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48 Hours in Catania, Sicily

Due to centuries of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, little has survived from this city’s early days. Still, Catania remains an ancient port city filled with Baroque architecture, some of the best seafood and lots of energy. Winter is one of the best times to visit, there are less tourists and temperatures are mild.

What to See

Catania Cathedral, Sicily
Photo Courtesy of Typical Sicily

Start your exploration of Catania in the city center, Piazza Duomo. Designed in Baroque style in the 18th century, this area features the whimsical Fontana dell’Elefante statue and the stunning Catania Cathedral. The city’s showpiece church, Catania Cathedral, is dedicated to Saint Agatha and features a tiered Baroque façade fashioned out of volcanic rock.

Mount Etna, Catania
Photo Courtesy of The Guardian

One of Catania’s biggest attractions is that it sits at the foot of Europe’s largest active volcano, Mount Etna which dominates the landscape of north-eastern Sicily. Take one of the buses from the Piazza to the base of the mountain or further up to several of the main cauldrons.

Where to Stay

Una Hotel Palace, Catania
Photo Courtesy of Una Hotels

Located in the artistic and commercial part of Catania, Una Hotel Palace is in the middle of it all. It’s housed in an early 20th century palazzo and features 94 elegant, yet understated rooms with roof top views of Mt. Etna. After a long day exploring the city, indulge in a Turkish bath and relax on the rooftop garden.

What to Eat

La Pescheria, Catania
Photo Courtesy of Dissapore

Catania is home to Sicily’s iconic pasta alla Norma, made with tomatoes, aubergine, ricotta and basil. It’s also known for its amazing and abundant fish market, La Pescheria, which is open daily and surrounded by seafood restaurants. Make a reservation at Osteria Antica Marina, which serves superb seafood with a trattoria vibe. Finish off your evening with gelato at Pasticceria Savia, a local institution in the middle of Via Etnea.

New Year’s Eve Destinations Around the World

Celebrate the year gone by and welcome what’s to come from one of these fabulous destinations. From Big Ben to a Malaysian island, book a flight to one of these spectacular spots to celebrate New Year’s Eve!

Budapest

Szechenyi Spa Bath, Budapest
Photo Courtesy of Szechenyi Spa Bath

It’s impossible to be bored on New Year’s Eve in Budapest. From a dinner cruise to live concerts and a bath party, the Hungarians know how to party! Marvel at the city center fireworks and brightly lit churches from aboard the River Danube Boat, which serves a 6-course dinner with live music and a dance performance. Check out the Budapest Bath Party for an all night New Year’s Eve extravaganza. Located at the Szechenyi thermal baths, this event includes 30 laser shows, DJs and great music.

London

New Year's Eve, London
Photo Courtesy of Timeout London

On New Year’s Eve, Big Ben lights up with UK’s largest firework display. Take a New Year’s Eve cruise for some of the best views of the fireworks while you sip champagne and listen to live music. For land-based parties, dine in style at the black tie dinner at The Ritz, complete with marching bands and views of the fireworks. Start the new year off right with the London New Year’s Day Parade, featuring over 8,000 performers that parade through central London.

Langkawi

New Year's Eve, Langkawi
Photo Courtesy of Live in Style

Warm up beach side this New Year’s Eve at Langkawi, a cluster of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea. This tropical paradise sits close to the northwest coast of Malaysia and is one of the most popular beach destinations in the region. Explore the UNESCO Geopark, cycle through rice fields or sail the Andaman Sea at sunset. For New Year’s Eve, enjoy a luxurious gala dinner at a resort or fireworks and vibrant parties at Cenang Beach. An hour before midnight lanterns are released into the sky as a symbol of good luck in the New Year.

The Best Ski Accommodations near Chambery

A short flight to the Chambery Airport will drop you right in the heart of French ski country. From here it’s easy access to some of the most sought after resorts in the world, from Chamonix to Le Trois Vallees. After a long day on the slopes, these are the best ski accommodations to help you relax and rejuvenate.

Hermitage Paccard Chalet Hotel

Hermitage Paccard Chalet Hotel
Photo Courtesy of Hermitage Paccard

The Chamonix ski resort area is located at the base of Mt. Blanc, the highest summit in the Alps. Located two minutes from town is Hermitage Paccard Chalet Hotel, a family-run bed and breakfast in the calm area of Les Mouilles. Inside you will find a wine and cocktail bar, sauna and gym, ski storage and children’s room. For a larger, more private space opt for La Hermitage Chalet, a 5-bedroom chalet with a cozy living room and access to the main lodge.

Altapura

Altapura
Photo Courtesy of Altapura

Le Trois Vallees is the highest ski resort in Europe and the biggest ski area in the world. Home to hundreds of accommodations, this five-star boutique hotel stands out from the rest. The stunning Altapura features a Nordic-chic atmosphere with a wood and stone design aesthetic. There are 61 rooms and 27 suites with amazing views of the snow-caped Alps. After a long day on the slopes, step into the 10,000 square foot spa for treatments based on Nordic and Baltic traditions.

Chalet Ferme de Moudon

Chalet Ferme de Moudon
Photo Courtesy of Ultimate Luxury Chalets

Portes du Soleil, or Gateway to the Sun, is a popular Franco-Swiss ski area comparable to Le Trois Vallees and Paradiski. Just outside the picturesque town of Morzine is Chalet Ferme de Mandon. This private chalet is tucked away from it all, yet only three minutes from the center of town. It sleeps 12 and includes a staff of five (think chef, chauffeur and assistant), a sauna, outside hot tub and massage rooms.

Travel Guide: Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva is many things, a modern day international hub, a gateway to the Alps and a diversely rich cultural center. But one of the best parts about this city is that it can easily be conquered in a weekend!

What to Do

Mont Saleve, Geneva
Photo Courtesy of Geneve.com

Geneva is located on the southern tip of Lake Geneva with the Alps and Jura mountains as its backdrop. For one of the best views of the city, take a cable car up to Mont Saleve, known as the balcony of Geneva. If you prefer an outdoor adventure, hiking, paragliding or mountain biking is available.

Jet D'Eau, Geneva
Photo Courtesy of Geneva.info

Known as the world’s tallest water fountain, Jet D’Eau is one of the most famous monuments in Geneva. In 1886 it was originally built to control and release the excessive pressure of a hydraulic plant. Today it pushes 132 gallons of water up 459 feet every second! If the wind picks up, you are sure to get soaked.

What to See

St. Peter's Cathedral, Geneva
Photo Courtesy of My Switzerland

Make your way through the cobblestone streets of Old Town, starting at St. Peter’s Cathedral. Climb the 157 steps to the North Tower for some spectacular views of the city. With more than 30 museums and art galleries, there is plenty to see in Old Town. Make a stop at Les Armures Restaurant where they serve Swiss specialties, like raclette and fondue.

Patek Phillippe Museum, Geneva
Photo Courtesy of Watch Time

The art of Swiss clock making has its roots in Geneva. To learn all about the history visit Patek Phillippe Museum. Spread over four floors you will discover how Geneva became a watch-making center and on display are some of the most complicated and unusual watches in the world.

Where to Stay

Hotel Les Armures, Geneva
Photo Courtesy of Hotel Les Armures

Luxury meets history at Hotel Les Armures. This 5-star hotel is located in a historic family residence in the heart of Old Town. Inside you will find the epitome of refined 17th century elegance. The 32 restored rooms and suites have maintained the spirit of a private residence and the hotel restaurant is one of the oldest in the city.

Top 5 Places to Visit in Barcelona

This bustling capital has been breaking ground in art and architecture since the 19th century. Barcelona continues to impress visitors today with its iconic Gaudi structures, the Gothic Quarter and the Picasso Museum, among others. If you find yourself in this lively city, don’t miss visiting these incredible spots.

Park Guell

Park Guell, Barcelona
Photo Courtesy of Lonely Planet

This whimsical public park was originally supposed to be a housing community. Today Parc Guell covers 42 acres of land with a quintessential Antoni Gaudi twist. The park is built around the natural elements of the land and was modeled after gardens Gaudi had seen in England. The colorful mosaics and Dr. Suess-style architecture draws thousands of visitors daily.

Gothic Quarter

Gothic Quarter, Barcelona
Photo Courtesy of Barcelonando

The Gothic Quarter is the oldest part of Barcelona and also one of the liveliest. Lose the map and let yourself wander through the streets where you will spot Roman and Medieval architecture as well as cafes, bars, clubs and shops. Walk down Placa de la Catedral to see the stunning Barcelona Cathedral.

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
Photo Courtesy of Architectural Digest

For over 40 years Catalan art nouveau master Antoni Gaudi devoted himself to the construction of La Sagrada Familia or Church of Sacred Family. He was not able to finish the structure, but it remains his most recognized work. Gaudi worked off of the neo-Gothic style but went for something more innovative. Through his architecture he aimed to teach people about Catholicism. The four towers represent the 12 apostles and the carved facades show the life of Christ.

Museu Picasso

Museu Picasso, Barcelona
Photo Courtesy of Ajuntament de Barcelona

Discover the many sides of Pablo Picasso at the Museu Picasso. On display are several thousand pieces featured on a timeline that allows you to follow Picasso’s progression from more controlled works to the whimsical paintings and sculptures at the end of his career, including several works from his famous blue period. In addition, you can explore his lifelong relationship with the city of Barcelona.

Palau de la Musica Catalana

Palau de la Musica Catalana, Barcelona
Photo Courtesy of Palau Musica

The Palau de la Musica Catalana is one of the most beautiful modernist buildings in the city. The polychromatic exterior draws visitors in and the flamboyant interior keeps them coming back.  Lluis Domenech I Montaner depicted the Catalan modernista style through the ornate sculptures and inverted stained glass dome. Join a guided tour or better yet, watch a concert!

Travel Guide: Avignon

In the heart of Provence you will find the lovely city of Avignon. For most of the 1300s, Avignon was the center of the Roman Catholic world, which left behind beautiful architecture overlooking the Rhone River. If you find yourself in Avignon, stay a day or two and experience the culture and beauty for yourself!

What to See

Palais de Papes

Palais des Papes, Avignon
Photo Courtesy of Palais des Papes

The largest Gothic palace ever built, Palais des Papes is one of the most popular tourist’s sites in the city. This palace served as the seat of papal power for seven decades and resembles true Roman Catholic architecture. Take a tour inside to discover 14th century chapel frescos, serpentine corridors and other ornate designs.

Pont Saint-Benezet

Pont Saint-Benezet, Avignon
Photo Courtesy of Lonely Planet

This medieval bridge was built by Pastor Benezet in 1185 and reached 900m-long with 20 arches. Pont Saint-Benezet linked Avignon to Villeneuve les Avignon. The bridge was destroyed 40 years later and despite attempts to rebuild, was abandoned in the 17th century. Four arches remain and can be best viewed from Rocher des Doms, a public garden on a hillside 30m above the Rhone.

What to Eat

Christian Etienne, Avignon
Photo Courtesy of Christian Etienne

Besides the famous architecture, Avignon is known for its culinary gems. Explore the cobblestone streets and you will find many excellent restaurants and cafes. The Restaurant L’Essentiel is one of the finest places to eat in town. Located in an elegant hotel, you won’t be disappointed. Another favorite is Christian Etienne, which occupies a 12th century palace with an outdoor terrace adjacent to Palais de Papes.

What to Do

Festival d'Avignon, Avignon
Photo Courtesy of Discover France

Site seeing and wandering the neighborhoods could easily fill your whole day, but there is so much more to do in the Avignon area. The annual Festival d’Avignon is one of the greatest performing arts festivals in the world. Lasting 3 weeks in July, this festival features over 40 international works of dance and drama at venues around town.

Gordes, France
Photo Courtesy of France Today

Take a day trip outside of town into the Luberon countryside to the village of Gordes. Located 40km east of Avignon, you will find the Bastide de Gordes, a gorgeous hotel and Michelin star restaurant with views of rolling vineyards and stone farmhouses. You will never want to leave.

Top 5 Places to Visit in Nice

There is no better place to soak up the Riviera vibe than Nice. The year-around sunshine brings visitors to this stunning seaside city, but it’s the old town charm, artistic history and stunning views that get people to stay. If you find yourself in Nice, don’t miss these favorites!

Old Town

Old Town Nice, France
Photo Courtesy of Lonely Planet

The narrow winding alleyways that make up Old Town have barely changed since the 1700s. The streets are packed with new and old restaurants, boutiques, bars and delis. At the center of this charming section of Nice is Cours Saleya, a large market square that thrives in the summer months with fresh produce, souvenirs and an abundance of flowers.

Parc du Chateau

Parc du Chateau, Nice
Photo Courtesy of Ali Shayler/See Nice

For some of the best views of Nice, the Port and the surrounding hillsides, climb the winding staircase to the Parc du Chateau. Located on the eastern edge of town, this historic hilltop has become popular for its lush undergrowth and beautiful waterfall.

Promenade des Anglais

Promenade des Anglais, Nice
Photo Courtesy of Telegraph

This is possibly the most famous stretch of seafront in France. The Promenade des Anglais, or Walkway of the English, runs along the Mediterranean and features Belle Epoque architecture in colorful hues. Stroll along this walkway and stop at Hotel Le Negresco, the city’s finest 5-star hotel.

Musee Matisse

Musee Matisse, Nice
Photo Courtesy of Nice

Nice has always attracted artists like Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall. Matisse spent much of his life in the Cimiez quarter where the Musee Matisse now resides. This museum houses an assortment of works including oil paintings, drawings, sculpture, tapestries and the artist’s favorite paper cutouts. Matisse is buried across the street, in the Monastere de Cimiez.

Promenade du Paillon

Promenade du Paillon, Nice
Photo Courtesy of Nice

One of the newest additions to this coastal city is the Promenade du Paillon. This new park features a botanical garden and recreational space. Extending three quarters of a mile and surrounded by walkways, you could spend an entire day surrounded by 1,000 trees and 55,000 plants.

The Best Rooftop Bars Around the World

Does it get any better than sipping a cold drink outside on a warm summer night? It does. Try sipping a drink on one of the best rooftop bars in the world. With the most incredible views and equally as amazing cocktails, these rooftop bars can’t be beat.

Moon Bar at Banyan Tree – Bangkok, Thailand

Moon Bar Bangkok, Thailand
Photo Courtesy of Banyan Tree

Thailand is home to some of the world’s most amazing sky bars, but Moon Bar tops the charts. Reaching 61 stories tall with 360-degree views of the cityscape, this bar also includes a restaurant. Indulge in the Thai Sabai, a cocktail made with traditional Mekhong, lime juice, basil leaves and soda water.

Ozone, Ritz Carlton, Hong Kong

Ozone, Hong Kong
Photo Courtesy of Ritz Carlton

Standing 118 floors high, Ozone is the highest rooftop bar in the world. With views of Hong Kong Island and the Victoria Harbor, grabbing a drink at Ozone is definitely bucket list worthy. The bar menu features inventive cocktails and Asian tapas and the outdoor terrace is even available for weddings!

L’Olseau Blanc – Paris, France

L'Oseau Paris, France
Photo Courtesy of Paris Peninsula

Toast to the beauty of the city of light at L’Olseau Blanc. This rooftop favorite features a vintage aviation themed lounge with interiors that include an actual plane. The cocktails play homage to the French pilots that attempted the first transatlantic flight between Paris and New York. However, the most notable feature is the spectacular views of the Eiffel Tower.

Pergola on the Roof – London, U.K.

Pergola on the Roof London, UK

Located on the old BBC TV Center in Shepherd’s Bush, Pergola on the Roof has the perfect daytime summer vibe. Open May 3rd through October 1st, this bar serves food from locally acclaimed restaurants. Book a day bed in advance, enjoy a game of petanque on one of two boule courts or grab a drink from the roaming drink cart.

La Purificadora – Puebla, Mexico

La Purificadora Puebla, Mexico
Photo Courtesy of La Purificadora

Enjoy a beautiful sunset with a drink in hand at La Purificadora. Located in the historic center of Puebla, La Purificadora is housed inside a late 19th century factory that was once used to purify water. Now, you can sip a cocktail next to a glass-walled swimming pool with the Church of San Francisco and the surrounding gardens as your view.

The Most Amazing Underwater Restaurants

Take your dining experience to the next level by enjoying your meal underwater. Built beneath the sea, a handful of restaurants around the world specialize in epic views of the ocean’s ecosystem all while serving world-class cuisine.

Sea at Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas

Photo Courtesy of Kihavah Maldives

Go from your over water villa into the depths of the Indian Ocean where you will find the underwater restaurant Sea at Anantara Kihavah Maldives. Surrounded by clear glass walls, Sea features the world’s first underwater wine cellar with wines spanning nine decades.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

Photo Courtesy of Conrad Hotels

Located on a private island in the middle of the Indian Ocean is the world’s first and only all-glass undersea restaurant. Ithaa, which means mother of pearl in the Maldivian language of Divehi, sits 16 feet below sea level at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Hotel. The panoramic views span a plethora of sea life, from corral gardens to fish and sharks.

Subsix

Photo Courtesy of Pool Associates

Listen to international DJ’s spin while you dance the night away in the world’s first underwater club. Located 20 feet below the Indian Ocean, Subsix features floor-to-ceiling windows that line the walls of the bar with amazing views of the ocean floor. Located 545 yards from the coast, Subsix is only accessible by boat from Niyama Resort.

Cargo Hold Restaurant

Photo Courtesy of Daily Mail

This underwater restaurant also happens to be located in a replica of South Africa’s legendary ghost ship, ‘The Phantom.’ Cargo Hold Restaurant incorporates the region’s culture and history into its ambiance with views of Durban’s marine life, including the region’s famous sharks!

Poseidon Undersea Resort

Photo Courtesy of Poseidon Resorts

This underwater restaurant is currently in the works, but we don’t doubt that it’s going to be a hit. The Poseidon Undersea Resort, which will span 225 acres with 5,000 acres of lagoon, is set to be the only fully underwater resort in the world. There will be two fine dining options, one on land and one below sea, and you can even expect an undersea chapel!

The Best River Cruises Around the World

Imagine traveling to multiple destinations, but having to only unpack once. A river cruise offers just that. Unlike ocean cruise ships, river cruise vessels are smaller and hold less people, which allows for a more relaxing and intimate setting. Whether you choose to cruise down the Danube or the Nile, we have compiled the best cruises just for you!

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise

Photo Courtesy of Uniworld

Known for their stylish ships, Uniworld offers some of the most unique excursions with an emphasis on history and art. One of their newest ships the S.S. Joie de Vivre, which sails from Normandy to Paris, is “boutique hotel meets yacht.” The walls are adorned with silk coverings and the interior is filled with antiques evoking mid-20th century Paris. The vessel features 10 spacious suites, 54 staterooms and a relaxing wellness facility.

Tauck

Photo Courtesy of Tauck

Aside from the vessel’s elegant interiors, Tauck is known for their shore excursions and itineraries that immerse you at each destination. They offer a variety of river cruises that explore the heart of Europe, from the Danube and the Rhine to the Rhone and the Seine. Aboard the ship you will find 300 square foot suites, chandeliers in the lobby and marble staircases. This river cruise truly has it all.

Avalon Waterways

avalon waterways
Photo Courtesy of Avalon Waterways

Avalon Waterways took the lead when they launched the first open-air balcony on a river cruise. Featured in each cabin suite, the wall-to-wall and floor to ceiling windows open to convert guestrooms into open-air balconies. One of the first open air balconies debuted on the 36-passenger Avalon Siem Reap. This excursion cruises along the Mekong River, traveling through Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam, Siem Reap and Cambodia.

Nour el Nil

For a truly authentic experience down the Nile River, take a river cruise aboard The Meroe. Nour el Nil has created handcrafted dahabiyas that blend authentic architecture with modern luxury. The Meroe is the largest of their boats and features a spacious deck and large suites. The intimacy of only 20 passengers combined with a large and attentive staff guarantees that you will be taken care of. The excursion starts at Esna, travels to El Kab on the east banks and dedicates a day to swimming in the Nile!