Sunday Special – Fiji


The Melanesian island country of Fiji is one that evokes images of languid blue waters, green jungle canopies and an idyllic island days. Often touted as a  wedding and honeymoon destination it seems Fiji has much to offer for a getaway, particularly a romantic one.

Located in the South Pacific, Fiji comprises over 330 islands, 110 of them being continually inhabited.  The main populated islands are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu with the capital Suva located on the former. Although Suva is the capital the main airport is in Nadi, also located on Viti Levu. 

As stated above, Fiji is renown for its wedding and honeymoon popularity and rightly so as there is an abundance of beaches, hotels and lush locations. The Coral Coast is the hub of many sun revelers and water sport aficionados.  Off course there is also national parks and adventure activities too (kayaking, zip lining, off-roading, parasailing, etc). Daily ferries allow inter-island visits for further exploring.  History buffs can learn of the country’s past with museums and historical sites. A little bit of everything under the warm tropical sun. 

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Fijian Beach – Photo is Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons)

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Coral Coast Sunset, Fiji – Photo credit: Maxim75Coral Coast SunsetCC BY-SA 4.0

 

Sunday Special – Estonia


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Cliffs at Saaremaa Island, Estonia – Photo credit: Margus6Varahommik ja Panga pankCC BY-SA 3.0

This small Baltic country of Estonia has history that goes back for centuries and centuries with a Finno-Ugric language ancestry.  Throughout these times the Estonian’s faced German, Danish, Swedish and Russian control. In 1918 they became an independent nation but were forced into the Soviet Union in 1940. 1989 they demanded independence and gained it officially in 1991, with much credit going to their peaceful Singing Revolution of the 1980s. In 2004 they joined the European Union and switched to the euro in 2011. Today it is a tourism hot spot with plenty to offer. 

  • Capital city of Tallinn boasts an outstanding Old Town which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Sight
  • Experience “White Nights” from May through July when the sun barely sets
  • Take in the Suur and Väike Taevaskoda (Small and Large Heaven’s Hall) along the Ahja River for some hiking and seeing some caves
  • The Lahemaa National Park on the northern coast is filled with beautiful landscape and perhaps you will see moose, foxes and other animals
  • The south’s Soomaa National Park showcases a primeval forest and quiet nature
  • Get your adrenaline flowing with activities such as repelling, rafting, ATV rentals, go-karting and even a precarious walk along the ledge of Tallinn’s TV Tower 
  • Visit any of Estonia’s plentiful islands, many just a quick ferry ride away
  • Take in all forms of popular music at any number of clubs offering rock, jazz, alternative, electronic and more. Music festivals are popular as well.
  • Admire the architecture of old in the many lighthouses, manor houses, churches, castles, and forts throughout the country
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Katariina Passage in Tallinn’s Old Town – Photo credit: -jkb-Tallinn Katariina KäikCC BY-SA 3.0

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Panorama of Tallinn’s walled Old Town – Photo credit: Ivar LeidusTallinn Toompea Upper Old Town 2013CC BY-SA 3.0 EE

Sunday Special – Dublin Mountains Way, Ireland


Exploring a region by foot can be one of the most worthwhile ways to see it. This is certainly not limited to strolling through city centres. Walking and hiking is an activity enjoyed by many, from easy hikes spanning a few hours to ones that are strenuous and require days to finish. The payoff is exercise, breathing in nature and some phenomenal views. 

Dublin Mountains Way, only a mere 8 km / 5 miles from Dublin was named one of the most scenic walks in the world by Barry Stone in his book 1001 Walks You Must Take Before You Die (2015)The 43 km / 26 mile trail winds from easterly Shankill through to Tallaght in the west. Although it is considered a moderate to difficult hike that can take anywhere from 1 – 3 days it has been divided into three sections that can be done at any pace.  The trail was completed and opened in 2009 by the Dublin Mountains Partnership (DMP) and they continue to maintain and upkeep the paths. Their website offers descriptions of the routes, downloadable .pdf maps as well as event listings, transit information and “Leave No Trace” material.  The DMP also have also set up mountain biking routes, assembled  bouldering sites, introduced wheelchair orienteering on way-marked trails and manage conservation and upkeep of the area. As with any activity, make sure you are prepared and let someone know where you are going. 

Ireland is a stunning country, arguably one of the world’s most beautiful. Why not see it’s beauty by roving and wandering along these paths?

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The Scalp (Barnaslingan) on the Dublin Mountains Way – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By Joe King (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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The Hell Fire Club along the Dublin Mountains Way – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by jasonrogers [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday Special – Chefchaouen, Morocco


A – B – SEE! Our alphabet tour continues to Chefchaouen in northern Morocco. My sister, some friends, and I have chatted about going Morocco, perhaps next year, and Chefchaouen is on the list!!

Nicknamed “The Blue City” as many of the buildings are painted in various hues of blue, it is set against the backdrop of the Rif Mountains and is located not far from Tangiers. This popular tourist locale seems to be perfect for wandering. Visit the Medina to take in the streets, shop for local handicrafts and goods in the souk, and stop at a nearby cafe to people watch. Continue to feel the pulse of the town in its main square Plaza Uta el-Hamman and fill your belly with a visit to one of its many restaurants. Need a break and want to be pampered? Then a visit to a hammam (steam house) to unwind. To get your heart pumping there are some beautiful hikes and the landscape looks amazing. Rif Mountain hiking trails that are both beginner and advanced are available. Make sure you are properly prepared.  It looks like a charming town and I can’t wait until I wander there!

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A street in Chefchaouen – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned By Yaleyla (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Shops in Chefchaouen, Morocco – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By YoTuT from United States (Chefchaouen, Morocco) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons