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With its white sand and turquoise sea, you would be forgiven for thinking that the above photograph was taken on a Caribbean island. In fact, this is Luskentyre Beach on the Scottish island of Isle of Harris, one of 16 beautiful islands in the United Kingdom collected in our slideshow. Read more
New York City flipped over the cronut – a sweet cross between a croissant and a donut created by pastry chef Dominique Ansel. But the Big Apple isn’t the only city that that has a signature sweet. (Or a series of signature sweets ; we remember when people in New York waited around the block for cupcakes, too.) Here’s a look at some other tasty treats that are satiating sweet tooths around the world.
When looking for an unusual brunch treat in Sydney, try the Dogg’s Breakfast at Reuben Hills in Darlinghurst. This hand-crafted ice-cream sandwich is served with salted caramel sauce. (The whole Reuben Hills menu follows suit, with some salty language.)
If you’re looking for a more traditional Australian treat, keep an eye out for lamingtons. The spongy yellow cake covered in coconut and chocolate is available at most bakeries and cafes.
The summer solstice holds significance to many cultures, both old and new. For us, it simply marks the beginning of summer. But many religions have worshipped the solstice and even built monuments around it. So, instead of just buckling down for a barbecue and a beer, consider traveling to one of these spots around the world to witness some incredible phenomenons. Each provides visitors with a unique experience on the solstice – whether its illuminating a chapel in red light or the sun hitting a specific spot, you won’t be disappointed. Read more
Guiding ships into port was just the beginning for these landmark lighthouse hotels. In their current incarnation as unusual – and in some cases quite plush – hotel rooms, they’re helping travelers steer clear of a rough night’s sleep. Our top 10 lighthouse hotels span perilous harbors across the U.S. (did you know there are approximately 700 lighthouses in the U.S. alone?), the UK, Europe, South America, and New Zealand. While modern technology (radar and GPS) has made their original job less essential, their second shift as a storied keep means visitors can learn firsthand how they work (most on our list are still operational, thanks to automated systems) and about their stormy pasts (some have been working the fog for over a century). Climb the narrow spiral stair, watch the light beam across the sea, and spend the night in an iconic tower – then and always the universal symbol for safe harbor. Check out our Lighthouse Hotels slideshow for a preview of these landmark accommodations.
England has Shakespeare, Big Ben, and the Royals. Scotland’s got Nessie, bagpipes, and single-malt whiskey. What about Wales, you ask? Well, as I found out during a recent visit, Wales has got hundreds of delightfully quirky undiscovered pleasures (such as Portmeirion, shown at left).
Tucked into the southwest corner of Great Britain, this verdant green country of 3 million has 11 million sheep, 393,000 people named Jones, an 870-mile coastal walking path, 641 castles, and a seriously hard-to-pronounce language. But perhaps the most unexpected thing about Wales is the quality and character of its hotels. They range from castles and country houses to boutique properties with surprisingly contemporary decor.
I know you’ll love Wales once you discover all that it has to offer – including an emerging local/sustainable food scene and some pretty inventive young chefs. Here are 10 favorite places to stay, all of which I visited last month. Some offer great value, others are splurges, but each is a unique spot from which to experience this welcoming and culture-rich country.
This year Wales becomes the only country in the world where you can walk along the entire coastline, a hike that stretches from Chepstow in the south to a spot near Queensferry in the north. Though officially completed in May, the Wales Coast Path will see improvements throughout the summer and fall to ensure that the route is safe and practical for the thousands of outdoor enthusiasts expected to visit Wales to experience this impressive 870-mile trek.
I had the pleasure of hiking a portion of the Wales Coast Path during a recent sojourn in southern Wales. My group and I parked in a lot near an old stone church just north of the Gower Peninsula for a two-hour, 2.5 mile ramble along Three Cliffs Bay which took us through dune-dappled beaches, salt marshes, wildflower fields, limestone cliffs, and ruins of ancient castles (click here for details). Read more
Traveling to Britain this winter? Grab a BritRail Low Season Pass and save 20% on regular rates. A three-day consecutive pass (you indicate the three days of travel) is just $159. Or for $239, travel in first class. The BritRail pass services all of the national rail networks of Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales). With trains traveling up to 160 miles per hour, and running every 15 minutes on the main lines, this pass can get you throughout the three countries quickly, maximizing what you visit during your stay. Passes are also available for four, eight, 15, and 22 days, as well as one month time periods. Flexible passes are also available at an additional cost. Travel now through February 29, 2012.
THE VALUE: Save 20% on a BritRail Pass and travel through three countries on a comprehensive network of train lines.
THE CATCH: The weather is not ideal in January and February.
THE DETAILS: To purchase your ticket, visit www.raileurope.com.
Long before various members of the British monarchy began building grand estates across Wales, it was inhabited by Celts, whose ruins populate the country, including Castell Dinas Bran. It’s the perfect hilltop ramble for anyone who wants to see the sights without breaking much of a sweat. You’ll weave past sheep-packed hills and Llangollen’s legendary canal – to this day, horses still pull barges up and down the waterway – to a former Iron Age fort later embellished with a 12th-century castle. The reward at the pinnacle: Miles of classic Welsh views.
The ocean-scapes in this part of the U.K. aren’t too shabby, either. Anglesey, where the newlyweds live, is situated on the Isle of Anglesey. The more than 200-square-mile island is the largest in the Irish Sea, and it was once referred to as the “Mother of Wales” during the Middle Ages, thanks to its fertile fields. There’s a bit of magic to this not-so-small parcel of land, where the Welsh version of St. Valentine spent her days.
Now that all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the Royal Wedding has passed, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge can finally settle into a quieter life – well, sort of – dividing their time between two British pads. The first being the prime London digs known as Kensington Palace, and the second a residence in Wales, where the Prince pilots search-and-rescue copters for the Royal Air Force.
When most people think of vacationing in the U.K., Wales isn’t the first word that typically comes to mind. But the country, located just two hours by train or car from London, is a surprisingly diverse destination for all sorts of visitors – adventurers and royal watchers alike. And even if you don’t catch a glimpse of the Duchess, you can still get your fill of all things King and Queen: Wales houses 641 castles, outpacing all other European countries in the royal residence department.
By: Molly Fergus
Train travel in the Old World maintains a certain mystique for many travelers – and it’s little wonder: With scads of culture, 47 countries packed into a region slightly larger than the U.S., and exhaustive tracks that go everywhere from the plains of Spain to the eastern fringes of Russia, Europe is tailor-made for riding the rails. Few vacations inspire as much romance and possibility as chugging across the continent, collecting new passport stamps, and taking in a diversity of landscapes – from snow-capped Alps to rich vineyards to turquoise coastline – all from the comforts of Europe’s storied locomotives.
By: Owen Sheers
Wherever I’ve lived, there’s only one place I’ve ever thought of as home: Wales, where I was raised and where my parents still live. The Massachusetts-size country occupies a western bulge of the island of Great Britain, its ragged coastline harried by the Irish Sea.
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