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Travellers Voted For The 10 Best Cities In The World

Travellers Voted For The 10 Best Cities In The World

The influential Travel + Leisure website has announced their list of the 10 best cities to visit in 2015, and there are a few surprises. London is lovely, Paris is peachy, New York is neat, but it’s a big world out there. The site compiled the list as a result of their reader’s votes, and so while it was a fairly democratic process, there’s also a fair amount of subjectivity. All ten cities are remarkable destinations in ways that are obvious, and can also feel intangible – the place just gives you a magical feeling.

10. Jerusalem, Israel

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    While both Israelis and Palestinians lay claim to the holy city of Jerusalem, it’s the official capital city of Israel. This is a relatively recent development in an ancient city that dates back almost 6,000 years. Contemporary Jerusalem is a bustling modern city that has a skyline of tall gleaming office buildings right next to sites of profound holy significance. Religion is intertwined with day to day life in the city, and this is evident when you visit the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, which showcases species featured in the Hebrew Bible. The Israel Museum is also worth a visit to take in their most popular attraction, the Dead Sea Scrolls. If your time in the city is short, spend as much time as possible walking the streets of the Old City. It’s here that you’ll find the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock. Regardless of your religious beliefs, you’ll find the experience to be profoundly moving.

    9. Cape Town, South Africa

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      Cape Town, and indeed all of South Africa, received a significant smartening up for the 2010 Fifa World Cup. Naturally, stadiums across the country were upgraded, but the lingering effect that is of most benefit to visitors is the improvement in public transportation. Cape Town is the most popular destination for visitors in South Africa, and it’s easy to see why. Start your Cape Town day with a visit to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, which is the city’s primary harbourfront attraction. It’s a shopping complex that has both established retail outlets and temporary market stalls. The food is astounding, and much of it comes from the fishing boats that dock here. You also need to take a leisurely stroll along Long Street, where the cool kids come to spend their days in the bars and book stores.

      8. Barcelona, Spain

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        It doesn’t matter what time of year you visit, you’re going to have to share Barcelona with a lot of other travellers. Start with a walk along the Ramblas – a long and rambling pedestrian mall that stretches from the central city to the harbour, which is always teeming with people. Much of the Ramblas is geared towards tourists, with street performers and caricature artists earning a living. Climb up Montjuïc, which is a small hill that overlooks the city and is the home of the 1992 Olympic stadium. The views are worth the minor effort, and you can also catch a cable car that will take you out over the harbour itself. You also have to see Sagrada Família, the (as-of-yet unfinished) cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudí. You have to pay to go inside, but it’s enough to admire its exterior. It looks like a mammoth sandcastle.

        7. Krakow, Poland

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          Poland’s second largest city is often visited by backpackers on their way to or from Italy or the Czech Republic. It deserves to be the focal point of any European trip, although even when it comes to Poland, Krakow is often overlooked in favour of Warsaw. It’s a major city, and yet almost feels like a hidden treasure. It has the biggest medieval square in all of Europe (known as Rynek Glowny) and it’s remarkable to think that traders have been hawking their wares there for centuries. The square is the gateway to Krakow’s Old Town, which is remarkably well preserved. Look for the entrance to the Rynek Underground Museum, which is located beneath Rynek Glowny. It shows you more than a thousand years of the city’s history, much of which was only discovered when excavating the ancient parts of Krakow.

          6. Bangkok, Thailand

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            Every now and then, Thailand will receive some negative publicity when its government is overthrown by the military. This has happened 12 times since 1932, with another 7 unsuccessful coups. The country is used to it, and quickly stabilises. Bangkok can blow your mind unlike any other city and you will find yourself staring out the window as you drive from the airport to the city. Traditional buddhist temples stand next to ramshackle apartment buildings that look barely inhabitable and yet are all lit up. Further into the central city, there’s some obvious wealth and opulence, particularly when you visit the Siam Paragon shopping mall which has a Ferrari dealership on its upper levels. Traditional life meets capitalism at the Chatuchak Weekend Market, where you can buy a live chicken to take home for slaughter, or a pair of fake Levi’s. It’s probably not a good idea to buy a snake to take home, though.

            5. Rome, Italy

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              While Rome attracts fewer visitors than other European cities, it really is the Eternal City. There’s a magic to the city, particularly during the warmer months when an extended dusk bathes the city in an achingly beautiful soft light. Of course you need to see such landmarks as the Colosseum, and you should arrive early if you don’t want to be waiting for hours to get inside. Ignore the men dressed as Roman Centurions who look like they’ve just come from an Asterix costume party. They will annoy you into having your photo taken with them… for a fee, naturally. Rome attracts so many people that many restaurants and stores can feel a little “touristy” with prices to match. Head for Via del Governo Vecchio – a shopping street that is less upmarket but infinitely more lively and authentic.

              4. Florence, Italy

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                You can look out across Florence and see a city that doesn’t seem to have changed much in centuries. Modern intrusions are rare, and it’s possible to imagine the city as it used to be. It’s easy to do this by climbing to the top of the Duomo for a 360 degree view of Florence. Linger in Piazza della Signoria – a square with so many statues that you’ll feel like you wandered into an open air gallery (not that there’s a shortage of galleries and museums here). One of the most curious things about Florence is how the city survived, despite the fact that much of it was built in medieval times. It’s not as though the loveliness was destroyed in the vague name of progress, so that a wide highway or something similar could be built to accommodate modern life. The ancient city simply exists, and modern conveniences were added if it was possible. This is obvious when you take a stroll along Costa San Giorgio, a street where many houses date back to the 1600’s.

                3. Siem Reap, Cambodia

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                  You’ll probably arrive in Cambodia via a flight to Phnom Penh, and this city is a true gem. Siem Reap is where you will want to spend most of your time in the country, and you can even catch a boat here from Phnom Penh. Siem Reap is where ancient history meets modern comfort, and is the gateway to the ancient cities and temples of Angkor. Due to the number of visitors who come here, there are a huge number of accommodation options from backpacker hostels to 5 star luxury. Siem Reap combines traditional Cambodian architecture with French colonialism, which is a throwback to when the region was part of French Indochina. Spend an afternoon browsing in the Psah Chas market where the price of produce will be a pleasant surprise (and will make you wish you had a kitchen to use). You should also visit one of the floating villages on the Siem Reap River, where entire communities live and work on a succession of boats and barges, all roped together.

                  2. Charleston, USA

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                    Charleston in South Carolina is not often spoken about in the same terms of other global cities, and yet it made the number two spot on Travel + Leisure’s best cities of 2015, with good reason. There is something alluring about the southern states of the US, and it’s easy to imagine sitting on a porch, sipping a mint julep while watching the wind rustle through the magnolia trees. I imagine you could do this in Charleston, but there are better ways to spend your time. To sip that mint julep, you should get up high to enjoy the views. There’s a rooftop bar at the Market Pavilion Hotel, and you can look left towards Mount Pleasant, right towards James Island or Morris Island, or out across the harbour to the Atlantic. You should also line your stomach, so go to Shem Creek. This is where the shrimping boats dock, and many of the local restaurants serve seafood that was nonchalantly swimming through the water just a few hours before.

                    1. Kyoto, Japan

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                      To see the birthplace of Kyoto, and perhaps even the birthplace of Japanese society, you will need to visit the Shimogamo Shrine. It’s the first Shinto shrine in Japan and dates back to the 6th century. It’s possible to have feelings of romanticism in Kyoto, and think of a clichéd Japan where Samurai warriors roamed the hills. These thoughts are reinforced if you walk the streets of Sannen-zaka and Ninen-zaka, where you might wonder if you’ve been transported back in time. Kyoto was Japan’s capital city from 794 until 1868, because this is where the Emperor lived. There are still some royal palaces that can be visited, namely the Kyoto Imperial Palace. When the sun goes down, it’s time to see Pontocho. This alleyway used to be where gentlemen would find a geisha companion for the evening, but is now where ladies and gentlemen find a cool bar for the evening.

                      Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via download.unsplash.com

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                      Last Updated on January 17, 2019

                      8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

                      8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

                      In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

                      Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

                      Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

                      Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

                      Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

                      The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

                      There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

                      How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

                      According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

                      Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

                      Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

                      The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

                      Listen carefully:

                      We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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                      The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

                      Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

                      8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

                      There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

                      Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

                      1. Pray Daily

                      You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

                      When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

                      Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

                      Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

                      2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

                      A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

                      By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

                      Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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                      If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

                      This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

                      How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

                      3. Smile Often

                      Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

                      Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

                      Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

                      The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

                      4. Organize Your Working Desk

                      A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

                      When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

                      Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

                      Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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                      5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

                      I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

                      Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

                      What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

                      6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

                      God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

                      I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

                      I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

                      7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

                      You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

                      How do you do that? This is my formula:

                      First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

                      If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

                      If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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                      If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

                      Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

                      8. Go Exercise

                      Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

                      The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

                      You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

                      12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

                      The Bottom Line

                      It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

                      It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

                      Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

                      More Resources About Mindfulness

                      Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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