Artistic Wonders of Wellington

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Renowned as New Zealand’s cultural capital, Wellington punches well-above its weight when it comes to arts and entertainment.
As the home of Hollywood blockbuster director Sir Peter Jackson, whose Lord of the Rings trilogy put New Zealand on the map as a film-making destination, there’s always something exciting and interesting to see, do, or be a part of.
Wellington Film
The public can get backstage with a guided tour of Sir Peter’s Academy Award-winning Weta Workshop, which crafts everything from 3D models to makeup and prosthetics, to animatronics and weapons, for big-name films.
For a big-screen experience with a splash of character, Miramar’s Roxy Cinema screens a mix of new releases, classics and festival films. The art-deco cinema opened its doors for the first time in 1928, and was lovingly restored four years ago by a local arts consortium – including Weta Workshop founders Tania Rodger and Sir Richard Taylor, and Sir Peter’s Oscar-winning film editor Jamie Selkirk.

Weta Workshop

In the city centre, The Embassy Theatre offers the ultimate movie-watching experience, on an enormous screen in its 850-capacity main theatre. The exquisite 1920s was refurbished for the 2003 world premiere of Sir

Campervan Living In New Zealand

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My first ever campervan in New Zealand was a somewhat battered Toyota Hi-ace – essentially just a van with a mattress chucked in the back – chosen purely because it had a rainbow design on its side. This hippy-flavoured paint job perfectly matched the idyllic, road-tripping images I had in my head, fuelled by watching old-school movies in which the living is easy and the road full of non-stop fun and adventure.
Several road trips, vans and years down the line I now know the reality can be very different from such romantic notions. Sometimes living in a tiny ‘house’ which has to be transport, bedroom, lounge and shelter can be tough. Hollywood never hinted there would be problems with how to keep my food fresh or myself warm in a van which is like an oven or an ice-cave depending on the season; Hollywood never suggested the possibility of sleepless nights spent listening to a mouse scuttling round – an uninvited hitch-hiker eating my food, shredding my toilet paper and proving impossible to evict.
Yes, parts

Whale and Dolphin Spotting In Auckland

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Sprawling metropolises are not typically the first place you’d look for immersive wildlife experiences but Auckland has something up its sleeve – or off its shores to be more precise.
The body of water lying east of Auckland known as the Hauraki Gulf is teeming with wonders of the living natural kind. Multitudes of marine creatures call the gulf and its islands home, including rare seabirds, a great diversity of fish species and a wealth of both migrant and resident dolphins and whales known collectively as cetaceans.
These 1.2 million hectares of emerald island dotted ocean are the jewel in Auckland’s crown – a rich environment of ages-old cultural, spiritual and historical significance. Māori people recognised the region’s natural wealth, settling here in the earliest days of the nation’s history of human habitation.
Such riches, when all added together, ensure the gulf’s enormous economic significance not just with regard to the region it belongs to but the country as a whole. It is estimated that in excess of 2.7 billion dollars are generated through the mediums of aquaculture, fishing, tourism, shipping and ferry transportation.
However, it is the

Finding the Cheap Hotel in Surabaya

Do you like to enjoy the traveling time with your friends? Do you want to have the perfect holiday with your family? All of the questions will be answered yes if you are such a person who really love challenge. Traveling is like a challenge. You need to explore the new place that you do not know before and you will have the perfect time there. When you decide to have the wonderful time for your traveling, you need to prepare for the budget too. If you only have the limited budget, it is not such a big deal. You will have the best time for the holiday ever and you can have the perfect time for your holiday.

Here are some tips that you can do for getting the cheap traveling time. First, you need to choose the best flight deal. You need to check the flight promo for instance. Flight services commonly offer us with the best deal for the ticket. When you think that the price is good, you need to choose and take it for your ticket. Second, you also need to have the booking for the hotel. In this case, we also need to find out

White Water Rafting In Rotorua

White Water Rafting In Rotorua

Thrills and spills in New Zealand’s North Island capital of adventure

Rotorua is without doubt the nation’s centre for geothermal related phenomena as well as a front-seat location for Maori cultural experiences but it can also lay claim to being the North Island’s prime location for fun and adventure activities.
Some of the adventure menu items are relative newcomers but not so rafting. Dating from the early 80s, it is one of Rotorua’s first adventure activities and with such a lineage it means the many companies offering the thrill of a lifetime have had plenty of practise at getting it just right; some – such as River Rats – have been around for more than 30 years.
Another Rotorua rafting bonus has to do with the diverse range it covers. As with so much else in New Zealand white water rafting in Rotorua can be anything you want it to be whether that’s a terror-free scenic day out along the river with a young family in tow or something rather more challenging.

Raftabout on the Wairoa River

Rotorua rafting truly takes things to the pinnacle of white-water adventure too, if that’s the way

Paying Lip Service to Lipari

We here at My Destination Sicily are committed to getting out and about in our destination to provide you with specialist Sicilian information and inspirational ideas.  Besides, it’s a good excuse to treat ourselves to the plenitude of delights our island offers!  Accordingly, we recently visited Lipari, the busiest and most diverse of the Aeolian Islands that cluster around Sicily’s triangular form.  We opted to visit for a weekend in July, the best time to sample all the simple things to do in Sicily, when temperatures sizzle at over 30 degrees centigrade, and the cobalt blue of the Mediterranean Sea is most alluring.

Having driven to Milazzo, a port in the north-east of the Sicilian mainland, we took a futuristic-looking hydrofoil across to Lipari, mesmerised the entire way by the blinding paparazzi sparkles blazing across the Med, and the chaotic waves left reeling in our wake.  After fifty minutes – less than half the time it takes a standard ferry – we arrived Marina Lunga dock, a bustling hive of activity where opportunistic locals shower fresh-faced tourists with offers of accommodation, boat trips, scooter rentals, and more.  We politely declined.

We made our way towards the cobbled street

Best Piazzas in Sicily

Sicily has a lot of beautiful squares (Piazza is a ‘Square’ in English) which are amongst the best Sicily attractions, and here at My Destination Sicily, we would like to share few of them with you. Piazzas are immersed in thousands of years of history, so definitely worth checking out on your next visit.

Palazzo Adriano

This is the all-time best piazza in Sicily and should you make the journey here you might well recognize it from Cinema Paradiso. The 1980s classic movie made the square famous and indeed it’s one of the largest and most beautiful squares you will see in Sicily – complete with churches and cobbled stones.

Piazza Scammacca, Catania

Catania’s best place to hang out is Piazza Scammacca. Here you will find large television screens showing football matches, or there could be a live band playing. Restaurants in this area serve anything from steak to pizza or you could simply get an ice-cream and sit and do some people watching. A good evening out in Catania.

Piazza Umberto I, Erice

Erice has so many lovely nooks and crannies it’s hard to choose just one, but Piazza Umberto I is the central square at the topmost part of the town and

Three Days in Sicily

If you have three days to spend in Sicily, it is a good idea to base somewhere in order to save on travel time, and Catania, on Sicily’s eastern coast, is possibly the best place to stop. From here you can gain a good experience of the island’s character and from here you can experience all the things to do in Sicily.

Day 1 – Catania

Catania easily deserves a full day of your time. Start your day early down with the fish mongers at one of Sicily’s most vibrant markets, La Pescheria. Wander out amongst the stalls to witness the bargaining and bickering, and into the murky alleyways nearby for plenty of fruit, vegetables and fresh produce. You might even be able to pick up some bargains yourself.

You will notice the dark blocks of the city’s buildings and its prominent landmarks: Catania was largely built from the lava of Mt Etna and it gives the city a rather ragged but elegant look which is quite unique and beautiful.

Catania is very walkable and you will easily be able to stroll around to see its highlights. Wander along Via Etnea and stop randomly at the many palaces, gardens, churches, squares and

Can’t See the Woods for the Tees

It’s been nearly one hundred years since the first ball was teed off to commence what’s become one of the sporting calendar’s most prestigious events, the PGA. In 1916, it was America who received all the plaudits; only since the seventies have tournaments within the PGA included Europe’s finest golfers. Come 2012, and between March the 29th and April the 1st, during what will be one of the highlights of the Sicily events calendar, the otherwise sensual Sicilian landscape will be transformed into a humming mass of golf fanatics following the moves of every professional on course during the Sicilian Open.

Set on the western coast of Sicily, the Verdura Resort lies among gently rolling hills whose soil is deepened rust, overlooking the azure Mediterranean waters. Its year-round balmy climate makes it difficult for even the least experienced golfer to be deterred. Temperatures rarely slip below 13°C, making the Verdura Resort an ideal location to stage a tournament as widely recognised as The Open. Indeed, it is a perfect destination for a golfing holiday any time of the year.

To whet appetites further, until March 15th, the resort is offering a deal to commemorate the tournament, supplying unlimited golfing access, or daily

Christmas in Erice

Erice, perched high on a rock, is always worth a visit. But in December it just becomes magic. From 6th of December to 6th of January the historical centre of the ancient town diverts into a Christmas village, it is the biggest event of the year called EricèNatale. A unique experience for locals and those who spend their winter holidays in the area between Trapani and Palermo: not only that you can discover the magnificence of its churches and museums, monuments and archaeological sites, you could also take advantage of a full calendar of initiatives and events: markets, bagpipers, shows, concerts, theater, dance, art, gastronomy and handicrafts. Download the program here

Visitors should leave their car in Trapani and go to Erice by cable car – it is an exciting way to reach the town and you can enjoy beautiful views over the sea up to the Egadi Islands.

Nativity Scene

Nativity Scenes are spread over the historical centre of the lovely little town. The most relevant is the one exhibited in the Museo Cordici, spectacularly realized with marine materials and characters in precious alabaster, testimony of the ancient art of cribs of Trapani. Of particular value is also

One Day in the “Pearl of the Ionian”

The picturesque Mediterranean town of Taormina, also called the “Pearl of the Ionian”, can be easily visited on foot in one single day. But be warned, the stairways, alleyways, small squares, picturesque facades and balconies adorned with flowers, views to die for and the wonderful climate even in winter could make you decide to stay some more days in Taormina.

Our day starts in the morning at the Porta Catania, the old town gate towards Catania and Mount Etna, with a typical Sicilian breakfast, a granita al caffè with brioche (half frozen coffee with whipped cream underneath and on top, and a sweet-bread), at the Bar Luraleo No. 2 on Piazza San Antonio. This calories-bomb-start into the day provides you with the energy needed to complete your town stroll.

Passing the Porta Catania, where Taormina’s main (pedestrian) road, the famous Corso Umberto, begins, we’ll find on the right after the old town wall a precious palazzo, the Palazzo Duca di Santo Stefano, which was destroyed in World War II and has been rebuilt in its original style.

Going  back onto the Corso Umberto we head for the Medieval Cathedral, which is only 50 m away. The Duomo di Taormina was built in the

It’s walking time

Wherever you are in Sicily, a natural beauty is not far away. Mountains, salt marshes, lakes, gorges, steaming craters, rivers, grottoes and caves are spread over the island(s). Our ten top spots are to be discovered on foot. Required: sunscreen with a high SPF, mineral water, hat, sturdy shoes or walking boots. Not required: a guide, except on the island of Stromboli. Please keep in mind that most of Sicily’s hiking and trekking trails are not or poorly signed. We suggest starting the hikes early in the morning before it gets too hot.

More descriptions of nature reserves, parks & public gardens you’ll find here

Fossa di Vulcano – Aeolian Islands

Apart of the thermal springs and black beaches, Vulcano’s attraction is its 391 m high steaming crater, which is encrusted with yellow and red crystals. After one hour you’ll reach the lowest point of the crater’s edge at about 290 m, to the summit it will take 1,5 hours. Follow the signs on the strada provinciale, then a gravel track on the left zigzags to the summit. From there you could descend to the crater floor and/or climb around the rim, see the fumaroles and enjoy the phantastic view to the other

UNESCO World Heritage Sicily Tour

Ceramics, Mosaics & an evening in the Valley of the Temples

Our tour starts early in the morning – the journey leads us to the Capital of the Ceramics, Caltagirone. First destination is the Museo Regionale della Ceramica, which is located in the lovely, shady and well maintained town park. On display are pottery and ceramics from prehistoric times to the early 20th century, with particular reference to Caltagirone, which is known for the manufacture of colourful ceramics since the Muslim conquest of Sicily. The next must-see is the famous staircase Scala di Santa Maria del Monte. More than 180 stairs, each decorated with hand painted tiles, lead up to the Baroque church Santa Maria. Hungry? Time for a bite (or two)? Then head for Ristorante Coria, a charming place, just some steps from the staircase – perfect for a light lunch based on fresh fish. After a yummy dessert and a strong caffè we head for the next highlight of the day, the Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina, where the worlds largest Roman floor mosaics tell of mythology, hunting and daily life at the times of the Roman Emperors. These wonderful artworks are another must-see for every

Autumnal Delights – Sicily Celebrates

In October and November Sicily’s villages celebrate, even the most sleepiest ones. Weekends in these months are packed with events. Streets and alleyways divert into markets where local produces can be tasted, squares become party venues, wineries open their doors, folk groups play Sicilian songs, museums can be visited for free and in some places visitors can enjoy a Sfilata dei Carretti Siciliani, a procession of the lovingly and colourfully painted traditional Sicilian carts.

Sicilians just love to celebrate, every reason will do, even bread or mushrooms. And if there is nothing special in the culinary sector in their village they celebrate their patron saint, which is in doubt San Giuseppe (Saint Joseph).

So, rent a car and head out to join your Sicilian hosts, who will be delighted to welcome tourists. These local events are not only a great possibility to find some really unique and yummy souvenirs (and doing a good thing in supporting local producers), they are also a great opportunity to do some sightseeing off the beaten track and to experience Sicilian country life, local traditions and customs and live unforgettable emotions.

This article features some of our favourite weekend destinations in Autumn: around Mount Etna, in the Madonie

Winterly Sicily

In November, when winter is knocking on the door, many of us are dreaming of a sunny place. Some of you certainly want to go skiing, but maybe the rest of the family got other ideas, like beach holidays, a city trip or sightseeing. Come to Sicily! The mild spring like climate, empty sights and beaches, snow on Mount Etna, hotels with low rates and relaxed staff: all this invites for enjoyable winter holidays on the Med’s largest and sunniest island.

Day temperatures are around 16-20°C, at night they can go down to 5°C. There are also rainy days, so pack boots, a winter coat or warm jacket and raingear.

Many hotels in tourist resorts close from November to March, but city-hotels are usually open all year round, in Taormina Hotel Ariston and Villa Diodoro leave their doors open for guests, and in Giardini-Naxos the Hilton Hotel is at least open for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, if not the whole winter.

Good chances to find a homely roof over your head are in B&Bs, and of course in ski resorts. Or you rent a holiday apartment. You will find open restaurants and bars everywhere, where you can taste the delicious Sicilian cuisine.

Greco-Roman

A THING TO DO FOR FREE IN SICILY

ABOUT THE ALCANTARA RIVER PARK

On a sunny day in Autumn or Spring an excursion to the lower part of the only river-park in Sicily, the Parco Fluviale dell’Alcantara, makes for a great day out.

The Alcantara river is one of the most important rivers in Sicily. It originates in the Nebrodi Mountains near Floresta at an altitude of 1250 m, is 50 km long and empties into the sea some kilometres south of Taormina. The river was named by the Arabs Al Quantarah, meaning “bridge”. The towns situated within the park’s area preserve an important and artistic heritage. We will visit with you these small but interesting towns another time. Randazzo with its unique architecture in the black and white Etna-Baroque style, its three cathedrals and its still complete town wall, Castiglione di Sicilia and its winding narrow streets, Medieval facades and the ruins of an Arab castle, Francavilla di Sicilia, where the Monastery of the Minor Capuchin Friars, dating back to 1570, is worth a visit –  the ancient refectory houses a small Ethno-Anthropolical museum and in the courtyard you will find a herbarium with local medicinal herbs. And last but not least we will take you to

Mushrooms, Manna, Middle Ages

The Madonie Mountains south of Cefalù are one of the most beautiful areas Sicily has to offer. Rocks, creeks, rare plants, giant holly trees, fairy tale forests, medieval castles, snow in winter, shade in summer, hiking trails, hearty mountain cuisine and some of the best wines of the island.

The leading role of the Parco Regionale delle Madonie plays the flora. This botanical paradise houses more than the half of the 2.600 Sicilian species and about 150 of the 200 endemic plants of the island. From several points of the park you have wonderful vistas to Mount Etna, the Nebrodi Mountains and the Aeolian Islands, The almost unreal colours of dawn and sunset will be unforgettable.

Reference point for interested visitors is the Hiking Center in Petralia Sottana, where they will be provided with all information needed and can book guided hikes, exciting tours and – if they are travelling with children – educational workshops and courses. “Piano Zucchi” in the centre of the park is a nice relax and rest area for mountain bikers and hikers.

There are several hiking and mountain biking routes, some of them require a stay of minimum three days. Scattered over the whole area, visitors find all

Catania City Stroll

We start our city stroll very early at the main square, the delightful Piazza del Duomo. This square and its surrounding buildings were designed by the architect and builder Giovanni Battista Vaccarini, who was born in Palermo. At its heart  is Catania’s symbol, an elephant carved out of lava, balancing an Egyptian obelisk, called “U Liotru” the Sicilian pronunciation of Heliodorus, an 8th-century sorcerer, who is tied by legend to the origins of the statue. The Cathedral  is dedicated to the city’s patron saint St. Agata. Inside are several ornate chapels and a fresco recording the 1693 earthquake. Catania’s most famous son, the opera composer Vincenzo Bellini is buried here, as are also three Aragonese kings: Louis, Frederick II (not to be confused with Frederick II of Hohenstaufen) and Frederick III. Across from the Cathedral are the underground ruins of Greco-Roman baths. At the square we will find the town hall and the Diocesan Museum. The Catanesi love their Saint Agata so much that they also named a church just across the square and 15 other churches after her.

Each year in from 3rd to 5th of February Catania honours its patron saint with the Festa di Sant’Agata, one of Italy’s biggest religious

Taipei Layover

The term “layover” doesn’t necessarily bring the best associations to mind. Pause a moment before the thought of public naps and overpriced airport food elicit a grimace. Check out this survival guide for a layover in Taipei.
Considering that Taipei is the city of convenience, there are certainly worse places to be stuck for a short period. With efficient public transport, the magic of working Wi-Fi, and cheap beer (which can be lawfully imbibed in public) Taipei ranks as one of the loveliest cities for a layover.

airport stopover

WITHDRAW LOCAL CURRENCY
First let’s talk about funds. You can make transit tolerable without cutting too much into the finances for your next adventure. Head to one of the money change counters in the airport. On a scale of moderate to lush, you’ll need +/-1,500NTD to 3,000NTD for a days’ layover – sightseeing and eating included. Though there are certainly ways to do it for less if you’re frugal. (Bear in mind that 1USD = 31.9 TWD at the time of publishing this article). Finding an ATM in Taipei is very easy and more established (but less local) establishments will accept credit cards if needed.
HOOK UP WiFi
Next, hook up your WiFi to manage emails,

Technology for your Taipei Trip

Once you’re off the plane, it’s time to get on the grid. And there’s no easier place to do that than in Taiwan. As a result of escalating labor costs and land priced at a premium, Taiwan’s tech industry has been driving its economy. Today, this electronic-savvy isle is an international tech leader. Traveling to Taiwan? The good news is that the Taiwanese have commodified convenience and it’s available at every corner. From the user-friendly and highly efficient public transport system to the omnipresent all-service 7-11s, technology is the Tinkerbell dust that really greases the mechanisms of this city.

Spirited backpackers, shoes worn from trekking and skin furrowed from the sun of the Sahara, may be hesitant to travel with a smart phone in search of answers. But these magical little portals allow Taipei’s tourists to translate signs, pick the quickest public transport routes, find just the right food for the occasion and stick within their budget. Kick the turbo travel down a notch and take advantage of the plethora of technological conveniences that could make your trip to Taipei more leisure than endurance.

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