"Culture – the way we express ourselves and understand each other – can bind us together as one world.” Yo-Yo Ma, Cellist
Plovdiv, Bulgaria is one of the Cultural Capitals for 2019. It remains relatively unknown to most travellers, which makes it something of a hidden gem.
Situated between two vast mountain ranges along what in centuries past was a crucial inland route from Western Europe to Constantinople (Istanbul) and Asia Minor, Plovdiv has been held over the centuries by Thracians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans.
Pieces of these kingdoms and empires can still be found in close proximity to one another. And the city's various leaders have left their mark not only on its architecture but also on its vibrant artistic and cultural life.
Travelling from Aberdeen's awe-inspiring city centre through the amazing areas of Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms National Park makes for the perfect Scottish road trip.
Hiring a car and hitting the road means you can take it at your own pace, combining a city break with a country adventure, choosing exactly what you want to see and when.
Perhaps you'll find yourself speaking a little Doric, the ancient Scottish dialect, which is still spoken here. 'Fit like min?' It just means 'Hi – how are you?'
Stepping through the Loire Valley is a bit like stepping back in time – way, way back to a time where fairytale princes and princesses lived among kings and queens and nobility in grand, extravagant castles.
Novelist Henry James once described the Loire Valley as 'the land of Rabelais, of Descartes, of Balzac as well as good dinners and good houses.' Indeed, life is sweet in the Loire Valley – the food, the wine, the beauty of both the land and the many châteaux and the brushes with royalty and celebrated historical figures.
Content and images courtesy of AMA Waterways