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Favourite Travel Experiences of the Month #33 – March 2014

March is upon us, spring will soon start to set in and we can finally say goodbye to this grey weather! Wishful thinking somewhat, for now the Not Just a Holiday team are enjoying the tail end of winter. This months post has been one of our most enjoyable to write in a while, some awesome articles have found their way onto our laptop screens and our holiday of the month filled us with joy reminiscing over an old favourite destination.

Following the Sochi Olympic Winter Games that caught the world’s focus last month, we look at a few Russian themed articles including Nat Geo’s guide to exploring the largest nation, and Kronotsky Zapovednik nature reserves in East Russia. Also featured this month; The Independent’s guide to Memphis, the most beautiful countries in the world,  a submarine hotel, and much more!

We conclude in our usual style with our holiday of the month, which this month sees us reviewing one of our favourite Asian mega-cities that draws us back time and time again with its variation of appealing factors; Hong Kong.

Lets get the ball rolling with our top ten travel experiences of the month gone by:

BezengiPhoto courtesy of Ilya Schurov.

1. Russia was firmly in focus throughout the world of travel in February due to the Sochi Olympic Winter Games. It is a huge country to explore with an incredible range of scenery, National Geographic’s Russia Guide and gallery is an inspiring read and has us itching to explore the worlds biggest nation.

2. Another Russia themed article that caught our eye was BBC Travel’s guide to Kronotsky Zapovednik nature reserve. Restrictions have only recently been eased to allow visitors to begin to explore the largest complex of protected nature reserves on the globe. Home to a stunning valley of geysers, and countless brown bears, Kronotsky is itching to be explored!

3. Experience some sunshine this Winter without having to endure a long-haul flight. The Guardian lists a range of top destinations just a few hours away from Western Europe to escape the winter blues.

4. With the world of travel becoming ever more competitive, innovation is often used to differentiate and appeal to consumers. One travel company has taken this to a new extreme, offering a night in a submarine hotel. Unfortunately we have been priced out, at nearly $300,000 a night, it is a little out of our reach!

5. During some downtime in the office we stumbled across this gallery of travel photos on Pinterest. Images of lakes in Japan, houses in Italy, rock pools in Canada, fields in China, we could go on – check the album out for yourself!

ScotlandPhoto courtesy of Eusebius.

6. Rough Guide readers recently voted their most beautiful countries in the world. The accompanying slide-show showcases the beauty of each country, the top spot took us by surprise but we think its deserved.

7. Anyone who has road-tripped across the States will have certainly noticed the countless roadside advertisements attempting to draw you off the road to capitalise on passing trade. Some however are worth pulling over for, CNN lists 8 roadside curiosities you shouldn’t miss. We will attempt to tick a few off the list on our USA road-trip this summer.

8. If you are going to splash out on a luxury hotel, make sure it houses an epic swimming pool! Trip Advisor has compiled a captivating list of jaw-dropping hotel pools from around the world . Our personal favourites included the mesmerising pool in the Maldives and the impressive complex in Udaipur, India.

9. Memphis, Tennessee is one of our favourite American cities, a fascinating 20th century history shaped by the civil rights and rock and roll movements, there is heaps to see. The Independent’s guide this month had us reminiscing past trips and planning future ones, its a must-visit on any Stateside jaunt.

10. The ‘top 2014’ themed lists are still circulating the world wide web, our favourite from the last 28 days was Lonely Planet’s top 10 extraordinary hotels for 2014. Our top choice would be the Free Spirit Spheres in BC, Canada.

Holiday of the Month – Hong Kong 

An urban metropolis as concentrated as Hong Kong may not suit everyone’s idea of a short break, but Hong Kong has a lot more to offer than its seemingly endless sprawl of skyscrapers. On the south side of the main ‘Hong Kong Island’ there are an array of beaches providing the perfect escape from a day shopping in Central HK or a night meandering through the bustling streets and night-markets of Kowloon.

Hong Kong harbour is one of the most iconic sights associated with Hong Kong and its easy to see why, from any angle the reflections across the body of water dazzle from the towering skyscrapers looming over both banks. Victoria Peak, known locally simply as The Peak, offers unforgettable views across the harbour towards Kowloon and is worth seeing both during the day and after nightfall when the landscape is lit up with lights and neon advertising signs in every direction. A trip on the Star Ferry across the harbour is a must do, it is outrageously cheap and gives another perspective on the harbour in a locals style setting.

HK HarbourPhoto courtesy of Roger Wagner.

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