Destination Singapore: A Lush and Enchanting Christmas at Orchard Road

What kind of magical Christmas can you get without snow? Take a trip down Orchard Road, Singapore’s retail and entertainment hub and experience what a tropical winter wonderland feels like.

Every year from mid November till New Year’s Day, the whole stretch of Orchard Road, Singapore, would be transformed into an enchanting and magical wonderland. No visitors to this island nation should ever miss this opportunity when they have a stop over. Believe it or not, every 1 in 5 visitors to Orchard Road during the Christmas season are repeat visitors from all over the world.

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Snowmobile Tour Trails at Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park bears one of the most celebrated snowmobile trail schemes in the country. Snowmobilers have made this a preferred winter vacation spot because of the effort and commitment that the staff and local agencies offer in keeping the pristine beauty of the park unaffected. Visiting Yellowstone on the winter months gives snowmobilers an amazing view of the snow-covered trees and landscape that adds up to the enjoyment of a the thrilling snowmobile rides through with their groomed and well-maintained trails.

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Tips on Traveling At Christmas

Christmas is a time to be with family, loved ones and friends, it's among the busiest times of the year to travel. People travel to different regions and international destinations to share Christmas dinners, exchange gifts and recall warm memories they have of the season. There's also travel for entertainment reasons that are made by tourists inside the country or from abroad. And still on Christmas Day, the highways are filled with vehicles as relatives and friends travel between towns and states to spend the day together.

Read more: Tips on Traveling At Christmas

Great Botanic Gardens in Canada

Today Royal Botanical Gardens’ nature sanctuaries exhibit substantial biodiversity, with nearly 1,000 plant species, 25 species of mammal and 248 recorded bird species. Nearly 60 species of fish are present in the Cootes Paradise Marsh and adjacent water. The rehabilitation of Cootes Paradise continues as one of Royal Botanical Gardens’ most important project; the wetland is one of the few remaining major spawning areas for native fish on the lower Great Lakes.
Mr Ghaz takes us to a virtual nature walk.

Saudi Arabia Kaaba Shrine

According to the Muslim religion every Muslim must make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, the birth place of Muhammad, at least once during his life time. This is known as one of the five pillars of Islam, or things that every Muslim should do. A Muslim who has completed the pilgrimage which is known as the hajj, gets the right to add the title ‘hajji’ to the end of his name. Many Muslims have to travel thousands of miles and spend their entire life savings to do this.

The Kaaba shrine is a building built in cube form and it is the most sacred place in the Muslim world. This building has a mosque built round it and Muslims all over the world face the Kaaba when praying, regardless of where they might be in the world.

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Honeymoon Hotels in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire

Hampton Beach, New Hampshire may not be the first thing that comes to mind when trying to pick out a honeymoon destination, but this New England beach resort town will surprise you. Not only is Hampton Beach affordable accessible, the entire main strip is the picture perfect representation of a summertime boardwalk haven. Affordable, accessible and so much fun, a romantic honeymoon in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire is bound to be shockingly successful.

There are several higher end hotels tucked in and among the family-friendly atmosphere of Hampton Beach lodging options. You will be hard pressed to find a name-brand multinational chain hotel on Ocean Boulevard, but there are a few Hampton destinations that create a romantic and luxurious environment.

Check out this article by Dawn Merrow :
Honeymoon Hotels in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire

5 Travel Tips for Travel to Krakow Poland

Krakow Poland is an interesting travel destination, and not as far from central Europe as it seems, Prague is just a few hours away by train. Also consider Krakow as a winter travel destination. You can hire a driver in a golf cart type contraption who will take you around town stopping at each interesting site, and the price is reasonable.

Here are a few tips from Petal.

Read more: 5 Travel Tips for Travel to Krakow Poland

Tuscany, Italy: A Charming Tourist Destination

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Tuscany, Italy is celebrated for it visual, cultural, and artistic appeal. There must be a good reason why a lot of movies were filmed here. Visits to its cities: Pisa, Florence, or Livorno will leave you breathless with its ambiance of culture and art. A tour in the Chianti region arouses the senses to the aromas and flavors offered. Tuscany is famous for its spectacular tourist destinations in Italy. It also at this place where budding artists come to study under the masters. It is here where the fashion world takes its cues. Tuscany is also known as a romantic vacation destination.

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Scotland's Ghosts and Scary Spirits

Scotland has been rich in spirit lore ever since the days of the "auld people." And, also being a land of plentiful castles, it only follows that many of the castles are haunted.
The spirit of Scotland shines through even its ghost stories.

Kathleen Murphy walks us through the haunted towns of Scotland in her article: Scotland's Ghosts and Scary Spirits

Spooky Halloween Haunts Near Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

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Western Pennsylvania and the Greater Pittsburgh area hold claim to extremely scary haunted houses. From the Demon House to local haunted hay rides this area is splattered with bloody gore and evil zombies. yourself driving through local neighborhoods and suburbs searching out Halloween parties at fire halls, haunted hayrides in the country, and farmhouses that glow in the dark with horrific sounds from the soon to be scared. Pittsburgh Pennsylvania is zombie capitol of the world and now it is becoming one of the most noted areas in horror due to haunted houses, legends, and creations of masterpieces in makeup, costume, and auditions.

Read more: Spooky Halloween Haunts Near Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

The Winchester House in California: 'Haunted' Winchester Mystery House

Out of great fortune and misfortune, grew the Winchester House in San Jose, California. For all of its grandeur, there is nothing of happiness within its walls.

The story of the house cannot be separated from that of its builder, Sarah Pardee, born to a wealthy family in Connecticut, who in 1862 married William Winchester, heir to the manufacturer of the Winchester Repeating Rifle, which had enjoyed immense commercial success and amassed a huge fortune.

Today, the Winchester House in San José is open for guided tours, and provides a memorable experience along with its fascinating story, for all who enter.

Read more: The Winchester House in California: 'Haunted' Winchester Mystery House

Top Five Attractions in York , England

York is a unique historical city in north of England and has so many features to form its reputation as the crowned European Tourism City of 2007. There are many things to do in York, also there are many places to visit in York, particularly in the York city centre.

Read More: Top Five Attractions in York , England

8 Great Ways to Visit and Tour the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the great wonders of the world and one of the most popular tourist destinations located in the United States. Over 5 million people visit the Grand Canyon every year. Presented here are eight different ways people can visit and tour the Grand Canyon.

Read more: 8 Great Ways to Visit and Tour the Grand Canyon

Travel Guide: The Sensuous Island of Moorea

This Edenic island, only 12 miles across the Sea of the Moon from Tahiti, is a visual roller coaster of needle-sharp peaks and plunging valleys filigreed with green. Rumor has it that this spectacular island of Moorea was the model for author James Michener’s mythical Bali Hai. Since it is one of the most visited French Polynesian islands, there’s plenty of action on the beaches and in the many resorts.

Read more: The Sensuous Island of Moorea

Running The Great Wall of China

The rulers of the Ming Dynasty have probably never even dreamt that athletes would someday race along its ramparts when they built it five centuries ago.  Running a half-marathon on the largest fortification and biggest battlement of the world may just be an exhilarating fitness adventure.  For more than a decade now, the Great Wall Half Marathon, with its 1,800 stairs midway in the route, could possibly be one if not the most unique course you may ever run.  It’s not all knee-bashing steeps.  Located in Huangyaguan, two hours north of Beijing, the course includes four miles of the wall, then heading down onto flat gravel roads and loops through rice paddies and small farming villages.  Kathy Loper, whose outfit organizes Great Wall Marathon trips says, “Running the wall is certainly amazing, but it’s the people who make you feel like you’re someone special…In the villages, everyone comes out to cheer.”

Because of the expected steep climbs on the wall, add thirty minutes to one hour to your normal half-marathon finishing time.  Even though you may not notch a personal record on the first take, you have still earned your time to enjoy the views from the top of the wall.

Tom Holland, a multiple Ironman Triathlon finisher and endurance coach advises, “It may only take six weeks to get ready for a half-marathon, but this isn’t just any course.  The hills on the Great Wall are total thigh-busters.” 

Holland’s tip for the race day is, “Take it easy on those steep downhills.  In races like this, it’s not the uphills that kill you, but the pounding on your joints and muscles from going down that does you in.”

Travel advisory:
If budget permits, upgrade to first class on all intra-China travel so you don’t arrive kinked and miserable at the start line.  You may return to Beijing after the event for a hotel stay and further cultural exposure and shopping.

Sleeping and Hiking on the Great Wall Sleeping on the Great Wall at JinshanlingSleeping and Hiking on the Great Wall
A once-in-a-lifetime experience in China. Hike the unrestored sections of Great Wall for 2 days, view the sunset and sunrise without disturbance of crowds, and sleep under the stars or in a watchtower on Great Wall. Get an authentic China experience!

Starting at US $200 Per Trip

 Click For Details & Pictures

Sleeping and Hiking on the Great Wall Group at Jinshanling Great WallSleeping and Hiking on the Great Wall Great Wall HikingSleeping and Hiking on the Great Wall Remains of watchtower at Gubeikou Great WallSleeping and Hiking on the Great Wall Great Wall at Gubeikou

Surfers Home - Boracay Island

Surfers Home is a perfect place for those who love watersports as it's located directly on Bulabog Beach, the wind & kitesurfing beach of the island. It's a brand new hostel with private bungalows where you can relax or hang out with other surfers.
All bungalows come equipped with a colour TV set, hot and cold shower and a refrigerator. Free Wifi access. Some of the rooms offer sea view over the surfbeach. Each room has a terrace to relax and there is a BBQ area and many hammocks.

We have family bungalows and bungalows for two persons and they are surrounded by a beutifully landscaped garden.

We operate also a kitesurfing school (open from November until March) and you can rent equipment or book courses. If you want to relax you can enjoy a massage with Fausto, the massage therapist, who is offering also massage courses.

Surfers Home Surfers Home: Image # 1
Surfers Home
It's a brand new hostel with private bungalows where you can relax or hang out with other surfers.
Starting at US $19 Per Night

>> Click For Details & Pictures

RealAdventures | Boracay Island, Philippines Bed & Breakfasts | Philippines Bed & Breakfasts | Philippines Vacations | Bed & Breakfasts | Boracay Island, Philippines

The restaurant is serving breakfast, snacks and drinks.


Take an inlands flight from Manila to Caticlan with Asian Spirit, Seair or Cebu Pacific and ride a boat to Boracay. There just tell the tricycle driver to drive to Bulabog Beach passing the English Bakery and you'll find us where the road reaches the beach on your right hand side.

ALTA Cebu Village Resort

Surrounding Area

Semi-rural countryside near international airport and many water sports such as: fishing, island-hopping, canoeing, walking, diving, snorkeling, parasail, jet ski. Also abundant night life such as: nightclubs, dancing, fine dining.


Where Quality meets AffordabilityCompared with other local resorts, ALTA is not only the newest resort, but also the most affordable 4 star resort in Cebu. ALTA exhibits a standard of excellence in both service and facilities that makes it a truly great value.The environment is that of a traditional Philippine village in a lush, mature garden setting wonderfully reminiscent of a tropical jungle in paradise. Guest rooms offer all the expected creature comforts of a world-class resort, including fast DSL internet hook up. Some rooms also offer stunning views of city and sea.The Resort's 32 guest rooms are spacious and comfortable. Dining from the cuisine of our 5-star executive chef is a most delightful culinary experience, either at our indoor restaurant (with views of the pool and garden) or seated at our poolside coffee shop & pub.ALTA promises to captivate your imagination, as well. American owned and operated, ALTA offers its own guided eco and cultural adventure packages as well as on-site and off-site classes. Included in the room price are 1 hour a day of (optional) classes for improving either one’s golf technique or travel English.Whether you come for a day of for a month, you will always feel most warmly welcome at ALTA, the garden paradise of Cebu.

ALTA Cebu Village Resort

Best 4 Star Quality + Delightful Ambiance + Affordable Price
=Great Value

ALTA is the only NEW 4 star resort in Cebu and also the only American Owned and operated resort.
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Boutique Canada Eco-lodge: Trout Point Lodge

Nova Scotia Eco-Lodge and Wilderness Resort, embedded within the Tobeatic Wilderness Area, part of the Southern Nova Scotia Biosphere Reserve just half an hour from the International Ferry Terminal & International Airport in Yarmouth, and 3 hours by car from Halifax International Airport. Enjoy canoes, kayaks, hiking, mountain bikes, lake & river swimming, sauna, outdoor wood-fired hot tub, in-room massage, cooking lessons and gourmet cuisine. Visit various coastal areas and golf courses with ease.

Boutique Canada Eco-lodge: Trout Point Lodge The Great Room
Boutique Canada Eco-lodge: Trout Point Lodge
Savor Nova Scotia river county at Trout Point Lodge, an elegant nature retreat offering superb outdoor recreation, gourmet dining, and award-winning accommodations. "Everything is at hand for a great North American wilderness experience." Sawdays
Starting at C$ 185 Per Night

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RealAdventures | Yarmouth, Nova Scotia Hotels & Resorts | Nova Scotia Hotels & Resorts | Nova Scotia Vacations | Hotels & Resorts | Yarmouth, Nova Scotia

Philippine Festivals and Tourist Attractions in April

The month of April hosts the most dramatic and colorful events in the Philippine Islands. Here are just some of the festivals held during April.

The Moriones Festival – Marinduque

Penitencia/ Semana Santa – Nationwide

Kadaugan sa Mactan – Cebu

Bataan Day – Bataan

Tanduyong Festival – San Jose City

Read Full Article: Philippine Festivals and Tourist Attractions in April

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Van-Tastic Adventure

Van-Tastic Adventures: Drive it! Film it! Win it!

Win a Van-Tastic road trip around Australia

Are you a mad keen traveller with a lust for filming your adventures?

Enter the Van-Tastic Adventure for the chance to fly to Australia and film the ultimate Aussie road trip to win $AUD 10,000. is looking ‘Van-Tastic Adventurers’ to travel across Australia on a 6 week road trip of a lifetime.

You'll be flown to Australia to explore your favourite piece of the country in a fully loaded camper van, with fuel money, an action packed itinerary and all the gear you’ll need to share your adventure through videos, stories and photos.

You can choose where you want to go, what you want to do and, with heaps of adventurous activities thrown in for free, you’ll have lots of stories to make a mini video documentary of your adventure. The team with the most popular video will win $10,000 cash and flights from Virgin Blue.

Apply now and start preparing a 2 minute or less video of why you are the most Van-Tastic.


Samoan fire dancer performing a dance, Oahu, Hawaii, USA
A glittering metropolis, bodacious waves, ancient heiau (temples)—like the Koolau Mountain mists , which transforms sunlight into rainbows, Oahu refracts the Hawaiian experience into an extravaganza of sights, sounds, and pleasures.

Learn about the different cultures that contributed to the Hawaiian melting pot at the Polynesian Cultural Center, where you can tour re-created villages of seven South Pacific nations. Then, rediscover Eden at Waimea Falls, a steep-cliffed valley etched with lily ponds, bamboo-shaded glens and a 45-foot-tall cascade.

Full Article: Oahu

Taipei, Taiwan

Chiang Kaishek (1887-1975) Memorial Arch in Taipei, Taiwan, North-East Asia

Although it is one of Asia’s business capitals, Taiwan boasts more than just high-rises and industrial zones. There are traces of old China in the city, and many places treat the visitor to a unique cultural experience.

Whether you’re here for business or passing through on a layover from a long trans-Pacific flight, Taipei, for all its booming economic glory and unlike other Asian business capitals such as Hong Kong, Bangkok, and even Beijing, make social concessions to business. It is worth a look even for that reason alone.

Full Article: Taipei, Taiwan

Belize Adventure

Mayan ruins

For a compact country only 180 miles long and less than 70 miles wide, Belize packs a pirate’s ransom of adventure and romance into a stunningly varied island. Here you might scuba dive in the Caribbean from laid-back offshore cays, canoe down jungle rivers, hike to Maya temples on pine-covered ridges or deep in rain forest, and swim at the foot of remote waterfalls that you may have all to yourselves. In fact, exploring the riches of Belize’s Maya route goes hand in hand with discovering the country’s natural treasures.

Belize’s Maya legacy begins offshore at Ambergris Caye is the perfect place to begin or end your Maya odyssey in Belize: Diving and snorkeling among the more than 500 species of fish are the main events when you’re not soaking up the laid-back village ambience. For an extra thrill, take a side trip to dive the deep “Blue Hole” that Jacques Costeau made famous, or sign up to snorkel among stingrays and sharks—fortunately, these stingrays have never stung anyone, and the toothless “nurse sharks” don’t bite.

Full Article: Belize Adventure

Exploring Singapore

Singapore Skyline at Dusk

Both familiar and exotic, Singapore invites you to visit some of the world’s most intriguing countries—China, Indonesia, India, and Malaysia, yet you will unpack your suitcase only once, have all your conversations in English and enjoy year-round warm weather. All these cultures clasp hands in romantic, spotlessly clean Singapore, nicknamed “The Garden City.”

As you shop and dine your way through the worlds of Singapore, you also may catch some of the ethnic festivals and celebrations that abound in this multicultural city. Watch for Chinese street operas and performances of Malay and Indian dances.

Full Article: Travel Guide: Exploring Singapore

Grenada Travel Guide

Slumbering in the Southern Carribbean at the tip of the Grenadines archipelago, the island of Grenada beckons to tourists with breathtaking natural beauty, colorful traditions, and tropical adventures. Variety is the spice of a tour on this petite island.

While many tourists are content to enjoy the waves and water sports along the island’s cove-scalloped shoreline, most tourists also make tracks to Grenada’s lush interior, where fertile plantations, rushing rivers, and cascading waterfalls complete the picture of a pastoral paradise.

Read more: Grenada Travel Guide

The Charm Of St. Vincent And Grenadines

Nature seems to have surpassed itself when she created the chain of islands known as St. Vincent and Grenadines. Spattered with tropical flowers, the jungled hills give way to sandy white crescents lined with bushy palms. Streaks of the most vibrant shades of sapphire, jade, turquoise and midnight blue turn the warm waters into abstract art. Fields of bright-green banana trees sprout from exceptionally fertile soil, while colorful birds flutter overhead. St. Vincent is the largest of the 30-odd islands in this independent nation, once ruled by the British. Most of the Grenadines are so petite that their size is described in acres instead of miles.

Full Article: The Charm Of St. Vincent And Grenadines

Rich View Hotel View of the Balcony from outsideRich View Hotel
Rich View guest-house with its elegant, architectual, Caribbean-style design, is situated on the lush hill-side on the southern coast of St.Vincent. We offer guest an authentic vincy holiday with a casual, homey atmosphere.
The guest-house is idea

Starting at US $80 Per Night

>> Click For Details & Pictures

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Hotels & Resorts | Hotels & Resorts St. Vincent

The Ancient Charm of Quebec City

Canada, Quebec City, Chateau Frontenac
Quebec is one of the most photogenic cities in the world. It’s easy to see why the 17th century settlers chose this stunning site for their first home in the New World.

Only three hours by northeast by train from Montreal, Quebec City feels centuries away. Crowned by the steep copper-green roofs and soaring spires, turrets, and towers of the fanciful Chateau Frontenac, Quebec is one of the most photogenic cities in the world. It’s easy to see why the 17th century settlers chose this stunning site for their first home in the New World. Built into a 350-foot-high cliff, the city sits in a strategic spot at the narrowing of the mighty Saint Lawrence River. The first settlement, the Lower Town hugs the river and the upper town occupies a more defensible position atop Cape Diamond. The Citadel and walls, built to protect the city, are the largest standing fortifications in North America, earning Quebec a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Full Article: The Ancient Charm of Quebec City

Tour and Experience the Amsterdam High

People who go to Amsterdam will most likely say three things: the weather will be awful, the canals are something to see, and don’t miss the red-light district. If you open your eyes a bit wider, you will find that Amsterdam is also a city of church bells, water, wind, framed by deep blue skies, a city completely without pretense.

The main canals ring the center of the city like a mandala, the humpbacked bridges the spokes of a great wheel. Cocky little mallards share the reflective water with quiet barges. In middle of a workday, in the center of the town, the canals are as still as a temple. Church bells toll clearly. The tall, narrow houses seem to be meditating on the beauty.

Freedom is probably what attracts many people to live in this city. It is a place where there is organization without regimentation. The Dutch have a word for that atmosphere and feeling of the city – gezelligheid, which loosely translated, means, ‘coziness.’ It is a very bourgeois city, with all of the virtues of bourgeoisie: respect and love of knowledge, order, safety, cleanliness.

The old city doesn’t change, but rather, it transforms the newcomers. Gezelligheid can be translated as “coziness,” but it is something more. Look at a Dutch painting, especially the work of Vermeer, and go beyond the initial pleasure of appreciating light, color, and other painterly concerns. See the scenes, the stories in the art. A girl pouring milk into a bowl, a garden party for two, and old woman sweeping her doorstep in a little street--they tell you that the Dutch revere life, even (perhaps especially) at its simplest. Peace is more than a word or a concept; it is a way of life achieved through tolerance, respect and guaranteed privacy.

The red light district, that tangle of tiny streets, is located near the Dam, what the Dutch call the walletjes (the wharves). During the day it could be a safe, clean neighborhood where you could buy groceries, get a good meal, talk to a cheerful cop, or see homes of families. The women in their odd aquarium windows right off the little streets, seemed to be like everyone else. At night, you’d have to be careful of muggers. Taking photos of the girls in the windows is not a good idea. You will have to deal with the pimp for this action.
Marijuana and hashish are sold openly in many coffeehouses. Somebody who wants to get high can go to a nice café, smoke a little and be happy. Usually, you can tell if a place is selling by a marijuana symbol on the window or a sign outside the shop. The police are not concerned with cannabis. They are ruthless against heroin and cocaine. They have seen the “crack” problem lessen since “grass” was legalized.

One of the Amsterdam’s ancient streets is Zeedijk, which literally means “sea dike.” It is a tiny fourteenth-century street that meanders from Nieumarket to Prins Hendrikkade, and is one of the streets wherein you’d have to take extra caution when visiting. The police used to allow heroin dealing on the Zeedijk, hoping to control narcotics by limiting it to one area. But it didn’t work, and in the spring of 1985 the police shut it down. The city has purchased its buildings and restored it to house stores, bars and residential establishments for legitimate merchants. But the junkies are still there, blade thin, walking quickly when they’re trying to score, or sleepwalking when high. Up to now, this place is still under close surveillance of the cops.

Bicycles are important in Amsterdam. It is, in fact, a bike-friendly city. They have a separate bicycle route, so it’s safe to move from town to town without worrying about accidents with a car. You will see bikes fastened everywhere. It’s delightful to see and hear the morning and evening rush hour swarm of wheels.
Student culture in Amsterdam is different than in America. The city is like a university. Being a student is a profession, and a respected one. The notion of being a student really has little to do with attending classes or taking tests. Here, a young person comes to the city, is associated with a university in some way, lives in a neighborhood of like-minded people, and studies. That means reading, going to galleries, listening to music, and most of all, spending hours everyday talking with people. In this way, the whole city is a classroom. The whole city is a culture you study.

Amsterdam’s friendly culture makes any tourist feel welcome. It is like a world village. You enjoy the freedom, the beauty, and the unique appeal that can make any visitor fall in love with its culture. In Amsterdam, no one is considered foreign. It is a good, fair place.

Haunted Tour Destinations: St. Andrews, Scotland

Most visitors to St. Andrews Cathedral and Castle take interest in the hauntings believed to be present this historical site. Is it true that this is the most haunted town in Scotland? What were the spooky stories surrounding this town?

Most of St. Andrews ghosts were born of tragedy, and bad luck is said to come to those who see some of them.

Ghostly animals

Close by the great ruined cathedral and the castle, a pig runs down the narrow road towards the sea. Should you happen to be walking down this path, you might see a pig who will turn and look at you, which will leave you sick and trembling. This pig has a man’s eyes full of a desperate sadness, guilt, and shame, begging for your understanding and compassion.

Another ghostly animal is of a little dog heard to patter over floors which are no longer there in an old house in North Street.

The Ghost of Piper Jock 

To hear the wild skirling of the ghostly bagpipes of young Piper Jock down the West Cliffs, or to see him walk the cliffs where no mortal could, will bring you not good luck but rather the reverse.

It is told that a couple of centuries ago young Jock, for a bet, took his bagpipes for company and set out to explore the West Cliffs cave and the passages leading off it. It was a New Year’s night of sparkling frost and moonlight. He was never seen again. His widow died of a broken heart, and was afterwards seen haunting the cave entrance looking for her husband.

The Haunted West Cliff Cave

The West Cliff cave no longer exists today as a result of coastal erosion by the sea, and real estate developments during the Victorian times. But the cave did exist between the castle and the Witch Lake. It was remembered by the older folks at the turn of the century that this cave had an evil reputation. When the tide is full on the East Sands between midnight and the first hour of the morning, this is the best time to see the recklessly driven coach with its black horses, headless coachman and skeleton outriders, hurtling its way seawards. Those who have seen the coach speak of a white, terrified face staring out at them. This is Cardinal David Beaton, and beside him sits the Devil with its hand on the Cardinal’s arm for the Devil knows his own. The coach drives into the sea—and the Cardinal is carried off to hell. Many in Scotland during Beaton’s time who would have wished him such an end.

Cardinal Beaton’s Ghost

In St. Andrew’s castle, the cardinal, during his lifetime has been seen walking quietly, dignified, and clad in a red robe and biretta, obviously with much in mind, looking out to the sea. The castle has been his Episcopal palace, fortress, and state prison.

image via Wikimedia

One university student once tried to climb into the castle after it was closed to the visitors. As he was climbing over the fence he had glanced up at the south –facing castle windows. A shadowy figure was clearly moving from window to window. He first thought it was the custodian. But he realized later that the figure was moving from window to window where there were no floors, nor had been any for centuries.

Sightings of the cardinal in the area of those windows have been recorded before, especially at the window from which, traditionally he watched the burning of the Reformer, George Wishart.

The White Lady

The White Lady is perhaps the best known of the St. Andrews ghosts. Gentle and beautiful, she had been sighted innumerable times in the neighborhood of the cathedral and castle. She has been variously described over the years by those who have seen her as “all in white—a rosary hanging by her side – carrying a book—young and beautiful—with long black hair—wearing long, white gloves—her face hidden—wearing a tall pointed, medieval type head-dress.” Always she floats and glides along

Ghost of James, Earl of Bothwell

James, Earl of the Bothwell, third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, has been seen as a young man in the town. The young Bothwell did visit St. Andrews, and once was lodged in the castle under guard while his possible implication in a plot against Mary was investigated.

 The Ghost of Thomas Plater

Perhaps the strangest tale of all describes the laying of one of the cathedral’s ghosts. In 1393 in St. Andrews Canon, Thomas Plater or Platter stabbed to death Prior Robert Montrose. Plater was condemned to solitary life imprisonment for his crime, but he died soon afterwards. His ghost was often seen last century, both by day and by night, in the cathedral he had known so well. In 1898, Plater appeared in a penitent’s robe in a ghostly vision to a fellow Catholic, a St. Andrews hotel worker. The ghost begged the man to arrange for his bones, disturbed during antiquarian diggings, to be buried in a consecrated ground with the full rights of his Church, so that he could be at last at eternal peace.

This was done in July 1898, and Thomas Plater’s bones, or at least those believed to be his, were interred as he wished, on the South Side of St. Rule’s Chapel. Plater seems to have ceased his ghostly wanderings of five hundred years from July 1898, and the cathedral knew his ghost no more.

Those seriously interested in the spirit world believe that many ghosts are spirits bound to our earth by emotions such as love, hate, guilt, or unresolved earthly problems, and such spirits materialize in their earthly haunts.


Haunted Tours Near Manila

The Callanish Stones: The “Stonehenge” Of Scotland

On top of a low promontory juts out into Loch Roag on the west coast of the Isle of Lewis, Scotland stand the Callanish Stones.  Second only to Stonehenge as a megalithic monument, they have been there for more than three thousand years, and the culture that conceived and erected them has long since vanished almost without a trace.

Fifty three massive slabs of Lewis gneiss were brought here and erected with immense labor, each stone in its special place.  Who could have performed such feats of heavy engineering and mathematical precision, ages ago, and what motive could have been powerful enough to drive them to such an achievement?

From four points of the compass, lines of standing stones converged on the north marching down towards the village straggled away below. Archaeologists found charred fragments of human bones in this place during the last century.  Many theories and legends surround the stones including those with overtones of aboriginal barbarism.  Druid priests figure in many of these misty tales, conducting blood sacrifices—perhaps, dare one hope, human sacrifices?

Latter-day natives of Lewis may even have taken a perverse pleasure in explaining away the Stones in dark tales of how the pagan giants were turned to stone by Saint Kiaran  even as they sat discussing how to overthrow the new Christian religion.

Rear Admiral Boyle T. Sommerville’s survey in 1912 suggested the possibility that the circle and its associated alignments of stones could have been used for astronomical observations.  The west and east alignments and the middle line of the northern avenue all met at a point inside the central ring, which seemed to indicate the spot where an observer should stand.

In 1965, Gerald Hawkins wrote in a publication suggesting that these stones can be used to calculate an accurate calendar and predict solar and lunar eclipses and the knowledge used in building Callanish may even have been used later in the construction of the Stonehenge.

A thoroughly documented research of Professor Alexander Thom was published shortly after Hawkin’s findings.  His meticulous work on many megalithic sites in Britain, but particularly on the west coast, had arrived at conclusions which suggested a common unity of purpose and accuracy of method that brought the Callanish sit sharply into focus as a vital center of prehistoric culture.

Thom’s relentless compilation of probabilities went on to suggest an accurate date for the construction of  the Callanish circle as 1800 B.C or B.C.E. Thom had deduced, from careful measurements of many megalithic alignments and stone circles, the existence of common techniques of sophisticated mathematics throughout Britain.  There was the so-called Megalithic Yard, equivalent to 2.72 feet, which recurred time after time in his accurate surveys of sites all over the country as the fundamental unit of length.  He found that the megalithic mathematicians, in their quest for a perfect circle whose perimeter was a multiple of the same whole units that made up the diameter, had discovered that  such a shape was an impossibility, because of the nature of the facto pi. Accordingly, they constructed their “circles” as flattened ellipses, in order to achieve this harmonious relationship between diameter and perimeter.  The unit they chose was, of course, the megalithic yard.

Callanish incorporated all the factors that Thom has found elsewhere, including an ellipse based on a triangle whose sides measured three, four, and five megalithic yards.  It is a Pythagorean triangle, in fact, except that Pythagoras was born over a thousand years later than the megalithic mathematicians.

Dr. Hawkins had suggested that while the alignments did indicate crucial astronomical sightings, they could not be exceptionally accurate because of the comparatively short distance between stones in the Callanish grouping, so that any small movement of the observer’s head would produce a large apparent shift in the position of the observed point.  However, Thom surveyed no fewer than six other megalithic circles and alignments built within three miles of the main Callanish group, and showed that very precise observations and calendar calculations could be obtained using sightings between one site and the next, and also employing the shapes of the distant mountain profile as an accurate foresight.

Thom showed that this method could be so accurate that an observer standing at the main Callanish site could measure the tiny irregularity—only nine seconds of an arc—in the lowest maximum position of the moon. At one extreme of this tiny lunar “wobble” the lowest part of the moon’s disc would touch the bottom of the dip of the mountain profile of Clisham, Harris, while at the upper extreme the highest point of the disc would graze the summit of the mountain.

Thom’s case, based as it is on a multitude of observed facts and a wealth of statistical evidence appears very convincing, and the possibility of his results being explained by coincidence is remote in the extreme.  The conclusions defy refutation and invite – beg for—all manner of further research, be it archaeological, astronomical, or mathematical.

However that may turn out, one will always be left with the original sense of mystery, which is only deepened by the investigators’ revelations of the skill which the lost builders of Callanish possessed.

Paoay and Santa Maria Churches: Examples of Augustinian Contributions to Filipino Heritage

The Spanish churches in the Philippine islands, unique in their own way, have survived the earthquakes, typhoons, floods, drought, war, and tropical insects to present themselves as a visual heritage of enduring culture and works of man.

The Augustinians, a religious order founded in 1256, arrived in the Philippines in 1565 and many of their church buildings still stand today. In order to build these massive structures, forced labor was used, but there was little of the cruelty and genocide which characterizes the history of Catholicism in South America.  It was a more peaceful conversion because the early Filipinos believed in one powerful God, just like the Indios in Peru (the early Filipino was also called an Indio) and other parts of pre-Christian South America.  People believed that God was so remote from the affairs of men, that ordinary people could not take their pain and trouble to him.  Instead, they took their petitions to lesser deities, the anitos, who were part of the natural order.  In those times, the closest equivalent of a temple, or a place of worship were the temporary structures of palm and bamboo erected whenever there was a festival, or mag-aanitos.  The early missionaries found a way to incorporate the familiar forms of anito worship with the Catholic images.  This technique was later termed by historians as Folk Catholicism.  It was a natural and acceptable transition.  Thus the concept of the Santo Niño of Cebu was invented which could very well be called the first Catholic anito

By the 1950’s new materials were being used to build temples of worship.  They introduced to the Filipinos the concept of intercession (approaching God and sending their petitions) through carved or handmade images and statues of saints.  By 1575, ten years after the first five Augustinian friars arrived in Cebu with Legaspi, they had created 18 towns, each with a church as its focal point.  By 1594, Fr. Francisco Ortega sent a report to the Spanish King detailing 44 towns established and by 1760 there were 99.

Two of the towns founded by the Augustinians were Paoay in Ilocos Norte and Santa Maria in Ilocos Sur.  The town of Paoay dates back to the 16th century, that of Santa Maria to the 17th century.  

The church in Paoay, still standing in massive form to this day, has survived many earthquakes.  By now, nature has started to take over; plants and small trees have rooted between the coral blocks and worn bricks, but the 14 earthquake buttresses still stand today, evidence of the accumulating knowledge and construction techniques the Augustinians had acquired by the 18th century.  

Santa Maria stands on a significant hill approached by an impressive flight of steps.  It was completely restored in 1895, and this time they built a new façade of brick, moulded and rounded into shapes, that reminds one of the ancient brick buildings of Rome.

After many years of experimentation and experience, the missionary priests wrote construction and building technique guides – how to cut blocks of stone, how to make mortar, how to form and bake bricks, which building shapes were the most stable in the face of earthquake, typhoon, monsoon rains, floods, which woods were resistant to insect pests and rot, how to solder metal, and what to use for roofs.  The art of stone masonry arrived as early as 1580.  In the late 16th century, bricks were shipped for some years from Mexico, until suitable local clay could be found and kilns built.  The designers learned how to make squat buildings, less liable to earthquake damages.  Arches were strong, semi-circular, and lighter materials were used in the upper walls.  The walls of Paoay and the restored cemetery chapel in Santa Maria are clear examples of all these techniques.  In Paoay, brick is used on top of de capaza blocks interspersed with rubble patchwork, mostly river stones held together by a mortar, which in the unique case of Paoay included, among other ingredients, molasses and strips of leather.  The bell tower is built of chopped coral stone with bricks.  Chinese are carved on the massive back wall of the church and the nave is supported by 14 molave posts, still in place.  In Santa Maria, the base of the walls was constructed of adobe blocks, then bricks and rubble.
The story of the mortar used to bind together all these varied materials is fascinating.  In some areas, as well as the basic sand, lime and water, they used plant juices, even native sugar.  Oral tradition mentions goats’ blood, carabao milk, and eggs.  Duck eggs feature in many church records, just as they do in the records of the building of the massive Elizabethan rampants of the sandstone town walls in England. 


These churches became and still are the focal points of the town they stand on.  All the inhabitants live “bajo la campaña” within sound of the bells.  The unique bell-towers of Paoay and Santa Maria still hold the Spanish bells sent by the King to every parish created under his will and decree.

How to Plan a Successful Vacation

Stereotypical Lost Tourist Looking at Map
Every trip requires many decisions. Where shall we go? Shall we take the children? Do we travel by car, by plane, or by train? Sometimes, reaching these decisions can be painstaking; and if either the husband or wife gives in, and the decision turns out badly, the temptation to say “I told you so!” is almost irresistible.

The thing to do is make every able-bodied member of the family involved and responsible for the trip.

Full Article: How to Plan a Successful Vacation