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Drawing a team of nearly 40 of the most talented artists in the world, Blankenberge's Sand Sculpture Festival is a world-renowned event that continues to grow each year. In 2010, it set the world record for the longest sculpture promenade at 841.80 meters – more than a two hour walk!
While past festival themes have taken inspiration from Disney elements, the recreation of an entire Disney theme park in 125 sand sculptures is a first.
Enter the first festival tent and find yourself in the middle of Disneyland Paris' Main Street, U.S.A. Intricate details and elements are vividly captured in each of the sculptures, helping to bring that special Disney magic to life.
As you wind through the tent, the sculptures seemingly get more detailed and larger than life as you now find yourself in Fantasyland with iconic Disney attractions, like Dumbo the Flying Elephant and the Casey Jr. Train.
Much like each of the Disney Theme Parks, the central focal point is the iconic princess castle. The tallest and most elaborate sculpture in the initial display tent is undoubtedly Sleeping Beauty's castle, which is flanked by many legendary and modern day Disney princesses.
While most people stopped to admire the castle for what seemed like hours, I found myself drawn to the labyrinth that was just ahead. Next to the 3-D experience of watching Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland movie – or perhaps a visit to an Amsterdam coffee shop – this is probably the closest any of us will get to "being" Alice.
Just saying the name can often evoke a strong emotion or reaction. When I told people I intended to visit Hiroshima on my Japan trip, the response was usually the same.
"Why would you want to visit there?" my friends asked.
"Why not?" I quipped. "The city is home to one of the most epochal events in modern history!"
Despite the admonishments and the bitter winter temperatures, I now stand before it -- Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. There are no children playing, only a few tourists snapping photos nearby. The neatly manicured grounds seem to merely provide a cover for the somber history located here.
The clouds part, allowing sunlight to stream through the crumbling walls and cragged ruins of the A-Bomb Dome, regarded as one of the most recognizable remnants from World War II.
Located a mere two blocks away sits a nondescript gray and blue tile building with only three Japanese characters at the top and a small plaque on the side that reads "Hypocenter". As we approach, we spot a group of local Japanese surrounding the plaque, deep in conversation. Not wanting to intrude, we wait quietly behind, but their guide stops talking and motions for us to approach.
The couple, who've been in a relationship for over eight years and have three children together, were to be separated for several months while Gomez worked as a cruise ship waiter. Guajardo first tried to get authorities to tell Gomez his father was gravely ill. When that ploy failed, she did what any other reasonable and distraught girlfriend would do -- she phoned in a bomb threat.
Ironically, Gomez stayed behind in Santiago, but Guajardo now faces up to 61 days in jail if convicted of making the false bomb threat. Had she pulled this stunt in the U.S., she'd likely be facing terrorism charges and they'd be separated for years -- not a few months.
MSNBC currently has a poll going -- love story or crazy girlfriend? An overwhelming majority have declared her "the crazy girlfriend". What's your vote -- is this a story of true love or is she just plain crazy?
Considered to offer a number of the best diving sites in the world, the Tuamotu Atolls are some of Tahiti's lesser known islands. These remote atolls, most specifically Rangiroa and Fakarava, possess all the exotic charm of Tahiti and Bora Bora, but they have the distinction of featuring a few activities the others don't. Since summertime in the northern hemisphere is the dry season in French Polynesia, June through August is the perfect time to plan your visit.
If you aren't enticed just yet, then consider these five reasons to visit the Tuamotus when finalizing your summer vacation plans this year.
Visit a Winery
How about sipping wine from a winery located in the midst of a coconut grove, flanked on one side by turquoise lagoons and the deep blue ocean on the other? Rangiroa is home to Vin de Tahiti, one of the world's most scenic wineries. While these wines may not be on par with your favorite Chateau in Bordeaux just yet, they are well-crafted and the views are unsurpassed.
Famed chef, Thomas Keller, brought his signature three-Michelin-starred cuisine from The French Laundry in Napa to Hong Kong, wherein lucky diners were able to meet him and witness his culinary talents firsthand. The price for this life-changing experience? It was touted as 2010's most expensive dinner with guests paying $900 each -- not including wine!
Following the dinner, Mandarin Grill + Bar received a lot of attention, leaving some wondering -- how did this one-Michelin-star restaurant rate the honor of hosting an esteemed chef like Thomas Keller? Determined to find out firsthand, I convinced my husband to fly out last weekend to check out the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong.