IRIS, which stands for Iris Recognition Immigration System, the UK Border Agency's high tech iris recognition system is apparently being phased out."
Fort St. Jean Baptiste is the oldest permanent settlement in Lousiana, having been founded as a military outpost marking the furthest point reached by a surveying/ exploring party lead by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis and made up of French soldiers and Na…"
This small town represents itself as being balloon-friendly and supportive, but it's probably the amazing landscape of cliffs, deserts and bluffs that put this festival in the 'must attend' pile for many balloonists. The romantically named 'Valley of th…"
The Mercato Nuovo (New Market, so named to distinguish it from the older Old Market) building was built in the 16th Century as a marketplace for luxury goods like silk, was then taken over by the craze for straw hats, and is now a good place to find leat…"
The Piazza della Signoria in front of the Ponte Vecchio is Florence's famous main square. It's beautiful, historic and still the political centre of the city, despite the fact that it's looked much the same for the past 600 years, lined by the Palazzo V…"
The Basilica of Santa Maria del Santo Spirito, more often called Santo Spirito looks very sparely designed and decorated while you're walking up to it, but once inside it's like being in the Renaissance! As well as the notable architecture this church a…"
Santissima Annunziata is the spiritual home of the style of painting called Florentine Mannerism whose 'poster child' is the 'Life of the Virgin' on the cloister which, was the combined effort of Andrea del Sarto, Rosso Fiorentino and Jacopo Pontormo. &n…"
People talk about 'getting away from it all' and about 'retreating at a Retreat', but at their most pure these phrases mean not being around other people, the efforts cities entail and anything potentially stress inducing. So it follows that the best wa…"
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving Sleepy Hollow is a real place. And the characters in Washington Irving's story are based on real people, as is the phantom Hessan soldier, or rather he's based on reported sightings, and documentation th…"
Ancient Incan bathing pools and resting place just outside of Cusco. Stone structures were erected and carved out of the stone of local caves to take better advantage of this spot near thermal springs to make it into a very modern bathing building. Three…"
Sabah, Borneo, is known for being an Eden-esque paradise of exotic plants and animals – home to giant rafflesia flowers, orang utans and delicate orchids in the jungles, and off shore an impressively colourful array of marine life. Sabah's skies a…"
Much of the art, artefacts and sculpture in this museum, and books in the library, come from the collection of one man: Esprit Calvet, who left his collection to the foundation who runs the museum in 1810, though since then other legacies and the Louvre …"
The Rondane National Park has ten mountain peaks higher than 2,000 metres and wild reindeer. Of course it offers the visitor much more than the spectacular view of the ridge of mountain peaks, with pine and birch surrounded lakes and reindeer grazed mea…"
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park covers not just the Great Smoky Mountains, but also the Blue Ridge Mountain range, and is the most visited park in the U.S. It's also one of the largest protected areas in the country. Within that vast space are …"
Rising out of the Bernese Alps to an elevation of 3,970metres, the Eiger is the rockier, steeper end of the chain of three peaks including Jungfrau (the Maiden) and Mönch (the Monk). Eiger means Ogre. It's also famous for being in the title of a f…"
This resort boasts the highest skiable peak in the Catskill Mountains, and with that comes the reliable snow cover and the promise of long downhill trails, but it's not yet as popular as some of the other Catskills resorts. It doesn't quite have the off…"
This is one of the best known diving spots in the Seychelles:a plateau made of boulders crowded with colourful tropical fish, some swimming in schools, some followed by white reef tip sharks or grey stingrays. "
This resort is in Slovenia's largest ski area, part of the Pohorje range. That equals cross country options, along routes that in summer are walking trails though seemingly endless forests, as well as the smooth white slopes to ski. Around 60kms worth …"
Krvavec is a ski resort rising out of thick forests at the top of the Kamnik Alps, it's small, and though there's room to stay on site, a lot of people drive down from Kranj or Ljubliana to ski the resort's 35kms of downhill pistes – which breaks u…"
The ski resort of Cerkno is on the slopes of Črni vrh, which peak at 1291 metres. Rising up to that peak are 70 hectares of ski grounds, including 18kms worth of groomed runs across 20 different pistes and 5kms worth of cross country pathways. One of t…"
Mount Kanin is Slovenia's highest ski resort, with skiing over 2000 metres, above Bovec and the Soča Valley. Sella Nevea and Trbiž in Italy and Arnoldstein in Austria are just around the mountain from the resort at Mount Kanin, so many people combine th…"
This 19km gorge and the countryside around it have long been considered one of the most beautiful spots in Taiwan. The marble of the gorge has been much admired, as it's been revealed by the waters of the river that's exposed it, and there are deposits …"
This dive drifts along the outer edge of Lohifushi Island, past a slope covered in corals from close to the surface to 20 metres below. The slope curves around into an sort of underwater bay, and the coral gets thicker, home to all sorts of marine …"
This cave dive is journeys though several caves and caverns along the Vaadhoo Channel. They're not deep caves, but as you swim though them they get shallower and shallower, but because you're enclosed the water has a different colour to it, even as…"
Along North Male Atoll's outer reef, this site is known for attracting a colourful myriad of fish, and sprouting gardens of soft corals. It's a drift dive though a strong current, and along a steep wall sliding from 10 to 25 metres underwater. The smal…"
The Maldive Victory is under about 35 metres of water, with a strong current, so even with the dive line to descend to it it's still a challenging dive, best suited for experienced or intermediate divers. Once you get down to the ship divers are sh…"
Small reef fish, nudibranchs and bigger pelagics like tuna and sharks, especially grey reef sharks, and eagle rays live amongst the predominantly hard coral here, some of which has grown up in the shape of a lion's head, other sections of which has grown…"
This dive is just off Kanifinolhu Island, only about 5mins by boat, hence the name. It's got caves and a drop off and slopes down to a sandy floor at 30 metres down, and it's decorated with both hard and soft corals, which marine life collects arou…"
The corals that grow on this 300 metre long banana shaped reef are like plates, so much so that they're nicknamed plate coral, though their real name is Acropora. The north, or top end, of the banana has caves and overhangs, and open topped tunnels wher…"
White cliffs line this stretch of coast, but it’s not chalk, it’s ice, which creaks and groans painfully as it gradually crumbles into the see at the very end of it’s ancient journey down the length of these glaciers. When the bay was …"
Even if you're not usually that impressed with shopping malls, this one has a fair chance of impressing you. It's not just really, really big, and filled with hundreds of shops, it's also won architectural awards and has it's own ski slope. Yes, that's…"
This is one of the world’s most photographed beaches and it adorns many posters advertising trips to Turkey. An aesthetically pleasing arc of sand then pebbles surrounded by a dipping valley then forested mountains, a dead calm bright blue lagoon a…"
Great science centre for kids and young adults, with hands-on experience with masses of machines and gadgets, from JCB diggers to working gyroscopes, plus Europe's largest outdoor high tech adventure playground. The centre is divided into four pavilions …"
Eureka!, the National Children's Museum features over 400 interactive exhibits which inspire children aged 0-11 to learn about themselves and the world around them through imagination, play and discovery. Eureka! is based on the North American model of …"
If you're going to learn Italian, or brush up on your linguistic skills, Italy is obviously the best place to do it. And if you can combine classes with a stay somewhere scenic, maybe with a slightly monastic feel to it, then you might have a better cha…"
"Only the fourth largest of Switzerland’s lakes but no less surrounded by old and pretty towns and sweeping alpine scenery. Long and spindly with narrow sections coming off like octopus legs, Lake Lucerne is shaped by the mountains it hugs the bases of, …"
This peak is the highest point in Cuba. It rises out of the Sierra Maestra range to 1,972metres. Castro camped out on the jungle slopes of these mountains during the Cuban Revolution, and in the area now called the Turquino National Park which surrou…"
"The Malecón de La Habana is both a road and a sea wall running eight kilometres along Havana's coast between the river mouth in Havana Harbour and Vadado. Along the road are monuments to General Maximo Gomez, Generl Calixto Garcia and Antonio Maceo, as …"
This narrow wedding cake of a building in dark pink stone is wedged between Red Square and Manege Square, and presents visitors with a huge range of national historic artefacts from the remains and tools of the prehistoric tribes who are the first human …"
(11th November 1821 - 9th February 1881) Dostoyevsky's final resting place is under his rather severe, sold stone monument and bust in the Tikhivn Cemetery within the Alexander Nevsky Monastery. An acclaimed author at only 25, for his first novel Poor …"
Felix Yusupov murdered Rasputin, the notorious advisor to Tzar Nicholas II, in the basement of this palace in 1916 – which is supposedly one of the acts that brought about the Russian Revolution. The pale yellow building was built in 1770 but added to…"
The Izmailovsky Bazaar is drolly referred to as Russia's earliest attempt at capitalism – because it has the kind of bustling commercial activity of any flea market. At one end it's become a bit of a souvenir centre, sporting an army of nesting dolls an…"
This museum's main exhibitions tell the story of a battle, that though it only lasted one day, was a huge event in Russian history. This was the battle between Napoleon's troops and the Russians under Field Marshall Kutuzov in August 1812, who is the on…"
It used to be that if you were visiting Moscow from the west it was considered good manners to bow to this hill to pay homage – the name of the hill comes from the Russian for 'take a bow'. These days much of the hill is covered by the tanks and other…"
This theatre and the companies that share its name are synonymous with Russian artistic excellence – among the oldest and most respected opera and ballet companies in the world, but the name Bolshoi actually means 'grand', implying that these are the gra…"
These steaming and brightly coloured volcanic craters are part of the huge geothermal field spreading out from around Lake Taupo on New Zealand's North Island. The rocks have been stained by sulphur and other colourful minerals which makes them appear m…"
Looking something like big glowing maggots, these glowworms are a New Zealand home grown speciality, and this cave is the best place to see them doing their gently, and beautifully, glowing thing. The guided trip though the cave system starts from t…"
The Maori translation of this name is 'big splash' – which says it all really. It's not just a big splash – the geyser shoots up about 30metres – it's also a fairly regular splash – it goes off about once an hour. These two facts make it one of the bes…"
This charming little wood cottage comes complete with white picket fence, original fireplace and chimney, red roofed verandah and matching attic windows for eyes – but it's not for sale. This is Wellington's oldest building and was built (to last) in 18…"
Not topped by a single tree but by a single memorial tor – to Sir John Logan Campbell, who was the first white owner of the land and was the one to bequeath it to the rest of us as a park – this hill was once the cone of an active volcano that spewed lav…"
Auckland's main public space, where they hold bid public concerts and events, rallies, protests, markets and any other kind of major gathering you can imagine. The square is surrounded by the Edwardian era Auckland Town Hall, the city's main theatre v…"
This is the oldest zoo in New Zealand, it was built in 1906, but the real reason it's interesting – beyond being a zoo that is, is for its conservation programs and its collection of local creatures. For the rare and endangered team there's the Sun Bear…"
If you want to know about Christchurch history this is the place to come – from the Maori groups to the settlers to the great Antarctic explorers Scott and Shackleton, to more modern adventurers and recent events in the city's history – here are over two…"
The southern tip of New Zealand may seem cool now, but it used to be much cooler – covered in glaciers, which are what created this breathtaking landscape that best resembles a heart monitor read out of troughs and peaks. Scenic treasures, the Milford S…"
This mountain is probably famous and well photographed because of its name, which in turn is because of its shape – that of a Bishop's Mitre. The location, just behind equally photogenic Milford Sound, probably helps as well – photos where the peak's re…"
From the air this long, thin lake looks like a thunderbolt of dark blue surrounded by green and brown mountains. It's almost like a wide zig-zagging river – it runs for 30 kilometres then turns east, then for another 20 kilometres before turning south a…"
This mosque is Malaysia's most important – the headquarters – and has a capacity of 15,000 to reflect that importance. The relatively modern design reveals the mosques relative youth – it went up in 1965 and is a miracle in reinforced concrete and steel…"
"This beach is apparently a favourite of the Queen – ideal for a quick trip out when corgi duties call when she's staying at Sandringham. Protected from view, and unnecessary winds by a forest of pines, the dunes are shapely and the sand leading down to …"
WR received an interesting press release this morning from Projects Abroad who arrange volunteering experiences. They say executive types suffering in the economic climate are escaping career problems and becoming volunteers."
"These are the gardens of a French painter, Majorelle who came to live in Marrakech and had his eyes set a flame by the colours of this country. The watercolours of his art aren’t as bright as the colours of the garden – you can see some of them in the c…"
Canny skiers often chance it to ski until the end of the season - for low rates and the chance of sunshine. This year they might hit the jackpot. For non-skiers, there's a great chance to get into the Icehotel - normally booked solid."
"This is where the Gods of ancient Greece dwelled and Zeus sat almighty on his throne, at the country’s highest point (2,919m). Olympus looks particularly high because it rises from almost sea level, which is also the reason for the mountain’s very varie…"
"Shkodër, built on Albania’s largest lake which shares its name, is one of Albania’s oldest towns, it was founded in the 4th Century BC, and of historic and economic importance because of it. Its castle has survived many exciting sieges, its Turkish Bath…"
"Four ponds and creeks join the Mediterranean here and there are four stretches of fine sandy beach between them, which has enough coral in it to show up pink on the water’s edge. If the weather’s good you even get a view over to the white cliffs of Cors…"
"Sun and clean sand and sea are what a lot of people want to see on their travels and this town and its beaches get high marks on those three ‘S’s’. The unspoiled coast here is lined with pine trees which protect the long stretches of sand, the longest b…"
"This is quite a big cable car run as these things go. 5.7 kilometres of gondola riding between eight ‘stations’ and taking 25 minutes to ‘hover’ over the land, and for a brief time the South China Sea, between Tung Chung Island and Ngong Ping, which is …"
"One of the largest, most important and most artfully decorated squares in Barcelona, the Plaça d'Espanya wasn’t actually part of Barcelona’s civic grid until the 1929 International Exhibition. Aside from being the cross roads of the city’s major streets…"
"Most famous for its unique cathedral like cloud forest flora, Costa Rica’s Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is also home to a range of unusual animals. Jaguars, Tapirs, Ocelots and the upside-down Olingos thrive amid the undergrowth of ferns and fresh wa…"
"If a great art collection has a garden it can’t just be any old garden. This collection of grass and plants is stylishly arranged in various ways in both the Renaissance and Baroque styles, with flower gardens and hedges directing towards statues and su…"
"The Campanile bell tower of St. Mark’s stood for a thousand years before it collapsed… Unexpectedly. One minute workmen re-pointing the tower noticed a crack and the next day the tower was a pile of rubble. The residents weren’t that keen on replacing…"
"When first constructed, the Colosseum was a vast amphitheatre capable of seating 45,000 - 50,000 blood thirsty spectators, the largest of it's kind ever constructed. It was inaugurated by Emperor Titus in 80AD, when he declared 100 days of celebratory ga…"
"This cluster of art and archaeological museums in palace buildings atop Capitoline Hill is guarded by a statue of Marcus Aurelius on horseback – the one in the middle of the square is a copy – the original is kept inside, a rare survivor of the cull of R…"
"Despite being the point at which many people start the Inca Trail this site is nowhere near as busy as Machu Picchu, where the trail finishes, though dates from a similar period in Inca history. The main difference is that Ollantaytambo is still in part…"
"Vermilion gates in the Japanese tori style mark the entrance to this shrine which is built on the bottom of a hill. Stone foxes stand guard on either side of the large formal gates and of the main shrine, which is decorated grandly in bright red – which…"
"In Burmese, Zay Cho means 'Good Price' – a great name for a market, which in Myanmar is more than just a place to conduct business, it's also a place to share information with locals and people from different areas. But Zay Cho won't let you get too far…"
"This market has a sprawling 15,000 stalls. Seriously. They cover something like 35 acres of land so it would actually be a hike to get round them all. Once you’ve tried to imagine the sheer size of it you can direct your mind to considering how many d…"
"This open air farmer’s market has been running year round since 1827 in several different guises and buildings. A lot of the market’s life comes from its neighbourhood, traditional home to Ottawa’s colourful French and Irish communities, and from the re…"
"It doesn’t matter how far below the surface you work your bucket and spade there are no rocks on this beach, just the kind of snowy sand that’s the remnants of ancient coral. There’s no sharp teeth anywhere either, this beach is fresh water, in a vast f…"
"Green and lush the Le Diamant area is not only one of Martinique’s top dive sites, it’s also has the Grande Anse Le Diamant, one of the island’s most beautiful beaches. A string of coconut palms run three kilometers along the white sand which scoops awa…"
"In Salvador beaches aren’t just for swimming and relaxing on, they’re also places to socialise, exercise, dance and sup, and this is the most popular beach for those extra curricular beach activities. Beach bars will be more than happy to provide you wi…"
"Modern development hasn’t done justice to the charm of some of Goa’s beach resorts but Arambol has shirked much building work and remains a naturally beautiful and quiet spot centered around a traditional fishing community and a generous swathe of gently…"
"This beach has those low dunes of soft sand which seem to appear hazy when the wind picks up and little time lapse waterfalls of sand give the appearance of mist. Those dunes roll a long way to get to the sea, from ancient ruins behind the beach. The a…"
"Blue green water laps gentle against the shores of this quiet island, covering the wreck of a Japanese war ship, and turning it, gradually, into a diver’s paradise. The reefs, which were in part the ship’s undoing, are just off the shore and a haven for…"
"This is the kind of beach people dream of being castaway onto, which is why it was used in the 1952 Gary Cooper film Return to Paradise Beach and earned the nickname. The palm trees lean towards the sea and the water ripples gently across creamy sand. …"
"On China Beach it's a long walk from the dunes to the sea, well, only about 70metres, which isn't a desert, but that's quite a lot of hot sand to run across on a sunny day. Basically it's a long sweep of sand to the sea, protected from the wind by the s…"
"World class surfers will rub their shoulders against yours at the Soup Bowl, but you'll all have to watch your shoulders on the reef responsible for creating such an impression sequence of waves. Just out of Bathsheba, this beach is protected by boulder…"
"Fine, latte coloured sand and swaying palm trees make a promising first impression even in the daytime but this beach is known for being a good place for swimming and for some dazzlingly brilliant sunsets. In the winter the whales cruise past but in the…"
"The sun is hot and the beach is decorated nicely with eye candy for both the beach boys and beach babes. Even better, vendors stroll up and down the golden sandy shore selling cool drinks and snacks so you don’t even have to get off your towel if you do…"
"Tidal, rather than wind generated waves apparently mean as a beginner you have less chance of getting knocked off your surf board, which is exactly the beauty of this beach. The sand is flat and gleams with moisture high up the beach and the sky and wat…"
"Hawaii’s coastline is supposed to be both beautiful and dangerous, and that about sums up conditions here. The currents and shore break keep it interesting and on the ‘must do’ list for surfers and body surfers, but when the ocean starts to get a bit an…"
"If the benchmark of a great beach is the colour of its sand then this beach may fall short, its sand is grey. If you can overlook that then the waves crash in a sedate way, it’s easy to get to it, it has all the mod cons and the atmosphere is advertised…"
"If you want more from your beach experience than idyllic surrounds of palm trees blowing in cool breezes off azure seas etc. how about kayaking, golf, diving, snorkeling, mountain biking fishing or horseback riding. Apparently this beach has it all when…"
"A well developed, white sandy heaven with sparking resorts dotted with palm trees on one side and sparkling clean water on your other. Diving is only maybe the fifth favoured activity of the Alona Beach dweller, relaxing probably comes top of the list i…"
"“And always it is the same; the slender palm trees leaning over the white sand, the warm sun sparkling on the waves as they break on the inshore reef, the outrigger fishing boats drawn up high on the beach.” Wrote Sir Arthur C. Clarke of Unawatuna. But…"
"Proving that there are more beaches in Europe than those hemming the Mediterranean, Germany’s largest island and its resort town Binz has the kind of restored mansions and gracefully aging promenades you’d expect in a Long Island town. The beaches are f…"
"Pitch your tent wherever you like and soak up the cool independence of sleeping under warm summer stars and spend your days roaming ancient churches and your evenings frolicking on pale sandy beaches. Very Famous Five."
"The Kaaba, Ka’bah or Kabah is what Muslims are looking to when they face towards Mecca, and the Masjid al-Haram (‘The Sacred Mosque’) mosque was built around it allowing pilgrims and worshippers a place to pray. Physically the Kaaba is a cube of black…"
"Borobudur is a Buddhist Mahayana monument dating from the ninth century. It is a large stone structure built of six square platforms of reducing sizes like the pyramids, topped with three circular platforms and decorated with more than 2,000 carved ston…"