlooking the city is towering triple-peaked Illimani, which is always snow-covered and can be seen from many parts of the city.

La Paz Metropolitan area, formed by the cities of La Paz, El Alto, and Viacha, make the most populous urban area of Bolivia, with a population of 2.3 million inhabitants and surpassing the metropolitan area of Santa Cruz.

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Quito, EC

Quito, EC

Oct 22 - 26 & Nov 3 - 4, 2015

October 222015

Quito is the capital city of Ecuador, and at an elevation of 2,850 metres (9,350 ft) above sea level, it is the highest official capital city in the world. With a population of 2,671,191 according to the last census (2014), Quito is the second most populous city in Ecuador, after Guayaquil.

The historic center of Quito has one of the largest, least-altered and best-preserved historic centers in the Americas. Quito, along with Kraków, were the first World Cultural Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO in 1978. The central square of Quito is located about 25 kilometres (16 mi) south of the equator; the city itself extends to within about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) of zero latitude. A monument and museum marking the general location of the equator is known locally as la mitad del mundo, the middle of the world.

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Lisbon, PT

Lisbon, PT

Oct 16 - 21, 2015

October 162015

Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal, with a population of 552,700 within its administrative limits in an area of 100.05 km². Its urban area extends beyond the city’s administrative limits with a population of around 2.7 million people, being the 11th-most populous urban area in the European Union. About 2.8 million people live in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area (which represents approximately 27% of the country’s population). It is continental Europe’s westernmost capital city and the only one along the Atlantic coast. Lisbon lies in the western Iberian Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean and the River Tagus. The westernmost areas of its metro area is the westernmost point of Continental Europe.

Lisbon is recognised as a global city because of its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, international trade, education and tourism. It is one of the major economic centres on the continent, with a growing financial sector and one of the largest container ports on Europe’s Atlantic coast. The city is the 7th-most-visited city in Southern Europe, after Istanbul, Rome, Barcelona, Madrid, Athens and Milan, with 1,740,000 tourists in 2009. The Lisbon region contributes with a higher GDP PPP per capita than any other region in Portugal. It also ranks as the 10th highest GDP of metropolitan areas in the EU amounting to 110 billion euros and thus €39,375 per capita, 40% higher than the average European Union’s GDP per capita. The city occupies 32nd place of highest gross earnings in the world. Most of the headquarters of multinationals in the country are located in the Lisbon area. It is also the political centre of the country, as seat of Government and residence of the Head of State.

Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, and the oldest in Western Europe, predating other modern European capitals such as London, Paris and Rome by centuries. Julius Caesar made it a municipium called Felicitas Julia, adding to the name Olissipo. Ruled by a series of Germanic tribes from the 5th century, it was captured by the Moors in the 8th century. In 1147, the Crusaders under Afonso Henriques reconquered the city and since then it has been a major political, economic and cultural centre of Portugal. Unlike most capital cities, Lisbon’s status as the capital of Portugal has never been granted or confirmed officially – by statute or in written form. Its position as the capital has formed through constitutional convention, making its position as de facto capital a part of the Constitution of Portugal.

(Wikipedia)

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Cappadocia, TR

Cappadocia, TR

Oct 12 - 16, 2015

October 122015

Cappadocia is a historical region in Central Anatolia, largely in the Nevşehir, Kayseri, Aksaray, and Niğde Provinces in Turkey.

In the time of Herodotus, the Cappadocians were reported as occupying the whole region from Mount Taurus to the vicinity of the Euxine (Black Sea). Cappadocia, in this sense, was bounded in the south by the chain of the Taurus Mountains that separate it from Cilicia, to the east by the upper Euphrates and the Armenian Highland, to the north by Pontus, and to the west by Lycaonia and eastern Galatia.

The name, traditionally used in Christian sources throughout history, continues in use as an international tourism concept to define a region of exceptional natural wonders, in particular characterized by fairy chimneys and a unique historical and cultural heritage.

(Wikipedia)

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Instanbul, TR

Instanbul, TR

Oct 6 - 12, 2015

October 62015

Istanbul, once known as Constantinople and Byzantium before that, is the most populous city in Turkey, and the country’s economic, cultural, and historical center. Istanbul is a transcontinental city in Eurasia, straddling the Bosphorus strait between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. Its commercial and historical center lies on the European side and about a third of its population lives on the Asian side. The city is the administrative center of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (coterminous with Istanbul Province), both hosting a population of around 14 million residents. Istanbul is one of the world’s most populous cities and ranks as world’s 5th-largest city proper and the largest European city.

Founded on the Sarayburnu promontory around 660 BCE as Byzantium, the city now known as Istanbul developed to become one of the most significant cities in history. For nearly sixteen centuries following its reestablishment as Constantinople in 330 CE, it served as an imperial capital for the Roman and Byzantine (330–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin (1204–1261), and the Ottoman (1453–1922) empires. It was instrumental in the advancement of Christianity during Roman and Byzantine times, before the Ottomans conquered the city in 1453 and transformed it into an Islamic stronghold and the seat of the Ottoman Caliphate.

Istanbul’s strategic position on the historic Silk Road, rail networks to Europe and the Middle East, and the only sea route between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean have produced a cosmopolitan populace, although less so since the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923. Overlooked for the new capital during the interwar period, the city has since regained much of its prominence. The population of the city has increased tenfold since the 1950s, as migrants from across Anatolia have moved in and city limits have expanded to accommodate them. Arts, Music, Film and Cultural festivals were established at the end of the 20th century and continue to be hosted by the city today, and infrastructure improvements have produced a complex transportation network.

Approximately 12.56 million foreign visitors arrived in Istanbul in 2015, five years after it was named a European Capital of Culture, making the city the world’s fourth-most-popular tourist destination. The city’s biggest attraction is its historic center, partially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its cultural and entertainment hub can be found across the city’s natural harbor, the Golden Horn, in the Beyoğlu district. Considered a global city, Istanbul is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan economies in the world. It hosts the headquarters of many Turkish companies and media outlets and accounts for more than a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product.  Hoping to capitalize on its revitalization and rapid expansion, Istanbul bid for the Summer Olympics five times in twenty years.

Present day Istanbul is a flourishing city, with a constantly growing skyline which is one of the most prominent in all of Europe and Western Asia. New developments are constantly being implemented including new metro lines, residential buildings and underground transportation projects such as the Marmaray Tunnel which is the deepest underground tunnel in the world. Along with these developments, the city is increasingly becoming the centre of operations for many international organizations such as the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, Turkic Council and D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation.

(Wikipedia)

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Zurich, CH

Zurich, CH

Oct 3 - 6, 2015

October 32015
Basel, CH

Basel, CH

Sept 30 - Oct 3, 2015

September 302015

Basel is Switzerland’s third most populous city (behind Zürich and Geneva) with about 195,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany. In 2014, the Basel agglomeration was the third largest in Switzerland with a population of 537,100 in 74 municipalities in Switzerland and an additional 53 in neighboring countries (municipal count as of 2000). The tri-national Basel metropolitan area has around 830,000 inhabitants in 226 municipalities.

Located in northwest Switzerland on the river Rhine, Basel functions as a major industrial centre for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. The Basel region, culturally extending into German Baden-Württemberg and French Alsace, reflects the heritage of its three states in the modern Latin name: “Regio TriRhena”. It has the oldest university of the Swiss Confederation (1460).

The official language of Basel is (the Swiss variety of Standard) German, but the main spoken language is the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect.

Basel is among the most important cultural centres of Switzerland. The city comprises a large number of theatres and many museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, the world’s oldest art collection accessible to the public. In addition, the Theater Basel was chosen in 1999 as the best stage for German-language performances and in 2009 & 2010 as “Opera of the Year” by German Opera Magazine “Opernwelt”.

(Wikipedia)

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Munich, DE

Munich, DE

Sep 26 - 30, 2015

September 262015

Munich is the capital and largest city of the German state of Bavaria, on the banks of River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps. Munich is the third largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg, with a population of around 1.5 million. The Munich Metropolitan Region is home to 5.8 million people.

The name of the city is derived from the Old/Middle High German term Munichen, meaning “by the monks”. It derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who ran a monastery at the place that was later to become the Old Town of Munich; hence the monk depicted on the city’s coat of arms. Munich was first mentioned in 1158. From 1255 the city was seat of the Bavarian Dukes. Black and gold — the colours of the Holy Roman Empire — have been the city’s official colours since the time of Ludwig the Bavarian, when it was an imperial residence. Following a final reunification of the Wittelsbachian Duchy of Bavaria, previously divided and sub-divided for more than 200 years, the town became the country’s sole capital in 1506. Catholic Munich was a cultural stronghold of the Counter-Reformation and a political point of divergence during the resulting Thirty Years’ War, but remained physically untouched despite an occupation by the Protestant Swedes; as the townsfolk would rather open the gates of their town than risk siege and almost inevitable destruction[citation needed]. Like wide parts of the Holy Roman Empire, the area recovered slowly economically. Having evolved from a duchy’s capital into that of an electorate (1623), and later a sovereign kingdom (1806), Munich has been a centre of arts, culture and science since the early 19th century. The city became the Nazi movement’s infamous Hauptstadt der Bewegung (lit.: “Capital of the movement”), and after post-war reconstruction was the host city of the 1972 Summer Olympics.

Munich is home to many national and international authorities, major universities, major museums and theaters. Its numerous architectural attractions, international sports events, exhibitions, conferences and Oktoberfest attract considerable tourism. Since 2015 Munich has a new motto: “einfach München” (“simply Munich”). Munich is a traffic hub with excellent international, national and local connections, running a fast and reliable public transport system. It is a centre of finance, publishing and advanced technologies. Munich is one of the most prosperous and fastest growing cities in Germany, and the seat of numerous corporations and insurance companies. It is a top-ranked destination for migration and expatriate location, despite being the municipality with the highest density of population (4,500 inh. per km²) in Germany. Munich achieved fourth place in the frequently quoted Mercer livability rankings in 2011 and 2012. For economic and social innovation, the city was ranked 15th globally out of 289 cities in 2010, and 5th in Germany by the 2thinknow Innovation Cities Index based on analysis of 162 indicators. In 2013, Monocle ranked Munich as the world’s most livable city with the highest quality of life.

(Wikipedia)

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Paris, FR

Paris, FR

Sep 22 - 26, 2015

September 222015

Paris is the capital and most-populous city of France. Situated on the Seine River, in the north of the country, it is in the centre of the Île-de-France region, also known as the région parisienne, “Paris Region”. The City of Paris has an area of 105.4 square kilometres (40.7 square miles) and had a population of 2,241,346 within its city limits. The Paris Region covers 12,012 square kilometres (4,638 square miles), and has its own regional council and president. It had a population of 12,005,077 as of January 2014, or 18.2 percent of the population of France.

Paris was founded in the 3rd century BC by a Celtic people called the Parisii, who gave the city its name. By the 12th century, Paris was the largest city in the western world, a prosperous trading centre, and the home of the University of Paris, one of the first in Europe. In the 18th century, it was the centre stage for the French Revolution, and became an important centre of finance, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts, a position it still retains today.

Paris is the home of the most visited art museum in the world, the Louvre, as well as the Musée d’Orsay, noted for its collection of French Impressionist art, and the Musée National d’Art Moderne, a museum of modern and contemporary art. The notable architectural landmarks of Paris include Notre Dame Cathedral (12th century); the Sainte-Chapelle (13th century); the Eiffel Tower (1889); and the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur on Montmartre (1914). In 2014 Paris received 22.4 million visitors, making it one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Paris is also known for its fashion, particularly the twice-yearly Paris Fashion Week, and for its haute cuisine, and three-star restaurants. Most of France’s major universities and grandes écoles are located in Paris, as are France’s major newspapers, including Le Monde, Le Figaro, and Libération.

(Wikipedia)

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Brussels, BE

Brussels, BE

Sep 18 - 22, 2015

September 182015

Brussels is a region of Belgium comprising 19 municipalities, including the city of Brussels which de jure is the capital of Belgium, the French Community of Belgium, and the Flemish Community. Brussels is also the de facto capital of the European Union.

Brussels has grown from a 10th-century fortress town founded by a descendant of Charlemagne to a sizeable city.  The city has a population of 1.2 million and a metropolitan area with a population of over 1.8 million, both of them the largest in Belgium.

Since the end of the Second World War, Brussels has been a major centre for international politics. Hosting principal EU institutions, the secretariat of the Benelux and the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the city has become the polyglot home of numerous international organisations, politicians, diplomats and civil servants.

Brussels is just a few kilometres north of the boundary between Belgium’s language communities—French in the south, Dutch in the north. Historically a Dutch-speaking city, it has seen a major shift to French since Belgian independence in 1830. Today, although the majority language is French, the city is officially bilingual. All road signs, street names, and many advertisements and services are shown in both languages. Brussels is increasingly becoming multilingual with increasing numbers of migrants, expatriates and minority groups speaking their own languages, and English sometimes serves as a lingua franca.

(Wikipedia)

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Berlin, DE

Berlin, DE

Sep 15 - 18, 2015

September 152015

Berlin is the capital of Germany and one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.5 million people, it is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union. Located in northeastern Germany on the banks of Rivers Spree and Havel, it is the centre of the Berlin-Brandenburg Metropolitan Region, which has about six million residents from over 180 nations. Due to its location in the European Plain, Berlin is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. Around one-third of the city’s area is composed of forests, parks, gardens, rivers and lakes.

First documented in the 13th century, Berlin became the capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg (1417-1701), the Kingdom of Prussia (1701–1918), the German Empire (1871–1918), the Weimar Republic (1919–1933) and the Third Reich (1933–1945). Berlin in the 1920s was the third largest municipality in the world. After World War II, the city was divided; East Berlin became the capital of East Germany while West Berlin became a de facto West German exclave, surrounded by the Berlin Wall (1961–1989). Following German reunification in 1990, Berlin was once again designated as the capital of all Germany.

Berlin is a world city of culture, politics, media, and science. Its economy is based on high-tech firms and the service sector, encompassing a diverse range of creative industries, research facilities, media corporations, and convention venues. Berlin serves as a continental hub for air and rail traffic and has a highly complex public transportation network. The metropolis is a popular tourist destination. Significant industries also include IT, pharmaceuticals, biomedical engineering, clean tech, biotechnology, construction, and electronics.

Modern Berlin is home to renowned universities, orchestras, museums, entertainment venues, and is host to many sporting events. Its urban setting has made it a sought-after location for international film productions. The city is well known for its festivals, diverse architecture, nightlife, contemporary arts, and a high quality of living. Over the last decade Berlin has seen the emergence of a cosmopolitan entrepreneurial scene.

(Wikipedia)

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Copenhagen, DK

Copenhagen, DK

Sept 11 - 15, 2015

September 112015

Copenhagen is the capital and most populated city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,263,698 and a metropolitan population of 1,992,114. It is situated on the eastern coast of Zealand, 164 km (102 mi) east of Odense and 28 km (17 mi) northwest of Malmö, Sweden. The city stretches across parts of the island of Amager and contains the enclave of Frederiksberg, a municipality in its own right.

Founded as a fishing village in the 10th century, Copenhagen became the capital of Denmark-Norway in the early 15th century. During the 17th century, under the reign of Christian IV, it developed into an important regional centre, consolidating its position as capital of Denmark and Norway with its institutions, defences and armed forces. After suffering from the effects of plague and fire in the 18th century, the city underwent a period of redevelopment. This included construction of the prestigious district of Frederiksstaden and founding of such cultural institutions as the Royal Theatre and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. After further disasters in the early 19th century when Nelson attacked the Dano-Norwegian fleet and bombarded the city, rebuilding during the Danish Golden Age brought a Neoclassical look to Copenhagen’s architecture. Later, following the Second World War, the Finger Plan fostered the development of housing and businesses along the five urban railway routes stretching out from the city centre.

Since the turn of the 21st century, Copenhagen has seen strong urban and cultural development, facilitated by investment in its institutions and infrastructure. The city is the cultural, economic and governmental centre of Denmark; it is one of the major financial centres of Northern Europe with the Copenhagen Stock Exchange. Since the completion of the Øresund Bridge, a road, railway and tunnel project, the Copenhagen metropolitan area has become increasingly integrated with the Swedish province of Scania and its largest city, Malmö. With a number of bridges connecting the various districts, the cityscape is characterized by parks, promenades and waterfronts. Copenhagen’s landmarks such as Tivoli Gardens, the Little Mermaid Statue, the Amalienborg and Christiansborg palaces, Rosenborg Castle, Frederik’s Church, and many museums, restaurants and nightclubs are significant tourist attractions. In addition to recent developments in the city service sector and the pharmaceutical industry, there have been a number of initiatives in clean technology, supporting the city’s goal to be carbon-neutral by 2025.

Copenhagen has more than 94,000 students enrolled in its largest universities and institutions, including the University of Copenhagen, the Technical University of Denmark and Copenhagen Business School. The University of Copenhagen, founded in 1479, is the oldest university in Denmark. Copenhagen is home to the FC København and Brøndby football clubs and the ice hockey teams Rødovre Mighty Bulls, Herlev Eagles and Hvidovre Ligahockey. The annual Copenhagen Marathon was established in 1980. Copenhagen is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world. The Copenhagen Metro serves central Copenhagen together with the S-train network connecting the outlying boroughs. Serving roughly 2 million passengers a month, Copenhagen Airport, Kastrup, is the largest airport in the Nordic countries.

(Wikipedia)

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Bergen, NO

Bergen, NO

Sep 7 - 10, 2015

September 72015

Bergen is a city and municipality on the Bergen Peninsula in Hordaland county on the west coast of Norway. The city was established before 1070 AD and is today the administrative centre of Hordaland. As of 2014 the municipal population of Bergen was 278,700 making it, after Oslo, the second-most populous city in Norway. The Greater Bergen Region has a population of 413,700. The area covered by the municipality is 465 square kilometres (180 sq mi), and it consists of eight boroughs.

Bergen is an international centre for aquaculture, shipping, the offshore petroleum industry and subsea technology. The modern port is the busiest in Norway. The remains of Bergen’s historic ports are a recognized World Heritage Site. Bergen is also a national centre for higher education, tourism and finance.

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Ålesund, NO

Ålesund, NO

Sep 4 - 7, 2015

September 42015

Ålesund is a town and municipality in Norway. It is part of the traditional district of Sunnmøre, and the center of the Ålesund Region. There is a sea port there and is the town is noted for its unique concentration of Art Nouveau architecture.

The town of Ålesund is the administrative centre of Ålesund Municipality, as well as the principal shipping town of the Sunnmøre district. Ålesund Municipality has a population of 45,033 as of 2013, while the greater Ålesund urban area has a population of 48,460 (this also includes most of neighboring Sula Municipality as well).

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Oslo, NO

Oslo, NO

Sept 1 - 4, 2015

September 12015

Oslo is the capital and the most populous city in Norway. It was founded around 1000 AD as trading hub and later became a capital around 1300.  Today, the city of Oslo has a population of 648,000, while the greater metropolitan area has a population of 1,502,604. The population is currently increasing at record rates, making it the fastest growing major city in Europe. This growth stems for the most part from international immigration and related high birth rates, but also from intra-national migration. The immigrant population in the city is growing somewhat faster than the Norwegian population, and in the city proper this is now more than 25% of the total.

Oslo is the economic and governmental centre of Norway. The city is also a hub of Norwegian trade, banking, industry and shipping. It is an important centre for maritime industries and maritime trade in Europe. The city is home to many companies within the maritime sector, some of which are among the world’s largest shipping companies, shipbrokers and maritime insurance brokers.

(Wikipedia)

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Stockholm, SE

Stockholm, SE

Aug 30 - Sept 1, 2015

August 302015

Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and the most populous city in the Nordic region, with 914,909 people living in the municipality, approximately 1.4 million in the urban area, and 2.2 million in the metropolitan area. The city is spread across 14 islands on the coast in the southeast of Sweden at the mouth of Lake Mälaren, by the Stockholm archipelago and the Baltic sea. The area has been settled since the Stone Age, in the 6th millennium BC, and was founded as a city in 1252 by Birger Jarl.

Stockholm is the cultural, media, political, and economic centre of Sweden. The region alone accounts for over a third of the country’s GDP, and is among the top 10 regions in Europe by GDP per capita. It is an important global city, and the main centre for corporate headquarters in the Nordic region. The city is home to some of Europe’s top ranking universities, such as the Karolinska Institute, and hosts the annual Nobel Prize ceremonies and banquet at the Stockholm Concert Hall and Stockholm City Hall. One of the city’s most prized museums, the Vasa Museum, is the most visited non-art museum in Scandinavia. The Stockholm metro, opened in 1950, is well known for its decoration of the stations; it has been called the longest art gallery in the world. The city was the host of the 1912 Summer Olympics, and hosted the equestrian portion of the 1956 Summer Olympics otherwise held in Melbourne, Australia.

Stockholm is the seat of the Government of Sweden and most government agencies, including the highest courts in the Judiciary, and the official residencies of the Swedish monarch and the Prime Minister. The Government has its seat in the Rosenbad building, the Riksdag is seated in the Parliament House, and the Prime Minister’s residence is adjacent at the Sager House. The Stockholm Palace is the official residence and principal workplace of the Swedish monarch, while the Drottningholm Palace, a World Heritage Site on the outskirts of Stockholm, serves as the Royal Family’s private residence.

(Wikipedia)

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Helsinki, FI

Helsinki, FI

Aug 26 - 30, 2015

August 262015

Helsinki is the capital and largest city of Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. Helsinki has a population of 626,305, an urban population of 1.2 million, and a metropolitan population of 1.4 million, making it the most populous municipality and urban area in Finland. Helsinki is located some 80 kilometres (50 mi) north of Tallinn, Estonia, 400 kilometres (250 mi) north east of Stockholm, Sweden, and 300 kilometres (190 mi) west of Saint Petersburg, Russia. Helsinki has close historical connections with these three cities.

The Helsinki metropolitan area includes the urban core of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Kauniainen, and surrounding commuter towns. It is the world’s northernmost metro area of over one million people, and the city is the northernmost capital of an EU member state. The Helsinki metropolitan area is the fourth largest Nordic metropolitan area after the metropolitan areas of Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Oslo, and the City of Helsinki is the third biggest Nordic city after Stockholm and Oslo.

Helsinki is Finland’s major political, educational, financial, cultural, and research center as well as one of northern Europe’s major cities. Approximately 70% of foreign companies operating in Finland have settled in the Helsinki region. The nearby municipality of Vantaa is the location of Helsinki Airport, with frequent service to various destinations in Europe and Asia.

In 2009, Helsinki was chosen to be the World Design Capital for 2012 by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, narrowly beating Eindhoven for the title. The city was the venue for the XV Olympic Games 1952 and the 52nd Eurovision Song Contest 2007.

In the Economist Intelligence Unit’s August 2012 Liveability survey, assessing the best and worst cities to live in, Helsinki placed eighth best overall. In 2011, the Monocle Magazine in turn ranked Helsinki the most liveable city in the world in its “Liveable Cities Index 2011”.

(Wikipedia)

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Warsaw, PL

Warsaw, PL

Aug 22 - 26, 2015

August 222015

Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River in east-central Poland, roughly 260 kilometres (160 mi) from the Baltic Sea and 300 kilometres (190 mi) from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population is estimated at 1.740 million residents within a greater metropolitan area of 2.666 million residents, which makes Warsaw the 9th most populous capital city in the European Union. The city limits cover 516.9 square kilometres (199.6 sq mi), while the metropolitan area covers 6,100.43 square kilometres (2,355.39 sq mi).

Warsaw is considered an Alpha– global city, a major international tourist destination and a significant cultural, political and economic hub. Warsaw’s economy, by a wide variety of industries, is characterised by FMCG manufacturing, metal processing, steel and electronic manufacturing and food processing. The city is a significant centre of research and development, BPO, ITO, as well as Polish media industry. The Warsaw Stock Exchange is one of the largest and most important in Central Europe. Unusual for a European city, Warsaw has a prominent skyline with many skyscrapers and high-rise buildings in the city center. Only Frankfurt, London and Paris share similar development within the European Union.

The first historical reference to Warsaw dates back to the year 1313, when initially Kraków served as the Polish capital city. Due to its central location between the Commonwealth’s capitals of Kraków and Vilnius, Warsaw became the capital of the Commonwealth and the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland when King Sigismund III Vasa moved his court from Kraków to Warsaw in 1596. After the Third Partition of Poland in 1795, Warsaw was incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia. In 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars, the city became the official capital of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, a puppet state of the First French Empire created by Napoleon Bonaparte. With accordance to the decision of the Congress of Vienna, Warsaw in 1815 was annexed by the Russian Empire and became part of the “Congress Kingdom”. Only in 1918 it regained independence from the foreign rule and emerged as a new capital of the independent Republic of Poland. Along with the German invasion in 1939, the massacre of the Jewish population and deportations to concentration camps led to the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto in 1943 and to a major and devastating Warsaw Uprising between August and October 1944. For this Warsaw gained the title of the “Phoenix City” because it has survived many wars, conflicts and invasions throughout its long history. Most notably, the city had to be painstakingly rebuilt after the extensive damage it suffered in World War II, during which 85% of its buildings were destroyed. On 9 November 1940, the city was awarded Poland’s highest military decoration for heroism, the Virtuti Militari, during the Siege of Warsaw (1939).

The city is the seat of a Roman Catholic archdiocese (left bank) and diocese (right bank of the Vistula), and possesses various universities, most notably the Polish Academy of Sciences and the University of Warsaw, two opera houses, theatres, museums, libraries and monuments. The historic city centre of Warsaw with its picturesque Old Town in 1980 was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other main architectural attractions include the Castle Square with the Royal Castle and the iconic King Sigismund’s Column, St. John’s Cathedral, Market Square, palaces, churches and mansions all displaying a richness of colour and architectural detail. Buildings are representatives of nearly every European architectural style and historical period. Warsaw has wonderful examples of architecture from the gothic, renaissance, baroque and neoclassical periods and around a quarter of the city is filled with grand parks and royal gardens.

(Wikipedia)

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Krakow, PL

Krakow, PL

Aug 18 - 22, 2015E

August 182015

Kraków, also Cracow, or Krakow is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River (Polish: Wisła) in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, cultural, and artistic life and is one of Poland’s most important economic hubs. It was the capital of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland from 1038 to 1569; the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1569 to 1596; the Free City of Kraków from 1815 to 1846; the Grand Duchy of Cracow from 1846 to 1918; and Kraków Voivodeship from the 14th century to 1998. It has been the capital of Lesser Poland Voivodeship since 1999.

The city has grown from a Stone Age settlement to Poland’s second most important city. It began as a hamlet on Wawel Hill and was already being reported as a busy trading centre of Slavonic Europe in 965. With the establishment of new universities and cultural venues at the emergence of the Second Polish Republic in 1918 and throughout the 20th century, Kraków reaffirmed its role as a major national academic and artistic centre. The city has a population of approximately 760,000 whereas about 8 million people live within a 100 kilometres (62 miles) radius of its main square.

Kraków is classified as a global city by GaWC, with the ranking of High sufficiency. Cited as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, its extensive cultural heritage across the epochs of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture includes the Wawel Cathedral and the Royal Castle on the banks of the Vistula river, the St. Mary’s Basilica and the largest medieval market square in Europe, the Rynek Główny. Kraków is home to Jagiellonian University, one of the oldest universities in the world and traditionally Poland’s most reputable institution of higher learning.

(Wikipedia)

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Prague, CZ

Prague, CZ

Aug 13 - 18, 2015

August 132015

Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic and the 15th largest city in the European Union. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava River, the city is home to about 1.24 million people, while its larger urban zone is estimated to have a population of nearly 2 million. The city has a temperate climate, with warm summers and chilly winters.

Prague has been a political, cultural, and economic centre of central Europe with waxing and waning fortunes during its 1,100-year existence. Founded during the Romanesque and flourishing by the Gothic and Renaissance eras, Prague was not only the capital of the Czech state, but also the seat of two Holy Roman Emperors and thus also the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. It was an important city to the Habsburg Monarchy and its Austro-Hungarian Empire and after World War I became the capital of Czechoslovakia. The city played major roles in the Protestant Reformation, the Thirty Years’ War, and in 20th-century history, during both World Wars and the post-war Communist era.

Prague is home to a number of famous cultural attractions, many of which survived the violence and destruction of 20th-century Europe. Main attractions include the Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge (pictured above), Old Town Square with the Prague astronomical clock, the Jewish Quarter, Petřín hill and Vyšehrad. Since 1992, the extensive historic centre of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

The city boasts more than ten major museums, along with numerous theatres, galleries, cinemas, and other historical exhibits. An extensive modern public transportation system connects the city. Also, it is home to a wide range of public and private schools, including Charles University (Univerzita Karlova v Praze). Prague is classified as an “Alpha-” global city according to GaWC studies, comparable to Vienna, Seoul and Washington, D.C. Its rich history makes it a popular tourist destination, and the city receives more than 4.4 million international visitors annually, making it the fifth most visited European city after London, Paris, Istanbul and Rome.

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Budapest, HU

Budapest, HU

Aug 9 - 13, 2015

August 92015

Budapest is the capital and the largest city of Hungary, and one of the largest cities in the European Union. It is the country’s principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre, sometimes described as the primate city of Hungary. In 2011, according to the census, Budapest had 1.74 million inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2.1 million due to suburbanisation.  The Budapest Metropolitan Area is home to 3.3 million people. The city covers an area of 525 square kilometres (202.7 sq mi). Budapest became a single city occupying both banks of the river Danube.

Cited as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Budapest’s extensive World Heritage Site includes the banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter, Andrássy Avenue, Heroes’ Square and the Millennium Underground Railway, the second-oldest metro line in the world. It has around 80 geothermal springs, the world’s largest thermal water cave system, second largest synagogue, and third largest Parliament building. The city attracts about 4.4 million tourists a year, making it the 25th most popular city in the world, and the 6th in Europe.

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Hvar, HR

Hvar, HR

Aug 6 - 8, 2015

August 62015

Hvar is a Croatian island in the Adriatic Sea, located off the Dalmatian coast, lying between the islands of Brač, Vis and Korčula. Its hillsides are covered in pine forests, with vineyards, olive groves, fruit orchards and lavender fields in the agricultural areas. The climate is characterized by mild winters, and warm summers with many hours of sunshine. The island has 11,103 residents, making it the 4th most populated of the Croatian islands.

Hvar’s location at the center of the Adriatic sailing routes has long made this island an important base for commanding trade up and down the Adriatic, across to Italy and throughout the wider Mediterranean. It has been inhabited since pre-historic times, originally by a Neolithic people whose distinctive pottery gave rise to the term Hvar culture, and later by the Illyrians. The ancient Greeks founded the colony of Pharos in 384 BC on the site of today’s Stari Grad, making it one of the oldest towns in Europe. In medieval times, Hvar (city) rose to importance within the Venetian Empire as a major naval base. Prosperity brought culture and the arts, with one of the first public theatres in Europe, nobles’ palaces and many fine communal buildings.

Today, the island of Hvar is a popular destination for tourists, consistently listed in the top 10 islands by Conde Nast Traveler magazine.

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Korčula, HR

Korčula, HR

Aug 4 - 6, 2015

August 42015

Korčula is an island in the Adriatic Sea, in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County of Croatia. The island has an area of 108 square miles (279 km2); 29.1 miles (46.8 km) long and on average 4.8 miles (7.8 km) wide — and lies just off the Dalmatian coast. Its 16,182 (2001) inhabitants make it the second most populous Adriatic island after Krk and the most populous Croatian island not connected to the mainland by a bridge. The population are mainly ethnic Croats (96.77%).

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Dubrovnik, HR

Dubrovnik, HR

Aug 2 - 4, 2015

August 22015

Dubrovnik is a Croatian city on the Adriatic Sea, in the region of Dalmatia. It is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean Sea, a seaport and the center of Dubrovnik-Neretva County. Its total population is 42,615. In 1979 the city of Dubrovnik joined the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

The prosperity of the city was historically based on maritime trade; as the capital of the maritime Republic of Ragusa, it achieved a high level of development, particularly during the 15th and 16th centuries, as it became notable for its wealth and skilled diplomacy.

The beginning of modern tourism is associated with the construction of the Hotel Imperial in Dubrovnik in 1897. According to CNNGo, Dubrovnik is among the 10 best preserved medieval walled cities in the world. Although it was demilitarised in the 1970s to protect it from war, in 1991, after the breakup of Yugoslavia, it was besieged by the Serb and Montenegrin soldiers gathered in the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) for seven months and suffered significant damage from shelling.

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Bol, HR

Bol, HR

Jul 31 - Aug 2, 2015

July 312015

Bol is a town of only 1,661 residents on the south of the island of Brač in the Split-Dalmatia County of Croatia. Bol is renowned for its most popular beach, the Zlatni Rat (“Golden cape”). It is a promontory composed mostly of pebble rock that visibly shifts with the tidal movement, a unique sight. The sea at Zlatni Rat, and that of the entire region, is quite crystalline (and somewhat colder than usual), due to the strong current of the strait it is situated in. On a still day the stones on the sea-floor that are 30 feet down look only an arm’s length away, and there are spectacular pine trees that grow down the middle of the pennisula, forming a beach on either side of the horn. Bol itself is a very popular tourist destination and has a number of harbourside bars and restaurants. It is also a popular Adriatic destination for good wind surfing conditions.

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Makarska, HR

Makarska, HR

Jul 29 - 31, 2015

July 292015

Makarska is a small city of 13,834 residents on the Adriatic coastline of Croatia, about 60 km (37 mi) southeast of Split and 140 km (87 mi) northwest of Dubrovnik. It is a tourist centre, located on a horseshoe shaped bay between the Biokovo mountains and the Adriatic Sea. The city is noted for its palm-fringed promenade, where fashionable cafes, bars and boutiques overlook the pretty harbour where many pleasure craft are moored.

The center of Makarska is an old town with narrow stone-paved streets, a main church square where there is a flower and fruit market, and a Franciscan monastery that houses a sea shell collection featuring a giant clam shell.

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Split, HR

Split, HR

Jul 27 - 29, 2015

July 272015

Split is the second-largest city of Croatia and the largest city of the region of Dalmatia. It lies on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea, centred on the Roman Palace of the Emperor Diocletian. Spread over a central peninsula and its surroundings, Split’s greater area includes the neighboring seaside towns as well. An intraregional transport hub and popular tourist destination, the city is a link to numerous Adriatic islands and the Apennine peninsula.

Split is one of the oldest cities in the area, traditionally considered just over 1,700 years, starting with the construction of Diocletian’s Palace in 305 CE. Recent archaeological research has actually shown the city’s founding to be of Greek origin as a colony in the 4th century BCE, establishing an urban history several centuries older than originally believed.

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Zagreb, HR

Zagreb, HR

Jul 24 - 27

July 242015

Zagreb is the capital and the largest city of the Republic of Croatia. It is located in the northwest of the country, along the Sava river, at the southern slopes of the Medvednica mountain. Zagreb lies at an elevation of approximately 122 m (400 ft) above sea level. In the last official census of 2011 the population of the City of Zagreb was 792,875. The wider Zagreb metropolitan area includes the City of Zagreb and the separate Zagreb County bringing the total metropolitan area population up to 1,113,111. It is the only metropolitan area in Croatia with a population of over one million.

Zagreb is a city with a rich history dating from the Roman times to the present day. The oldest settlement in the urban area of the city is Andautonia, a Roman settlement in the place of today’s Ščitarjevo. The name “Zagreb” is mentioned for the first time in 1094 at the founding of the Zagreb diocese of Kaptol, and Zagreb became a free royal town in 1242, whereas the origin of the name still remains a mystery in spite of several theories. In 1851 Zagreb had its first mayor, Janko Kamauf, and in 1945 it was made the capital of Croatia when the demographic boom and the urban sprawl made the city as it is known today.

The transport connections, concentration of industry, scientific and research institutions and industrial tradition underlie its leading economic position in Croatia. Zagreb is the seat of the central government, administrative bodies and almost all government ministries. Almost all of the largest Croatian companies, media and scientific institutions have their headquarters in the city. Zagreb is the most important transport hub in Croatia where Western Europe, the Mediterranean and Southeast Europe meet, making the Zagreb area the centre of the road, rail and air networks of Croatia. It is a city known for its diverse economy, high quality of living, museums, sporting and entertainment events. Its main branches of economy are high-tech industries and the service sector.

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Milan, IT

Milan, IT

Jul 21 - 24, 2015

July 212015

Milan, or Milano in Italian, is the second-most populous city in Italy and serves as the capital of the region of Lombardy. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area (the 5th-largest in the EU) comprises an estimated 5,264,000 people. The Milan metropolitan region is part of the so-called Blue Banana, the area of Europe with the highest population and industrial density.

Milan is the main industrial, commercial, and financial centre of Italy and a leading global city. Its business district hosts the Borsa Italiana (Italy’s main stock exchange) and the headquarters of the largest national banks and companies. The city is a major world fashion and design capital. Milan’s museums, theatres and landmarks (including the Milan Cathedral, the fifth-largest cathedral in the world, and Santa Maria delle Grazie, decorated with Leonardo da Vinci paintings, a UNESCO World Heritage Site) attract over 8 million visitors annually. The city hosts numerous cultural institutions and universities and is also well known for several international events and fairs, including Milan Fashion Week and the Milan Furniture Fair, the largest of its kind in the world, and hosts for the second time an Universal Exposition, the Expo 2015.

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Cinque Terre, IT

Cinque Terre, IT

Jul 19 - 21, 2015

July 192015

The Cinque Terre is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. It is in the Liguria region of Italy, to the west of the city of La Spezia. “The Five Lands” comprises five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Over the centuries, people have carefully built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea. Part of its charm is the lack of visible corporate development. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, and cars cannot reach them from the outside. The Cinque Terre area is a very popular tourist destination.

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Florence, IT

Florence, IT

Jul 16 - 19, 2015

July 162015

Florence, or Firenze in Italian, is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 382,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1,520,000 in the metropolitan area.

Florence is famous for its history: a centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of the time, it is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called “the Athens of the Middle Ages”.  A turbulent political history includes periods of rule by the powerful Medici family, and numerous religious and republican revolutions. From 1865 to 1871 the city was the capital of the recently established Kingdom of Italy.

The Historic Centre of Florence attracts millions of tourists each year. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. The city is noted for its culture, Renaissance art and architecture and monuments. The city also contains numerous museums and art galleries, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Palazzo Pitti, and still exerts an influence in the fields of art, culture and politics. Due to Florence’s artistic and architectural heritage, it has been ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

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Taormina, IT (Sicily)

Taormina, IT (Sicily)

Jul 13 - 16, 2015

July 132015

Taormina is a comune and small town on the east coast of the island of Sicily, Italy, located roughly midway between the cities of Messina and Catania. It’s located 206 meters above the sea level on a hillside of monte Tauro, one of the last peaks of the mounts Peloritani. Taormina has been a very popular tourist destination since the 19th century. It has popular beaches, accessible via an aerial tramway, on the Ionian sea, which is remarkably warm and has a high salt content.

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Palermo, IT (Sicily)

Palermo, IT (Sicily)

Jul 11 - 13, 2015

July 112015

Palermo is a city in Insular Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old. Palermo is located in the northwest of the island of Sicily, right by the Gulf of Palermo in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

The population of Palermo urban area is estimated to be 855,285, while its metropolitan area is the fifth most populated in Italy with around 1.2 million people. In the central area, the city has a population of around 676,000 people. The inhabitants are known as Palermitans or, poetically, panormiti. The languages spoken by its inhabitants are the Italian language and the Sicilian language, in its Palermitan variation.

Palermo is Sicily’s cultural, economic and touristic capital. It is a city rich in history, culture, art, music and food. Numerous tourists are attracted to the city for its good Mediterranean weather, its renowned gastronomy and restaurants, its Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque churches, palaces and buildings, and its nightlife and music. Palermo is the main Sicilian industrial and commercial center: the main industrial sectors include tourism, services, commerce and agriculture.

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Rome, IT & Vatican City

Rome, IT & Vatican City

Jul 8 - 11, 2015

July 82015

Rome is a city and special comune (named “Roma Capitale”) in Italy. Rome is the capital of Italy and region of Lazio. With 2.9 million residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country’s largest and most populated comune and fourth-most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. The Metropolitan City of Rome has a population of 4.3 million residents. The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of Tiber river. Vatican City is an independent country within the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

Rome’s history spans more than two and a half thousand years. While Roman mythology dates the founding of Rome at only around 753 BC, the site has been inhabited for much longer, making it one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in Europe. The city’s early population originated from a mix of Latins, Etruscans and Sabines. Eventually, the city successively became the capital of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and is regarded as one of the birthplaces of Western civilization. It is referred to as “Roma Aeterna” (The Eternal City) and “Caput Mundi” (Capital of the World), two central notions in ancient Roman culture.

 

Rome has the status of a global city and was ranked in 2014 as the 14th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the European Union, and the most popular tourist attraction in Italy. Its historic centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Monuments and museums such as the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum are among the world’s most visited tourist destinations with both locations receiving millions of tourists a year.

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Sorrento, IT

Sorrento, IT

Jul 4 - 8, 2015

July 42015

Sorrento is a town overlooking the Bay of Naples in Southern Italy. A popular tourist destination, it can be reached easily from Naples and Pompeii. The Sorrentine Peninsula has views of Naples, Vesuvius and the Isle of Capri. The Amalfi Drive, connecting Sorrento and Amalfi, is a narrow road that threads along the high cliffs above the Tyrrhenian Sea. Ferries and hydrofoils connect the town to Naples, Amalfi, Positano, Capri and Ischia. Sorrento’s sea cliffs and luxury hotels have attracted celebrities including Enrico Caruso and Luciano Pavarotti.

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Venice, IT

Venice, IT

Jul 1 - 4, 2015

July 12015

Venice is a city in northeastern Italy sited on a group of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges. It is located in the marshy Venetian Lagoon which stretches along the shoreline, between the mouths of the Po and the Piave Rivers. Its derives its name from the ancient Veneti people who inhabited the region by the 10th century BC. The city was also historically the capital of the Republic of Venice. It is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture, and its artwork. The city in its entirety is listed as a World Heritage Site, along with its lagoon.

Venice is the capital of the Veneto region. In 2009, there were 270,098 people residing in Venice’s comune (the population estimate of 272,000 inhabitants includes the population of the whole Comune of Venezia; around 60,000 in the historic city of Venice (Centro storico); 176,000 in Terraferma (the Mainland), mostly in the large frazioni (roughly equivalent to “parishes” or “wards” in other countries) of Mestre and Marghera; 31,000 live on other islands in the lagoon). Together with Padua and Treviso, the city is included in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area (PATREVE), with a total population of 2,600,000. PATREVE is only a statistical metropolitan area without any degree of autonomy.

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Athens, GR

Athens, GR

Jun 28 - Jul 1, 2015

June 282015
Santorini, GR

Santorini, GR

Jun 26 - 28, 2015

June 262015
Mykonos, GR

Mykonos, GR

Jun 23 - 26, 2015

June 232015
Cape Town, ZA

Cape Town, ZA

Jun 16 - 22, 2015

June 162015
Zanzibar, TA

Zanzibar, TA

Jun 11 - 14, 2015

June 112015

Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania in East Africa. It is composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 16-31 mi (25–50 kilometres) off the coast of the mainland, and consists of many small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, referred to informally as Zanzibar) and Pemba. The capital is Zanzibar City, located on the island of Unguja. Its historic centre is Stone Town, which is a World Heritage Site.

Zanzibar’s main industries are spices, raffia, and tourism. In particular, the islands produce cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper. For this reason, the islands, together with Tanzania’s Mafia Island, are sometimes called the Spice Islands. Zanzibar is the home of the endemic Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey, the Zanzibar Servaline Genet, and the (possibly extinct) Zanzibar Leopard.

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Dar es Salaam, TA

Dar es Salaam, TA

Jun 10 - 11 & 14 - 16, 2015

June 102015

Dar es Salaam is Tanzania’s largest and richest city, the largest city in eastern Africa by population, and is a regionally important economic centre. It has a population of 4,364,541 and is Tanzania’s most prominent city in arts, fashion, media, music, film and television, and is the leading financial centre with the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) being the country’s first and most important stock exchange market. Though not a popular tourist destination within Tanzania the city is the leading arriving and leaving point for most tourists who visit tourism areas in Tanzania like the national parks for safaris and the islands of Zanzibar.

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Serengeti, TA

Serengeti, TA

Jun 7 - 9, 2015

June 72015

The Serengeti is a geographical region in Africa. It is located in northern Tanzania and extends to south-western Kenya. It spans approximately 12,000 sq mi (30,000 km2). The Kenyan part of the Serengeti is known as Maasai Mara. The name “Serengeti” is derived from the Maasai language where “Serengit” means “Endless Plains”.

The Serengeti hosts the largest terrestrial mammal migration in the world, which helps secure it as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa and one of the ten natural travel wonders of the world.  The Serengeti is also renowned for its large lion population and is one of the best places to observe prides in their natural environment. The region contains the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and several game reserves. Approximately 70 larger mammal and 500 bird species are found there. This high diversity is a function of diverse habitats, including riverine forests, swamps, kopjes, grasslands, and woodlands. Blue wildebeests, gazelles, zebras, and buffalos are some of the commonly found large mammals in the region.

Also in the region is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), a UNESCO World Heritage Site located 110 mi (180 km) west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania. Within the NCA is the Ngorongoro Crater, a large volcanic caldera that is recognized as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.

 

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Arusha, TA

Arusha, TA

Jun 6 - 7 & 9 - 10, 2015

June 62015

Arusha is a city in northern Tanzania and the capital of the Arusha Region, with a population of 416,442 plus 323,198 in the surrounding Arusha District. Located below Mount Meru on the eastern edge of the eastern branch of the Great Rift Valley, Arusha has a temperate climate. The city is close to the Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Lake Manyara National Park, Olduvai Gorge, Tarangire National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, and Arusha National Park on Mount Meru.

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Masai Mara, KE

Masai Mara, KE

Jun 2 - 4, 2015

June 22015
Nairobi, KE

Nairobi, KE

Jun 1 - 2 & 4 - 6, 2015

June 12015
Hurghada, EG

Hurghada, EG

May 26 - 28, 2015

May 262015
Luxor, EG

Luxor, EG

May 23 - 26, 2015

May 232015
Aswan, EG

Aswan, EG

May 19 - 21, 2015

May 192015
Cairo, EG

Cairo, EG

May 17 - 19 & 28 - Jun 1, 2015

May 172015
Dubai, AE

Dubai, AE

May 13 - 17, 2015

May 132015
Male, MV

Male, MV

May 13 - 14, 2015

May 132015

Malé is the capital and most populous city in the Republic of Maldives. The city is geographically located at the southern edge of North Malé Atoll (Kaafu Atoll) and from the air looks a bit like a miniature Manhattan island with nearly all of its [only] 2.2 square miles covered in buildings. And in recent years the island has been considerably expanded through land-filling operations.

Historically, Malé was the King’s Island from where the ancient Maldive Royal dynasties ruled. The city was then a walled city called “Mahal” and was surrounded by fortifications and gates. The Royal Palace was destroyed along with the picturesque forts and bastions when the city was remodeled under its new leadership in the wake of the abolition of the monarchy. However, the beautiful Malé Friday Mosque remains intact and is a planned stop during our visit.

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Maafushi, MV

Maafushi, MV

May 7 - 13, 2015

May 72015

Maafushi is one of the small inhabited islands of Kaafu Atoll in the Maldives. Just over sixty families live on the island and thrive on the local fishing economy. As of 2010, changes in the Maldives’ government regulation, previously restricting the opening of guest houses on local islands, was reversed and Maafushi was the first island to secure an investment in tourism accommodation. The first guest house was opened in January 2010, and since then, many more have opened and they have provided the local community with foreign currency inflows, not to mention travelers like ourselves more affordable overnight arrangements. Tourists from neighboring resort islands also visit Maafushi for island hopping and a shopping opportunity with souvenir and craft shops.

 

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Kandy, LK

Kandy, LK

May 4 - 7, 2015

May 42015

Kandy (Sinhalese: මහ නුවර Maha nuwara, pronounced [mahaˈnuʋərə]; Tamil: கண்டி, pronounced [ˈkaɳɖi]) is a major city in Sri Lanka, located in the Central Province, Sri Lanka. It is the second largest city in the country after Colombo. It was the last capital of the ancient kings’ era of Sri Lanka.[1] The city lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy plateau, which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is both an administrative and religious city and is also the capital of the Central Province. Kandy is the home of The Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa), one of the most sacred places of worship in the Buddhist world. It was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1988.[2]

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Varanasi, IN

Varanasi, IN

Apr 29 - May 2, 2015

April 292015

Varanasi (Hindustani pronunciation: [ʋaːˈraːɳəsi]), also known as Benares,[4] Banaras (Banāras [bəˈnaːrəs]), or Kashi (Kāśī [ˈkaːʃi]), is a North Indian city on the banks of the Ganga in Uttar Pradesh, India 320 kilometres (200 mi) south-east of the state capital, Lucknow. It is the holiest of the seven sacred cities (Sapta Puri) in Hinduism and Jainism, and played an important role in the development of Buddhism. Some Hindus believe that death at Varanasi brings salvation.[5] It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Varanasi is also known as the favourite city of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva.[6] Kashi was well known during the later Vedic period.[7]

The Kashi Naresh (Maharaja of Kashi) is the chief cultural patron of Varanasi, and an essential part of all religious celebrations.[8] The culture of Varanasi is closely associated with the Ganges. The city has been a cultural centre of North India for several thousand years, and has a history that is older than most of the major world religions. The Benares Gharana form of Hindustani classical music was developed in Varanasi, and many prominent Indian philosophers, poets, writers, and musicians live or have lived in Varanasi. Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath, located near Varanasi.[9]

Varanasi is the spiritual capital of India. It is often referred to as “the holy city of India”, “the religious capital of India”, “the city of Shiva”, and “the city of learning”. Scholarly books have been written in the city, including the Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas. Today, there is a temple in the city, the Tulsi Manas Mandir. The current temples and religious institutions in the city are dated to the 18th century.[10] One of the largest residential universities of Asia, the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), is located here.[11]

Varanasi has been chosen as one of the heritage cities for HRIDAY – Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana scheme of the Government of India.[12]

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Alipura, IN

Alipura, IN

Apr 27 - 29, 2015

April 272015
Orchha, IN

Orchha, IN

Apr 26 - 27, 2015

April 262015
Agra, IN

Agra, IN

Apr 24 - 26, 2015

April 242015

Agra is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, Northwestern India. It is 128 miles (206 kilometres) south of the national capital New Delhi. With a population of 1,686,993 (2013 est.), it is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh and the 19th most populous in India. It is a major tourist destination because of its many splendid Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Tāj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpūr Sikrī, all three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Agra is included on the Golden Triangle tourist circuit, along with Delhi and Jaipur.

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Tordi Sagar, IN

Tordi Sagar, IN

Apr 23 - 24, 2015

April 232015

Tordi Sagar is a tiny rural village along the Golden Triangle route to the city of Agra. Free from the crowds of the larger cities it is tranquil by comparison. Within this pastoral setting one might find small markets, tradesman such as potters or iron workers practicing their craft, local temples and farms, and heards of laughing children hoping for a glipse of visiting tourists. Tordi Sager is this and more, amidst the endless backdrop of magnificent red sand dunes.

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Jaipur, IN

Jaipur, IN

Apr 21 - 23, 2015

April 212015

Jaipur is the capital and largest city of the Indian state of Rajasthan in Northern India. The city today has a population of 6.66 million, making it the Tenth – most populous city in the country. Jaipur is known as the Pink City of India and is included on the Golden Triangle tourist circuit, along with Delhi and Agra.

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Delhi, IN

Delhi, IN

Apr 19 - 21 & May 2 - 4, 2015

April 192015

Delhi is the Capital territory of India. It has a population of about 11 million and a metropolitan population of about 16.3 million, making it the second most populous city and second most populous urban agglomeration in India. Delhi has been continuously inhabited since the 6th century BC, and through most of its history, it has served as a capital of various kingdoms and empires. It has been captured, ransacked and rebuilt several times, particularly during the medieval period, and modern Delhi is a cluster of a number of cities spread across the metropolitan region.

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Panauti, NP

Panauti, NP

Apr 15 - 16, 2015

April 152015

Panauti is a quaint and extremely well-preserved historic town, of about 10,000 people, in the central region of Nepal, about 32 km Southeast of Kathmandu. It is known for having a nostalgic atmosphere attributed to its many anchient Buddhist and Hindu monuments and shrines, narrow, interconnected streets and countless historic buildings, most of which are still occupied by local inhabitants. The town looks and feels as if it has been left exactly the way the founders first built it. Panauti is considered to be one of the area’s most important medieval sites and it is frequented often during festive occasions by great numbers of devotees from all across the country.

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Nyalam, CN (Tibet)

Nyalam, CN (Tibet)

April 14 - 15, 2015

April 142015

Nyalam is a small Tibetan town near the Nepal border. It is only 35 km from Zhangmu town, which is the point of entry to Nepal. Nyalam is situated at 3,750 metres (12,300 ft) above sea level and was referred to as ‘The Gate of Hell’ by Nepalese trans-himalayan traders due to the old trail down to the Nepalese border being so treacherous. Today Nyalam is a fast-growing small town located on the Friendship Highway between Lhasa and the Nepal border.

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Rongbuk, CN (Tibet)

Rongbuk, CN (Tibet)

Apr 13 - 14, 2015

April 132015

Rongbuk lies near the base of the north side of Mount Everest at 4,980 metres (16,340 ft) above sea level and is accessible via a rough two- to three-hour drive. There is a monastery there that is claimed to be the highest in the world. Most past and current expeditions attempting to summit Mount Everest from the north, Tibetan side, establish their Base Camp near the tongue of Rongbuk Glacier about 8 km (5 mi) south of the Monastery.

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Sakya, CN (Tibet)

Sakya, CN (Tibet)

Apr 12 - 13, 2015

April 122015
Shigatse, CN (Tibet)

Shigatse, CN (Tibet)

Apr 11 - 12, 2015

April 112015

Shigatse is the second-largest city in Tibet, located about 280 km (174 miles) southwest of Lhasa, and is home to the massive and magnificent Tashilhunpo Monastery, traditionally the seat of the Panchen Lama.

 

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Gyantse, CN (Tibet)

Gyantse, CN (Tibet)

Apr 10 - 11, 2015

April 112015

Gyantse is historically considered the third largest and most prominent town in the Tibet region, after Lhasa, and Shigatse. It is noted for its restored fort, and its magnificent tiered Kumbum (literally, ‘100,000 images’) of the Palcho Monastery, the largest in Tibet. The Kumbum was commissioned by a Gyantse prince in 1427 and was an important centre of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism. This religious structure contains 77 chapels in its six floors, and is illustrated with over 10,000 murals, many showing a strong Nepali influence, which have survived almost entirely intact. They are the last of its kind to be found in Tibet. Many of the restored clay statues are of less artistry than the destroyed originals – but they are still spectacular.

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Lhasa, CN (Tibet)

Lhasa, CN (Tibet)

Apr 7 - 10, 2015

April 72015
Kathmandu, NP

Kathmandu, NP

Apr 4 - 7, 2015

April 42015
Bagan, MM

Bagan, MM

Mar 31 - Apr 4, 2015

March 312015
Taipei, TW

Taipei, TW

Mar 27 - 31, 2015

March 272015
Osaka, JP

Osaka, JP

Mar 25-27, 2015

March 252015
Kyoto, JP

Kyoto, JP

Mar 23 - 25, 2015

March 232015
Hiroshima, JP

Hiroshima, JP

Mar 21 - 23, 2015

March 212015
Takayama, JP

Takayama, JP

March 19 - 21, 2015

March 192015

Takayama is a city in the mountainous Hida region of Gifu Prefecture. It is best known for having a preserved traditional Japanese aesthetic like few other cities still possess, especially within its beautiful old town area, making it a top destination for travelers (ourselves included) seeking to include some rural and more traditional elements into their itineraries.

Takayama is also known for its carpentry trade and highly skilled craftsmen, a profession and reputation that seems to goes back at least as far as the feudal period when the region became a source of quality timber and artisans for the Shogunate’s many building projects. These skills persist today and is evident in the handy work on sale within the many old town shops. And aside from great lumber, the Hida region is also home to the award-winning beef of the same name – an expensive but also a must-experience treat!

And for nature lovers, Takayama hosts the Takayama Festival, considered to be one of Japan’s best, twice each year during spring and autumn. Sadly, our visit comes just a little bit early to partake in the fun; fortunately, Hida beef is available all year round!

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Hakone, JP

Hakone, JP

Mar 17 - 19, 2015

March 172015

Located in the center of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, the town of Hakone is a popular sightseeing and hot spring resort destination that is easily accessible from central Tokyo. With beautiful natural scenery throughout the four seasons, art and other museums, a variety of leisure facilities, and numerous events and festivals including the Hakone Ekiden long-distance marathon, Hakone can be enjoyed year-round.

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Tokyo, JP

Tokyo, JP

Mar 14 - 17, 2015

March 142015
Hanoi, VN

Hanoi, VN

Mar 11 - 14, 2015

March 102015
Hue, VN

Hue, VN

Mar 8 - 11, 2015

March 82015

Next we continue our path north to Huế in the middle of the country, almost directly on the former border that separated North and South Vietnam prior to its reunification in 1975 following the Vietnam War. Hue was actually the national capital of a previously unified Vietnam for nearly 150 years under the Nguyễn dynasty, but was moved north to Hanoi following the North’s declaration of independence in 1945. The relative stability of the previous dynasty lead to many great building projects and Huế is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its historic buildings, most notable being the Imperial City (Citadel) and Thien Mu Pagoda, and monuments, including the tombs of the Nguyễn emperors. Hue’s location near the Demilitarized Zone during the Vietnam War lead to heavy fighting in the area, particularly following the infamous Tet Offensive launched by the North Vietnamese in 1968. The Battle of Hue was one of the longest engagements of the conflict. For those interested in movies on this subject, the second half of Stanley Kubrick’s film Full Metal Jacket takes place in and around the ruins of Hue during this period. As a result of the fighting many of the historic structures became very badly damaged or destroyed, however it appears much has been done to restore these structures in the 40 years since the conflict ended.

We expect this visit to be an eye-opening experience that is further enhanced by the fact both of our fathers served in the military during this conflict.

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Hoi An, VN

Hoi An, VN

Mar 5 - 8, 2015

March 52015

On the south central coast of Vietnam lies our next stop, the historic city of Hoi An. From what we hear this place is a true gem with quaint lantern-lined streets, restaurants, markets, art galleries and nearby beautiful white sand beaches. And nestled within it’s modern borders is Ancient Town, the original port city and present day UNESCO world heritage site. We’ve given ourselves three full days to explore and hope it’s enough to experience it all.

Pictured: “Japanese Bridge” was built by the Japanese between the 16th and 17th century to connect their settlement with town. This structure is unique being the only known covered bridge to have an attached Buddhist temple (Wikipedia).

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Ho Chi Minh City, VN

Ho Chi Minh City, VN

Mar 2 - 5, 2015

March 22015
Siem Reap, KH

Siem Reap, KH

Feb 27 - Mar 2, 2015

February 272015
Vientiane, LA

Vientiane, LA

Feb 26 - 27, 2015

February 262015
Vang Vieng, LA

Vang Vieng, LA

Feb 23 - 26, 2015

February 232015
Luang Prabang, LA

Luang Prabang, LA

Feb 20 - 23, 2015

February 202015
Chaing Mai, TH

Chaing Mai, TH

Feb 17 - 20, 2015

February 172015
Bangkok, TH

Bangkok, TH

Feb 13 - 17, 2015

February 132015
Krabi, TH

Krabi, TH

Feb 11 - 13, 2015

February 112015
Ko Phi Phi, TH

Ko Phi Phi, TH

Feb 10 - 11, 2015

February 102015
Phuket, TH

Phuket, TH

Feb 6 - 9, 2015

February 62015

Following a very memorable visit to Kuala Lumpur, we next head to Thailand. From what we’ve read and from the pictures we’ve seen, this place seems to have an almost fabled quality to it – from breathtaking limestone islands and hidden beaches to the sprawling capital of Bangkok. We can’t wait to experience this place for ourselves, and trust that the more than 24 million visitors each year must be on to something!

First landfall will be on the largest Thai island, Phuket (Poo-Ket). After a month and a half of non-stop, go, go, go travel, and the last month being almost entirely within cities, we’re looking forward to a brief diversion from skylines of steel and glass to horizons of white sand and crystal clear ocean on some of the most picturesque beaches in the world. For Phuket we actually opted to stay in Old Town rather than directly on the beach. Old Town is known for it’s unique culture, beautiful colonial architecture, lively night markets and amazing cuisine – and of course, the beach is only a short songthaew (local bus) ride away! We also hope to check out the nearby Phang Nga Bay, a remote island harbor reknown for it’s beauty, and James Bond Island, a location made famous in two movies of the same name.

Sounds like we may still end up go, go, go’ing, but when in paradise I imagine one can’t help but relax.

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Kuala Lumpur, MY

Kuala Lumpur, MY

February 3 - 6, 2015

February 32015

Our next stop on our tour of Southeast Asia is the multicultural city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, or KL as the locals refer to it.  KL is the federal capital and most populous city in Malaysia (around 1.6 million people), as well as the center for business, finance, culture and tourism. Wikipedia cites KL as the 6th most visited city in the world. With such diverse cultures represented, multitudes of unique and beautiful religious sites, amazing culinary delights, and one of the most impressive skylines in the world, it’s not surprising that so many choose to visit KL – and who are we to argue?

 

And because Singapore and KL are only four or so hours apart by road we’ve decided to make the trip by luxury coach (bus) instead of flying. Traveling by coach may not be as fast as flying, but at only $38 per person, roomy seats, on demand entertainment and lunch included, it makes the budget airlines, with fees on top of fees, stripped down aircraft, and a la cart food AND BEVERAGE, look a lot less appealing. At the very least it will be an adventure and since we had to limit our destinations in Malaysia we hope to get a look at more of the countryside along the way – something that’s impossible to do at 30,000 feet!

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Singapore, SG

Singapore, SG

Jan 30 - Feb 3, 2015

January 302015

After an amazing first month in New Zealand and Australia we now trade the familiar surroundings of Oceania for Asia, a part of the world Nicole and I have only scratched the surface of with a two week tour of China in October 2013. We particularly enjoyed the rich history and cultural differences and are excited to be returning to Asia so soon, and that we will similarly experience many of the other surrounding countries. And since Singapore is located at the southern most part of the Asian continent it’s the next closest country along our travel path, so Act Two of our Asia Adventure will begin there.

Singapore is a popular holiday destination for many Aussies due to its relative proximity (Although still an 8 hour flight from Melbourne) and many of our friends down under rave about its diverse cultures, amazing food and fantastic architecture, including the second most expensive building in the world (header image above). Some additional research described Singapore as a major commercial hub, having the fourth-largest financial center and one of the top five busiest ports. We were also surprised to find out that Singapore has the third highest per capita GDP in the world and more millionaires per capita than any other country – 1 out of every 6 households, to be precise. Not bad for a country only roughly 3.5x the size of Washington D.C.!

With all this hype it’s hard to know how we’ll find it. Needless to say, the hype makes for great anticipation. Can’t wait.

 

A little about Singapore: (Source: Wikipedia)

Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign city-state and island country in Southeast Asia. It lies off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula and is 85 miles (137 km) north of the equator. The country’s territory consists of the diamond-shaped main island, commonly referred to as Singapore Island in English and Pulau Ujong in Malay, and more than 60 significantly smaller islets. Singapore is separated from Peninsular Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to the north, and from Indonesia’s Riau Islands by the Singapore Strait to the south. The country is highly urbanised, and little of the original vegetation remains. The country’s territory has consistently expanded through land reclamation.

Singapore is one of the world’s major commercial hubs, with the fourth-biggest financial centre and one of the five busiest ports. Its globalised and diversified economy depends heavily on trade, especially manufacturing, which represented 26 percent of Singapore’s GDP in 2005. In terms of purchasing power parity, Singapore has the third-highest per capita income in the world but high income inequality. It places highly in international rankings with regard to education, healthcare, and economic competitiveness. Approximately 5.4 million people live in Singapore (June 2013), of which approximately two million are foreign-born. While Singapore is diverse, ethnic Asians predominate: 75 percent of the population is Chinese, with significant minorities of Malays, Indians, and Eurasians. There are four official languages, English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil, and the country promotes multiculturalism through a range of official policies.

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Hobart, AU (Tassie)

Hobart, AU (Tassie)

Jan 26 - 30, 2015

January 262015

Our last stop in Oz is already upon us. We now set off to explore the southern island state of Tasmania. This visit will be the first for each of us so we don’t entirely know what to expect. Our Melbourne friends rave about “Tassie” and its natural beauty, so we’re pumped to experience it for ourselves. We kick the trip off in the port city and state capital, Hobart, but we plan to explore other possible day or overnight trips that could bring us to additional cities.

 

A little about Tasmania: (Source: Wikipedia)

Tasmania (abbreviated as Tas and known colloquially as “Tassie”) is an island state, part of the Commonwealth of Australia, located 150 miles (240 km) to the south of the Australian mainland, separated by Bass Strait. The state includes the island of Tasmania, the 26th largest island in the world, and the surrounding 334 islands. The state has a population of 507,626 (as of June 2010), almost half of which resides in the Greater Hobart precinct, which forms the metropolitan area of the state capital and largest city Hobart.

Tasmania’s area is 26,410 square miles (68,401 sq km), of which the main island covers 24,911 square miles (64,519 sq km. Tasmania is promoted as a natural state; almost 45% of Tasmania lies in reserves, national parks and World Heritage Sites and the state was the founding place of the first environmental party in the world. The modern state was founded as Van Diemen’s Land by the British Empire, though it was inhabited by Tasmanian Aborigines for up to 40,000 years before. In 1856 it became a self-governing colony and was renamed to Tasmania, and in 1901 it became part of the Federation of Australia.

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Melbourne, AU

Melbourne, AU

Jan 22 - 26, 2015

January 222015

The next stop on our journey through the land of Oz is the cosmopolitan city, and Victoria’s state capital, of Melbourne. Like Sydney, Nicole and I both separately visited Melbourne back in 2000 and 2005, respectively – Nicole during her 6 month study abroad in college and myself during a business trip for my first employer.

I have to say, Melbourne really impressed me when I visited a decade ago [wow, has it really been that long?!] – museums, parks, historic and modern architecture, ample transportation and a generally artsy and international vibe. This place seemed to have sophistication unlike other cities I’d visited. I can only imagine what has changed in the last 10 years.

Nicole visited Melbourne during a break from her classes in Syndey, following a tour of the Great Ocean Road, the famous scenic coastal route between Melbourne and Adelaide. Melbourne was also the study abroad home of one of her closest friends from high school, making that visit even more memorable.

This time around we’re excited to experience Melbourne together, and look forward to revisiting the parts we previously fell in love with as well as discovering all that’s changed since our last visits. Melbourne also seems to be a nexus for some of the awesome people we’ve met on previous journies, and we feel particular fortunate to have the opportunity to see many of them again. And as it turns out, the anual Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament will be underway while we’re in town – looks like one evening’s festivities are already decided!

 

A little about Melbourne (Source: Wikipedia)

Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The name “Melbourne” refers to an urban agglomeration area (and census statistical division) spanning 3,800 square miles (9,900 sq km) that comprises the greater metropolis – as well as being a common name for its metropolitan hub, the Melbourne City Centre. It is a leading financial centre in Australia, as well as the Asia-Pacific region, and has been ranked the world’s most livable city since 2011 (and among the top three since 2002), according the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).  In 2013 the EIU also ranked Melbourne the fourth most expensive city in the world, tying with Oslo, Norway. Melbourne is rated highly in the areas of education, entertainment, healthcare, research and development, tourism and sports.

It is located on the large natural bay of Port Phillip, with its City Centre situated at the northernmost point of the bay – near to the estuary of the Yarra River. The metropolitan area extends south from the City Centre, along the eastern and western shorelines of Port Phillip, and expands into the hinterlands – toward the Dandenong and Macedon mountain ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. The City Centre is located in the municipality known as the City of Melbourne, and the metropolis consists of a further 30 municipalities. Melbourne has a population of 4,442,918.

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Cairns, AU

Cairns, AU

Jan 20 - 22, 2015

January 202015

Our next stop in Australia is Cairns. It is the primary access point to the Great Barrier Reef, which is the world’s largest coral reef system, UNESCO world heritage site and one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World! Our time in Cairns will be relatively short with a singular goal of a full day trip to the reef. This will be my first time to the reef so I’m pretty excited to be making the trek. Nicole visited previously during her Australia study abroad in college, but let’s just say that poor weather made the crossing feel a little like the spin cycle on a washing machine (at least this is how I’m imagining from her description) – I’m told people were actually getting sick during the crossing, plus the views at the reef ended up being less than optimal. Needless to say, Nicole is excited for another crack at the reef, and we’re both hoping lightning doesn’t strikes twice, however weather is still unpredictable since we are still visiting during the “rainy” season (and apparently also the Jelly Fish season – Yay!) where weather can change rapidly, for better or worse. We have our fingers crossed for an excellent day!

 

Information about the Great Barrier Reef:

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,300 kilometres (1,400 mi) over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres (133,000 sq mi).  The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia.

The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms. This reef structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps. It supports a wide diversity of life and was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981. CNN labeled it one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The Queensland National Trust named it a state icon of Queensland.

A large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which helps to limit the impact of human use, such as fishing and tourism. Other environmental pressures on the reef and its ecosystem include runoff, climate change accompanied by mass coral bleaching, and cyclic population outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns starfish. According to a study published in October 2012 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the reef has lost more than half its coral cover since 1985.

The Great Barrier Reef has long been known to and used by the Aboriginal Australian and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and is an important part of local groups’ cultures and spirituality. The reef is a very popular destination for tourists, especially in the Whitsunday Islands and Cairns regions. Tourism is an important economic activity for the region, generating over $3 billion per year.

(Source: Wikipedia)

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Sydney, AU

Sydney, AU

Jan 16 - 20, 2015

January 162015

Nicole and I are both excited to be returning to Sydney after many years. During her undergrad at Boston College, Nicole studied abroad in Sydney for six months at the University of New South Wales. From the stories I’ve heard it sounds like she really established a connection in this place – for her it’s a little like coming home.

 

image

 

For me, I just had a week in Sydney during a business trip for Biomet back in 2005 (almost the exact same time of year). Though that visit was short Sydney left a significant impression on me, so I completely understand why Nicole loves this place so much.

 

image

 

A little about Sydney:

Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. It’s located on Australia’s east coast, surrounding one of the world’s largest natural harbours, and sprawls outward towards the Blue Mountains in the west.

The area around Sydney has been inhabited by indigenous Australians for tens of millennia. The first British settlers arrived in 1788 with Captain Arthur Phillip and founded Sydney as a penal colony. Successive colonial Governors assisted to transform the settlement into a thriving and independent metropolis. Since convict transportation ended in the mid 1800s the city has become a global cultural and economic centre. The population of Sydney at the time of the 2011 census was 4.39 million.  About 1.5 million of this total were born overseas and represent many different countries from around the world. There are more than 250 different languages spoken in Sydney and about one-third of residents speak a language other than English at home.

Sydney has an advanced market economy with strengths in finance, manufacturing, and tourism. There is a significant concentration of foreign banks and multinational corporations in Sydney and the city is promoted as Asia Pacific’s leading financial hub.  In addition to hosting events such as the 2000 Summer Olympics, millions of tourists come to Sydney each year to see the city’s landmarks. Its natural features include Sydney Harbour, the Royal National Park, Bondi Beach, and the Royal Botanic Gardens. Man-made attractions such as the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge are also well known to international visitors.

(Source: Wikipedia)

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Christchurch, NZ

Christchurch, NZ

Jan 14 - 16, 2015

January 142015

Christchurch (Māori: Ōtautahi) is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and the country’s third-most populous urban area. It lies one third of the way down the South Island’s east coast, just north of Banks Peninsula, which itself, since 2006, lies within the formal limits of Christchurch. The population of Christchurch City at the 5 March 2013 census was 341,469.

The city was named by the Canterbury Association, which settled the surrounding province of Canterbury. The name of Christchurch was agreed on at the first meeting of the association on 27 March 1848. It was suggested by John Robert Godley, who had attended Christ Church, Oxford. Some early writers called the town Christ Church, but it was recorded as Christchurch in the minutes of the management committee of the association. Christchurch became a city by Royal Charter on 31 July 1856, making it officially the oldest established city in New Zealand.

Source: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christchurch

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Queenstown, NZ

Queenstown, NZ

Jan 11 - 13, 2015

January 112015

Queenstown (Māori: Tahuna) is a resort town in Otago in the south-west of New Zealand’s South Island.

It is built around an inlet called Queenstown Bay on Lake Wakatipu, a long thin Z-shaped lake formed by glacial processes, and has spectacular views of nearby mountains such as The Remarkables, Cecil Peak, Walter Peak and just above the town; Ben Lomond and Queenstown Hill.

Queenstown has an urban population of 12,500 (June 2014 estimate), making it the 29th largest urban area in New Zealand, and the third largest urban area in Otago, behind Dunedin and Oamaru.

The Queenstown-Lakes District has a land area of 8,704.97 square kilometres (3,361.01 sq mi) not counting its inland lakes (Lake Hāwea, Lake Wakatipu, and Lake Wanaka). The region has an estimated resident population of 30,900 (June 2014 estimate).

Queenstown is now known for its commerce-oriented tourism, especially adventure and ski tourism. It is popular with New Zealand, Australian and New Jersey travellers alike.

Source: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queenstown,_New_Zealand

 

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Franz Josef, NZ

Franz Josef, NZ

Jan 9 - 10, 2015

January 92015

Franz Josef is a small town with a population of only 330 people (based on the 2006 Census) located in the West Coast region of the South Island of New Zealand. The town is named after the Franz Josef Glacier – itself named by Julius von Haast in honour of the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I of Austria. The glacier’s terminal face is 5 km from the town and its accessibility makes it a major tourist attraction and the reason many people visit Franz Josef. The town is located within the Westland Tai Poutini National Park.

Source: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Josef,_New_Zealand

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Nelson, NZ

Nelson, NZ

Jan 7 - 8, 2015

January 72015

Nelson is a city on the eastern shores of Tasman Bay, and is the economic and cultural centre of the Nelson region. Established in 1841, it is the second-oldest settled city in New Zealand and the oldest in the South Island and was proclaimed a city by royal charter in 1858.

Nelson city is bordered to the west and south-west by the Tasman District Council and the north-east, east and south-east by the Marlborough District Council. The city does not include Richmond, the region’s second-largest settlement. Nelson City has a population of around 46,437 ranking it as New Zealand’s 12th most populous city and the geographical centre of New Zealand. When combined with the town of Richmond which has close on 14,000 residents, Nelson is ranked as New Zealand’s 9th largest urban area by population.

Nelson is well known for its thriving local arts and crafts scene, Each year, the city hosts events popular with locals and tourists alike, such as the Nelson Arts Festival. The annual Wearable Art Awards began near Nelson and a local museum, World of Wearable Art now showcases winning designs alongside a collection of classic cars.

Source: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson,_New_Zealand

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Wellington, NZ

Wellington, NZ

Jan 5 - 6, 2015

January 52015

Wellington is the capital city and second most populous urban area of New Zealand, with 393,600 residents. It is located at the south-western tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range. It is the major population centre of the southern North Island, and is the administrative centre of the Wellington Region, which also includes the Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa. Wellington is the world’s southernmost capital city of a sovereign state.

The Wellington urban area comprises four cities: Wellington city, on the peninsula between Cook Strait and Wellington Harbour, contains the central business district and about half the population; Porirua on Porirua Harbour to the north is notable for its large Māori and Pacific Island communities; Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt are largely suburban areas to the northeast, together known as the Hutt Valley.

The 2014 Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranked Wellington 12th in the world.  In 2011 Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2011 named Wellington as fourth in its Top 10 Cities to Visit in 2011, referring to it as the “coolest little capital in the world”.

Source: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wellington,_New_Zealand

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Taupo & Pukawa, NZ

Taupo & Pukawa, NZ

Jan 3 - 4, 2015

January 32015

The Taupo District is a region of the North Island of New Zealand that spans 2,461 sq miles (6,350 km²) of land area, from the small town of Mangakino in the northwest to the Tongariro National Park in the south, and east into the Kaingaroa Forest, and a further 236 sq miles (610 km²) of lake area, between Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake, and the smaller Lake Rotoaira.

 

Taupo (Town):

Taupo is a town of approximately 23,400 people on the shore of Lake Taupo in the centre of the North Island of New Zealand. The name Taupo is the shortened version of its full name, Taupō-nui-a-Tia. Literally translated from Māori language, Taupō-nui-a-Tia means “The great cloak of Tia”, where Tia is the name of the discoverer of the lake.

image

NASA satellite photo of Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo, with a surface area of 616 square kilometres (238 sq mi) and a perimeter of approximately 193 kilometers, is the largest lake by surface area in New Zealand, and the second largest freshwater lake by surface area in geopolitical Oceania after Lake Murray (Papua New Guinea). The deepest point of Lake Taupo is approximately 193 meters. It is drained by the Waikato River (New Zealand’s longest river), while its main tributaries are the Waitahanui River, the Tongariro River, and the Tauranga Taupo River. It is a noted trout fishery with stocks of introduced brown trout and rainbow trout.

Tourism is a major component of Taupo’s commercial sector, and the city attracts over 2 million visitors per year. The busiest time for the industry is the high summer season around Christmas and New Year.

 

Pukawa:

Pūkawa / Pūkawa Bay is a bay and a small township on the southwestern shores of Lake Taupo. Here one would find multitudes of beach houses and holiday homes layered into the hillsides amongst the native vegitation or “Bush”. The quintocential “Kiwi” holiday house is referred to as a Bach (pronounced “Batch”) that is characterized by it’s realtive small size, simple appearance and open-air feel (similar to bungalows or cottages on the east coast). True Baches are also characterized as secondary residences that are not lived in all year long.

Example of a Bach or holiday home

Pukawa is also the home of the Ngati Manunui hapu of Ngāti Tūwharetoa and the newly opened Manunui-a-Ruakapanga marae, which was opened on 18 November 2006.

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Wharenui, Manunui-a-Ruakapanga Marae, Pūkawa, November 2006

A marae (in New Zealand Māori) is a communal or sacred place that serves religious and social purposes in Polynesian societies. The word also means “cleared, free of weeds, trees, etc.” It generally consists of an area of cleared land roughly rectangular (the marae itself), bordered with stones or wooden posts (au) perhaps with terraces (paepae) which were traditionally used for ceremonial purposes; and in some cases, a central stone ahu or a’u.

 

Source: Wikipedia

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Rotorua, NZ

Rotorua, NZ

Jan 1 - 2, 2015

January 12015

Rotorua (Māori: Te Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamomoe, “The second great lake of Kahumatamomoe”) is a city on the southern shores of the lake of the same name, in the Bay of Plenty Region of New Zealand’s North Island. It is the seat of the Rotorua District, a territorial authority encompassing Rotorua and several other nearby towns. The majority of the Rotorua District is in the Bay of Plenty Region, but a sizable southern section and a small western section are in the Waikato Region. Rotorua is in the heart of the North Island, just 60 kilometres (37 mi) south of Tauranga, 80 kilometres (50 mi) north of Taupo, 105 kilometres (65 mi) east of Hamilton, and 230 kilometres (140 mi) southeast of the nation’s most populous city, Auckland. Rotorua has an estimated permanent population of 56,200, making it the country’s 10th largest urban area, and the Bay of Plenty’s second largest urban area behind Tauranga. The Rotorua District has a total estimated population of 68,500, of which 3,600 live in the Waikato section. Rotorua is a major destination for both domestic and international tourists; the tourism industry is by far the largest industry in the district. It is known for its geothermal activity, and features geysers – notably the Pohutu Geyser at Whakarewarewa – and hot mud pools. This thermal activity is sourced to the Rotorua caldera, on which the town lies.

Source: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/RotoruaSource:

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Waitomo, NZ

Waitomo, NZ

Dec 31, 2014

December 312014

The Waitomo Caves is a village and solutional cave system forming a major tourist attraction in the northern King Country region of the North Island of New Zealand, 12 kilometers northwest of Te Kuiti. The community of Waitomo Caves itself is very small, though the village has many temporary service workers living there as well. The word Waitomo comes from the Māori language wai meaning water and tomo meaning a doline or sinkhole; it can thus be translated to be water passing through a hole. The caves are formed in Oligocene limestone.

Source: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waitomo_CavesSource:

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Auckland, NZ

Auckland, NZ

Dec 29 - 30, 2014

December 292014

The Auckland urban area, in the North Island of New Zealand, is the largest and most populous urban area in the country. Auckland has a population of 1,413,700, which constitutes 31 percent of the country’s population. It is part of the wider Auckland Region, which includes the rural areas and towns north and south of the urban area, plus the islands of the Hauraki Gulf, resulting in a total population of 1,527,100 that is governed by the Auckland Council. Auckland also has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world.  In Māori, Auckland’s name is Tāmaki Makaurau and the transliterated version of Auckland is Ākarana.

The Auckland urban area (as defined by Statistics New Zealand) ranges to Waiwera in the north, Kumeu in the northwest, and Runciman in the south. It is not contiguous; the section from Waiwera to Whangaparaoa Peninsula is separate from its nearest neighbouring suburb of Long Bay. Auckland lies between the Hauraki Gulf of the Pacific Ocean to the east, the low Hunua Ranges to the south-east, the Manukau Harbour to the south-west, and the Waitakere Ranges and smaller ranges to the west and north-west. The central part of the urban area occupies a narrow isthmus between the Manukau Harbour on the Tasman Sea and the Waitemata Harbour on the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the few cities in the world to have two harbours on two separate major bodies of water.

The 2014 Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranked Auckland 3rd place in the world on its list, while the Economist’s World’s most liveable cities index of 2011 ranked Auckland in 9th place. In 2010, Auckland was classified as a Beta World City in the World Cities Study Group’s inventory by Loughborough University.

Source: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auckland

 

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New Jersey, US

New Jersey, US

Dec 27, 2015 (Trip Start)

December 272014

And so it begins! Our 361 day adventure around the world has officially started. This is a shot of us in Newark, NJ getting ready to board our first of many flights. Feeling excited for the journey ahead. Can’t believe we’re actually doing this!

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