Category Archives: Uncategorized

A China tour highlight: the Terracotta Army

 

Terracotta Warriors - Adventures Abroad PC Rachel Kristensen

(Photo from our China tour including the Terracotta Army. Credit: Tour Leader Rachel Kristensen)

Discovered in 1974 by a local farmer who was digging for a water well, the Terracotta Army and museum are undeniably one of China’s most awe-inspiring collections.

In a space roughly the size of a football field, it is estimated over 8000 soldiers, 130 chariots ,and 520 horses were buried. As of now, over 2000 figures have been unearthed and are found guarding the tomb Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China.

Construction of the site started in 246 BCE and was completed by the work of over 700,000 workers. It is thought the locals worked in an assembling line, producing the pottery figurines in sections, placing limbs together after made individually rather than as a whole piece.

The faces of the soldiers were created in 8 different styles. Crafted with details such as facial hair, a variety of bone structures,  and a diverse range of eye sets it is thought that the different soldiers represented the emotions and temperaments of the times.

Graceful eyebrow and eyes representing a canny solider. Braveness was illustrated in eyes that are wide and staring.  While those with a  wide face, large head with bushy eyebrows and large eyes are thought to have been simple men.

While pieces from the collection have been shown around the world, no collection of the Terracotta Army can duplicate the mass scale of discovery which the museum in Xi’an has.

Archaeologists are still uncovering more pieces and our small group China tour includes a fully guided excursion to better understand the work archaeologists are doing on this famous discovery.

Click here for information on our next trip to China which includes the Terracotta Army.

Greece - AA - Rachel Kristensen

What island hopping on a Greek Island tour looks like

The term Aegean Blue was clearly coined after a visit to a Greek Island.

The vast sea and skyline provide a stunning backdrop for the picture perfect white houses that scatter themselves across the 227 inhabited Greek Islands.

In total, there are more than 6000 islands dotted across the Aegean and Ionian Seas that fall under Greek sovereignty. Each with crystal clear waters that lap onto the sandy or pebble shores complete with sea-caves or sheltered coves.

Our tour takes you to the highlights to see ancient Cycladic and Minoan civilizations such as tiny sacred island of Delos near Mykonos, once the political capitol for ancient Greece. We also visit the ancient site of Akrotiri, a bronze age civilization buried after a volcanic eruption over 3500 years ago.

To catch up with modern Greece, we explore quaint modern village life of pirate-proof cities on Mykonos,  as well as the beautiful Oia and Pyrgos while taking in the dramatic volcanic landscapes along Santorini’s caldera.

Of course, there is also time to taste local specialties that include unique grape growing techniques, while sleeping in comfortable locations next to those famous Greek beaches.

Off the regular tourist path, our Greek Island hop also includes multiple days on Crete. The guided tour of Knossos, Iraklion and Chania’s museums promises to enchant the history buffs, while the sights on the harbour cities deliver wonderful photographic opportunities of modern Greece.

For more information on a small group tour to Greece and the Greek Islands, click here.

Greece - AA - Rachel Kristensen Greece - AA - Rachel Kristensen Greece - AA - Rachel Kristensen

Greece - AA - Rachel KristensenGreece - AA - Rachel Kristensen

 

(Photo credit: all from Tour Leader Rachel Kristensen)

Top 5 Greek Philosopher Quotes

Greece - Rachel Kristensen

One can’t help on a tour of Greece to indulge a bit of a wisdom from a Greek philosopher.

Ancient wisdom is found in the country which founded democracy, and changed the course of modern civilization into what we know today.

Well over 2000 years ago, the minds of great philosophers such as Plato, Socrates, Epictetus, Aristotle, and Plutarch questioned ideas on education, morality, purpose and nobility and were among the first to spread wise thoughts to all parts of society. Through plays, meetings and text, these great minds have continued to inspire for centuries.

Here are a few quotes to get you inspired before you get to Greece:

“There are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can help, and what they cannot.” – Plato

“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” – Socrates

“Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.” – Epictetus

“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honour.” – Aristotle

“Know how to listen, and you will profit even from those who talk badly.” – Plutarch 

 


 

 

For more information about our small group tours to Greece, where you will inevitably learn more about these famous Greek philosophers, click here.

 

 

 

 

Tour Norway and Finland: A quick photo journey

Martin Charlton - Norway Tour

(PC: Martin Charlton)

Last year, senior Tour Leader Martin Charlton debuted a small group tour of Scandinavia to what would be an instant classic.

A tour through Norway and Finland, cruising the beautiful fjords, riding the rails on some of the most dramatic European train journeys, and discovering markets as well as museums that are uniquely Scandinavian.

Here is a closer look at what Martin captured, and considered his highlights:

Coastal Norway. #coast #Norway #travel A photo posted by Martin Charlton (@travelbug1970) on

Coastal Norway. #coast #Norway #travel

A photo posted by Martin Charlton (@travelbug1970) on

 

For him, taking the small group tour along a 7 day cruise of the Norwegian coastline was a real highlight. This tour also includes 6 excursions on land, as well exploring Europe’s northernmost point of Lapland. City highlights and guiding walking tours are included for Oslo, Bergen, Helsinki, Trondheim and Kirkenes.

For more information on our small group tours to Norway, Finland and Scandinavia, please click here.

What makes Peking Duck so special?

peking-duck-china

(Photo source: www.feminiya.com)

If you have ever gone to Beijing to taste authentic Chinese food, you may have tasted the world famous delicacy.

Prepared for royalty since the 13th century, we have often wondered what it is about the dish that makes it so notorious with dining in Beijing.

Could it be the pickled radish? The scallion, cucumber or sweet bean sauce? What is the special seasoning, and how is the skin so crispy?

First, get to know the duck.

The Peking duck is a type of mallard that historically was found in the canals of Nanjing (which was once China’s capitol) before making its way to Beijing as trade commerce spilled grain in the river (and once the capitol was changed to Beijing in the 15th century). These days, the duck is now raised specifically to be consumed in China.

Cooked for 50 minutes while hung in a brick oven, each cook uses their own special seasoning but pays close attention as the duck is roasted to perfection.

Each restaurant has its own secret ingredient but only those in duck roasted in China are thought to be authentic.

As China considers getting the duck among other Chinese cuisine listed on the UNESCO list of cultural heritage for future generations to enjoy, the past has also benefited from the duck.

Once touted as part of China’s international diplomacy relations strategy, notable figures such as Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger tried out the dish on their official visits to China in 1972, which was the first step in normalizing relations between the US and China.

Try out this dish on our next trip to China, click here for more info.

Owilybug Travel - Africa

How to decide which African safari is the best?

Choosing which African safari tour to take for your dream holiday can be a very difficult decision.

With so many parks and so many types of animals, the options feel endless.

Here is a quick list of some of our favourite destinations for game spotting:

 

Owilybug Travel - Africa

(Photo Credit: Tour Leader Jonathan Hodgson / Owilybug Travel Photography)

 

South Africa:

South Africa’s largest reserve, Kruger National Park, has more animal species than anywhere else in Africa. It is home to over 137 mammal species, 49 fish, 112 reptiles, and over 500 bird species. This park is close to the heart for birders and big game enthusiasts alike.

The Mkuze Reserve and its savannahs, swamps, sand forests and recorded 420+ bird species is an exceptional stop for birders as well.

Jonathan Hodgson Owilybug - Africa

(Photo Credit: Tour Leader Jonathan Hodgson / Owilybug Travel Photography)

 

Namibia:

As one of Africa’s lesser known safari destinations but still a photographer’s dream, Etosha National Park is a big surprise for many. It’s one of the world’s largest national parks with an extraordinary array of animals, which are mostly dependent on watering holes.

 

Jonathan Hodgson - Owilybug - Afirca

(Photo Credit: Tour Leader Jonathan Hodgson / Owilybug Travel Photography)

 

Botswana:

Boarding a boat down the Chobe River or venturing into the grasslands on an open-top vehicle, it is easy to discover why this park is so beloved. With over 100,000 elephants, big pods of hippos, very large crocodiles, lions, hyenas, giraffes and more, Chobe National Park has one of the largest concentrations of game on the African continent.

Another heavy hitter in the safari world, the Okavango Delta is best explored by canoe or by 4WD. Normally deltas unload into the sea, but this river system empties out onto the land creating a unique pulsating wetland filled with big game, as well as plenty of fish and birds.

There is nowhere like it in the world.

 

ol-pejeta-rhinos

(PC: blogs.scientificamerican.com)

 

Kenya:

A highlight in the Kenyan parks is the grassy plains of Ol Pejeta, home to the largest black rhino sanctuary and Kenya’s only chimpanzee population.

As an extension of the Serengeti, there is no way one could miss a safari in the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Not only home to all the ‘Big 5’ game and the wildebeest migration, the Mara also holds the largest lion population and the best chance to view cheetahs, this stop is key for those who love big cats.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(PC: wikipedia.org)

 

Tanzania:

Amboseli National park rests in the shadow of snow capped Mt Kilimanjaro and is a wonderful place to spot elephant herds on open plains with that uniquely African backdrop of the continent’s highest mountain.

For birders, you’ll enjoy a chance to spot ibis, flamingos, fish eagles and pelicans in the Lake Manyara National Reserve.

Tanzania’s most well known highlight is the chance to watch the 1.5 million wildebeest and half a million zebra migrate to better grazing and water pastures in the Serengeti National Park. We stake our vantage point from high on the kopje mountains or with a possible daybreak hot air balloon ride.

For those who are looking to see dynamic landscapes, the Ngorongoro Crater’s volcanic landscape with waterfalls, grasslands, and mountain forests is considered one of the greatest natural spectacles in the world.

 

 

 


 

 

To find out more about our African safaris, or our small group tours across Africa: click here.

Alternatively, click the link in the country name above and be redirected to a list of tours which includes the country desired.

 

 


 

Love lock bridges around Europe

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(Photo credit: aol.com)

When it comes to romance, Europe seems to be a place that just oozes it. But sometimes, displays of affection can be off-putting.

Such is the case of the lock loves, so off-putting that many municipalities are trying to find ways to stop or ban the trend.

Paris’ famous landmark turned eye-sore, the love-lock Pont des Artes bridge, is removing the locks for safety concerns and the bridges chain link fencing will be covered by lock-blocking plexi-glass on June 1, 2015.

This comes a year after part of the bridge collapsed due to the excess weight of the locks, which on the Pont des Artes is estimated at 92 metric tons of extra weight!

The strange tradition of writing a pair of sweethearts names on a lock and attaching it to a beautiful bridge is not just found on the bridge which stands beneath the Eiffle Tower.

Where else in Europe has a love-lock bridge?

Hohenzollern Bridge, Cologne, Germany - Back in 2009, lovers started locking up their love symbols and throwing the keys in the Rhine River on this bridge in Cologne.

Most Ljubavi, Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia – The aptly named bridge when translated means “Bridge of Love”. It’s no wonder this is a bridge of choice for those seeking to prove their love is unbreakable.

Malá Strana district, Prague, Czech Republic – One of Europe’s most romantic city has its own love lock bridge, the pedestrian-only Mala Strana.

Butchers’ Bridge, Ljubljana, Slovenia - Despite having a less than romantic name, this bridge has seen heavy attention of love-locks after locks starting appearing 5 years ago.

Ponte Milvio Bridge, Rome, Italy – On a small section of the bridge, lovers in another one of Europes most romantic cities have been attaching locks and throwing away the keys on this bridge.

How long will it be until other bridges across Europe begin taking measures to stop the love lock trend? Only time will tell.

While love-lock bridge spotting will likely never be a sole reason to travel to Europe, have a look through our small group tours to Europe’s most historic and romantic cities which may or may not have a love lock bridge.

 

Cuba AA Tour - PC Rachel Kristensen

Exploring Cuba: photos from a small group tour around the island

As we landed in Havana for a small group tour of Cuba, almost every member of our group was there to see it ‘before it changes’.

Frozen in time, Cuba’s charm is unwavering throughout the country.

Imagine a time before cell phones and internet access overran the dinner table. Where fast food chains are absent. Where music and salsa dancers meet to in town plazas to celebrate life in the evening. Where classic cars and bicycles line the streets of crumbling neo-classical buildings.

Slowly, change will come to Cuba. But until that point, it will remain a unique country in the world, and a step back in time.

Cuba AA Tour - PC Rachel Kristensen

Cuba AA Tour - PC Rachel Kristensen

Cuba AA Tour - PC Rachel Kristensen

Cuba AA Tour - PC Rachel Kristensen

Cuba AA Tour - PC Rachel Kristensen

Cuba AA Tour - PC Rachel Kristensen

Adventures Abroad is pleased to offer a 15 day small group tour that encompasses all of Cuba.

Our tour highlights include:

- Watching a farmer hand roll a Cuban cigar in tobacco fields of Vinales.

- Walking through the historic centre of Havana including a stop at the used book market.

- Listening to the drum beats bounce of the cobblestones in the musical soul of Trinidad.

- Admiring the city of plazas, in the cattle ranching heartland of Cameguay.

- Exploring the rivers and archaeological sites in the tropical rainforest of Baracoa.

- Exploring the bustling city of Santiago in the south east.

Click here for more information on our next tour of Cuba.