Crystal Compass

Travel Today to Experience fun and excitement

Experience fun and excitement

Travel long distances just for fun and explore places where being happy is a way of life.

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Featured Destinations

Featured Destinations in April

 

25 Featured Attractions

Stadiums & Arenas

Maracana Stadium (Estádio do Maracana)

The gigantic Maracanã Stadium was built to open the 1950 World Cup. It holds the record for the largest attendance at a World cup final as 199,854 paying spectators crammed into the stadium and many more besides. If you’re after the intense Brazilian football experience complete with the drums, flares, and chanting, then get to a game; otherwise the sports museum inside the stadium with photographs, cups, and Pele’s famous no. 10 jersey is a more sedate experience (enter at Gate 18). Its official name is 'Mário Filho Stadium' but it's called 'Maracanã' after the small river that runs alongside. In the 1990s it was modified to become an all-seated stadium and now holds under 100,000. The four main teams of the city play here and it will host the opening of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremonies. It is being renovated for these events (scheduled to reopen in 2012) and will finally hold around 103,000 spectators.

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Sights & Landmarks

Italian Building

Standing 168 meters tall, São Paulo’s Italian Building (Edifício Itália) is the second-tallest structure in the city after Mirante do Vale. Built between 1956 and 1965, it’s famous for its 360-degree-views which you can see for yourself on a trip up to the Terraço Itália restaurant and piano bar, or even further to the 41st floor rooftop viewing terrace. With the city spread out 500 feet below, and soft jazz playing in the Noble Room piano bar, this is most definitely the spot for celebrating a special occasion. The rest of the floors are given over to offices, and there's a theater and gallery on the ground floor. Another interesting spot in the building is the Circolo Italiano — a nonprofit that preserves the traditions of Sao Paulo’s Italians. The surrounding downtown area isn’t all that safe at night, so if you’re having dinner here it's a good idea to ask the staff to call you a cab to take you back to your accommodation.

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Buildings & Structure

Fountain of the Four Rivers (Fontana delle Quattro Fiumi)

Rome is full of fountains, but some are more famous than others. The Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona is one of the fountains that, thanks to popular culture and a colorful legend about rival artists, is on many tourist must-see lists.Gian Lorenzo Bernini is the artist behind the Fountain of the Four Rivers, which depicts four major rivers - the Nile, the Danube, the Rio de la Plata, and the Ganges - each representing a different continent. Sitting atop Bernini’s sculptures is an Egyptian obelisk.The fountain was built in 1651 and sits at the center of the Piazza Navona, right in front of the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone. The statue representing the Rio de la Plata faces the church, and appears to be cowering away in horror at the design - the church was built by one of Bernini’s rivals. This is a common story, and a fun one, but it can’t be true - the church was built many years after Bernini’s fountain.

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Buildings & Structure

Helsinki Central Station

For thousands of commuters, Helsinki’s Central Railway Station is the main traffic hub from which buses, the metro and numerous local and long distance trains arrive and depart. In fact, with roughly 200,000 daily visitors, it is Finland’s most visited structure. The building also happens to be one of the landmarks of the city and looks back on over 100 years of history. Designed in 1909 by Eliel Saarinen and opened in 1919, the Railway Station’s most distinctive features are the big clock tower and the two towering figures of two heavily muscled, half-naked men holding big globes of light. Another notable feature is the red Finnish granite that was used to clad the façades of the Central Railway Station. The granite originated in Hanko, the southernmost region of Finland and is believed to be over 400 million years old.

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Religious Architecture

Tomb of the Virgin Mary (Mary's Tomb)

At the base of the Mount of Olives lies the site believed by Eastern Christians to be the final resting place of the Virgin Mary. Her tomb there, embedded in rock, commemorates Mary’s Assumption and ascension into heaven. Following a dark, winding staircase down to the burial site, the walls are decorated with historic art depicting Mary, the mother of Jesus. In the crypt itself, hanging lamps and burning candles and incense create a low lit, peaceful atmosphere.Tradition states that her body was received on the third day following her death, leaving her tomb empty. Traditions following her death here are said to taken place since the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The church that sits above is believed to have been built around the time of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, making it one of the oldest near-complete religious buildings in Jerusalem.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Crystal Cave (Mountain Cow Cave)

Crystal Cave, also known as Mountain Cow Cave, is located within the Blue Hole National Park near Belmopan, Belize’s capital city. To get to Crystal Cave, you may have to start with a moderately challenging, 50-minute hike through lush rain forest and steep terrain. Depending on your entrance point, you then descend by rope for 15 feet to drop into the mouth of the cave. Ancient Mayans believed this to be the domain of their gods, earning it the name of Xibalba. Mayans said this is the portal between the tangible human world and the invisible world of the gods. Sacred rituals and important ceremonies were once performed here, and visitors today will see remnants such as ceremonial bowls, pots, and even skeletal remains from sacrificial victims. Crystal Cave is also full of natural wonders including unique rock formations, massive stalagmites and crystal clusters, a major attraction. The calcite formations cover the floors, walls, and ceiling of Crystal Cave.

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Land Activities & Tours

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

Harry Potter fanatics, rejoice: Dumbledore’s Office, Diagon Alley and the Great Hall all exist just a few minutes outside London! Loop the loop and come full circle with your Harry Potter journey at the Warner Bros Studio, where costumes, props and sets are on display for everyone to see, and where the better part of the movie franchise was filmed over the course of ten years. Come experience the magic of filmmaking first-hand!The studio offers insightful, behind-the-scenes trivia on special effects used during the movies’ post-production and the thorough selection of costumes for both main and supporting characters..

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Stadiums & Arenas

Palio of Siena (Palio di Siena)

You could describe Siena’s famous Palio as a horse race, but it’s so much more than that. Il Palio di Siena is a throwback to medieval times, a good-natured rivalry between neighborhoods, and an excuse to hold big block parties twice each summer.Il Palio of Siena dates back to the 16th century when locals wanted a sporting event to replace the recently-outlawed bullfighting. The first races used buffalos rather than horses, with the Palio as we know it today starting in the mid-1600s. Of Siena’s 17 old neighborhoods - called “contrade” - 10 are represented by a horse and rider in each event, and the winner gets bragging rights until the next Palio.

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Museums & Exhibitions

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Holocaust Memorial)

The Holocaust Memorial, also known as The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, is an urban tribute to remember and honor up to six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Located within walking distance between the Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz, the Memorial consists of the Field of Stelae designed by Peter Eisenman and the underground Information Center. Eisenmann set up 2,711 concrete pillars - so-called stelaes - of varying heights to create a grid-like structure that can be approached from all angles. You can feel the unmarked and harrowed suffering as you walk through the pillars that rise as you continue through them. The underground and modern information center complements the outdoor memorial, where visitors can learn more about the victims of the Holocaust and deepen understanding about this tragedy.

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Theatres & Cinemas

Helsinki Music Centre (Musiikkitalo)

Home to both the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, the Helsinki Music Centre (Musiikkitalo) is the Finnish capital’s main concert hall. Sitting opposite Parliament House in the prestigious Töölönlahti district, the building and its copper facade may look gargantuan from the outside, but actually, most of its rooms are underground.Home to the Sibelius Academy as well as Finland’s national orchestras, the center was unveiled in 2011. With a modern and understated design, the center’s unusual interior layout features weaving hallways, as well as a unique main hall, where up to 1,704 visitors are seated in a full circle around the orchestra. Designed to sit in harmony with the stately buildings that surround it, the Helsinki Music Centre and its design have been well-received.

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Buildings & Structure

Helsinki City Hall (Kaupungintalo)

Helsinki City Hall, also called Kaupungintalo, didn’t always have an administrative purpose. In fact, it was originally designed as a cultural entertainment hotel by the famous German architect Carl Ludvig Engel back in 1833. The beautiful white and blue façade in the imperial style has remained, but today, most of the classical interiors have been replaced by more modern glass structures. In 1913, the former grand hotel was turned into Helsinki City Hall and although it has served as a hospital during the First World War, the building has since then hosted the offices of the mayor of Helsinki. There are also several other rooms for City Board and City Council meetings, which take place every other Wednesday in the council chamber. If you love architecture, you can simply bring your camera and wander, but visitors are also able to attend various events and exhibitions inside the building.

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Buildings & Structure

Onofrio's Fountain

Just through the main Pile Gate into Dubrovnik’s Old Town, Onofrio’s Fountain stands to the right of Stradun, the main thoroughfare through the cobbled streets. The fountain was constructed between 1438–40 and it is the ingenious end point of an aqueduct that traveled 12 km (7.5 miles) from a spring at Šumet – which still supplies Dubrovnik’s water today – into the city. Both fountain and aqueduct were designed by architect Onofrio della Cava; the latter has a huge brick central dome, originally topped by a dragon, and 16 elaborately carved water taps spouting over a stone trough. Although the dragon was destroyed in the earthquake of 1667, the fountain is one of the city’s most important landmarks and provides shade and respite for weary visitors. A smaller fountain, decorated with leaping dolphins, stands at the opposite, eastern end of Stradun; this was also designed by Della Cava and originally supplied water to the market traders on Luza Square in front of St Blaise Church.

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Well-known Landmarks

Busan Tower

Busan Tower stands 120 m tall from the center of the city’s Yongdusan Park. Built in 1973 and modelled on Bulguksa Temple’s Dabotap Pagoda, the tower is a popular visit day and night. Head to the viewing deck via high-speed elevator, and enjoy panoramic views of Busan, South Korea’s second-largest city. Come at sunset to see the city lights start to twinkle under the night sky. On the lower deck of Busan Tower, there’s a souvenir shop and a cafe where you can while away the hours and enjoy the views of busy Busan port.All loved up? Do as thousands of young Korean couples do, and tie a padlock with a note of your everlasting love to one of the fences by the tower. The mountain’s feng shui is said to bring you good luck.Korean for Dragon Head Mountain because of its shape, Yongdusan Park hosts lots of lively cultural performances in summer and on weekends, and on Buddha’s Birthday, paper lamps shaped like tigers and dragons float throughout the park.

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Buildings & Structure

The Gherkin

Affectionately nicknamed ‘The Gherkin’ for its unusual shape, the dazzling glass-fronted skyscraper, 30 St Mary Axe, is among London’s most distinctive landmarks, looming 180 meters over the City of London financial district. Largely regarded as a masterpiece of contemporary architecture, the award-wining design was the work of Norman Foster and the Arup Group, and includes energy-conserving features like spiraling light wells and ventilation shafts.The now-iconic office building opened its doors on 28 April 2004 and today is home to companies like Swiss Re and Sky News, as well as hosting London’s highest private members’ club on its top floor, and occasionally pop-up restaurants and bars, taking advantage of the magnificent 360-degree views.

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Gardens & Parks

Hartley's Crocodile Adventures

An eco-adventure for all ages, Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures gives you the chance to get up close to those smiling crocodiles. It’s an informative and educational day where you will learn about many species native to Australia. Take a cruise on the lagoon and see the crocodiles in surroundings that mimic their natural habitat, they’ll be lazing in the sun, building nests and swimming in the water alongside you. There is also a commercial crocodile farm where you can find out about the sustainable practices of cultivating crocs. There are also areas where you a free to explore and discover the native wildlife of the wetlands for yourself; bright birds, tremulous turtles and lounging lizards are all part of the crocodile’s world.

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Buildings & Structure

Diego Rivera Mural (Exekatlkalli)

Formerly known as Exekatlkalli (the "House of the Winds") the Mural Diego Rivera was once the home of Dolores Olmedo, the final lover of Mexican master artist Diego Rivera. He spent the last years of his life with her here, and in 1956 created his final mural. It is an outstanding piece, made of mosaic tiles, and depicts at its center Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent of the Aztec religious pantheon. Other figures include a frog (a reference to Dolores' pet name for him) and a hammer and sickle, symbolizing his continued commitment to communist ideals. There were plans to turn the Mural Diego Rivera into a museum, and for several years the interior was conserved, including several sketches and paintings by Rivera. However, the house was recently sold, though the Mural Diego Rivera, outside, remains in public view, the cultural pride of Acapulco.

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Geological Formations

Caves of Drach (Cuevas del Drach)

The classic tourist attraction Caves of Drach - or Coves del Drac - is a crowd pleaser for many reasons, not least of which is that these 4 fantastic caves form a truly remarkable hydrogeological formation. An enormous underground expanse of undulating sandstone and semiprecious agates creates an imaginarium of weird formations, against which delicate bouquets of stalactites and stalamites glisten. This exquisite ornamentation frames Europe's largest underground sea, 177m(581 feet)-long Lake Martel.As if all this weren't enough to tempt the tour buses, expert illuminator Carlos Buigas mounted a multicolored light show spectacular that puts Ibiza's wildest clubs to shame, while boats filled with classical musicians perform Chopin, Martini, and more in an acoustic shell unlike any other in the world. One can only hope that they will not wake the Drac de Mallorca, the Dragon of Majorica, who disappeared sometime during the Dark Ages, though no one is quite sure to where.

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Geological Formations

Rio Secreto Nature Reserve

Kept hidden from the public until 2007 and strictly adhering to its sustainable tourism model, the evocatively named Rio Secreto, or “Secret River,” is deserved of its reputation as the best kept secret of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. A dramatic series of caves carved out by the flow of an ancient underground river, the Rio Secreto is most famous for its large half-sunken cavern, one of few in the world that is accessible to non-professional divers.Venturing underground, visitors can explore the eerie passageways that once formed part of the mysterious, yet much talked about Mayan underworld; swim in the fabled underground river; and admire the unique natural caves, dripping with stalactites, stalagmites and strikingly colored mineral formations.

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Land Activities & Tours

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

The rainforests of far north Queensland boast unparalled biodiversity, abounding with many unique plant species as well as possums, tree kangaroos, bats and a huge range of birdlife. But you needn’t necessarily rough it to get a taste of this tropical paradise. The Skyrail Cableway takes you on a 4.5 mile (7.5 kilometer) journey in a gondola above and through the tree treetops of the rainforest. Along the way you’ll see the dramatic Barron Gorge and stop off at 2 different points to explore boardwalks which snake through the canopy. Informative signs along the route mean this is a great way to find out more about a fascinating environment while disturbing it as little as possible. Arriving at Kuranda, you have the chance to visit an aviary and Australia’s largest butterfly sanctuary.

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Sights & Landmarks

Montparnasse Tower (Tour Montparnasse)

Built from 1969 until 1972, this building was the tallest in France, from the moment it was built up to the year 2011. Tour Montparnasse may not be much to look at from the outside. After all, it shares the skyline with the Eiffel Tower and is in the same city as architectural gems like the Louvre, Notre-Dame, Sacre Coeur and the Panthéon. And the SNCF train station in its foundation doesn't have much to admire, either.It's not until you get to the 56th observation floor that visiting Tour Montparnasse becomes entirely worth it. The view from the Eiffel Tower is wonderful, sure – but the view from Tour Montparnasse has the Eiffel Tower in it! And on a nice day, the rooftop terrace on top of all 59 floors has a 360-degree view of Paris that is nothing short of breathtaking.

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Buildings & Structure

Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT)

Located in the middle of New Dubai on busy Sheikh Zayed Road, the Jumeirah Lake Towers comprise one of the city’s large developments — a series of 64 residential and commercial towers interspersed with hotels, shops and restaurants spread out over 500 acres (200 hectares).The lakeside community houses a growing population of about 35,000 residents, but visitors often come to enjoy the four artificial lakes, four covered children’s play areas and abundant shopping and dining.

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Stadiums & Arenas

Estádio da Luz

Lisbon’s Stadium of the Light is a multi-sports complex with facilities for hockey, volleyball and basketball as well as swimming pools and health clubs. It’s best known, however, for being home base of one of Portugal’s leading football teams, Sport Lisboa Benfica.The Estádio da Luz was opened in 2004 for the European Championships and seats 65,647 in its covered stands, which can be retracted. It was designed in reinforced concrete and consists of three tiers of seating, all decked out in Benfica’s team colors of white and red. Within the complex there are several restaurants, a shopping mall and an award-wining museum, the Museu Benfica Cosme Damião, named after a soccer hero who established the Portuguese football league in the 1920s. Among the interactive displays on the three floors of this award-winning, family-friendly collection – opened in 2013 – are more than 1,000 trophies awarded to Benfica and a movie showcasing the club’s history.

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Buildings & Structure

Fountain of Neptune

In pride of place at the center of the busy Piazza della Signoria, the Fountain of Neptune has long been one of Florence’s most memorable landmarks, set against a backdrop of the grand Palazzo Vecchio (Town Hall). Inaugurated in 1565, the striking artwork is the masterpiece of sculptor Bartolomeo Ammannati and was commissioned to celebrate the wedding of Francesco I de’ Medici and Johanna of Austria.The elaborate bronze and marble statue portrays a 5.6-meter-high image of Neptune, the Roman God of the Sea, with the face of Cosimo I de 'Medici, stood on a high pedestal above the water, around which Satyrs and horses frolic. Despite sustaining considerable damage over the years, including losing one of its hands to vandals back in 2005, the statue has now been painstakingly restored and remains a popular meeting place for both locals and tourists.

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Theatres & Cinemas

Odeon of Herodes Atticus (Odeio Irodou Attikou)

Herodes Atticus was an aristocratic and wealthy Greek who funded several great building projects in ancient Athens, including the Odeum (also Odeon or Herodeion), which he commissioned in 161 BC in memory of his wife. Found at the bottom of the southern slopes of the Acropolis, it was a concert hall with 32 rows of seating around a semi-circular, tiled stage and covered with a wooden ceiling to aid acoustics. Able to accommodate an audience of 5,000, the Odeum’s three-story exterior was adorned with four vast arches and decorated with statues of the muses.Destroyed in 267 AD by Germanic invaders, the Odeum was neglected until the 1950s, when refurbishment saw the seating and stage restored. It is today a popular open-air venue thanks to its spectacular setting underneath the Acropolis and the venue for many magical summertime open-air concerts and staging of classical plays as well as the Athens & Epidarus Festival from June through August.

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Buildings & Structure

Central Station

Antwerp’s main railway station is a much-loved city landmark, a spectacular domed building of majestic proportions on Koningin Astridplain and nicknamed the Spoorwegkathedraal (Railway Cathedral) by its local fans. It was designed by Flemish architect Louis Delacenserie and was completed in 1905; it is 400 m (1,300 ft) long with a grandiose façade completely covered in fancy patterned brickwork and gilded flourishes. Along with a massive central dome topped by an ornate cupola, it has eight smaller towers and an interior lavishly decorated in different shades and patterns of marble. The platforms are covered by a vast glass-and-iron vaulted ceiling designed by Clement van Bogaert, while Jan van Asperen was responsible for the elevated section of track that passes four km (2.5 miles) through the city; this was completed in 1898 and ornamented with over 200 white stone mini-towers.

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