Niagara Falls

 

There are water falls with grater heights and there are falls which discharge greater quantity of water, but there is no fall as beautiful, popular, visitor friendly as Niagara. It also has the credit of being located closest to the mega cities like New York and Ontario making it very urban compared to Igauzu Falls or Victoria Falls. Niagara also remains as the most commercially utilized falls in the world. The facilities offered to the tourists make this site a heaven of pleasure seekers.

When people of US and Canada think of a vacation and visiting some wonderful natural spot; the first name that comes to their mind is either Niagara or The Grand Canyon. Tourists from far away places; when they pay a visit to the US first prefer to visit Niagara above all other exotic locations of this country. It is no wonder that this water fall remains as one of the best money spinners to the tourism departments of both states.

The Niagara Falls on the River Niagara is actually a cluster of three falls coming between two nations, Canada and The US. It is just 17 miles south east from Buffalo New York and 75 miles from Toronto Canada. The falls in the Canadian portion –known as the Horse- Shoe Falls; is the largest of the three. The US side has two falls The American Fall and the Bridal Weil Fall. The Bridal Weil Fall is the smallest of the three falls located in the American side. The Bridal Weil fall has a crest of 56 feet and a height of 78 feet. The Luna Island separates it from the rest and the following locations are located nearby and associated with this fall.
the largest among the three; has a height of 173 feet and discharges nine times the water than that of the American fall. One river island known as the Goat Island located between the two on the upper floor of the river separates these two falls. The American Falls, is the second largest with a height between 70 to 110 feet; its straight crest width is 830 feet.
Niagara is a 56 km long river that carries the water of Lake Erie to Lake Ontario that is located in a much lower altitude. This river also forms as a boundary between Ontario of Canada and the State of New York. Niagara also has the credit of being one of the few rivers that flow northward in this continent.
The Maid of Mist boat service started in 1846 and (which become without use as bridges were opened) later started as a recreational service). It starts from the calm waters of the Rainbow Bridge and visits all the water falls; its final point is the Horse Shoe fall at the Canadian side where the great fall makes all misty. These boats named as Maid of Mist No I, II, III and etc. This service is accessible from both US and Canadian sides.

  This river water has in its course licked away a lot of sand and soft rock from its banks thus creating a not so small gorge on both of its sides, at one point it bifurcates and reunite giving birth to a large river island known as the Grand Island. This island is 33.3 sq km in area and has a population around 20,000 people.

 

The Smithsonian

 

While the hit Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian is certainly a must-see film, the real life museum has a few must-sees as well. The Smithsonian Institution is not just a museum, but a collection of 18 separate museums, with another one on the way. For those traveling to the area, a Smithsonian visit is the best value in Washington—free!

Since you can’t collect a little piece of history from every city and town and put it in one place, the National Museum of American History is the next best thing. If it’s Americana, it’s here. The exhibits range from wars to presidents to sitcoms to iconic heroes and stars. Perhaps the most impressive exhibit is the Star-Spangled Banner, which takes you through the history of the U.S. flag, including the original flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the country’s national anthem as it flew over Ft. McHenry in Blatimore. This is a very emotional exhibit for me.

While first  choice focuses on Americana, the National Museum of Natural History focuses on our planet and all that nature has put on it. We last visited a month ago, and the one exhibit that captured the attention of my three kids (ages 17, 14 and 12) was “Written in Bone.” This exhibit delves into the forensics of history through the bones of the dead. For some additional in-depth education, spend some time in the Forensic Anthropology Lab, where you can mix and mingle with real human bones—hands on! As with several of the Smithsonian Museums, this one has an IMAX theater (additional cost)—you just can’t go wrong with a six-story-tall movie screen.

The National Air and Space Museum is a natural. Here, you’ll learn the details of aviation from the Wright brothers’ first flight in Kitty Hawk, N.C., up to today’s modern aircraft. Star Trek and space exploration are featured exhibits, including a wonderful Star Trek IMAX film (for an additional cost). A good portion of the movie Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian was filmed in this building, and an impromptu scavenger hunt looking for film scenes is always a lot of fun.

If you’re looking to experience air and space on a grander scale, make the trek out to Chantilly, Va., and see the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. In this gargantuan exhibit, take a peek into a space shuttle, walk under the wings of a Concorde supersonic jet and peek into the cockpit of the Enola Gay—the World War II plane that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, in August 1945.

The center also has an IMAX theater (for an additional fee) and an extensive exhibit of U.S. and Russian spacecraft, including satellites past and present. Before leaving, visit the control tower to learn about the hidden side of aviation, and listen in as the controllers at nearby Dulles International Airport (DIA) guide thousands of flights through the complex Washington, D.C., airspace. To take some amazing photos of jets landing at Dulles, plan a picnic lunch by the fountain outside the center—you won’t be disappointed.

The Beauty of Venice

 

 

 

Venice is one of the more tourist-friendly cities in the world. Tiny, with no vehicular traffic, it’s not daunting to get around. The city is overrun with hotels, so you’ll never lack for a place to stay. However, it’s also easy to fall in among the throngs of visitors and miss some of the charm tucked away in hidden alcoves or surrounding islands. On foot or by boat, many companies offer guided tours to help tourists discover the secrets of Venice.

Venice is a labyrinth of winding alleyways and narrow canals. While it’s easy to follow signs to some of the major tourist attractions–such as Piazza San Marco and the Rialto–a guided tour can help you discover the city’s more secluded gems. This is an especially useful option, if you’ve only got a day or two to visit Venice. The tour group City Discovery, for example, offers a morning walking tour of the city and an afternoon cruise along the Grand Canal.

You can see almost all of Venice from the canals that cut through its Gothic, Byzantine and Renaissance edifices. Hiring a gondola is expensive, but it’s a unique chance to see the city the way it’s been viewed for hundreds of years. You can also hop on one of the city’s public water buses, called vaporetti, for a more reasonable fee. Organized canal tours, narrated by a tour guide, teach about the historic palazzos along the way. Viator is one company that offers canal tours.

Venice is surrounded by neighbor islands with their own unique character, including Lido, famous for its sandy beach, and Murano, known for its blown glass. For a quieter, more solemn getaway, visit San Michele, Venice’s cemetery island. You can book a water taxi to visit any of these islands, or find a cruise that will stop at several islands in a day. Venice Guide and Boat, for example, offers four-hour or eight-hour tours of Murano, the fishing village of Burano, and Torcello, with its historic Byzantine architecture.

For amateur art historians and anyone who wants to learn more about Venice’s unique architecture, there are tours that specialize in, for example, Byzantine or Gothic architecture, churches or palazzos, or varying genres of Venetian art. The group Venice Art Tours offer four-hour tours of Venice’s Renaissance art. You can also time your trip to coincide with the Venice Biennale, an art exhibition held every two years, or the Venice Biennale of Architecture, held on alternating years with the art exhibition.

Pick out a Venice guidebook–such as “Fodor’s,” “Lonely Planet” and “The Rough Guide”–and get to know the city by trial and error. Getting lost is a great way to discover the best cappuccino or gelato in Venice, at hole-in-the-wall joints off the beaten path. While every twisting calle looks like it will lead straight into the lagoon, you’ll manage to find your way.

Best Beaches to Visit

1. Waimanalo Beach, Oahu
No summer beach seems to capture the special vibe better than Hawaii’s Waimanalo Beach, on the southeast shore of Oahu. The day ends a one-minute walk from the beach at Hale Nalo, a three- suite rental home with the all-new Zen Treehouse loft. “Guests often have the entire beach all to themselves,” says Hale Nalo owner Herlinda Lopez. “They always mention this while deliriously happy.”

2. Meads Bay, Anguilla
Bays scooped from the shoreline like ice cream, sand as soft and bright as fresh snow. That is the cool vibe of Anguilla’s celebrated beaches. “If you want a blend of good hotels, 5-star Caribbean- fusion restaurants and a pure stretch of sand so fine that you’ll even notice the smallest pebble underfoot, Meads Bay is the perfect choice,” says Nori Evoy. See it all from Malliouhana ­Hotel & Spa on a bluff over the beach.

3. Pink Sands Beach,  Bahamas
For a famous beach that’s actually pink — thanks to tiny bits of red shell in the white sand — there’s room to relax and roam. “In the summer, a crowd is 20 people,” says Robert Arthur, and Arthur’s Bakery on Harbour Island. The colonial homes and pineapple trees fit nicely alongside Pink Sands’ 25 cottages. And our resort contact promises us, “The beach is never, ever crowded.”

4. Hanalei Bay, Kauai
The famous Dr. Beach put this two-mile crescent of sandy perfection on the very top of his 2009 Top 10 beaches, island or otherwise. The peaks, the palms, the pier — all frame Hanalei Bay as the Hawaii of timeless daydreams. Outside of rentals, there’s the Hanalei Inn in town, plus an islands ­favorite, the St. Regis Princeville Resort on the bayfront bluff next to Hanalei Beach Park and a quiet nook of sand.

5. Cane Garden Bay, BVI
Honestly, the British Virgin Islands could have had their own “Best Summer Beaches” list. So our experts helped narrow the search down to Tortola for its small beachfront communities with just enough going on in the summer — but not too much. Feel like you live here when you rent the three-bedroom Cane Garden Bay Beach House.

6. Paia Beach, Maui
Cue the summer montage of beach barbecues, beach races and beach concerts. The little town of Paia on this little beach blossoms with the annual Paia Fest, set for June 27 this year. It’s a naturally happy place already. End your day with one of those summer beach barbecues, with live jazz, at the Paia Inn Hotel. It’s right on the beach, of course, and could be your happiest place on earth.

7. Sun Bay Beach, Vieques
Just imagine if you could close your eyes right now, make a wish, then open them and see yourself on Sun Bay Beach. It’s a Puerto Rican gem, hiding in plain sight on the southern shore of Vieques, a glowing beacon for beach lovers everywhere. The town of Esperanza is less than a mile west, with accommodations including the Villa Coral guest house.

8. Rum Point, Grand Cayman
Seven Mile Beach certainly deserves the notoriety — and the luxury resorts, spas and restaurants. But for a Grand Cayman island that’s all about spending a summer day with locals and expats, rent a car and head up to Rum Point, which still has about six miles of beach. Live like an expat with a house rental from Cayman Kai.

9. Pigeon Point, Tobago
If you’ve ever seen a Tobago brochure, you’ve likely seen Pigeon Point. Yet this beach still seems undiscovered. The Pigeon Point Heritage Park ensures the natural atmosphere and helps with the stellar snorkeling at Buccoo Reef. Just south of Pigeon Point, the Coco Reef Resort offers even more amenities, though you may be already too relaxed for the spa.

10. Ilet Pinel, St. Martin
On any trip to St. Martin, set aside a day to wile away on this northeastern mini-island. The ferry takes you to the Karibuni and Yellow Beach restaurants on the main beach; your feet can take you away from the day-trippers to quieter beaches on the far side of Pinel. You will have to leave at some point, if only to sleep. Try Captain Oliver’s Resort, down the coast on the French-Dutch border. But there’s always tomorrow.

New York Experience

 

Not everyone loves New York, but the people who do love this crazy city with a fierceness that seems unexplainable. And why not? “The City that Never Sleeps” is an amazing combination of historic places, top-notch music and theater, over-the-top landmarks, incredible restaurants, posh hotels, and more than 1.5 million zany people that call Manhattan home. (Not to mention the other 6.5 million that live in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island!)

Visiting New York is an experience that everyone should enjoy at least once in their lifetime. Whether or not you’re an urban junkie, there are some things in New York that you just have to see and do. Who knows? You may find yourself sucked in by the awesomeness of this one-of-a-kind metropolis!

So much to see. So little time. That’s what most visitors say when they get to Manhattan. It’s true! You certainly might have difficulty deciding what to see during this vacation and what to leave until next time.

If that’s the case, consider starting your visit with a guided bus tour. Several leave from the Times Square area (around 42nd and Broadway), including Gray Line’s big double decker red bus. Guests usually have a choice of 2 or 3 different “loops”. Start with the downtown/midtown route, which will cover much of what you’ll probably want to see.

  • The Empire State Building – Built in the 1920s and for decades the tallest building in the world, the view from the top is incredible. (See Planning a Trip for ticket info)
  • Macy’s Department Store – Just across the street from the Empire State Building, the original Macy’s (subject of Miracle on 34th Street) is an incredible mega-store that every shopaholic will enjoy.
  • Times Square/The Theater District – Times Square, at the center of midtown Manhattan, is well-known for its bright neon signs and for being the center of attention each New Year’s Eve as revelers party until dawn. The streets that surround Times Square are home to most of the Broadway theaters. Don’t leave New York without seeing a musical!
  • Radio City Music Hall/Rockefeller Center – If you’re lucky enough to be in NYC around the Christmas holidays, you can catch the famous Rockettes at Radio City. In the winter, you can also skate on the ice rink in front of Rockefeller Center. Various TV shows are also taped here at Radio City and it’s sometimes possible to secure tickets.
  • The Statue of Liberty – Accessible via ferry boat from Battery Park, everyone should visit the green lady with the torch. While you can no longer climb to the top, you can still admire her from up close.
  • Ellis Island – Chances are that some relative in your distant past entered America through the immigration station at Ellis Island. Follow the triumphant stories of those who came to the U.S. from lands far away at this wonderful landmark.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art – One of the finest art museums in America, the permanent collection here is massive and will no doubt contain pieces that are recognizable to you.
  • Lincoln Center – Home to the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, New York City Opera, and New York City Ballet, this is THE music and dance venue in New York City. Grab some tickets and enjoy the culture!
  • World Trade Center site – Millions visit the site each year to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the tragedy of September 11th. Tours are available, some given by WTC survivors.
  • South Street Seaport Museum – Visit NYC’s waterfront and learn about its rich history at this wonderful museum which includes a fleet of ships guests can explore. Also shop and eat in the village surrounding the museum.
  • The United Nations – Guests can tour some portions of the UN headquarters and, if you’re fortunate, you may even get to observe a session of the ambassadors.
  • American Museum of Natural History – If you have kids with you, this is a must, but adults will also enjoy this fun and educational museum, located across the street from Central Park.

Touring Stonehenge

 

 

Stonehenge continues to fascinate the world. The reasons for its existence remain as much a mystery now as it has ever been.

The Stones attracts visitors from all over the world to this small corner of Wiltshire and sometimes it seems that the more questions that are answered the more there are to ask. Part of the world’s fascination with this ancient monument must surely be that no matter how clever and sophisticated Modern Man may be how and why it was built remains hidden from us by the cloak of time.

Wiltshire is rich in historical monuments and Stonehenge forms a focal point of a landscape of burial mounds, massive earthworks and hill forts constructed by the ancient Britons known as Beaker People. You need only glance at detailed maps of Wiltshire to spot these, many accessible to the public, scattered throughout the county. Very close by for example is a large and extensive settlement recently excavated in 2006 at the nearby village of Durrington Walls, less than 3 miles (5km) away. This site to all intents and purposes is a rather muddy field but artifacts and building remains were uncovered during these excavations which date from the same era as the Stones. Again all is very much a mystery but it is believed that the settlement was occupied by the same Beaker People. Whereas the Stone Circle was a place of ceremony and death the settlement at Durrington Walls was very much a living breathing community full of life and activity with a penchant for feasting.

During 2008/2009 the Riverside Project comprising a team of archaeologists from British universities led by Professor Mike Parker Pearson of the University of Sheffield has discovered even more sites around the area. Notably another stone circle about a mile away from the original, nicknamed BlueStonehenge. Although the original bluestones were removed thousands of years ago the holes remain. These original stones may possibly have been used for the major rebuilding of the Stone Circle around 2500 B.C.

This second stone circle was about 10 metres wide and surrounded by a ditch. It is conjectured that the dead were brought to BlueStonehenge prior to cremation and their ashes scattered at the main site. As no one could record this information at the time we will never know but we do now know that the whole area around the Stone Circle is far more complex, both in time and space, than was ever dreamt of even as recently as the turn of the 20th century. It is thanks to the dedication of teams of archaeologists and their new technology that exciting new discoveries are being made with each year that passes.

What visitors see today is about half the original stone monument built between 3000BC and 1500BC. Marvel at the awesome achievement of the ancient Britons in not only transporting these massive stones but erecting them with such precision that served not only as a sacred place of ritual and burial but also as an astronomical calendar.

Tips for Flying

Air travel is considered one of the most comfortable and fastest means of transport. Most of the individuals wish to travel by airplanes but are not able to avail these services due to their high prices. In order to meet the requirements of the customers many airlines have come up with effective methods, including the introduction of air services at comparatively cheaper prices. The low price of the air tickets has attracted numerous tourists towards it. But most of the times they find it costly and prefer traveling via train or bus in order to save their money. Following are some effective tips that can help you in getting air tickets at lowest airfare.

Early bookings – In order to get cheap air tickets for your upcoming journey, you can book them in advance. An advance booking approximately two weeks before can provide you an air ticket at low prices. You can make your bookings as early as possible because the earlier you book the ticket you get it at cheaper rates. The same air ticket might cost you even more than double the original cost if you purchase it few hours before the commencement of the flight. So, always be on the safer side by making early bookings.

Flexibility in schedule – If you have to attend an emergency meeting held at a distant place and you need to reach there on time, you are compelled to purchase an air ticket at higher prices. But if you are flexible with your schedule, you can move the dates in order to get the best deal and save you money. For this you can search online and look for the availability of tickets at lower prices.

Fly midweek – This is another way of getting the tickets at inexpensive prices. It is assumed that most of the flights are busy at weekends and hence have a high fare. The mid-week days are considered as less busy and you can get a ticket at the lowest fare. Therefore, if possible you should prefer to travel in mid-week.

Book a ticket for a regional airport rather than an international airport – If you have the choice of reaching the same place via an international airport and a regional airport, you should select the latter. It is due to the fact that flights to an international airport might cost you more than the flights to a regional airport.

Round-trip is more cost-effective – While booking an air ticket to a particular destination, you should always check for the round-trip price. A round-trip ticket is generally less expensive than a one-way ticket. It will surely save you considerable amounts.

The price of the tickets influences the traveling decision of the individuals to a great extent. So, if you are looking to cover your journey by airplane, following these tips can help you get an air ticket at affordable prices.

Island Princess Cruise

 

The Island Princess, is a vessel operated by Princess Cruises, was recently named the best mid-size ship at the first annual Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Awards.

The awards were handed out by Cruise Critic, a leading online community featuring more than 70,000 reviews and 700,000 members. To determine the winners, the ceremony’s organizers evaluated the ratings of passengers on a wide variety of cruise vacations around the world.

“The reviews submitted by our members are an outstanding resource for cruisers and offer a fantastic insight into the different cruise experiences you will find on each ship,” said Carolyn Spencer Brown, the editor in chief of Cruise Critic. “With these awards, we’re looking to honor the ships that rank highly with our members by providing exceptional facilities, accommodations, activities and service.”

In the mid-size division, which was limited to vessels that carry between 1,200 and 1,999 passengers, the Island Princess placed ahead of the nine other ships cited by Cruise Critic for their service.

The Island Princess was built specifically to cater to those going on cruises in the Panama Canal, as it was designed to fit Panamax specifications (the largest size capable of sailing through the Central American waterway). The ship plies the waters of the canal every winter, and during the summer season, it takes travelers to Alaska.

One of the biggest selling points of the Island Princess is that 90 percent of its staterooms feature views of the ocean, allowing passengers to marvel at the engineering wonders of the Panama Canal or the spectacular glacial scenery of the Alaskan coastline. Moreover, the ship has more than 700 balconies attached to its higher-end rooms, giving those travelers a chance to enjoy the views in private.

The vessel is also one of only two Princess ships to have the Bayou Cafe and Steakhouse. This on-board eatery is a unique dining venue that allows guests to enjoy authentic New Orleans-style food and drinks while they listen to live jazz performances.

While the Island Princess took first place in the mid-size ship category, it was not the only Princess vessel to be honored by Cruise Critic, as the Coral Princess won fourth prize in the same division. This ship is the sister of the Island Princess and offers many similar amenities, traveling the same routes through the Panama Canal and Alaska.

Touring Greece

Greece is the father of western civilization. Almost everything we love about our world developed from this great land, from Plato and Aristotle’s great teachings, to their ancient culture of early democracy, Greece is ideal for any travel destination and can provide a great learning experience as well.

Greek Odyssey

Cosmos offers an eight-day round-trip tour of Greece departing and returning to Athens. Included in the package are hotel accommodations, buffet breakfasts, two dinners and transportation by first-class motor coach. Guests may also opt for a nine-day package that includes travel to Athens. On the budget tour, travelers will visit the Acropolis in Athens, go sightseeing in Delphi and experience the ruins of Mycenae. A number of optional excursions are available as well, such as a wine and food tasting in Athens and a day cruise to the Saronic Islands.

Greek Island Hopper

Trafalgar offers an 11-day tour that takes travelers from Athens to Mykonos and Santorini. Included in the package are nine breakfasts, two dinners, first-class hotel accommodations, and all tips and transfers. Guests begin the tour with sightseeing in Athens, then move on to Mykonos. Here, they can explore the white-sand beaches, winding alleys and boutiques that sell authentic Greek crafts. In Santorini, travelers can relax on rooftop restaurants or take an optional tour that uncovers the ins and outs of island life.

Jewels of the Aegean Cruise

Travelers who wish to experience Greece by sea should look into the four-day Jewels of the Aegean Cruise offered by Louis Cruise Lines. Guests will stop in the ports of Piraeus, Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes and Heraklio. The cruise includes multiple stops several days, which is ideal for travelers who have limited time. The package includes a double premium cabin on the ship, all meals, transfers and port taxes.

Culture and Cuisine in Evia

Food and wine lovers may want to indulge in the Culture and Cuisine in Evia tour, an eight-day excursion that celebrates the best of Greek food and wine. After an initial stop in Athens, travelers are taken to the island of Evia. Here, they will be treated to a cooking demonstration by local villagers, sit in on a discussion with a prominent food writer and do a wine tasting on the bay of Karystos. Along the way, they are treated to all meals and can taste samples at any food demonstrations. Also included in the package are hotel accommodations, transfers, guides and a welcome cocktail.

Trip Advice

According to Frommer’s, the best time to visit Greece is either between late April and mid-June or early September to mid-October. Not only will you encounter pleasant weather, but you will avoid the summer crowds and higher prices. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom recommends that, in compliance with Greek law, travelers obtain receipts for all purchased goods and services.

top tourist destinations

Harmonic Convergence

Dusk falls on a primeval landscape on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. A final relic from the world’s last ice age, this North Atlantic island nation is a world of knife-cut valleys, gargantuan fjords, monumental cliffs, black-sand beaches, thundering waterfalls, and silent white glaciers. Recent volcanic eruptions remind us that Iceland is still a country in the making, with changed landscapes that even Icelanders continue to discover.

Three years of financial recovery have made Iceland more affordable, with consumer prices now largely pegged to the euro. The country’s return to a humbler attitude stems from a thousand-year-old tradition of self-reliance—a tradition that has preserved one of the world’s oldest living languages and harnessed some of the cleanest energy on Earth.

The Perfect Beach

Thialand’s sun-drenched jewel in the South Andaman Sea, Koh Lipe has recently risen to the top of intrepid beach lovers’ A-list of island paradises. Considered an alternative to the overexploited Koh Phi Phi (which gained fame as the setting for the film The Beach), Koh Lipe is accessible only by boat, with departure ports that include Krabi and the nearby Malaysian island of Langkawi.

Crystal waters and pristine reefs surround the island. Up to 25 percent of the world’s tropical fish species swim in the protected waters around Koh Lipe (the island is in Tarutao National Marine Park). Pattaya Beach may be the island’s most developed tourist spot, but head to quieter Sunrise Beach, where a now settled community of “sea gypsies,” the Chao Lei, live and fish. Take in the view from Castaway Resort’s “chill-out deck,” above.

The Comeback Kid

Dresden shone brightest in the 1700s, when the kings of Saxony spent their wealth to turn their capital into “Florence on the Elbe.” But in February 1945, two days of British and American bombing destroyed much of Dresden’s center and killed tens of thousands of civilians.

Nearly 70 years later, the city has been resurrected as one of Germany’s top tourist destinations. The landmark Frauenkirche (“church of our lady”), a baroque masterpiece designed by George Bähr, was rebuilt from rubble in 2005 (above). Today it towers above a carefully reconstructed historic center that is home to half a dozen world-class museums—from the Albertinum and the Old Masters Picture Gallery, with its Vermeers and Titians, to the oddly named but unforgettable German Hygiene Museum.

On the Trail of Romance

Think Tuscany, but with a Habsburg past. The shady, rolling hills of Istria—Croatia’s northernmost peninsula—are becoming widely known for their truffles, Malvazija white wines, olive oil stancijas (estates), and crumbling hill towns. Cyclists can spin their spokes over some 2,000 miles of extensively maintained bike trails. Along the coast, sunny ocean views and impromptu opportunities for swimming and snorkeling abound.

The romantic town of Rovinj (above), a former Venetian vassal state, rises from the Adriatic like an estranged island of Venice. Pine-shaded Adriatic coves entice with a refreshing plunge. Evenings are capped off with Champagne cocktails at the Valentino Bar, a breezy boîte perched directly on the water and illuminated in vivid cerulean by underwater lights—not a bad spot to nurture your own inner Casanova.

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