Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Top Things to Do in Larnaca

Have you ever heard of Larnaca? It’s not at the top of many traveler’s lists, but it’s an incredible destination off the beaten path and one you should definitely hit if you’re an adventurous traveler! Not only is it the oldest city in Cyprus, but it may be one of the oldest cities in the world. This rugged and charming town has a mysterious and seductive feel that will have you wanting to explore its every nook and cranny. There are plenty of things to do, and this will surely be a visit you won’t forget. You can book your holiday to Larnaca through Thomas Cook. So read on for the top things to do while you’re staying in Larnaca:

Ayios Lazarus
This site is notable as a church built on the site where St. Lazarus’s tomb is kept. Lazarus moved to Cyprus after being chased out of Israel, spreading the news of Christianity after Jesus brought him back from the dead. He was named Bishop of Kition and reigned for years. This church is fascinating to explore and is a remarkable historical site to visit while in Larnaca.

Salt Lake
The “Salt Lake” is in fact a group of four salt lakes that are interconnected and fill with water during winter months. When they are full, flocks of flamingos come to make their home here and feed on the shrimp living in the lake. As the weather warms and summer comes along, the water dries up and leaves a crusty salt layer that can be up to 10 cm thick.

Larnaca Fort
This fascinating site was built back in 1625 by the Ottomans, in attempts to defend the city from attackers. But it was actually more often used as a prison! The fort has a gorgeous location right on the shore line so when you go visit, you actually walk around it by a sea wall. In the fort you can see plenty of archaeological exhibits like suits of armor and other artifacts. In the summertime, the fort and surrounding area are often used for outdoor events like concerts and festivals.

Wreck of the Zenobia
Do you love scuba diving? You’re going to go nuts for Cyprus! There is some amazing diving here and you really can’t miss the wreck of the Zenobia while you’re here. The Zenobia cargo ship sunk 30 years ago and is in great condition, with a number of different dive levels and challenges that will appeal to any level of diver. This is actually considered one of the top shipwreck dives in the world. You’ll see things like the colorful carpets in the lounge and even food still in the vending machines!

This is one of the most important Neolithic sites in the world, and a World Heritage Site as well. At first, it might look like a mess of jumbled stones and rocks but in fact this is the ruins of an ancient civilization. A visit to this site will reveal how people lived 9,000 years ago. And the work is still in progress here, who knows what is yet to be found.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My Favourite Island Getaways

I have a confession to make. I spend hours and hours online daydreaming about escaping to various tranquil islands all over the world. There is something magical to me about that turquoise water and soft white sand. Last week I was having my usual coffee-club catch up with my girlfriends. We got onto the topic of island getaways and it turns out that I’m not the only island-getaway fanatic. 

Based on the conversation that unfolded, here are the top island getaways on my bucket-list and why I think you should consider them too:
Phi-Phi Islands, Thailand
Best for the ultimate laid-back island escape. Limestone cliffs give way to beach-fronted jungle and sunlit crystal water. Days are a blend of snorkelling, swimming and savouring Thai cuisine. You can even complete your PADI certification and enjoy some scuba diving. Finish off your day with a sunset massage. There are no flights to the Phi-Phi Islands so once you’re in Phuket make sure to purchase your boat tickets – most hotels and guesthouses can assist you with this.
Lanzarote, Canary Islands
Best for a chic, eco-friendly island experience. Take a coach tour and marvel at the lava landscape inside Timanfaya National Park. Explore shipwrecks, caves and magical marine life while taking advantage of the excellent diving opportunities. Indulge your palate in some wine tasting at El Grifo Wine Museum, the oldest winery in the Canaries. Make sure to book your Lanzarote flights in advance.
Green Island, Taiwan
Best for an activity-filled weekend getaway. This small volcanic Island is accessible from Taiwan by boat or plane. Rent a scooter and make your way around this unusual island with its 16.3km round-the-island highway. It boasts impressive snorkelling and diving options. Visit one of only 3 saltwater hot springs in the world.
Best for sightseeing and photography.  Join an adventure in the sky and indulge yourself in a Seaplane photo flight offering you panoramic views and unparalleled photo opportunities. Relax and unwind in a stilted bungalow hovering over the crystal clear waters. Pamper yourself with a spa treatment. The Maldives is easily accessible from anywhere in South-East Asia, the Middle-East and Europe.

One of the go-to wedding locations for its luxurious tropical weather, soft sandy beaches, incredible resorts and high-quality hotels. If weddings or sunbathing isn’t going to be a huge part of your holiday experience, then Mauritius has a load of historical sights, hiking trails along its lush vegetation and almost unlimited water sports in their warm and azure waters.
Turks and Caicos Islands
Set amongst the Caribbean islands in the region, Turks and Caicos offers incredible food such as fritters and stews made from conches, the islands most famous export. The best place to visit is Da Conch Shack that plays smooth and relaxing music, while you eat a creamy chowder made from seafood caught that very morning, the beer should taste so much better in paradise. The island also has great water activities such as kite boarding on Long Bay Beach, fly fishing as well as night fishing. The low-level snorkelling in the shallow waters of Gibbs Bay is incredible, especially that you can swim amongst the rays.

Alright, no more day-dreaming. I need to make a plan to get on a plane and head to all these destinations sooner than later in my office secluded life and island getaways are the perfect places to renew your mind and fill your heart with the sounds and smells of the summer sun.