Monday, December 31, 2007

Skiing In France

France has some of the best Ski resorts in the world and for all levels of Skiers, they also boost some fantastict Snowboard parks. If you like the idea of staying in a Chalet, you will find a beautiful selection to choose from.

Alpe D'Huez - which is a high altitude resort with good snow all season long. Is good for skiers of all levels and a great place for Snowboarders. It will also suit those with families. It's Apre Ski is also good.

Les Arcs - Is known as the centre of the action, its the biggest and liveliest of Les Arcs skiing areas and the most popular. Again great for Skiers of all levels and Snowboarders. Apre Ski consists of lively bars and restaurants.

Avoriaz - High altitude resort boasting great snow record all season long. Good for Skiers & Snowboarders of all levels. Families will find plenty to do here. The Apre Ski has something for everyone too.

Chamonix - Known as the "Skiing capital of the world." Again good snow all season and can start from mid December to early May.
Offers fantastic Apre Ski.

Les Menuires - Forms part of the three valleys region. Good for beginners and intermediates with challenging off piste skiing in the region for the more advanced and has a good snow park with half a pipe for the snowboarders. Apre Ski - is the smallest of the three valley resorts but has plenty of restaurants and bars, etc.

Meribel - Situated in the centre of the Three Valleys - its the largest snow sports area in the world. Good for Skiers of all levels with 2 excellent snow parks for snowboarders.
Has good Apre Ski.

Tignes - Forms part of the Espace Killy and consists of five different areas because of its high altitude, which gives good snow all season long. Tignes is more for the Intermediate and Advanced Skiers, but there are some nursery slopes in the three main villages for beginners.
There is a snow park with a half pipe for snowboarders.
Offers good Apre Ski.

Val D'Isere - Forms part of the Espace Killy and is situated next door to Tignes and because of its altitude has good snow from Nov - May. It is a very Chic resort and the longest established.
It is more suited to the Intermediate and advanced skiers with two great snowparks for Snowboarders.
Val D'Isere has a very lively Apre Ski.

Val Thorens - Situated South of the Three Valleys making it Europe's highest Ski resort-it offers the best skiing in the world. It caters for all levels of skiing from beginners to the advanced and has 1 park for the Snowboarders too. Provides good Apre Ski.

Courcheval - Forms part of the Three Valleys and is renown as the worlds best Ski resort. It offers Skiers slopes for all levels with lots of Ski Schools and for Snowboarders which have 1 Snowpark available. Offers great Apre Ski.

Plagne - Made up of 4 village resorts and 7 high altitude resorts. Has something to offer everyone. Plenty of Apre Ski too.

Serre Chevalier - Set up high in the Alps with amazing views. Consists of pretty mountain villages. Good for Skiers of all levels. Known to be the largest ski area in France and top destination for Snowboarders.

Each of the above resorts have beautiful Chalets that can accommodate a small family to large parties, if thats the type of accommodation you prefer, if not you will find hotels, apartments etc.

By R Grieco

Friday, December 21, 2007

Mumbai - An ideal tourist destination in India

Located in Western India, Mumbai or Bombay has transformed from a swampy marsh to one of the biggest metropolitan of India after it was leased out to East India Company which invited people to settle down there and slowly and steadily it saw people from all walks of life making it their home.

Believe me you will never feel bored in this capital of Maharashtra that is always full of life and has lot to offer for everybody in all senses. In case you happen to be in Mumbai don’t miss out on a visit to Gateway of India that was built in honor of visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911.

From Gateway of India you can go the Elephanta Island which is a UNESCO world heritage site and get to see some of the magnificent rock cut temples and caves dating back to the sixth century. Other place of interest that you can visit in Bombay is Kanheri Caves in Borivili that is famous for its rock carvings, Portuguese Forts in Bassein and Muslim Forts in Bassein.

If in Mumbai you cannot miss the authentic Bombay food that comprises of Bhelpuri, Vada Pav, Dhabeli, Panipuri and Masala Papad. Also if you want to see the real Mumbai then you definitely need to travel on its local trains that is the lifeline of the city and its two floor double decker buses that would leave you spellbound.

Another thing that makes Mumbai famous is its film industry churning out hundreds of films every year making it famous world over. Some of its popular markets where you can go shopping is Crawford Market, AC Market and Jhaveri Bazar and find lots of items of your liking. Another popular spot in Mumbai is Marine Drive, also nicknamed as Queen’s Necklace where you can take a relaxing stroll during the evenings. If glamour is what you are looking for then you definitely need to head to Mumbai to see it!!

by Gautam Chhabra

Monday, December 17, 2007

5 Best Island Resorts

When you think about a rest on an island, you probably think about some warm paradise with palm trees. But the National Geographic has another opinion - the experts of this magazine have rated 111 islands and the top 5 of those are actually not the most popular directions.

Farrell Islands (Denmark)

The top score is taken by the Farrell Islands - officially a part of Denmark. This archipelago represents an autonomy with their own traditions and lifestyle. The National Geographic experts have appreciated the untouched beauty of the islands and their efforts to remain this way. The cold climate and distance from the major touristic routes helps them a lot in this policy.

Azores Islands (Portugal)

The Azores are located in 1600 kilometers to the West from the continental Portugal. They are famous for their green volcanic mountains and beautiful towns. The second place in this rating was provided by the perfect ecology and rich culture of these places. According to the experts, the uncertain climate protects the ecosystem from the invasion of huge amounts of tourists.

The third place has been occupied by three directions simultaneously:



Lofoten Islands (Norway)

The Lofoten Islands group in the Norwegian Sea became one of the "bronze" leaders of this rating. The cultural heritage and ecology care - these were again the major aspects that led to this decision. Besides were also other factors named, such as beautiful sea, coastal rocks and picturesque houses. Just like the other islands in the top list - there are not so many tourists there.

Shetland Islands (Great Britain)

These islands are edged with scenic cliffs and wonderful beaches and the local birds population represent a huge point of interest for the ornithologists and simply bird lovers. The islands are located in only 210 kilometers from Scotland and in spite of the presence of the oil towers, are ecologically clean. This district is not really pure British - the places remind about Scandinavia here.

Chiloe (Chili)

The Chiloe archipelago is famous for its clean beaches that became one of the reasons to place Chiloe at the third position. The experts have notices also the protection measures of the forests, historical towns and wooden churches on these islands.

By Iuri Tarabanov

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Kenya - The Man Eaters Of Tsavo Still Live On

One of the most distinct characteristics of the African lion is its mane. The thick hair that grows around the head of the male lions, is a unique identity of its presence and signifies the state of health, age and sends a clear message to rivals about who is in charge. It is thick and has black hair for the lions that are in their prime. The mane is truly the crown of the king of the jungle.

Yet there exists a rare breed of lions that have males that do not have a mane. These lions are so rare that minimal studies have been undertaken to know about them. They are said to have an appetite for human flesh. The photographs of the fallen two man eaters of Tsavo taken by col J.H. Patterson after shooting them is probably the best memory of what the lions look like. There is every possibility that that breed still exists, with the appetite for human flesh very much maintained.

In Nakuru National park, there is a framed photogaph of Judy, a game warden who fell victim to a man eater from Tsavo. Tsavo National park is the biggest park in Kenya. It is not fenced and animals can roam freely for thousands of kilometres with minimal human interference. A couple of years ago, Kenya Wildlife Services captured what was reported as a troublesome lion and sent it to Nakuru National park for rehabilitation. It happened that the animal was a maneless male.

With abundance of grazing game, and with other several prides of lions in the park, the lion should be okay. Nothing could have been further from the truth. After only a couple of days, the lion struck to show its true kind. Judy was on duty at the main gate that evening. Around 7.00 p.m. she decided to go back to the camp for a sweater. She informed her colleagues accordingly and set out to the camp. The camp is only about one hundred metres from the gate.

Without her knowledge, Judy had company. She had her riffle at hand and was able to go all the way to the camp. At the camp, neighbours heard someone shout once. They listened for a second cry but it was not forthcoming. Looking outside, someone saw an outline of some animal.
But consequent searches bore no fruit. When they found the riffle, her alarmed colleagues checked with the armoury, to find that it belonged to Judy who was on duty at the gate only a couple of minutes before. The alarm was sounded and a massive search was undertaken.

They suspected a big cat, possibly a leopard or lion, but they were confused because both animals have been in this park for years and such a thing has never been experienced. After a four hour intensive search, one driver noticed a reflection in some bushes and circled the area again. He confirmed that indeed the pair of eyes were those of the killer animal. the bushes were sprayed with bullets and the beast killed. The body of Judy, lay there, with the neck broken but largely untouched. The man eaters of Tsavo had returned to haunt mankind.

One characteristic that was observed with those lions during the construction of the railway, was the dragging of their catch to the caves. They are expert killers, snatching individuals from camps without the any hint from neighbours, with the only confirmation coming during the morning roll call.Unexplained cases of drivers and loaders on the main Mombasa Nairobi highway disappearing while attempting to change spare wheels have been reported.

With the vastness of the Tsavo, we probably have man eaters that live entirely on human flesh, getting their prey from poachers who cant keep their fingers off the park, but whose families cant report to the authorities for fear of retribution. Whether the man eaters of Tsavo will come back in big numbers and spread to other areas in Kenya, brings forth a chilling thought considering their excellence in execution of the hunt.

James G. Kamweru is a tour operator and has been organizing and reporting on Vacation, Travel and Tours for years. For More Information Visit his site at [http://www.nguyosafaris.com]Kenya. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=James_Kamweru http://EzineArticles.com/?Kenya---The-Man-Eaters-Of-Tsavo-Still-Live-On&id=866152

Friday, November 30, 2007

The San Juan Islands Call

The old wooden doors swung open with a cobwebbed creak as my dear old friend pulled aside the rusty latch to let me in. He had taken me to Orcas Island on a weekend trip to help ease the burden of my mind and soul. Life had taken its toll as it so often does and I was reeling from pain and separation. This old building was an ancient chapel set aside for those in need of solitude and it had not been used in some time. Yet my friend had known of its whereabouts and had taken the time to bring me there for healing.

I spent the better part of that day sitting in the dim light that squeezed its way in through the broken knotholes and the spaces between the slats in the wooden walls. Though I was alone, I was not alone. There was so much more in that room than me and I began to be aware that the spirit of the island had come to sit with me, to hold my hand on its turf and to let me know that all would be well once again. When I finally did surface into the daylight, my friend was waiting for me outside, watching birds flying overhead and a beaver playing in a pond nearby. My gratitude overflowed my thanks and it was unnecessary.

The remainder of that weekend was spent exploring Orcas Island for the first time - climbing around Mt. Constitution, hiking to waterfalls, walking around Moran Park. I had an apt guide since my companion had spent much time on Orcas Island and knew many of the nooks and crannies that are so often passed by when one is in a hurry. And so I was introduced to the magic of the islands and it is a time I will never forget.

That was many years ago. Since that time I have referred many people to that island. I do not send them to the chapel since it is private yet I assure them that if they are in need of healing, if life has taken a turn for the momentary worse, there is a place of solace where they can go. There is a piece of the earth that will hold them close to her heart and fill them with the love of nature and the divine that is beyond words. Many folks, upon returning, have told me that they experienced a sense of security and peace that they have not known before; that the earth held them in a way previously unknown.

There is a subtle magic to the islands as they rear their heads above the water so close to the top of the globe. You can sense it on the ferry among passengers even if it is a return trip for them. It is a sense of coming to a special land, a place that truly allows us to access the beauty of our world; to turn away from the harsh day-to-day rush and place ourselves in the trustworthy arms of Mother Nature. Deer roam freely, seals play at the water's edge, ducks come and go, the birds fly overhead companioned by hawks and eagles and alpacas offer their tufted heads as though they had only recently come to our earth from a land far away.

Choosing an island to visit on a day trip can present a challenge if the visitor has limited time. It takes several days to really see the islands and to give into the temptation to bike ride, hike, picnic, lie in the grass and learn to breathe deeply once again. Each of the islands has a particular and very special offering depending upon one's leisure desires and needs. Reading up on the various facilities will help to acquaint vacationers with what is available yet I would counsel the use of your intuition. Listen to their names and let your heart guide you. It will not make any difference which island you choose. Magic will await you the moment your foot steps ashore. And, remember, you can always return and on the next trip choose another island to enchant you.

Toni Elizabeth Sar'h Petrinovich, Ph.D. is a visionary, weaver of grace, quantum physicist and multidimensional traveler. She is the owner of Sacred Spaces in the beautiful San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington State where she conducts personal sessions, retreats and etheric readings for all those drawn to the authentic Self. First and foremost, Toni challenges you to face the fears that are keeping you from living life. She is the author of The Call - Awakening the Angelic Human and its accompanying CD, DNA Re-Awakening. She does long distance healing, spiritual counseling, soul readings, light orb readings and chakra readings by appointment. For more information regarding Toni's work or to contact her by telephone or email, please see her websites: http://www.sacredspaceswa.com and http://www.angelichuman.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Toni_Elizabeth_Sar'h_Petrinovich http://EzineArticles.com/?The-San-Juan-Islands-Call&id=859003

Monday, November 26, 2007

INCA TRAIL TOURS

The real Machu Pichu trails include many other considerations that the general Inca trail tours will not consider. It is vital on your tour to be aware of the background and history of the Incas, and who they were as native South American People. In addition, their language and customs should be understood before embarking on the Inca trail tours. In order to add to your experience and the magnificent beauty of the reign of the Incas. Below are some facts that will ensure that the tour you take is successful and most interesting.

First let’s start with the height of rule when the Inca Empire was among the largest and richest empires in the Americas. The way in which they lived was primitive but well ahead of the times they were in. In most of their daily interactions that are recorded they created, traded, and developed stone, pottery, gold & silver items and many tapestries for their people. The fascinating way in which they were able to keep control of the people in the area of such a large empire. In the beginning they had many tribes each with hundreds of different languages and traditions. They controlled by using developments in architecture, military, and engineering methods that helped to maintain their power & control.

When you visit the great pinnacle of the Incan empire at Machu Pichu, you must stay at one the Machu Pichu hotels that are included in the Inca trail tours. If the view from the top of the stones roads doesn’t impress you the way in which the Incas built their stone roads and bridges joined their intertwined city. Each tribe and conquered community of the Incas were forced to read and comprehend their language, so eventually they all could be of the same language. This extensive planning and preparation for greatness will only add to the adventurous journey that you will have on the Inca trail tours.

In addition to the means of communication they also were prepared for the needed transportation conveniences. Their armies and countrymen were often journeying for miles through the countryside . They were not able to use horses until the 16th century, so they would have to be provided with a means to rest and recharge along the long journey. Thus there were inns along the trails for their animals to rest and feed. They were crossing rope bridges over the Andes and would carry food & military supplies to many cities or towns along the way. The capital of Inca is Cuzco, and all trails would meet in the center of this great city.

The final destination in the Inca trail tours would be the Amazonian rainforests that make the adventure like a magical entrance into the minds and lives of the Inca. The oldest pass is called the Capac Nan Trail and it leads to the village of Ollantaytambo, the “lost city of the Incas”. The ruins are well preserved there because it was hidden by the jungle for many years, until 1911, a historian and explorer named Hiram.

by Thomas H. Lindblom

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Our tips will help get the most joy out of your vacation

It'll be always fun to get away, after those grinding work schedules, and a vacation with or without family is a helluva time to relax and rejuvenate. However, just packing your knapsacks and heading to any destination is not the right approach towards a meaningful vacation. Choose a location that abounds in a variety of sorts, and book the right vacation rentals that provide you a pleasant unwinding. The abundance of outdoor recreational activities, top-of-the-line shopping, entertainment, and dining, mouthwatering array of cuisine, and the ambiance and exquisiteness of the area are factors that are more than enough to seduce visitors to a destination.

Taking advantage of the current low cost of air travel, no destination in the world can be said inaccessible to visitors. Most visitors, in a destination, love to get engrossed in an abundance of recreational activities, escapades, and adventures. So, relax and have some fun in any of the rentals in the area you have chosen to spend your holidays. Remember to book your vacation condo rentals in advance, and make the most of your vacation in the beaches, trails, rivers, or just anywhere in the area. After a full day of hectic activities, relax to your heart's content in the plush amenities of your vacation rentals.

When you plan your vacation, try to stay away from hotels, because vacation home rentals find more favor among visitors for the ambiance, amenities, and hospitality it provide. Experience a unique and more personal vacation experience in your vacation condo home rentals. If you love cooking, buy your own groceries and cook them in the rentals' kitchen.

To have a whale of a time, plan ahead of time, and conduct thorough research on the destination and vacation rentals you are planning to choose. Look into budget travel options before finalizing a family vacation, because budget travel deals are always less than retail travel prices. You can also try setting up a travel budget and save money for a family vacation.

You need to book your air tickets early if you are planning to fly to a destination. Also, check with your vacation rentals owners and confirm if accommodation is available during the time of your visit, because by doing so, the last minute rush can be well avoided. But don't think flying to a distant location only can make a perfect vacation, because a vacation can be most perfect in your home town itself! Prior to deciding to vacation in your own town, check out more about the attractions there and plan accordingly.

A well planned vacation in a location with year-round placid seasons and unmatched ocean access, to rock and roll in fun and sun will help you get over all the blues in your life. Plunge into the attractions, events and activities offered, and revel in the profuse flora and fauna, yummy feasting, and amusing nightlife; no matter where you are for your vacation.

by Frank

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What you must to see in Tokyo

Situated in the Kanto region on the mid-eastern part of the Honshu Island, Tokyo is the capital and the largest city in Japan. Tokyo, literally meaning 'Eastern Capital,' is also one of the 47 prefectures in the country. However, it is much popular as a metropolis rather than a prefecture. The largest of its kind in the world, Tokyo's metropolis is made up of: 26 cities, 23 city wards, eight villages, and five towns.

Once a typical village known as Edo - the city became the political center of the country when Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of the most powerful rulers, established his feudal government here during the 16th century. But, Tokyo got its present name when the emperor Meiji shifted his capital from Kyoto to Edo. A city of contrasts, Tokyo has now become one of the most popular destinations in the world, brimming with world-class attractions.

Tokyo has to its credit such a great number of attractions that it takes months to explore them all. One of the most popular among the city's attractions is Imperial Palace, which is still the residence of the emperor of Japan. The palace is built on a huge amazing site, where still the remains of Edo Castle can be seen. Another worth-visiting attraction here is Diet Parliament, which was opened in 1936. Equally worth mentioning is Kabuki-za Theatre, which is perhaps the most popular in the country. Opened its door in 1889, the theatre conducts daily performances.

No visit to Tokyo would be complete without taking a tour to Akihabara, also known as Akihabara Electric Town or Akiba. This area boasts of an enormous collection of electronic shops. Also, a great attraction in the city is Tokyo Tower, a soaring structure that takes after the Eiffel Tower in Paris. A marine aquarium can also be seen here. Additionally, Tokyo is home to Tsukiji Central Wholesale Market, one of the largest fish market in the world.

Other not to miss destinations in Tokyo are Shinjuku, a business area of the city with one of the biggest amusement squares in the country; Asakusa, with attractions such as Sensoji Temple and the Kaminarimon gate; Roppongi, a trendy area regarded as the international area of the city; and Odaiba, a highly developed waterfront as well as island area in Tokyo bay.

Above all, while your stay in the city, don't miss Tokyo Disneyland, an amusement park with highlights such as Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour, Fantillusion, Western River Railroad, The Mickey Mouse Review, and Meet the World.

Shrines and Temples - Each of the temples in the city is truly a sight to see. Most popular among the shrines in the area is Sensoji Temple, also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple. Located in Asakusa, the temple is a Buddhist shrine, with features such as the Kaminarimon or thunder gate and a five-storied pagoda. Nakamise, a shopping street with a history of several centuries, leads to the second gate of the temple, Hozomon.

Meiji Shrine, dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife Shoken, is another popular temple in the city. Completed in 1920 and rebuilt after the Second World War, Meiji Shrine is home to various festivals and events.

A visit to such shrines as Sengakuji Temple, where 47 Ronin are buried; Yasukini Shrine, which commemorate Japan's war dead; and Zojoji Temple - the main shrine of Buddhist Jado sect would be a great experience.

Museums - Tokyo has a great number of museums, which among many others, are the Tokyo National Museum - the oldest as well as the largest in the country; Mitsuo Aida Museum, with a rare collection of artifacts; Edo Tokyo Museum, where on display are artifacts related to the city's history and culture; O Art Museum, a multi-purpose art museum; Mori Art Museum, showcasing contemporary Japanese art; Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum; Nezu Institute of Fine Art; the Bunkamura Museum of Fine Art; Science Museum of Tokyo, and Sompo Japan Museum of Art, housing works of Seiji Togo, a well-known Japanese artist.

Parks and Gardens - For nature lovers, Tokyo has an astounding array of parks and gardens. Some of the most popular among them are:
  • Rikugien, a beautiful landscape garden designed in Japanese style
  • Hama Rikyu, one of the most attractive gardens in the area, which once served as the garden of a feudal lord's residence during the Edo period
  • Kyu Shiba Rikyu Onshi Teien, which is developed on the site which was earlier the residence of several feudal lords as well as government officials
  • East Gardens, an amazing garden located within the compounds of the Imperial Palace
  • Ueno Park, one of the largest public parks in the country, is home to many museums, such as the Tokyo National Museum and the National Museum for Western Art
  • Yoyogi Koen, a unique park designed in western style
Tokyo has some of the best shopping areas in the form of Ginza district, located in the heart of the city. Many stores designer items, jewelry, and apparels can be seen here. Among the largest department stores in the area are Hankyu, Seibu, Printemps, Matsuya, Wako and Mikimoto.

Author: Wolfgang Jaegel

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Brithish Most Haunted Places

By Iuri Tarabanov

1. The "Highgate" cemetery, London. In the late sixties of the last century there were hearings that visitors of this cemetery were terrorized by a tall dark figure with hypnotic red eyes.

2. The house of the parish priest in Borley, the Essex County. It is considered, that in this house lived various vampires, the most well-known of which was the slaughtered conventual. In 1944 the house was taken down, but yet the number of the people wishing to look at that place where it stood earlier, did not become smaller.

3. The Penndel-hill hill, the Lancashire County. In 1612 in the castle of Lancaster had been executed ten so-called "witches of the Penndel" who, as they say, are haunting till now the inhabitants of the village of Njuchyorch. One of them was buried right on the Penndel-hill hill.

4. The «Red lion" pub in Avebury, the Wiltshire County. In the «Red lion" children-phantoms, light circles, strange shades and abnormal cold areas had been noticed in the "the Red lion".

5.The "Ancient ram" hotel, the city of Voottin-under-Edge, the Gloucestershire county .They say that in this 12th century's building constructed on a pagan cemetery, murders, acts of a Satanism and sacrifice of children took place.

6. The Glemis Castle, the city of Angus, Scotland. According to hearings, the residence of the Stretmorsky count and countess is full of secret rooms. Among the phantoms of this building it is possible to point out a woman without tongue, running in the garden, and the mysterious Grey Lady.

7. The London Tower. The most well-known ghosts of this building became the princes in the tower, killed by their uncle Richard III. Also the illusive shifts are made by Lady Jane Grey, Anna Bolejn and the White Lady.

8. The Culloden Bogs , in the neighborhood of Inverness. In 1746 in a battle between Scots and Englishmen the first had lost their chances on independence.

9. The Private residence Llancaiach Fawr Manor near to Caerfilli, the Wales. In this private residence continuous mutter of unbodied voices is heard, and visitors frequently burst into tears in one of the rooms.

10. The castle of Berry Pmroy, the Devon County. There, according to hearings, the Dark blue Lady and the White Lady come with a visit quite often.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Travel Tips - Packing Your Bags!

By Darlene Berkel

A vacation is supposed to be a way to have fun - not an army training experience where you lug a heavy pack for miles and end up sore and tired. It can be difficult to decide what, and how, to pack. Hopefully this guide will help you decide what is important, and what to leave at home. Planning in advance can help you remember the useful things, and stop the panic that happens when you forget the essentials.

One of the most basic travel packing tips is to make a list - it may seem silly or pointless, but seriously, it's so much easier to just tick off items as you put them in the suitcase. Trying to remember everything will just lead to you either forgetting something, or packing something twice.

Selecting Luggage

Picking the right suitcase, or suitcases, will make your journey much easier too. If you want to use a carry-on, check with the airline to make sure your suitcase is the right size - finding out at the last minute that you need to go all the way back to check in because your bag is too big can be quite frustrating.

When selecting a suitcase, look for one that has a sturdy, pull out handle, and wheels that are made of a durable material. Be wary of ones with small handles that are attached directly to the material of the case, as these can often tear or come loose.

If you need to pack expensive evening wear, or garments that wrinkle easily, some people find that putting them in a garment bag first, then loosely laying it in the suitcase - without making any hard folds, can help it survive the journey intact. If you have to cram your suitcase full of clothing, then you may have to make use of an iron at the hotel.

Packing Your Suitcase

Many people find that rolling clothing, instead of folding it, can prevent wrinkles, and also makes the clothes take up less space in the suitcase.

If you are going on a long holiday, then you may find that it is better to pack a wardrobe based around one or two colors, so that you can mix and match items to make your wardrobe last longer. Colours such as black, navy and khaki make a good base choice as they 'go with everything.

Make sure that you take your medication, travel documents, and other essential items in your carry-on luggage. You may need a note from your doctor if you wish to bring liquid medication on board.

If you are stuck for ideas on what to pack, there are lots of web sites that offer tips and advice - you can even download pre-done packing lists and just tweak them to your own liking.

However you do it, just remember that a little preparation before you leave will go a long way towards making your trip more enjoyable.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Cancun, Mexico Vacation

By Elena Piccini

What I recommend, if you desire to discover Mexico, is just to pack the few things you need (bathing suit, mask and sun cream, if you want your family too...) and head to the airport, book your flight to Cancun and enjoy a wonderful vacation under the Caribbean sun of Mexico!

Cancun, the tip of the Riviera Maya, is a tropical heaven with endless white-talc sandy beaches and lush forest...the second longest Coral Reef (Great Mayan Reef) of the World run along the Mayan Riviera, and for the keen of diving this is the ideal place... From Cancun, to Cozumel, to Tulum you will have wonderful underwater treasures to discover...

Beyond the white beaches , the palm trees, the crystalline emerald water of the Caribbean Sea and of the innumerable smiles of the Mexican people, Cancun has some of the most elegant and luxury hotels of the World!

The city of Cancun receives every year thousands of visitors from all over the World, and for this reason, numerous high quality hotels and resorts are growing up fast. Travel can suit every budget because there is a good mix of youth hostels and inexpensive hotels to stay, as well as luxurious beachfront resorts.

In Cancun you will find an abundance of possibilities- something for every age, vacation type, budget, and activity...

Almost guaranteed sunshine beckons travelers to Cancun beaches, where water sports abound, romance flourishes and the party never ends.

With some of the best golf, snorkeling and scuba diving in the world, Cancun's worthy of its reputation as a world-class sports wonderland.

In fact, Cancun definitely lives up to its "name" as a water sports capital. Here you can scuba dive, snorkel, windsurf, parasail, kayak, water ski, jet ski, fish, swim with the dolphins or just enjoy the beach.

On vacation, one can play on magnificent golf courses and choose from huge Golf resorts, premier spots to test your skills and improve your game.

If you want to bring back to your house something more than a sombrero and a bottle of Tequila that testify your travel to Mexico, we suggest some great experience to do.
Don' t just limit yourself to see the usual faces in the sauna, swimming pool or in the beach of the hotel:

If you want to get yourself involved , from the local people, in their "fiestas mexicanas"...
...if you wish to get your mind lost in the charming beaches or wild jungle and untouched nature...
... if your desire is to discover and live the magical atmosphere of mysterious archaeological sites..........You are in the right place!

Mexico is a mosaic of cultures to discover, fascinating landscapes, and the cradle of traditions conserved through the centuries.

Cancun can be the starting point for your cultural vacation to Mexico! Archaeological sites as Chichen Itza, Cobà, Ek Balam, Uxmal, Tulum are not too far.

A day trip or a few days tour will be the best for discovering the Mayan ruins of the Yucatan Peninsula. Immersed in the jungle, ancient civilization left their stories in the walls of those wonders...

Also, intimate retreats for your honeymoon vacations!

Romantic Sunset Tours will help couples to create fantastic memories of your Honeymoon vacation!
In the hotels , the ocean front suites are made especially for those people looking for something very special, well, the colors and the atmosphere of the Caribbean Sea helps a lot, but the high quality services are very satisfying too..

The Riviera Maya, and especially Cancun, is a marvellous oasis where you can find peace of mind...There are a lot of Spa resorts and hotels with Spas, and they will take care of you and your soul... take a step back and indulge yourself in a truly rejuvenating break at wonderful Cancun spa resorts. Let yourself enjoy a rare chance to have someone else look after you, where indulgence is the key word, you'll emerge feeling recharged and invigorated.

Whether the sun is rising or night is falling, the opportunities for fun are endless.

Cancun is also a favorite Mexico tourist destination for spring breakers because has everything that a Spring Breaker could dream! Cancun really comes to life after the sun goes down, sporting some of the hottest discos in the world. With incredible light shows, theme parties, and music that doesn't stop until sunrise, Cancun has it all.

Immerse yourself in the exotic Mexican Caribbean while staying in exclusive resorts. Explore intriguing ancient Mayan sites, enticing white sand beaches and a variety of lively and leisurely pastimes.

Are you thinking that I'm exaggerating a beat? You're wrong... everything it's true..

I could keep going to talk and talk and talk about the thousand of things to do and experience in a Cancun vacation, but ...sorry... time is up... and your flight to Cancun is living now!! Hurry up!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Budapest Christmas - November 24th to December 29th, 2007 in Vorosmarty Square

By Zoran Ibrahimpasic

This year "Budapest Christmas" is being held for the ninth time, with events getting under way on Saturday 24th November, 2007.

The Christmas Market in Budapest is not only a tradition, but an event of high standard, which is very popular among Hungarians and by foreign visitors as well.

Budapest's official Christmas Market promises to again be an atmospheric special occasion for the people of Budapest and visitors from outside the city and from abroad in 2007, well worthy of the Christmas spirit. The market, which is the main out-of-season tourist event, is equally popular amongst Hungarian visitors and foreign tourists, who often travel to Budapest specifically to visit the Christmas raft Market. By keeping standards high and maintaining a wide and expanding variety of programs it can now be said that one of the largest events in Budapest in December has grown to become internationally well-known and respected. The location is very attractive, Vörösmarty Square lies in the heart of Budapest.

Traditional Hungarian craftsmen show their talents and sell their hand made products. Only the top Hungarian craftspeople are invited to Budapest's Christmas Market, so the intricate porcelain, cut glass and leather goods, for instance, are of the highest quality. All products are hand-made and the Hungarian Society of Folk Arts guarantees their quality.

The market also has a gastronomic side. Don't forget to taste traditional Hungarian food and cakes: strudel, grilled sasuges and meat, Christmas cookies, kürtös kalács (hollow, cylinder-shaped pastry with different coatings: sugar, walnut). If you get tired, have a cup of coffee with a delicious Hungarian cake in Gerbeaud Café.

As part of this year's series of Christmas programmes in Budapest, is it also planed to host the real Santa Claus from Finnland , who will be waiting with great interest for the children visiting the square, and personally listen to their wishes. An inseparable part of the Budapest Christmas' series of programmes is the Advent Calendar.

This spectacular fair is located in the heart of the city, in Vörösmarty Square and claims to be amongst the ten best Christmas markets in Europe. Indeed, many visitors make the trip to Budapest specifically to come to the Market.

The Budapest Christmas Fair is one of favourite events both for tourists and locals in winter. Come and visit the Budapest Christmas Fair if you want to buy something unique and original for your loved ones.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Eurostar Train - Glide Between London, Paris & Brussels with Eurostar

By Peter Halpin

The Eurostar is a high speed train service connecting London and Kent in Britain, with Paris and Brussels in Europe. It is the world's most advanced train, whisking you under the sea through the famous Channel Tunnel in luxurious surroundings, taking just 20 minutes at a record speed of 186 mph.

The first trains ran in November 1994 and since then, Eurostar has established a dominant share of the market on the routes it serves. With the announcement that the Channel Tunnel Rail Link will open into London St Pancras station on November 14, 2007 the service will enjoy "High Speed 1" status.

Eurostar claims the journey times match or beat air flights, thus making it an alternative to air travel for holidays in Europe. Fares include the price of the ticket and seat reservation. Meals are included for Business Premier and First Class fares. The service is also non-smoking!

Food in first class is better than that served in the economy seats of a plane and comes served separately with metal cutlery and complimentary half-bottles of wine.

There is also the convenience factor. If you live in London, instead of enduring a 40 minute trip to Heathrow, you can make it to Waterloo Station in just 10 minutes, thus shortening your trip.

If you get a seat in the first class (not premium first), not only does the leg-room double, but seemingly, so does the seat size.

From those who have travelled on Eurostar for weekend leisure visits to Europe, comes a trick for getting cheaper tickets. The idea is to book your tickets in reverse to take advantage of leisure fares coming in from the French side. So instead of booking London to Paris Monday to Friday, book Paris to London Friday to Monday. You will see a massive difference in price.

Some say it's cheaper to buy an air ticket, but if you add on airport taxes, the cost of getting out to one airport and then finding your way into the city from another airport, then all the drinky snacky things you'll buy on the way, you'd be hard pushed to do the trip for less than the Eurostar ticket. It will also take you much longer and be a much less pleasant journey.

A day trip from London to Paris, or vice-versa? No problem. By plane? It would be a nightmare! The Eurostar also caters very well for disabled people, so if you're disabled, there's another plus.

There are another few useful things worth knowing about Eurostar: they sell gift vouchers, which make nice presents. All their timetables are available on the internet, as are booking facilities and even details of how to book onward journeys if you want to transfer to another train to go elsewhere in France.

The downside at present, is that Eurostar's rail network is not very extensive, which means finding more train connections if you're going anywhere other than London, Paris and Brussels. But there are plans ahead for the service to extend across Europe. The day may come when you can catch a sleeper from London and wake up in Rome.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

An Overview of Asia

By Richard Monk

Asia is the largest continent when measured by landmass and human population. Following is an overview of Asia.

Asia is considered one of the seven continents. This continental definition, however, is far broader than many people think. Under the seven continent methodology, Asia stretches from Japan in the East through Russia in the West. It encompasses Saudi Arabia and everything above Asia. While it doesn’t always make practical sense, there is no denying this definition of Asia makes it the home of over 60 percent [4 billion] of all humans. China and India, of course, are the locations of a vast majority of these people.

In modern times, geographers recognize there really is no dividing line between Asia to the west and Europe to the East. This has resulted in the entire area being called Eurasia, but thousands of years of terminology aren’t about to pass into antiquity. Today, most people refer to Europe as a continent so far as it extends to the Ural Mountains in Russia. Everything to the east of that mountain range is considered Asia. For instance, Israel is considered a country in Western Asia!

Russia has even picked up on this theme with the two heads on the national flag. The west facing head refers to the European part of Russia while the East facing head refers to the Asian part of the country. Within Russia, it is almost as if there are two countries with Moscow and St. Petersburg having heavy European influences. Cities in the Far East, such as Vladivostok, are much more oriented to China and such.

To resolve the boundary issue, the powers that be have started defining Asia subcontinents. The areas are:
  1. Central Asia - Kazakhstan Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
  2. East Asia – China, Japan, Mongolia, Taiwan, North and South Korea.
  3. North Asia - Russia.
  4. India Subcontinent – India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.
  5. Southeast Asia - Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar [Burma], Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
  6. Southwest Asia – The Middle East including Turkey, Iran, Cyprus, Israel, Lebanon and sometimes Egypt.
Given the problems defining the boundaries of Asia, you can imagine it is also difficult to define certain characteristics regarding the continent. After all, life in Turkey is much different than in China. Conversely, customs in India are completely different than those in China. In fact, most people living in Asia take offence when someone uses the word “Asians” to refer to them. The word implies a similarity among all people in Asia, which simply isn’t true.

Economically, things are a bit easier to categorize. The largest economy in Asia is China as a measure of gross domestic product. Officially known as the People’s Republic of China, this country remains communist in name only when it comes to economic issues. With massive economic growth over the last 10 years, China is the second largest economy in the world after the United States. Another heavily populated area, India, is now the fourth biggest economy in the world, while relatively small Japan is the third. Put in practical terms, Asia is home to three of the four biggest economies on Earth. The three dominant financial centers are Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore.

With so many countries, it is hardly surprising to find a wide variety of religious practices in Asia. There are a wide variety of belief systems, but Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam have the largest number of adherents.

Figuring out exactly what constitutes Asia is largely a matter of opinion. Among many assertions about Asia, the undisputable one is it is the home to the largest percentage of humans on the planet.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Asia - The Best Travel Destination

By Brian Bees

If the time has come for your vacation or a holiday getaway, read this article before making your plans. There are many places of great beauty and interest to be seen in the USA and Europe. But, whether transportation, touring, theme park, or food and lodging, it is expensive. This article is written for every traveler, whether a backpacker on a budget, or a first class - five star traveler.

Travel in Asia is inexpensive and opens the door to different cultural experiences. Planning can be for a short holiday, an extended stay, or choices of laying the groundwork for the ultimate stay, retirement. Nowadays, with so many opportunities to make money using the Internet it is not out of the question to "retire" early.

Medical Tourism in Asia growing in popularity. It is high quality and affordable. Just one of International standard hospitals in Bangkok serves 400,000 international patients annually, In the USA cataract surgery for one eye runs around $8,000. At a prestigious International hospital in Thailand cataract surgery can be performed on both eyes for around $2,500. It is possible to have quality medical care, and an Asian holiday, for a fraction of the cost of the same procedure in the USA.

Let us take a tantalizing glimpse at just some of the countries.

Thailand - Land of Smiles. Often referred to as the most exotic country in Southeast Asia. A visit to the Grand Palace in Bangkok for sure. Trips to a floating market or to the Bridge on the River Kwai. From pristine beaches in the Southern Islands to the Northern mountains with its waterfalls, elephants bathing in mountain streams, and Hill Tribe villages.

India - Delhi is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. India Gate, an imposing structure, has emerged as one of the most popular tourist spots in Delhi. The Red Fort Delhi, a masterpiece of architecture, is a popular spot. A trip to India would not be complete without a visit to Agra, famous as the site of one of the world's most romantic, graceful and photographed buildings, the Taj Mahal.

Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos - Three small countries neighboring Thailand. Each opens a different world of exploration. Cambodia - the highlight is visiting Angkor Wat, an architectural masterpiece constructed in the jungle in the early 12th century. Vietnam - is a varied country, offering beaches, mountains and hundreds of years of history from the ancient Cham Towers to remnants from the Vietnam War. Laos - savor the crafts, culture and hospitality of Laos with a river trip, visits to ancient temples, gorgeous palaces, and traditional villages.

Nepal - Adventure, travel, trekking, birding, wildlife, and cultural & overland Safaris. Take an air flight along the Himalayas and view magnificent Mount Everest. Nearby, discover the serene beauty of Tibet, the country which inspired the Dalai Lama. .

Indonesia - Jakarta, the capital city of the world's fourth most-populous nation. Bali is Indonesia's main holiday destination. Flores is a pretty lush green island with forests, palm and banana trees, rice fields and many volcanoes. Highlights are the three small offshore islands of "Gillis" that invite snorkeling, diving and relaxing. For hikers, a climb to the top of the volcano Rijani.

Philippines - An island nation comprising over 7,000 islands in the western Pacific Ocean.
Manila, the bustling capital has powerful reminders of the country's past, along with attractive parks, fine museums, and exhilarating nightlife. The Ifugao Rice Terraces
are a testimony to the early technological advancement of the Ifugao people. Take a jeepney ride to the market. Be brave, try balut, a Philippine delicacy. Go diving in the Visayas.

Singapore - Shopping on famous Orchard Road, the dream of every woman. The Night Safari at Singapore Zoo is fabulous. Chinatown, a little glitzy, but you can buy all the souvenirs you want there. Interestingly, one of Singapore's most beautiful Hindu temples is smack dab in the middle of Chinatown. Decide if a Singapore Sling is worth the hype in the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel. There's more to Singapore than urban glitz, like rambling in the rain forest of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

Japan - Tokyo is the capital city and home of the Imperial Residence and Emperor's Palace. Select a popular destination or region in Japan and explore its attractions. Ride the Bullet Train to the magnificent city of Kyoto. Visit Hiroshima and the Peace Memorial Park. Castles, temples, gardens, the list of top destinations in Japan is too long for this article..

Taiwan - Taipei, the country's booming, vibrant capital remains steeped in Chinese, Japanese and native Taiwanese cultures. Some of its most impressive sights include the Grand Hotel, topped by the largest Classical Chinese roof in the world, the Shihlin Night Market, the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial with the National Theater and Concert Hall located directly across from each other on the grounds. A popular day trip is Tailuge (Taroko Gorge), considered one of the natural wonders of the world.

Hong Kong - the Pearl of East and jewel of The Orient. Nathan Road is lined with shops, restaurants, nightspots and cheap places to stay. If you're in Hong Kong with the little ones, they'll probably appreciate Ocean Park (aquarium), Water World (swimming pools and water slides), and of course Disneyland. If you're in Hong Kong for more than a few days, then there's plenty of outlying islands to discover.

It is often said that for the traveler that has seen it all and done it all, there is still Katmandu, Nepal. And, that too is in Asia!

If you do not visit Asia, you will be missing not only a paradise of affordable travel, but the chance to see an alternative living location. For retirees, it is luxury living for pennies, not just getting by on their pension. Asia, a paradise experience is waiting for you.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Seven Wonders Of Havana - Things To Do In Cuba's Glorious Capital

By Emma Lelliott

Recently, for the first time in over 2,200 years the seven wonders of the world were reassessed. Over 100 million people voted and decided that the Great Wall of China, Rome’s Colosseum, Chichen Itza in Mexico, Petra in Jordan, Machu Picchu in Peru, Rio’s Christ the Redeemer and the Taj Mahal would make the best new wonders.

Certainly narrowing down the finalists from an initial list of hundreds can have been no easy task – most countries can probably compile a list of seven themselves. Cuba, which is of course my specialty (I am the general manager of Captivating Cuba), has many architectural and cultural triumphs worthy of celebration. Hell, even Havana itself has enough aesthetic wonder and cultural heritage for me to wax lyrical for several pages. In the interests of brevity and in matching the arbitrary figure placed on the number of wonders allowed in one world, I shall limit my list to seven sites worth examining on a Havana holiday.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present (in no particular order)

The Seven Wonders of Havana

Plaza de la Revolución

The enormous square has seen many political rallies and the feel of history and importance of the area is tangible. The square’s podium has seen many important political speeches from Fidel Castro and other prominent figures on important days in the Cuban calendar. While Castro is infamous for his long speeches, the public events always prove popular, attracting over 1,000,000 Cubans over the years.

The square is dominated by the impressive José Martí memorial – a tower in honour of a national hero killed in the 1895 Second war of Independence. At 138 feet high, the imposing structure is the highest point in the city and visitors may take a lift to the very top of the building. Behind the memorial are the offices of Fidel Castro himself, and opposite is the iconic image of Che Guevara that marks the Ministry of the Interior’s building – a staple sight on any Havana holiday.

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

This modern art museum is divided into two distinct part. The Collección de Arte Cubano is dedicated to Cuban art created between the 16th and 20th century, while The Collección de Arte Universal has a far wider scope. It includes art from Italian, French and Dutch painters as well as including artefacts from Latin America and ancient Greece.

Cigar Factories

Cuba is practically synonymous with the word “cigars” and a visit to one of the three major Cuban cigar factories in Havana can give a good indication as to why. The three main factories give tours which allow the visitors to see the hand rolled cigars in production. Partagas is the oldest factory (founded in 1827) and keeping with tradition hires a reader to entertain the workers by reading aloud. Partagas and the two other main factories, La Corona and Romeo y Julieta have shops attached which allow visitors to purchase cigars as souvenirs.

Museo de la Ciudad

The building that now houses Havana’s museum treasures has a past that predates the revolution and evokes images of when Cuba was a non-Communist state. The building once housed the island’s colonial governors and was the palace of the Captains General. Built in 1791, the museum’s exhibits give a feel of the history of Havana – from the city’s foundation to the present day. The museum naturally devotes a sizable section to the Cuban wars for national independence, but also houses a diverse range of other exhibits showcasing the island’s art, porcelain, paintings, furniture, folklore and archaeology.

Capitolio Nacional

An important landmark in the centre of Havana, the Capitolio Nacional is an impressive site. It looks remarkably similar to the US Capitol in Washington DC, and is now home to the National Library and Academy of Sciences. Some of its rooms are also used for state events, in a nod to its history where it once seated members of the Cuban congress. Directly underneath the memorable dome, an imitation 24 carat diamond is set into the floor, which measures the distances between Havana and all Cuba’s other sites.

Habana Vieja

The old city was founded in 1519, and was often a target for pirates which explains the dilapidated, yet still imposing, remains of Havana’s city walls. Nowadays the old city includes museums, hotels, shops and restaurants to line the picturesque cobble stoned streets. The plazas are marked by meticulously restored colonial buildings and attractive churches, which make the perfect backdrop for Havana’s old city life as it goes by. The region also includes La Bodeguita Del Medio – a bar made famous thanks to its patronage by Mr Ernest Hemingway.

Museo de la Revolución

What used to be the Presidential Palace and Cuban Government’s HQ is now fittingly a museum of the revolution that saw them ousted. The building is still aesthetically astounding, but the insides have changed to house pieces, photography and documents pertaining to the Cuban Revolution. The building isn’t the only imposing sight upon approach to the museum – out the front is the tank driven by Fidel Castro during the Bay of Pigs battle, and behind is the yacht that brought Che Guevara and Fidel Castro from Mexico to Cuba in 1956.

Aside from these main aesthetic Cuban wonders, there are countless other things to do in Havana. It is truly a magnificent city – a one of a kind mixture of 1950s America and Caribbean lifestyle. If you are considering a holiday to Havana, this list will really help you get into the Cuban spirit and gain an insight into the rich history of the city.

Emma Lelliott is the general manager of Captivating Cuba ( http://www.captivatingcuba.com), an independent Cuba holiday specialist. With offices in Havana and the UK, Captivating Cuba offer expert local knowledge for island visitors looking to explore Havana and Varadero and Cayo Coco as well as lesser known resorts including Jibacoa and Trinidad.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

10 Interesting Places In Europe

By David Dutton

From the rolling greens of Scotland to the beautiful ancient ruins of Greece, there are a variety of interesting places to visit in Europe. Take a trip to Europe and your most difficult decision is going to be which places to visit during your vacation.

Some of the major cities on this diverse continent include London, Paris, Venice, Rome, Madrid, and Frankfurt.

Since there are so many interesting places to visit in Europe, you may need a bit of help deciding where to go. The following are 10 of the best places to visit for a great time.

Eiffel Tower - Known as one of the most famous landmarks in the world, there is no structure that has ever been built like the Eiffel Tower. The tower is 984 feet high and one of the tallest buildings in the world. The view of Paris from the tower is a definitely must see if you are in Europe.

Acropolis - If you are interested in history, one historical site in Europe that you won't want to miss is the Acropolis. Located in Athens, you'll see sites such as the Parthenon, sites built as far back as the 5th Century BC. Not only will you get to have a close up look at all these ancient buildings and ruins, but you'll also get a great view of the city of Athens from here as well.

The Roman Coliseum - Another of the many interesting places to visit in Europe is the Roman Coliseum. This grand site was originally a huge amphitheater that could seat more than 50,000 people. With amazing ancient architecture, even in disrepair, this is a magnificent site that you definitely have to see.

Tower Bridge - Since 1894, this beautifully designed bridge has been standing over the River Thames in the city of London. From the bridge's beautiful walkways you can see some breathtaking views of London. You can also visit the engine rooms containing the steam engines that power the bridge. Whether you go in the day or at night, this is a breathtaking must-see.

Edinburgh Castle - Edinburgh Castle is another of the most interesting places to visit in Europe. It is over 1,000 years old and once you see this magnificent castle you'll soon understand why more than a million people visit it each year. You can tour the castle, enjoy the views and visit the surrounding gardens as well.

Buckingham Palace - Since 1837 Buckingham Palace has been the residence of British royalty, and what would a trip to Europe be without taking the time to see the home of the Queen of England. If you visit during August or September you'll even be able to see inside the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace.

Big Ben - The world's largest turret clock tower, Big Ben is one of the best known landmarks in London and definitely one of the most interesting places to visit in Europe. Although it is not open for public tours, it looks spectacular, especially at night when it is all lit up.

La Sagrada Familia - While in Europe, another must see is the unfinished church La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain, designed and worked on by the famous architect Antoni Gaudi. Unfortunately, he died before the structure was completed. With amazingly designed towers and innovative architecture, however, this is an excellent place to visit while in Europe.

Cathedral Notre-Dame - No visit to France is complete without stopping by the Cathedral Notre-Dame. History buffs will enjoy the rich history of this attraction while art lovers will enjoy the beautiful statues, columns and windows.

St. Michaeliskirche - Right in Hamburgh, Germany, is the beautiful St. Michaeliskirche, known locally as Michl. During the day you can enter the church for free. However, if you choose to go up to the top of the spire, you will have to pay a small but worthwhile fee for its beautiful view of Hamburg.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What You Must See in Bangkok

By Hosh N

Bangkok is an exhilarating destination, with her interesting mix of traditional sights and attractions, exotic aromas and western influence. To unravel the layers of this city, you'll need to understand its history and culture. A trip to this Kingdom of smiles will allow you to do this if you allow yourself enough time to see some of the treasures this place has to offer. At least three days, and this is not a problem with an abundance of cheap flights and good hotels available in Bangkok throughout the year. This article features some of the highlights and traditional must-see attractions.

Wat Pho

Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) is one of the oldest and largest temples in Bangkok and located next to the Grand Palace. It is most famous for its grand and splendid reclining Buddha, covered in gold leaf and measuring more than 150 feet long. There are some cool spots under the trees beside the temple for rest and rejuvenation as well. Treat yourself to their famed massage services where they offer trained professionals in the school of traditional massage housed within the temple itself. You will also enjoy the action of dropping coins into a long line of small containers around the reclining buddha, as an act of accumulating blessings for yourself and others.

The Grand Palace

The Grand Palace, with its glittery, extravagant architecture, is simply grand. This famous palace was built in 1782, and it continues to capture visitors' imagination with its magnificent buildings and intricate details. It gives you an insight into Thai royalty, in local Siamese style with its wonderful mix of colours.

Entering the palace grounds, you will have to wear long trousers or skirts. The dress code states no jeans, but don't worry, you can always rent the appropriate clothing for free if you turn up in them. Audio guides are avaliable near the entrance and are helpful if you are not in a tour group.

There's always touts outside the palace scamming unaware tourists that the grand palace is closed, and suggesting to follow their tours. Just don't be fooled by them.

Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaeo)

Located inside the grounds of the Grand Palace, and regarded as the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand, Wat Pra Kaeo enshrines Phra Kaew Morakot (the Emerald Buddha), the highly revered Buddha image meticulously carved from a single block of jade.

This temple is a huge incredible riot of glittering gold and colours, everywhere you look. There are a million details not to be overlooked and part of visiting the Grand Palace is seeing this Emerald Buddha. If you happen to visit the palace on the same day as the King himself, grab the chance to see the Emerald Buddha clad in its gold outfits!

Floating Market

The floating market has been reduced to a touristy state nowadays, but even though transactions are more involved and to do with tourists rather than locals these days, the floating market boats are still piled high with tropical fruits and vegetables, fresh coconut juice and local food cooked right on the boat itself.

With each boat jostling for space within the narrow canals, it's absolutely frantic and disorderly. The paddling skills of each boat-woman are to be admired at and they will stop and bargain with you at any time. It's vibrant, noisy but great fun.

Chao Phraya River

The Chao Phraya River flows through the capital and is where Bangkok's historic roots lie. One of the most fascinating and scenic areas of Bangkok, the riverside reflects a constantly changing scene day and night. The river is also one of the major transportation systems of the city, with massive traffic jams along the roads all day. The water-taxis ferries commuters up and doen the river, and heavily laden rice barges can also be seen in the waters.

The river is set against a backdrop of glittering temples, palaces and historical landmarks. You can also find luxury, five-star hotels, as well as cheap hotel deals along the riverside.

Chinatown

Chinatown is a busy area, packed with market stalls and has probably the greatest concentration of gold shops in the city. Always crowded, especially during the Chinese New Year period, this area still retains its old look and relatively untouched by modern high-rise developments. The Chinese community here still continues their own traditions and religious practices. Restaurants can be found abundant along the streets, offering Chinese cuisines, delicacies and seafood. One of the best places to enjoy sumptuous seafood at relatively cheap prices, and this area has lots of budget hotels for any backpacker.

Jim Thompson House

Jim Thompson or James Harrison Wilson Thompson was born in Greenville, Delaware in 1906. He is an American who started the Thai silk industry in Thailand after World War II. With his natural flair for design and color, and his dedication to reviving the craft, Thompson gained worldwide recognition for his success in generating international demand for Thai silk. This former residence of his houses a magnificent collection of Asian art and many unique displays, in addition to it being best place to purchase silk in Bangkok.

This place has an intriguing history to boot as well. During the Easter weekend in 1967, Thompson disappeared while on holiday with friends in Cameron Highlands, a northern Malaysian resort. An extensive and extended search failed to reveal any clues about his disappearance. Theories abound about his disappearance, but there has been no answer as yet.

Vimanmek Mansion

Built by King Rama V upon his return from Europe in 1897, this palace is the world's largest golden teakwood mansion featuring an elaborate and unique blend of Victorian and Thai architecture. Altogether there are 31 exhibition rooms, with the bedrooms, the throne room and the bathrooms maintaining the atmosphere of the Thai past. Some display rooms house exhibitions of Thai art including silverware, ceramics, crystal ware, and ivory.

Having a desire to know the world, Hosh loves travelling and peeping into other countries' cultures, food, lifestyles and attitudes, infusing herself with the spirit and soul of each foreign place. Go out explore the earth, it will not be a wasted trip on this planet, she believes.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Amazing Alice Springs

By Jenny Brewer

Alice Springs is one of Australia's most well known outback towns. It is almost in the centre of the Territory and lies between the West and East MacDonnell Ranges, and can be reached in a day's drive from Darwin.

Most of the year you can enjoy sunny days, and wide, blue skies. The winter nights get very cold, so don't forget your socks, and in summer the temperatures can soar to over 40 degrees. The best time to travel is spring and autumn, where the temperatures are not as extreme.

There is so much in this diverse town, which is the second largest in the Territory next to Darwin. You will find history in every corner, as the town was forged by brave pioneers and flying doctors who put Alice on the map. Make sure you visit the old telegraph station, which also offers bushwalking and pretty picnic spots. The Royal Flying Doctor service is known and loved by all Australians, and a visit to the original base is worthwhile to see the museum and enjoy the interactive tours.

The Alice Springs Reptile Centre also has to be seen, especially if you have boys with you (of any age!). You will be amazed at the large range of reptiles on show, including the frilly neck lizards, thorny devils, goannas, pythons and venomous snakes.

One of the highlights of your stay at Alice would have to be the 'Spirit of the Night sky', held at the Milky Way Café and Observatory in town. This educational and entertaining presentation, featuring powerful telescopes and displays will give you a greater insight into the heavenly realms.

The MacDonnell Range Holiday Park is recommended if you intend to stay here for a while. Set in an excellent, central location it has excellent amenities and there is plenty of room for the family.

Beyond the ranges surrounding Alice Springs are the Simpson and Tanami deserts. The Simpson is famous for its vast mesmerising dunes that go on forever, and although you can venture close should not be crossed unless you are with an experienced guide. Camel treks and four wheel drive expeditions are possible, although you won't see many other people in this part of the world.

There are plenty of day trips not far from town which are just as fascinating. One popular natural attraction is the Rainbow Valley, located in the James ranges. You can also visit Chambers Pillar on the way which features rock carvings and is steeped in history.

Travel north from town and you will be awestruck by the natural beauty of the bush, with camping, bushwalking, gem fossicking all popular activities. Visit the Gemtree, where you can visit the gem fields on organised tours and actually find something to take home. They also offer a large camping ground if you are not in a hurry to head home. Spend some time out here and enjoy the wonders of the starlit skies. Nothing beats an open campfire in the outback, with a majestic sunrise waiting to greet you at dawn.

Heading south just over 100 kilometres, you will be rewarded by some of the most stunning scenery at Finke Gorge National Park. There are camping facilities at Palm Valley, known for its bountiful cabbage palms, if you prefer to stay longer.

If you can allow an extra few days, make sure you plan to visit the famous MacDonnell Ranges, which surround Alice Springs. The West MacDonnell ranges are easier to reach, with swimming holes and bushwalks winding through the spectacular gorges. Take your time and camp overnight, or leave at dusk and enjoy a picnic at a swimming hole. The East MacDonnell ranges are also incredibly beautiful, featuring the stunning Trephina Gorge.

Alice Springs is surrounded by the most incredible rugged Australian outback in the world. It is the ideal base to visit those hidden natural wonders that beg to be appreciated and enjoyed. Your hire car will give you all the flexibility you need to make the most of your holiday in the territory.

Monday, August 27, 2007

La Marianne -The Symbol of The French Republic

By Lin Davidson

Marianne is the symbolic representation of the motherland spirit; healing, peaceful, nourishing and protecting. She is beautiful by the diversity of the people who devised her and who made her rich and with fine features. She is the daughter or girl of light and is the woman made beautiful. She is sometimes considered like a queen of France. Her creation at first featured some specific Greek/Roman antique drawings such as Athena, Venus or Bellone, and the catholic figure of the Virgin Mary.

The origin of the name seems to be a coming together of Marie and Anne, two Christian names of the 18th century among the catholic population of the royals of France, and carried by several queens, like Marie of Medicis, Anne of Austria, and Marie-Antoinette. The use of the name Marianne as a symbol of the republic has been attributed to the revolutionary song in ‘occitan’, ‘La Garisou de Marianno’ (in French La Guerison de Marianne), the healing of Marianne by Guillaume Lavabre. The name of Marianne was, at the end of the 18th century, very widespread in the working classes and notably carried by girls of the country who served in the bourgeoisies houses. The song recounted the avatars of the new regime, very likely written in October 1792, a dozen days only after the foundation of the republic. It put in motion the first occurrence of the name Marianne which became the symbol of the republic. Marianne is representative of the revenge of the servants towards the nobles, the people at the bottom towards those on top. The writer of the song, Guillaume Lavabre, was a shoemaker from Puylaurens. The village of Puylaurens claimed from then on the title of ‘berceau Occitan de la Marianne republicaine”.

This name is representative of the people. The revolutionaries adopted this to symbolize the change of regime, but above all, they made the symbol of the motherland, the mother who nourishes and protects the children of the republic. The republicans of the Midi contributed also and adopted this name for their political ideal. The use of this name, like the symbol, was born of a consensus between the partisans and the adversaries of the republic, and then rapidly accepted by all of the French people. Rumours indicate that the first model was a young girl of Sigolsheim in Alsace with the Christian name of Marie-Anne.

The republic was already represented by some feminine features but now she was made to look a little pensive, preoccupying herself above all, with the aspirations of the people. There exists several versions in stonework of the symbols of Marianne and are often found in Greek and Roman antiquities where there has been a French mason.

The symbols of Marianne:

  • A bonnet/cap Liberty
  • A crown To be able to
  • A naked breast Invincibility
  • A lion The courage and force of the people
  • A star Light
  • A triangle Equality
  • Broken chains Liberty
  • Crossed hands Brotherhood
  • Sheaf of arms The authority of the State
  • Scales Justice
  • Ruche Work
  • Tables of the law Law
The first representation of a woman in a bonnet, indicating liberty of the republic, appeared under the French Revolution. They have been different down the centuries according to the preoccupations of the French people, and do not systematically carry all the symbols. Today, she figures on some objects like coins and stamps.

The Marianne can be sculpted on foot or in bust. She started to appear in Town Halls after 1877, replacing busts of Napoleon III. Under the Third Republic, the statues and above all the busts of Marianne multiplied, particularly in town halls. Several types of representation developed as the bonnet was sometimes judged too sedentary and replaced with a diadem or a crown.

In the 20th century, all the town halls adopted a bust of Marianne but which now carried the bonnet but seemed to get rid of other attributes (like the sheaf of arms or scales). The last representations, the more modern in the town halls today, are modeled on the features of famous women. These women are chosen for a number of varied reasons; their companionship, their beauty, their locality, their personalities. Some famous celebrities whose features have been used in the sculpting of La Marianne have been Brigitte Bardot in 1970 and Catherine Deneuve in 1985.

Since the liberation of France in 1944, women chosen for modeling the Marianne were uniquely famous actresses, but in 2000, the association of the mayors of France, chose a particular model appreciated by the French, and in 2002 Evelyne Thomas, an animator of a popular television programme was chosen. These choices are sometimes subject to controversy.