Author: Lisa


Beauty and Bliss in the Rocky Mountains – Banff Retreat

The maple leaves are everywhere: red ones on white T-shirts, white ones on red T-shirts. They’re screen printed on bunting, chalked onto sidewalks, painted on faces, emblazoned on dog collars.

It is July 1 in Banff, Alberta, and residents are celebrating Canada Day as the country readies for the big bash in 2017, when Canada marks its 150th anniversary as a nation. The food stalls sell bison jerky and fruit juices and vegetable samosas.

Performers are attired in costumes from many lands. Singers belt out a universal message of love and harmony in various tongues. A stranger hands me a paper Canadian flag, and we make our way to the parade route along Banff Avenue. Many of us are from the U.S. or China or India, and we know only two words in the lyrics of the national anthem. But we all gamely chime in with “O Canada” at the right spots.

BANFF NATIONAL PARK LEFT: Banff Avenue is the Main Street in Banff and is filled with shops and cafés.  RIGHT: A portrait of Olivia Dorio, a parks employee, holding a bighorn sheep skull on Banff Avenue in Banff National Park.

LEFT: Banff Avenue is the Main Street in Banff and is filled with shops and cafés.
RIGHT: A portrait of Olivia Dorio, a parks employee, holding a bighorn sheep skull on Banff Avenue in Banff National Park.

From the red and the white all around me I look up and see blue and green. Banff is no ordinary small town. It sits in the middle of Canada’s first and arguably best national park, 2,500 square miles of Rocky Mountain splendor carpeted with pine and spruce trees and riddled with glaciers bleeding blue into clear lakes—a space big and bold enough to support huge numbers of wildlife, including wolves, elk, moose, cougars, lynxes, black bears, and grizzlies. A thought strikes me: People are puny; nature is the grand marshal of this parade.

A FEW MONTHS AGO I HAD AN ANXIETY ATTACK. Racing heart, tight chest, cold hands. My doctor told me my cortisol levels were elevated. He prescribed vitamins and supplements to counteract the effects of a limbic hijacking and urged me to “meditate and eat dark chocolate.” So, besides popping chill pills, I’m biting into a Godiva daily and listening to a playlist of nouveau spiritualism by pop sages of the modern age. Had somebody close to me died? Was I experiencing some newly surfaced childhood trauma? Did my husband leave me for his secretary? No, no, and well, yes, but that was 20 years ago. So what was going on? Something embarrassingly trivial: I’m a recent empty nester trying to write her next chapter.

Agnes Tea House

Lake Agnes Tea House, built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1901

If that diagnosis is clear, the remedy is not. Our bodies have minds of their own. I felt as if I’d pushed off from one shore and hadn’t quite reached the other. So I escaped to Canada, like a late-in-life runaway. I’m not unhappy. In fact, I had long anticipated this period after the kids went to college. But I live with a nagging question: What on Earth do I want?

Right now I want to be in Banff. To be outdoors, hike, make new friends, and try to lose the thoughts that cobweb my brain in my suburban home office outside of Washington, D.C. This corner of the Rockies seems to me exactly what my meditation podcasts were telling me to visualize, but here I don’t have to close my eyes. I can open them.

I JOIN MY NEW BANFF FRIENDS Sally and Alison one morning for their daily stroll with their dogs up 5,500-foot-high Tunnel Mountain, just east of downtown. We’re three 50-somethings in cropped yoga pants talking about nothing and everything.

From an overlook we can see the turrets and dormers of the area’s oldest and most famous lodging, the castle-on-a-hill Fairmont Banff Springs hotel. Near the summit, Sally and Alison touch the trunk of a hr tree, its gnarled bark worn smooth by other hands. They touch for sick friends, for dogs long gone, for the fallen. I touch too, “for sisterhood,” I say.


The high life comes naturally at the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel, where poolgoers are treated to their own private overlook of peak-flanked Bow Valley

I had a short unhappy marriage and a long unhappy divorce. It was a slog, marked by custody battles for our two sons, tears, and trips to the therapist. I marvel at those who do it without family and friends—I had both. Looking back on those turbulent years, I realize I had an enviable clarity of purpose. My goal was the well-being of my sons; everything else was secondary. Now I miss the focus that gave me such direction.

After the hike I meet up with Alexia McKinnon at the Banff Centre, an “arts and creativity incubator” at the base of Tunnel Mountain. McKinnon manages leadership programs for indigenous people. Hailing from the First Nations tribe of Champagne and Aishihik, up in Yukon Province, she tells me that Tunnel Mountain is also called Sleeping Buffalo Mountain. And, she adds, “according to the elders, it is a place of healing, especially for women.” Really? The mountain I just climbed with the gals and touched wood—that mountain? “No doubt you felt its energy,” she says.

The town of Banff, at the convergence of three valleys and two rivers, was a place of gathering and trade for native nations, including those of the Stoney Nakoda, the Blackfoot, and the Tsuutlna. Their influence continues to resonate.

When I ask McKinnon what wisdom today’s elders offer, she smiles.

Santa Lucia cloud forest

6 Amazing Places Blessed By Mother Nature

1. Baja California National Marine Parks, Mexico

Scuba dive in Cabo Pulmo

Scuba dive in Cabo Pulmo


Close encounters of the ginormous  marine kind are common in the waters off Mexico’s fingerlike Baja California peninsula. Baja is bordered to the west by the Pacific Ocean and to the east by the Sea of Cortez (also known as the Gulf of California), where behemoths of the sea—whales, great white sharks, and manta rays with wingspans up to 20 feet—and a variety of fish congregate. Twenty years ago many of these species were on the brink of extinction due to overfishing and pollution. Partner- ships between local communities and the government helped turn the tide with the creation of Cabo Pulmo, Guadalupe Island, Revillagigedo Archipelago, and San Ignacio Lagoon marine reserves.

Today San Ignacio Lagoon is the primary calving ground for eastern Pacific gray whales. And Cabo Pulmo— widely considered one of the world’s greatest ecological comeback stories— teems with marine life, its total fish biomass rebounding more than 400mpercent since fishing was banned in 2000.

Why Go Now?
Applaud a conservation success story

2. Via Dinarica, Western Balkans


A hiker stands on the peak of Matorac in the Dinaric Alps of central Bosnia and Heryegovina, along a section of the Balkans’ 1200-mile Via Dinarica trail

The Balkan Peninsula’s beautifully rugged wilderness areas just became more accessible. In 2017, for the first time after years of expansion, the 1,200-mile Via Dinarica trail will be completely mapped with stage information compiled from agrowing community of hikers. The trek—which stitches together ancient trading and military routes—traverses the Dinaric Alps, linking the countries of the Balkan Peninsula from Slovenia, then south through Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Serbia, Kosovo, and Macedonia. Trekkers sleep in mountain shelters along the Adriatic Sea, or atop the region’s highest peaks, or above one of the deepest gorges on the continent. But the path is also a cultural corridor, where thru-hikers, cyclists, horseback riders, paddlers, and day-trippers encounter old world traditions unchanged after five decades of communism. During homestay layovers—along the popular three-day stretch from Albania’s Theth National Park to the Kosovo border, for instance—you might find yourself drinking coffee cooked in a copper pot, with a work-worn but hospitable farmer.

What was a contentious region has become the planet’s most eye-opening cross-border destination. “The Via Dinarica has replaced politics with nature,” says Thierry Joubert, of Green Visions, a Bosnia and Herzegovina-based tour operator. “What could be more beautiful?”

Why Go Now?
Set off on the world’s newest long-distance trail

3. Ecuador’s Cloud Forests

Santa Lucia cloud forest

Santa Lucia cloud forest – Ecuador

Birders flock to the primeval cloud forests of Ecuador’s Choco region, considered some of the richest depositories of plant and animal life on the planet. Located north of Quito on the fog- shrouded Andean slopes, the biodiversity hotspot is home to hundreds of bird species, including the flashy Andean cock-of-the-rock and dazzling hummingbirds. Other wonders include a profusion of epiphytes (air plants) and rare orchids. The teddy bear-faced olinguito was identified here in 2013 as the newest mammal species in the Americas. At Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve & Lodge go on a guided night walk to spot hand- size moths and flickering fireflies. At Mashpi, a National Geographic Unique Lodge, soar through the mist on a zipline Sky Bike or an open-air gondola for heady views of the forest canopy.

Why Go Now?
Spot wildlife in a hotbed of biodiversity


Malta In Its Every Little Detail

Thirty or so English-speaking visitors have gathered for a tour of Thrones sites in Malta’s ancient fortified town of Mdina, and right now we’re standing on Pjazza Mesquita. Before us hang the balconies where scheming Lord Baelish displayed his prostitutes and Ned Stark, lord paramount of the North, is horrified to find his wife. Everything around us—walls, arches, paving stones—is golden limestone, interrupted only by green shutters and black iron curving over windows.

Malcolm Ellul, a 41-year-old Maltese businessman and actor, points to a very un-Westeros mailbox.

“That’s practically the only thing they had to change,” he says—“they” referring to the film crew for the hit TV series. “Otherwise, you see? Malta doesn’t need anything done to it.”

This isn’t the sentiment I had hoped to hear. On my first trip to Malta, several years ago, I’d been struck by how out-of-date the place seemed, not just old but old-fashioned. Its history as home to the Knights of Malta and, subsequently, a British protectorate (English remains an official language), was fascinating. But there was something about this Mediterranean island nation perched between Sicily and North Africa that seemed stuck, its food and arts scenes undeveloped, its fashions several years behind, its tourism aimed largely at northern Europeans hellbent on sunburns and hangovers. Even Malta’s politics seemed retrograde: Divorce was illegal until 2011.

But in the intervening years I had heard rumors of change. The European Commission chose Malta’s capital, Valletta, as one of two European Capitals of Culture for 2018. Malta’s government finally legalized divorce. New boutique hotels were opening, major cultural initiatives were being launched, and, yes, Game of Thrones began filming here.


One of the locations where Game of Thrones was filmed in Malta – Fort Manoel, Malta

Together, all of these changes had me wondering: After so much time being known primarily for sunshine and knights, was Malta finally entering the modern world?

I ARRIVE IN VALLETTA as the sun is setting and head straight out to retrace a walk I made on my last visit inside the city’s fortified walls. Narrow streets are lined with baroque buildings, all ornate porticoes and wrought-iron balconies. Various doorways bear a plaque commemorating some long-ago event or person. Vintage hand-painted signs mark shops—Paul’s Store, Smiling Prince Bar—long departed. When I reach the Grand Harbour, the cobalt expanse of the Mediterranean Sea gives way to an astonishing panorama of tightly packed houses, church domes, and fortresses. It looks either medieval or Meereen —a city from the show—I’m not sure which.


Even for the Old Continent, Malta is dense with history. A republic centered on three inhabited islands at a key crossroads location in the Mediterranean, it has been a strategic prize about as long as there has been strategy. Archaeological remains place its original inhabitants in the Neolithic period; a progression of Phoenicians, Romans, and Arabs subsequently populated it. Malta really came into its own in the 16th century, when Holy Roman Emperor Charles V granted its two main islands, Malta and Gozo, to the order of the Knights with the hope that it would help protect Rome. Several sieges and 150 years of British colonialism later you have a place that bears hallmarks—an Arabic-inflected vocabulary, a taste for fish-and-chips—of the many cultures that have passed through it.


The Marvelous Air of Penang

Penang’s culinary delights, incomparable architecture, colourful culture and sincere hospitality offer visitors an exceptional Asian experience

The northern Malaysian state of Penang is an enchanting place, steeped in rich heritage and culture and set amid the backdrop of a thriving modern city. The captivating fusion of old and new has cultivated one of Southeast Asia’s most vibrant cities. With its bold gastronomical culture, charming colonial architecture and beautiful nature spots, Penang truly offers the best of Asia.



George Town – Penang’s capital city

George Town, Penang’s capital city, is testimony to the multicultural heritage and traditions of Asia, where diverse cultures and religions have coexisted in harmony for generations.

In 2008, George Town was recognised for its outstanding universal value by UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention. The city’s unique blend of architecture and traditions reflects the fusion of cultures from the Malay Archipelago, India, China and Europe.



char koay teow (stir-fried noodles)

Asia’s culinary traditions live on in Penang’s coffee shops and fine dining establishments, and the city’s street food is famed for its incredible variety and quality. Popular dishes include char koay teow (stir-fried noodles), hokkien mee (soup-based noodle dish) and nasi kandar (steamed rice served with curry dishes).



Beyond the modern facade of Penang lies some of the country’s most stunning scenery, from sandy beaches to green heart! and and rolling hills. Natural wonders on offer include a meromictic lake (one of just four in Asia), an award- winning tropical garden featuring over 500 varieties of exotic fauna and flora, and one of the world’s largest tropical butterfly sanctuaries.



Penang’s appetite for drama and entertainment comes to Iife in spectacular festivals for all occasions, including religious, cultural and arts. Celebrations are held year-round, offering fantastic scenes such as acrobatic lion dances during Chinese New Year, the intricate weaving of ketupat (rice dumpling wrapped in palm leaves) during Hari Raya Aidilfitri and the unbelievable body piercings on show during Thaipusam. Home-grown arts festivals are increasingly popular with global travellers, with the George Town Festival and Penang Island Jazz Festival among the favourites.


Langkawi’s Datai Bay Combines Pristine Beaches, Lush Rainforest and Top-class Golf

Datai Bay — or Teluk Datai, as it’s known locally — is situated on the northwest tip of Langkawi, just a 40-minute drive from Langkawi International Airport. Identified National Geographic as one of the Top 10 Beaches in the World, the bay is an arc of flawless white sand, stretching a  mile in length.

Gunung Mat Cincang

Gunung Mat Cincang pass

At its edge sits 500 hectares of dense rainforest — the base of Gunung Mat Cincang, one of Langkawi’s best- known attractions. Formed around 500 million years-ago, it’s the oldest mountain in Southeast Asia, and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Geo park. Its foothillss are home to exotic species such. as dusky leaf monkeys, colugos, hornbills and 530 species of butterfly.

dusky leaf monkeys

Dusky Leaf Monkey

Offering exclusive access to the bay. The Datai Langkawi resort offers a five-star’ experience and 122 rooms,villas and suites. Made from black shale and timber, the Canopy Collection rooms and suites are elevated so guests can ‘ enjoy eye-level bird-watching and partial views of the Andaman Sea.

the datai langkawi resort

The Datai Langkawi resort

Spread over 750 hectares, the Rainforest Collection features rustic villas surrounded by jungle for a true ‘at-one-with-nature’ experience. Meanwhile, The Beach Collection comes with butler service, private pool arid sun deck, with each villa veiled in coastal vegetation and offering direct access to the beach.

Nearby is The Els Club Teluk Datai, an 18-hole, award­winning, par-72 championship golf course designed by Ernie Els — known for its spectacular vistas of marbled mountain peaks and emerald green sea,.

Els Club Teluk Datai

Els Club Teluk Datai


Beautiful Places to Stay In Langkawi

Look no further as we introduce two premier Langkawi properties: The St. Regis Langkawi and the Andaman, a Luxury Collection Resort



Situated in a tranquil cove, The St. Regis offers a 600m private white sand beach overlooking the emerald waters of the shimmering Andaman Sea. Guests can enjoy the sophisticated comforts of 85 suites and four over water villas, each distinct in design with bold colours, paintings by local artists and generous marble bathrooms. The premium suites also feature terraces with unobstructed sea views — which are also on the menu at the resort’s six dining venues, including the over water restaurant, Kayuputi. Meanwhile, the Iridium Spa offers more than 800sqm of tranquil treatments and salon services; guests can also enhance their wellbeing in the fully-equipped Athletic Club.


the andaman langkawi

Located in an idyllic tropical setting, The Andaman, a Luxury Collection Resort, is cosily tucked between a rainforest that’s 10 million years old and the tranquil Datai Bay, with its 8,000-year-old fringing coral reef, in an area abundant with rare wildlife and exotic flora. Guests have the perfect opportunity to interact with the natural surroundings, not least by exploring the resort’s very own coral reef, then learning more about it in the unique Coral Nursery— all while enjoying the luxurious trimmings of a five-star luxury resort.


Useful Guide Before Your Trip To Malaysia

Witness the stunning natural beauty and the wonderfully diverse culture of Malaysia with these exclusive offers only available with Barrhead Travel. From the pristine beaches to the bustling metropolises you can experience this South-East Asian travel-lover’s paradise!



The Historical City of Malacca

Malaysia offers an incredible depth of culture from the island’s most historical city of Malacca- which boasts a rich ancient and colonial past and UNESCO World Heritage status, the bustling multi-cultural hotspot of George Town, and the incredible capital city of Kuala Lumpur. You can even catch an insight into local customs and life with a local Malaysian homestay!



Cameron Highlands – Malaysia

From the pristine white-sand beaches to the beautiful country scenery of the Cameron Highlands, our Malaysia packages ensure you witness some of the most stunning scenery in South East Asia. Sip on Cameronian tea while you take in the incredible vistas on the region’s highlands, chill to the sound of the ocean and marvel at the mountain peaks within the rugged national parks.


Malaysian cuisine reflects the melting-pot of cultures and multi-ethnic population of this amazing nation. With influences from China, Europe, India and the surrounding South-East Asian nations, food lovers will be in heaven as they experience a rich combination of flavours. Whether you’re stopping by one of the amazing and popular street food markets, sampling Kuala Lumpur’s luxury restaurants, or everything in between, you’re sure to fall in love with the diverse and delightful dishes.




  • Return flights from the UK
  • 8 Nights hotels, 2 Nights homestay,
  • 1 Night Sleeper train
  • Small Group experience


  • Experience multi-cultural Penang
  • Lounge on white-sand beaches
  • Experience local life and stay with a Malaysian family
  • All this from only £1349pp





  • Return flights from the UK
  • 8 Nights hotel accommodation
  • 8 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 1 Dinner


  • Explore Malaoca, Malaysia’s most historical city
  • See the Twin towers in Kuala Lumpur
  • Spend a night in the spectacular Cameron Highlands
  • All this from only £1597pp

European Feels in The Far Fort Kochi, Kerala – India

With a melange of European influences, Fort Kochi is a historic place, with much architecture to marvel at. Kerala is a favourite with international visitors, but it can be as interesting as it is affordable.
Walk through one of India’s oldest Jewish quarters, Mattancherry, and visit the Dutch Palace and the Synagogue. Believed to be India’s oldest European church, St Francis, built by Portuguese Franciscan Friars, the Santa Cruz Basilica and Fort Immanuel are all worth visiting.


Dutch Palace – Mattancherry, Fort Kochi

The Dutch Cemetery is a quiet, lovely spot for a break in your day. Fort Kochi’s beach, with its iconic giant Chinese fishing nets, is lovely in the mornings and evenings. Plan to visit the nearby Vasco da Gama Square and Maritime Museum along with Fort Kochi. The Kerala Folklore Museum is a must-visit, with daily traditional dance performances. If you’re hankering for a day-trip, Alleppey, with its beautiful backwaters and lagoons, is a good option.


Chinese fishing nets – Fort Kochi

Cherai Beach on nearby Vypeen Island is also worth visiting, with swimming and seafood restaurants vying for your attention. Back in Kochi, Bishop’s House Road, with its beautiful old-style homes, the Indo Portuguese Museum and The Union Club Building are all very pretty, and worth a dekko.


Cherai Beach

LEAVE ON A JET PLANE OR TRAIN: Return flights start at USD109 and USD70 from New Delhi and Mumbai respectively and from USD 3,300 from Bangalore; trains from Bangalore start at USD12.
GET AROUND: Auto rickshaws, taxis, rented scooters and radio cabs- take your pick. Of course, the cheapest option is to walk or cycle. Autos will cost a minimum of USD 3 – be prepared to bargain. Local taxis charge from USD 8, scooters can be rented for USD6 day. Radio cabs are easily available and almost as economical as using local cabs and autos.
STAY: Try The Old Courtyard, Raintree Lodge and The Fort Bungalow.


The Old Courtyard Hotel – Cochin

EAT AND DRINK: Visit the KashiArt Gallery and Café to feed your mind and soul, as well as your body with all-day breakfasts, hearty sandwiches and soups. The Teapot Cafe is justly famous for its variety of teas, including rose ice tea as well as local seafood dishes. You must visit Hotel Rahmaniya for the Kethel Chicken Fry. The no-fuss Kayees Hotel is famous among locals for its chicken biryani; get here fast as the biryani gets sold out quickly.


KashiArt Gallery and Café

WHEN TO GO: October to February is the best time- Kochi is less humid then and its tropical climate is relatively cooler, with occasional showers.
If you like the rain, July to September, the non-tourist season, is a better bet, with lower prices.


The National Wallace  Monument – Stirling, Central Scotland

Standing over 150 metres above sea level, this imposing tower, dedicated to the real-life Braveheart, is a fitting tribute to a legendary Scottish hero

On a September day in 1297, Scottish national hero William Wallace stood atop the Abbey Craig hill, closely observing the English army in the moments before what would become his greatest success. Almost six centuries later, this dramatic peak would become the site of a spectacular monument to his legacy Born into a minor landowning family, little else is known about Wallace’s upbringing and path to heroism. A patriot at heart, the young warrior made a name for himself attacking Lanark in May 1297, a town held by the English. His assassination of the town’s English sheriff won him fame and notoriety, and he was soon able to gather together a band of commoners and gentry, united by a common enemy. And so began the first truly organised resistance against the growing English influence in Scotland.


The imposing monument overlooks the site of Wallace’s most notable victory over the English – the Battle of Stirling Bridge. As King Edward I’s men began to cross the narrow Stirling Bridge, hoping to encroach further on Scottish lands, Wallace picked his moment. He waited until half of the English army had made it to the other side, before launching his attack from Abbey Craig. The battle is revered in history as one of Scotland’s finest moments, and the 27-year-old Wallace became one of the nation’s greatest heroes. As a prize for his victory, Wallace was awarded a knighthood by the Scottish royal court. He fought once again at Falkirk, although defeat marked the start of his downfall and, just a few years later, he was captured by the English and hanged, drawn and quartered in London in 1305.

A revival of interest in Celtic nationality and culture in the 18th and 19th centuries led to the construction of a monument in his honour. Literary figures such as Robert Burns and Walter Scott began to romanticise the nation’s dialect, capturing the imagination of Scots that had lost their connection to the land and its unique history. William Wallace provided an ideal figurehead for this cultural renaissance.

It was decided that a bold, statement-making structure would be built to commemorate his remarkable impact on Scottish history. Once Stirling had been chosen as the location – resolving the fight between Glasgow and Edinburgh for the prestigious selection – a competition to design the tower was held. After 106 plans were sent in, including some that were disqualified for being too ‘anti- English’, a Gothic Revival design submitted by Glasgow architect JT Rochead won. The plan featured many subtle homages to Wallace, including stained glass windows, which portrayed a glowing likeness of the man himself.

“A bold, statement-making structure was required”

In order to finance this ambitious project, funds were sourced both from public subscriptions and foreign donors. One such benefactor was the Italian reunification leader Giuseppe Garibaldi, a sympathiser of the growing affection for Scottish heritage and nationalism in the Victorian era. At a cost of £18,000 (over £1 million in today’s money), construction began on Bannockburn Day in 1861, and it was opened on the 572nd anniversary of Wallace’s historic victory at the site.


Be warned that there is a mammoth 246-step clamber to the top. However, there’s a space on each level to catch your breath and absorb more of Wallace’s fascinating story. The climb is worth it as it ends at the crown of the monument, a regal tribute to Wallace that can be seen from miles around. Take a moment to reflect on the stunning view of the Ochil Hills, just as the ‘Guardian of Scotland’ did more than 700 years ago.




The first floor of the tower narrates the story of the Battle of Stirling Bridge and features original weapons, armour and equipment used by each side.



Climb 64 steps to the next level and visit Scotland’s unofficial ‘hall of fame’, featuring busts of other great Scots such as Gladstone, Robert the Bruce and Rabbie Burns.



The Wallace Sword, Scotland’s very own Excalibur, is the centrepiece here. Whether Wallace actually used it is debatable, but its 5’4” length has to be seen to be believed.


The final floor is home to an interactive exhibit of the monument’s construction, where youngsters can try their hand at building their own tower.



The monument’s Gothic peak is an architectural wonder, featuring intricate battlements and ornate decorations that would not look out of place on a fairytale castle.



Spot the Scottish Highlands in the distance, with the Firth of Forth, Loch Lomond and Stirling Castle adding to this magical view, which is worth climbing up 246 steps for.


Some more Scottish gems for you to discover:



On the way into Stirling town centre, visitors can see the site of Wallace’s greatest victory, and cross over the 15th-century bridge that now stands there.



Visible from the Wallace Monument, Stirling is one of Scotland’s finest castles, featuring banqueting halls and a royal palace within its hilltop grounds.


Four miles south of the Wallace Monument, watch a 3D demonstration of this other famous battle, then re-enact it.


Take a Spiritual Trip Through The Temples Holy Temples of Kathmandu

Kathmandu is famed for its holy sites, celebrating and preserving the sacred history of Nepal. Here are five of the most breathtaking

Boudhanath Stupa


This enormous temple still welcomes Buddhist pilgrims every single day and is considered as the centre of Nepalese Buddhism. Within this UNESCO World Heritage site lay the remains of Kassapa Buddha and the richly-appointed temple is steeped in history and legend.

Swayambhunath Stupa


Situated atop a peak overlooking the Kathmandu Valley, visitors on foot can expect to tackle 365 steps to reach Swayambhunath Stupa. The Monkey Temple lives up to its name, so expect to see plenty of wild monkeys however you make the trip to this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Changu Narayan


Once again listed by UNESCO, Changu Narayan was badly damaged by the 2015 earthquake. Thankfully, it remained standing. As the oldest temple in all of Nepal, Changu Narayan is famed for its wonderful collection of ancient art and a small museum that tells visitors all about its fascinating history.

Taleju Temple

Set in the breathtaking surroundings of Durbar Square, this awe-inspiring temple isn’t fully open to non-Hindus, but even the limited access on offer makes it an unmissable stop for any travellers. Towering over the square, its 16th-century pagoda architecture is sure to stop you in your tracks.

Pashupatinath Temple


Although non-Hindus can’t explore the interior of the temple freely, this vast sacred site hosts regular festivals, like Maha Shivaratri in celebration of the god, Shiva, that attract thousands of people. Rich in legend, the holy site can trace its origins all the way back to 400 BCE.