Traveling To Liverpool

Liverpool is emerging as a premier European destination with a rich and diverse heritage – and an exciting future. The city has a passion for music, sport, live entertainment and nightlife with a multitude of fascinating places to visit offering you a lively and unforgettable stay.

Among the finest galleries and collections are those housed in the National Museums Liverpool. These include the Walker, the national gallery of the north, recently refurbished to the acclaim of international critics, and the Museum of Liverpool Life, tracing the growth of the city and its people.

Also on the world-famous waterfront are the Merseyside Maritime Museum and Tate Liverpool, set in the stunningly refurbished Albert Dock complex. These beautifully restored dockside warehouses are now home to a dazzling collection of bars, cafes, restaurants, shops and other unique visitor attractions including The Beatles Story museum. “Its a skyline dominated by the citys two magnificent Cathedrals and other examples of Liverpools wonderful architecture”

Some of the best views of Liverpools striking Pier Head waterfront are to be seen from the deck of a famous Mersey Ferry, sailing from the nearby Landing Stage. Its a skyline dominated by the citys two magnificent Cathedrals and other examples of Liverpools wonderful architecture. Liverpool’s cultural and architectural treasures go far beyond the city centre boundary. Croxteth Hall and Country Park, together with Knowsley Hall and its Safari Park each lie just a few miles from the bustling city centre. But the contrast could not be more stark. Its the same too at the National Trust’s historic Speke Hall, a magnificent half-timbered house dating back to 1490 and set in beautifully maintained gardens.

The Best Beaches in California

Malibu Lagoon Beach:
A beautiful lagoon beach with 22 acres of wetlands, gardens and sandy beach. It’s considered one of the worlds premiere surfing beaches. On the east side of the Malibu Creek Bridge is the Malibu Pier, which is excellent for saltwater fishing. On the west side is a nature area.

Venice Beach:
No trip to Los Angeles would be complete without a trip to this iconic beach. Street performers, artists and “the beautiful people” mingle and stroll all the way to Santa Monica along the famous boardwalk that runs through this inimitable California beach town.

El Capitan Beach:
This shady, sandy, Santa Barbara beach features rocky tide pools along El Capitan Creek. It’s perfect for swimming, fishing, surfing, picnicking and camping. A long stairway gives access from the bluffs to beach and a bike trail connects the park with Refugio State Beach.

Ocean Beach:
O.B. as the locals call it is a laid-back beach-community know for its surfers and liberal politics. It is an eclectic beach community with a leash free “dog beach”, a fishing pier, swimming, surfing and volleyball. It has separate swimming and surfing zones, which is definitely a good idea.

Rio Del Mar Beach:
This long, sandy beach is found in the town of Aptos, California, in Santa Cruz County. It features fire rings and a barbecue and picnic area and is a popular summer beach. It is also the home to the “cement boat” a long stranded freighter ship.

Muir Beach:
This beach is less than a half hour drive from San Francisco down scenic Hwy I. It’s one of the most glorious regions of Northern California in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Fishing, surfing and campfires are allowed, and there are many coastal trails above the beach for hikers to explore.

Black Sands Beach at Shelter Cove:
This splendid black sand beach is a great place for Whale watching. Located north of the small hamlet of Shelter Cove in a remote region of the “Lost Coast”, it’s the trailhead for the famous King Range hike. This is a day only beach, so campers will have to head for the mountains.

La Jolla’s Beaches:
La Jolla means “the jewel,” a fitting name for the precious beaches of La Jolla’s coast. Surfers prefer Windansea beach, harbor seals love the Children’s Pool, La Jolla Shores is popular for swimming and sunbathing, while the Cove is a favorite snorkeling spot.

Drake’s Beach:
This vast stretch of white sand can be found at the Point Reyes National Seashore. The areas strong winds and choppy seas make it at little too violent for most swimmers, but sun worshippers will be delighted by the opportunity to work on their tans in a beautiful California outdoor hotspot.

Omega 3 Fish Oil and Weight Loss

A lot of people still don’t know there are fat burning foods that can actually increase the number of fat calories your body burns each day? These are known as free foods and are generally low in calories; in fact some of these foods are so low in calories that your body actually burns more calories metabolising them, than the total amount of calories in the food it’s self.

Although fat burning foods are important for anyone who wants to lose weight and keep it off for good, they’re vital if you’re one of these people who find it hard to lose weight. No matter how much exercise you do or how hard you diet, your genetics and metabolic make up play a vital role in determining how fast and how much weight you lose.

Genetic differences also affect how much weight you gain when you eat too much. One study of 12 groups of identical twins was overfed for 100 days. One set of twins gained 29 pounds. A second set, however, gained only 13 pounds even though both sets of twins were overfed with the same number of calories. Of course, fat burning foods won’t compensate entirely for genetic differences this ultimately comes down to a balanced calorie controlled eating regime and excersie. They will however make fighting fat a lot easier in the long run.

Types of fat
There are two types of fat “good fat” and “bad fat”

Actually there are 4 types of fat: Monounsaturated, Polyunsaturated, Saturated and Tran’s fat, but they can still be catorigised as good and bad.

Monounsaturated (good fats)
Monounsaturated fats are considered good fats and are said to help reduce cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure and to help control diabetes.

These good fats are found in food like; olive oil, peanut oil, cashews, canola oil, hazelnuts, peanuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, pine nuts and chicken fat.

Polyunsaturated (good fats) omega 3 and omega 6
Polyunsaturated fats are also considered good fats and are said to reduce triglycerides, inflammations and tumour growth. They also help to improve immune function and help protect against sudden death from heart disease.

Polyunsaturated fats can be broken down into two categories: Omega 3 and Omega 6

Omega 3 is found in foods like Canola oil, walnuts, flaxseeds, hempseeds, salmon, mackerel, trout, tuna, sardines, and herring.

Omega 6 is found in foods like safflower oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, nuts, beans and soft margarine.

Saturated (bad fats)
Saturated fats are bad fats; they raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. In fact they are twice as potent at raising your bad cholesterol levels as polyunsaturated fats are at lowering them. It is difficult to eliminate these fats from your diet but one way to reduce them is to choose fat free milk and other dairy products.

Saturated fats can be found in foods such as meats, whole milk, cheese, palm and coconut oil.

Trans (bad fats)
Tran’s fats are the ugly fats; they raise bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower good cholesterol (HDL). They increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Tran’s fats can be found in foods like crackers, cookies, cakes, shortening, margarine, hydrogenated oils and vegetable oils that have been subjected to heat-damage during cooking.

Omega 3 fish oil and weight loss
A recent study that was published in the international journal of obesity, researchers want to find out if by supplementing the diet with omega 3 fish oil (good fat) would increase the number of fat calories burned in a single day.

The two groups were fed exactly the same diet apart from one group were fed 6 grams of fat in the form of butter, olive oil, sunflower oil and peanut oil, the other group were given 6 grams of omega 3 fish oil.
The fish oil group were given 8 capsules per day, 2 in the morning, 3 at lunch and 3 in the evening.

The Total daily intake of omega 3 long chain fatty acids was 1.8 grams. The outcome of the test results were fairly conclusive.

The table below shows you the changes in fat oxidation, body fat, and metabolic rate after three weeks for the groups with or without fish oil

With fish oil Without fish oil
Measurement of body fat -2 pounds -0.7 pounds
Measurement of daily metabolic rate 1775 calories 1710 calories

These results show that the group who were supplementing with fish oil burned about 1.1 milligram of fat per kilo per minute. This is roughly 26% higher than the other group who weren’t supplementing with the fish oil.

One of the key reasons as to why omega 3 fish oil has such a powerful effect on fat metabolism is that the insulin levels were 50% lower when subjects used the fish oil. Insulin is a hormone that reduces the use of fat for fuel, while also promoting fat storage in the presence of excess calories.

Insulin increases the activity of an enzyme known to promote the storage of fat.

Insulin inhibits the action of hormone sensitive lipase, which is responsible for breaking down stored fat and preparing it for use as energy.

Insulin also activates an enzyme, which, along with fatty acid synthesis, is responsible for converting carbohydrate into fat.

Simply put, high levels of insulin make it less likely that your body will use stored fat as a fuel source. The drop in insulin levels when subjects used the fish oil would have allowed more fat to be used for energy.

Any good doctor or nutritionist will tell you that the best way to get any nutrient is to eat a very balanced diet. In the case of Omega 3 oil this would be in the form of fish, sadly due to the pollution levels found in our oceans today eating large portions of fish every day is not advisable.
The frustrating truth is that there will never be an easy quick-fix method of losing weight that is safe and simple. However, with a little research into the workings of the body, it becomes clear that there are many small things you can do which add up over time to aid weight loss and make you feel better about yourself. Taking a fish oil supplement is a good idea for anyone wanting to make positive steps towards weight loss.

Discover Why Wine and Cheese is a Match Made in Heaven

Sampling the delicious cheeses produced in the various regions of France can be a fascinating and revealing aspect of any French wine tour.

The terroir, the climate, the weather conditions, the age and levels of fermentation are all vital aspects contributing to a great wine, but they are also equally important in creating that other great French love: cheese.

Every region of France has its own speciality cheese, just as it has its speciality wines. Many of them are given the honour of representing their regions with the important Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) certification.

Think of the Alps Savoie with its famous Beaufort, Île-de-France with its Brie, Normandy with its Camembert and Languedoc-Roussillon with its Pélardon; all these cheeses say something about the regions in which they are made, every bit as much as their wines do. It is this which makes cheese tasting a fascinating element of any wine tour.

Similar Processes

Perhaps it is the similarities wine and cheese share, in terms of their production, which make them complement each other so well on the palate.

Both wine and cheese are created using flora as their starting point, which depends on its natural environment for richness and flavour. In wine it is the grapes, while cheese depends on the grasses eaten by the animal from which it comes for its flavour. Both are then subject to fermentation and then are aged to various degrees to create an intensity and depth of flavour.

The subtle changes which can affect the flavour of a cheese, such as increased sunshine, wet weather and so on, are the same elements which can affect a good wine. This is one of the reasons why, in France, cheese tasting is considered almost as much of an art from as wine tasting, granting it a deserved place on any wine tour.

Wine and Cheese Pairing

A good wine tour around the wine-growing regions of France should therefore naturally include the pairing of wine from a select region with its cheese.

On our European Waterways wine tours, we make sure that our guests have the chance to sample some of the famous cheeses from the regions we visit, such as the Roquefort Papillon, Cathare au Chèvre and Tomme au Piment d’Espelette of the Canal du Midi.

There is nothing like gliding leisurely down a waterway, past vineyards and meadows, watching cows or sheep lazily grazing, only to try the wine grown in those very vineyards and with the cheese created by the animals we saw when we come to rest at night.

There is a certain harmony to eating cheese from one region accompanied by wine from the same region, both having been developed as a result of the same landscape and the same natural conditions.

It’s always great at the end of a wine tour to feel that you have really got to know the region you’ve visited, and getting to know both its wine and its cheeses is a really good place to start.

Discover Ireland’s Grand Canal on a Barge Cruise

Go on a barge cruise down Ireland’s Grand Canal to marvel at the beautiful Irish scenery and discover the fascinating history of this old commercial waterway.

For your next holiday, take a barge cruise down the Grand Canal and travel from Dublin to Shannon to discover all Ireland has to offer. You can admire the gorgeous green countryside and delightful little cottages that line the waterway, while diving into its interesting and intricate history as a commercial route which allowed the surrounding towns to prosper.

Length and Route

The Grand Canal in Ireland extends for 117 kilometres. Passing through Leinster, it flows from Ringsend in Dublin to the Shannon Harbour in County Offaly. This is the main route, built to connect the capital city with the country’s midlands. The waterway does also have another run that spreads from Lowtown in Couty Kildare to the River Barrow in Athy. There are also various branches that link up with four other towns, though it’s worth mentioning that your barge cruise will probably stick to the main route.

Along the way, you can enjoy beautiful views of Irish towns and villages with their charming little cottages, while admiring the many bridges that arch over the smooth water. The fauna and flora also remain untouched, with grassy towpaths and side roads lining the waterway and adding to the iconic Irish countryside feel.

History of the Grand Canal

Though the canal was closed to commercial traffic in the mid-twentieth century, it has since been restored to its former glory and regularly welcomes a variety of boats and barge cruises. It still features the original 43 locks, five of which are, from an engineering point of view, particularly interesting as they are double locks. Back in the day, these would have allowed the traffic to move faster as two boats can pass at once and there’s more chance of reaching a lock that’s in your favour. The lock-keepers’ cottages have also been refurbished to celebrate the history of this canal…

Relationship with The Guinness Factory

…And what a history it is! The Grand Canal played a crucial role in the creation and development of the Guinness factory. In 1759, two years after the construction of the canal began, Arthur Guinness founded his famous brewery. Thanks to the waterway, he could transport heavy loads of the raw materials he needed far more cheaply and effectively than by road. It was also an ideal way of exporting his finished product. When you pass through the eighth lock on a barge cruise, keep your eyes peeled for the Guinness filter beds which are still used by Arthur’s company today.

Impact of the Famine

In the first half of the nineteenth century, Ireland’s economy began to fail. As people lost their jobs, the Commission for Public Works set them to work on creating the canal. This was a successful scheme until the potato crops failed and the Great Famine broke out. Work had to be halted as labour became scarce. Eventually, trade and commerce on the canal declined, particularly as the construction of the railroads had just started.

By the 1980s, the Grand Canal had become something of a dumping ground. Thankfully, in 1986 it received a funding injection that sought to rejuvenate the canal and restore it to its former glory. Today boat traffic from barge cruises has increased and thousands are able to enjoy this historic waterway.

Step into History on a Bulgaria Tour

A country that played a major part in the Greek, Roman and Ottoman Empires, Bulgaria is a destination where travellers journey into a rich and fascinating past.

Bulgaria is more than a forward-looking, contemporary nation set in a stunning central European landscape, it is a country with a fascinating past, ripe for discovery.

Sandwiched in between Greece and Turkey, and within the extensive reach of the Roman and Russian Empires, much of the story of Bulgaria is built upon the architecture, culture and history of its powerful neighbours. On a Bulgaria tour you’ll see everything from ancient Greek and Roman ruins to Ottoman Mosques and Orthodox Russian churches.

Visiting the Captial

It is not hard to stumble upon history in the nation’s capital Sofia, particularly amongst the churches (some of which were originally built as Ottoman mosques and later converted). No Bulgaria tour would be complete without a visit to the city where the golden dome of the largest Orthodox cathedral in the Balklans, Alexander Nevsky, towers over the skyline. A visit to the cathedral reveals a sumptuous, intricately decorated interior, well worth spending a few hours in.

While you’re in Sofia there are other churches to explore, including the St Sofia, a sixth-century church with ancient catacombs to discover below ground, the Church of St George, the city’s oldest building, and the beautiful Russian St Nicholas.

A Mountain Monastery

A good Bulgaria tour will take in much more than just the city and towns of this beautiful country so make sure any itinerary you may be considering includes a trip to the Rila Mountains, and a visit to the tenth-century Rila Monastery. Built by the students of St Ivan, who lived as a hermit in nearby caves, the monastery has been so beautifully preserved that it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Explore Roman Ruins

Bulgaria is home to a number of important Roman ruins but probably the most atmospheric and impressive are the ruins at Plovdiv. The site holds the remains of the Roman town, including a still intact amphitheatre. Built in around 117AD, the theatre would have played host to gladiator battles as well as plays, with a capacity for a crowd of around 6,000 people. Today the theatre is still used, although you are more likely to see a Vivaldi opera than a battle to the death!

Historic Villages

For an authentic view of Bulgaria’s rural past, take time on your Bulgaria tour to visit the historic villages of Leshten and Kovachevitsa in the Rhodope Mountains. Like stepping back in time, the cobblestone streets and historic architecture speak of a past before industrialisation and modern technology, when the way of life here was much simpler and less advanced.

There is so much history to discover in Bulgaria that you might find that one visit is just not enough to take it all in. Step back in time on your first Bulgaria tour and you’ll want to return again and again to discover everything else this nation has to offer, from beautiful beaches to wonderful skiing, hiking and a huge range of modern cultural activities.

Visiting Venice? Brush Up on Your Gondola Knowledge

If gentle river cruises are one of your dream ways to discover the essence of a country, Italy has a treat in store for you: exploring the city of Venice by gondola.

For anyone who loves river cruises, Italy provides the perfect backdrop for discovering this beautiful country by waterway. And nowhere is this more true than in the watery city of Venice.

The sleek black gondolas are as iconic a sight in Venice as St Mark’s Basilica or the Doge’s Palace. While today they are used, almost exclusively, by tourists and visitors, their history is entwined with the city, as they were once one of the main forms of transport around its labyrinth of canals and waterways.

The History of the Venetian Boat

We know that as early as the eleventh century gondolas were used here as a mode of transport because they are mentioned in official correspondence in 1094, although it is not clear how long they had already been in use at this time. Some scholars date them to the 600s, just 200 years after the city’s foundation.

By the thirteenth century the vessels were considerably bigger than today. Propelled by up to 12 oars they were used by the wealthy elite as transport or for river cruises. Italy was booming in the fifteenth and sixteenth century, and in 1500 a map of its most vibrant mercantile city depicted the numerous gondolas on the canals.

At this time these boats became such an important sight along the city’s waterways that their wealthy private owners began to have them ornately decorated as a sign of their affluence. However, by 1562 this trend had got so out of hand with lavish adornments which threatened the safety of the boats, that officials banned such practises. Since this time the boats have been uniformly painted black with the only decoration being the curved tail, metal seahorses and a six-pronged prow (said to relate to the six districts of Venice).

It wasn’t until the nineteenth century that it became the single piloted craft of today, although at this time it also included a small covering or ‘cabin’ to provide privacy to its occupants as they enjoyed their river cruises. Italy’s gonola heritage stopped evolving, however, in the twentieth century when Venetian officials forbade any further modifications to the design.

Made to Measure

Today the boats are made to an exact specification which allows them to be termed as ‘gondolas’ and to be driven by one of a limited number of licenced gondoliers.

Each vessel is uniformly made from 280 handcrafted wooden elements – the woods used include mahogany, oak, walnut, larch, fir, lime, cherry and elm. The distinctive long oar is made from beech and the rowlock is carved from walnut. Each one weighs 700kg and is exactly 10.87m in length, 1.42m in width.

An interesting and distinctive feature of the Venetian craft is that one side is longer than the other, this is to balance the weight of the gondolier and gives it the distinctive tilt that is emblematic of the river cruises. Italy’s history is poignantly experienced with a gondola ride, allowing you the time and tranquillity to drink in the sights of this Venice, and the wonderful architecture of its famous canals, buildings and bridges. With so much to offer, it’s well worth taking the time to absorb it all at a leisurely pace wending along the country’s beautiful waterways.

5 Wonderful Reasons To Experience A Jamaica Vacation

A Jamaica vacation is unlike any other vacation on earth. With all the enticing reasons to visit, there is little doubt you will leave satisfied when you embark on a Jamaican vacation.

With gorgeous weather, pristine white sandy beaches, and an abundance of activities to keep almost anyone busy, there is little wonder why Jamaica has become a world-famous vacation spot. It’s therefore quite understandable that at some point in their lives, many people want to embark on a Jamaica vacation. Here are 5 enticing reasons to encourage you to make your next vacation a Jamaica vacation.

1. Beautiful weather

You simply cannot say it enough… the Jamaica weather is absolutely gorgeous. With Jamaica being in the Caribbean, you will experience weather like none other in the world. It is not too hot and certainly not too cool, which makes for the perfect relaxation while on vacation. You can put on your bathing suit and lounge carelessly at the beautiful beaches Jamaica has to offer.

2. Jamaican beaches

With beautiful weather you know there are a number of beaches to choose from. In Jamaica, you’ll find it hard to run out of choices if you’re looking for a beach to enjoy. Many hotels are located right next to beaches, giving you quick and easy access. And you will find a number of activities to do on the beaches from snorkeling to parasailing to relaxing under the sun. While there are many things to do in Jamaica, it is the weather and beaches that reel in most vacationers.

3. Wide array of activities

For many, the beaches alone sell because of how gorgeous they are. But if you’re looking for more than a beach vacation there’s no need to worry because you’ll be able to pick, choose and refuse from a long list of activities on your Jamaica vacation. From horseback riding to whitewater rafting to world-class golfing, you’ll never have enough time to experience everything that a Jamaica vacation has to offer.

4. Mountain ranges

While Jamaica is most known for its beaches and gorgeous water, it surprisingly has beautiful mountain ranges as well. During the day you may choose to hike through the different trails where you’ll experience scenery like nowhere else on earth. And if you wait around long enough, you’ll witness some of the most breathtaking sunsets on earth.

5. Many lodging options

Sometimes the lodging you opt for can have a significant impact on your vacation. But not to worry, the many lodging options available in Jamaica will allow you to plan your dream Jamaica vacation. Many people prefer the bed and breakfast option because it allows you to have a relaxing vacation… while at the same time encouraging closer interaction with the culture and people of Jamaica. There are a number of mid-class hotels to choose from as well. And of course there are a number of all-inclusive resorts that give you everything you want and then some.

In all fairness, no other vacation can be compared to a Jamaica vacation. From the white sandy beaches to the mountain ranges to the varied lodging options, you will definitely leave satisfied when you take a Jamaica vacation.