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Carole O'Connor

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Travel

Latvia

Interesting Facts

  1. Latvia has the World's tallest women.  

  2. With over 500km of beaches, Latvia is an unexpected beach lover's paradise.

  3. Latvia has something for everyone. If beaches aren't your cup of tea, over half of Latvia is covered in forest.

  4. Filled with over 800 Art Nouveau buildings, Riga has one of the largest collections of the style.

  5. Have a need for speed? Latvia has the world's fourth fastest internet connection and over 800 free connection points in Riga. The average speed is almost twice that of France, at 13.8MB/s.

  6. Kuldiga, Latvia is home to the widest waterfall in Europe, the Ventas Rumba.

  7. Latvians definitely know how to seize the day, boasting almost 20 hours of daylight at midsummer.

  8. Nearly 1/3 of Latvia's 2 million citizens live in the capital city, Riga.

  9.  There are more than 1.2 million Latvian folk songs, or Dainas, in existence. There is a collection of Dainas, called "The Cabinet of Folksongs" inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World Program.

  10. Riga is one of 14 capital cities which have only four letters.

Visit Latvia

Riga

Capital of Latvia and home to one third of its population, Riga is a must see. Full of stunning architecture, multicultural heritage and more museums than you can count, there is never a dull moment  in this charming city.

Aglona Basilica

Constructed in 1780, this Roman Catholic shrine is one of the most important Catholic spiritual centers in Latvia. Boasting beautiful Baroque architecture, you don't need to be Catholic to enjoy the many paintings and sculptures inside or the surrounding grounds.

Cape Kolka

At the "meeting of two seas" this popular spot is nothing short of amazing. Settled in a historical region of Latvia, Courland, people flock here in the summer to get in a good swim or surf. The northernmost point of the cape sees the meeting point of the Gulf of Riga and the Baltic Sea.

Rundāle Palace 

This fairy tale-esque palace in the south of Latvia was built in two stages between 1736 and 1768. Once the summer residence of Ernst Johann Biron, Duke of Courland, visitors can now tour the rooms, enjoy exhibitions at the museum or take a promenade through the gardens.

Song and Dance Festival

A quinquennial week-long festival started in 1837, the Song and Dance Festival is a massive celebration of Latvian culture. Thousands of singers and dancers come together to share in their culture. The next festival will be held in 2018. Will you be making the trip?

New Zealand

Interesting Facts

  1. New Zealand has the highest sheep to person ratio in the world, at 9:1.  

  2. Wellington is the southernmost capital in the world.

  3. After Chile and Argentina, New Zealand is the third closest country to Antarctica.

  4. Hawke's Bay, NZ is home to the longest place name found in any English speaking country. It is the Maori name for a hill in the area, called Taumatawhakatangihangaoauauotameteaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu.

  5. Unlike their neighbors to the west, New Zealand has no snakes, native or introduced.

  6. New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy under the United Kingdom with the Queen as the head of state. It mainly governs itself through its parliamentary system and Prime Minister.

  7. New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the right to vote in 1893.

  8. Citizens of New Zealand are also known as Kiwis, after a flightless bird native to the country.

  9.  There are three official languages in New Zealand: English, Maori and New Zealand Sign Language.

  10. The Maori name for New Zealand, Aoetaroa, means 'land of the long white cloud.'

Visit New Zealand

Hokitika Gorge

Located on the west coast of the South Island, the gorge is truly a sight to behold. Colored a surreal powder blue thanks to a mix of glacier water, plankton and a few other naturally occurring particles, its absolutely ethereal. Surrounded by hiking and walking trails, you can get a look at the beautiful water from any angle.

Waiheke Island

A short 40 min ferry ride from Auckland CBD will transport you to a tropical paradise in the Hauraki Gulf. Palm trees, white sandy beaches and all, Waiheke is a surprising getaway from bustling Auckland. Book a wine tasting at one of the award winning vineyards on the island and you've got yourself the perfect vacation.

Hobbiton

Fan of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies? Visit Middle Earth and The Shire in real life. Take a tour around the original movie set, step where Bilbo Baggins walked or have a pint at The Green Dragon.  But remember, no admittance unless on party business. The homes are for viewing only.

Queenstown

A popular vacation spot in the South Island, Queenstown has something for everyone. The popular town is situated on scenic Lake Wakatipu with the Southern Alps as a backdrop. Overflowing with natural beauty and adrenaline junkie activities, everywhere you look there's something to make your heart skip a beat.

Wellington

Capital city of New Zealand, Windy Welly is also the southernmost capital in the world at the southern tip of the North Island. Quirky, cool and brimming with street art this cozy city is not only home to the government but also home to more restaurants per capita than NYC.

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