The Palm Beaches Offer Virtual Experiences Amidst Crisis

With the lack of tourism, popular tourist destinations around the world are finding alternative ways to support local businesses, hotels, eateries and attractions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Palm Beaches (DTPB) has established a virtual reality experience for individuals looking to maintain some normalcy amidst widespread self-quarantine.

Through Discover The Palm Beaches, residents can participate in an array of different activities from the comfort of their own home. Loggerhead Marinelife Center, a nonprofit sea turtle research, rehabilitation and educational institution, has launched a Virtual Coastal Classroom that broadcasts live each day from the Outdoor Sea Turtle Hospital to educate the public on the conservation of ocean ecosystems.

Through its free app or website, the Flagler Museum is offering digital tours of the “Gilded Age” National Landmark. Hilton West Palm Beach will offer virtual “Namaste at Home” full and new moon yoga classes. Other offers include virtual bike rides, exploring 47 miles of beaches through beach cams and White Glove Service (the MVP of VIP digital shopping).

In addition, the Palm Beach community has banned together to keep all local businesses afloat during this trying time. The Death or Glory Bar in Delray Beach has provided all full-time employees up to $1,000 for their April rents, while the popular LGBTQ+ bar Rooster’s is dipping into emergency funds to support employees and other small businesses.

Culinary photographer Libby Vision has offered complimentary marketing support to local restaurants in need. Renny & Reed at The Royal Poinciana is a florist business that has been handing out bouquets to passerby for donations to help fund the Jupiter-based Scripps Research Institute’s research for a COVID-19 cure.

Boca Raton Marriott has extended a sleeping room rate of $99 to all Florida Atlantic University and Lynn University students and their families after the schools have temporarily closed. The hotel is also offering a $99 Florida Resident Rate for others in need. Booking can be completed online using the promo code FR6 or by calling (561) 392-4600.

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6 Flight Attendants On How Their Jobs Have Changed Since Coronavirus

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United has reduced its flights in April and May by 90 percent. Delta has cut 80 percent of international flights, and 70 percent of its network overall. As for the third of the Big Three, American—which was already on wobblier financial ground than its rivals—has removed 75 percent of international flights from its network though early May. And on Sunday JetBlue joined them in drastically slashing services, telling employees that it will only operate essential flights, which includes less than half its usual network this week.

Of course, the employees providing service to fliers on those essential flights are the flight attendants. “It’s been tough, on a personal [and] psychological level,” says Mathew, 40, a New York-based flight attendant who’s been with one of the major airlines for 12 years. “Folks keep asking ‘How are you doing? How are you feeling?’ They mean well, but it’s traumatizing.” It’s a reminder, he says, of the challenges he currently faces simply by turning up for work.

Paul Bowles, 24, has been flying for just two years, and is based out of Minneapolis. “It’s depressing. I worked a trip last weekend, and my friend was trying to fight back tears as we did the beverage service on an almost empty flight,” he says. “I am keeping my bags in the garage when I get home, and washing my uniform after the trip.”

Another New York-based flight attendant, who is in her late 30s and asked to be referred to as LJ, also works for a major carrier continuing to fly; under current guidelines, if she does not work as rostered, her income will be impacted. “I feel like a walking Petri dish. We are exposed to so much and we live all over the country, so we are carting back whatever we have been exposed to back to our homes,” she says. “I would rather be home and self-quarantined for everyone’s safety.” Onboard, she’s resorted to ad hoc remedies which she hopes will ward off sickness: lining her nose with Vick’s vaporub and taking Airborne regularly. “Hand sanitizer is the daily norm for me, all day every day, so my hands look like the crypt keeper.”


While the largest union representing flight attendants, AFA-CWA, issued a press release earlier this month outlining its demands to protect cabin crew in flight, it did not call for mandatory self-isolation. For Dana, a three-decade veteran of the skies based out of LAX, the issue is broader than perceived cleanliness of aircraft right now. “Many flight attendants don’t understand how they can be allowed to work on planes with more than 50 people when cities, states, and nations are calling for ‘social distancing’ and to avoid large groups,” she says, noting that on international routes, many countries now require self-quarantine for travelers on arrival. Flight crews, however, are usually exempt.

Airlines official policies on how to implement social distancing at 30,000 feet differ. According to a United spokesperson, the airline now follows the directives of CDC when seating fliers. “We would like to give customers the opportunity to do so when flight loads permit. Therefore when possible, United is trying to seat customers in such a way that there is an acceptable distance between them, in accordance with CDC recommendations, unless they are traveling together. We believe this will help to lessen traveler anxiety.” A Delta spokesperson says that the airline has updated its operational weight and balance policy so that customers can distance themselves on board, and gate agents will also be primed to help with seat reallocation.

There have been other changes made, too. Onboard service standards have adjusted to address the health of both staff and travelers: no more glassware or hot towel service in many premium cabins, and no self-serve snack stations. The rules against wearing plastic gloves while conducting food service have been relaxed, and cleaning of the aircraft intensified: Delta, for example, published details on its various social channels showing how it is fogging interiors. (The process essentially coats every surface with an EPA-approved disinfectant, which can be then cleaned before customers board.) The airline has also co-opted its own museum into a reservation center so that reps can continue handling the enormous volumes of calls from passengers while maintaining social distance for their safety.

GALLERY: The world’s most beautiful libraries

Slide 1 of 23: While we all know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, this is one case in which evaluating something based on its appearance is not only accepted, but encouraged. From Seattle to Tokyo, these beautiful libraries are known for noteworthy exteriors—think soaring architecture and bountiful gardens—and interiors featuring designs like frescoed ceilings or walls made entirely of glass. And that's nothing compared to the millions of books housed within their walls. So whether you're a bookworm or an architecture lover, start adding these 22 libraries to your must-visit list. This article was originally published in September 2014 and has been updated.
Slide 2 of 23: Easily one of the most beautiful libraries in the U.S., the George Peabody Library (part of Johns Hopkins University) contains over 300,000 volumes stacked in five decorative tiers. The books are impressive, sure, but the cathedral like-atrium, marble floors, and wrought-iron details are the main draw here. Is it any wonder the library has become one of the most popular wedding venues in Baltimore?
Slide 3 of 23: Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, the Seattle Public Library's central branch building juts out of the downtown skyline. The glass-and-steel edifice stands 11 stories tall, and due to its location on a hill you can enter and exit on different floors. The inside pops thanks to a vivid green color used as a decorative touch on walls and in the elevator—fitting, since Seattle’s nickname is “the Emerald City.” Head to the 10th-floor reading room to take in views of the city, including Elliott Bay.
Slide 4 of 23: If the Vancouver Central Public Library looks familiar to you, that’s because it was modeled after another famous building: Rome’s iconic Colosseum. The nine-floor library complex takes up an entire city block, and includes office space, coffee shops, and retail on the ground floor. One of its most striking features is a rooftop garden designed by Safdie Architects.

Slide 5 of 23: Not only is this Spanish library a work of art, it’s also part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Originally commissioned by King Philip II in the 16th century, the library’s most dazzling feature is a series of seven frescoes that depict the liberal arts (music, rhetoric, astronomy, and so on). The town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, which is about 45 minutes outside of Madrid, has long been a favorite of Spanish royals, and there’s plenty more to see here beyond the library, including a monastery, gardens, and the pantheons of former princes and kings.
Slide 6 of 23: Completed in 2007, Tokyo's Tama Art University Library may be modern in design—think concrete arches, glass walls, minimalist furniture, and tidy rows of computers—but it still manages to have a classic, almost ancient feel. Perhaps the 100,000 books add a touch of archaism, or perhaps it's because the sleek structure sort of resembles a vaulted wine cellar. Either way, this complex structure certainly belongs on every architecture lover's bucket list.
Slide 7 of 23: This particular temple to books was originally built in 1648, but was renovated to its current state in 1999. It's colloquially known as the “black diamond” thanks to the shiny black metal segments on either side of the clear glass middle section. Inside, you'll find a veritable treasure trove of European works with a special focus on Denmark (of course), with all of philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s original manuscripts and the original copy of the first-known Danish book. The building is also home to the national photography museum, a café, a performance hall, and a large abstract fresco by renowned Danish artist Per Kirkeby on the inside of the ceiling.
Slide 8 of 23: The Strahov monastery in Prague was originally founded in 1143. Despite wars, fires, and other disasters, the order endured and built its library in 1679. The library's best-known features are its remarkable ceiling, which is covered in Biblical frescoes, and the "compilation wheel" that turns to rotate shelves in order to make books easier to find without knocking any of them over.
Slide 9 of 23: Yes, this is a library, but really, it's more like a palace devoted to books. Its limestone exterior was inspired by the famous Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon, where it was built before being shipped to Rio de Janeiro. And the interior is just as stunning: There’s a red, white, and blue stained glass window letting natural light in through the ceiling, while a silver, marble, and ivory altar welcomes visitors into the building.

Slide 10 of 23: If China's Tianjin Binhai Library looks familiar, it's probably because photos of the building's futuristic design went viral when the building opened its door in 2017. (It received over 10,000 visitors per day back then, and continues to be Tianjin's top tourist attraction.) Designed by Dutch firm MVRDV, the library features a huge luminous sphere (called 'The Eye') in the middle of an auditorium, cathedral-like vaulted arches, and undulating floor-to-ceiling shelves. There's just one catch: The highest, inaccessible shelves don't actually have books on them—instead, they hold aluminum plates printed with book images. But hey, smoke and mirrors can be beautiful too.
Slide 11 of 23: Stockholm's public library was designed by Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund, who is also known for his work on the Skandia cinema and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Woodland Cemetery. The round main hall has books in every Nordic language and a white, textured roof that was designed to look like clouds.
Slide 12 of 23: The next time you're in London, set aside some time to take a day trip to Oxford—specifically the Bodleian Library. The library has been in use since the 1300s (that's practically a thousand years), and its 12 million printed items continue to attract researchers and travelers from around the world. Aside from housing museum-worthy tomes (like the first editions of Jane Austen’s Emma and Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species), the library's many buildings are as beautiful as they come—make sure to stop by the 15th-century Divinity School and Old Bodleian Library.
Slide 13 of 23: Located next to Senate Square and the Helsinki Cathedral, the National Library of Finland is easily one of the most stunning buildings in the country. The main building was designed in the early 19th century, with architect C.L. Engel pulling inspiration from Classicism with Corinthian columns, central rotunda, and halls coated with coated with stucco marble. Renovations in the 2010s restored the building's wooden floors and ceiling murals to their former glory and added an underground kirjaluola (Finnish for “book cave”) to store some of the library's three million books.
Slide 14 of 23: If you've ever wondered what a multimillionaire's personal library looks like, look no further than the Morgan Library & Museum. Spread among three buildings once owned by financier J.P. Morgan, this Madison Avenue landmark includes galleries, libraries, a performance hall, and, of course, Morgan's private book collection. Trust us, the library is worth the hype, with gold decorations, fresco-covered ceilings, and three floors of bookshelves—some connected by secret passageways.

Slide 15 of 23: Situated in a concrete cube in the heart of southern Germany, this isn't your average library. The main attraction—a five-story reading room shaped like an upside-down pyramid—looks more like an M.C. Escher drawing than a library, until you notice the hundreds of thousands of neatly stacked books, that is. Cozy? Not really. Beautiful? You bet.
Slide 16 of 23: The Welsh capital has a long history of supporting libraries: Its first one was built in 1861, mostly with public money. The latest incarnation, completed in 2009, is patterned with tall, thin panels of blue, black, and green glass designed to resemble the spines of books. A steel sculpture called Alliance, which represents Cardiff’s journey from past to present, sits in front of the library. At night, the sculpture glows as words in Welsh and English are projected on it.
Slide 17 of 23: Dublin's Trinity College houses the Book of Kells, a ninth-century manuscript penned by monks in amazingly intricate fonts and illustrations. Each page is like its own work of art. When you’re done perusing the famous tome, pay a visit to the library’s Long Room; staring down the 200-foot-long hallway stacked with 200,000 old books might just give you chills.
Slide 18 of 23: As much as we love them, printed books may not be the most eco-friendly things in the world. But everything else about the Beitou Public Library in Taipei, Taiwan, is ultra-green, thanks to a design meant to keep energy and water consumption at a minimum. The two-story wooden building's slanted roof almost makes the library look like it’s winking at you. There are balconies along the sides, too, complete with rocking chairs where you can curl up with your favorite novel.
Slide 19 of 23: Located near the southernmost tip of Norway, Vennesla's library is more than a collection of books—it's a city cultural center and meeting place. The building hosts a coffee shop, open meeting spaces, classrooms for adult education courses, and a cinema. The long, thin wooden beams on the library's interior were designed to look like the inside of a whale.
Slide 20 of 23: Biblioteca Vasconcelos is truly something to behold. Inside, you'll find more than 470,000 books stacked in hanging shelves, with curious details like see-through floors and a white whale skeleton on display. Outside, the 820-foot building (made of concrete, steel, and glass) sits in the middle of a lush botanical garden containing flora native to Mexico. So if you're looking for a little nature with your culture, you know where to go.
Slide 21 of 23: Alexandria was once home to the most famous library in the world. Now, Egypt pays homage to its biblio-heritage with this sleek granite building. The circular structure, designed by Norwegian firm Snøhetta, is covered in carvings done by local artists and sits next to a large reflecting pool. Although there are plenty of books in three languages (Arabic, French, and English), there are also museums, a planetarium, and a lab dedicated to restoring and preserving ancient manuscripts.
Slide 22 of 23: This library is a study in contrasts. On the outside, it’s an ultramodern glass box, but the inside of the building looks like it could have been a set on a Harry Potter movie. Located in Adelaide, this library places particular emphasis on Australian history, works by indigenous authors, and maps. For modernists, the library maintains a Flickr account where people can submit their own images of South Australian life.
Slide 23 of 23: The Central Library is one of downtown Los Angeles's most significant buildings. On the outside, it's a prominent example of Art Deco design, but on the inside, there's an elegant rotunda whose centerpiece is a bronze chandelier, a sweeping staircase that used to lead to the card catalogues (everything's digitized now, of course), and decorative stencils depicting important moments in California history.

While we all know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, this is one case in which evaluating something based on its appearance is not only accepted, but encouraged. From Seattle to Tokyo, these beautiful libraries are known for noteworthy exteriors—think soaring architecture and bountiful gardens—and interiors featuring designs like frescoed ceilings or walls made entirely of glass. And that’s nothing compared to the millions of books housed within their walls. 

This article was originally published in September 2014 and has been updated.

George Peabody Library, Baltimore

Central Public Library Branch, Seattle

Central Public Library, Vancouver

The Library of El Escorial, Spain

Tama Art University Library, Tokyo

Royal Library of Denmark, Copenhagen

Strahov Monastery Library, Prague

Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Rio de Janeiro

Tianjin Binhai Library, China

Stockholm Public Library, Sweden

Bodleian Library, Oxford, England

National Library of Finland, Helsinki

The Morgan Library & Museum, New York City

Stuttgart City Library, Germany

Cardiff Central Library, Wales

Trinity College Library, Dublin

Beitou Public Library, Taiwan

Vennesla Library and Culture House, Norway

Biblioteca Vasconcelos, Mexico City

Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt

State Library of South Australia, Adelaide

Richard J. Riordan Central Library, Los Angeles

And as airlines—and the airports that service them—are looking for major bailouts from the government, flight attendants are as concerned for their financial wellbeing as their health. There are persistent rumors that restrictions on flying might extend to an outright ban on domestic service, and much like after 9/11 or during the 2008 recession, many expect furloughs—effectively unpaid, extended leave until economic conditions improve. According to Bowles, his colleagues are already prepping for such a scenario. “I’ve seen threads on Facebook where we’re sharing our side hustles so we can support one another, as some take a personal leave of absence,” he says. “I’m offering to review and revamp resumes for those who take that leave and are looking for work.” Bowles is concerned for his own future as well. He and his husband, also a flight attendant, have a rental property they use to generate extra income—unfortunately, the tenants are cabin crew, too.

“It’s extremely tense, as people are worried about their jobs. Think of it like a reality television show where you are waiting to be eliminated,” says Joe Thomas, 47, who has been cabin crew for 12 years and runs the blog Flight Attendant Joe. “It’s not only tough for airline employees, but for the families they have to leave behind. I have a hard time explaining to my husband that I have to go to work, because he wants me to be home and safe.” Thomas says that many crews are posting more goofy videos than ever about life working on a plane. “Humor in a time like this is helpful.”

There is, however, hope in a return to normalcy. “Our customers have been so very supportive, and they’re grateful to get where they’re going because now they have to, not just want to,” Mathew says. “We’ll be on this carousel for a few months and come July or so, we’ll be back to talking about how expensive tickets are and calming down someone who was forced to check their bag.”

In the interim, however long that may turn out to be, most attendants are taking it day by day. “There is a certain level of grief that comes with this virus. I actually miss people and the beauty behind traveling,” says Jennifer Jaki Johnson, 36, who has been working for a major carrier for six years, while running the travel and style site Jetsetter Chic. But she also notes that many of the flights still operating serve vital purposes: transporting soldiers home to loved ones, rescue animals to new homes, and even donated organs in cargo to key hospitals. “The flights may not be filled—there might only be 10 people—but we’re saving lives. On the bright side, that’s a beautiful thing.”

WATCH: 50 people from 50 states explain how not to offend the locals

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The ultimate travel playlist to tide you over until your next trip

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Alexa, queue up this playlist.

Whether you’re working from home for the foreseeable future, or just need to listen to some music as an escape from the world right now, this “quaran-tunes” playlist has you covered. These songs will transport you to faraway lands, inspire you to plan a future road trip or get you psyched about your next flight.

You can listen and subscribe on Spotify (or find these songs wherever you typically get your music) and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram — or comment below! — to submit your own “quarantunes.”

RELATED: You can virtually tour these 20 landmarks without leaving your couch (Provided by The Active Times)

a large building: Most travel plans are on hold for a while during the coronavirus pandemic. To pass the time after working from home with the kids or for a fun digital happy hour with friends, take a vacation without ever leaving your couch. Numerous world-class destinations and man-made marvels offer virtual tours that you can take online while you are social distancing. The other benefit? It’s free.

“Africa” by Toto

You’ll be blessing the rains — and planes — down in Africa before you know it.

“Airplanes” by Local Natives

The wait will indeed be worth it when you’re 35,000 feet in the air and on your way to your next adventure. We promise.

“Back in the U.S.S.R.” by The Beatles

You might not be flying into Miami on a BOAC, but this high-energy song is sure to get you in the mood for a flight.

“Delta” by Mumford and Sons

I’ll meet you at the Delta … SkyClub.

“California” by Phantom Planet

We can almost taste the In-n-Out and California sunshine.

“Fly Like an Eagle” by Seal

Why doesn’t this song play as you board an American Airlines flight? These are the questions we all now have time to ask ourselves.

“Fly Me To the Moon” by Frank Sinatra

We could all use a little Sinatra in our lives right about now. Also, sign us up for the first commercial flight to the moon.

“Lost in Japan” by Shawn Mendes

Now’s a good time to rack up those points and miles to start planning your dream trip to Japan.

“Jumpin’ on a Jet” by Future

Your future entails jumping back on a jet. See what we did there?

“Life Is a Highway” by Tom Cochrane

You’ll be cruising down one before you can say “sign-up bonus.”

“On the Beach” by Chris RIa

I don’t know about you all, but I can’t wait to start planning my next beach vacation. In the meantime, this song will do the trick.

“Sicko Mode” by Travis Scott

While the line, “13 hours ’til I land” might not ring true right now, it will soon. In the meantime, can we interest you in a flight review to hold you over?

“Ventura Highway” by America

You’re gonna go, I know. Just going to take some time.

Bottom line

If you’re finding yourself listening to way more music (or podcasts) than usual, consider upgrading to a premium version of your favorite streaming service.

Just remember to use a credit card that will help you get the most value from your purchase, whether you listen on Spotify, Apple Music, SiriusXM, Pandora or another provider.

WATCH: Lyft Is Offering Thousands of Free Rides During the Coronavirus Pandemic to Help Those in Need

  • Living alone on a paradise island

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    In 1989, Mauro Morandi's boat docked on Budelli Island in Italy. Discovering that the island's caretaker was retiring within the next two days, Mauro decided to extend his stay indefinitely. – Great Big Story

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    Maria Cousins, who's from New Zealand, was set to start some big travel plans despite the coronavirus outbreak, but a development beyond her control halted her plans.

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    The surprising rise of climbing in 'flat' Uruguay
    Often visitors are taken aback by Uruguay's distinct lack of mountains, and yet, rock climbing is a growing activity in the South American country — once people realise it's possible. ARRANGED IN SEQUENCESN°1PR5U9

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Incredible images show the world's most amazing stone structures

Classic rock: Incredible images show the world’s most amazing stone structures, from a ‘boulder house’ to a 12th-century sunken church

  • The jaw-dropping photos feature in a new book, simply called Stone, by architect William Hall 
  • It takes readers on a global tour of stone structures from neolithic monuments to awe-inspiring churches 
  • The tome also charts contemporary projects such as the Museum Szuch and the Sancaklar Mosque

Forget concrete and brick – it’s stone that’s the star of the show here.

These incredible images show how stone is a building material of endless opportunity, that it can be formal, elegant, playful and energising.

The photographs feature in a new book, simply called Stone, by architect William Hall, which showcases a spectacular selection of structures from the past 5,000 years and highlights the beauty of this seemingly humble substance. 

Among the featured buildings are an incredible Roman aqueduct in France, a 12th-century church built inside a carved pit in Ethiopia and a quirky museum – and former house – surrounded by boulders in Portugal.

The book also charts projects by the world’s best contemporary architects, from Snøhetta’s angular Norwegian National Opera and Ballet building in Oslo to a stunning Indian temple designed by Delhi-based firm Spacematters.

Scroll down to see a selection of images from the tome and prepare to have your world rocked…

Casa do Penedo is a monument surrounded by four colossal boulders in Fafe, northern Portugal, which was built in 1974. It was initially constructed as a holiday home but today is a museum charting the quirky building’s history

The amazing ancient Spassky Cave Church in Kostomarovo in the Voronezh region of Russia. Carved into the hillside are two churches, one with enough room for a congregation of 2,000 

Uchimura Kanzo Memorial Stone Church in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, Japan. It was built in 1988 by American architect Kendrick Kellog and is, according to, the perfect place for a ‘mysterious, enchanting wedding ceremony’

The Temple in Stone and Light is in Barmer, India, and was built in 2016 on the grounds of a power plant for its employees and the local community. It was constructed using locally sourced Jaisalmer yellow stone and designed by Delhi-based firm Spacematters

The Church of Saint George in Lalibela, Ethiopia, is a 12th-century sunken, rock-hewn church that was built in a pit carved out of volcanic rock. It is still a place of pilgrimage for those in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and is a Unesco world heritage site

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a vast library and cultural centre located in the Egyptian city of Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast. The 11-storey building opened in 2001 and harbours over 6,000 square metres of hand-carved stone

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The King Abdullah Financial District Grand Mosque opened in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, in 2017. It has been designed to resemble a desert rose and can accommodate 1,500 worshippers

The Nevsehir Bus Terminal in Nevsehir, Turkey, opened in 2010 and has a huge stone wall facade, with a glass and steel structure behind it. The inspiration for the wall is said to be the towering boulders of Cappadocia

Pont du Gard is a 35-arch Roman aqueduct that straddles the Gard river, around 14 miles from the city of Nimes, that dates back to the first century. It delivered around two million litres of freshwater to Nimes every day. After the fall of the Roman Empire it was used as a toll bridge. The bombastic structure, which is 165 feet high and 900 feet wide, is now one of the top five tourist attractions in France

The Church of San Giovanni Battista is located in Mogno, Switzerland. It was constructed in 1996 to replace a 17th-century church that was destroyed in an avalanche in 1986. The main feature of the church is the alternating layers of white marble and dark gneiss

The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, which opened in 2008 in Oslo, was designed by architecture firm Snøhetta. The angled exterior of the building is made with Italian marble and white granite, so it appears to be rising from the water

Muzeum Susch in Susch, Switzerland, is an art museum inside a restored 12th-century monastery that was excavated into the side of a mountain. Inside there are exhibition spaces that are linked by grotto-like tunnels

The Lanyang Museum is located in Yilan County, Taiwan, and was built using a mixture of locally sourced granite and aluminium. Author William Hall writes: ‘Its jagged pyramidal form emerges from the wetland and shore, aping the cuesta rocks of Taiwan’s northern coast’

The Sancaklar Mosque is a semi-submerged building in Büyükçekmece, Turkey. Completed in 2015, it was built using a mixture of light grey stone and reinforced concrete

The lobby inside the O’biz Tower, an office building in Anyang, South Korea. To create a geometric effect, designers used both green-oriental marble and grey granite 

Stone by William Hall, which is published by Phaidon, is available for £29.95 from

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The best private lodges in the African wilderness – A Luxury Travel Blog

Africa’s safari camps and lodges are renowned for being especially intimate and wild, more so than any other hospitality experience throughout the rest of the world. Take the most private and most intimate lodges across the continent and you have the best wilderness experience the world has to offer. Dotted around safari Africa are several private lodges where you and the family can go to get away from it all in the ultimate exclusive retreat. Here is a run down of the best places to do this in.

Bailey’s Banda at Beho Beho. Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

This is the ultimate old school safari experience. Dappled brick walls enclose guests in a haven of old era safari romance, with bushy views onto the raised hill which creepy up into the horizon. Watch the peaceful everchanging canvas of wilderness from your private plunge pool. This is the kind of scene which can change in a blink of an eye; a tranquil river scene can within a page of your book transform into a playground for elephants; a blank field can come alive with the howl of wild dogs in a split second. Staying at Beho Beho is as much about wildlife viewing from the luxury of your room as it is about the game drives…

Laragai House. Laikipia, Kenya

Laragai House is one of the original private venues for those who want exclusivity in a wild place. Laikipia is a haven for adventurers, and Laragai House is about as luxurious as it gets. It really does have something for everyone. Here, you feel isolated in the wild with sweeping and endless views of the undulating Borana hills below. You can be bathing by the pool admiring the view in the morning, and galloping around the below wilderness in the afternoon on your very own horse. Laragai House is the very best option on the continent for horse and wilderness lovers, all to be enjoyed from one of the finest private safari lodges on the continent.

The Motse. Tswalu, South Africa

Twenty-four of your best friends and family can enjoy this fabulous private getaway. Perhaps The Motse is suited best for older families with teenagers, who want to tear around the surrounding wilderness in activities galore which is this action packed private reserve. Guided activities include searching for pangolins, which are (incredibly) very easy to spot here; keeping wildlife enthusiast parents more than entertained. Perhaps, Tswalu is also excellent for younger families as it has no age restrictions and is, importantly, one of the only non-malarial reserves in southern Africa. For those who aren’t restricted by non-malarial zones, the nearby and easily accessible Cape Town is a perfect contrast and compliment to an exceptional Tswalu safari.

Mkombe House at Nomad Lamai. Serengeti, Tanzania

Mkombe House is the ultimate big 5 safari hideaway. The Serengeti National Park is brimming with life – time it right heading to Lamai in July to October and your could be living in amongst one of the greatest, most spectacular natural events on the planet; the Great Wildebeest Migration. Indoors, Mkombe House cosies into a huge Kjope, huge towering mysterious boulders which are typical of this beautiful part of the park. Staying here is as close to nature as anyone could get. To avoid other tourists completely, I would recommend visiting in the off-season months when the Migration is not around. You will still be greeted by some of the best wildlife on the continent which never leave this action-packed park, but for a lot less than in high season.

Chongwe House, Lower Zambezi. Zambia

Chongwe House is what safari is all about; rustic, wild and with a hint of safari romance impossible to replicate on any other continent. Set on the banks of the Zambezi, enjoy a bright pink sunset and a cold drink after a long day of exploring this beautiful region. The wildlife in the park is superb, and the boating unparalleled in the country. For those who love fishing, Chongwe is the dream with some of the very best fishing opportunities on the continent. It is a hideaway for those who love a river view, and all the activities which come with it.

Marc Harris is Managing Director of Africa Odyssey. Africa Oydssey is run by a team of award-winning experts offering tailor-made African safari holidays.

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The winners in a photography contest honouring the UK's national parks

The astonishing winning and shortlisted images in a photography contest honouring the UK’s national parks

  • The competition saw 1,700 stunning images submitted that were all snapped in the UK’s 15 national parks 
  • The dramatic winning shot shows a rare osprey swooping in on its prey in the Cairngorms National Park
  • Shortlisted entries snapped in Wales include a picture of a greedy puffin and a shot of the Brecon Beacons

Britain’s natural beauty has been captured in a stunning series of images taken in the country’s national parks.

The amazing pictures are the winners and shortlisted snaps in a photography competition held by UK National Parks and the Campaign for National Parks.

Almost 1,700 pictures were submitted to the competition via social media by people who shared moments when they were out exploring the heritage sites, wildlife and landscapes of the UK’s 15 national parks.

The dramatic winning shot was taken by Pete Stevens and shows a rare osprey swooping in on its prey in the Cairngorms National Park. Shortlisted entries include a picture of a greedy puffin in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and an image showing the magical landscape of the Brecon Beacons in Wales.

Competition judge Andrew Hall, of Campaign for National Parks, said: ‘There is something about nature that moves the soul and enriches our lives. But the reality is that some of the amazing moments captured throughout this competition will be denied to the next generation.

‘I hope that people looking at this shortlist see the urgent need to treasure the natural world, to get out, feel inspired, but also to do more to protect and improve our national parks.’ Scroll down and behold Britain’s natural charm…

The winning shot in the national parks photography competition, which was captured by Pete Stevens in the Cairngorms National Park. Pete said: ‘It was taken at Gordon MacLeod’s Aviemore osprey hide at about 6am in July 2019. The local ospreys from around the Cairngorms National Park take fish from the loch to return to the nests to feed their young before the long journey back to Africa at the end of the summer’

Photographers Sam and Ike Walker were the runners-up in the contest with this image taken at Kinder Downfall in the Peak District National Park. It was snapped during Storm Dennis when 75mph winds caused the waterfall to flow in reverse. Sam said: ‘Having grown up in the Peak District, it’s inspiring to me that there are still new things to see and discover like this in a national park I’m so familiar with’

Photographer Jonathan Green captured this extreme close-up of a dragonfly in the North York Moors National Park. Speaking about the shortlisted image, Jonathan said: ‘It was in a really awkward position for any kind of decent picture, but as I may not have got the opportunity to take another picture of one again, I braved the spines and got stuck into the gorse. I love the detail on the wings and it’s rare to be able to get so much of such a small subject in clear focus. Getting a few scratches was worth it’

This shortlisted snap of a puffin getting ready to feed its chicks was taken by Jason Davies in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

The Broads

Brecon Beacons 




Lake District

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs

New Forest 


North York Moors

Peak District

Pembrokeshire Coast


South Downs

Yorkshire Dales

Source: National Parks UK 

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The top luxury stays in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia – A Luxury Travel Blog

Colombia’s most famous writer, the inimitable Gabriel García Márquez, once said in a press interview that he could never have written his books if he had not been a journalist – because all of his material was extracted from reality. Wandering between the pastel-coloured colonial structures of Cartagena’s labyrinthine cobbled streets, one could be forgiven for thinking that they had indeed stepped into Márquez’s magical realist universe of fantasy and wonder. A city of effortless and timeless charm, exploring the old walled city in the sultry Caribbean heat is a multi-sensory experience: absorb the rhythms of the music here, enjoy the melody of the Caribbean’s heavily accented Spanish and sample the region’s colourful and exotic cuisine.

Luxury hotels in the city’s historic centre tend to be tucked away in exquisitely restored colonial buildings of varying sizes. Offering all the necessary mod-cons with all the opulence of imperial Spanish architecture, here are some of our favourite properties in Cartagena:

Casa San Agustín

Without doubt the finest boutique hotel in the city, and perhaps the best hotel in the entire country, the charming Casa San Agustín occupies the shell of three former colonial homes which have been lovingly restored to showcase their original period features. The hotel’s spacious outdoor pool, for example, is offered a pocket of shade by the exposed brick remains of a Spanish water collection system with elegant arches reminiscent of an ancient Roman aqueduct. Seamlessly blending the heritage building with a fresh, airy and contemporary interior design inspired by the delicate blue and white tones of the Caribbean sky and sea; each exquisite room provides guests with a calming and homely hideaway in an ambience that very much still feels like a private residence. Located just steps away from the Cathedral and various other points of historical interest in the old city, this hotel enjoys a prime location.

For guests enthusiastic to sample some of Cartagena’s best Caribbean cuisine, Casa San Agustín is home to one of the walled city’s most well-regarded restaurants: Alma. Guests can expect an astounding meal in the restaurant’s grand salons that uses organic local ingredients in a range of innovative dishes that blend cutting-edge culinary techniques with age-old Caribbean recipes and traditions. A particular recommendation would be to try the cazuela; a delicious seafood stew made with fresh lobster, shrimp, mussels, octopus, squid and sea-fish stewed in a sweet and spicy coconut sauce. Guests searching for the ultimate relaxation during their luxury trip will also be very happy here. The stunning Aurum Spa offers an extensive menu of indulgent treatments, whilst for those looking to get out of the hotel, the hotel organises exclusive day trips out to their own secluded private beach on nearby Barú Island.

Sofitel Legend Santa Clara

During the extensive restoration work carried out on the crumbling Santa Clara convent and hospital in Cartagena’s old city, construction workers stumbled upon an ancient crypt where the skeletons of nuns and a young girl with extraordinarily long copper hair were discovered. Covering this event for a local newspaper inspired the then-journalist Gabriel García Márquez to include a fantastical take on the story as an episode in his best-selling novel, Of Love and Other Demons. This piece of colonial and literary history can be explored by guests through a glass gate in the Sofitel’s stylish El Coro bar, an elegant space in the hotel’s main colonial courtyard.

World-famous, and for good reason, the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara is one of Cartagena’s most iconic accommodations. Spread across an original colonial building and the more modern annexe which houses the modern gym and spa facilities along with several floors of plush guest rooms, the hotel is the perfect option for luxury travellers who prefer the comforts of a larger property with more extensive facilities. This chic property boasts the largest outdoor pool in the walled city and also offers splendid views of the old city walls and ocean from the sun-soaked terraces overlooking the pool area. Guests can enjoy fine Caribbean cuisine in one of the hotel’s two restaurants, as well as access to the well-stocked wine cellar. Architecturally, the hotel is a precious historical jewel, and the excellent service here transports visitors to an opulent era of imperial decadence.

Casa Pestagua

Known as one of the most beautiful houses in Cartagena, Casa Pestagua once belonged to the incredibly powerful Count of Pestagua, an 18th-century aristocrat who was key to the Spanish colonial administration of the city. Built in the traditional Spanish style, this hotel centres around a sunny courtyard, peppered with tropical plants where the swimming pool is now located. Offering just eleven exclusive suites, the neutral rooms have a distinctly regal feel to them, incorporating intricate antique pieces that evoke the life of luxury enjoyed by the house’s previous occupants.

This tasteful Relais & Chateaux property offers a sumptuous breakfast each morning and the table in the on-site dining room is something worthy of the castles and palaces of the golden age of Cartagena. Accommodating up to twenty-five diners, the lavish French-inspired dishes here recreate the indulgent atmosphere and charm of great aristocratic banquets. Elegant communal spaces like the stylish bar and rooftop terrace with a Jacuzzi complete this luxury haven in the walled city, where the attention to detail in the boutique’s excellent service makes each guest feel as aristocratic as the original owner was.

Bastión Luxury Hotel

Blessed with one of the most expansive outdoor pool areas in the old city, guests can enjoy panoramic views from Bastión spacious rooftop terrace, complete with an abundance of sun loungers and quirky private dining spaces for those celebrating special occasions at the property. Located just minutes away from the Cathedral and plenty of other historic buildings, Bastión is a mid-size hotel (51 rooms) offering the convenient facilities of a much larger property alongside the personalised service of a boutique hotel. A nice-family friendly option in the city, the pool area has shallow areas perfect for children. For couples travelling on a romantic city break, the hotel offers a small spa with a massage room and an outdoor hot tub for cosy nights in relaxing together.

The El Gobernador by Rausch Restaurant is one of the top high-end dining options inside the walled city. The venue is known for serving traditional local cuisine with European flair and for using locally sourced sustainable produce, such as the exotic lionfish. A delicious a la carte breakfast is included every morning in the hotel’s sunshine-soaked courtyard, typical of period houses in the region, and the eggs benedict is the perfect way to start the day here. For guests taking a time out from exploring the colonial streets of Cartagena in favour of a relaxed day at the hotel, you can enjoy a dizzying array of fruity cocktails and flavoursome snacks by the rooftop pool all day long.

Charleston Santa Teresa

Occupying a bright-coloured historic building mere steps away from Plaza San Pedro Claver, the Charleston Santa Teresa brings the glamour of an exclusive big-city hotel to the charming streets of Cartagena’s old town. Supplying everything one would expect from a modern luxury hotel alongside all the charm of a historic home, the Charleston’s eclectic design captures the soul of Cartagena: both old and new. In a similar manner to the Sofitel (the hotel’s closest competitor), spacious guest rooms are divided between the quaint colonial cloisters that form the backbone of the old building, and a later Republican-era construction built in a manner imitating the older style. The hotel’s bright interiors incorporate the vibrant hues of the old city streets with clean, modern lines and all the necessary mod-cons.

In our opinion, the Charleston Santa Teresa boasts the finest view in the old city. From the hotel’s chic rooftop pool and dining area, guests can see the domes and spires of all the churches in the old city walls, as well as enjoy sweeping views of the ocean and the new city in the distance.  Charleston offers guests three distinct dining options, one of which is brought to you by chef Harry Sasson and is internationally recognised on the list of the best restaurants in Latin America. Uniquely, the Charleston offers the old city’s only private plaza. As the tones of the Caribbean sunset begin to creep across the sky, the plaza comes to life with live music. Offering a wide variety of food combined with the fresh Caribbean breeze and a view of the magnificent walls and the San Francisco Javier Bastion, this is a magical place to unwind in the evenings.

Whatever kind of luxury traveller you are, Cartagena’s charming boutiques and effervescent energy will not fail to enchant you. There really is something for everyone in this city known as ‘The Jewel of the Caribbean’.

Simon Williams is Director of Humboldt Travel. Humboldt Travel is a luxury travel company specialising in tailor made holidays to Latin America.

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Travelers in the Mexican Caribbean Unfazed by Coronavirus Hysteria

As the busy spring break season begins, similar to past years, travelers are gearing up for some much-needed time away. Families are planning out which activities they will do during their vacation, and college students are getting through a few more days of classes before the break they need to get them through the rest of the year.

Some people, though, are questioning if they should even be traveling amid the coronavirus outbreak. Airlines are waiving change fees; cruise lines are modifying cancellation penalties and several travelers are wondering if they should “risk it” or cancel their trip altogether.

On Saturday, I departed from the Milwaukee airport and landed in Cancun for a stay at Hotel Xcaret Mexico. I never considered canceling my trip, but I did wonder what the airports would look like. I envisioned they might be seeing less traffic than normal, but I was completely wrong.

The security line at the Milwaukee airport was long, the charter flight I flew down on was full and the Cancun airport was possibly the busiest I’ve ever seen it.

The only difference on the flight was seeing everyone cleaning off their seats with disinfectant wipes and frequently using hand sanitizer—practices many travelers have been doing for years.

In addition to busy airports, Hotel Xcaret Mexico and the Groupo Xcaret parks and tours were also bustling with tourists.

On Monday, I spent the morning at Tulum and the afternoon at Xel-Ha Park, and both places saw loads of people throughout the day.

According to Joaquin Maass, Brand Manager of Hotel Xcaret Mexico, the hotel has not been affected by the coronavirus scare. In fact, the property is at more than 80 percent occupancy this week and in the weeks to come.

Travelers staying at the resort did not seem to be affected by the coronavirus. It came up in conversation a few times, but no one mentioned the possibility of a cancellation or even seemed fazed by the hysteria at all.

Hailee Miller, a student at the University of Georgia, is also in Mexico this week staying at Grand Oasis Cancun with eight of her friends for spring break. She didn’t consider canceling her trip and mentioned the resort is very busy this week with spring breakers and families.

“We absolutely did not consider canceling our trip at all,” she explained. “Cancun isn’t on any list to be concerned about coronavirus so we just wash our hands and stay aware, especially in the airport.”

The Dominican Republic is also seeing business as usual, and many other Caribbean islands are unaffected by the coronavirus hysteria. These popular spring break destinations will continue to see several tourists over the next few weeks.

So although it may seem like the virus is taking over, many areas around the world are welcoming visitors like normal. Before canceling your upcoming vacation, be sure to buy into the facts, not the frenzy.

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The Highest Observation Deck in the Western Hemisphere Is Now Open in New York City

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The Western Hemisphere’s Highest Outdoor Sky Deck Opens

Guests were welcomed to view the New York City skyline from the Western Hemisphere’s highest outdoor sky deck, Edge, as it opened to the public earlier today.

At 1:00 p.m. on March 11, ticketed visitors were treated to 360-degree views from 30 Hudson Yards’ 100th floor. Visitors also experienced the multi-room ‘Journey to Edge’ show, which tells the history of New York City’s newest neighborhood from construction over an active rail yard to sustainability achievements and more. From now until April 4, guests will also have the opportunity to experience the nightly L’Observatoire International show that takes place from sunset to midnight.

The outdoor area of Edge extends 80 feet from 30 Hudson Yards and features a glass floor and angled glass walls to give guests the ultimate view of the city. Visitors can enjoy cocktails and champagne from the 100th floor’s bar or go on up to the 101st floor to eat at Peak, the building’s elegant restaurant, bar, and event space operated by hospitality group RHC.

Hudson Yards also announced a program offering New York City public school groups free visits to Edge and Vessel every Tuesday. Fifth-grade students from elementary school P.S. 33 in Chelsea were the first guests to get a sneak peek at the Edge experience. NYC Public School bookings can be made online at

“The overwhelming public response to Hudson Yards over the past year – making us part of everything from their morning coffee run to a place to celebrate special occasions – has been incredibly humbling. With the opening Edge, one of the final pieces of the first phase of Hudson Yards, it was important to us to extend an invitation not only to the world to experience our great city from new heights, but also to New Yorkers who have made us part of the City’s cultural fabric. We are proud to ensure Edge is accessible to New York Public School students which we hope will inspire the next generation of New Yorkers to fall even more in love with this great city,” said Stephen Ross, Chairman of Related Companies.

Edge is now open seven days a week year-round from 8:00 AM to midnight. Tickets to Edge are available now at

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