Rick Steves: In Bulgaria, Sofia surprises

I have an affinity for Bulgaria — so overlooked and underappreciated, and yet so charming in a Slavic way. In my student days I spent lots of time exploring Bulgaria and its capital city, Sofia: playing chess in the park, watching paranoid people huddled on street corners talking sports (and wishing they could talk politics), seeing locals dutifully lining up to visit waxy figures in public mausoleums. Recently I returned to Sofia, and found those same parks where people still gather, and the old guys still play chess. But today the country is free and, step by step, building a new prosperity. Because of its strategic position just north of Greece and Turkey, Bulgaria sits on layers of history. From ancient Greeks and Romans to fearsome Slavic …

From jaw-dropping views to spine-tingling bends: Roads that everyone should drive once There are millions of miles of roads in the world. While some offer no more than a dreary commute, others provide incredible views. From an oceanside cruises to treacherous hairpin turns, these roads prove that sometimes the journey really is the destination. Milford Road, New Zealand The Milford Road winds for 230 kilometres through Fiordland National Park, in the heart of the Southern Alps. The road also connects to Milford Sound, one of the filming locations for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Atlantic Road, Norway Norway's Atlantic Road stretches across seven bridges and offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. If you drive in calmer weather, you might even see whales and seals. Overseas Highway The Overseas Highway connects mainland Florida to the Florida Keys and consists...

Chinese-Canadian veteran treasures Remembrance Day in Victoria Veteran Gordon Quan was part of a special corps of fighters who often worked behind the lines in Southeast Asia during Second World War 21 Gun Salute – Victoria Inner Harbour Victoria Cenotaph – War Memorial to the Unknown Soldier, B.C. Parliament Buildings Second World War veteran Gordon Quan knows what will be on his mind when he makes his way to the Saanich cenotaph on Remembrance Day. Like every year, the Victoria, B.C. man will be reflecting on how lucky he is that the war never killed him – that he made it past 90 and is “still alive, still driving, still here to tell you this story.” And to think he owes it all to the atomic bomb. Quan was a student at Victoria...

Ashton Kutcher reveals he lived in Airbnbs for a year post split from Demi Moore Ashton Kutcher was a nomad after his bitter 2011 split from Demi Moore. “Right after I got divorced … I didn’t have a house,” he said during a conversation at this weekend’s Airbnb Open conference. “So I just started living in Airbnbs.” Kutcher,who became one of the home-rental site’s earliest investors  in 2011, recalled one such house that gave him comfort during that rough period, when the owner left out dinner and a glass of wine for him. 10 CRAZY AIRBNB HORROR STORIES “It was the magic and the love that I needed in the moment,” he said. “I was shocked.” Kutcher and Moore finalized their contentious divorce in 2013 following two years of bitter fights over money. Kutcher, who is 16 years Moore’s junior, was...

Iceland welcomes tourists, despite consequences Iceland. Credit: Schroptschop/Istock.com     An island of ice and lava battered by the Arctic winds, Iceland's dramatic and pristine landscape is attracting a growing number of tourists, not all of whom are respectful of the fragile ecosystem. Along with hikers, nature lovers, reality TV starlets and fans of the series "Game of Thrones" which was partially filmed in Iceland, 1.3 million tourists visited the country in 2015, a number expected to rise to 1.8 million this year.  Long a destination that appealed only to the earliest ecotourists and fans of the eccentric singer Bjork, this small nation of 330,000 inhabitants is now reaping the benefits of a thriving tourism sector.  Since the 2008 collapse of Iceland's financial system, tourism has become a pillar of the economy, accounting for seven percent of...

Tourists flock to see supermoon A "supermoon" rises over La Compaa de Jesus church in the historical center of Quito on November 14, 2016.Skygazers took to high-rise buildings, tourist landmarks and beaches worldwide on Monday, November 14, 2016 to catch a glimpse of the closest "supermoon" to Earth in almost seven decades. Credit: AFP     Skygazers took to high-rise buildings, tourist landmarks and beaches worldwide on Monday to catch a glimpse of the closest "supermoon" to Earth in almost seven decades. The unusually big and bright moon happens when the Earth's satellite rock is full at the same time as, or very near, perigee - its closest point to our planet on its monthly ellipsis-shaped orbit. At a distance of 356 509 kilometres (221,524 miles), this is the closest it has been to Earth since 1948, creating...

Drunk passenger attacks flight attendant on Turkish Airlines flight A passenger has avoided a prison sentence after trying to punch a flight attendant in a drunken rage. Guy Lardinois had reportedly drank four gin and tonics on the Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul to Manchester when he became agitated. A flight attendant suspected that the 40-year-old businessman had been smoking in the toilet and approached him, the Manchester Evening News reported. Lardinois denied it and returned to his seat but began verbally abusing the 24-year-old staff member, Manchester and Salford Magistrates' Court heard. Read more:* Jail and $61k for yoga on plane* Delayed passenger attacks police at German airport* Woman calls in fake bomb to stop husband boarding flight "Do you know what I'm going to do to you? You're f...... up...

Don't give up the ship: Mayflower replica gets a makeover PLYMOUTH, Mass. (AP) - The Mayflower II, a replica of the ship that brought the Pilgrims to America’s shores in 1620, is getting a massive makeover. And it’s not just cosmetic.Its hull is rotting; beetles are gorging themselves, Thanksgiving-style, on some of its timbers; and half of what lies beneath the waterline needs replacing.“We have issues all over the ship,” said Whit Perry, director of maritime preservation and operations at Plimoth Plantation , which maintains the replica that Britain built and sailed to the U.S. as a gift of friendship in 1957.“She needs major structural frame repair and planking,” he said. “Without a project of this magnitude now, her days would be numbered - and that would be tragic.”Over the next 2½ years, skilled ...