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The Cyclades Islands in Greece

1. Santorini

Some say the most beguiling and popular island of this Aegean archipelago is Santorini. Everyone will have seen that iconic image — you know, the one with the cliff-top blue-domed church standing out amid shimmering white architecture that looks dazzling against the blue skies and seas.

Cruise ships stop there, weddings take place there just for the scenic photography and holiday makers clamber over the ramparts of the 13th century castle in an almost cult-like fashion, to be sure of the best view of the sunset.

There are beaches, a pebbly one at Kamari and a black sand ones at Perissa and Karterados and these are overlooked by jagged cliffs and a brilliant light that seems peculiar to the cyclades — it can be mesmerising.

The hillside towns of Fira and Oia are quaint with sometimes steep steps and knotted alleyways and make for idyllic afternoon exploration. And in the evenings the roof terraces of restaurants are light and alive with diners enjoying libations and alfresco dinner in the warm night air.

This island is all about relaxing sophistication. Just ask Angelina Jolie did. She

Abergavenny Food Festival South Wales

My three year old son is in the back of the car patting his tummy and licking his lips and saying “Abergavenny, Abergavenny, Abergavenny” over and over again. He can he possibly remember our previous visit to this mecca of epicurean delights? He asks when we will be having lunch. “I want gnocchi” he demands.

Twelve months ago we were Food Festival virgins – which means we didn’t realise that trying to steer a buggy full of sleepy toddler through the impossibly crowded streets of this little town on a Saturday – let alone through the quirkily-decorated market hall which was packed to the gills with fellow foodies – was a pointless task. We ended up with one of us waiting outside in the mizzle with a cranky child while the other one waited for a gap in the throng before shimmying from stall to stall, from a dazzling display of sausages to handmade chocolates, to fruit leather and to the most delicious pasta from the makers who had travelled from Italy.

We wished we’d left the buggy

Places to see in Puglia Italy

Part of the charm of Puglia, Southern Italy’s rising star, is its slow approach to everyday life. Centuries old farmland are hemmed by a superb sun-bleached sandy coast and travellers looking for a little more authenticity, are spurning Tuscany’s frenetic vibe for the peaceful nature of this region.

1. Gargano

In the spur of Italy, Gargano is replete with beautiful fishing villages, dark and ancient forests inland, fine sandy beaches but also rugged cliffs, secret caves and picturesque coves. A perfect hub for eco-tourism and relax.

The most popular and fashionable town in Gargano is the medieval village of Vieste, with its narrow streets and white houses, dominated by a stunning 13th century castle.

Among the most beautiful beaches we recommend Mattinata beach, especially the coastal area of Baia delle Zagare, with its famous stacks a few metres from the shore.

If you like fresh fish you have to try a dinner at trabucco, a traditional wooden fishing platform on the coast where you can watch the fishing process, help out if you want, and dine leaving you with a very memorable experience.

Travel Agent

When working with a travel agent, travel planner or any other travel professional such as a knowledgeable destination specialist, keep in mind that a certain protocol will assure you will get not only the kind of travel arrangements you want in general but also you’ll gain a true partner that will always work in your best interest whether you’ll travel away from home on business or for pleasure.

1. First of all, when contacting a travel agent, whether in person or online, don’t hesitate to give them your name – don’t worry, most agents won’t spam you back. Without your name when you’re asking for a valuable travel advice most agents won’t take your request too seriously. Call if you wish but most agents prefer not to take notes, email is a way to go and for an agent to look up a fare often a time means he has to plug in a name, so might as well that name will be your real name. If you decide not to accept the booking the reservation will expire and no harm done. If you decide later to purchase the reservation the agent does not have to rekey

5 Berlin Museums

Berlin is big on museums, with hundreds dotted around the city. The city’s turbulent history is the focus of some of them, while others cover topics from around the world. There’s enough for weeks museum exploration, but when you are short of time go be sure to choose one (or more) of these.

1. Pergamon Museum

The Pergamon is one of the five museums that make up Museum Island, and is the most visited museum in Germany. It has relics and artefacts from around the ancient world, including parts of ancient cities, dug up and brought over to Berlin. The Pergamon Altar, which gives the museum its name, is probably the most famous artefact on show – an enormous 2,200-year old stone altar, with a detailed frieze depicting a battle between giants and gods. The Ishtar Gate from ancient Babylon is also fascinating to see, as are the Mshatta Facade from today’s Jordan. The Pergamon also houses the Islamic Art Museum, as well as many smaller collections of ancient artefacts.

Entry: 12 euro (18 euro gets you in to all the museums on Museum Island). Free for children under 18. 10am – 6pm, closed on

Explore Peru On a Budget

For young whippersnappers and seasoned voyagers alike, Peru is fast becoming one of the most popular travel destinations in South America. Its success is reflected in the ever-increasing influx of tourists (growing annually at a rate of 25 per cent since 2008), eager to sample the delicious melting pot of different cultures, cuisine, landscapes, and archaeology.

Peru is most famous for its ancient civilisations, in particular the Inca. Few tourists would consider a trip to Cusco without wishing to visit the formidable Machu Picchu. There is also the inevitable flight over the Nasca Lines and even perhaps a voyage through the Amazon Rainforest.

However, these trips are usually planned well in advance, as tours can be booked from the comfort of your own home or through a travel agent. They may be a little costly, but are certainly worth spending on if you can afford it. Flights to Peru can also be painfully steep, particularly if you are coming from Europe.

With this in mind, by the time tours have been booked and flights paid for, travel budgets are often on the lower end of the scale. Fortunately, Peru is not an expensive country in

The Northern Lights in Iceland and Scotland

In a world full of man-made creations and a fast pace of life, sometimes we need to step back, slow down and marvel at some of the world’s breathtaking natural wonders.

The Northern Lights – also known as the Aurora Borealis – are the epitome of natural wonders and 2012 is one of the best years to witness this natural phenomenon as NASA predicts the strongest Northern Lights activity in 50 years.

So, what are the Northern Lights?

To put it as simply as possible, the lights occur when electrically-charged particles from the sun are blown towards the Earth in solar winds. These particles then collide with gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere, creating a display of colourful lights that can be seen near the Earth’s magnetic poles. The colour of the light display depends on the gases and the distance above the Earth’s surface. Blue or purple lights: less than 120km, green or yellow lights: 120km-150km, and red lights: more than 150km.

Where can they be seen?

Like any other natural phenomenon, the exact place and time of sightings of the Northern Lights can be hard to predict, but the main places

The Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight can best be described as Britain’s Own “sunshine island” with temperatures and sunshine not only amongst the best to be found in the UK but often warmer than places such as Corfu.

This was what I found at the end of May when the local radio station proudly announced on my third day that temperatures would be hotter than islands in the Med!

It was a nostalgic return visit for my wife and I having last visited the Isle of Wight 34 years ago.

What dramatic changes would we find?

Would the island be as “inviting” as we had found it way back in the 1970’s. The answer was simple. It was as nice. There had not been too many changes although admittedly there were a few more cars! But one of the joys of the Isle of Wight is that traffic is to some extent “regulated” by space on the three car ferry routes linking the island with the mainland.

The character of the charming small villages scattered throughout the island remained unspoilt. Traditional English tea gardens with cream teas, home made cakes and teapots with “proper” cups

Holiday in the Basque Country

The Basques are a mystical people of small numbers with obscure origins, a painful, bloody history and an ancient tongue (Euskera) which bears no relation to any other language on Earth.

For millennia they have made the hostile snow-capped peaks and grassy troughs of the French and Spanish Pyrenean Mountain sweep their home.

We had ventured high into the bracken-carpeted mountains near the Ugly Cliffs to the traditional shepherding and smuggler paths that skirted and crisscrossed la frontera (the border) between France and Spain.

Joining us on the hike was corn throwing champion, Maika, a mother-of-two and a farmer of 60 hectares of inherited land, Georgina, and our heart-warming guide Jexux Lizarribar, 55, who knew the area better than the back of his Basque hand.

We passed ancient dolmens (2,000 year-old stone markers) before slipping off the beaten path, following Jexux’ trusty footsteps: “If you like the mountains and you are used to walking, you will see there are too many markers here and those who aren’t used to the area follow the markers and get lost,” said Jexux, pointing to a red splodge of paint on a large pebble.

And soon enough

Festival Joaldunak Basque

Trance like the Joaldunak (bell ringers), appeared over the brow of the mountain, like a fancy-dress clad military unit. As they neared, the dirge-like rumble of copper bells, strapped to their backs, grew louder, sending a wave of excitement down the lane to where the villagers were huddled against the rain to watch them pass their homes.

People gobbled down last mouthfuls of pinxos (snacks), grabbed their glasses of tinto (red wine) and hurriedly headed for the best vantage points.

Suddenly the Joaldunak were beside us, close enough to touch. The ringing of their bells was almost deafening; the bright colours and sheep-like shapes of their identical outfits offering a stark contrast to a grey sky.

I stood in awe to witness an annual festival recognised by UNESCO as an event of ‘intangible cultural heritage’.

This private Basque ceremony takes place in and around the village of Ituren on the penultimate Saturday in every September.

In traditional costumes which represent fertility, the 36-strong Joaldunak unison of men, boys, and one woman, aged 15 to 62; pulsated past small crowds, shaking whips of black horse-tail hair in their right hands.

They were led

City break in Tunis

The country’s location has been a focus for civilizations that have left their indelible mark on a country strewn with relics from bygone eras. An overlapping of cultures, religions and history makes Tunis well worth a visit.

Tunis is recognizably Mediterranean in character, yet bound together by an Islamic thread and North African climate that hold a seductive charm and mysticism. A century of French colonial rule has created an alluring mix within this part of North Africa.

Meandering along Avenue de France, with its’ tree-lined boulevard and pavement café’s set in view of the art deco façade of the Theatre Municipal, one could be forgiven for thinking they were in the South of France. Tunisian men wearing their red Chechiya caps, dark glasses and smoking fruit scented tobacco from their water pipes soon remind you that one has arrived in North Africa.

At the far end of the Avenue beyond the Porte de France arch are the winding alleyways of the medina and craft-filled souks leading toward the Ez-Zitoune Mosque at the walled cities core.

Medina of Tunis – UNESCO World Heritage Centre

The medina, much talked and written about, is the