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Vienna's New Rooftop Bars
Austria’s capital city is famous as a cradle of classical music and high culture, for its skyline shaped by Hapsburg palaces, the Opera House and city symbol Giant Ferris Wheel, for tastes and experiences like chocolate/apricot Sacher Torte and coffee house culture, and even the renowned, high-performing and high-stepping, gleaming white Lipizzaner horses.
 
You may have been to Vienna before, but no matter how many times you’ve been to a city, seeing it from above gives you a whole new perspective.
 
That’s why the string of new rooftop bars in the city on the Danube river – with stunning design and inspiring food and beverage experiences - is so exciting for those of us planning Danube river cruises or guided trips to Central Europe soon.
 
Plan for daytime snacks or late-day drinks in at least one of these ‘elevated’ bars with a view!

mariatrink: Laid-back music
 
This is the most musical of Vienna’s new rooftop bars. Jaz in the City Vienna, located in the city’s sixth district of Mariahilf, is the third hotel in the German hotel chain’s portfolio. The view, if not the music, will make your heart skip a beat.
 
(Photo credit: Jaz in the City Vienna)

Contemporary design is the backdrop to an immersive music theme. The lobby recreates a record shop vibe, and the rooftop, mariatrink bar has the feel of a luxuriant jazz club, with velvet seating, innovative cocktails and regional dishes. But few jazz clubs can boast mariatrink’s real claim to fame: the panoramic views of Vienna.

 
Kindred Spirits Rooftop Bar: Drinks with Views of the Prater
 
Playtime at Vienna’s beloved Prater park… followed by smart drinks at the rooftop bar overlooking it. The boutique Hotel Zoku Vienna opened in June 2021, and its amusement-park-adjacent location is symbolic of its focus: providing a venue for work-life balance. Its special home-office hybrid solution appeals to working road warriors.

(Photo credit: Ewout Huibers Photography & Concrete)

At the top of the building, the Living Kitchen Rooftop Restaurant and Kindred Spirits Rooftop Bar are ideal for a laid-back lunch or after-work drink with a focus on Austrian wine, spirits, and culinary artisans, while soaking in the 360-degree views of Vienna. After dusk, the attractions at the Prater amusement park below twinkle like a sea of colored lights, illuminating the entire atmosphere.

 
 
MQ Libelle: Viennese Modernism and Rooftop Views
 
It only opened mid-pandemic during the summer of 2020, but it’s already the most popular rooftop bar in Vienna. MQ Libelle (libelle means dragonfly) is perched on top of the roof of the Leopold Museum, home to Vienna’s leading museum of Viennese Modernism (pictured, top). The museum has the world’s largest Egon Schiele collection.
 
And architecturally speaking the MQ Libelle is a work of art itself. Two of Austria’s most prominent artists were responsible for designing the main elements of the terrace, glass wall, and iconic lighting elements. The drinks and epicurean hotspot is also a new space for art and cultural projects in its own right.

 
 
360° Ocean Sky: a Zoo With a View
 
Everything about this rooftop bar has a fascinating story. The 360° Ocean Sky is a spectacular rooftop bar and all-day and –evening modern restaurant with pride of place on top of the House of Sea. Whisked to the rooftop in a panoramic elevator, guests enjoy eye-catching drinks overhead, while brightly colored exotic fish shimmer in the waters of the aquarium below.
 
The building itself is located in a WW2 flak tower that – by its very nature soars above the surrounding buildings, providing fantastic views in every direction.


IKEA at Westbahnhof Station
 
Your Saturday morning runs to IKEA at home may be more utilitarian, maybe with some Swedish meatballs as a treat.
 
But in Vienna, right next to the Westbahnhof railway station, IKEA has opened a ‘hus’ social hub complete with green façade and a rooftop terrace that’s open to the public with no obligation to buy a Billy Bookcase or even one of the items on the vegetarian menu.

 (Photo credit: Ikea)

Seventy fully-grown trees in giant planters punctuate the space that has a fantastic view over Vienna.

 

Coming Soon:

 
Chez Bernard Restaurant et Bar: Sustainable and Stunning
 
The Hotel Motto is scheduled to open in Fall 2021, with a combination of 1920’s Parisian charm, contemporary Viennese lifestyle and Scandi-chic design.
 
Its rooftop Chez Bernard Restaurant et Bar is flooded with natural light that supports the lush greenery spread across two floors under a striking glass dome. Organic French and North-African cuisine, locally-roasted coffee beans and signature beer brewed from leftover bread from the in-house bakery – along with the views – make this a one-of-a-kind experience.

 
Parliamentary Proceedings with a Twist
 
The late-19th-century Austrian Parliament, one of the most important buildings on Vienna’s Ringstrasse, will unveil a modern rooftop restaurant of its own in 2022.

(Credit: Parlamentsdirektion / András Pálffy, Ortfried Friedreich und Christian Jabornegg)

It’s part of a huge refurbishment project at the Parliament. Once complete, visitors will be able to enjoy previously unseen views over Vienna’s historic city center from four outdoor terraces. An area with table service, a self-service section and a bistro are all planned. The menu will include a mix of traditional Viennese cuisine and international dishes.

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Images Courtesy of the rightsholders as noted and the Vienna Tourist Board

Top image: MQ Libelle: WienTourismus/David Payr / MQ Libelle


3 Million Lights for 101 Nights of Niagara Falls' Festival of Lights this Winter
This holiday season will be the brightest ever in the most popular tourist attraction in Canada – and one that conveniently spans the border with the U.S. - just as the land border between the neighboring countries is set to be open in both directions.
 
Beginning in mid-November and running 101 nights all the way to late February 2022, Canada’s largest, free outdoor light festival will take place. It’s the longest Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of Lights of its 40-year history, designed to keep spirits bright throughout the darkest days of the year.
 
With over 3 million lights and over 75 spectacular displays providing colourful visuals, Niagara Falls will be transformed into a twinkling winter wonderland along the Niagara Parkway, Dufferin Islands and across the tourism districts. Visitors to this popular annual festival can bundle up and walk or drive through the Festival route to explore the outdoor, socially distanced, self-guided experience. 

 (Above and top photos: Niagara Falls Tourism)

That’s of course in addition to the nightly, colorful illumination of the Canadian side, Horseshoe Falls. The lights in the winter takes on a fantasy appearance as mist generated by the torrents of falling water freeze as they rise up into the air, creating natural and other-worldly ice sculptures clinging to the Falls.
 
You may even want to take more than one trip to Niagara Falls for the 2021-22 OPG Winter Festival of Lights. The Festival will be presented in two parts.
 
From November 13, 2021 – January 9, 2022 over Christmas and New Years, the Festival features favourite 3D animal and holiday themed displays, including the popular Dufferin Islands loop within Niagara Parks. 20 new displays introduced in 2020 will return, including a giant gingerbread house, 20-foot polar bear and fairy tale castle, plus 8 new displays for 2021.
 
Then from January 10 - February 21, 2022, spanning Valentine’s Day, the new, second half of the Festival showcases winter wonderland and love-themed displays. 3D animals from Dufferin Islands will magically appear in other parts of the tourism district, and holiday themed displays will be replaced with new illuminations.
 
Two maps – one for each part of the Festival of Lights – are available on the Winter Festival of Lights website so you can plan your trip – or trips – to take in the change in displays during the entire, extended Festival period.
 

New Light Show Dramatically Illustrates the Other Side of the Falls

 
This winter season may be the perfect time to discover the illuminated magic of Niagara Falls. The city has just opened another fascinating attraction with its own, celebrated light show.
 
The Niagara Parks Power Station is a new landmark attraction just south of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls that opened late summer. It pays homage to the incredible power of the water that flows over the Falls - and how the Falls have benefitted residents on both sides of the border, in addition to Niagara Falls’ place as one of the Natural Wonders of the World.
 
The first major power plant on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, the Niagara Parks Power Station was completed in 1905 to produce hydroelectricity by leveraging the power of the six million cubic feet of water that surge through the Niagara River and over the Falls every minute. Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side is the most powerful waterfall on the continent. 
 
Beyond its stunning architectural features and landscape design, the power station was one of the first in the world to undertake a major tunnel project, with water entering the structure and dropping 180 feet before being expelled into a 2,000 foot tunnel that emptied into the lower Niagara River, right at the base of the Horseshoe Falls.
 
An engineering and architectural marvel, the station’s generators were the largest of their kind. Power generated from the Niagara Parks Power Station was used to service Fort Erie, Ontario and Buffalo, New York, and the plant remained in operation over one hundred years, until 2006 when it was decommissioned.
 
By day, visitors explore the preserved interior of the historic power station, transformed with new exhibits and guest amenities.

(Photo: Niagara Parks)
Each night, an immersive sight and sound experience “Currents: Niagara’s Power Transformed” brings the building’s story of transforming water to electricity to life. This immersive, family-friendly experience features incredible 3D projection, interactive moments of wonder, and a breathtaking musical score in the heart of the power station.
 
The dramatic light show at the Niagara Parks Power Station - as well as the newly-extended Festival of Lights - will brighten any traveler’s winter.
 

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This Entire Caribbean Island is now a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
This small French Caribbean island is known as the Isle of Flowers, the Rum Capital of the World, and now, its land mass, along with the marine zone around it, has become an over 12-million acre globally recognized eco-reserve.

Martinique has been inducted into UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Program, so now over 5% of the Earth’s landmass is recognized for conservation of biodiversity, environmental education research, and sustainable development. The organization describes Martinique as “the 12th biosphere reserve along the volcanic arc of the Caribbean, one of the world’s 35 biodiversity hotspots. Its richness is unique, as it includes many endemic species living in rare and endangered habitats.”

It adds how remarkable the French Caribbean island’s geology is, featuring the 4,583-foot Mount Pelée volcano (pictured above), sleeping ‘mornes’ (or small mountains) and a coastline of bays and coves. The rainforest covering the island’s foothills and the mangroves along its coastline demonstrate its vital role as part of an ecological corridor between the Americas.


The UNESCO Biosphere recognition also comes in part as acknowledgment of the island’s commitment to sustainable economic and social development while preserving their local natural and cultural wealth, which is a key element required for UNESCO recognition.

Fewer than 400,000 people live in Martinique, and most are involved in food production or tourism.
 
With all the infrastructure as an overseas region of France, Martinique’s unspoiled beaches, volcanic peaks, rainforests, waterfalls, streams, and other natural wonders are unparalleled in the Caribbean, giving visitors the best of both worlds, and making it the perfect destination for nature lovers.

Two-thirds of Martnique is protected parkland. Its warm, humid climate nurtures a vast array of vivid tropical blooms, as well as a hundred species of orchids, leading to its nickname as the Isle of Flowers.


Rainforest trees also abound. Mahogany, magnolias, and bamboo all tower as tall as more than 10 people, and yet are still dwarfed by Martinique’s yellow mangroves, chestnuts, and white palm trees, sea grapes, and manchineel trees.
 
An incredible 80+ miles of well-maintained hiking trails of differing levels take active visitors through beaches, bays, and mountain rainforests, through nature reserves and past lighthouses, up Mount Pelée volcano, and across coastal paths.


You can also experience Martinique’s extraordinary natural wonders by horseback, mountain bike, kayaking or canoeing excursion. For even more adrenaline, try canyoning, where you climb to the top of a waterfall, look down into the mists of the tumbling waters—and take an incredible leap into the void below. Or get a taste of its world-famous surfing scene.
 
There’s much more to Martinique than its magnificent tropical eco-experiences. You’ll use Euro as the local currency, and hear French spoken as the official language, but then Martinique’s unique qualities takeover, including Afro-Caribbean Creole character, cuisine, musical heritage, art, culture, everyday language and identity.

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Images courtesy of Martinique Tourism: https://us.martinique.org/

Sloths Named the New National Animal of this Central American Country
Slow-moving, sweet-faced and gentle sloths have taken the world by storm, becoming one of the most beloved creatures in popular culture in the last few years.

Formerly a synonym for laziness, sloths have become cultural darlings, with their famously adorable countenances that always seem to be smiling sweetly, 270-degree, slow head rotations, ability to hold their breath underwater for over half an hour, and a digestive system that takes days to process food. Sloth encounters have famously turned celebrities to tears, and have become among the top requested travel experiences.

Now, two of the six types of sloths in the world today have become national symbols of Costa Rica: the Two-Toed Sloth and the Three-Toed Brown Sloth. The country made the announcement ahead of world-wide International Sloth Day on October 20th.

 
According to The Costa Rica News, while signing the new law, Costa Rica’s president proclaimed, “I celebrate the new national symbol: the sloth, the friendly and peaceful animal that is an international benchmark for animal protection.”
 
Another official explained the move “sends a clear message to our society and the entire world, that our social pact with the environment is not reduced to the simple protection of large areas of land, but also shelters the species that live there.” Nearly 30% of the country is protected as a nature park or reserve.
 
Now, areas around known sloth habitats will be protected, and traffic slowed to reduce harm to the adorable, slow-moving creatures who are not able to walk, but pull themselves in slow-motion across the ground.
 
The country’s residents see a connection between the sloth’s easy-going, relaxed lifestyle, spending most of its time swinging gently from tree limbs, to the peaceful, Costa Rican ‘Pura Vida’ mindset which focuses on a living life with little stress and instead, enriching the mind, body and soul. 
 
Even prior to its adoption as national animal, sloths were already among the best-known animals that visitors from North America look forward to spotting on a visit to Costa Rica.

Responsible Sloth Spotting in Costa Rica


Of the six sloth species in the world, Costa Rica is home to two unendangered subspecies – the Two-Toed Sloth and Three-Toed Brown Sloth, which are both typically spotted in tree canopies around the country.
 
While sloths can be spotted all throughout Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio National Park, Limón, Monteverde, the Osa Peninsula, Arenal, and Tortuguero are great places to start.
 
But spotting a sloth in the wild can be a challenge. Although they have few natural defenses, sloths can be hard to spot as their fur blends in well with the branches they hang from.