Philippines: The Pearl of the Orient Seas

The Philippines is a remarkable country in Southeast Asia, not only geographically but also culturally and spiritually. The vestiges of the Spanish era include exuberant parties, colonial architecture, and centuries-old churches. On the other hand, the commercial centers, the fast food chains and the use of English as an official language demonstrate the influence of the successor of Spain: the United States. Perhaps due to the mixture of all these influences, the country boasts a unique character. Filipinos are welcoming and optimistic, and that attitude captivates the visitors.

The country is the beach paradise with more than 7,000 islands for all tastes, from isolated stretches of sand to prosperous mega-cities such as Luzon or Mindanao. If you want to sunbathe and go scuba diving, you should go to Las Visayas, where there is a wide variety of pristine beaches. The more adventurous can camp on a deserted coast and play Robinson Crusoe for a few days. You can also go kayaking, kite surfing, canyoning, and caving. While surfers enjoy ripping waves, the divers experience the magnificent underwater world teeming with corals.

Boracay

Not long ago, Boracay was a sleepy and almost unknown place. But things have changed, and a lot. The world has discovered Boracay, and this tiny island has entered the circuit of the great beach parties of Southeast Asia. But although it has changed so much, it is still a more peaceful place than Kuta or Ko Samui. And you can still find quiet corners, especially at the southern end of the famous White Beach, where the spirit of ancient Boracay is still preserved.

Manila

The metropolis is more than traffic and noise. The nightlife of Manila is second to none in the Philippines. From the locals for hipsters to the rhythm of bongos of Quezon City and Cubao to the seductive bars and kitschy Makati clubs. There are also excellent museums, and in contemporary art and design, Manila is the rising star of Asia. The gastronomic scene is leaving behind the bad reputation of the past with the popping up of modern restaurants, coffee shops, and craft beer bars.

Puerto Princesa

With a royal pedigree – it’s named after a Spanish princess – there has always been a buzz to Puerto Princesa, and if it’s your first time in the Philippines the town’s natural beauty will be highlight enough. However, over recent years Princesa has also developed a name as an eco-tourism hub offering a whole host of green tours, including the well-known journey to the UNESCO listed Underground River and its surrounding national park.

El Nido and Coron

Take to the pristine blue waters of El Nido on a trip to ‘heaven on earth’ for a day of swimming in warm waters, snorkeling amid clouds of colorful reef fish and corals, and sunbathing on the multitude of white sand beaches that El Nido has to offer. Head to Coron island on a boat and enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Coron Town and its bay from the short walk up to Mount Tapyas, the second highest mountain of Coron. Meet the Tagbanua indigenous people who have the dangerous job of climbing rickety scaffolding to obtain the cave nests of swallows needed for birds’ nest soup.

Cebu

In Cebu, perfection has the shape of a beach. Throughout the island, there are spectacular coves and cliffs next to pristine waters. On the west coast, the reefs attract a variety of marine life. The divers meet in places like Moalboal, where the sardine banks are a spectacle. The islands of Malapascua and Mactan are paradises for divers (for whipping shark and turtles, respectively), while Bantayan is ideal for sunbathing. And in the heart of the island is the fun of the capital, Cebu.

Sagada

Sagada is a mountainous corner in the center of La Cordillera, north of Luzón. It has all the ingredients to be a backpacker’s paradise: incredible excursions, mysterious caves, hanging coffins, strong coffee, excellent bakeries, and cozy, cheap accommodations. Here you can have muesli breakfast and go out in search of adventure, or spend the whole day by the fireplace in a cafe.

Bohol

Although most visitors to Bohol are divers who go to Alona beach, the real charm is in its interior. Perhaps it is the best Filipino island to travel by motorcycle. There are paved roads that cross the jungle and pass by green rivers, chocolate-colored hills, zip lines with incredible views and populated with tarsiers, the native primates. The island was severely affected by the earthquake of 2013, but it has recovered and is better than ever.

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Israel: Cradle of Religions and Modern Oasis of the Middle East

At the intersection of Asia, Africa, and Europe, Israel has been the meeting point of cultures, empires, and religions since the advent of history. Nursery for Judaism, Islam, Christianity, and Baha’i, the Holy Land invites you to submerge yourself in the abundance of its religious traditions. Before separating, Jews and Christians would have used the Roman synagogues around the Sea of ​​Galilee. Both Christian pilgrims and tourists can explore places linked to the birth of Jesus (Bethlehem), his ministry (Nazareth and around the Sea of ​​Galilee) and crucifixion (Jerusalem). For Muslims, only Mecca and Medina are more sacred than the Al-Haram ash-Sharif of Jerusalem (Temple Mount for Jews), perhaps the most disputed land on the planet.

Few countries have so much geographical variation in such a small space. The short distances allow you to relax on a Mediterranean beach one day, spend the next one afloat in the mineralized waters of the Dead Sea and on the other, dive in the Red Sea. Hikers can tour the country along the National Trail of Israel, soak in seasonal streams down to the Jordan, explore the oasis fed by springs and hidden in the arid cliffs above the Dead Sea, and admire the multicolored sandstone formations of the Makhtesh Ramon.

Jerusalem

A spiritual center for three of the world’s major religions – Judaism, Islam, and Christianity – Jerusalem is a place which measures its history in millennia and eons rather than centuries. The religious importance of the city draws visitors from all four corners of the globe, eager to walk in the footsteps of prophets, pray in buildings which were constructed by order of kings and caliphs, and drift to sleep in hospices where Crusaders and Cardinals have previously slumbered. Every block, every building, every blade of grass seems to hold particular significance in the city which lives and breathes to the soundtrack of bells, muezzin’s call, and the shofar. Discover the foundations of the Old City by exploring the Western Wall Tunnels and Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Even for non-believers and skeptics, it’s difficult to resist the pure, unbridled faith and history found in this ancient city.

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is an always active, vibrant city, with fantastic nightlife, an exotic restaurant culture, and lovely weather all year round. Though relatively small in size, it is full of energy and feels like a much bigger city than it actually is. They call it “the city that never sleeps” for a reason! Tel Aviv attracts people of all kinds, from the bohemian artists to the savvy entrepreneurs. At the same time, it has some gorgeous beaches and a massive park to get lost in and relax from the buzz of the city. Famous for its long beaches, it is a wonderful place to catch some sun, go for a swim, and engage in water sports. Foodies will easily make Tel Aviv their second home. From trendy hipster brunch spots to top-level fine dining restaurants, cafes, bars, and bistros. The city is also famous for its markets: the colorful display of foods and spices, and the freshly squeezed juice make for an unforgettable experience.

Nazareth

The town where Jesus grew is a vibrant Arab city today. Its ancient and narrow alleys are graced with churches commemorating New Testament events and mansions of the Ottoman era. A new generation of restaurants has made the place a culinary star of Israel. Along with delicious traditional specialties, served with the usual Arabic hospitality, there are “fusion” dishes such as artichoke hearts with fresh herbs, and meat with wild pine nuts from Galilee.

Dead Sea

After passing the “Sea level” sign, follow the wheel down the mountain until you see the cobalt blue waters of the Dead Sea, bordered by white salt deposits, reddish cliffs, and tufts of dark green vegetation. In the oasis of Ein Gedi, you can walk through steep canyons to pools of crystal clear waters and waterfalls, before climbing to the plateau of the Judean desert or down to the coast for a brackish and invigorating bath. To the south, on Mount Sodom, proposals such as cycling by dry riverbeds await. The Romans had just destroyed Jerusalem when a thousand Jewish Zealots took refuge on a remote plateau overlooking the Dead Sea. Looking down from its towering redoubt, you can still see eight Roman camps, connected by a wall of casemates.

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Iceland: The Paradise for Nature Lovers

Iceland, also known as “The land of Fire and Ice,” is a country with extreme geographic makeup. While it has some of Europe’s most massive glaciers, it also has some of the most active volcanoes in the world. Iceland is aptly dubbed as the country of light and darkness. During summer, Iceland has nearly 24 hours of sunshine while during winter, it only has a few daylight hours. Although Iceland is relatively a young country, its traditions are quite old.

Iceland has a diverse landscape that changes with through each season. For instance, as you travel in the southwest, you will find moss-covered lava fields. When you drive around in the northwest, you will find soaring fjords. The harsh natural environment of Iceland is brought about by nature’s unrelenting forces. However, the country has become remarkably resilient as it faces extreme conditions. The inhabitants of Iceland have also learned to harness the country’s natural resources regardless of these conditions.

The traditions and customs of Iceland are based on its history of isolated existence as well as a mixed influence of paganism and Christian doctrine. Furthermore, Icelandic folktales are shaped by an arduous environment and the natural resources. These tales often include ghosts, mysticism, elves, and even trolls.

East Coast of Iceland

Iceland’s east coast boasts of its lush farmlands, extensive forests, and a series of small islands and fjords. The east coast is also home to many natural harbors, small seaside communities, and fishing villages, which border the coast. You will be amazed by the impressive chambers of magma, which are filled with colorful mineral deposits. During summer, the east coast becomes a hub for creative minds both from Iceland and abroad as several art and music festivals pop up.

Seyðisfjörður used to be a principal ferry port town in the past, with its vibrantly colored wooden houses constructed by merchants. Today, it is a popular destination for artists, with a number of the homes being transformed into stores selling arts and crafts. You can browse for souvenirs before enjoying live music at Blaa Kirkjan, also known as the Blue Church, during the summer months. Head up the hills and explore the stunning scenery which includes cascading waterfalls and a lake that freezes over. For adrenaline junkies, kayaking and mountain biking is on offer.

West Iceland

West Iceland represents almost all the natural wonders of the country, including majestic waterfalls, slumberous volcanoes, a variety of wildlife and plant life, lush valleys, glaciers, craters, and fjords. You can set off to impressive hiking trails around Hvalfjörður and Akranes or just marvel at the beauty of Iceland’s highest waterfall, Glymur and the majestic mountain, Akrafjall, which are less than an hour away from the country’s capital, Reykjavík.

The city of Snæfellsnes was given an Earth Check award for its beautiful nature as well as being a sustainable local area. Not so far from Snæfellsnes is Dalir, which is the home of some great explorers, including Eirík the Red and Leif the Lucky. They are a father and son Viking tandem who were the first to set foot in America.

Westfjords

Westfjords have unspoiled wilderness primarily due to the region’s isolated location. It is mostly uninhabited, which is one of the reasons why it is a must-see destination for hardcore explorers. The Látrabjarg bird cliff located on Westfjords’ west side hosts almost half of some bird species of the world. It is also Europe’s westernmost point. The Dynjandi is a spectacular set of waterfalls, which is about 100 meters in height. Throughout the Westfjords region, there are numerous natural hot springs, even in the most isolated parts. The locations of some of these springs won’t be found in a guidebook – they are guarded by locals or just discovered by visitors as they are exploring the area.

Westfjords’ cuisine and folklore speak a lot about the region’s healthy relationship with the ocean. There are also museums that focus on creatures and monsters from the sea and witchcraft and sorcery. The region is an authentic Icelandic wilderness, which is ideal for spotting and watching unique fauna, birds, and arctic fox in their natural habitats.

Reykjavík

Reykjavík is known as the little capital of Iceland as its population is just 120,000. There are only a few skyscrapers in the city as compared to other capitals of other countries. Although smaller in size, Reykjavík features activities and events that keep it pulsing and alive. More often than not, it is sunny in this part of Iceland. As such, picnickers and sunbathers fill the Austurvöllur, the green square in front of the Parliament.

Stroll down the Laugavegur, which is the center of shopping and dining. When happy hours come, you can settle in the outdoor seating of bars, grab a drink and enjoy people-watching. Entertainers usually line the sidewalks of Reykjavík while performance artists take the stage to present their surprise acts. Playful street art and playful murals are found all throughout the 101, the downtown area of Reykjavík. There are several art galleries in the city, including the National Gallery and the Reykjavík Art Museum, which exhibits the works of prominent Icelandic artists. In addition, small independent galleries showcase the contemporary works of both international and local artists. Most of the museums in Reykjavík are committed to preserving the country’s history and culture. Reykjavík has been designated as a UNESCO City of Literature.

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Australia: An Expansive Stretch of Unspoiled Nature


Thousands of miles of glorious coastline and beaches, the world’s greatest fringing coral reef, unique and varied wildlife, the rugged outback
desert landscapes and lifestyles, sophisticated cities, tropical rainforest, and alpine national parks – the question is not so much what to see, but how much of it can you see.

Australia has intrigued the rest of the world for more than two centuries, with its fantastic marsupials, noisy and colorful birds, and incredibly vast sweeps of the outback landscape. Home to one of the world’s oldest human cultures, it is also a geological marvel, famous for the haunting monolith of Uluru, the tropical wetlands of Kakadu, and of course the magnificent Great Barrier Reef.

Queensland and Northern Territories

Queensland, home to the Great Barrier Reef, is the biggest tourist destination in the country. The coastline is glorious and the weather warm to hot year-round. In the south, the Gold Coast is a Miami-style strip of hotels, theme parks, and surf beaches that almost merges with the state capital, Brisbane. Farther north, the Sunshine Coast is mercifully less developed and includes the chic resort of Noosa Heads. Nearby Fraser Island is an interesting oddity – the world’s largest sand island covered in rainforest.

Australia’s crowning glory is the Great Barrier Reef, the chain of coral reefs and lush tropical islands that flanks the Queensland coast. No adjectives or glossy underwater photographs can adequately prepare you for the magical moment when you don a mask and poke your face into the warm tropical waters of this seductive dreamscape. Cairns, Port Douglas, and the resorts of the Whitsunday Islands are the primary bases for exploring the reef. Darwin, the capital of the tropical Northern Territory, is an ideal base to explore the Wetlands, wildlife, waterfalls, and Aboriginal rock art.

Sydney and Around

Sydney sprawls. Despite its relatively small population, it covers almost as large an area as Los Angeles and is seven times larger than Paris. The historical section of the city is known as The Rocks, a beautifully restored warren of alleyways and old stone buildings tucked away under the southern approach of the Harbour Bridge.

Pitt Street and George Street are the city’s two main thoroughfares. They begin at Circular Quay and stretch through the heart of downtown Sydney. Both streets are lined with glittering skyscrapers and department stores, as well as gritty old shops that have somehow managed to survive the scramble for building land. The juxtaposition of styles, old and new, gives Sydney flair. The inner east section has Kings Cross, Sydney’s red-light district, filled with pulsing nightclubs, fast food, and crime.

Western Australia

Western Australia is enormous and mostly desert. The coast road from Broome down to the capital, Perth – a 1,400-mile (2,255 km) jaunt – passes beaches, remote towns, and Ningaloo Reef – Australia’s longest continuous fringing coral reef. Much shorter than the Great Barrier Reef, it is no less impressive. Unlike its better-known cousin, it is easily accessible from shore – never more than 2 miles (3 km) out and in some places only a couple of hundred yards.

Farther south, wild dolphins come to play in the shallows at Monkey Mia. Thriving Perth is the green southwest of this state. On the city’s doorstep lies the historic port of Fremantle, and a day’s drive south brings you to Margaret River, a significant wine district on a scenic coast.

South Australia and Victoria

The capital of South Australia, Adelaide is noted for its year-round music festivals and sporting events, food and wine, long beach fronts, and its huge defense and manufacturing centers.

The Barossa Valley is an easy 45-mile (72 km) north of Adelaide, with ample signs to the valley’s main towns of Tanunda, Nuriootpa, and Angaston. Of the three towns, centrally located Tanunda is one of the most geared for tourists, with a pleasant main street and a wide selection of craft galleries, cafes, and B&Bs. Cheese lovers should follow Barossa Valley cheese and wine trail. Start at the Barossa Valley Cheese Company in Angaston and pick up a trail map.

If Australia has been an ark for unique flora and fauna, Kangaroo Island has been its lifeboat. This island has remained an unspoiled haven for wildlife and offers a lazy, rural lifestyle only recently invaded by luxury retreats.

East of South Australia lies Victoria, the smallest and greenest of the mainland states. Gold rush wealth flowed through the elegant capital, Melbourne, a garden city of grand Victorian-era architecture. Verdant mountains, wineries, beaches, and colonies of penguins are just a day trip away from the city.

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New Zealand: Raw Nature and Happy People

With more than a third of its land declared as parks or nature reserves, New Zealand is the destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Here you will find immaculate beaches, volcanic plateaus, rolling green hills, fjords, geysers, impressive glaciers and a wide variety of flora and fauna. The country is divided into two islands, North and South, each with its own identity.

The North Island is represented by volcanic landscape surrounded by subtropical forests, high mountain lakes, and highlands covered with vineyards and meadows. It is the cradle of Maori culture which goes back to more than 700 years. Their culture, language, and traditions are part of the country’s identity. The folk songs, traditional Hangi dinner, Hongi (welcoming ritual of rubbing noses), famous Haka (traditional war dance) and the visual arts such as wood carving, weaving, and tattoos are integral elements of the immense cultural wealth of New Zealand.

The Southern Alps dominates the South Island. In its wild nature, you will discover rolling plains, snow-capped mountains, alpine lakes, glaciers, fjords and dense forests. You can even admire whales, dolphins, penguins and endemic fauna such as kiwi, kea, and yellow-eyed dolphins.

Christchurch

Christchurch is undoubtedly the most English of all the cities of New Zealand with its traditional neo-gothic style British architecture, award-winning botanic gardens, trendy boutiques, and pop-up pubs. After the 2011 earthquake affected the Christchurch adversely, it has rebuilt its urban landscape with an artistic, energetic, and refreshing vibe. The River Avon and the nearby gardens are reminiscent of the British heritage, while the Antarctic Center lets you experience the South Pole right here in Christchurch. The gondola ride takes you to the top of the Port Hills providing panoramic views of the city, icy peaks, and lakes along the journey.

Akaroa

Akaroa is an hour-and-a-half drive from Christchurch on Banks Peninsula. It was founded in 1840 by French settlers, with references to the culture still evident in the little township. Many of the street names are in French. There’s a festival every year celebrating the town’s French roots with entertainment, music and food. Akaroa attracts a lot of tourists, so there are a number of activities you can get amongst to experience the best of the Banks Peninsula. There are plenty of campgrounds in Akaroa and around the bays to pitch your tent for a weekend out of the city.

Queenstown

The capital of adventure, Queenstown is a dynamic city that is an attractive destination both in winter and summer thanks to its privileged location between lakes and mountains. Queenstown is the mecca of thrill-seekers due to the extensive adventure sports options: skiing, jet-boating, paragliding, skydiving, bungee jumping, zip-lining, rafting, rock climbing, kayaking – you name it. The city has a large number of hotels, bars, and restaurants, which contribute to the dynamism of the local nightlife. If you go a bit further, you can escape to the glaciers in the north and the fjords in the south. It is difficult to leave Queenstown without letting adrenaline rushing through your veins and your heart pounding through your chest. But if you’re looking for something slow-paced, you still won’t be disappointed. Escape into the nearby vineyards for a wine-tasting tour, sample the famed Fergburger, enjoy a romantic dinner with views of the mountains, or immerse yourself in the private natural hot springs in Omarama.

Auckland

Auckland is the largest city the economic capital of New Zealand. Popularly known as the City of the Sails due to its thousands of sailboats, each part of this cosmopolitan city has a story of its own. Located between Northland and the green hills of Waikato with ancient extinct volcanoes, the Auckland lies on a narrow isthmus between Manukau Bay and Hauraki Gulf. Climb to the top floor of the iconic Sky Tower to enjoy the incredible views of the city and dine in one of the two restaurants that offer panoramic views. Experience a slice of New Zealand’s history in the Auckland War Memorial Museum, New Zealand Maritime Museum, and Auckland Art Gallery. Get close to nature by hiking on the extinct volcanoes of Mt Eden and Mt. Albert. Auckland has been continuously voted among the most livable cities in the world – another reason to visit the city.

Wellington

Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and is nestled between the sea and mountains, at the southern tip of the Island of the North Island. The city has plenty of green spaces throughout the city and wild beaches just minutes from downtown. On the same day, you can take the funicular up to the botanical gardens, visit the National Museum of Te Papa Tongarewa, enjoy a delicious dinner with local wine at Lambton Quay and discover the kiwis in Zealandia Sanctuary. And if that’s not enough, Kapiti Island and Martinborough are less than two hours away by road. Cuba street is probably the liveliest areas of the city where you can dine, shop, indulge in activities, and immerse in the cultural vibe of the city.

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Brazil: Kaleidoscope of Cultures and Landscapes

South America’s largest nation could keep you exploring for decades. Brazil has the Amazon, the Pantanal, and São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, just for starters. You’ll also find ethnically diverse culture, colonial architecture, remnants of mining and rubber boomtowns, and a rich artistic and musical heritage. With so much ground to cover—literally—you’ll need to plan your trip carefully and be realistic about how much you can fit into your days in Brazil.

A multifaceted, multicultural society, Brazil is fraught with contradictions. Carnaval, capoeira, beaches, fashion models and soccer stars, all-you-can-eat steakhouses, caipirinhas, and hammocks are a visitor’s dream, even as the country still contends with crime and poverty. As the legendary Bossa Nova composer Tom Jobim once put it: “Brazil is not for beginners.” For all their society’s complexities, Brazilians tend to be open and friendly towards travelers.

Rio de Janeiro

Rife with contrasts and contradictions, Rio de Janeiro is mesmerizing and musical, complex and sometimes chaotic, but never, ever dull. It possesses enough historical, cultural, and natural attractions to keep you occupied for months. The best way to tap into its pulse is by ignoring the clock, dispensing with schedules, and succumbing to its relaxing rhythms. Go with the Carioca—the term for a citizen of Rio—slow by not planning too much, and know that lolling on a mountain-fringed beach with an agua de coco (coconut water) and sitting in a neighborhood bar listening to samba and watching the world go by, count as Rio experiences, too. Tightly hemmed in between the South Atlantic and the foothills of the Serra do Mar, Rio provides an easy escape from the hustle of the city. The thing about Rio is that, aside from being drop-dead gorgeous, it’s suffused with a spirit of alegria (joy) that makes it quite simple, and effortlessly, fun.

São Paulo

São Paulo is as famous for its concrete as Rio is for its beaches. But don’t let that put you off. São Paulo may not have those incredible Rio views, that surf, that sea, but it is a beauty – if only behind closed doors. No city in Latin America can compete for the sheer variety and quality of restaurants, shops, hotels, and nightlife. This is where South America meets for business, where Brazil studies seriously, and where it produces everything from airplanes to the finest fashion south of New York. Visit Banespa or Terraço Itália (rooftop viewpoints) late in the day for sweeping panoramas of the city’s skyscraper skyline. Head to the Jardins neighborhood to browse Brazil’s best boutiques, sample the excellent collection of art at São Paulo Art Museum, and enjoy award-winning Brazilian food in the country’s two best restaurants, DOM in Jardins and Mani in Pinheiros.

Northeast Brazil

Brazil’s Northeast is one of South America’s great secrets, right up there with the Peruvian Andes or the Brazilian Amazon for spectacular natural beauty. Thousands of miles of white-sand beaches are backed by swaying coconut groves, sweeping sand dune deserts or caramel-covered crumbling cliffs. Fishing villages turned low-key traveler towns – like Jericoacoara, Pipa, and Canoa Quebrada. The coral sea is pocked with little islands like Fernando de Noronha fringed with turquoise bays and pristine reefs. The Sertão of the rugged interior is as wild and empty as the Australian outback with thornbush and cactus broken by beehive-dome mountains and towering table-top mountains daubed with prehistoric cave paintings. And then there are the cities and towns, such as colonial Portuguese São Cristóvão and Olinda with sugar-cube cottages, the crumbling Afro-Brazilian São Luis, and Recife with its decaying baroque cathedrals and art museums.

Western Brazil

Western Brazil covers a continental area, stretching from the Iguazu Falls in the far southwest to the northern reaches of the Amazon on the borders of Colombia and Venezuela. This is Brazil at its wildest, with a variety of terrain and scenery awe-inspiring in its scale. Iguazu is a waterfall as wide as a London borough, while the Pantanal is a wetland bigger than most US states. It’s the Serengeti of South America, and you shouldn’t miss it even if you have a passing interest in wildlife. Then there’s the Amazon basin itself: more than twice the size of India, with mountains over 2 miles high, sweeping savannahs and the most extensive tracts of tropical rainforest on the planet. The whole area is cut by myriad rivers, including three of the 10 biggest rivers in the world by water volume. And with such expanse comes great variety, from powdery white sand beaches of the Tapajos River and Marajo Island to the remote forests of the upper Rio Negro and Anavilhanas archipelago.

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Norway: The Land of Dramatic Landscapes and Intriguing History

The natural spectacle of Norway is hard to exaggerate. The fame of the beautiful fjords, with their incredibly steep cliffs that cut the coasts, is totally deserved. But Norway is also a land of magnificent glaciers, which meander from the ice fields that are among the largest in Europe. The mountainous terrain of the interior resembles the walls of a natural fortress. And then there is, of course, the immaculate appeal of the Arctic. These geological formations are the framework of charismatic flora and fauna like reindeer, fjord horses, and musk oxen. Here are the top five places that take you to some of the most enchanting corners of Norway:

Tromsø

Tromsø is the largest city in northern Norway, and its 18th-century wooden houses add charm to the city in winters. Here you can explore museums and art galleries, relax in alpine gardens and experience two spectacular natural phenomena: the midnight sun and northern lights. Tromsø is an ideal destination for outdoor adventures throughout the year, mainly in the nearby Lyngen Alps. In winter, you can go for polar fishing, cross-country skiing, husky sledding or snowmobiling. During the relatively warm summer months, you can go horseback riding, walk along the glaciers and hike in the woods.

Lofoten Islands

Located in the north of the country Lofoten Island is an archipelago with a relatively warmer microclimate despite being well above the Arctic Circle. The steep pointy mountains surround the postcard-like villages inhabited by a large number of artists and fishermen. Watch for the old red fishing cabins, docked boats, and cod kept for drying as you hop from one island to another on a ferry, car, bus or bicycle. The islands are linked by bridges, so it’s easy to get around the region. In addition to exploring the culture, you can go hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, and deep-sea fishing.

Bergen

Bergen is the second largest city of Norway and acts as a gateway to the majestic fjords. From the staircase of colorful wooden buildings along the slopes of the Seven Mountains, it seems like this place is drawn straight from a fairy tale. It was one of the most prominent cities of Medieval Europe and still carries the vestiges of the Vikings. Hop from one art museum to another, ride to the top of Mount Fløyen on the Fløibanen funicular railway, and peek into Bergen’s ancient past. When adventure calls, set off for a hike or mountain biking on the surrounding mountains and when tiredness creeps in, laze on the historic Wharf and watch the fishing ferries come and go.

Oslo

Protected by fjords dotted with islands and surrounded by forests and lakes, Oslo is the only European capital where you can ski a few minutes from the city. Nature, history, and modern buildings blend perfectly in Oslo. The city boasts more than a thousand years of history, although it was not until 1905 when it became the capital of an independent Norway. After renewing its maritime façade and inaugurating several museums, the Norwegian capital, with nearly a million inhabitants, is one of the most significant artistic hubs of Scandinavia. Stroll around Karl Johans Gate, the main artery that runs through the heart of the city. Here you will come across Oslo Cathedral, Central Market, the Parliament, University of Oslo, and the iconic National Theater. On the opposite end of the avenue, the Royal Palace is perched on a hill.  Once the residence of the Norwegian kings, today the palace and its gardens are open to the public. Town Hall, Opera House, Aker Brygge, Grønland, and Grünerløkka are other places worth visiting.

Stavanger

Stavanger is known as the oil-city of Norway. Besides the oil, Stavanger is like a blank sheet of paper and not only because of its neat houses in the old town, where it seems you will blemish them if you touch them. But also because it is the outdoor studio for hundreds of artists who, for 15 years, have let their imagination fly, turning the city into a work of art that you never get tired of admiring. Walk around the old town among the well-preserved wooden houses and visit some of the city’s best museums such as Stavanger Art Museum and Norwegian Petroleum Museum.  Stavanger also acts as the gateway to two of Norway’s iconic landmarks: Lysefjord and Preikestolen. Lysefjord has 4,444 wooden steps (world’s largest) that take you to an altitude of 740 meters, and Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) was named as the best viewing platform in the world by Lonely Planet.

 

Italy: Cradle of European Art and Culture

Drone Videos of Italy

Italy’s enchanting countryside, great food, splendid architecture, and glorious history make it one of the most diverse and excellent travel destinations. From the icy Alps in the north to the turquoise Mediterranean waters in the south, Italy has a treasure of natural wonders. Italy has been the birthplace of art-maestros and creative legends like Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Botticelli, whose art and architecture has shaped the Western world. Heart of the Roman Empire and home of the Renaissance, this country holds thousands of years of untold stories to discover. With treasures of art, historic buildings, fascinating culture, and beautiful landscapes, Italy is loved by the travelers from all over the world. Here are the top 7 destinations which are incredibly beautiful and equally well-rooted to their heritage.

Rome

No other city in the world is at par with Rome’s artistic excellence. Over the centuries, the “Eternal City” has been an inspiration for the top artists and architects. The result reflects the current heritage of Rome. The city is marked with ancient statues, Byzantine mosaics, and baroque facades adorning the museums, churches, and piazzas. Rome boasts of having an unusually high concentration of creative geniuses – Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raphael, Bernini, and many others. Monuments like Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Vatican Museums, and Pantheon opens a vista into the glorious Roman history.

Florence

Birthplace of Renaissance, Florence is as aesthetic as it is artistic. Although it is small enough to be covered on foot, Florence is packed with artistic treasures, historic buildings and delicious eateries. Its rustic narrow streets seem to be unchanged with time and evoke a feeling of romance that can’t be translated into words. From Da Vinci at Renaissance to present day Gucci, Florence has always been the home of design tycoons. Along with art and history that the city has to offer, it also provides plenty of opportunities for activities like food tours, exploring the wineries, and experiencing the lively nightlife of Florence.

Milan

Being Italy’s business capital, Milan is Italy’s banking, media, and industry hub. It is a city which has established itself as a glamour and fashion magnate, a city which follows football like a religion and is a shopper’s paradise. Milan’s culture is an amalgamation of the old and modern, traditional and chic. Although Milan represents modern Italy, there is a layer of heritage hiding beneath its fast-paced lifestyle. The splendid Gothic cathedral, Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, and the Gothic Duomo still hold Milan attached to its roots.

Venice

Venice is a city which seems to be taken straight out of fairy tales. The winding streets and peach-colored Venetian buildings line the banks of a network of canals. This unique layout of Venice makes it one of the most romantic cities in the world.  Venice has been the heart of numerous empires, and their influence shows in its fascinating mix of cultures – Roman, Ottoman, Byzantine, and Italian. Along with world-class galleries, museums, and churches, the narrow labyrinth passages leading to San Marco and the mystic Palazzo Ducale add to the glory of this city.

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre, which is translated to “five lands”, is a group of five small towns beautifully perched along the Italian Riviera. Once an undiscovered gem, Cinque Terre has gained massive popularity in the last decade or two, but its enchanting ambiance is still prevalent. This small group of towns offers dramatic scenery of the turquoise waters, rocky coasts, and vibrant homes. With old castles and churches marking the hillside meadows, the surrounding of Cinque Terre itself is fascinating. Although Cinque Terre is relatively new on the tourist map, a part of it still reflects the pre-medieval days.

Amalfi Coast

Bathed by the Tyrrhenian Sea, Amalfi Coast is located on the peninsula of Sorrento in the southern Italy. The beautiful coastal route meanders along vineyards, lemon groves, and pastel-colored small towns perched on the edge of the cliffs. Whether you’re traveling to Praiano, Positano, or Ravello, every bend along the 28-mile coastal highway invites you to stop and take photos.

Vicenza

To deviate from the typical tourist routes and explore real Italy, visit Vicenza: a hidden gem just an hour’s drive from Venice. It was the former home of the famous Italian Renaissance architect Palladio, so as you can imagine, the city is full of architectural wonders. Our favorite is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Teatro Olimpico, a 16th-century theater which is hard to believe that it was once a prison.

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AirVūz Partners with Rotor Riot for New Drone Web Series

Two of the biggest names in the drone industry are teaming up to provide a new series of content to fans around the world.

AirVuz.com and Rotor Riot have partnered to unveil “Rotor Riot Presents:” The self-described “semi-fictional, satirical entertainment” series features some of the top FPV (first-person view) drone pilots in the world. The first episode premiered on AirVūz this week and featured Philadelphia-based pilot Botgrinder. Each episode of the series will showcase a different FPV pilot.

In the inaugural episode, Botgrinder flies with fellow pilots Zoroe and Cricket as they attempt to pull off a challenging maneuver called the “Philly Corkscrew.” Botgrinder thinks his ticket to making it big in the FPV world is by getting noticed by Rotor Riot — and that means executing this tough stunt. Viewers who want to see if Botrgrinder can complete it will have to watch through the end of the episode.

AirVūz was launched in 2015 and is the host site of thousands of drone videos and photographs from all over the world. In addition to promoting the work of its global community of content creators, AirVūz also produces original drone-related content.

Rotor Riot was founded in 2015 by Chad Kapper after he saw the rise in popularity of drone racing and FPV drones. Rotor Riot is a collaborative of some of the world’s top drone pilots and boasts one of the largest drone-specific groups on Facebook, with more than 27,000 fans active in the group.

“I could tell this was going to be a thing and a movement and a lifestyle, so I wanted to create a brand that preserved and gave that culture a rally point,” Kapper said. “That’s what Rotor Riot is.”

Rotor Riot also offers a popular podcast for FPV pilots and is “always striving to entertain, educate and inspire people through kick-ass content.” Now its latest creation, “Rotor Riot Presents:” offers a glimpse into the different styles of drone pilots all over the world.

Kapper said the show takes a satirical approach: “We wanted to exaggerate things for the sake of entertainment and have fun with it. But the basis and foundation comes from a very real place, and you can’t make that up.”

Ready-to-fly FPV drones

If you’ve ever watched FPV videos, you’ve probably had the same thought as everyone else: that looks like a ton of fun.

But you’ve also perhaps had the same question as many others watching those videos: how do I get into FPV drones? Most pilots that fly FPV (first-person view) build custom quadcopters from a variety of different parts. That involves some basic knowledge of electronics and soldering, which isn’t a skill that everyone has — especially those of us who are used to flying camera drones that are ready to fly right out of the box.

Luckily for anyone looking to get into FPV drones, more and more companies are building ready-to-fly FPV mini quads with everything already assembled. All the pilot needs is a controller and goggles, and then pair those with the drone and you’re ready to go.

Drone manufacturer Teal has created the Teal Sport, an FPV drone that boasts it can fly 80 mph out of the box. The drone is modular, meaning replacing an arm or a motor is much easier than custom-build quads. Both the Racer and Freestyle models of the Teal Sport retail for $499.

Similarly, Uvify recently showcased its Draco drone at AUVSI Xponential in Denver. Like the Teal Sport, the Draco is modular and allows pilots to swap out an arm of the drone if things break or need repairs. Uvify offers both an analog and a digital version of the drone with regards to its video quality.

Even some of the best FPV pilots in the world enjoy flying pre-built quads. That list includes Shaun Taylor, who recently won a race at Xponential with the EMAX Hawk 5 ready-to-fly drone.

“If you’re getting into it, or if you’re a pilot like me and maybe don’t like working on them so much anymore, it’s really great,” Taylor said. “It’s super fun to fly. … It’s faster than the rigs that I build for myself.”