Sunday, December 24, 2006

New Year's Eve in Rio: The Mother of All Bashes!

By Marcia Crowell

SUMMARY: New Year's Eve in Rio, Brazil, is a great way of starting a new year. Besides taking part in one of the most beautiful New Year's celebrations in the world, you can also relax on Brazil's beautiful beaches and enjoy the Brazilian summer, food and friendliness.

New Year’s Eve in Rio, Brazil, is a memorable experience. Sure, there is an awesome fireworks’ show, 4 km of them on Copacabana beach, 20 minutes of light and magic. The fireworks are launched from the sea which makes the spectacle even more beautiful. There is music: several stages scattered along the beach catering to all tastes, with Brazilian and international stars. And it is all free.

But there is more to Rio de Janeiro’s celebration of the New Year and that is what makes this a very special destination. To begin with, it is hot which is perfect for the Brazilian tradition of going into the sea for the first swim of the year. And again, it is hot: so you can dance on the sands of Copacabana all night long and see the sunrise right there, with your 2 million new buddies. It is a huge manifestation of peace and harmony.

It is mystic: Brazilians wear white on New Year’s Eve to pray, hope and wish Peace. Once more, it is mystic: in a multireligious society such as Brazil’s, you will find several religious groups, mainly Afro-Brazilian religions like Candomblé. They go to the beach to thank Iemanjá, the Queen of the Waters, for the year that ended and make wishes for the year that just began. They throw flowers into the sea, as an offer to Iemanjá. If you feel like it, you can buy some flowers and make your wishes. Feel free to get into the spirit of the Brazilian celebration.

There are several fireworks’ waterfalls; the most famous and traditional is at the Meridien Hotel. The restaurants and hotels have parties and music so you can dance the night away.

New Year’s in Rio de Janeiro Tips

If you plan on spending New Year’s Eve in Rio, you should make your reservations early. This celebration is getting to be almost as popular as Carnival which means the earlier you book, the better. You can find good hotels deals if you book until November. You can also find good last minute deals, but there will not be as many choices, you will have to count on luck and do more research.

From 9 o’clock, there are already people and music (not live yet) on the beach. Go early to get into the mood and wear something white, you will fit in perfectly. It rains a lot in Brazil in the summer and sometimes it rains on New Year's Eve. But it's ok. It is always hot! Last but not least: Feliz Ano Novo! Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Paris - The City of Romance

By Dara Ward

SUMMARY: Paris Capital of France and City of Romance. Few words conjure such whimsy as ‘Paris’. Whether you have visited or not, the mere mention of France’s capital, creates images of romance. While it is true that the city remains a city of love and lovers, to restrict its appeal to this is to ignore the wide range of its attractions. First time visitors must see the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame De Paris and the...

Few words conjure such whimsy as ‘Paris’. Whether you have visited or not, the mere mention of France’s capital, creates images of romance. While it is true that the city remains a city of love and lovers, to restrict its appeal to this is to ignore the wide range of its attractions.

First time visitors must see the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame De Paris and the Arc de Triomphe. Families can now enjoy the much-improved Disneyland Paris, located less than an hour away from the centre of the city. Culture vultures can visit the visiting exhibitions to the Grand Palais or the Cite de Science. Of course, the must-see in this regard is the Louvre. Once a tourist trap due to its inclusion of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, now it is as visited (rightly or wrongly) for its importance to the plot of the book and film, the Da Vinci Code. Indeed, if you are a fan of either, guided tours of all the Parisian locations included in the Code can now be enjoyed. It is a novel way of seeing the city.

Paris is known for being an expensive city and, sadly, this is still the case. However, with some planning ahead, there are plenty of ways of saving money here. If you don’t mind the cold Parisian accommodation costs drop dramatically during the winter, from November to March. Likewise, prices of flights to the city drop during this time. Another option is to take the Metro while travelling throughout; it is safe and easy to use. Or you might be surprised by Paris’ hostels or budget hotels. All are cheap but many are extremely comfortable, centrally located and are welcoming to old and young alike, not just an option for the backpackers among you. But Paris’s greatest asset is free, its ambiance itself.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bulgaria - A Big-Small Treasure

By Ivaylo Kantardzhiev

SUMMARY: Bulgaria – a small territory country housing a huge variety of nature reserves and phenomena, different and rich culture and great historical places.

One can describe many things as big-small. Actually, big-small is something small that has the characteristics of something much bigger than itself. And with that in mind, I come to think of Bulgaria. I am sure that many of you who read this have heard of this country and will ask "Why is Bulgaria a big-small" Well, I will try to explain.

Bulgaria covers a total territory of 111 000sq/km - that is why it is small. But I am sure you have no idea of how many beautiful things there are in this small area - and here comes the big part.
Bulgaria is a country with a long history, full of ups and downs and critical events. The country's culture has been influences by many other nationalities and that is why Bulgaria has now many important historical places. One such place is Etara. It is an open-air museum, but seems more like a whole town, still capturing the traditional spirit and architecture of the Bulgarian national revival. The people there still practice the old Bulgarian crafts, including pottery. Etara is like a place out of time, where the past is still alive. Another such place is the village Arbanassi. It is an old settlement and holds some ancient monasteries. One of them is the St. Nikola monastery that was built during the Assen dynasty - there still can be seen preserved wall decorations and icons dating back to 1716. Near Arbanassi is the town of Veliko Turnovo, where you will be amazed by the great fortress Tsarevets, which was the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. It still is a mighty settlement and there even is a "Sound and Light" show in the evenings. An amazing place is the Madara Horseman - a picture, carved into the stone during the 8th century with dimensions, which equal these of a real horseman. It still looks breath-taking and is included in the World Heritage List of UNESCO. Some other historical places include the Rila Monastery, Pliska (first capital of Bulgaria), the Troyan Monastery and many more.

Bulgaria has also a gorgeous nature. There are many places to go and admire the beautiful landscape. First of all, there are many mountains in the country. Rila Mountain is a wonderful place - there is the highest peak on the peninsula - Mousala (2925m). You can also visit the Seven Rila Lakes, many huts and ski tracks. Another mountain is Pirin - the most fascinating one in Bulgaria, also part of the World Heritage List. There are many nature reserves in Bulgaria and one of them is Srebarna which houses nearly 100 different bird species, most of which endangered. Actually, I don't need to list any more natural places worth visiting, because when you go to the surroundings of almost every town in Bulgaria, you will find something incredible to look at.

As far as culture is concerned, the best places to visit are the bigger towns - Varna, Burgas, Veliko Turnovo and of course the capital Sofia. Sofia can be compared to many European capitals - it is a large city with many people and numerous places to go if you are a culture-lover or just enjoy the nightlife.

With all this I hope that even some of you will agree with me that the little country Bulgaria holds so many interesting and marvelous things that it can be easily called big-small.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Niagara Falls

By Sharon White

SUMMARY: The first written description of Niagara Falls was given in 1683 by Father Louis Hennepin, a Recollect priest from the Spanish Netherlands.

The first written description of Niagara Falls was given in 1683 by Father Louis Hennepin, a Recollect priest from the Spanish Netherlands. His account described ‘an incredible Cataract or Waterfall, which has no equal.’ His words still hold true today. A small town in Ontario features the world’s most popular waterfall. Canada’s number-one tourist attraction and one of the top destinations in the world, Niagara Falls draws 12 million people annually.

This natural and awe inspiring attraction is approximately 15 000 years old. The Falls span the Niagara River between Ontario and upper New York State measuring almost 800 meters wide. The vigorous, rushing waters are plunging from Lake Erie toward Lake Ontario generating a powerful four million kilowatts of energy per second. But it is not the statistics, the measurement or the history of the falls that interest most visitors – it is their immaculate beauty.

The beauty is not reserved for the summer months only. The winter months offer an equally spectacular view with the edges of the Falls frozen and parts of the rushing movement hidden behind a magical layer of diamond-like ice. It is not very often that Niagara Falls stop falling but once on Easter Sunday morning in 1848 they did stop completely. This caused many people to declare the end of the world.

There have been a number of strange events surrounding the Falls, namely the stunts and dare devilish acts that have been performed there over the years. The first person to successfully go over the Falls was a middle-aged school teacher named Annie Taylor hoped to make money by traveling over the Falls in a specially made barrel.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Tips For A Great Travel Spain

By Jack Blacksmith

SUMMARY: Travel Spain attractions and outdoor activities offer a variety of experiences throughout the year. Whether you love to bathe in the sun and surf or spend time skiing in the winter, there is something here for everyone. Visit during the spring to experience Holy Week activities, processions and festivals.

Although many people think of travel Spain vacations as a summer destination, there is plenty to do in all seasons. There are many unique experiences and attractions to enjoy at all times of the year. Outdoor activities such as skiing, water sports and rock climbing are great for the nature lover. Museums, old churches and festivals allow you to experience the history and culture of this unique country.

Travel Spain Outdoor Activities

While many people think of outdoor activities as confined to the summer, there is plenty to do all year in Spain. Depending on the area you visit, there are activities available in all seasons to enjoy the outdoors and nature.

The beaches and sun make the Mediterranean coast a popular tourist destination. The Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol are the most popular spots for enjoying the beaches and water sports in the summer months. The weather is sunny and hot. There are a large number of resorts and spas in both the large cities and small towns of the Mediterranean coast.

Running with the Bulls is another popular summer attraction in the summer. This festival is celebrated in the month of July. The festival attracts people from all over the world. If you are brave, you may want to participate in running with the bulls. Otherwise, you can observe the event and join in with the other parts of the festival.

Skiing is a popular attraction in many of the mountain areas of Spain. Some of the top resorts for winter sports are located in this country. There are excellent ski resorts in Aragon, Torremolinos, Malaga and Catabunya. Skiing can be enjoyed in various areas from the early winter through late spring months.

The late spring is an interesting time to go skiing in the mountains near the Mediterranean coast. At this time of the year, there is snow in the higher elevations. The weather outside the mountain range is warm and sunny. In this area, you can go skiing in the morning hours and enjoy the beach in the afternoon.

Rock climbing and hiking are popular outdoor activities in many areas of Spain. There are several sites throughout the country that are popular with avid climbers. You can go on a rock climbing tour or with a private group. Tours are a good idea for less experienced climbers. Many include some basic instruction in rock climbing.

Travel Spain Attractions

There are many world renowned museums in cities around Spain. Madrid and Barcelona are home to several large museums. Other smaller cities and villages are home to museums which showcase the art and history of the country. These give you the opportunity to experience the culture and history of each region.

Spain is home to a large number of festivals. Many of these are held in the spring and summer seasons. There are a variety of processions, patron saint festivals and religious celebrations in local villages. Several towns have summer music festivals. These are a great way to interact with locals and enjoy the local customs. There are processions during the day and parties at night during many of these festivals.

Holy Week activities are popular attractions in the spring months. These are held in towns and cities all over this predominantly catholic nation. There are plays, processions and activities that commemorate the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. Catholics from all over the world visit Spain during Holy Week. They are interesting to many non Catholics as well. There are festivals held surrounding the Holy Week activities throughout the country.