02 Mar Yon Bonny Banks

Windswept coasts, ancient castles and dramatic, Celtic forests – there’s a lot to love about Scotland! Although geographically small, Scotland is rich with natural wonders. Expect to find your inner adventurer as you explore these mystic lands, filled with craggy cliffs, crystalline lakes and emerald valleys. With so much raw beauty, it can be difficult to know where to begin! To help you decide, we have put together our list of the most beautiful places to visit in Scotland.   Loch Ness No trip to Scotland would be complete without a visit to Loch Ness. Located in the Scottish Highlands, Loch Ness is not only central to local mythology and culture, it is also a beautiful lake that extends over 37 kilometres into Inverness. You can take in the impressive sight with a lakeside hike or a visit to the ruins of Urquhart Castle on the banks of the lake.   Ben Nevis At over 1,300 metres tall, Ben Nevis is the highest mountain top in the United Kingdom. While a challenging ascent, hikers who reach the top are rewarded with stunning views across the Grampian Mountains and towards distant Glencoe and Atlantic coast.   Cairngorms National Park With over 280km of hiking and mountain biking trails, Cairngorms National Park provides ample opportunity for adventure. Enjoy a hike through vast Cairngorms mountain range, some quiet wildlife watching or experience one of Scotland’s best water-rafting rapids.   Glencoe Nestled between the pinnacles of the Three Sisters mountain range and the cone-like Pap of Glenco, it...

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13 Apr Wandering through Wales, Part 2

[caption id="attachment_2352" align="alignnone" width="660"] Time to revisit the magic of Wales.[/caption] Ready to resume the trip through Wales? Having regained the energy lost exploring castles and the Caerleon Amphitheatre, it’s time to hit the road and explore the wilderness, both above and below ground. You’re off to Brecon Beacon National Park, the Big Pit National Coal Museum (located inside the mines themselves), and finally, Tintern Abbey, a gorgeous palate cleanser after the claustrophobic tunnels below the earth. Known for its rolling plains and scattered collections of waterfalls, Brecon Beacon National Park will have you mesmerized as you blaze along the trail. Appropriately, Brecon Beacons takes it’s name from the fires formerly lit atop the mountain range's peaks to warn villages and cities of invading enemies. This scene from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King visualizes the process perfectly. Driving through the National Park, you’ll find flocks of mountain sheep dotting the plains, as well as a few mountain ponies; proof that these lands are still as wild as in the past, preserved from industrialization. The Black Forest (Fforest Fawr in Welsh) sprawls across the path you’ll follow, and Black Mountain looms to the West. After braving the forest, you’ll briefly get a comforting view of the fields and pastures once again. Relish these plains because soon, you’ll be deep within them. It’s time to hit the mines. Upon arriving at Big Pit National Coal Museum, you’ll receive some training in proper...

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20 Jun Florence: Open your mouth and your mind

[caption id="attachment_2182" align="alignnone" width="660"] Helloooooo paradise![/caption] I have several initial, unfettered, pure thoughts on being in Florence for 4 days: The clean streets are completely walkable giving off an "old Europe" charm. So much cheap wine and natural, fresh, local, great-tasting food! Have you ever ordered macaroni and cheese? Pasta and meat sauce? I'm sure you have. Order it in Florence, Italy and a party explodes in your mouth. Taste buds dance all day long here. Tourists abound, sure. But take a side street and it's all Italian language. Order a coffee in broken Italian (or no Italian at all, just using your hands!) and you're transported to real-life Italy. Art is EVERYWHERE. Yesterday I went to an art and ceramic restoration business. 4th generation family. After walking the aisles of impressive 13/14/15/16th century paintings and works getting touched up, I accidently hit a gold-colored pointed dome-like structure needing some fixing (it rests atop a church usually, but is only 8 feet tall). I apologized to Tomasso, the owner's son, for knocking it. "Oh, no harm done," he said casually. "But it is a work by Michelangelo."  When Florentines speak, they sing. Hands gyrate and sway and cut the air like a butcher's knife to a slab of beef on Via della Cernaia. Be ready to speak with your hands. Conclusion: Florence is a travelers paradise. And for a Panroamers perspective of Florence, be sure to follow Kelly's blog here. Tony Amante Schepers...

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