Features from Around the World

For past articles click on the map below for a listing of features by area of the world -- or just scroll down enjoying the ride

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Crossing Borders

Read more about Five Rules for Wildlife Photography at 

Five Rules for Wildlife Photography by Richard and Amy Lynn

Written with a touch of humor, these rules are nonetheless serious. Everyone can take wildlife photos, here's how to pull that off.


Great adventure opportunities, gorgeous landscapes, and cosmopolitan cities -- click here to Visit Canada


Rancho Los Banos in Mexico: Hiking, Horseback Riding and Exploring

by Robert Painter" This working cattle ranch in the Sonoran desert is open to guests offering hiking, riding, and a lake for kayaking and sheer enjoyment.

Bordeaux in Baja: The Rise of Mexico's Wine Region

by Michael Cervin. Beer and tequila have always been the drinks of choice when most people visit Mexico, but Baja's wine region has a new breed of winemakers dedicated to premium wine production in spite of what many American's seem to believe. In fact, At least one wine-maker considers the area to be Mexico's Napa. Find out where to enjoy these outstanding wines.

Exploring the pleasures of Puerto Morelos on the Riviera Maya

by Laura LaBrie. Hidden on the shores of the Yucatan Peninsula, between bustling Cancun and exploding Playa Del Carmen, Puerto Morelos is a humble fishing village that still offers an authentic Mexican experience. Read more...

Mexican Mennonites: Canadian Connections

by Bob Fisher. In the 1920s, thousands of Mennonites from Manitoba would uproot themselves, leave the rich Canadian Prairie, and start all over again in Chihuahua, a remote and semi-arid state in northern Mexico. This is their story.


So much to see and do -- click here to Visit the USA

Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean

Exploring Cuba Through Dance (and a bit of baseball) by Carrie Seidman

As I boarded the plane at Havana's Jose Marti Airport to return to Tampa after a week-long stay in Cuba I felt pulled in two directions. Part of me couldn't wait to sit down to go to the bathroom, run on a level sidewalk and breath something other than exhaust-filled air. But the other part wanted never to leave this enchanting island, where music and dance are inextricably woven into the fabric of daily life. In Cuba the pace is unhurried and the people are as warm as the humid air.

Cuba: Revisiting the Bay of Pigs Invasion

by Mari Kane We're on the road to the Bay of Pigs in a "taxi" with Chuchy to revisit April, 1961 when a CIA-backed paramilitary group launched an unsuccessful invasion of Cuba in an attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro. It took place at Bay of Pigs which is actually a local fish.

Cienfuegos, Cuba: Its lost (and found) palaces

by Augustin Marck. Cienfuegos is one of the pearls of Cuba. Cubanos call it "Perla del Sur" (the pearl of the south). The city was founded in 1819 by the French who came in from Haiti (which at the time was a French colony). Located around a magnificent bay, the city sometimes looks like Paris. It developed quickly in the first of the 20th century thanks to trade, and later to gambling, casinos, and resorts. It was here that the famous musician Benny More (Bartolome Maximiliano More Gutierrez), the Cuban singer, began his career.

Over the years many buildings as gorgeous and ornate as any palace were built across the cities of Cuba. One city rich in these palaces is Cienfeugos on the south-western coast. They are the remnants of this rich historical past. The Old Mansions of Cienfuegos Cuba

Havana Cuba: Fun and a bit of fleecing

by Lesley Stones.
The word "gullible" must have been hovering over our heads in a visible aura as we strolled aimlessly through Havana. The sting came swiftly in the sexy Latino shape of slick-haired Jose and his stunning sister Yani. It was dusk, and my tour group was gawping at grandiose colonial palaces on our first evening in Cuba. Jose instinctively picked out our self-appointed ringleader and sashayed up to her. "What are you looking for?" he asked. "Good food and great mojitos," she simpered, trying hard to act cool as she admired his slim hips and seductive eyes.

Day Trips from Ponce Puerto Rico

by Neala Schwartzberg. Not only is Ponce Puerto Rico a charming colonial city with more than enough to keep visitors intrigued, but it is also offers some fine day trips. Explore Coffin Island (yes there's a reason for that name but it isn't as ghoulish as you might think), and the wild beauty of Toro Negro Reserve. Read more about Day Trips from Ponce Puerto Rico

San Juan Puerto Rico: Things to See and Do in Old San Juan

by Neala Schwartzberg.For many visitors, San Juan is Puerto Rico. With its perfect beaches, vibrant nightlife, historic center, excellent restaurants, water activities, and a wide range of accommodations the island's largest city and capital is a difficult place to leave. And historic Old San Juan is high on the must-see list. Exploring Old San Juan Culebra Island at OffbeatTravel.com

Culebra Island, Puerto Rico - Get away from it all

by Neala Schwartzberg. The tiny island of Culebra, just off the coast of Puerto Rico, is still the sleepy, laid-back island paradise that we search for, but so rarely find. Don't look for glitz or glamour here, instead, look for friendly people, and laid-back island lifestyle, fresh seafood, and delicious traditional Puerto Rican cooking. Swim, snorkle, explore the coral reefs, eat, rest, kayak, and hike. Enjoy some of the finest beaches in the world. Read more about Culebra

Pleasures of Ponce, Puerto Rico

by Neala Schwartzberg. Brilliant blue sky, sunshine, warm sandy beaches and turquoise sea. It's a delicious moment, made even more sweet by the fact that back home it's below freezing. But even if the weather up north was warm, it would still be a golden time to visit Ponce. This smaller sibling to San Juan has enough amenities to be comfortable but has not yet become a tourism magnet.

St. Kitts: A Perfect Little Island with Great Diving (and more)

by Denise Mattia. Whether disembarking a cruise ship for the day or arriving by plane every traveler passes through Basseterre, the charming capital of St. Kitts. Certainly Basseterre is wortth a stroll and exploration, but when it comes to diving, St. Kitts there's fun of a different nature under St. Kitts with the three dive operations and a watersports center on the island. There's a lot to do in St. Kitts and the high standards of the operations, hotels and restaurants and the polite Kittitians guarantee visitors a wonderful holiday. And, of the photos you can take underwater -- enjoy the video. Read about Diving in St. Kitts

St. Kitts, West Indies: Historic Discoveries on an Unpretentious Caribbean Island

by Shelley Seale. The small island of St. Kitts in the West Indies may be one of the friendliest, least ostentatious spots in the Caribbean. It's a small island – 23 miles long by 5 across and only 68 square miles – and its sister Nevis is even smaller at 36 square miles. Read more about St. Kitts

Central and South America


Tango Hotels: Buenos Aires, Argentina Treasures

by Robert Painter. Don't think for one moment that Tango is something you do once in a while when you have a free Saturday night with nothing else to occupy your time. In Argentina, tango is far more than just a dance. Tango is a lifestyle. Some might even call it a life. It definitely has a pulse and a rhythm that pervades Buenos Aires. Read more...


Read more about Belize and Lamanai at http://www.offbeattravel.com/belize-lamanai-mayan-ruins-jungle-cruises.html

Northern Belize Lamanai: Jungle Cruises, Mayan Ruins and Bamboo Chicken by Vickie Lillo

We begin our trek through the woodlands. En route to the ruins, we hear the frenzied rustling of tree branches. In the cloying heat of the rainforest, the cedro (British Honduras cedar) showers us with falling leaves, thanks to the crazy antics of a Howler monkey convinced he's a gymnast. With a vociferous bark that sends the hairs bristling on the nape of our necks, he catapults himself onto the far-flung limb of a wild coffee tree. We're having quite a Belize adventure


Read more about the Beautiful Desolation of Potosi and Uyuni at http://www.offbeattravel.com/bolivia-potosi-uyuni-salt-flat-exploration.html

The Beautiful Desolation of Southern Bolivia: Potosi Region and Uyuni Salt Flat and a Hotel of Salt by Kelly Acheson

Southern Bolivia is a desolate, barren, and beautiful expanse of desert, characterized by salt flats and brilliant colored lagoons. Only jeeps and 4x4s can traverse this harsh landscape


Northern Colombia: From Cartagena to the forests of Tayrona and El Totumo Mud Volcano by Vickie Lillo

Want adventure? There are adventures to be found in Northern Colombia -- From Cartagena to the forests of Tayrona and El Totumo Mud Volcano

Costa Rica

Idyllic Costa Rica: ATVs, rafting, and thermal soaks by Vickie Lillo

It was a whirlwind five days of hiking, rafting, and ATV riding--a rejuvenating soak in the therapeutic mineral waters. And all of it was great. Read more about Rafting and ATV -- Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Adventure: Thermal pools, whitewater tubing and rappelling by Vickie Lillo

My husband Gustavo slathers a thick layer of volcanic mud over my forearms and across my face with a paintbrush. With my upper body as his canvas, he daubs the ash-colored ooze like an artist decorating his muse. Of course, he is fully aware that soon I'll be the one dabbling in the muck and he, too, will be relegated to a muddy fresco. Read more about this Excellent Costa Rica Adventure


Traditions in Chile's Archipelago of Chiloé Curanto Cooking and Palafitos Houses on Stilts by Vickie Lillo

I'm not a fish lover by nature, but we have come to this lovely island of Chiloé specifically for the local specialty, el curanto. And the houses are unusual too.

Atacama Desert in Chile: salt flats, hot springs and geysers, and flamingos

by Vickie Lillo. I strapped on my headlamp, tucking a few wisps of stray hair under the elastic band, and began the ascent. I was hanging towards the back of the tourist hiking pack; my footprints mingled one by one with the hundreds of others that had tread before me. Breathing was arduous and strained at this elevation. Ten thousand feet above sea level. I could only take baby steps up the steep hill of endless shifting sand and pulverized stone -- La Gran Duna (The Great Dune), a major attraction in Northern Chile's Atacama Desert. But there are others. And where else can you go from can't-catch-your-breath to colorful flamingo? Read about Atacama Desert in Chile: salt flats, hot springs and geysers, and flamingos
Chile is the land of Pablo Neruda

Chile: Land of Pablo Neruda, from Santiago to Valparaiso

by Shelley Seale. Most visits to Chile begin in Santiago, with a vibe of energy that blends the traditional with cosmopolitan modernity. The rich cultural scene and abundance of 19th century Beaux-Arts architecture gives it a European feel, with a decidedly South American flavor.

And it is the home to celebrated Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda, who is still lovingly embraced by Chileans today in spite of his lengthy exile from his own home country. Neruda kept several homes in Chile, for his family or mistresses, and although two of them were raided and ransacked following the Pinochet coup and Neruda's death in 1973, all three houses are open to the public today. Read about Pablo Neruda in Chile


Read more about exploring colonial Antigua Guatemala at https://www.offbeattravel.com/antigua-guatemala-colonial-city-tour.html

A Laidback Tour of Colonial Antigua Guatemala by Troy Herrick

A leisurely tour through the unspoiled atmosphere of colonial Antigua is a feast for your senses. Combine well-preserved colonial buildings, pastel coloured homes and cobblestone streets with the spontaneity of ferreting out undiscovered tourist treasures and you have the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is Antigua Guatemala.


A Destination Guide to Magical Granada, Nicaragua by Eleni Gage

When my husband's work as a coffee trader took us and our toddler daughter to Granada, Nicaragua, for seven months, I didn't know what to expect. What I found was a stunning, somewhat surreal, little city. Granada, Nicaragua is magical.

Orchid Hunting, birdwatching, and canyoning in Nicaragua

by Vickie Lillo. I stepped outside my cabin at La Posada de Sonada in northern Nicaragua and it was like stepping back in time. A thick mist from the early morning's thundershower had settled across the treetops in the distance. Read more about a simple life -- a pastoral life -- n the agricultural heartland of Miraflor in the remotest highlands of Northern Nicaragua.


Floating Through the Backwater of the Panama Canal

by Vickie Lillo. A slight torrid breeze swept across the surface of Lago Gatun, barely enough to ripple the waters of the lake. Iridescent dragonflies skittered in circles near the outgrowth of thick vegetation along the shore...trolling for mosquitoes. Birds chattered loudly in the canopy of the surrounding rainforest. Rat-a-tat-tat, a Crimson-Crested woodpecker thrummed his beak against the bark of an unsuspecting tree, like a ferocious drill bit. Rat-a-tat-tat...the yammering began anew. Across the slough, a mantled howler monkey barked, followed by a rustling in the treetops. The sounds of the Panamanian jungle at play. Read more about Fishing and Houseboating on the Panama Canal


Lima Peru: Day trips to temples, funky fishing villages, and more

by Troy Herrick. Many tourists simply pass through Lima on their way to Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. Those who do visit the capital often limit their stay to a few days and only explore the colonial center and the local museums. That is a shame because the coast south of Lima offers so much more as you will discover with these unique and memorable daytrips. Read more...

The Nazca Lines: Ancient art in the desert

by Troy Herrick. Art on a grand scale, monstrous drawings, mysterious figures and baffling lines are just not adequate enough to describe Nazca's most famous attraction. Spread over 100 square miles of one of the driest, most inhospitable places on earth, the Nazca (Nasca) Lines transform a barren desert plateau in southern Peru into an elaborate artistic canvas. Read more...

24 Hours in Quito: A Guide to one perfect day in Ecuador's Capital

by Rick Neal. The stunning colonial architecture of Quito's revitalized Old Town makes Ecuador's capital city a must-see travel destination. Quito's top attraction is its historic Old Town, the Centro Historico, which is where I'm headed today. It's only a ten-minute cab ride from my hotel, but I decide to take advantage of the balmy weather and make the forty-minute trek on foot. Read about 24 Hours in Quito: A Guide to one perfect day in Ecuador's Capital

Exploring Isabela of the Galapagos Islands: Individual tours for volcano trekking, bike riding, and snorkeling

by Vickie Lillo. I thought about that lone penguin shrilling on his perch. I thought about those boobies with the bright turquoise feet, doing their little mating dance. If you wanted to find the road less traveled in the Galapagos, all you really had to do was show up. Because the entire archipelago is off the beaten path. Read about Exploring Isabela, Galapagos on Your Own

Read more about Grytviken at http://www.offbeattravel.com/grytviken-south-georgia-antarctica-whaling-history.html


The Harsh Legacy of Grytviken, Antarctica

by Dave G. Houser. Grytviken: A marvel of whale-slaughtering efficiency at its zenith between the two World Wars, Grytviken whaling station could process up to 25 whales, averaging 60 -70 feet long, in 24 hours. Closed for nearly five decades, Antarctica's first whaling station is a rusting reminder of environmental irresponsibility...and a haunting memorial to both hunter and hunted.

Read more  at http://www.offbeattravel.com/iceland-horseback-riding-across-an-exotic-land.html

Iceland and Greenland

Horseback Riding Across Iceland by Ann Jamieson

If you're thinking about taking a riding vacation, you're probably considering Ireland, or maybe Tuscany, Italy, or perhaps a cattle drive in Montana. But how about something really different? How about Iceland with its glorious, exotic landscape. Iceland is becoming an ever more popular destination for riders, with, horse touring being one of the fastest growing businesses.

Three Amazing Days In Western Iceland

by Patrice Raplee Iceland is a terrain of extreme contrasts; it holds an ethereal splendor in the dark wintery months and a beguiling expanse of intense beauty in the spring and summer. The nearly perpetual daylight in this period allows for wide-ranging explorations of the country: from snow-capped peaks, glaciers and volcanoes, to natural, hot springs and rugged landscapes. With a wealth of activities that traverse this pristine land, Iceland beckons to the adventurous.



Read more about Art Nouveau in Brussels at https://www.offbeattravel.com/brussels-art-nouveau-do-it-yourself-dyi-tour.html

The Art Nouveau DIY tour of Brussels by Neala McCarten

No visit to Brussels would be complete without seeing the architectural gems of the Art Nouveau period, a short-lived but highly distinctive style that influenced everything from buildings to jewelry. It was a cultural movement that sought to fuse fine and applied arts to create a complete and integrated design and living environment. Read more about the not-to-be-missed Art Nouveau highlights.

Dinant Belgium: Celebrating famous son Adolphe Sax, music, and history (and a bit of beer) by Neala McCarten

It's impossible to miss the connection between the endearing and indomitable town of Dinant and famous son Adolphe Sax, without whom where would jazz be? But there is far more to discover in Dinant.

Read about Falling in Love with Bruge (while avoid the crowds) 

How to Love Bruges (Brugge) Despite the Crowds by Neala McCarten

I thought I'd never enjoy this tourist-busy city, but I did. Brugge wasn't the city I remembered from years ago, but there is still a lot to love in Bruges

Five Surprising Things to do in Antwerp by Neala McCarten

One of the largest ports in the world (it is ranked 15th by World Shipping Council) Antwerp is famous for being the largest center for diamonds in the world. It is also an unexpectedly quirky and fun city.

Ghent, Belgium: Attractions, Tours, and even a Time Lord

by Patrice Raplee. It is past dusk on a warm summer's evening and the Belfry's haunting carillon bells ring out across the city of medieval architecture and shimmering canals. Visitors and residents stroll beneath Ghent's Belfort, occasionally glancing up at the Tower's clock face, but are unaware of the Time Guardian, who winds the clock, also alters time. Read more...

Battlefield City: Exploring Ypres, Belgium and World War I

by Robert Mueller. Ypres (Ieper in the local Flemish dialect) has long been a popular destination for English tourists interested in visiting First World War battlefields. The city is well suited to serving their needs with hotels, restaurants, and shops all with English-speaking staff. But the past saw the most horrific trench warfare culminating in the Battle of Passchendaele only 7.5 miles to the northwest. Read more...

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Read more about the history and places of Sarajevo at http://www.offbeattravel.com/sarajevo-history-sites.html

Yesterday and Today in Sarajevo by Julian Walker

I was in Sarajevo to find the place the First World War started. It was not easy to find, but evidence of more recent atrocities were. Memories are long in The Balkans, contrasts and contradictions are all around. History is always in your face, reminding you nothing stays the same for long in this most fascinating corner of Europe with Sarajevo at its centre.


Rejuvenating the Psyche in Losinj Croatia by Denise Mattia

Pine trees appear like dark brush strokes against a mauve sky, framing Losinj off the northern Adriatic coast of Croatia. Visitors, mostly Europeans, come to this enchanting, herb-enriched island to experience the health and beauty benefits for which it is famous.

Czech Republic

Three Top Castles and Chateaus in the Czech Republic: Bouzov Castle, Pernstejn Castle, and Vranov nad Dyji Chateau

by Tracy Burns. Castles and chateaus are sprinkled throughout the Czech Republic, but my favorites are located in Moravia. Most tourists do not visit Moravia -- they tend to concentrate on Prague and its immediate environs. The trio of castles and chateaus is situated not far from the historically significant cities of Olomouc, Brno and Znojmo. Bouzov Castle has a fairy tale appearance while Pernstejn Castle exudes an imposing, Gothic ambience. Vranov nad Dyji Chateau is more intimate yet just as impressive. Three Castles You'll Love

The Ghosts of Prague: Kafka, history, and more

by Nicholas Klenske. Whether it is the ghost of a classic fairytale kingdom of medieval castles and tin-covered knights, the failed ghost of communism, the ghosts of saints, or the ghosts of sinners. We all come to Prague with a ghost to chase.

England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland

Read more about the Secrets of St. Paul at

Secrets of London's St. Paul's Cathedral by Duncan JD Smith

For fourteen centuries a cathedral dedicated to Saint Paul has stood on the summit of Ludgate Hill. Despite being a well-known building, St. Paul's still retains some secrets.

The Doctor Who Experience

by Patrice Raplee For fans of Doctor Who, Cardiff Wales is the place to go.

Ruthin Gaol: Explore a Victorian Prison by Keith Kellett

Ruthin Goal is a fascinating Victorian prison that is unfortunately off most people's to visit list. But here's why it should definitely be on your must visit this old-style prison list.

Central London's Regent Street: From Celeb Restaurants To Chic Boutiques by Patrice Raplee

London, England, a destination where chic meets heritage in a balance that graces the city's heart. Stroll any street in Central London and you'll find a stylish parade of cutting-edge fashion and stunning architecture. However, the thoroughfare that defines fashion and regal architecture is Regent Street. Originally designed as Europe's initial shopping street by John Nash in 1811, this posh avenue with its elegant columns, wide-boulevard and prominent, Portland Stone Facades is premiere for luxury shopping, flagship stores, restaurants and hotels.

Seven Dials: London's exciting West End by Patrice Raplee

London, England's West End is renowned for its globally esteemed theater district and Covent Garden, but you'll find fabulous boutique hotels, British and international labels, as well as exclusive, independent shops and restaurants that culminate in one of London's best shopping and lifestyle destinations.

Cavendish Hotel in London: Posh luxury with Duchess of Jermyn Street history by Patrice Raplee

The fabulous Cavendish London Hotel, situated in the heart of historic St. James's on Jermyn Street, is one of the city's most centrally located hotels. With a fascinating 200-year history, royalty and artists to actors and politicians have visited the Cavendish. Read more about Traveling Raad Ny Foillan on the Isle of Man at http://www.offbeattravel.com/raad-ny-foillan-isle-of-man.html

Traveling Raad Ny Foillan on the Isle of Man by Glen Cowley

Mother nature smiled upon us as we set about our day's venture exploring the southern shore of Ellan Vannin, the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man's coast breaths from wild abandon on rocky shores to placid calm in sheltered bays with everything in between.

Eating London: A Food Inspired Journey

by Gina Samarotto. Once upon a time, not so very long ago visitors to London could expect many things, but not a vast selection of fabulous food. That's changed. options for eating in London have never tasted better.

Wiltshire England: Ancient, beautiful, mystical

by Patrice Raplee. Wiltshire England offers charming towns but it is also home to Stonehenge and nearby Avebury. This guide shares the history and is a guide to very special Wiltshire

England's Somerset County: Alluring City Of Bath

by Patrice Raplee The entire city of Bath, England, is listed as a world heritage site, not only for the Roman baths but for the remarkable Georgian architecture and Bath Abbey as well. Moreover, global travelers visit Bath year-round to explore its history, museums, cuisine, soak in the Thermae Bath Spa and relax in the sumptuous surroundings. Read more about Historic Bath England.

Dublin Highlights

by Anna Synder. While a newcomer to Dublin may be stunned by the huge amount of things to see and experience in Dublin, don't constrain your visit to the standard Guinness Storehouse and Temple Bar areas. From vintage shops to book markets to storytelling events to glitzy nightclubs to the quaintest of old-man pubs, there is something to entice and charm travellers of all tastes, guaranteed to make your visit to Dublin unforgettable. Read some of the Dublin Highlights excerpted from her book 24 Hours in Dublin.

A Destination Guide to Liverpool

by Patrice Raplee. Liverpool, England, renowned for its rich cultural heritage, maritime history, arts and unrivalled mix of music, is a thriving and vibrant cosmopolitan city. With recent awards for the UK's friendliest city and Britain's, best nightlife destination. The accolades just keep coming for this coastal hotspot.

The London Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel: Historic luxury in the heart of the city

by Patrice Raplee. One of the most prestigious and superior four-star hotels in London, The Chesterfield Mayfair, is a perfect melange. The gorgeous boutique hotel resides in an exclusive neighborhood in the heart of the Mayfair district, located on historic Charles Street. Read more about the London Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel

Take a Tea Safari in London

by Patrice Raplee. Interested in learning and drinking tea? Take a Tea Safari through the city using this delightful guide to find the best places to sip and savor all varieties of tea

Shopping Like a Royal in London

by Patrice Raplee. Amid London's exhilarating, bustling atmosphere, trendy fashions and ever-changing cityscape, lays the foundations of history, ceremony and cultural identity. It is particularly apparent in the traditional shops and businesses that have been in residence throughout the city dating back 100-years or more. These time-honored British establishments often hold Royal Warrants and are a key attraction for those who seek quality and tradition.

British Royal Warrants are granted to individuals or companies who have recurrently provided goods or services for a minimum of five successive years to The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh (Prince Philip) or The Prince of Wales (Prince Charles); this of course was true by previous reigning royalty as well. These Royal Warrants lend prestige to the individual or company and infer quality. The establishments that hold these designations in London are exciting to browse, shop and explore. Read about Where the Royalty Shop in London

Luxury Lodging: Swinton Park in the Yorkshire Dales

by Patrice Raplee. Across the expanse of emerald colored parklands, a castle stands solid and noble against the onslaught of time. Its ivy-covered towers seem to impart a history that is alluring yet elusive, in the evening's fading light. It is here in the Yorkshire Dales that the enchanting Swinton Park beckons to the inquisitive visitor. Today, Swinton Park is a beautiful, luxury castle hotel with an estate consisting of 20,000 acres with about 200 acres of landscaped parkland, located on the immediate grounds surrounding the ancestral edifice. Read about Stay in a Castle: Swinton Park Offers Luxury and Lodging

Touring the Formidable Castles and Kirks of the Scottish Highlands

by Bobbie Green. Most Scottish Castles began as fortresses for protection against another Clan or the English. The Laird lived in the Castle and provided protection for his people and the fortress grew in size through the years according with their wealth. Most of the Kirks (churches) began small and grew through the years, according to their wealth or alliances. And many (both intact and in ruins) can be toured. Our tours through the back roads of the Scottish Highlands gave us an opportunity to visit some of these intriguing places. Read about Scotland's Castles and Keeps

Bath, England: The Romans loved it, and so did Jane Austen

by Patrice Raplee. A thin veil of mist rises from the rooftop pool, as bathers blissfully soak in the warm, natural thermal spring waters. After a relaxing immersion, the bathers indulge in a spa experience where hot stone messages, soothing aromas and heavenly water lily flotation treatments start the day at the beautiful Thermae Bath Spa in England. Read more...


Two Weeks of Trips from Nimes Through Southern France by Glen Cowley

The southern French city of Nimes has a host of sites and events within easy reach for those who come to experience it and all that is within its realm. Here's two weeks of great day trips with historic Nimes as your homebase

Saint Guilhem, France: A place caught between fact and legend by Glen Cowley

Like some giant's crown enigmatic castle-ruins rest wind-blown above Saint Guilhem au Desert, France. Their historical silence poses questions as to just what of the legend of Saint Guilhem may be true

Sete: Venice of Southern France by Glen Cowley

From the wail of gulls to the host of shipping crowding its canals this is everywhere a water world. It is no wonder it is hailed as Sete: Venice of southern France.

Touring the Battlefields of France: Orleans - City of Jeanne d'Arc

by Robert Mueller. The Gallic village of Orleans sat along the banks of the picturesque Loire River when it was conquered and destroyed by Julius Caesar in 52 BC. It became the seat of later kingdoms and wealthy because it possessed one of the few bridges across the river. The medieval city's name became forever linked to that of French heroine, Jeanne d'Arc when she lifted an English siege during the Hundred Years War in 1429. The relationship has remained strong over the past 580 years and Orleans holds a Jeanne d'Arc fête every May with a local girl selected to portray Jeanne in a dramatization of her ride into the besieged city. Read more...

French Battlefield Cities: Verdun and the battle of World War I

by Robert Mueller. No military engagement in the history of mankind was as intense, as brutal, of such duration, or as devastating as what occurred in 1916 east of the French city of Verdun. In the pleasant hills and once village-dotted fields of Lorraine, enormous armies, supported by the industrial might of the two adversaries, clashed over small strongpoints, massive fortifications, and literally miles of trench lines for nine months – only to achieve stalemate and the most horrendous casualty totals of that dreadful war. Read more...

Destination Paris: Landmarks, Monuments, and Neighborhoods

by Patrice Raplee. Paris and elan, intertwined in a never-ending liaison that forms the fabric of the city's society. Virtually every street in Paris is alive with the hum of creativity.


Stuttgart Germany Bavaria http://www.offbeattravel.com/bavaria-stuttgart-regensburg.html

Bavaria: Craft Beers, Farmer's Markets and Maultaschen to Beat the Band by Joan Gelfand

Bavaria. Home to the Stuttgart Ballet, a UNESCO world heritage site at Regensburg (a medieval city situated on the Danube) and thriving farmer's markets, a trip through Southern Germany offers a variety of flavors and cultural experiences.

Otto Weidt and his Workshop for the Blind: Saving Berlin Jews During the Holocaust by Neala McCarten

The story starts with a man coping with his growing blindness and ends as a story about a man who became one of the Righteous Among Nations at Yad Vashem. It's 1936 in Berlin, Germany. Otto Weidt, almost completely blind, becomes a brush-maker and opens his workshop to others who have lost their sight. It's called the Workshop for the Blind.

Worms, Germany: An old town rich with Jewish history and landmarks

by Neala Schwartzberg. Worms today is a quietly charming town, with a rich past of both mythic heroes and religious milestones. It was also one of the three major Jewish towns in Germany in the Middle Ages. Known as the ShUM (Shin for the community of Speyer, Waw for Worms and Mem for Mainz), the cities were centers of Jewish theology and learning. Read more...

The Treasures of Dresden

by Neala Schwartzberg. The baroque heart of Saxony still beats, the art still amazes, and the architecture still takes one's breath away. Read more...

Exploring Jewish History and Future in Berlin, Germany

by Neala Schwartzberg. To explore, to understand, to experience what it was and is to be Jewish in Germany, head to Berlin. There isn't another city in country that can match the number of sites that document, explain, or highlight Jewish life, and history. Read more...

Jewish Museum in Berlin: Exploring Jewish History and Culture

by Neala Schwartzberg. I don't know quite what I expected, but I do know it wasn't the stunning architecture, thoughtful exhibits and breadth and depth of coverage. Daniel Libeskind's modern zinc-clad structure is attached to a historic building, making the museum a true study in contrast, as well as fascinating inside and out, much of it laden with symbolism. Slideshow Read more...

The Rosenstrasse Rebellion: Berlin monument to the protest by German women to save their Jewish husbands

by Neala Schwartzberg. On February 27, 1943, the war was going poorly for the German army, but Hitler was still bothered by the problem of the 2,000 Jewish men remaining in Berlin. He wanted to exterminate all the Jews, but he didn't count on the courage of their German wives. Slideshow

Jewish Travel in Berlin Germany: The Holocaust Memorial

by Neala Schwartzberg. There is, perhaps, no other city in Germany that had been both the quintessence of the flourishing of Jewish German life, and its destruction. But the cities and the country are working with the kernel of the Jewish population to create a new era. Even though my family left the area in the 1890s and I have never had real ties to Germany, it felt like a completion to visit, freeing me to begin to enjoy the real charms of the country. It's not always a happy experience, but for me, it was a truly important experience.

Heidelberg, Germany: The Romantic Schloss, Pharmaceutical Museum

by Neala McCarten. Sprawling across acres and centuries, Heidelberg's castle, or Schloss, was the residence of the Palatinate electors, the rulers of Heidelberg, from the 13th to the 18th century. The history of Heidelberg is mirrored in the history of the Schloss from magnificence, to ruin, and rebirth. The restored building are glorious and gilded. The ruins are impossibly romantic.

Heidelberg, Germany: Old Town, Hauptstrasse, Heidelberg University, and Student Kisses on the Neckar River

by Neala McCarten. Situated along the Neckar River, Heidelberg has had a rich and complex history, including being burned to the ground in 1693 by the troops of Louis XIV. Although almost nothing is left of its origins, the last 450 years have provided everything from a student prison to a semi-restored magnificent Schloss (castle).


Exploring Nea Kamini Santorini

by Keith Kellett
We thought we'd be clever. We would avoid the toil up the cliff at Thira on Santorini or the long wait for the chairlift; in fact, we would avoid the main island altogether. We would explore the outlying volcanic island of Nea Kamini

Guide to Visiting Naxos Greece: Ancient History, Spectacular Beaches and Abandoned Villages

by Ruth Kozak Naxos is an intriguing island with a fascinating history. Naxos Greece also offers a unique drink kitron, great beaches, and charming villages.

Visiting Knossos Palace: Crete's History

by Michael Cervin. The Palace of Knossos is one of four original palaces built 4,000 years ago, which acted as the cultural and spiritual hubs on the island. I arrived with the throngs of people to view this amazing complex during the stillness of a hot July day, the sounds of the cicadas and peacocks offering a counterpoint to the various languages of tour groups from far off countries. At first glance the Palace seems disjointed and unimpressive; a smattering of large hewn stones atop a small mountain.

But as you make your way across the upper flat portion, you begin to realize the depth that the Palace goes to, the complexity of not only the construction of a 22,000 square meter project, but the idea that, even back then, there was a sense of proper architecture, order, and a desire to live life in connection with ones surroundings. Read about The Palace at Knossos Crete

Monastiraki of Athens: Remnants of the Ottoman Turks

by Ruth Kozak Athens is the center of Greek history as well as occupation by the Ottoman Turks, this article is a guide to exploring that history, including the area known as Monastiraki


Walk of the Gods: Exploring Positano, Amalfi, and Naples

by Lesley Stones. I gave up counting at number 356, with two thirds of the relentlessly steep stone steps still ahead of me. A cunningly timed pause to admire the glorious view let me catch my breath without anybody spotting what an exhausted wimp I was. I was hiking Italy's self-proclaimed Walk of the Gods, but if I remember rightly half those debauched Roman deities had wings, or at least winged heels, not clunky hiking books and a rucksack. After snapping some photos I cracked on again, following a picturesque path that winds through the cliff-hugging town of Positano, from the beach below to the towering cliff tops above. I paused for breath yet again. Thank goodness I was only doing the downhill walk. Read about Positano, Amalfi, Naples: Italy's Amalfi Coast

A Visit to Modena Italy: Molto Meraviglioso

by Linda Martin. Modena is a city of contrasts: ancient churches, blocks of modern shops, two beautifully restored theaters (The Storchi Theatre and City Theatre) and two schools of higher education (the University of Modena, begun in 1183, and St. Charles College). It is a place where one can shop for souvenirs or just sit quietly at an umbrella-shaded table and feel the stress of everyday life drift away like the steam from your cup of dark espresso coffee. And there's much more. Read about Modena Italy: So much to see and do

Vinci: A Visit to Leonardo's Home Town

by Troy Herrick. Vinci receives as many as 500,000 visitors per year. They come in search of its most famous son, Leonardo. The Renaissance giant lived here from the time of his birth in 1452 until the mid-1460s, when he and his family moved to Florence.

Verona, Italy

by Neala Schwartzberg. Romantic, elegant, and fascinating

Following the Po River

by Neala Schwartzberg. A leisurely journey through Northern Italy's history


Maastricht Netherlands: Famous Violinist, Cave Art, and Other Offbeat Attractions

by Keith Kellett. Throughout the history of Maastricht, it seemed that, until recently, nobody ever actually went there; just passed through on the way to somewhere else. That's changing -- and it's about time. This city offers statues on fire, art in mines, and so much more..


Black Sea Spas of Romania

by Caroline (Caz) Crutchley. The Danube finally ends its European meanderings at Tulcea on Romania's Black Sea coastline. Hectares of water, mud and reeds are a botanist and bird spotter's dream. But it is south I go to Constanta, not only one of the largest ports in Europe but with the nine-mile sand bar of Mamaia, a chic holiday destination for adventurous Europeans. But I actually started my Romanian spa experience just south in Eiford. Here the Black Sea gave way to sulphur-rich lakes, full of life enhancing salts and minerals. My mission was to wallow in mud and with some persistent searching, (there was no signage), I found the Bai Reci -- under a road and rail bridge. A steady stream of locals clad in only swim wear went, and so I followed. Read more about Black Sea and Spa Mud in Romania

Historic Sighisoara and Sibiu: Two UNESCO Romanian Gems

by Neala Schwartzberg. I walked through the gated entrance to the medieval town of Sighisoara and gasped. It was night, and the effect of the city was magic, like stepping back 500 years.

If you're looking for totally charming and quaint historic town, head to Sighisoara. Disney could take lessons from this tiny medieval jewel. For bigger city differently delightful it's the Old Town in Sibiu. Named European Capital of Culture for the year 2007 Sibiu is cosmopolitan charm amid 16th century buildings. Read more...

On the Trail of the Real Dracula: The Truth and the Legend of Vlad the Impaler Dracula

by Neala Schwartzberg. If you're going to be a villain, it's better to have been one deep in the past. It seems the further back in history, the more colorful the man and less horrific the deeds. Think - Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun. And Vlad the Impaler. But Vlad has a doppelganger who is quite (in)famous on his own – Dracula the Vampire. Vlad is indeed Dracula, and he is from Romania. And he did live in a castle. But he is was known Vlad the Impaler Dracula or Vlad Tepes (pronounced TEP-ish), and his behavior easily qualifies as bloodthirsty without even referencing the fictional character. Read more...

Bucharest, Romania: City of Culture and Architecture

by Neala Schwartzberg. Legend has it that the capital city of Romania, Bucharest, was named after a shepherd, Bucur, who was tending his sheep by the side of the river. Charming, but a bit fanciful. Others suggest Bucur might have been a warrior or freedom fighter. What is known is that the city likely dates back to the 15th century when it was mentioned in official records. But it only became the capital of Romania in the 19th century.

During the period between World Wars, the city thrived, earning the nickname Little Paris. But under communist rule for several decades, it suffered the devastation of neighborhoods and then the chaos after the end of Nicolae Ceausescu's rule in 1989.

Today the city is a mix. Peeling paint and pieces of facade decorated with graffiti tags coexist with areas of cafes and patisseries, and the funky charming historic heart of Lipscani. Read more...

Painted Monasteries of Bucovina in Moldavia, Romania

by Neala Schwartzberg. It's a bit like seeing things inside out. These architectural treasures, unique to the Moldavia area of Romania, have their highly colored, exquisitely detailed 15th and 16th century frescoes on the exterior walls.

Exposed to sun, wind, rain for 500 years, they are elaborately decorated with portraits of saints and prophets, scenes from the life of Jesus, images of angels and demons, and heaven and hell. All sought to send a religious message to the people. Parts of faded away, other areas more protected from the weather, are still vibrant. None of have been retouched, making them even more impressive. Read more...


Exploring Slovenia: Bled, Caves at Postojna, Stanjel and more

by Neala Schwartzberg. As much as I loved Ljubljana there was much to see in the rest of the country, so off we headed. Read more...


Read more about Seville Spain at https://www.offbeattravel.com/seville-spain-heroes-history-architecture.html

Searching Seville Spain for its Heroes, History, and Architecture by John Thomson

We're sitting at an outdoor cafe on the Alameda de Hercules, a broad tree-lined boulevard in central Seville, Spain's fourth largest city and the capital of Andalusia. Legend has it that Hercules discovered Seville and the Alameda is named after that mythic hero. Hercules didn't, of course, but old stories die hard and Seville has parlayed the Greek hero, or at least his name, into a tourist attraction. Read more about Hercules, Columbus, Alcazar and much more

Picture Perfect Toledo Spain Embraces its Medieval Past by John Thomson

I knew Toledo was a UNESCO World Heritage site. I knew it had been visited by a host of invaders over two millennia, Romans, Visagoths, Muslims and finally Christians and I knew they had all left their mark, incorporating elements of each other's culture into the common thread. That was the appeal of Toledo

Touring Fire Mountains: Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

by Bobbie Green. You can do many tours from your cruise ship (and do-it-yourself) in the Canary Islands, but instead, leave the city of Accerife and visit the Fire Mountains. Read more about Mountains of Fire, camels, and some fine wine.

Untamed Galicia, Northwest Spain: from Wash-Your-Butt airport to the Coast of Death

by Jon Voelkel and Pamela Craik Voelkel. Like the rainforest, Galicia is wild, wet and green. It is rich in superstition, legend and myths. It has its own language. And, most importantly from a Maya perspective, it faces the setting sun. With its craggy coast, medieval cities, Celtic heritage and colorful festivals, it is one of the most evocative locations in Europe. So we set out to explore this hidden treasure for the sort of idiosyncratic details that make a story come alive. Read more...


Read more about Jungfrau Switzerland at http://www.offbeattravel.com/jungfrau-switzerland-europe-highest-railway.html

Jungfrau: At the top of the world in Switzerland by Mira Temkin

Journey slowly to Europe's highest railway station some 11,000 feet above sea level where breathtaking views and snow-capped mountains await. But that's only the beginning of your Alpine adventure.

The other response was Turkey? Why are you going to Turkey? And the answer to that was, Oh, for so many reasons! Because there are so many reasons to go Riding in Cappadocia

Istanbul: Shopping from Street To Chic

by Karen Hamlin It's been eight years since I was in Istanbul and I found a lot has changed; yet some things remained the same. The streets are still narrow, twisting and steep and the city maintains its allure, mystery and charm. Istanbul is a bustling city 24/7 and makes the Big Apple look like it fell off the tree. Read more about shopping from Grand Bazaar to tres chic.



Svalbard Norway and Spitsbergen: A Magnificent Frontier To Explore

by Patrice Raplee It is the world's northernmost accessible destination with two thirds of Svalbard permanently covered by snow and ice. This majestic archipelago is one of the last remaining areas of unspoiled wilderness in Europe and a magnificent frontier to explore with adventures such as glacier hiking, skiing, snow scooters, dogsled trips, ice cave trips, boat trips, kayaking, bird watching and fossil picking. Enjoy Adventuring in Svalbard

Shopping and Dining in Oslo Norway by Patrice Raplee

Fine dining, great shopping, even superb teas and elegant lodging makes Oslo Norway a perfectly sophisticated city. Find more out about Sophisticated Osolo

Oslo Norway: Art, Museums and Architecture

by Patrice Raplee. Oslo, Norway is a stunningly picturesque city with its myriad of islands, forested hills and flowing fjords that lead to the North Sea. Moreover, Oslo's cutting-edge architecture, world-class museums and Nordic culture make this city a top destination for lovers of art and architecture, with a side-helping of Nordic history and culture. Enjoy Why You'll Love Oslo Norway.

Alta: Northern Lights, Igloo Hotels, Dog Sled Rides and the Sami Culture

by Keith Kellett. When you're about to go on a cruise, your packing list doesn't usually include stuff like heavy boots, woolly hats, thermal underwear and such. But, this one's happening in Winter, and will be calling at Alta, which is about as far north as you can go on mainland Europe.

The main attraction of Alta in winter is the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. They can't be relied on 100% to put in an appearance, but there are plenty of things to do in Alta if they don't show, so it's not too much of a disappointment if they fail to appear. And even if they do, you'll still need something to do during the day. Read about Ice Igloo Hotel and More in Alta Norway


Following the Wallander Novels in Ystad and Malmo Sweden

by Patrice Raplee. In a small, southeastern Swedish town with narrow cobblestone lanes, colorful hollyhocks and charming, half-timbered stone houses, crime lurks in this quaint hamlet. In fact, a murderer lives on Harmony Street and explosions rock the village square! Why on earth would anybody want to visit this town? Perhaps charm is deceiving. Or, is it reality mixed with one of the most popular crime fiction dramas on the globe in Sweden? Read more...

Africa (and Egypt)

Exploring Ancient History in Alexander the Great's Dream City and Library by Ruth Kozak

It is said that Alexander Alexander the Great had a dream in which he recalled the lines from Homer's Iliad of 'an island, Pharos, by the surging sea.' Alexander had come to Egypt to drive out the Persians and to him, this dream was an omen. Read more about Alexander's Famous City and the Library at Alexandria.

Kingdom of Lesotho Africa: Exploring a different culture

Beside the highest point in Southern Africa the two shepherds come to meet us. They're dressed in underwear, gumboots, balaclava, and a woollen blanket, the latter occasionally swaying open in the strong wind. Despite weather beaten faces and stoic walking sticks I'd be surprised if they weren't still teenagers. These two shepherds never went to school and get paid one sheep for every month spent away from home guarding animals. I'm the uneducated one, because I can't glance at speckles of white on the green mountainside and immediately calculate there are 280 sheep. And despite being ten years their senior, they are men and I am still a boy. Read Stephen Bailey's Observations of Life and Culture in Lesotho

Stone Circles of South Africa: Two very different theories

by Lesley Stones. In a split second, everything you have been taught about human history flies out of the window. Those melodramatic words are the introduction to an ancient and mysterious world scattered across the seemingly ordinary hills of South Africa. This green and pleasant land, tour leader Michael Tellinger tells us, is the birthplace of the human race. The site where aliens landed 300,000 years ago and cloned themselves to create mankind. Others disagree. Read about Aliens? Humans? The Stone Circle Mystery in South Africa

Capetown South Africa: Exploring apartheid history

by Julian Worker. No matter how many times I gazed at Table Mountain, rested on the Atlantic beaches, or savoured the food at one of the many restaurants at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, I could never really escape the history of Cape Town. Robben Island, the Slave Lodge on Wale Street, and the Bo Kaap district all lead you back to a dark past. There's a reason for everything here and this intriguing past makes Cape Town a must-visit city .

Game for a trip to the African bush and Kruger National Park? by Lesley Stones

My mother has refused to fly for decades. It's something to do with a perforated eardrum that would make her head explode on take-off. I rue that medical (or mental?) abnormality whenever I drive into the bush in my adopted home in Africa. I wish she could see countless wildebeest making their spectacular migration. The skittering springbok that comically prance away if something spooks them. She'll never see a glorious sunset over wide-open plains of gold and tan. Or admire that extraordinary thing the moon does when it rises as big and as red as the sun that just went down. Go along and experience Africa's bush and National Parks


Temples of the Nile River Cruise

by Neala Schwartzberg. The stately Nile flows through Egypt as it has for centuries upon centuries. Life along its banks and in the mud-brick houses seems to have changed little. As I visit the temples that dot the land along the river a sense of temporal dislocation happens again and again.

Cairo, Egypt: Embracing the Complexity

by Neala Schwartzberg. The call to prayer floats over the city. The eternal sounds, the ancient melody is both beautiful and calming. It competes with the more mundane sounds of traffic, and forms a counterpoint to the driving base of horns and treble of screeches.


Tozeur Tunisia and the Desert Safari

by Keith Kellett. I'd never been to Tozeur before; indeed, I'd never been to Tunisia before. But, as we approached, it looked somehow familiar. ‘Did you see the original ‘Star Wars' film? asked the guide. ‘They used Tozeur to represent the spaceport at Mos Eisley.' But on the safari, there was a lot more to discover.

Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Iran and the Middle East (See Africa for Egypt)

A Journey through Iran Through its Food

Terrorists, extremists, and mental: Iran only seems to be in the news when something absurd happens, like dishing out death sentences for trivial crimes or a president suggesting Europe steals the rain. The stereotypes had been embedded to the point that while I was in Iran I deleted the James Bond collection off my laptop and memorised the GPS coordinates of the British Embassy. If interrogated my plan was to list my favourite dishes from a Persian restaurant and claim my journalism extended only to food. It wouldn't have worked. In this vast and diverse country there are almost no restaurants. Read about Exploring Iran Through its Food

Turtle Tours and Dolphin Watching in Oman

by Inka Piegsa-Quischotte. Last week, I made my dream of visiting Oman a reality, but it wasn't until my friend Wendy and I went to reception of the fabulous Crowne Plaza Hotel in Muscat where we stayed to start planning our trips when we got a real surprise: the #1 spot in the brochures offered dolphin watching off the coast of Muscat and an overnight tour to Sur via Wadi Shab to Ras Al Jinz in the south east of the country to watch the rare nesting grounds of the Giant Green Turtles. Who would have thought? Read about Two Don't Miss Tours in Oman: Turtles and Dolphins

Daytrips from Tiberias to the End of the World

by Troy Herrick. Many pilgrims visit the Galilee to renew their faith at the many Old and New Testament sites mentioned in the Bible. While Tiberias is certainly beautiful in its own right, there is little of any Biblical significance within its city limits. Because of its central location however, Tiberias makes an excellent base for daytrips into the countryside to sites like Megiddo, Sepphoris and Mount Tabor (where Jesus was transfigured).

Set at the crossroads of civilizations, this city has witnessed a number of battles involving Egyptians, Canaanites, Israelites (Joshua 12:21), Assyrians and Babylonians in ancient times; and the French (under Napoleon), Ottoman Turks, British and Israelis more recently. But at least one more battle remains to be fought because Megiddo is Armageddon – the site of the Biblical Apocalypse (Revelation 16:16). However, visitors should note that Armageddon is actually a corruption of the Hebrew word Har (mountain) and the city name of Megiddo. Read more...

Israel: Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus

by Troy Herrick. For almost two thousand years, Christians have visited the Holy Land to connect with their faith and to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Modern pilgrims might be under the impression that the traditional sites associated with Jesus and his family are unique and firmly established but this is not so. Nazareth has two churches commemorating the Annunciation. Jerusalem has two locations for Jesus' tomb. Kafr Kanna (Cana) has two churches celebrating the miracle of transforming water to wine. Read more...

Safed Israel: Tales of the Tombs in Israel

by Judith Fein. The hills around Safed are dotted with ancient tombs. To Jewish believers, these tombs of long-deceased tsaddikim, or holy men, are the meeting place between the living and the dead. People make pilgrimages to the burial places to ask for blessings, favors, surcease from suffering. Read more...

Castles in Oman: Nizwa and Jabrin

by Keith Kellett. The problem with visiting places on a cruise is that you seldom get to stay anywhere long enough to really get to know it. This does, though, sometimes have a reciprocal advantage; if you DON'T like a place, you won't be there long enough for it to be a big issue. But, Oman was a country in which we could have stayed longer. I felt that almost before we docked at around breakfast time. We entered the harbour at Muscat, the capital and chief port of the country, and rather rushed our breakfast, so we could hurry out on deck to see the ship entering the harbour. And then... came the castles. Read more...

Southeast Asia


Pandas and a Gigantic Buddha in China by Keith Kellett

We were going to Chengdu to see the pandas, which is why most people go there. But if pandas are a lure of nature, just down the road is the Giant Buddha of Leshan, the lure of gigantic sculptural achievement. Read more about Pandas and Giant Buddha in China.

The Fun of Macau is in the Details

by Teresa Bergen. For me the beauty of Macau was in the surprising details. This former Portuguese colony hanging off the edge of mainland China has a fascinating cultural history -- a mix of Portuguese and Chinese, Catholic, Buddhist and Taoist. This manifests in mixed architecture, mixed cuisine and mixed people. You see it in the beautiful little shrines on the sidewalks outside businesses, and in the blue and white Portuguese tile work on the walls of the old parts of town. Read about Macau Beyond the Casinos

Exploring Shanghai China

by Patrice Raplee. On a warm, fall afternoon, couples and families stroll along the quay, gazing at the enormous towering buildings across the Huangpu River in the Pudong district. Teenagers are grinning into cameras, while toddlers lick sticky fingers from ice cream cones and aunties chat on stone steps; it is the perfect day to relax and explore Shanghai, and China's famous Bund. Read more...

Suzhou and Tongli China

by Patrice Raplee. A small lotus pond, surround by fragrant flowers and sculpted trees, reflects the images of three elegantly dressed Chinese women chatting idly in an ornate pavilion. The midday sun shines down on the women, as they wait for their family to join them for a serene Sunday walk around Suzhou's magnificent Master-Of-Nets Garden. Suzhou and Tongli

Travel Guide to Shanghai China

by Neala Schwartzberg. A guide to the major attractions, some great hotels, and suggestions about traveling around the city. Slideshow Read more...

Shanghai China's Jewish History

by Neala Schwartzberg. His name was Dr. Feng Shan Ho, and he was the rescuer of thousands and thousands of Austrian Jews who fled the Nazis, finding a haven in Shanghai, China. No movie has been made of his life, so few people even in China know of his good deeds. But both before and after the influx of Eastern European Jews in China, there was a thriving community in the city. And the remnants are still there to explore.Slideshow. Read more...


Spiti Valley: A most unusual travel destination in India

by Shivya Nath. My first tryst with Spiti, Ladakh's lesser-known cousin, was an act of online serendipity; I stumbled upon Ecosphere, a social enterprise fighting climate change in the Trans-Himalayan region of India, and impulsively decided to take a sabbatical from work to volunteer in this cold mountain desert of Spiti.

Seven Secrets of Chennai: More than South India's cultural capital

by Shobha Sriram. Ever heard of hanging gardens of hot Chennai? Neither had I, despite living most of my life in the south Indian metropolis. But all that was to change when Meri again stepped into the city this winter. Read about the Secrets of Chennai.


Exploring Vietnam from Saigon to Hoi An

by Lesley Stones. It must have been on the 10th day that I developed a craving for chips and cheesecake. Noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner had been a novelty until then, but my jaws were craving something to actually chew on. So I excused myself from a restaurant where the menu entices with noodles and frog, and "noodles fried with miscellaneous", and let myself loose in Vietnam's Saigon.


The Place You Could Be Looking For: From The Joys of Travel: And Stories That Illuminate Them

All hotels are surrogates for home; some of them are more luxurious, some of them less. Even the lowly ones we cherish, because in a place where all our senses are stretched—a new city, a foreign land—they make it okay to fall unconscious. They conquer the alien with the intimacy of a bed. Staying in a hotel is as close as we get to returning to the womb.

Guide to Koh Phangan: Southern Thailand Paradise

by Kaila Krayewski. Koh Phangan is well-known for the Full Moon Party but there's so much more to this island. The north west has some of the most beautiful beaches you've ever seen. The yoga camps attract beginner yogis and advanced from all over the world, enticed by the serene, spiritual atmosphere on the island. Koh Phangan is truly the definition of a paradise island. Read about Find Your Perfect Vacation in Phangan Thailand, Island Paradise

Bangkok on the Cheap: Budget travel that doesn't feel that way by Shelley Seale

If you're traveling on a budget, Southeast Asia is a great place to visit. Once you get here, it's easy to keep the cost of living very low, and have an amazing time on just a few bucks. Take your pick from our recommendations to build your itinerary for a great and cheap day in Bangkok.

Exploring the Jagalchi Market and Eating Eels in Busan Korea

by Chris Tharp. We walked in silence into the main artery of Jagalchi Market, letting ourselves be led by the slipstream of people heading into its heart. On each side were countless stalls with their wares splayed out in front of us. Jagalchi is both the heart and soul of Busan. To understand the market is to understand the city's history, and this first trip gave me a taste of the old city, which, while disappearing a bit more each day, will always be alive down where the boats unload their catches. Read about Jagalchi Market in Busan Korea

Seoul Korea: Shopping, War, and the Quirky Art of Fine Living by Lesley Stones

Korea is a country that few people really know much about. There's the war, of course, occasional cross-border skirmishes and the impenetrable dividing line between north and south. It's certainly been a tough life for this little country perched on the edge of China and Russia. But when you land in Seoul that all seems a million miles away.

Yansheui, Taiwan: Street on Fire (and More)

by Steven Crook. Taiwan isn't all tech gadgets and Taipei 101. Beyond the big cities it's a different story, a different country altogether. Yanshuei, 240 kilometers down island from Taipei, is the town modern, laptop-manufacturing, cell-phone toting, Taiwan forgot. A century and a half ago, it was the island's fourth-largest settlement. Then its harbor silted up and things went downhill. And in February or March, the town still pulls in visitors with its unique Guan Gong ritual.

South Pacific

Read more at http://www.offbeattravel.com/fiji-cruise-islands-meet-the-people.html

Visiting the Happy People of Fiji Aboard the Fiji Princess by

The people of Fiji are genuinely happy (and apparently can all sing quite well). It's a delightful island to visit and the Fiji Princess is a great way to visit

Australia and New Zealand

Sulfur Fumes in Eden by Izabela Shopova

Read more about Rotorua New Zealand at http://www.offbeattravel.com/rotorua-new-zealand-wanderings-amid-mud.html
There is something rotten in New Zealand and it appears to be eggs. One whole town smells of eggs gone bad. It's hard to believe that its Maori name, Rotorua, doesn't actually mean "rotten eggs," but "two lakes". Firstly, there is only one lake, and secondly, how could anyone miss the most characteristic (literary breathtaking) feature of the place and name it instead after some phantom lakes? Well, the Maori can. Poets to the bones! Read more about Sulfur Fumes and Spas in New Zealand

Tasmania Australia Luxury and Wilderness Experience: Freycinet National Park and Freycinet Lodge

by Ian Robertson. Experience the Tasmanian wilderness just a few steps from a sparkling champagne. Tasmania does a great job of surrounding pure luxury with wilderness.

Opals, Mines, and Underground Dwellings: Coober Pedy is Offbeat

by Keith Kellett. As our bus approached Coober Pedy towards the end of the afternoon, the setting sun came out, and lit up the red desert sand and the yellow grass. The pinky-white mullock heaps from the opal diggings for which the town is famous glowed ghost-white in the gathering darkness.

Coober Pedy, we were told, derived from Aboriginal words meaning roughly white man digging in holes, and what they're digging for is opals. Indeed, it's often called the "opal capital of the world". Since 1915, when the first opals were discovered by Willie Hutchinson, it's been a magnet for prospector and buyer alike. It also makes a great tourist destination. Read about Coober Pedy: Truly Offbeat Australia

Australia's Mornington Peninsula near Melbourne by Emily Lawrence Gazal

It is hard to imagine a more welcoming, peaceful and civilised place than the Mornington Peninsula, one and a half hours drive south of the Australian city of Melbourne, in the state of Victoria.

Kuranda: Scenic Railway and Skyrail in Queensland, Australia

by Keith Kellett. There are two major attractions in Kuranda, Queensland, Australia, the scenic railway and the Skyrail aeriel tram. Take the Skyrail up and the train back for maximum fun.

Alternative Ways to See Australia's Great Barrier Reef

by Keith Kellett.For many years it seemed that coral reefs were offlimits to those who couldn't swim. Coral reefs became reachable, and, for us non-swimmers, could view them from a glass-bottomed boat. But, on excursions to the coral reefs in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aqaba, I saw more by just leaning over the side of the boat than by peering through the transparent bottom. That wasn't my experience with the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

Associated Content

Alexandria makes a great addition to an Egypt visit http://www.offbeattravel.com/tji-egypt-fun.html

Egypt has never been this Fun: Five cool things to do

More than 1.5 million British tourists alone visit Egypt every year. The country's main attractions the pyramids of Giza, the temples at Luxor, diving in Sharm el Sheikh, Cairo's bazaars, and cruises along the River Nile do not need an introduction, but the truth is that Egypt offers so many options that even the most consummate travellers will find themselves returning to the country time and again in order to experience them all. Here are Five Fun Things to do in Egypt Read more about fun and educational experiences in the UK at http://www.offbeattravel.com/fo-educational-days-UK.html

Educational Days Out in the UK

When it comes to choosing a perfect location for a family day out, you may find yourself somewhat spoiled for choice. But, despite a surplus of outings on offer, you may also find it hard to cater to all the age groups and tastes in your party. Striking that perfect balance between child-friendly and educational can be especially hard to do.

Luckily, though, there are plenty of places in the UK where a fun, yet educational, day out can be had by the whole family. If you are looking for something that will get their minds whirring while also keeping them entertained, here are just a few of the UK's best educational days out..

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Five Stunning Game of Thrones Locations in North Ireland

Spending your vacation in the impressive city of Belfast is definitely worth it. And if you are a big fan of the popular television series, Game of Thrones, you will be more interested to see its filming locations. In fact, the Seven Kingdoms in the series were shot in different landscapes and castles found in Northern Ireland. You can actually tour these places and have the chance to relive your favorite scenes. read more about cars from around the world at http://www.offbeattravel.com/fo-cars-from-across-the-globe.html

Cars From Across the Globe

There are over 1 billion motor vehicles currently clogging up the world's highways and byways, an estimated 34.5 million of which are currently kept within the 89,000 square miles of Great Britain -- it's fair to say we can't really cope without our cars.

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5 Days Out in the UK that Embrace Nature

It isn't hard to get out and discover the fantastic fauna and flora just outside your door. The UK has it all and provides a diverse range of days out for those wanting to take a trip on the wild side. Read on to learn about 5 brilliant examples that embrace nature, both on land and in the sea

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Without National Borders

Museums of Peace and Tolerance

"There's a chance peace will come in your life, please buy one..."
From: Peace Will Come (According to Plan) by Melanie