The top destinations to visit in 2015

The top 10 for 2015 and why, according to Lytle, they made the list:

Curacao – This often overlooked Caribbean island has affordable rentals, “as opposed to traditional flop-and-drop all-inclusives.”
Chongqing, China – An alternative to the usual Chinese destinations (Beijing, Shanghai), it’s a 19th-century town that has undergone rapid modernization, thanks, in part, to its position as the last stop on the Three Gorges river tour.

Fukuoka Japan – This feudal Japanese town on the north shore of Kyushu province is a place to go after you’ve done Tokyo and Kyoto. Plus, its inclusion on the list is a reminder that not all of Japan was affected by the earthquake.

Beirut – The city has experienced a renaissance in recent years, as many European travelers know. “It’s an urban hotspot full of smartly dressed people who have intelligent conversation,” Lytle says.

Ghana – Unlike some other African nations, this country has enjoyed long-time stability. As a former center of the slave trade, it’s also on the heritage trail for African Americans.

London’s Greenwich neighborhood – Just 20 minutes from Central London, this Thames-side town has undergone a renaissance. And post-Olympics is a good time to visit London, since it’s bound to be gussied up for the event, with bargains after the party’s over.

Girona, Spain – This Costa Brava town is popular among Brits, but is largely undiscovered by Americans. It’s also an easy-to-get-to beach getaway from Barcelona.

Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia – It’s a quiet, charming area, perfect for recharging your batteries.

Kansas City, Mo. – Its food and music scenes are lively. It sports a number of really good museums. Plus, it’s central locale makes it relatively close to a lot of Americans.

Yucatan Peninsula – There’s more to this region than Cancun. Moreover, it’s been relatively free of drug-related violence that has touched border towns and the some of the Mexico’s western reaches.

This year, Frommer’s added some demographic picks to its list. They are:
Family Destination: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Cruise Destination: Tromso, Norway
Beach Destination: Hanalei Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
Adventure Destination: Moab, Utah
Food & Drink Destination: Lima, Peru
City Break Destination: Chicago
Endangered Destination: Aysen Region, Chile
Value Destination: Albanian Riviera
Destination to Get Lost: Whitsunday Islands, Australia

Weird And Wonderful Philadelphia

Those who enjoy exploring some of the more weird and wonderful places of cities will love Philadelphia. When it comes to off the beaten path secrets and wacky hidden gems, this city has more than its fair share of the unusual.

Don’t get me wrong, Philadelphia has much to offer the resident and tourist alike with architectural gems such as the Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the National History Museum. It also boasts a string of famous residents such as Edgar Allen Poe, Ben Franklin and William Penn himself. However, Philadelphia is also filled with weird and wonderful locations just waiting to be explored.

The Mutter Museum

The Mutter Museum is one of America’s most famous museums for medical oddities. Located inside the HQ of the College of Physicians, it is the home to the remains of Einstein’s Brain as well as the skeleton of North America’s tallest man. This fascinating museum is a wonderland of all things medical and visitors will find themselves immersed in the extensive collections. Aside from Einstein’s brain, try not to miss the collection of over 2,000 objects on display which have been removed from people’s throats. The objects are housed in pull out display drawers and are well worth looking through, although some objects might just make your mind boggle!

Harry’s Occult Shop

Harry’s Occult Shop is over a Century old and is a treasure trove of oddities, curiosities and the occult. Established in 1917, the shop started life as a traditional pharmacy whose customers were mainly African Americans. After repeated requests for various powders and oils of an occult nature, Harry got into Hoodoo (not voodoo) and the rest they say is history. Today Marcia Finnegan manages the shop with her team of spiritual advisors who advise people on products which can help remove negativity from their lives.

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens offers interest to all types of visitor and is a fascinating and beautiful place to visit. The gardens are a nonprofit organization that offers a folk art environment, gallery space and showcases the work of mosaicist Isaiah Zagar. In the 1960’s Zagar devoted himself to beautifying the South Street neighborhood and it is here you will find Zagar’s largest public mosaic installation. The Magic Gardens are now a permanent art institution and are open to visitors throughout the year. Guided tours are available and there are monthly mosaic workshops as well as concerts, dance performances and other events.

Eastern State Penitentiary

Located bang in the middle of urban Philadelphia is the Eastern State Penitentiary. Looming over like some great castle, this massive and haunting building is certainly no castle – this is a prison. At a time when prisons had no order and were filled with death, disease and corruption, Eastern State was to be the world’s first ‘penitentiary’.

When compared to other prisons, Eastern State was supposed to be a paradise, however, it seemed that this ‘paradise’ drove men insane. Prisoners were not allowed to interact with other prisoners in any way or talk to the guards. Even show covers where worn in order to maintain the silence and utter solitude. Eastern State was designed to inspire penance, but instead it inspired insanity. Charles Dickens visited the prison in 1842 and wrote of the terrible effect that solitary confinement had on the men, but the prison remained in use for 142 years.

Today the Penitentiary offers visitors a free, self guided tour which features interviews with former inmates and is narrated by the actor Steve Buscemi. There are a number of different tours available including Winter Adventure Tours, Bastille Day celebrations, Haunted Halloween and Prison Uprising tours. Did we miss any weird and wonderful attractions?

If you live in Philadelphia and know of some other unusual attractions then drop us a line in the comments box below.

Ditch The Cold And Head To Florida

As the Winter rolls on, snow and frigid weather begin to turn monotonous and, let’s face it, annoying and dangerous. No need to suffer in the face of monotony when Florida is just a quick trip away and has year round warm, beautiful sunshine. The sunshine state offers even more than their delectable climate, there are countless resorts and fantastic activities to keep you entertained while you get a natural tan!

1. Visit the famous Disney World, fun for the family.
There are few children in America who have not dreamt of a visit to Florida’s Disney World. Walt Disney World was imagined by the magical man himself and built to harbor countless theme parks and theme resorts to keep the entire family entertained. Stay in fun themed Art of Animation resort or the Animal Kingdom lodge, to give just a few examples of what is in store for your Fall getaway to the magical kingdom.

Grab a hopper ticket option and visit the theme parks and water parks featuring the Magical Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Attractions include experiencing meeting real Disney characters and enjoying daily shows featuring the characters you love from all the classic Disney movies.

2. Enjoy a fishing getaway on North Captiva island.

The modern angler is on constant alert to find the next year round fishing destination. Just a short ferry ride off of the coast of Florida you can find North Captiva island which is home to many resorts and chartered fishing boats to show you where to find the seasonal fish in surrounding the island. At this time of year you can hook grouper, shark and barracuda; especially with the help of a local fishing charter.

Make sure you aren’t getting this small, hidden island confused with it’s more prominent sibling Captiva Island. One of the draws of visiting this year round island getaway is that it is more private and relaxing than most party islands. On the island you can find a small convenience and grocery store as well as an ice cream shoppe to appease the kids for a hot Fall afternoon. Plan a nature hike, kayak rental or just relax on the coast and let the stresses of the coming Winter melt away.

3. Golf lovers can find a haven in Palm Coast.

Many who play golf love the cathartic qualities of walking the course and taking it on hole by hole, in Palm Coast you can experience this catharsis with an ocean view. Palm Coast hosts Florida’s first coast of golf where you can stay at one of the many golf resorts. Visitors can book a tee time at Flagler Beaches, Hammock Beach Resort, Grand Haven Golf club among countless other courses.

On your Fall vacation you can visit Palm Coast and ensure a different course for each day that you are taking in the delightfully warm weather. If you are travelling with family that is not as golf-inclined they can enjoy the ocean coast or some of the entertaining bike trails through the natural Palm Coast landscape. Check out Palm Harbor Golf Club for the premier site for hitting 18 holes, practicing at the driving range or dining in a great course side restaurant.

4. Experience eclectic Americana on Cedar Key.
Have you ever hoped to stay at a cozy bed and breakfast that used to be a brothel? Cedar Key is the home of eccentric attractions that date back to the 1940’s. While Cedar Key does have the usual Florida resorts and hotels they also have a more small town vibe throughout the main drag of town.

One of the best attractions in the fair city is the Keys National Wildlife Refuge, home to the endangered animal the manatee. The park consists of thirteen offshore islands and can be a great location for hiking and rare birding. This Wildlife Refuge creates a great synthesis for the town of Cedar Key between sport fishing and commercial fishing; just another way that Cedar Key has kept a small town energy.

5. Marathon Key caters to those looking to do some real boating.
For the perfect removal from the hustle and bustle of city living take a vacation where you can float down the serene Florida coast on a private pontoon or yacht. Nothing helps release built up stress like taking in a sunset atop the Atlantic with your friends and family. Marathon Key offers vacationers the best choices of harbors for boat rentals and has some great fishing charters.

Whether you are driving your own boat or grabbing a charter run by a local captain Marathon Key is the spot to travel to when looking to fish backcountry or open waters. Anglers from around the nation will want to travel to this Southeast location to hook the perfect fish all year round.

Top Attractions In Dhaka

Cities that aren’t necessarily for the faint of heart sometimes yield surprising rewards. Bangladesh’s capital is a prime example.

Dhaka doesn’t promise logistical ease. In fact, it’s practically an antithetical rebuke to the very notion of it. But there’s a lot of circumstantial evidence to support why so many refer to this heaving metropolis of 15 million people as the City of Joy.

City of Rickshaws? Yes. City of Mosques? Yes. But other stereotypes don’t hold as true. Take Dhaka’s most infamous trait: insufferable population density. Admittedly, the city’s no Nunavut but guess what. Paris is worse (or denser, as it were). Chennai and Mumbai too.

For some, a shade under 20,000 people per square kilometre is no picnic. For others, however, Dhaka is a deliriously euphoric mess of humanity. And a city, too, that has the power to jolt you in unexpected ways. Some hotels in Dhaka are so at odds with the street life outside that you feel completely transported. Alas, all developing mega-cities have their inherent, baffling contradictions. What’s so much more fascinating in Dhaka’s case are the points of interest that make the city so unique.

Shakhari Bazaar: Guidebooks and locals exhort you to wander labyrinthine Shakhari Bazaar. It’s wise to pay heed. The Old Dhaka mahalla, or neighbourhood, is heady with incense, tropical flowers, food and human sweat and unfurls photogenic treasures galore. Traditional architecture and artisan shops, in particular, come alive most vividly here at Hindu festival time.

Dhakeswari Temple: Dhaka’s population overwhelmingly subscribes to Islam but the Hindu faith has deep roots in the city. Close to 10% of inhabitants practice it and mother temple Dhakeswari hails from the 12th century.

National Museum: The breadth and focus of national museums are seldom not a subject of interest. In Bangladesh’s case, the National Museum in Dhaka sprawls over a wide area and includes just about every aspect of the country’s development from ancient times to today. It’s a thorough education.

Sitara Mosque: Arguably the most popular tourist landmark – if not pilgrimage site – in Dhaka, the Sitara, or Star Mosque, has impressive Mughal hallmarks. Be respectful of worshippers, dress appropriately and you’ll be fine.

Lalbagh Fort: Mughal style is what awaits at Lalbagh Fort as well, albeit in incomplete fashion. The 17th century fort complex sits in stark contrast with much of the city; which is part of its allure and charm.

Nazira Bazaar: For a singular glimpse into Dhaka’s strange and wonderful subculture of rickshaw art, make a beeline for Nazira Bazaar and make sure you’re camera battery is fully charged.

Baldha Gardens: When you need a tranquil place to contemplate Dhaka from a distance, Baldha Gardens fills in rather nicely. The botanical garden was once part of the estate of a wealthy landowner who fancied himself a naturalist, poet and philanthropist. The city is fortunate for the latter.

Sadarghat: The launch terminal at Sadarghat is a vital nexus of Dhaka and, moreover, Bangladesh. A morass of ferries, barges and all manner of watercraft big and small, the port serves as a lifeblood of commerce, transport and trade. Dirty, congested, loud but totally captivating from a sensory level, Sadarghat is as imperative a reflection of Dhaka as the National Museum.

On his recent world wide trip, Jason has come back with a heap of tips and tricks for different countries around the world. He aims to help future travellers of various locations to ensure they make the most of their trip away.

 

Irish Essentials – 7 Sights You Shouldn’t Miss

Ireland is a mystical country, a contradiction of culture, history and some of the most stunning wild scenery you’ve ever seen. Don’t confine your visit just to Dublin (although Dublin is a beauty in itself), challenge yourself and take a tour of Ireland to discover some attractions you haven’t heard of, along with some that you almost certainly will have.

Starting in Dublin, the Guinness Storehouse is a must-see for anyone wanting to find out what Ireland is all about! It’s Ireland’s number one visitor attraction, and the brewery is a cherished part of Dublin and Ireland’s heritage. These days it combines industrial tradition with a little contemporary edge to bring visitors the story of Ireland’s most famous export. The world’s largest pint glass, which actually holds 14.3 million pints, is the central focus of the museum, rising through all seven floors.

In Kilmainham, just outside Dublin, you can take a tour around one of the largest unoccupied gaols in Europe, Kilmainham Gaol. In use from the 1780s to 1924 when it closed, the gaol now includes a major exhibition that explains the history of the prison and how it’s been restored. It’s a creepy, foreboding museum but it will give you a real feel for Irish history and some of the most disturbing yet inspirational events that shaped the country.

One of Dublin’s most famous sons, James Joyce, is commemorated in the James Joyce Tower, featured in the opening section of Ulysses, which sits atop a cliff in South County Dublin. The tower is home to a collection of letters, photographs and Joyce memorabilia, including rare editions of his books and two plaster death masks of Joyce made by sculptor Paul Speck. There’s a fabulous view across Dublin Bay too.

Moving away from Dublin, The Ring of Kerry (or Iveragh Peninsula) attracts tourists year on year, who flock there for the stunning views and unspoiled countryside. There are plenty of guided tours of the region that will introduce you to some of the famous landmarks, but two treats not to miss out on include Kate Kearney’s Cottage, once a coaching inn, and now a lively Irish bar, restaurant and craft shop which also hosts traditional Irish nights, and the Bog Village just before Glenbeigh, a village of six thatch-roofed dwellings from the 18th century which have been restored to their original setting.

For a taste of wild, dramatic Ireland head to the Wicklow Mountains National Park and Glendalough Valley.  Glendalough is home to the Monastic City, one of the most important monastic sites in the country, and there are plentiful scenic lakes and valleys to explore along walks and trails while taking in attractions like remains of the old mining villages, which are both fascinating and eerie.

Travel on to Limerick and you can see the award-winning Craggaunowen, an archaeological open air museum and park, arranged around a 16th Century tower house. The park is set into 50 acres of scenic woodland and boasts a lake along with some impressive, lovingly restored examples of old Celtic dwelling places like Crannóg (man-made island dwelling places dating from the Bronze Age; a Ring); a replica Fulachta Fia (a Bronze age cooking and industrial site) a Dolmen (a type of Neolithic Portal tomb) and a Standing Stone.

Another must-see is the famous Blarney Castle, a major tourist attraction in itself and not just for the mystical Blarney Stone! The legendary Stone of Eloquence is found at the top of the tower, and legend has it that if you kiss the stone, you’ll never be lost for words again.

Just as fascinating are the castle’s gardens, including the only Poison Garden in the world. The garden is stocked with plants so toxic that they are kept in cages, including Wolfsbane, Mandrake, Ricin, Opium and Cannabis. Don’t miss the Rock Close either – an ancient druidic settlement surrounded by trees, where you can find the water gardens, wishing steps and even a witch’s kitchen.

Ireland is a country that you will always remember – whether you’re on a short break, a long holiday or just passing through.

Clayquot Wilderness Resort

Stretching from the temperate rainforest along North America’s west coast to the Pacific Ocean, the Clayquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve protects a diverse array of fragile ecosystems, and it is here that one finds the Clayquot Wilderness Resort. The resort enjoys an especially striking location in the midst of all this natural splendour, being at the junction where the Bedwell River spills into an impressive fjord.

Since it’s opening in 2011, this eco resort has been the embodiment of ‘glamping’- a portmanteau of ‘glamorous’ and ‘camping’. The journey there begins with an hour long scenic seaplane trip from Vancouver, and ends with a short ride in a horse-drawn wagon.

Upon arrival, any doubts as to whether the woodland resort deserves its reputation as one of the world’s best wilderness experiences will surely vanish. It looks very much like the buildings of Kieran Timberlake and his American architectural firms work, which pushed the boundaries of sustainable design. Guests of Clayquot are greeted by an enclave of pristine, white canvas tents. Deluxe tents will attract couples looking for an intimate hideaway, while large tents offer a spacious lounge area with an extra queen-size sofa bed- the accommodation of choice for families. Both options share the same luxurious furnishings: Adirondack-style beds with feather duvets, woodstoves with temperature control, antique furniture, objects d’art and fine rugs. Despite being in the middle of untamed nature, the retreat’s wood-fired boilers ensure plenty of hot water, while offsite electricity generators guarantee the comforts of hairdryers and wireless internet. Two lounge tents ensure that guests can make full use of their vacation time. Styled after an opulent reading room, the library is actually a high-tech internet café, while the games tent resembles a Gentlemen’s Club and provides a venue for drinks and conversation.

With an emphasis on natural flavours of locally sourced ingredients, organic creations are presented with flair amid a grand timber cookhouse with an open show kitchen, while the fire-lit ambience in the indoor lounge makes al fresco dining a delight at night.

Facilities at the Clayquot Wilderness Resort

The range of activities available is almost overwhelming- guests can have their pick of horse riding, hiking, biking, rock climbing and archery. Alternatively one can go kayaking, fresh or salt water fishing, or whale watching at the nearby Cow Bay. For those wanting to try their hand at everything, the resort’s efficient staff will put together a customised itinerary to cater to specific preferences.

Weary minds can recharge at the poetically named Healing Grounds, the resort’s safari style wellness centre. Comprising three massage tents and two treatment rooms, an extensive list of treatments using only organic products are on hand to pamper and indulge.

The resort keeps its carbon footprint light with a comprehensive recycling system in place as well as gravity-fed turbines to help generate clean electricity. A part of the guest fees also go to the resort’s Environmental Legacy Programme, dedicated to research, and habitat restoration of the nature reserve.

With the sophisticated traveller more environmentally aware than ever, Clayquot Wilderness Resort’s green efforts set a new standard for glamorous eco-friendly camping.

Resort Activities:

  • Healing grounds spa
  • Wood-fired saunas
  • Outdoor hot tubs
  • Private lounge areas
  • Horse riding
  • Archery
  • Trekking
  • Biking
  • Kayaking
  • Fishing
  • Whale watching
  • Day trips and excursions

How to Find Best Hotel In Goa

t’s always feels go to go on a trip after spending a lot of time from work. The idea of going to the beach and not worrying about anything can be quite relaxing, considering all the stress you go through when you juggle different responsibilities. It’s a good thing that there are a lot of Goa hotels that you can check out when you visit India. The place is known for their beaches and a lot of tourist love to go there. People in that place are very friendly that’s why a lot of foreigners don’t hesitate to explore the place.

The price range of their accommodations is big, if you are interested to learn more, here are some things that you need to check out:

If want to visit the place and enjoy the warmth of the sun, it would be best to visit the place from October to February. The rest of the months will have rainy a weather. Make sure you bring the right clothes when you visit the place, so that you’ll be comfortable at all times.

The best thing about travelling to a foreign place is when the natives can speak English. It’s important that you can communicate well so that you can ask questions just in case you get lost or you need something.

Before you jump into the task of looking for Goa hotels, you need to apply for a visa and a passport first. Without this you won’t be allowed to enter the state. Once you settled this down make sure you have some of your money exchanged for Indian rupees so that you’ll have something to spend.

To reach the place, you can fly in to the Capital, stay in Delhi hotels for a night and take the road trip the day after. There is a lot of local transportation available out there. You can ride taxis, rented cars if you want. You can also ride ferries to make the trip short and fast. There are also direct flights to the area, try to inquire more about this so that you’ll learn more.

There are a lot of accommodations in the location, choose a setting that you will be most comfortable in. Some people prefer to stay in cottages that have big windows for ventilation. There are also air conditioned rooms that will make you feel comfortable in a hot weather. Weigh your options well before you make your decision, that way you will be able to enjoy your vacation.

There are accommodations that are located in the Northern part of the state where you can enjoy your privacy. Try to ask around and look into the place. A little peace and quiet will definitely allow you to get the relaxation that you need.

Going for a vacation is really exciting. Before you book your flights, make sure that you look into your accommodations first because this will make your trip more organized. There are a lot of options available for you. All you have to do is inquire about their offers!

Cheapest Honeymoon Destinations

A wedding is a time of great joy and happiness for couples and their families. The honeymoon after the wedding is in place to help the couple relax and blossom as a newly married pair. It can sometimes be hard for couples to relax on their honeymoon because of the price and costs involved. Honeymoons can be made more relaxing by choosing an affordable and equally satisfying honeymoon destination. The following are some of the most affordable honeymoon destinations that will give you a honeymoon with romance and excitement without breaking the bank.

Montreal, Quebec
If you’ve always dreamed of traveling to Paris, but can’t quite budget the trip in Montreal is your second best option. If you opt to stay in Old Montreal you can find hotels that are less than $150 per night. This area will give you access to the city’s best sightseeing including museums, boutiques and bars. The city has a Parisian feel with the convenience of easy transportation system and many predominantly French-Canadian residents.

Montenegro
Montenegro gives you the European dream vacation that you have always wanted without the high prices that are seen in the bigger tourist areas. It boasts beautiful countryside atmospheres and private suite hostels that start at $75 a night.

Iceland
Another option for a perfect European getaway is Iceland. It used to be one of Europe’s most thriving tourist destinations, making it expensive and unattainable. Iceland has, like most countries, been hit with the recession. They are relying heavily on tourist revenue and have in turn lowered prices on everything from flights to hotels to make visiting this beautiful country more affordable.

Key West, Florida
Another option for newlyweds to stay stateside, Key West provides a tropical atmosphere for a romantic getaway. Comparable to the Bahamas, couples will love the lazy days, wild nights and never ending fun that can be had in Key West. A perfect destination for summer weddings, as rates tend to be lower in the hot summer months.

Oahu, Hawaii
Hawaii is notoriously expensive, but doesn’t have to be for lovers looking for an affordable destination. Unlike the other, more tourist driven islands, Oahu has lower prices on day to day activities as well as low rates for hotels. Oahu is able to fit into most destination budgets and is still one of the 50 United States.

Puerto Rico
Do you want a honeymoon in a foreign country? Puerto Rico gives you the option of an exotic, Spanish infused vacation without even having to dig for your old passport or pay extra money for a new one. Since it is a territory of the United States, you won’t need to worry about your passport. Flights to this country can be expensive, but most dining, hotels and activities have dropped significantly during the recession.

Sri Lanka
For more adventurous honeymooners, a getaway to the island of Sri Lanka may sound like the perfect opportunity. India can be expensive and, at times, unsafe. Sri Lanka boasts a lower crime rate as well as lower prices on everything from hotels to tours. Transportation on the island is fairly easy, as a train runs the entirety of the island. Airfare is expensive and the plane ride is long, but extremely low prices in the country will save you plenty of honeymooning money. Grab a surfboard, eat with the locals and hike the wonderful Sri Lankan jungles.

Turkey
With its rich Mediterranean culture, vast beaches- on three different oceans- and airy resorts, this country is much like Greece before it was hit with a wave of tourists. A stay in Turkey can be almost half the price of a stay in Greece and this country offers almost identical amenities, exploring options and exciting activities. Greece boasts island beaches; however Turkey also offers beautiful beach resorts on the mainland, at a fraction of the price.

The Best Modern Architecture In Birmingham

When you think of Birmingham, you may think of industrial buildings, and of traditional architecture. However, Birmingham is re-inventing itself as a post-industrial haven for modern architecture. Here are just some of the highlights:

The Bull Ring

The Bull Ring encapsulates all that Birmingham is about, combining the historical with the modern. The massive shopping complex was traditionally a marketplace, which contained an area for bull baiting. Although this has long disappeared, the commercial aspects of the Bull Ring have not.

The modern Bull Ring began construction in 2000, and the design deliberately reflects the forward-looking nature of modern Birmingham. The modern design of the Selfridges building is not only striking – encompassing modern-style curves and shiny metal discs – but also functional, as the Bull Ring is the busiest shopping centre in the UK.

It’s rare to be able to combine high-class architecture with high-end shopping, but Birmingham has done it. The juxtaposition of the modernist Bull Ring with the traditional St. Michael’s Church only highlights the beautiful modernism of the architecture.

The National Sea Life Centre

As well as the redevelopment of the Bull Ring, the creation of a National Sea Life Centre was part of the regeneration of Birmingham City Centre. Although Birmingham is over 100 miles from the nearest sea, the Sea Life Centre is located next to the canals on Birmingham’s Brindley Place, and is therefore in keeping with an aquatic theme.

The building itself is designed to echo the undulation of waves, and it places visitors in the mind-set of the life aquatic, even before entering. The building was designed by Sir Norman Foster, and is typical of his modernist style. His unique use of materials, as well as his use of modernist curves sets the building apart. The sea life within the centre is also a spectacular sight, and a trip inside the building is an absolute must for anyone with even a passing interest in animals.

The Radisson Blu Hotel, Birmingham

Hotel architecture has always been an opportunity for designers to make a statement and define an area of the city. The Radisson Blu Hotel in Birmingham certainly does this for the business district. The 39-storey glass skyscraper dominates the skyline and lends an air of powerful efficiency and modernity to the area. For people who love chrome, glass and industrial design this is the perfect place to rest up before heading out to enjoy spotting even more of the city’s great architectural gems. Visit Radisson Blu Hotel webisite to see more of the exterior and the interior of the hotel.

Holloway Circus Tower

Although Birmingham is leaving its industrial past behind that does not mean that it is abandoning traditional high-rise buildings. Holloway Circus Tower is the tallest building in Birmingham, and is also one of the most recognisably modern buildings in the contemporary Birmingham skyline.

The estimated cost of the building, part of which is home to a luxury hotel, is a whopping £72 million. This massive investment shows in its sheer size and spectacle. What really sets the building apart is the use of reflective glass on the façade of the building, which creates a dazzling image throughout the city. This postmodern building also looks spectacular at night when it is lit up by a number of coloured lights.

Fort Dunlop

The Fort Dunlop building is intrinsically linked with the industrial heritage of Birmingham. The factory that played such an important role in tyre production, particularly during the Second World War, has recently undergone a major renovation. The goal of the renovations was to give the historic structure, which stands next to the M6, a more modern use.

The building won the 2007 sign industry awards for its modern (and changeable) sign that stands above the structure. Although the Fort Dunlop building is not recognisably modern, the gutting of the structure meant that a number of the old fittings and sections of the building were replaced with more contemporary parts.

The Fort Dunlop building encapsulates exactly what Birmingham architecture in the last twenty years is all about – modern twists, but with a clear and deliberate sense of history.

Birmingham’s architectural landscape is continually changing. While retaining its history and heritage, the city’s adoption of more contemporary structural design has made it all the more appealing. Fans of architecture will not be disappointed with a visit to Birmingham.

Paperbark Camp Australia

The Australian version of the African camp experience, Paperback Camp, created in 1998 after many years of dreaming and planning. This retreat is ideal for guests who adore being close to nature as much as they appreciate their creature comforts. Bringing together world class lodging with fine cuisine, dining and warm hospitality, the retreat has set up camp as a base from which to discover Jervis Bay’s clear waters, white sand beaches and lush bush landscapes. Such a boutique camping experience is facilitated by low impact, eco-friendly operations, awarding the camp advanced accreditation with the Ecotourism Association of Australia.

Keeping the forest canopy intact as much as possible, accommodation is created to co-exist seamlessly with the giant, age-old trees. Built on an elevated timber platform, 12 safari-style tents look up into the soaring eucalyptus and paperbark trees that pepper the area. It very much reminds me of the Bangkok treehouse in Thailand. Naturally ventilated and running on solar power, each tent is fitted with an open air bathroom, plush bed, local furniture and wrap-around hardwood veranda for one to take in the sights and sounds of the bush.  Urbanites with any lingering anxieties about camping in the wilderness will change their minds with a stay in any of the 4 deluxe tents. Designer furnishings and a standalone bath transform tents in to chic abodes, while an unhindered view of the sprawling gum tree forest add to the luxe camping experience.

Just a short drive away is the eco tourist’s paradise of Jervis Bay, offering diving, snorkelling, surfing and dolphin watching activities. Booderee National Park if a sanctuary to a wide variety of wildlife, and is easily accessible through a network of walking trails. The camp’s flourishing paper bark, gum and mangrove forest trails provide opportunities for animal spotting throughout the day. In the early mornings, guests can head out to watch wild kangaroos freed, while possums and nocturnal creatures take over the forest in the evening and can be seen at play. Green modes of transport such as complimentary bikes and canoes are also provided for guests to explore the tidal inlet at their own pace. Better yet, take advantage of the serene forest setting with a massage in the privacy of one’s tent.

The Gunyah provides a communal area for dining and relaxing. Designed be architectural firm Nettleton Tribe, the lodge offers a unique vantage point from among the tree tops and is naturally cooled by sea breezes. Reflecting the season changes is a modern European influenced menu, highlighting the fresh, organic flavours that the Australian coast is renowned for. In summer, guests can dine al fresco under the trees in a delightful bush setting. Winter sees guests moving inward to the open fire, with plush loungers creating a cosy atmosphere for one to curl up in.

Offering tranquillity and relaxation in an artfully designed experience that takes both environment and guest in mind, Paperback Camp is luxury eco camping at its best- not to mention one of the best options for guilt free hedonism found in the South Pacific.