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Top four 2013 winter holiday reads

Top four 2013 winter holiday reads

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Top four 2013 winter holiday reads

With the winter travel season approaching, holidaymakers are readying their ski boots, packing their warmest layers and selecting which books to snuggle up in the warm at night with. We’ve given you a helping hand and narrowed the shortlist down to four top winter reads from four brilliant authors.

With bags so tightly packed with warm winter wear these titles can be found as eBooks here.

Top four 2013 winter holiday reads

Never Coming Back

Never Coming Back – Tim Weaver

Never coming back is a highly-recommended dark thriller, and the fourth in the David Raker series.

Emily Kane arrives at her sister’s house prepared for a big night out, but when she arrives, she finds the front door unlocked, dinner cooking but no-one inside, not her sister, her husband or either of their two daughters. The police are stumped, so Emily asks private missing persons investigator, David Raker, to pick up the case. As David gets deeper into the case it’s clear that the family has someone sinister determined they will not be found. The more he uncovers, he begins to discover evidence of a cover-up which has cost many lives, and he could be the next target.

The Shining Girls – Lauren Beukes

The Shining Girls

“The girl who wouldn’t die hunts the killer who shouldn’t exist,” reads the tagline to this original, terrifying and gripping murder thriller with a difference.

Harper Curtis is a time-travelling serial killer who, with the use of a time vortex he discovers in an abandoned Chicago home during depression era America, spans decades in search for his victims, his ‘shining girls’. However he has an adversary, one of his victims turned avenger, Kirby, who discovers his nefarious truth.

The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty

The Husbands Secret

From the acclaimed author of What Alice Forgot, comes a riveting read about the secrets husbands and wives keep from each other.

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has it all, she is a successful business woman, a happily married devoted mother and revered in her community, or so she thought. Everything she knows is turned up-side down when she discovers a letter from her husband marked “To be opened in the event of my death”. She opens it and in doing so reveals her husband’s deepest darkest secret, a secret so terrible that her entire world, and the worlds of others, are brought tumbling down.

The Last Runaway – Tracy Chevalier

Top four 2013 winter holiday reads

Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl with a Pearl Earring, a New York Times best-seller, returns with her fictional, moving account of 1850’s America and the injustices of slavery.

Honor Bright is an English Quaker who, seeking a new start, leaves Bristol for the new world, America. Finding herself in a frightening and confusing new environment in Ohio she slips into the midst of a highly religious community. As well as the new world she is also confronted by slavery and the runaways who escaped their masters. Stuck in the middle of a paradoxical situation, she is urged by her conscious and her religious belief to help these runaways but risks breaking the law and being shunned by the hypocritical community. Through her desire to help she is drawn into the clandestine activities of those who run the underground railways and assist escaping slaves. This is a moving story of defiance and one which is spilling over with colour. An extraordinary read.

What are your favourite books to read on holiday?

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Top 5 Historical Landmarks of Portugal

Top 5 Historical Landmarks of Portugal

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Portugal is a hive of culture, history, and architecture and is home to fifteen UNESCO World Heritage Sites. If you plan a holiday to Portugal to discover some of its glorious histories, look through our top five Portuguese historical landmarks.

Alcobaça Monastery

This beautiful monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Monastery of Santa Maria de Alcobaça is a prime example of early Gothic architecture. The sanctuary is home to the ornate tombs of Ines de Castro and King Pedro I. There is a tragic love story associated with the burials. Ines de Castro was assassinated in 1355, and the king ordered his tomb to be placed next to hers so that he could face the woman he loved on the day of resurrection. They are considered to be the most beautiful medieval tombs in Portugal. There are also living quarters, including a refectory, dormitory, kitchen, and cloisters that have been inhabited by monks for 800 years.

Convent of Christ

The Convent of Christ is a beautiful roman catholic building located in Tomar. It was initially a stronghold for the Order of the Knights Templar. The building houses impressive art and examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, and Renaissance architecture. The walls inside are exquisitely decorated with paintings, carved stone sculptures, and a window depicting symbols and motifs. This site has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1983.

Évora

Évora is a Portuguese city home to several historical sights, some over two thousand years old. The Cathedral of Évora is considered one of Portugal’s most important gothic monuments. Moorish palaces and courtyards, a renaissance fountain built-in 1559, and a one-of-a-kind Roman temple have become the city’s most famous landmarks. It is not surprising that Évorahas is classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

Belém Tower

Belém Tower was built to be a fortress in 1515 to guard the entrance to Lisbon’s harbor. The tower is constructed from lioz limestone that is local to Lisbon. It is considered one of the prominent examples of the late gothic Manueline style. There is a drawbridge, spaces for cannons, turrets, and arches that have been decorated with images of animals, plants, and royal coats of arms. Inside there are statues, pillars, and gargoyle facets. UNESCO has listed the tower as a World Heritage monument. 



Jerónimos Monastery

Jerónimos Monastery is considered one of the most beautiful monasteries in Portugal and Europe. Located in Lisbon, the monastery has various entrances that have been decorated with carved figures, gables, and pinnacles. There is a 16th Century Portuguese sculpture of Our Lady of Belém in the central doorway, a figure of Prince Henry the Navigator in the center of the monastery, and a statue of King Manuel I. The monastery has been classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

We hope this has inspired you to start planning your trip to Portugal today.

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Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar

Find out why Sand boarding, Diving and Safaris through the desert are included in the Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar.

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Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar

Qatar is a country of reinvention. Shimmering towerblocks rise against a desert horizon, and maze-like souks thrive next to 21st-century shopping palaces. It’s also one of the more accessible countries of the Arab Gulf, with a welcoming reputation towards visitors and plenty of attractions to keep them coming. Some of the best holiday activities you’ll find in Qatar are the adventurous kind. And these are the top 5 outdoor adventure activities in Qatar.

Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar

Sunset in Qatar – Photo by wj2012

Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar

Diving expeditions

The Gulf Sea is famed for its crystal waters and the exuberant marine life which lurks just beneath the surface. Messaid is a good jumping-off point where you’ll find angelfish and barracuda, while those intrigued by underwater wrecks will love the Hall Island dive site at Al-Sharqi, where bright clownfish circle the abandoned boat.

Sand Adventures

Many of the sports here have been adapted from colder climates, so instead of skiing down a mountain piste, try Khor Al Adaid beach to glide down the impressive dunes on a sand-board. Alternatively, race your blo-kart along the sands of Al Wakrah, south of capital Doha, to experience the thrill of wind-sailing on dry land.

Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar

Sand Boarding – Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar – Photo by ground zero

Al Jassasiya

The ancient carvings of Al Jassasiya lie to the north near Al Shamal, amid a truly remote landscape of village ruins and limestone. Hire a 4×4 of your own and make the journey to see the 900 petroglyphs which riddle the rocks here. The carvings denote flowers, animals, fleets of shows, or traditional Arab boats, and to this day, their origins remain a mystery.

Sunset Cruise

When the time comes for a more relaxed excursion, you can do no better than a sunset cruise onboard a wooden dhow as you drift past the super-modern Doha seafront of Al-Corniche and the old harbor at Al Khor. If you’re still hankering after some adventure, rent a smaller vessel and go for a fishing trip the following day.

Desert Safaris

Much of the inland desert in Qatar remains inaccessible on foot, but fortunately, that’s where a 4×4 comes in very handy for a safari trip you won’t easily forget. There are numerous options available from Doha, including day-long excursions, bumping, and rolling to the inland sea at Khor Al Adaid. Or make the trip at dusk for a spot of star-gazing before you settle in Bedouin-style tents for the night.

Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar

Desert Safari – Top 5 Outdoor Adventure Activities in Qatar – Photo by robertpaulyoung

Most activities can be arranged via a tour company. Although cash has been the predominant payment method in Qatar, this is beginning to change, which is good news for tourists since  HSBC offers protection against loss or theft. If you’re planning on taking part in several activities, it can be handy to have some plastic on you to avoid expensive traveler’s cheques, plus credit cards from HSBC and other familiar providers also enable easy access to money at the ATMs. However, it’s wise to exercise caution, using only official bank machines here and sticking with local currency at the market and in smaller shops.

There’s no doubt that Qatar offers some world-class cultural attractions beyond the more energetic highlights, and while you’re in the country, set aside some time for the historic Al Zubarah fort or browse the recreated 19th-century Souk-Waqif, in Doha.

This country has been undervalued in the past but is now coming to the world’s attention. With its desert adventures, ancient sites, and thriving culture, this attention is thoroughly deserved.

This is a travel feature by world traveler, Jose Capelo. He loves exploring the top 5 outdoor adventure activities in Qatar and has spent many trips exploring the wild deserts of Qatar.

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8 Things to do in Bondi in Winter

8 Things to do in Bondi in Winter

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Bondi is well known for sun, surf, and fun, but what can you do if you find yourself there in the colder months from June to August? Here are a few suggestions for things to do in Sydney’s most popular suburb when the temperature drops.

Adventure Travel Activities in Sydney

8 Things to do in Bondi in Winter

1. Go on an art tour

If the weather doesn’t allow for the typical outdoorsy activities Bondi is known for, a tour of some of its first-rate art galleries can be a great way to spend an afternoon. Don’t miss the Cooee Aboriginal Art Gallery, dedicated to promoting Indigenous art, and the Bondi Art Lounge, where you can view works from local artists or even take a beginner class and create a masterpiece of your own.

2. Take a hike

In crisp cool temperatures, a hike along the coastal cliffs with a view of the gorgeous Pacific Ocean below can’t be beaten. One of the most popular hikes is the Bondi to Coogee Walk, which is 6 km and takes you through Sydney’s eastern suburbs and past plenty of cafes, restaurants, and kiosks where you can stop to rest and take in the sights.

Outdoor Activites in Sydney - Spit Bridge

 

3. Head to Bondi Icebergs for some winter swimming

Even during winter, swimming is not entirely out of the question in Bondi. The Oceanside pool at Bondi Icebergs Club is open year-round, and the winter swims every Sunday from May to September have become a time-honored tradition. Although club members must complete at least three winter swims a year to retain their lofty membership title, non-members who are up for the challenge can pay a one-time fee to use the pool and sauna.

4. Strap on your skates and visit the only beachside skating rink in Australia

If winter swimming is a step too far for you, why not skate instead? Bondi has Australia’s only beachside ice rink, and the ocean view in the background makes for a striking contrast. The ice rink is open from June 27 to July 13, and aside from hosting skating sessions that are open to the public, it also features spectacular ice shows from Stars On Ice.

5. Settle in for brunch at one of Bondi’s decadent cafes

Winter wouldn’t be the same without a few indulgences, and after all your skating and hiking, you’ve probably earned a hearty brunch anyway. Fortunately, Bondi is full of great brunch options, from Trio Café with delicacies like poached eggs with truffle oil and char-grilled halloumi; to the rustic Brown Sugar, where you can indulge in classic comfort food like buttermilk pancakes and English muffins with bacon.

Coffee and cake around the world

 

6. Join a cooking class, dodge ball game, or salsa lesson

During the winter, it may seem like most people have gone off to hibernate, but if you know where to look, you can still find plenty of social things to do. Start by checking out the Bondi community page on Gumtree. You can find like-minded individuals to explore the area with or even join a group for fun activities like hiking, biking, or cooking.

7. Score some vintage fashion at Bondi Markets

The Bondi Markets, held every Sunday on Bondi Beach, are known in Sydney for being the best place to shop for vintage clothing and accessories and hip new fashions from emerging designers. Aside from style, you can also shop for art, furniture, flowers, books, local produce, and delicious street eats. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s a great place to do some people-watching and see the Bondi locals in their element.

8. Stop by the Bondi Pavilion

The Bondi Pavilion is one of the suburb’s oldest landmarks dating back to 1928 when it first opened, featuring grand dining rooms, a lounge, a ballroom, and the Turkish and Hot Sea Water Baths. Today, it’s used as an art and cultural center and is home to a theatre group, recording studio, and art gallery. There’s always something going on here, from pottery classes to festivals to open-air cinemas, so check it out if you have a chance.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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