Imaginative Food Choices in the Heart of Havana!

We took away a lot from our first trip to Cuba earlier this year, so much so that we are happily returning next year bigger and better than ever for our Drag Stars at Sea 2017: Cuba Adventure! Cuba has a lot to offer any traveler, with excitement in several cities and great people to meet along the way. Something in particular from Cuba stands out though: its amazing food. The Cuban people have a special pride about the meals they prepare, and it shines through in their best restaurants! We are going to explore a place in Havana, Cuba today that is known for having delicious food as well as being incredibly fun and trendy!

 

 

304 O’Reilly‘s creators did not use any creativity on this place’s name, its address, instead choosing to pour their efforts into making amazing food! The restaurant is open from noon to midnight and serves a variety of great food and drinks. One of the signature dishes is the fish of the day done up with a mixture of herbs served with fresh vegetables and plated beautifully, as can be seen below. The dishes offer a lovely spread of flavors across the board that are all well received. They also serve tacos that have been a smash hit, they are the talk of the town! Even better than just great food is the fact that the portions are notably generous and the price is absolutely outstanding, with meals ranging from eight to thirteen dollars on average! People leave here with their stomachs full and their mouths satisfied with all of the flavors to be tried!

 

The food is great, but this place is just as famous for the large variety and quality of drinks that they offer! The cocktails they offer are MASSIVE, and people rave about how delicious they are! It is highly recommended that you place a reservation before coming because while it is a great place to eat space is limited and with great drinks and food it’s not hard to imagine why this is one of the most bustling places in all of Havana. It is noted that the energy here is off the charts as well, with a staff that is visibly young, energetic, and always happy to serve with a smile, it will be very hard to find a more welcoming staff on the whole island! Even the owner will get in on the fun at times by sitting down with his guests and giving them an authentic Cuban cigar while regaling them with stories about art and food. It is truly a can’t miss experience!

Havana has a lot of hidden treasures to offer, and I am dedicated to finding them and sharing them with you all as we get prepared for the trip next year! It’s going to be a great time and an amazing opportunity to savor some local delights while you are there! Drag Stars at Sea 2017: Cuba Adventure is going to be a spectacular adventure, and right now we are taking bookings for past travelers as well as reservations for new ones! Get your place in line NOW by visiting here!

 

Where The Locals Eat Breakfast, Lunch And Dinner In Rome.

 

Rome is not Milan. Moving from one part of the city to another can take hours (no exaggeration, just try). So here are some tips for a top notch breakfast, lunch and dinner, a gastronomic day in Italy’s capital without wasting time waiting for buses.

Breakfast: Bar Le Sorelle

If you go to MACRO (Museum of Contemporary Art), you have an excuse to drop by Via Alexandria for a coffee and a pastry in a café much favoured by locals. Amazing cappuccino and pastries stuffed with fresh, tasty homemade egg custard. The classic Roman maritozzi are highly recommended, as are the “lobster tail” and honey pastries, and the strawberry mimosa cake. Open from 5 am to 8 pm.

Lunch: Restaurant Roscioli

Originally a grocery store (the Roscioli family also has a bakery nearby) it is still a gourmet delicatessen (with prices in line with the quality of the goods offered), but since 2002 it has also had a restaurant, loved by those who live and work in Rome (or are in town to do politics). Surrounded by shelves of wine and perhaps an undersecretary or two, you can enjoy the finest Roman cuisine and possibly take advantage of the raw materials of the house (meats and cheeses), such as the buffalo mozzarella burgers, for a tasting menu or an unusual starter.

Dinner: La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali

In Rome there are trattorie that are institutions, managed by the same family for 50 years or more, timeless treasures in every district (Testaccio, Trastevere – they each have their own). More recent, but already famous (half of Hollywood features in the gallery of photos), the Taverna dei Fori Imperiali continues to be one of those that makes your Roman friends say: “When you come to Rome, I must take you there.” The tonnarelli cacio e pepe, spaghetti amatriciana, and the artichokes are not to be missed. Leave room for dessert: the bakery is run by the daughter of the owner (and chef) and the cakes are homemade. Another plus: it is a quarter of an hour stroll from Termini Station, for a tasty “Arrivederci Roma.

 

 

This article was originally published on the Huffington Post. 

Exploring Beautiful Palaces in Montevideo, Uruguay

We are proud to offer exciting excursions all over the globe, from places deep in the jungle to some of the greatest cities man has ever dreamed to build. We like to share our passion with others so that they can see why we are so invested in the places we go. The world is remarkably big, and there are more amazing sights to see than can be imagined. Today we go to one of the most beautiful cities in all of South America, Montevideo, Uruguay!

Palacio Legislativo, or the Legislative Palace in English, is the place where the Uruguayan parliament meets. The construction of the building began in 1904 and was sponsored at the time by the president of the country, José Batlle y Ordoñez. The building was designed by Italian architects and it features a largely Neo-classical design in its architecture. In 1975 the building was declared a National Historic Monument by the government. The inside of the building is a big hit with the many travelers who visit it every year, with one of the most noted features being the beautiful marble floors which adorn the inside of the building. Its library is beautiful and has some amazing glass work that is the envy of many patrons. The artwork is also noteworthy inside of the building, with so many historic pieces of work from famous painters of the country. It is considered a little out of the way in the normal tourist circulation of the city, but certainly it is worth a visit!

Palacio Salvo was designed by the architect Mario Palanti and it was finished in 1928. The building stands an impressive 330 ft. in height, once you include the antenna at the top of the building. The building was actually meant to be a hotel originally, but when that didn’t work out it began to be used as a blend of private residences and offices for a number of years. The architecture of the building is the Eclecticism style, and its architect was an Italian man by the name of Mario Palanti. For many decades this stood as the tallest building in all of South America, and still today remains a good place to visit for any traveler who has an eye on architecture and the country’s history.

Montevideo is a beautiful capital city in the heart of an amazing country. It has a lot to offer to any traveler who would want to stop in to visit, with amazing people who are welcoming to those from all around the world. We have an amazing trip that is going to take you here as well as many other spectacular places all over South America as part of our Best of Brazil & South America trip that is coming March of next year! For all of the information on this amazing trip, please click here.

 

 

Artistic Brilliance Shines in Florence!

We are proud to offer exciting excursions all over the globe, from places deep in the jungle to some of the greatest cities man has ever dreamed to build. We like to share our passion with others so that they can see why we are so invested in the places we go. The world is remarkably big, and there are more amazing sights to see than can be imagined. Today we take a trip to one of the most artistic places in the entire world, Florence, Italy!

The Bargello, also known as the Palazzo del Bargello, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, or Palazzo del Popolo (which translates as “Palace of the People in English”) is a former prison and barracks which now serves as an art museum. The term Bargello is derived from Latin and means “fortified tower” or “castle” and was a term that was applied to military captains of Italy during the middle ages who were in charge of keeping the peace. Because these captains stayed in fortifications such as this one the name eventually stuck to the building as well. The original two stories of the building were finished in 1256 with the third story being added in 1323. In modern times the museum is home to masterpieces by such renowned artists as Michelangelo, Donatello, and Vincenzo Gemito.

The Catterale di Santa Maria del Fiore, Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower in English, is the main church of the city. Construction of this beautiful building started in 1296 in the Gothic style and was completed in 1436 when the dome was finished and it was consecrated that same year. The outside is lined with multicolored marble panels in numerous shades of pink and green that give the building its beautiful sense of majesty. The cathedral is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Florence. The current archbishop if Giuseppe Betori. The inside of the cathedral is home to some stunning artwork, perhaps none more provoking than the Last Judgment, seen above, that is underneath the dome. There are few places in the world which can rival the beauty of this wonderful monument dedicated to faith.

Giotto’s Campanile is a standalone bell tower that is a part of the Florence Cathedral. The tower was first started in 1334 after the original Master of Works of the Cathedral passed away and was completed in 1359 after the title passed through multiple people’s hands during that period. It stands adjacent to Santa Maria del Fiore, and the tower is one of the finest examples of Florentine Gothic architecture with its design by Giotto. It features multicolored marble encrustations that give it a fantastic sheen and fabulously rich sculptural decorations! The inside houses multiple works of art, including the famous “Euclid” by Nino Pisano!

Florence is an amazing city, with such as rich history in both the arts as well as religious ceremony, it makes a great adventure for anyone wishing to explore a lively city. The architecture can’t be beat, either! We’re so proud to be taking our travelers all around the beautiful country of Italy as a part of our Gay Taste of Italy Tour, which features other such cities as Rome and Venice! For all of the information on this amazing trip, go here.

 

 

Grabbing Pieces of Pizza in Rome!

One of the great things about traveling is the chance to experience different cultures around the world first hand, and there are few better ways to do that then to take a bite of someone’s food. Like music, food is a universal language. We all eat, we enjoy food in vastly different ways, and one person’s supreme meal is another person’s garbage.  I have been doing a lot of research lately when it comes to the highlights of the world, and quite a bit of that time has been devoted to various eateries.

Pinsere Roma is a pizzeria that specializes in something referred to as “grips”, which are small hand held pizzas meant to be enjoyed in a single setting. The experience here doesn’t start with the food, it starts with the people. The owners of the establishment started it on the belief that food can be amazing without being too expensive or taking a long time to prepare, and always with a smile. The service at Pinsere Roma is fantastic, with customers often noting that the warm atmosphere is almost as inviting as the aroma that carries easily to the streets out in front of the eatery. The small storefront is constantly packed with eager customers who are vying to try one of the many combinations in this very popular place. It has consistently been rated as one of the best places to eat in all of Rome!

The pizza here is absolutely fantastic, with a variety that is almost unmatched in the entire world! Customers rave about the fresh ingredients and interesting combinations. One of the best aspects of the pizzas is the crust. It has a doughy quality to it that is topped off with just enough crispiness to melt in anyone’s mouth. One of the more popular pizzas there includes bacon, figs, and the surprising honey! It shouldn’t work, but the skilled chefs are talented at pulling off the unexpected time and time again. Of course, they can do traditional pizza just as well, with their Sicilian Meats pizza being another favorite among customers. Tourists and locals agree that for pizza there is no place better in all of Rome!

Rome is a fantastic city that has many great places to visit. There are landmarks, holy sites, and many places traveler should go on a trip to the city, as well as many other places to enjoy great food beyond the wonderful Pinsere Roma. You can experience all Rome has to offer, as well as other amazing destinations in Italy, as part of our fantastic Italy vacation! For all of the details on this amazing trip, please click here.

Restoring Your Faith in Great Landmarks in Santiago!

We are very proud to offer trips all around the world, and we are invested in letting others see why we are so passionate about the places we go. The world is a very big place, and within it are numerous sights to see that are unique as they are beautiful, historically significant, or both. Today we will take you to Santiago, Chile!

The Sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception on San Christobal Hill is one of the primary places to worship for the Catholic faith in all of Chile, along with being an iconic landmark in the city of Santiago. The statue is 14 meters tall and stands upon a pedestal that is roughly 8 meters and it weighs a whopping 36,610 kilograms! There is a small chapel inside which was used by Pope John Paul II in 1987 to bless the city of Santiago. The statue is lit up at night by lights on its side, so that the statue is visible all over the city both during the day as well as the night. The statue was officially inaugurated in 1908.

 

Palacio de La Moneda, often shorted to La Moneda, is the seat of the President of the Republic of Chile. The building also functions as the office for three of the cabinet ministers: General Secretariat of the Government, General Secretariat of the Presidency, and the Interior. In total the palace takes up an entire block of the downtown area, which is known as the Civic District. The building was originally a mint that was designed by an Italian architect in the 1780s and was opened in 1805 despite still being under construction. Coins were produced here from 1814 until 1929. One of the more interesting aspects of the palace is the changing of the guard ceremony that takes place every two days, which is accompanied by a band playing, troops with horses, and a lot of pomp and circumstance to mark the occasion. Free guided tours of the palace are available, and are said to be very informative and a big hit among travelers, although they must be requested a week in advance.

 

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago (Spanish: Catedral Metropoliana de Santiago) is the seat of the Archbishop of the city, who is currently Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, and is the center of the archdiocese there. Construction on the building began in 1748 and finished a little over half a century later in 1800. The cathedral was built using the neoclassical architectural style with beautiful towers adorning the building. This is not the first cathedral in Santiago as previous ones were destroyed in various earthquakes over the years. The cathedral lights up beautifully at night and is an amazing sight to see, which makes it one of the most visited landmarks in the entire city as those of faith pour in by the hundreds of thousands each year.

Santiago is a beautiful city that has a rich culture that has to be experienced firsthand to be properly appreciated. It’s not alone though in how amazing it is, as there are lots of South American cities that have a lot to offer! We can take you to a couple of them as a part of our Best of South America & Cape Horn cruise coming next year! For all of the information you need on this great adventure, click here.

Treasured Memories Uncovered in Bratislava!

The world is a big place, and its cities are as diverse as the people who inhabit them. We take a special pride in being able to offer people trips all around the world that pique the senses and dazzle the mind.  Europe has a lot of amazing cities, almost too many to name, that have an amazing history that is unique to them. From religious monuments to castles big enough to boggle the mind, there is something for everyone in the city of the day. Today we go to Bratislava, Slovakia, a city which remembers its past well!

The Church of St. Elizabeth, commonly known as Blue Church, is a Hungarian Secessionist Catholic church which is in the Old Town of the city. The church was built in 1908 and was consecrated to Elisabeth of Hungary, who was the daughter of Andrew II, who herself had grown up in Pressburg Castle. It is referred to as “The Little Blue Church” due to the color of the majolicas, mosaics, and its facade having various blue hues, as well as the blue-glazed roof. It is built in the Hungarian Art Nouveau style with Romanesque double-pillars, which help to give it an Oriental feel to its look. 

Bratislava Castle is the central castle of Bratislava. It is a gigantic rectangular building which features four corner towers and stands on an isolated rocky hill with an amazing view of the Danube River. Due to its prominent location within the city it has been a dominant landmark for centuries. The view is simply breathtaking, providing an amazing view of Bratislava, Austria, and when the weather is very clear, parts of Hungary. It was built in the 8th century originally, however the structure was gutted in 1811 due to an intense fire. Plans were made in the 1930s were made to rebuild it and in 1964 the castle was restored more beautiful than ever.

Slavín is a military cemetery and memorial monument within the city. It serves as the burial ground for thousands of Soviet soldiers who died in World War II while they liberated the city in the waning days of the war from the occupying German army and the Slovak troops who supported the fascist government. It was finished in 1960 and officially opened to the public on the 15th anniversary of the city’s liberation. The following year it became so revered within the country that it was named a National Cultural Monument. Every April 4th thousands gather here, including the president of the country, to honor the soldiers who fell freeing the city from oppression.

There is a lot to love about Bratislava, with its rich history and a culture that shines through in both the landmarks that it houses as well as the people within. There is no reason why you should wait another moment to go and experience it for yourself, and we offer a really great trip to get you there next year with Christmas on the Danube River! For all of the information on this great trip, click here.

 

We Won’t Put on Airs: Buenos Aires is Awesome!

We are very proud to offer trips all around the world, and we are invested in letting others see why we are so passionate about the places we go. The world is a very big place, and within it are numerous sights to see that are unique as they are beautiful, historically significant, or both. Today we will be going to Buenos Aires, Argentinawhere the buildings come alive with magnificence! 

Palacio Barolo was built in 1923 and upon its completion it was the tallest building in not only the city but also in all of South America, and remained that way until 1935 when the Kavanagh Building surpassed it. It was designed by Mario Palanti and it uses several architectural styles including Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Eclecticisc, and perhaps most notably Gothic in its design. The building’s design was heavily influenced by Dante’s Divine Comedy, with various floors representing hell, purgatory, and heaven in turn. It has a lighthouse on top which can be seen all the way from Montevideo, Uruguay! In 1997 it was declared a national historic monument of Argentina and its popularity as a building of interest has only grown since.

La Recoleta Cemetery is a rather noteworthy cemetery that houses the remains of several noteworthy people including Eva Perón, Nobel Prize winners, presidents of Argentina, and even the granddaughter of Napoleon! It has been consistently hailed as being one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the entire world, with praise having been given out by heavyweights such as the BBC and CNN. It was established in 1822 and now spans over 14 acres, with the last count of the graves standing at a whopping 4691 vaults which are all situated above ground. It has a quiet, haunting beauty to it that makes it a remarkable place to visit.

Catadral Metropolitana de Buenos Aires (English: the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral) is the main Catholic church of the city. It was originally constructed in the 16th century but has undergone many revisions since its humble beginnings. The building as it is currently constructed is a blend of several architectural styles, with a Neoclassical facade dating to the 19th-century without towers. The interior, on the other hand, features 18th-century statues and a large amount of Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Baroque decoration. One of the more notable features of the cathedral is the Mausoleum which houses General Jose de San Martin, which came over from France in 1880. The black sarcophagus which houses the body is guarded by three life-size female figures that are meant to represent Peru, Chile, and Argentina, three of the locations that were freed by the General.

 

Buenos Aires’s beauty is beguiling. A modern city in many ways with all of the bright lights and spectacle one would expect from such a rich city, its past has not been forgotten as these buildings set so wonderfully in a bygone style still find a place to thrive intermixed with the newest trends of this great city. We are very proud to be able to take you here as part of our Best of South America cruise next year! For all of the details on this great trip, please click here!

 

Piracy of the Caribbean III: Now a Trilogy!

Much like our trip to the Caribbean early next year, the history of the Caribbean is not only told on land but on the high seas as well. Piracy is not only the theme of our adventure, but it was a way of life for hundreds of years as men and women fought the law, and other law breakers, for the ability to live their lives the way they wanted as well as to line their pockets with an appropriate amount of coins. Today we are going to take a look at the legendary Pirates of the high seas and highlight some great stories!

Samuel Bellamy, better known by the moniker of “Black Sam” Bellamy, was an English pirate who roamed the seas in the early 18th century. Bellamy was born in 1689 to parents Stephen and Elizabeth in Devonshire, England. The youngest of six children he took up sailing very early in his life and by the time he was in his teenage years he had joined the Royal Navy and fought in many conflicts. He had a wild affair with a woman by the name of Maria Hallett, sometimes called the ‘Witch of Wellfleet’ for the belief that she used witchcraft to curse Bellamy when he did not return to her in a prompt fashion. Bellamy turned to a life of piracy and was very effective in the year he was active, even crossing paths with the man who would one day become known as Blackbeard! Bellamy would go on to capture or sink 53 ships in that short span and he became feared throughout the New World for his brilliant tactics and the ruthlessness that he managed to display. Just two months after acquiring the Whydah, a massive ship which was the largest pirate ship up until that point, it crashed off the coast of Massachusetts and claimed Bellamy’s life. Much of Bellamy’s fame came after his death, as it was calculated by Forbes that Bellamy was actually the richest pirate of all time, being worth over 130 million dollars at the time of his death when accounting for inflation.

Captain William Kidd was a Scottish sailor who sailed in the 17th century. He was tried and executed for piracy after returning from a trip that had sent him to the Indian Ocean. Many historians now believe that Kidd’s piracy charges were actually trumped up and that he was a mere privateer. What has contributed to the great myth about the man though is the belief that he left buried treasure behind to be found. This belief has penetrated popular culture for a long time, earning mentions in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Gold-Bug” and perhaps most famously in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

Have you decided the pirate’s life is for you? Fantastic! We are proud to be hosting the Black Pearl Ball, which is our welcome aboard Masquerade party!We want you looking like a proper, landowning pirate of course! Can’t have you show up in rags, what would the ‘Gentleman Pirate’ think of that!? For some good ideas for pirate outfits as well as accessories, go here. And for all of the details about our Drag Stars at Sea: Pirates of the Caribbean, go here.

 

The Modern and Ancient Beauty of Shanghai!

We are very proud to offer trips all around the world, and we are invested in letting others see why we are so passionate about the places we go. The world is a very big place, and within it are numerous sights to see that are unique as they are beautiful, historically significant, or both. Today we take a look at Shanghai, China, which offers an amazing diversity in sights to see!

The Bund, otherwise referred to as Waitan (pinyin: Wàitān, literally translated to mean ‘outer bank’), is a waterfront area that’s located in central Shanghai. It is one of the most famous tourist destinations in the entire city, with towering buildings that glow at night making the water glisten! The 52 buildings that are within the Bund offer a rich and varied architectural history as well, although they are generally Eclecticist in nature. Some of the styles on display include Gothic Revival, Renaissance Revival, Baroque Revival, Art Deco, and Neo-Classical! The Bund has recently undergone major reconstruction to its major highway to make it more accessible to tourists and to ease the flow of traffic going through it, as it is one of the more popular areas of the city.

The Oriental Pearl Tower is a staggering TV tower in the heart of Shanghai! It sits across from the Bund and its height makes it a very distinct landmark in the area! It was completed in 1994 and at over 1500 feet it was the tallest structure in China for 13 years before it was surpassed by the Shanghai World Financial Center in 2007. It is classified as an A5 scenic area according to the China National Tourism Administration, which is the highest possible rating. The lightning at night, pictured above, is beloved in China for its beautiful and varied LED lights which grab the attention of any passerby! The highest observation point of the tower is 1148 feet off the ground and is known as the Space Module!

 

The Longhua Temple is a Buddhist Temple which is dedicated to the Maitreya Buddha. The temple, unlike many of its contemporaries, has managed to preserve the architectural integrity of the Song dynasty monastery of the Chan School. It is widely regarded as the most complete and authentic ancient temple in the entire city! The temple was originally built in the year 242, during the Three Kingdoms Period. The local legend behind the temple states that Sun Quan, who was the King of the Kingdom of Wu, took possession of some Sharira artifacts, which are the cremated remains of the Buddha. It is said he ordered 13 pagodas to be built in order to house these precious relics and that Longhua Pagoda was one of them.

Shanghai is a city with a rich backbone of history that has built a wonderful modern landscape to go alongside it. There is so much to explore her and we’ll gladly help you do it with our trip to China! It’s going to be an amazing experience, make sure you are a part of it! For all of the information on this exciting trip, click here.