Odenza Reviews: Marrakesh, Morocco

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Marrakesh, home to beautiful palaces, gardens, night market and mosques, is an enchanting city that will make you want to revisit every summer for years to come.

This city is easily one of the most unique and fascinating cities with beautiful boutiques, riads (traditional guesthouses), and spectacular architectures that will blow you away. Located on the Saharan dessert, you will find plenty of activities to partake in from camel riding to exploring hidden palaces.

This thousand year old city is bustling with tourists and it’s easy to travel to from anywhere around the world. The oldest historic part of Marrakesh, is called Medina and is a popular area for tourists with its lineups of souks (traditional markets) for antiques, crafts, spices and affordable souvenirs. When wandering around Medina, stopping by a Hammam, a bath house, is highly recommended and is an experience that one should not miss out on.

Marrakesh is a city to get lost in and each alley is guaranteed to give you a different experience from its maze-like narrow cobblestone lanes to the use of vibrant and bold colors around walls and tiled mosaics that easily make for breathtaking backdrops.

 

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Castles, Gardens and Battlefields: The Historic Isles are Calling

the-british-islesYou don’t have to be a history buff to be intrigued by the traces of the past that linger everywhere in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Roman ruins, Neolithic standing stones, Norman keeps, palatial Georgian homes, Victorian monuments – they all remind us of other times and other lives.

Talk all you will about “Cool Britannia” with its trendy designers and of-the-moment pop stars. But sometimes, it’s just more interesting to meander down the lanes of the past. And if there’s one thing the British Isles have plenty of, it’s the past.

For North American visitors, the big draw is often genealogy, tracing the stories of ancestors who may have fled the Irish famine of the 19th century or the Scottish rebellions of the century before that. Genealogical travel is huge business these days, with dozens of companies offering tours and vacation packages, and often including research assistance as well.

This renewed fascination with the past has only been helped by a slew of historical dramas, both films,and television series, that have brought the past alive to new generations. The Starz TV series, Outlander, has drawn countless visitors to Scotland’s Culloden Battlefield, where the Jacobite dream died in 1746. ITV’s Victoria has ignited a fascination with the first modern monarch, a woman who not only encouraged scientists, artists, and free thinkers but mastered the art of personal brand management long before it was a thing. And numerous Second World War dramas – Foyle’s War, The Bletchley Circle, Their Finest, and Dunkirk among many – keep our fascination alive with dark conflict, heroes and villains.

The past lingers in the castles, palaces and stately homes, as well as abbeys and cathedrals, that dot the land. Wales, for instance, is often called “the castle capital of the world” for its sheer number of structures – 600 of them, of which 100 are still standing. And each era leaves its mark on its buildings through architectural embellishments. The Gothic flying buttresses of the Middle Ages aren’t just beautiful; they reflect an advanced technology of the time. The same goes for the stately structures of the Tudors, the symmetry and plastered ceilings of the Georgian era, the ornate detailing of the Victorians, and the clean minimalism of contemporary design.

But in this green and pleasant land, the historic gardens are as renowned as the buildings they surround. The most distinctive are those designed in the 18th century by Capability Brown, “England’s greatest gardener,” whose “gardenless” landscapes of rolling lawns broken up by clumps of trees and serpentine lakes ushered in the Romantic wildernesses of the 19th century. It’s estimated that he was responsible for more than 170 gardens surrounding some of the greatest estates, including Belvoir Castle, Croome Court, Blenheim Palace and Harewood House – all places where his work still endures.

Of course, many of these great homes also have royal connections, making the UK a “must-visit” destination for those fascinated with the monarchy, both past and present. But even before William the Conqueror arrived in 1066 and started construction on Windsor Castle, there were the Romans who ruled over Britain for nearly 400 years starting from Claudius’ invasion in 43 AD. They laid down roads, built baths and erected walls. There are still plenty of ruins to be seen in the sceptered isles, from Hadrian’s Wall in the north to Chedworth Roman Villa in the Cotswolds to the Roman baths in Bath. And one of the best places to discover Londinium’s Roman history is the Museum of London, which boasts more than 47,000 objects in its Roman collection. But even before the Romans, there were the Neolithic peoples whose memory lingers through the standing stones at Stonehenge or Craigh na Dun, as well as hill figures like the Uffington White Horse.

In the British Isles, it seems no matter where you wander, the past is never very far away.

Odenza Reviews: Zanzibar, Tanzania

Known for its amazing safari tours, Zanzibar is a city that will leave travelers breathless. From watching beautiful sunsets on the finest beaches to views of some of the most amazing coral gardens, Zanzibar is a popular tourist destination for so many reasons.

Famous for scuba diving, Zanzibar is a tropical archipelago and can be easily accessible by ferry departing from Dar Salam. Once you arrive in Zanzibar, roaming around Stone Town, an ancient city that is regarded as a cultural heritage site, is an absolute must.  Stone Town became a UNESCO World Heritage site in the early 2000s and is the oldest part of Zanzibar. Due to its rich cultural fusion of Arab, Indian, Persian and European cultural elements, Stone Town will leave tourists in awe of the food and the interesting narrow alleys with small and quaint markets.

For tourists seeking out serene beaches with turquoise waters, both Paje and Kendwa are hot spots for relaxing and scuba diving. For full moon parties, Kendwa is a great choice for those looking for a night out.

Overall, Zanzibar is a beautiful city with lots to offer on both the scenic and historical aspects. Because of its rich and unique cultural elements, Zanzibar has the best spice tours for foodies and the maze-like structure of the town will leave an imprint on travelers. Famous for its turquoise waters and white sand, the beaches in Zanzibar are out of this world and should be enough of a reason to travel to Zanzibar!

Odenza Reviews Bangkok, Thailand

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Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is a big city among the world’s top tourist destinations. Known for it’s beautifully ornate shrines and energetic street life.

There are a great variety of tourist places in Bangkok, mostly historical attractions and temples with elaborate architecture and art.

If you only visit one major historical tourist attraction in Bangkok, it should be The Grand Palace. The royal complex lives up to its name, with remarkable structures that would outshine some of the most decadent modern monarchs. It’s also the home of Wat Phra Kaeo, which houses the Jade Buddha.

Odenza Reviews Madrid, Spain.

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Madrid, Spain’s central capital is a city of elegant boulevards and spacious, manicured parks and gardens like the Buen Retiro. It’s well-known for its rich repositories of European art, including the Prado Museum’s works by Goya, Velázquez and other Spanish masters. The portico-lined Plaza Mayor is The heart of old Hapsburg Madrid, and nearby is the baroque Royal Palace and Armory, exhibiting historic weaponry.

It’s perfect for a culture-rich weekend or extended break, with great food and an energetic atmosphere that goes long into the night. Madrid is a captivating place whose total energy carries a simple message: this city really knows how to live.

I hope this review of Madrid, Spain will encourage you to visit soon!

 

 

Odenza Reviews Malta, Europe.

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Malta is a little, island country in the Mediterranean Sea located south of the island of Sicily, Italy.  Malta packs wonderful variety into its compact archipelago. You’ll find pre-historic temples, hidden coves, fossil-studded cliffs, exciting scuba diving and a history of amazing intensity.  Ancient history and island adventure merge impeccably in Malta.

Hopefully this review will inspire you to take a trip to Malta soon!

Odenza Reviews Antigua and Barbuda, Caribbean

Lively Antigua and Barbuda move to the music of steel drums. You can visit a different beach each day and not repeat yourself for a full year—and that’s why tourists and celebrities alike flock to this sun-soaked Caribbean island. Take a day cruise, rent some diving gear or cruise up the beach on a Segway for a real adventure, island-style.

Visitors love its warm waters which are an endless hue of blues, and the long stretches of sparkling sand sprinkled across both Antigua and its little sister island Barbuda are so stunning that celebrities including Oprah have ended up buying homes here.

Thanks for reading our review of Antigua and Barbuda!