Category: Travel

Wonderful Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

Standing resplendently like a castle, Rijksmuseum, or the State museum, is one of the oldest museums in Europe and has been with us for over two centuries now. This lengthy existence warrants its extraordinary collections of old paintings highlighting its own most celebrated Dutch masters as Rembrandt and Vermeer. The museum encapsulates 800 years of the Netherland’s history and the art from the Middle ages to contemporary times. Some 8,000 works in 80 exhibit rooms are on display.

For the Rembrandt fan, the Rijksmuseum is a delightful collection of the artists work. The exhibition “Late Rembrandt” which has been running from February until May of this year, showcases the master’s works at the pinnacle of of his life as an artist. These works total over a hundred paintings, drawings and prints. Rijksmuseum has managed to curate these works from other museums and individual’s private collections. The Late Rembrandt Exhibition is definitely a once in a lifetime experience and opportunity to know Rembrandt like you have never before.

The Masterpiece collections exhibit some 200 works such as old paintings, sculptures and inventions. Don’t miss Van Gogh’s self-portrait, Pieneman’s “The Battle of Waterloo”, The Javanese Court Collections of paintings, and the astounding sculptures like “The Portraite of Andries de Graeff” and “The Seated Cupid”. A must-see would be the Gallery of Honour featuring paintings of world renowned masters including Frans Hals, Jan Steen, Vermeer and Rembrandt. The famous Night Watch will take your breath away, as well as the popular piece entitled “The Milkmaid”.

For the tea lovers, the museum exhibits an elegant collection of Delft Blue pottery. Gorgeous tea sets and stunning vases will surely wow you! If this is not enough, understand life in the Golden Age through Rijksmuseum’s Doll’s Houses. The oldest in the collections dates back to 1676.

Don’t miss the Cuypersbibliotheek too! It is the biggest and oldest art history library in the country but has been fully renovated recently. Nevertheless, the glorious antique touch has been greatly preserved. The reading rooms are splendid, the spiral staircase for reaching the books is so romantic, and the lights are warm and inviting. Everyone interested in the study of art history is encouraged to come here. iPads for studying are available, and Wi-Fi is free.

Masaya Volcano National Park

The national park covers 54 square kilometers, which include two volcanoes as well as five craters. These volcanoes have erupted so many times throughout history including during the time of the Spanish colonization in the 16th century. The frequent eruption is the reason the Spanish conquerors called one of the active volcanoes the “Mouth of Hell” (La Boca del Infierno). They believed that the devil had something to do with the regular eruptions. Thus, they planted a cross called La Cruz de Bobadilla to exorcise such evil. Today, you can still encounter the cross that was named after the priest Francisco Bobadilla, and this structure has become one of the popular attractions in the park.

One highlight of a trip to Masaya Volcano National Park is the large impressive crater called Santiago. The crater is sandwiched between the Masaya and Nindiri volcanoes. Due to successive eruptions of the craters in the park during the 1900s, they eventually collapsed in 1985. These days, when you head over to the vicinity of the craters, you can still smell the sulphurous gasses as well as hear the lava flowing below the ground. The landscape in this volcanic area is filled with rocks and ashes. However rough the surroundings may be, it also has a certain serenity to it.

If you want to be a bit adventurous, grab the opportunity to peek over the edge of the Masaya Volcano. By doing so, you will see in full scale, its magnificent and powerful crater, which still emits sulfur gases and smoke. After marveling at the central crater, you can also hike over to the other craters and viewpoints. Such hikes are certainly worth it as the captivating volcanic surroundings will unfold before your eyes. Aside from the trails that lead to craters and lookout points, there is also one that leads to the Tzinaconostoc Cave, known as the haven for hundreds of bats.

Special trails which stretch from 1.5 to 6 kilometers, are all guided and have corresponding fees depending on the distance. Aside from the usual day tour, the park management also offers the nocturnal tour, which is quite unique and exciting. This night tour begins at 5 pm and ends at around 8 pm. The objective of the tour is to lead the participants first to the La Cruz de Bobadilla before sunset, and then proceed further to the crater area for wildlife observation, underground tunnel exploration and possibly, to watch the red, glowing lava flowing through the deep crater opening. This spectacular sight can only be seen at night.

Canary Islands

One of my favorite destination is none other than the Canary Islands off Spain. You can choose to get there by cruise, in which case, it is a good idea to engage the service of a cruise-only travel agent or an online agency that specializes in cruise vacations. They probably can give you better cruise holiday deals.

You can also get there by air. All the islands have airports. Most international flights and those from mainland Spain goes to Tenerife, Gran Canaria, and Lanzarote. You can also fly to the Canaries from most
European cities. If you are flying from North America, flights usually go to Madrid, where you can get a
connecting flight.

The Canary Islands were originally inhabited by an unknown aboriginal group, probably from North Africa.
It was in the 15th century that they were discovered by Frenchman Bethencourt. Some popular Canary Islands destinations to check out are: Fuerteventura, Gomera, Grand Canary, Lanzarote and Tenerife.

In my opinion, this place is one of the best holiday resort to get away from the winter. And, there are many activities to keep you and your loved ones busy! If you like golf, you can try the mini golf course. If biking or hiking is your thing, there are many tracks to wonder around.

One of my favorites is the Teide National Park. It is a marvel of nature with its stunning volcanic landscape.It is also home to Spain’s highest mountain, the dormant volcano Teide. There are numerous walking trails and a cable car to the top of the volcano. Truly awesome!

If you are into sea-sports, the Bahía de Pozo Izquierdo is the best beach on Gran Canaria for windsurfing. If snorkelling or scuba diving is your thing – you will be delighted to see grouper, barracuda, turtles, rays,
tropical fishes and the occasional shark. Needless to say, deep sea fishing and sailing is also fantastic!

If you are going to spend a week at Gran Canaria, go try out “ClubHotel Riu Vistamar”. While its pool area
can be busy, the hotel is very well maintained, and the food you get there – is well, heavenly! You get pancakes, cereals, toast and even champagne for breakfast! On certain days, you’ll even get smoked salmon. Quite frankly, I don’t mind having it everyday! Remember to attend the 6:30pm dinner to enjoy the night entertainment too.

Burma And The Elephant Dance

For those not so familiar with Hinduism and Buddhism to understand why – particularly the white – elephant is sacred and so closely associated with Hindu and Buddhist beliefs it is important to know that, for example, the religious Indian figure that is always depicted with an elephant head is the powerful Hindu god Ganesha (in Burma known as Maha Peinne) one of the globally best-known (because of the elephant head) and most worshipped deities of the Hindu heavenly abode and that the later Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, was according to legend conceived by his mother Queen Maya after a white elephant was presenting her with a lotus flower the common symbol of wisdom and purity on the eve of giving birth and after she had dreamed that a white elephant had entered her body. And what concerns the Burmese nat worshipper and the nat worshipping part of Burmese Theravada Buddhism there is the powerful guardian spirit of the elephants, Uttay Na, who is worshipped by everyone who has to do with elephants (this includes the people making the elephant figures for the dance competitions) and, last but not least, there are also the nats Ngazishin, Lord of the five white elephant as well as Aungbinle Hsinbyushin, Lord of the white elephant from Aungbinle.

Elephants have in the region that is nowadays Burma/Myanmar always played an important role in more than one way what is, among others, reflected in the fact that the white elephant is an accepted symbol of and omnipresent in Burma. White elephants are e.g. often guarding the entrances to Burmese pagodas and white elephants are also depicted on all Burmese bank notes (Burmese/Myanmar Kyat). Because of the low value of the Kyat coins do not exist otherwise there would certainly be elephants on.

In Burma, the land with the worldwide second largest population of wild Asian elephants (India has the largest) and largest number of captive Asian elephants, the elephant, in general, has been used as working or timber elephant, war elephant and the white elephant, in particular, belonged by law to the king and was used as royal mode of transportation when the king was hunting, travelling, rode into battles or took part in parades or processions; the more white elephants a king possessed the higher was his status and the more powerful he was; the elephant as royal status symbol.

Another example that perfectly demonstrates the importance the possession of white elephants was given is the names of Mon and Burmese queens and kings. For instance, the Mon queen Shin Saw Bu had the title ‘Mistress of the White Elephant’, the Burmese Kings Kyawswa I of Pinya claimed the title Ngarsishin (Lord of Five White Elephants, King Kyawswa II of Pinya claimed the title Laysishin (Lord of Four White Elephants) and King Sin Phyu Shin’s name means Lord of the White Elephant.

The latter is of course part of Burma’s history but the former (working and timber elephant) is still very much part of present-day Burma; as is the Kyaukse Elephant Dance in Burmese Kyaukse Shin Ka.

The small town Kyaukse where as the name implies the Kyaukse Elephant Dance is originated from is situated in central Burma 25 miles/40 kilometres south of Mandalay, the capital of the last Burmese kingdom and 20 miles/31 kilometres south-east of the ancient Burmese capitals Sagaing, Ava and Amarapura about halfway between Sintgaing and Suu Lay Kone at the National Highway No. 1 and the railway track connecting Rangoon/Yangon with Mandalay. The ‘town’ Kyaukse is actually one of four townships that make up the Kyaukse district. These 4 townships are Kyaukse Township, Sintgaing Township, Myittha Township and Tada-Oo Township.

When approaching Kyaukse (township) two white elephant statues welcome you and it is no accident that these elephants are standing there. However, the reason for their being placed there is like so many things in Burma’s history hidden behind a thick screen of myth and legend what, by the way, provides ample room for interpretation.

One of the various legends explaining these elephants existence has at its centre the Pagan/Bagan king Anawrahta who reigned from 1044 A.D. to his death in 1077 A.D. His death was as legend has it (another legend) caused by a wild buffalo called Cakkhupala that was actually not a buffalo but a former enemy of Anawrahta who appeared in the form of a buffalo. However, the more probable cause of his death is assassination.

According to the ‘Kyaukse Legend’, Anawrahta has returning from China from where he brought some Buddha relics made camp with his entourage someplace close to what was later to become Kyaukse. The relics – so it is said – were so valuable to him that his intention was to place them in a pagoda build especially for them at a suitable place. The question to be raised at this point in time is why he did not bring them to Pagan and find a place worthy of them there?

The same question is – by the by – to be asked with respect to the history of the – as many people say – ‘5 Buddha images’ (which is not true because they are 1 or 2 Buddha statues and 3 or 4 disciples) now housed in the Phaung-Daw-Oo pagoda at Inlay lake. These Buddha statues were – again as legend has it – left behind hidden in a cave nearby the lake by the Pagan king Alaungsithu (who reigned from 1112 A.D. to 1167 A.D.) when he came back from a journey to the Malayan peninsula. Why did he not bring them to Pagan but hid them in a cave at the Inlay Lake? But now I am off topic.

Back to Kyaukse and the elephants where instead of waiting till his return to Pagan king Anawratha put the relics on his favourite white elephant’s Thanmyinzwa back in order to have the elephant lead him to a place where to build the pagoda for the relics.

As one of several slightly different versions of this legend has it the elephant wasting no time led Anawrahta to a hillside situated east of what is nowadays Kyaukse where he first knelt down at the Tha Lyaung Hill and then continued to the Pyat Khar Shwe Hill where he knelt down the second time. The question was now where to build the pagoda, at the place of the elephant’s first or second and last stop? Anawrahta’s answer to this question was to build a temple at the Kha Yway Hill and a pagoda at the Shwe Tha Lyaung hill. However, this part of the legend is not tally with the reality. There is indeed a temple in Kyaukse – the Tamote Shinpin Shwegugyi Temple – that was originally a one storey structure built by Anawrahta in Pagan style (a second storey was added by the Pagan king Narapatisithu) but this temple is not located at the Kha Yway Hill but some but 8 miles/13 kilometres north of Kyaukse (township) in Tada Oo township not very far from Mandalay International Airport. Also, the distance of 8 miles which is quite a lot sets me thinking. From this inconsistencies follows that there is some confusion regarding the names and locations of the temple or pagoda.

Be that as it may, the Shwe-Tha-Lyaung (the reclining Buddha) pagoda is ever since its completion the venue for the annual Shin-pwe, the Elephant Festival with the elephant dances that takes place in commemoration of the pagoda’s construction and also – although to a much lesser extent – the elephant nat Uttay Na.

The elephant dance festival is celebrated on the day before the full moon of Thadingyut, the Light Festival in October.

Since long real elephants are replaced by artfully crafted artificial elephant figures or costumes. Inside these figures are 2 men performing the elephant’s movements.

The basic elephant comprises two skeletons (one for the body and one for the head) made of bamboo and a skin made of paper mâché and pieces of black or white cotton cloth and textile such as, velvet and satin. The paper mâché parts get after being properly dried a final coating with black or white paint what also serves the purpose of surface protection. Although the white elephant is the royal variety are for practical reasons most of these elephants black.

Once the two pieces that make up the basic elephant are ready they are richly and colourful decorated ‘royal-elephant-style’ with e.g. glass gems, artificial pearls, gold foil, sequin and embroidery. Elephants decorated mainly with sequin (what takes longer to do and is more expensive) are judged in a separate competition.

In order to make the skeleton that gives the body the shape and stability needed fresh green bamboo stripes that have for reasons of higher pliancy been soaked in water are used. Because the hindpart of the body must provide sufficient space for two dancers and their movements its form is bulky, of simple shape, made in open-belly style and has a hole for the head that is worn and operated by the front-dancer. Imitations of the elephant’s legs are textile tubes worn by the dancers ‘trouser style’. The head with tusks is a real piece of art and modelled lifelike of paper mâché. Attached to the head are the ears of cardboard covered with textile and a trunk made of bamboo rings sewn into a textile tube. As a finishing touch the name of the elephant dance team is put on the sides of the elephant’s body. This is done either by painting it directly on the elephant figure’s surface (skin) or by way of e.g. attaching an embroidered piece of fabric.

Making these 2-piece elephant costumes requires a high level of craftsmanship and is done by family businesses in Kyaukse that are specialising in this craft and are famous for their skills all over Burma. They do not only make the elephant figures for the elephant dance and dance competition but also, for example, models and statues by customer specification and all kinds of small and medium sized multi-purpose paper mâché figures such as elephants, Happy Owls’, horses and so on. They can be used for decoration purposes, as children toys, for offerings, can be sold as souvenir to tourists, etc. The knowledge and skills needed for this art and craft are handed down from generation to generation. Each business has their own tricks, which belong to the strictly guarded family secrets.

The schedule and procedure of the building of an elephant figure is taking place based on religious considerations. According to these it is in order to guarantee greatest possible success important to, firstly, choose an auspicious date and day for the beginning of the work. Once this is decided upon it is equally important to make prior to the beginning of the work on the elephant figure flower and candle light offerings and say prayers. Work on the elephant must not start after noon (12:00) because this is believed to be inauspicious. Building an elephant figure can easily take months from start to finish.

Inside the elephant outfit two men are dancing to the often especially composed tunes of dobat and bon shay (long drums). This is no easy task as to gain and maintain the necessary synchronisation and elegance of movements to perform the different occasionally downright artistic figures of the elephant dance well requires precise timing and rhythm of the two dancers. What concerns the dancing part the dancer in the back plays the main role whereas the movements of the head are performed by the front dancer. The dancers practise up to one year (with the old elephant costume) to perform the physically very demanding traditional Burmese elephant dance steps and movements perfectly because much is at stake in terms of fame, glory, popularity and money.

Competitions are held in four disciplines, which are ‘Traditional elephant dancing competition’, ‘Child elephant dancing competition’ (under ten), ‘Best traditional elephant figure’ and ‘Best sequin elephant figure’.

The money prizes awarded to the victors and 2 runners-up in the respective discipline are ranging at the time of this writing between Burmese Kyat 200.000 (app. US Dollar 200) to Burmese Kyat 1.000.000 (app. US Dollar 1.000). This is for the people of Kyaukse and the Kyaukse district who in their majority do not always find it easy to make ends meet a lot of very welcome money; a windfall, as it were. But this is not all. The victorious teams will during the year of their victories be invited to other events and get the opportunities to show off their skills and bask in the glory of being champions. Their first show after the victory will be to dance the next day – the full moon day – at the pagoda on the hill’s top what is a great honour. And, last but not least, they will go down in the ‘Kyaukse Elephant Dance’ history.

The ‘Kyaukse Elephant Dance Competitions’ begin in the early morning of the day before the Full Moon Day of Thadingyut on the market place of Kyaukse situated at the foot of the Shwe Tha Lyaung hill, which the ‘elephants’ have to surround three times. This for two reasons; firstly, to equal the ‘Three Jewels’ in Theravada Buddhism; the Buddha (The Enlightened), the Dharma (Buddha’s teachings) and the Sangha (Buddhist monk community) and, secondly, in order to give the jury and the spectators sufficient opportunity to closely inspect the elephant figures and make photos if they so wish; e.g. family members of the contestants, tourists and journalists certainly do.

There are usually more than 50 teams from different towns and villages that are competing for the championship title. Virtually all of these teams have very beautiful elephant figures that easily survive the dance competitions undamaged and dancers who are performing their dances perfectly so that it must be really difficult for the judges of the juries that are made up of pagoda trustees, Kyaukse town and township officials as well as other dignitaries to decide on who are the winners, who are the runner-up and who does not even make it into the group of the ‘Top-Three’.

Main criteria for the performance appraisal are e.g. general appearance, quality of the elephant figures in terms of craftsmanship, quality of the decoration, quality of the dance performance, the quality of the music and singing that accompanies the dance performance and the quality of the teamwork (dancers, ‘mahout’, musicians and singer).

For those teams that do not make it into the top groups the disappointment is certainly deep; after all the sweat shed during numerous exhausting training hours and the lots of money spent for the elephant outfit. But there are next year’s competitions to look forward to; this year it did not work out well but next year it surely will.

The festive award ceremonies take place in the evening and all participants and spectators go home to prepare for the next day when the pagoda festival takes place.

Before continuing with the following, the full moon day I would like to draw your attention to the many elephant dance teams that are not taking part in the competitions but do instead – led by their ‘mahout’ – dance from house to house and shop to shop in the town to entertain the people and ask for donations. Well, actually it is the ‘elephant’ that is asking and not the dancers what as you can imagine has a very positive effect on the peoples readiness to donate. Not to mention these elephant dance teams would be grossly unjust because they are integral part of the festival and are much liked by the people of Kyaukse and visitors from other places. I like to say that when the ‘professionals’ who are taking place in the traditional elephant dance competitions are ‘playing opera’ the ‘amateurs’ who are dancing through the streets much to the delight of the people are ‘playing musical’. One of my favourite pieces is ‘The Drunken Elephant’. For these elephant dance teams it is more about fun, enjoying the peoples’ being happy with their performance and the (sometimes not so) small money they get from them in exchange for the pleasure they are giving.

The next morning at ‘Full Moon Day’ the winner teams of the elephant dance competitions and literally thousands of devotees are setting off to circumambulate the pagoda clockwise three times, make their offerings comprising food, water, incense sticks, candles, small white paper umbrellas and small paper mâché elephants and watch the elephant dance performances.

Overview of Travel Advisors

If you happen to like any travel advisor, you would want to take his advice for all your trips. It therefore becomes very imperative for the travel agent to offer personalized services to every client, in addition to the regular bookings, for building a strong relationship for future business. It has often been seen that people recommend their very own travel agent to their friends and relatives, especially if they get additional discounts for these recommendations. It is a good career choice for those people who get pleasure out of working with people and maintaining good interpersonal relationships.

Travel advisors have in-depth information of various places, vacation ideas and tourist attractions, and besides making reservations for the vacation, he also suggests the best time for visiting a particular place. He is also aware of the most preferred tourist places and some unusual places, away from main towns and roads for those who want an adventurous or one of a kind vacation. Quite often, they get to know deals and discounts which other people may not be aware of. It always pays to check with them before booking a vacation.

The travel advisor will solve any issues concerning visa requirements and currency exchange even after your travel itinerary has been finalized and all your reservations have been made. He can help with making a change in reservations, and propose you to take travel insurance for the vacation, should there be an unexpected illness. He can be contacted to solve any other problems that may arise during the vacation.

Isla Mujeres Mexico

This former fishing island stretches to only about 5 miles, and is half a mile wide. You can reach it by traveling 8 miles across the Bahia de Mujeres from Puerto Juarez in Cancun. Because of its small size, it is easy to navigate around the island, including the downtown area. Even though people have a tendency to make Isla Mujeres just a day trip destination, the island can actually hold its own as the prime tourist island.

Those who are seeking for a quieter, more serene yet beautiful environment will absolutely adore Isla Mujeres. An added plus is that the island is actually more affordable than Cancun. The highlight of the island stay is definitely the beaches. Most of these sandy stretches feature crushed corals and turquoise blue waters. Some travel experts even argue that these beaches are better than those found at other premier Mexican vacation spots like Holbox or Cozumel.

Some of the best beaches on the island are on its northern most tip. The sandy stretch at this area is called Playa Norte (North Beach). This popular white sand beach is equipped with bars, restaurants and hotels. Playa Sol is the less-crowded neighbor to Playa Norte and is known for its stunning sunset views. When you head out to the southern end of the island, you will find Punta Sur beach with its old lighthouse, modern art sculpture park and Mayan temple.

There is also no end of activities to keep you entertained while on Isla Mujeres. Scuba diving and snorkeling are highly enjoyable activities as the waters surrounding the island are teeming with tropical marine creatures and colorful reefs. Some of the best places to dive include the reefs of Manchones, Punta Norte, the Cave of the Sleeping Sharks and two sunken ships. On top of this, you can also go sailing, kayaking, take fishing excursions, or arrange a trip to see up close the marvelous underwater sculpture museum of the artist Jason de Caires Taylors. This underwater display is the largest of its kind in the world. On dry land, one exciting thing to do is to rent a bike, a golf cart or scooter and drive around the island.

If you are visiting with small children; they also will love experiencing the Isla Mujeres Turtle Farm, an endangered sea turtle hatchery and rehabilitation center, run by the government.

About Sunken Ships

A lot of sunken ships explored in the recent years have provided a glimpse at the lives of a by-gone era. The Mary Rose, a ship that sailed in the 1500’s offered valuable information regarding seafaring, warfare and life itself during that time. The SS Thistlegorm, aside from being an interesting dive spot provide a habitat for many types of marine life and actually supports the ocean’s ecosystem. And the universal appeal of pirates’ treasures buried in the ocean together with the sunken ships. Because of the rich history and valuable treasure that may be acquired in sunken ships, more and more organizations are seeking to protect sunken ship sites, however, the fact that these lie on the oceans signifies that no country or no one has jurisdiction over sunken ships. Thus, anyone who has the resources may actually just dive and loot sunken ships. The Sub-Aquatic Cultural Heritage Protection Convention ratified stricter measures in preserving and protecting sunken ships which are proven to be rich sources of historical and cultural information.

Sunken ships are actually the remains of a ship that has sunk because of a crisis at sea. The reasons behind the ship’s sinking vary, of course, and may include equipment failure; capsizing due to the instability of the ship; navigations errors resulting to collision with rocks, ships, reefs or icebergs; bad weather; violence such as wars, mutinies or pirate attacks; and quite ironically, fire.

Mountain Region of Svaneti Georgia

This region is absolutely so stunning you may not want to leave – ever. Its natural gifts, which include Europe’s highest mountains and incredible glaciers, are well complemented by the presence of medieval villages, old houses and towers. Svaneti is home to the Svans, known for their chivalry and bravery. The whole mountain region covers an incredible amount of land. So much so, it is divided into two regions: Upper Svaneti and Lower Svaneti. It will take multiple days to satisfactorily enjoy both subregions, but the time spent here is well worth it.

Svaneti has earned the World Heritage Site distinction of its magnificent landscape that features well preserved human settlements built way back during the medieval times. You can begin your journey around Svaneti in its capital Mestia, which also has it fair share of the iconic stone house towers. These house towers were built in such a way as to not only act as homes to villagers but also as defense posts against potential invaders. If you want to see almost 200 hundred of them up close, head out the village of Chazhashi and you will not be disappointed. Make sure to have your camera with you.

Hiking is one of the main activities in this mountain region. Hardcore trekkers travel from one town to another on foot. This is a great way to really enjoy the scenery. The most popular hiking path has got to be the one starts from Mestia and ends at Mazeri. Along the way, you will pass through several villages, some of which are situated on the Dolra River basin. While conquering this track, you will be visually rewarded with the sight of the Ushba-Mazeri massif, considered to be one of the most inaccessible mountain massifs in the Caucasus.

Take note that although you get some information at Mestia about this path, there is no guarantee that you can get a copy of the map. The mountain village of Mazeri is known for its beautiful natural landscape. The village is the usual gateway to Mount Ushba, which is a prominent trekking spot and is one of the highest mountains in Europe.

Tviberi River Valley is another popular hiking route in the Svaneti region. This route starts from the Zhabeshi village and goes all the way to two spectacular glaciers, the Qvitlodi and Tviberi. The trail is perhaps one of the easiest, featuring a length of 5.5 kilometers but with elevation of only 730 meters. Because of the relatively level elevation, it usually takes 6 hours to walk it.

John Muir Way Scotland

John Muir Way starts in the west from Helensburgh and goes all the way to the east coast, finishing at Dunbar. Named after a man who is widely known for his conservation efforts, John Muir gives an unbelievable perspective of the country. Dunbar was actually the hometown of the great John Muir, who is also the founder of America’s National Parks.

John Muir Way was built to join the already established network of hiking trails across the country. John Muir is actually part of the North Sea Trail. It is also linked to the West Highland Way, which showcases Scotland’s magical countryside. This new soon-to-be-iconic Scottish route is broken into ten sections to help travellers calculate and organize their trekking journey.

The sections makes it easier. It takes approximately 7-12 days to complete this trail. If you decide to cycle, it will most probably take you half of the estimated time. But the presence of the sections allows you to decide on day-long trips and partially trek the route easily. In addition, there is available public transport, usually in the form of buses and trains, that can bring hikers to many select points along the route. Thus, there is no real pressure to walk the entire way.

As you make your journey along John Muir, a diverse set of gorgeous landscapes will unfold. The route leads you through hills, old roads, railway lines and rural regions. You have the opportunity to stop by castle ruins and stay at quaint farmhouses. One of the famous spots along this route is the Blackness Castle, whose history goes all the way back to the 15th century.

Another interesting landmark that will greet you on your journey is the Roman ruin called Antonine’s Wall. Falkirk Wheel makes an interesting stop as it represents the look and feel of the modern architecture of the 21st century. If picturesque mountain and lake views are what you are looking for, make sure to stop by Stoneymollan Road, which reveals the outstanding landscapes of Loch Lomond. Other captivating spots along John Muir Way include the Strathkelvin Railway Path and Campsie Fells.

As you go further, the route will them bring your to more industrial and urban settings at the heart of Scotland. After going through significant places like ancient Linlithgow, Forth at Bo’ness and the Forth Bridge area, it eventually winds down to vibrant Scottish capital of Edinburgh. Although the route goes through major parts of the capital, it does not run into its central district.

Traveling With Comfortable Suitcases

Carry-on bags

These bags are small and compact in size. They are a little bigger than hand bags but still can be carried as a hand baggage. The carry-on bags come with 4 heavy duty wheels which enable users to move them comfortably in all directions. A good carry-on bag consists of many exterior pockets for last minute packing. It should also be made up of durable and shock resistant material for long lasting use. Good carry-on bags are multi-purpose and often more useful than suitcases.

Personal items bag

A personal items bag is like a backpack, laptop bag or vanity bag which contains ones personal items like books, laptop, tablet, hand towels, magazines,toiletries etc. It is one of those bags which cannot be missed. These bags are very useful and can be carried around anywhere. They easily fit into the overhead compartments in flights. Even a college bag can be used while traveling.

Duffel bags

Duffel bags are big handbags which are slightly different from suitcases. It is a big yet lightweight handbags which can be used as a last minute resort to keep extra items. While we are on tour, we purchase several things which requires an extra luggage bag and at that time duffel bags come handy. These bags too come with wheels for a comfortable use.

Wheeled suitcase

A 26 inch wheel trolley bag is more than sufficient. It has space and is durable as well. It comes with four heavy duty wheels which not only carries the load of a filled suitcase easily but also moves conveniently.