Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Silversmith Hotel & Suites – Chicago: itravelnet.com Travel Blog plus 5 more

The Silversmith Hotel & Suites – Chicago: itravelnet.com Travel Blog plus 5 more

Link to itravelnet.com Travel Blog

The Silversmith Hotel & Suites – Chicago

Posted: 12 Feb 2013 11:25 PM PST

The Silversmith Hotel & Suitessilversmithchicagohotel.com

At this downtown Chicago, Illinois hotel, guests are surrounded by a unique, historic setting that blends comfort, luxury, and charm with a welcoming attitude from our staff as well as incredible amenities and services.
The Silversmith Hotel & Suites

Travel Directory: Chicago Hotels

The Silversmith Hotel & Suites – Chicago from itravelnet.com - Travel Directory

Sinquerim: ideal for a luxury holiday in Goa

Posted: 12 Feb 2013 07:57 PM PST

Goa is home to many beach destinations, each of which has its own charms. If it’s unbridled luxury you’re looking for, though, Sinquerim in the north of the state could tick all of your boxes.

You’ll find Sinquerim to the south of bays like Candolim, Calangute and Anjuna, which are among Goa’s busiest stretches of sand. By contrast, Sinquerim is relatively quiet, making it perfect if you want to relax and unwind on your holiday.

If you’ve got your heart set on a luxury break in Goa, here are a few reasons why I think Sinquerim could be the right destination for you.

Luxury hotels
One of the basic components of a luxury break is high-end accommodation – something that you can easily find in Sinquerim. The famous Taj Holiday Village Hotel and its sister establishment, the Fort Aguada Beach Resort, are among the top options here.

In the former, you can stay in garden cottages, all with their own en-suite bathroom, satellite TV, air-con and mini bar, among other features. The facilities at the Taj Holiday Village Hotel are extensive and include three restaurants, a mini golf course, tennis courts, a gym, two swimming pools (one specifically for children) and a billiards room.

A further bonus to booking a room in this hotel with a company like Jewel in the Crown is that you’ll have access to the luxurious Taj Spa, where you can be pampered with all manner of treatments, from pedicures to massages.
The Fort Aguada Beach Resort has a similarly impressive range of amenities for its guests to make use of. What makes it really stand out, though, is its location on top of the 16th century fort from which it takes its name. There are amazing views of the beach from its swimming pool.

The beach
While Goa has a reputation for having stunning beaches, it’s certainly true that some are more picturesque than others. Sinquerim is regarded as one of the most beautiful stretches of sand on the coast, so if you love soaking up the sun in glorious surroundings, it’s a good spot to choose.

The sweeping sand is fringed by palm trees and the shores are lapped by the Indian Ocean – it’s a picture-perfect crescent bay. It is safe to swim here, so if you get too hot while lounging in the sun you can cool down with a dip in the sea.

Varied activities
Although being active isn’t something everyone wants to do on a holiday, it’s nice to have the option to try a new sport or indulge in a favourite pastime if you want to. Sinquerim is a haven for water sports enthusiasts, with all manner of activities on offer.

If you’re looking for some high-speed action, you can hire a jet ski, go parasailing or try your hand at water skiing. For something a little slower-paced, but no less adventurous, delve beneath the waves in scuba gear.
There is a dive school by the beach where you can book a try-dive, sign up for a course or, if you’re already qualified, arrange a package of dives.

Of course, if you’re staying at one of the luxury hotels near Sinquerim, you can get active on dry land by playing a game of tennis or squash on one of the courts or simply heading to the gym for a workout.

Sinquerim: ideal for a luxury holiday in Goa from itravelnet.com - Travel Directory

Must see UNESCO World Heritage Sites in North India

Posted: 12 Feb 2013 07:37 PM PST

With the Vindhya Mountains welcoming you, North India is a combination of vast plains, grassy hills, and snow-capped peaks. Comprising 12 of the nation’s states and featuring more moderate temperatures than its tropical cousins, the northern region of the country offers numerous options for India holidays. This includes many UNESCO World Heritage Sites that cannot be missed.

Gadisagar Lake, Jaisalmer

The northernmost UNESCO World Heritage to take a look at on one of your India holidays is Qutb Minar, situated in the state of Delhi. The largest minaret in India, construction of the sandstone tower began in the late 12th century. Though struck by lightning several times in its history, the five-story tower has survived through a number of restorations. Today, the Qutb Minar is surrounded by other buildings and monuments that have cropped up over the centuries. These include the 13th century Alai-Darwaza Gate and the Alai Minar, a minaret that was supposed to top Qutb.

Another is Fatehpur Sikri, located not far from the India-Pakistan border in Uttar Pradesh, Agra District. Established as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986, the city was the short-term home to the Mughal Empire capital in the late 16th century. While just a small part of the city has been preserved, the buildings that survived, and the monuments outside of its walls, provide visitors with a prime example of architectural styles between 1571 and 1585. Some of the more significant sites of Fatephur Sikri are the Diwan-i-Am, where city officials handed out sentences to citizens, the Buland Damaza, a monument honouring the taking of Gujarat in 1572, and the Jama Masjid – considered one of the roomiest mosques in India.

Another site to consider when planning your India holidays is located in the northern city of Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. Jantar Mantar, constructed towards the end of the Mughal period of rule in the early 17th century, was designed for the purpose of observing the position of astronomical objects using only the naked eye. A prime example of sturdy Indian architecture, UNESCO declared this a Word Heritage Site due to its set of 22 unique astronomical instruments and its application as both a scientific and theological building.

Combined with stays at some the areas luxurious and historic hotels and stops for unique shopping and dining, visits to these three must see UNESCO Word Heritage Sites should be staples of any India holidays. By mixing ancient history with modern amenities, one will get a full understanding of India’s history.

Maharajah Palace, Udaipur

Must see UNESCO World Heritage Sites in North India from itravelnet.com - Travel Directory

New York’s all-time top attractions

Posted: 12 Feb 2013 03:43 PM PST

Planning your first visit to New York? I’m so envious if you are; I visited a few years back and I’ve been dying to return ever since. Personally, I think there’s something really special about your first trip – the image of the huge skyscrapers looming out of the distance as our taxi approached Manhattan is something I know I’ll never forget.

Now, as we all know, New York is packed with iconic attractions and, if it’s your first time here, there are some places you absolutely must visit – even if you think they sound like tourist traps! I’d save heading off the beaten track until your next trip (or simply later on in this one, if you’ll be here for a good few weeks), since there are some places you really can’t go home without visiting – and you can check out what they are below.

The Empire State Building
One of the most famous structures in the New York skyline, the Empire State Building is an absolute must-visit – and not just for the building itself. Personally, I think the view you get across the Big Apple is an equally important reason for coming here.

You’ll find this iconic landmark where Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street intersect. At 102 storeys high, it’s endlessly impressive, and there are two observatories you can visit. The one on the 86th floor has both indoor and outdoor sections, while you can check out the view from an indoor gallery on the 102nd floor.

Times Square
You’ll likely recognise the vast digital billboards of Times Square from films and TV programmes – but I reckon you’ll still be pretty taken aback by the sight of it in person. It’s bigger, brighter, louder and busier than just about anywhere else I’ve been – definitely one not to miss!

During my visit to New York, I stayed in a hotel just off Times Square – something I’d really recommend doing. If you haven’t already booked a place to stay, check out your options at http://www.hayesandjarvis.co.uk/destinations/USA/New York.

The Statue of Liberty
Of course, no list of New York’s ultimate attractions is going to be complete without mentioning the Statue of Liberty, is it? You can get ferries from downtown Manhattan over to Liberty Island to see the statue – and these tickets will also get you a ferry ride and entry to Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

Formerly the first port of call for immigrants moving to the Big Apple, Ellis Island is almost as big a gem as the statue itself, so don’t be tempted to skip your trip here. A fascinating slice of New York history, this museum tells the story of immigration to the city.

Central Park
Next on my list is Central Park, the city’s famous green oasis. It covers a truly whopping 843 acres bang in the middle of the Big Apple and is, deservedly, known as one of the greatest parks in the whole world.

I loved coming here. It’s a great place for a picnic or quiet read (despite the fact it’s hugely popular with tourists and locals alike, it’s so massive that you can still find secluded spots), but it’s also got loads going on. For instance, there are rinks for roller skating in summer and ice skating in winter, as well as carousels and even a zoo!

Brooklyn Bridge
Back when this was completed in 1883, it was the world’s longest suspension bridge. Today, it’s still one of the city’s major icons, as well as a really important site in historical terms, since it was the first bridge to connect Manhattan and Brooklyn.

So, get yourself over to Park Row and Centre Street – the entrance to the bridge on the Manhattan side – and take a walk across it. You can stroll along the whole thing (a 5,989 ft walk), which I think is a great experience to have. There’s plenty of pedestrianised space, so you don’t feel too close to the traffic, and you get some outstanding views.

New York’s all-time top attractions from itravelnet.com - Travel Directory

Pollenҫa: explore the history

Posted: 12 Feb 2013 05:17 AM PST

The small town of Pollença in North Mallorca has a rich and colourful history. Following destruction of the settlement by vandals way back in the 5th century, Pollença as we know it was not founded until the 13th century, when King Jaume I introduced the Catalan culture that it currently adopts.

The town's captivating history is plain to see in the exquisite architecture and surrounding culture, and if visiting the area, there are a number of must-visit places that really capture the essence of this old town.

 Plaza Mayor

Dominated by the 18th century Parroquial church, the Plaza Mayor is worth a visit to experience its Sunday fruit and veg market. Here you'll find stalls selling traditional fare, such as olives, Sobrasada and a variety of Mediterranean vegetables.

If you enjoy arts and crafts, wander through the markets to discover the town's artistic tradition.

Finca Son Brull

For a piece of history, visit Finca Son Brull, a convent dating back to the 18th century. Once there, treat yourself to a gourmet meal in the top class restaurant, take part in one of their acclaimed cookery classes, or chill out to some of the live Jazz played frequently.

El Calvari Chapel

Climbing the 365 steps to the El Calvari Chapel is a tiring but worthwhile pursuit. Not only does the chapel boast impressive 18th century architecture, but the views over Pollença and Puig on the horizon are stunning.

Via Crucis

Another steep climb, the walkway up Via Crucis comprises around 400 steps. At the top stands the 13th century statue of Mare de Deu del Peu de la Creu (Mother of God at the Foot of the Cross), and the views over the surrounding countryside and coastline are incredible.

Puig de Maria & Monastery

Last but by no means least, the 'Santuari de la Mare de Déu del Puig' hill is worth embarking on yet another climb to witness the spectacular views of Majorca countryside from the top. The Puig de Maria is home to a stunning 1348 medieval chapel and monastery overlooking the city of Pollenҫa.

If you make it to the top, the restaurant at the peak is the ideal pit-stop for a meal or drinks.

So, if you're heading to Mallorca this year, be sure to take time out to get to grips with the rich cultural history of this fascinating and picturesque town.

This article was contributed by Aurora Johnson on behalf of Puerto Pollença's charming Hotel Sis Pins.

Pollenҫa: explore the history from itravelnet.com - Travel Directory

Getting active in Peru

Posted: 11 Feb 2013 07:23 PM PST

While walking holidays in Peru with Pura Aventura are a great way to experience the enchanting scenery of this South American country, there are a wide range of other activities on offer too. From mountain biking along the Inca Trail to rafting down the Apurimac River, Peru is an adventurer’s wonderland.

There are a wide range of options for hiking in Peru, with the Colca Valley one of the most picturesque as many of the routes link up small colonial villages. As well as these quaint dwellings the area also boasts a chain of volcanoes dusted beautifully with snow throughout the year.

For those looking for something a little more adventurous there is the Cordillera Blanca – a mountain range which allows hikers to become climbers and scale the snow-capped peaks of the highest tropical mountain range anywhere in the world.

Of course the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu remains the most popular of all trekking itineraries in Peru and probably the whole of South America. This is because all of the hard work culminates in a view of the remains of the magical Incan city. An extra majesty is often lent by the wispy clouds that flank it, making it appear almost otherworldly.

Mountain biking
But there is another way to tackle the Inca Trail as opposed to relying on Shanks’ pony and that is mountain biking – a sport that is really starting to take off in Peru. The infrastructure has been put in place in order to maximise the interest in the sport with circuits set up for all abilities.

Using a simple A through to C system, beginners can identify the routes which suit them and move on to the more advanced ones when they feel more accomplished.

The Paracas Reserve is a particularly fun place to go biking as there are chances to hug the coastline around the peninsula or follow trails across the desert and ride through sand dunes. This part of Peru is a mountain biking heaven and perfect for cyclists wanting to let off some steam.

White water rafting
There are no fewer than 12 rivers in Peru that stretch for more than 600 kilometres in length each, making it a wonderful destination for white water rafting. The Apurimac River is particularly well placed near Cusco, which leads on to Machu Picchu, meaning that two aspects of a trip can be easily combined.

The Apurimac should not be underestimated as it is a challenging river, making it all the more exciting for those who wish to take it on. With rapids coming in quick succession and a number of other obstacles to overcome, it will certainly get the adrenaline running.

Cutting its way through the canyon, the scenery is also superb, with the walls stretching up to the sky and contrasting with the blue and white rapids of the river.

When thinking about travelling along a stretch of this waterway it is easy to forget the longer journey that the river is taking. Starting off thousands of metres above sea level up in the Andes, the meltwater collects to become the Apurimac, but further down the line it transforms into the Amazon.

Journeys such as these in Peru are worth taking, not just for the Incan cities which lie at the end, but also the thrill along the way.

Getting active in Peru from itravelnet.com - Travel Directory