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!

 

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.

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.

Five times the Fine Dining Experience in London!

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. Today we’ll be going to London Englandwhere the food is delicious five times over!

The Five Fields is an exquisite restaurant that is one of the best regarded places to eat in all of London, which is no easy feat to manage. The two principle food makers, Chef Patron Taylor Bonnyman and Head Chef Marguerite Keogh, offer up, in their own words, “elegant and playful modern British cooking with an emphasis on native British artisanal produce.” The pair of them have worked in some of the best kitchens in London, New York, and Paris to bring together influences that dazzle the senses and put on full display the wide breadth of amazing ingredients they use. Their aim is to strike a balance between indulgence and fresh simplicity, and according to just about everyone who stops in they do an amazing job of it. The dining room is magnificently done as well, creating an intimate space that takes inspiration from the flora of the surrounding area with the pale green and ivory colors dominating the room. The restaurant is renowned for its atmosphere and great service, with a very friendly wait staff who are exceptionally attentive to guest’s needs. If you’re interested in dining here make sure you book a table quickly, as you won’t be able to just walk in and get one off the street, the demand is quite high!

 

 

Of course, atmosphere and friendliness of staff wouldn’t mean a whole lot if the food wasn’t delicious. I’m going to be anti-climactic: the food is amazingly well regarded and all anyone who eats here appears capable of talking about even days after they have finished dining here. Meals are served in three courses with a starter, a main, and a dessert. One of the more popular starters is the Rock Pool, which combines smoked eel, Caviar, and Tuna for an amazing and unique seafood blend that makes the mouth water. There is also the very popular Orkney Scallop, which comes from the Orkney Islands off the north coast of Great Britain, which is served with tomatoes, Peaches, and Avocado for a spectacular flavor explosion that is greater than the delicious sum of its parts. As for mains many people rave about their John Dory, which is a brilliant combination of chickpea, chorizo, and a surprisingly delectable octopus! Don’t be shy about giving it a try, it gets rave reviews! The desserts are delectable as well, with the Ginger option that comes with plums and vanilla ice cream being a huge hit. If you aren’t looking for anything too sweet they also offer a selection of amazing British and Irish cheeses, which again are extremely beloved! There aren’t many items on the movie that aren’t pleasing to taste though, so if you stop in let your heart and stomach guide your path. They also have a very fine cocktail menu, which I am sure is relevant to a lot of people!

 

London has a lot to offer any foodie, and this is an amazing restaurant that is guaranteed to not disappoint! Fresh ingredients, superb skill, and a welcoming atmosphere make for an amazing dining experience that people owe to themselves to check out first hand. We’re proud to take our travelers to London as part of our 7 Day Taste of Europe pre-stay which leads into our FABULOUS Drag Stars at Sea: Europe Allstars! For all of the information on this upcoming trip, please go here.

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Museums in London!

With approximately three weeks before the start of our Drag Stars at Sea: Europe Allstars there is a lot to be done and planned before our cruisers begin their amazing journey. Each of our destinations within Europe has an overabundance of great activities and sights to take in before people are whisked off to the next leg of their adventure. This article is here to condense some of the information so that you, the ever busy traveler, don’t have to search all over for ingenious ideas on how to spend your time! Today’s stop is London, England!

The British Museum is a museum dedicated to culture, art, and the history of humanity. The museum opened in 1759 and was largely based on the collections of the scientist Sir Hans Sloane. The architecture of the building draws obvious inspiration from the ancient Greeks, which was a signature design choice of the architect who designed it. The breadth of its collection is staggering, with over 8 million pieces all told! The size of the collection makes it one of the largest in the entire world as well as one of the most varied, with origins from all continents. The departments within the museum include ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, the Middle East, and Asia! One of the most famous pieces that is housed there is the Rosetta Stone, pictured above, which was vital to deciphering hieroglyphics.

The Churchill War Rooms is a museum that is comprised of two portions: the first is the Cabinet War Rooms, an underground facility that was home to a British government command center throughout World War II and the Churchill Museum, a biographical museum about the life and times of Winston Churchill. The Cabinet War Rooms were in use from 1939 until August of 1945, when Japan surrendered and effectively ended the Second World War. It was evident after the war that there was historical value to be found in such a command center and the preservation of the site fell to the Ministry of Works before the Department for the Environment took over. The museums opened for the first time in 1984 after years where the sites were not open to the public at all and have since had redevelopments in both 2005 and 2010.

The Wallace Collection is renowned around the world for its wide range of decorative and fine arts from 15th to the 19th centuries. The collection as a whole is split up into 25 large galleries. The museum was established in 1897 with a great deal of the collection coming from the private stores of one Richard Seymour-Conway who left it all to his illegitimate son, Sir Richard Wallace, whose widow gave it all to the nation. The only condition of the act of generosity was that nothing ever leave the collection, even on loan. In total there are over 5,000 pieces now on display, with over 2,000 of that being fine examples of European and Oriental arms and armor! Perhaps the best part of the museum is that admission to this amazing collection is free!

London is a great city with so much history to explore! No matter where you turn there is something fantastic to do there. The museums that were talked about today are just one of the enjoyable aspects of the city! You can enjoy it all as part of the 7 Day Taste of Europe pre-stay as part of our Drag Stars at Sea: Europe Allstars! For all of the information on this stellar trip, go here.

 

Where Art thou Art? In Venice!

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 stop in on Venice, Italy, where the visionaries of the past still live on today!

The Doge’s Palace, or Palazzo Ducale in Italian, is a palace built in the Venetian Gothic style. The Palace is named after its former resident, the Doge of Venice, who served as the supreme authority when Venice was still a republic. The first building to house the Doge was built in the 9th century at the behest of Angelo Partecipazio, who moved the seat of government from the island of Malamocco. This building wouldgo on to be destroyed by a fire a century later and it would not be until 1340 before the current Doge’s Palace was completed. Several more fires would ravage the palace throughout the centuries requiring several reconstructions. Eventually the Republic of Venice would fold due to occupations from the French and Austrians in the 18th and 19th centuries before becoming a part of Italy in the 1866. These days the palace is one of 11 museums run by the Fondazione Musei Civci di Venezia and is considered to be one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. The palace is noted for its various paintings such as Neptune Offering Gifts to Venice, which was finished in 1750, pictured above. People who visit the museum these days remark often about how beautiful everything within its halls are as well as the excellent audio guides which are offered to enrich people’s experience! It is a must visit in the city of Venice!

 

The Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, shortened to Frari often, is one of the greatest churches in the city of Venice. The rights to the land that the church now stands on were given in 1250 but it was another 88 years before the church would finally be completed. It is one of several notable church in the city that was built in the Italian Gothic style of architecture. Perhaps the most important feature of the church is all of the amazing works of art stored within it as well as all of the famous artists who are interred there. Titian, who is widely considered to be the most important member of the 16th century Venetian school of painting and whose self-portrait is seen above, is interred here.

It is evident that Venice’s history when it comes to artistry is intrinsic to the city still today. Venice is a remarkable city with so much to explore and experience! You can go there though as part of our Gay Taste of Italy Tour! We’ve for Venice, we’ve got Tuscany, we’ve got Sorrento, and of course we’ve got Rome! For all of the details on this AMAZING trip, go here.

 

 

Exploring Amsterdam’s Landmarks!

With approximately six weeks before the start of our Drag Stars at Sea: Europe Allstars there is a lot to be done and planned before our cruisers begin their amazing journey. Each of our destinations within Europe has an overabundance of great activities and sights to take in before people are whisked off to the next leg of their adventure. This article is here to condense some of the information so that you, the ever busy traveler, don’t have to search all over for ingenious ideas on how to spend your time.

The Anne Frank House is a historic house and biographical museum which honors the Jewish wartime diary writer Anne Frank. During the war Anne Frank hid from the Nazis with her family and four other people at the rear of a canal house, known as the Secret Annex. While Anne Frank did not survive the war her diary was published in 1947 to great acclaim. It has been said that Anne Frank represents the millions of lives lost during the holocaust, giving a face and words to an event perhaps too horrible to fully accept at first blush. In 1957 the Anne Frank Foundation was established to protect the house from developers who wanted to demolish it. The house is one of the most well regarded sites in all of Amsterdam, with visitors noting how well the museum retells the history of Anne Frank’s journey. It is also a popular site, with well over a million people visiting it each year.

The Royal Concertgebouw is a concert hall in Amsterdam. Construction of the hall began in 1883, inspired by the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, and it opened in 1888 to an inaugural concert which featured 120 musicians and a chorus of 500 singers! In 2013 in honor of the building’s 125th year Queen Beatrix gave the building the Royal Title of “Koninklijk.” The concert hall is considered one of the finest in the entire world due to its very impressive acoustics, being rivaled only by places such as Boston’s Symphony Hall. The main hall seats almost 2,000 people! Nearly a million people visit the hall each year, with nothing but glowing reviews for the amazing sounds produced within its halls.

Royal Palace of Amsterdam is one of three palaces in the country which can be used by the monarchy as per the order of the Parliament. Originally a city hall during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century, the building became a royal palace of King Louis Napoleon in the early stages of the 19th century, he himself probably most famous for being Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother. When the Netherlands were annexed by France in 1810 it was once again used as a town hall and would not be returned to the Dutch royalty until King William I took the crown.

Amsterdam has a lot of amazing landmarks. Some are filled with a tragic beauty, while others uplift the spirit and remind us of our place in history. Amsterdam is part of our AMAZING 7 Day Taste of Europe pre-tour which leads into our sensational Drag Stars at Sea: Europe Allstars! For all of the information on this trip, go here.

 

 

Architectural Grandeur in Lisbon!

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. Here we take a look at Lisbon, Portugal, whose architecture is second to none!

Mosteiro dos Jeronimos is a monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome located near the shore. The monastery is considered to be one of the best examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style, which is the splendid building design that adds touches of ornamentation along with maritime elements to structures, in all of Lisbon. It is a World Heritage Site. The building was completed at the turn of the 17th century and soon after Philip of Spain, the ruling monarch at the time, made the monastery a royal funerary monument which prohibited anyone but the royal family and St Jerome’s monks from entering the building. Four of John IV’s (widely known as John the Restorer for his hand in helping the Portuguese Empire reach its zenith by going to war with Spain) children are buried here. These days it is hailed as one of the most popular destinations in the entire city for its beautiful architecture and its rich history.

Belém Tower, otherwise known as the Tower of St. Vincent, is a fortified tower and like the above monastery is a World Heritage Site. The tower was commisioned by King John II so that it could aid in the defense of the Tagus river and be a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. It is a porminent example of the Portuguese Manueline style of architecture. Throughout the years the tower has had several additions made to it and has had troops stationed within its walls during numerous conflicts, most notably with France. King Miguel I, who ruled in the early 19th century, used the dungeons to imprison political enemies of his so they could not speak out against him any longer. The tower has been considered one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal since 2007.

São Jorge Castle is a Moorish castle which occupies a commanding hilltop which overlooks the historic center of Lisbon and the Tagus River. The fortified citadel has stood since medieval times, and is a very popular tourist attraction in modern day Lisbon! The settlements of the Tagus valley, where the castle is located, date back to the 6th century BC with the hill itself being used in around the 2nd century BC. It was held by the Celtic tribes, the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians as a defensible location before the Roman and eventually Moorish peoples took control of it. The castle has been integral in resistance efforts over the centuries, notably against the forces of Castile several times during the 14th century.

The history of Lisbon and its beautiful buildings can match anything that Europe has to offer. One of the great things about going on a trip though is that the cities don’t have to compete for your affection, you can see many of them on our Drag Stars at Sea: Europe Allstars! For all of the information on this great experience, go here.

Exploring the Bountiful Treasures of Vienna!

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. Here’s a look at Vienna, Austria, where beautiful buildings paint the landscape!

Schönbrunn Palace is a former imperial summer residence. It is a 1,441-room Baroque palace that has much significance from an architectural point of view. The area the Palace currently occupies was first fenced in on the orders of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II in the year 1569. He thought the area would make an excellent area to put game in, such as pheasants, ducks, and boar, in order to serve as the court’s hunting ground. Other creatures were brought in as well and fishponds were built. The name Schönbrunn means “beautiful spring” and came about because of a beautiful artisan well that the court used for water which could be found on the grounds. The palace as we know it today was built in the 1740s during the reign of Empress Maria Theresa, who received the estate as a wedding gift. The palace is now owned by the Austrian government, who have gone to great lengths to restore the beautiful palace for its people.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral, known as Stephansdom in German, is the church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna and the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna. The site of the church held two churches in the past before the current Romanesque and Gothic rendition of the building was formed at the behest of Duke Rudolf IV. The site as a church dates back to the year 1147! The cathedral is seen as the most important religious building in all of Vienna, and as such has been witness to many important events throughout the city’s history. Of interest, during World War II the cathedral was set to be demolished by retreating German soldiers but Captain Gerhard Klinkicht disregarded direct orders from the city’s commandant, thinking the building too important to destroy out of pettiness.

Vienna is a fantastic city with many great sites. The history of the city is as beautiful as the buildings within it. We are so pleased to be able to go there as part of our European River Cruises, including the rivers of the Rhine and the Danube! Not only that, but we’re holding a SECRET SALE on them right now! Act now and check out the information about this great destination here.

 

The All Natural Approach to Fun in St. Croix!

We will be traveling to various places around the Caribbean as part of our Drag Stars at Sea: Pirates of the Caribbean and we here know that people like a certain amount of adventure whenever they travel abroad. To that end we are going to look at some of the exciting prospects at our destinations and show you a few ideas for you to have a great time on this or any other trip to the Caribbean. Today we look at St. Croix, where nature dominates with all its splendor! 

The Buck Island Reef National Monument is, by all accounts, breath taking. The beach of Buck Island is beautiful and gets discussed quite a bit among tourists who have visited the island, easily marking it as one of the must-see places while visiting St. Croix. The beach is just the beginning of it though, as once you get your feet wet the real fun begins. The reefs off the coast of the island are said to be some of the most beautiful in the world, and people rave about what a great snorkeling spot it is. The area is also very accessible and you don’t need to be an expert snorkeler to take in this amazing sight!

Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge is another example of the beauty of the island coming out in full force without the need for manmade constructs to clutter the landscape. The refuge is notable for the fact that it probably has the most sand for your enjoyment of any beach in St. Croix, with massive dunes dotting the landscape as far as the eye can see. Visitors describe the beach as a ‘total’ zen spot where you can forget all of your worries and just relax for a few hours in the gorgeous white sand. As for the animals, there is a wide variety of birds to check out, some more exotic than others that will surely excite you. A big fan favorite among the crowds that visit are the turtles though, who are noted for being notoriously adorable! Just remember: you aren’t allowed to take one of them home, so don’t do anything illegal!

Isaac Bay is yet another beautiful beach on the island, unlike some of the others though, it’s going to take a little bit of work to get to this out of the way location. The only way to get to it by land is to do a fair bit of hiking that can, at times, get a little bit hilly. Everyone is in agreement though: the effort is more than worth the amazing view this place has to offer. One of the great benefits of putting in a little bit of work is you won’t ever have to worry about this place being crowded, either! Like other locations around the island you can also get some premium snorkeling time in here, and it comes highly praised in this particular spot!

St. Croix’s natural beautiful is a sight to behold. While I am all in favor of beautiful cities, there is something deeply humbling to be able to take in nature that is largely untouched by the hands of man. You can take it in as part of our Drag Stars at Sea: Pirates of the Caribbean! For all of the information about this wonderful trip, go here.