Washington DC

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While it is true that Washington D.C. is the capital of the United States, it is a nice place to visit for the average tourist in its own right.

The city is cool and with an easy road network is one of the nicest cities to walk around in with chic neighbourhoods, trendy restaurants, and an entire section dedicated to American history on the National Mall.

It is also walking or a metro rides distance from the nearby states of Maryland and Virginia which both donated land to help form the district, named in honour of President George Washington, in 1791.

The city is in a humid sub-tropical zone and has four seasons with hot summers and cold winters.

The city has a distinctly European feel which is not surprising since it was designed based on plans of the cities of Paris, Karlsruhe, Amsterdam, and Milan.

Six of the buildings listed in the top ten of the American Institute of Architects are in Washington D.C. These include the White House; the US Capitol; Thomas Jefferson Memorial; Lincoln Memorial, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Historic buildings in the city have a varied style built in Queen Anne, Chateauesque, Romanesque, and Victorian styles.

Georgetown, the Smithsonian Institute with the National Air and Space Museum are also must sees. Across the Potomac River in Virginia is Arlington Memorial cemetery where former presidents including JFK are buried.

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Crete, cradle of European civilisation

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The island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea is the largest of the Greek isles and the most populous.

The second largest island in the Mediterranean after Cyprus- Crete is teeming with history. It was once the centre of Minoan civilisation which is recorded as the earliest known European civilisation.

The culture is rich. Known for Mantinades poetry and music, and dances the most notable being the Pentozali. Crete is also rich with archaeological sites such as Knossos and Phaistos and there are also Minoan, Roman, and World War II ruins.

Crete is mountainous and has three different groups of mountains forming part of a range running from east to west. The island is plush with fertile plateaux, valleys, caves, and gorges. The climate is primarily temperate and there is snowfall in the mountains between November and May.

Heraklion is the largest city and capital, with more than a fifth of the island’s 600,000 people.

Crete has a road network larger than that of Britain and is well-served by ferries from the mainland city of Athens.

Crete is a veritable den of flora and fauna not seen anywhere else in Greece or other parts of Europe. There are no large or dangerous mammals or snakes on the island.

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Havana, Cuba

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One of the oldest cities in the Caribbean and one of the most exotic is Havana, the capital city of Cuba-the largest island in the Caribbean. The city is 90 miles from Florida in North America and used to be the play ground of many wealthy Americans before the embargo of the 1960′s came into effect.

When wants to see vintage American cars driving around Spanish style architecture and streets, Havana is the place to see it. Stepping into Havana is like taking a step back in time.

The city proper is quite large with just over two million inhabitants. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its mix of culturehistory,architecture, and monuments.

Habana Vieja is the oldest part of the city and just across the bay sits the Fortress San Carlos de Cabana. Here each night a reenactment involving canons being fired takes place.

Among the other interesting buildings are the El Capitol Nacional, which is a replica of the US state capitol buildings and is the centre of government in the city; The Plaza de la Revolucion and the Hotel Nacional de Cuba. The Cuban ballet is also in old Havana.

The Malecon runs along the north coast of the city and is the most popular avenue in the city, known for its spectacular sunsets.

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Santo Domingo, a whole of sun and history

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For those who love the beach and lots of sunshine with a little bit of history thrown in Santo Domingo is the place to visit. The capital and largest city of the Dominican Republic sits at the mouth of a river that empties into the Caribbean Sea and enjoys bright sunshine almost year round.

The city also happens to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the New World after being founded by Bartholomew Columbus in 1493. The city is an ode to Spanish old world architecture and several of the structures built during the reign of the Spanish still exist.

The city’s Zona Colonial has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1990 and contains a magnificent collection of 16th century buildings, churches, and palaces. The oldest castle in the Americas the Alcazar of Colon is in the city’s colonial centre. Other sites in the colonial zone include the Catedral Santa Maria La Menor and Parque Colon. One of the main attractions of the city is the Malecon, a beautiful avenue running along the coast with some of the finest hotels in the city within view of the sea. The Columbus Lighthouse sits in the east of the city as a monument to the Christopher Columbus and is said to contain his remains. Not far from the city is the vibrant Boca Chica Bay where one can enjoy the beach while walking around in narrow streets.

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Moscow, more than just a Red Square

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When one thinks of going on vacation the Russian capital of Moscow isn’t necessarily the first place you would think of visiting. Perhaps thoughts of drab buildings a throw-back to the communist era come to mind.

But the city can be interesting if you choose to look behind the drab exterior. There is definitely more to see than just the Kremlin and Red Square.

Moscow is a living homage to centuries of political, cultural and religious history.

The Kremlin is of course a must see. The building is Russia’s political and historical centre

Red Square is the heart of Moscow with the 16th century St. Basil’s Cathedral one of the most famous churches and in fact pieces of architecture in the world.

Another famous religious building is the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour which dominates the skyline along the Moscow River.

The Gulag History Museum is dedicated to the labour camps which once dominated the Soviet Union. Guides dressed as guards are available to give a guided tour of the facility. At the Tretyakov Gallery one can view the best collection of Russian icons and other pieces of pre-revolutionary Russian art.

The city also has over 100 parks where one can just sit back and relax and enjoy the view.

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