Cambodia taxi chaos a leaf a radiator and a macgyver moment

The roads in Cambodia are vicious, angry slabs of asphalt filled with potholes that would qualify as valleys in some countries. Fortunately, I had it made traveling from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh. Or so I thought.

Cambodian Taxis

Having spent two weeks in the relaxing beach town of Sihanoukville, I was getting bored and so were the three chaps traveling with me. It was time to head to the supposed chaos of Phnom Penh and eventually Angkor Wat. Despite the legendary reputation of Cambodian roads, the owner of our accommodations told us the road to Phnom Penh was smooth as glass. For twenty U. S. dollars, a local taxi would get all four of us to the city without incident.

Around noon, two Australians, an Englishman and myself crammed into a Toyota Camry with our backpacks and miscellaneous junk. Our driver was a good guy, smiling constantly. We did have a communication problem since he spoke about two words of English and we only spoke English. The road, however, was as smooth as promised and we congratulated ourselves on our stroke of luck.

For about an hour, we cruised through the placid Cambodian countryside. It was difficult to imagine the chaos that must have occurred when the Khmer Rouge was in power. There really wasn’t much to see beyond the occasional village. About half way through the trip, the lack of any sizeable towns became a concern.

In the proverbial middle of nowhere, our driver pulled over to the side of the road and turned off the car. Since we couldn’t verbally communicate, much finger pointing was undertaken. Were we lost? Did he want more money? Was he going on strike? What the heck was going on?

Eventually, we foreign idiots were able to decipher that the car was overheating. Lest you think us complete idiots, I must mention that the temperature gauge wasn’t working. Regardless, our driver popped the hood and our smooth trip came to a cracked end. Steam poured from a half-inch crack next to the radiator crap.

Road site assistance seemed an iffy prospect in the middle of Cambodia. I mean, you couldn’t really call your car insurance company.

Me: “Hi. My car is broken.”

Operator: “Okay, we will send someone out. Where are you?”

Me: “Um, somewhere in the middle of Cambodia.”

Operator: “…[hysterical laughter]… Click.”

The driver looked at us. We looked at him. Simultaneously, we all started laughing. What else could you do? We were in the middle of nowhere, the radiator was shot and it was 60 miles or so to Phnom Penh.

Looking back, I can tell you that Cambodian taxi drivers are a committed and creative group. We sat on the side of the road, contemplating the fact that we were about to have a much more authentic Cambodian experience then any of us had planned. Mysteriously, our driver had gone off into the brush on the side of the road. After a few minutes, he returned with a dark green leaf and a big smile.

Putting MacGyver to shame, he proceeded to patch the crack in the radiator using only the leaf and tube of superglue. We all moved back as he applied the superglue to the boiling hot radiator, but nothing went up in flames. After allowing for a suitable amount of time for drying/praying, all we needed was water.

Although admittedly not a car expert, I do know pouring cold water into the radiator of an overheating engine is a bad idea. MacGyver, err… our driver, didn’t bat an eye despite our extensive arm waving. With a big smile, the water went into the radiator as we watched in horror. The only question was what would happen first, the leaf patch bursting or the engine seizing up?

Well, you can guess how it turned out. Not only did we make it to Phnom Penh, we later learned the radiator had two other leaf patches on the bottom. The road had been smooth, but my nerves were still shot. One way or another, the roads of Cambodia will get you.

At least I have ample ammunition to mock MacGyver fans.

France - bordeaux and st. tropez

France and Paris, Paris and France. You’ll have a great time exploring Paris, but you’ll miss places like Bordeaux and St. Tropez if you don’t get out of the city.

Bordeaux

Bordeaux is both a city and the center of the wine region in France. As a city, Bordeaux is surprisingly bereft of things to see. One can find unique statutes, fountains and the like, but there isn’t really a particular location to mark of on your, “I saw that” list. The city is, however, a good place to relax, drink and eat. For relaxation, you can put around this low key town and take in food at the outdoor cafes in the Place de la Comedie. The specialty food of the region are canellas, which are very good. If you’re with the wine and cheese crowd, Bordeaux is going to seem much more exciting. The surrounding region produces wine by the mega cask loads and you can visit locations such as Chateau Mouton-Rothschild to smell and taste the grapes. Moderation is suggested as you want to avoid the grapes of wrath the next morning!

St. Tropez

St. Tropez has gone through roughly three stages in its history. Originally, the town was a little fishing village no different than others dotting the coast of France. At some point, however, it became the place to be for artist who had given up on Paris. No less than the painters Matisse, Signac and Seurat lived and worked in the town. Fortunately or unfortunately, those times have passed. While artist still populate the town, St. Tropez is now the hangout of celebrities and the wealthy. While still a beautiful location, the over the top glitz of St. Tropez is a bit much.

Once you get out of Paris, your options are wide open when it comes to exploring France. Bordeaux is definitely worth a visit while St. Tropez tends to be a take it or leave it destination. I left it.

Meet the israelis

They speak Hebrew which is a peculiar, throaty language that takes ages to learn. Once you take hold of of basic communication you'll find out that they typically only talk about money and food anyway. Although they can appear rude, at heart they're very kind and friendly. Israelis are tribal so if you're on the outside they seem quite unfriendly. But once you're their friend they'll invite you to come and stay or go on trips around the country.

People will talk to you in the street. Most tend to do or say whatever they feel like when they feel like it. Shyness was one of the traits they left behind in Europe. 'He who is shy does not learn' is a telling Hebrew expression.

Religion in Israel is a strange trip. The orthodox Jews dress in black and scowl at everyone. The rest of the Israelis may be religious in a general kind of way or just not give a damn. Judaism seems to be much more about customs than religion. Most People get together for the festivals and Friday meal, probably they won't eat pork and would think twice before marrying a Goy. That's about as far as it goes.

They're a family-orientated people. Blood ties run very thick here and it's their strong point. The extended family becomes a complex network of support and connections meaning that everything in Israel comes down to who you know.

Israelis from kibbutzim or small towns are often much more mild and idealistic than the astute city crowds.

The first thing you notice about Israelis is that they come from all over the place. The big aliyah or migration of Jews to Israel occured back in the 50's after no one wanted to live in Europe any more. Yet many came from places like Morocco, Yemen and Iran, so the resulting inter-marriages have left the current generation of Israelis with just about every physical complexion and aspect conceivable. It's also made them a strikingly attractive race with Spanish eyes mixing with Polish cheekbones and Arabic tanned skin.

Add to the equation that around a million Russian Jews turned up after the fall of the Iron Curtain and that a whole bunch of Ethiopians were affirmed to be Jewish and the racial spectrum is almost complete. The government couldn't quite bring itself to declare the Thais or Filipinos to be Jewish but they were imported anyway to do all the jobs that Israelis don't want to do.

Quite an enlightening fact, that Israelis tend to see jobs like cleaning houses, construction or care work as beneath them. Everyone wants to be a manager and please the ambitions of their parents. Every Friday night each family congregates at the dinner table to pick apart and disapprove of the lives of each member of the family in agonizing detail. Each of them tries to talk louder than the other over 3 or 4 courses and you're reminded of bunch of arguing generals in the strategy tent before a great battle.

The parents are forever pressuring their kids to accomplish something. The religious are forever tying to get them to live up to their obligations as a Jew. The army makes the men serve for three years and the women for two and then demands a month of the men's lives until they're forty. They have to practically intimidate their boss to get paid on occasion and, just in case the pressure cooker wasn't turned up quite high enough, bombs go off in the market or the buses.

When something like that occurs in the country you can feel it like a shockwave. The anxiety is so taut that it's as though you could wet your finger and feel the electric in the air. It's really hard to understand what that feels like when it's your home. As a traveler you can come, take pictures and go. When you're born there you have no choice but to chew what previous generations bit off.

Israelis are still very different from one another depending from where their families originated. Those with European descent are a little more standoffish than the Israelis from the Arab countries. The differences are melting away with each generation but once the division was quite sharp.

The Israelis are a people in conflict with their environment and their own cultural identity yet they're enormously relaxed in themselves. They understand that they have a right to be in this world and aren't scared to make the most of it. No one is bashful about taking the last biscuit on the plate but neither will they falter in offering you what they have. Known as khutzpah this self-confident nature can be infuriating or appealing depending on where you stand. As a tribal people you do a lot better once you're inside their ranks.

Traveling to india

One of the most exiting tourist destinations in the world is India. Situated in the perfect climatic zone, the country offers such diversity that no other country of the world can offer. The country has three major geographical features that make it an ideal country for habitation and travel. The great Himalayas of the north protect the country from the chilling winds of China. They also offer spectacular scenic places and one of the most challenging adventures outback. The great plains of central mainland is fed by some of world’s most prominent rivers. The Ganges runs across the country providing food to almost the whole country, as well as offering challenge to the rafters for white water excitement. Then there is the Deccan plateau of the South and the Indian Ocean. They complete the topographic scene of India.

Historically India is perhaps the richest country in the world. It was home to the oldest civilization of the world the Indus Valley. The civilization dates back to almost 3000 BC. India has given birth to two of the worlds biggest religions. Every now and then the scientist and anthropologists discovers new evidences, which fortify India’s claim of being culturally most advanced in the ancient times.

The Taj Mahal is the embodiment of love built by the great Mughal ruler Shahjahan for his departed wife Mumtazmahal. It has found its place in the seven wonders of the modern world. India has many historical monuments aptly notified as world heritage sites. The country has a diverse culture and it is evident by the fact that the monuments of hinds and Muslims are in equal numbers.

The political scene of the country is controlled by the capital city of the country – Delhi. It has been a historic city, home to the red fort, which is the embodiment of the Moughal rule in India. Delhi is also famous for its bazaars and monuments. It is a must visit to the tourists as the embassies and high commissions are situated here. To day delhi is the hub of urbanization. From the multinational s to the domestic giants of the world all have their headquarters in Delhi. It is also highly urbanized and it homes many universities for higher education. The city is well connected to the whole country through rails and air and the domestic transportation is also very smooth as there is a well-laid network of metro trains.

If Delhi is the political capital then Bombay can be easily termed as the business capital of the country. The city is a mixture of various religions and nationalities. The life of Bombay, now called as Mumbai, is very fast and the schedules are always full. It has the most prized possession of the country the Bollywood (the Indian film industry). It also has the Wall Street’s Indian counter part the Dalal Street. It is the witness to the countries economic ups and downs.

India is definitely a place worth visiting and the best time to come to India is in the months of September to April when the country is booming with all kinds of activities and festivities. The colors of the country are surely goanna take you over.

Sitges - resort for alternative lifestyles

Located on the Costa Dorada, Sitges is wildly popular among the southern Europe resorts, particularly with gay tourists. It gets very crowded during the summer, and most of the tourists at this time are young swinging Europeans. Yet Sitges never gets tacky, as so many gay-oriented resorts do.

Instead, Sitges is a city rich with culture and Bohemian ideals. The Spanish modernismo movement sprang from the artists and craftsmen here, and Sitges still is at the core of much of Spain's arts. Dali and Federico Garcia Lorca both visited here during the heyday of Sitges, which ended abruptly with the Spanish Civil War. Sitges is still a city of art, but it has never regained its prior prestige.

In addition to its rich heritage, Sitges is convenient to Barcelona (a 30-minute train trip or 45-minute drive).

What to Do

The Carnaval of Sitges, just before Lent, is a kaleidoscope of fancy dress, feathers and sequins, and vibrant floats. The King of the Carnestoltes starts the party on the Thursday prior to Lent, and the carnival ends on Ash Wednesday with the Burial of a Sardine. Sant Bonaventura is when the gay population of Sitges hold their own grand celebrations.

If you're gay, this is a perfect place to party while you vacation. Sitges has beaches and bars close together, but it's not so large that you get lost in the crowd. Summer and Carnival are the times to mingle with the gay crowd; in the off season, Sitges gets quiet.

During summer, though, one beach is primarily gay, while the other is very much a nudist beach, further out of town between Sitges and Vilanova. If you can't find the nude beach, stop at the L'Atlantida disco and ask for directions.

There are other beaches, of course, and water sports from swimming and sunbathing to waterskiing and scuba diving. The beaches to the east tend to be quieter -- Aiguadoic and Els Balomins are examples of these. The Playa San Sebastian, the Beach of the Boats, and Fragata Beach cater to families. The Playa de la Ribera is where the younger crowd go. All beaches here are top-optional for women.

For more intellectual pursuits, there are three excellent museums in Stiges. The Museu Cau Ferrat, in a building that was once two 16th century cottages, was Santiago Rusinol's home, and today holds his works as well as paintings by El Greco and some small Picassos. The Museu Maricel holds Gothic and Romantic paintings and sculptures as well as ceramics from Catalan. And the Museu Romantic, you can see how a Sitges family of wealth lived in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Where To Stay

San Sebastian Playa is probably the best hotel in Sitges. Located right across from San Sebastian beach, it has a wedding-cake facade and an Art Deco interior. Each guest room has a balcony overlooking the sea. Its amenities include a restaurant, bar, and private garden, as well as babysitting for anyone who needs it.

If you prefer to be inland, the Hotel El Xalet is a ten-minute walk from the nearest beach. This contemporary Modernista hotel almost looks like a Gothic church. Antique mosaics in the lobby give the hotel a unique atmosphere. You'll also find a small pool in the private garden and a refreshing roof terrace to have breakfast on. The restaurant is open only during the summer.

Where to Eat

El Velero, on a beachfront promenade, is one of the best restaurants in Sitges. The glass greenhouse terrace holds the best seats. The food is excellent, with a focus on fresh seafood.

With cocina del mercado, or whatever's fresh in the market, cuisine, Els Quatre Gats is named for an old Barcelona cafe that Picasso favored. Enjoy fresh grilled fish, lamb with local herbs, veal kidneys in sherry sauce, and garlic soup, this restaurant is sure to please your palate. And the restaurant's only a few steps away from Passeig de la Ribera.

Nightlife

The nightlife in Stiges is hectic, colorful, and primarily gay, so if you're straight you may have trouble finding a bar for you. Look for the maps that are distributed to show you where the gay bars are.

The largest gay disco bar is Mediterraneo, in a restored 1690s house. You'll love the covered terrace, the Iberian garden, and the company. Bourbon is another great gay bar for the younger set.

For a mixed crowd, try Ricky's Disco. It's near the beach, and has a really great dance mix.

Disney world traveling

Disney World is probably the most popular theme park in the world, attractions, rides, characters, the works, there is no doubt that nobody goes to Disney World to get headaches. To prevent unnecessary muscle and head pain, it is best to be prepared.

Proper Season

It is best to go to Disney World during off season, which is roughly around early January to mid February, or after Labor Day through mid December. During off season, there are less people, less congestion and less headaches. What’s more, it rarely gets cold in Florida, even during winter season, and it gets swelteringly hot and humid during summer, so winter, really is the time to go.

The Proper Lodgings

Although it is cheaper to stay in hotels outside of Disney World, the extra cash you’ll have to cough up if you stay inside is more than made up for by the comfort and convenience of an inside stay.

Imagine getting traveling from your room, then going through the 47 square mile area that is Disney world, then traveling back to your Hotel… exhausting isn’t it?

The Proper Schedule

Where to actually go once you get there is determined by your choice of companions, kids, teenagers or adults.

Kids

Go through Cinderella’s Castle and Visit Fantasy Land or Mickey’s Toon Town, the little tots will surely love all the characters roaming around that area. The rides in these parts are built for 6 year olds and below, but mommy or daddy can still squeeze themselves in if they want.

Adults or Teens

A trip to Magic Kingdom may be in order if you’re with big kids. You can go to Splash Mountain to get wet or to Space Mountain to get some indoor rollercoaster, and fun for the bumpy person, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad should be enough to satisfy their taste for adventure.

Rides for Everyone

If you want something that everyone can enjoy, a ride in the Walt Disney World Railroad, can rest those tired feet and at the same time give you an enjoyable view of Magic Kingdom.

Haunted Mansion, although not really for very young kids, can be a thrill for toddlers, it’s a ride not a walk through so there’s no tripping or running involved.

For relaxing walks, try the Tiki Room Show or the Swiss family Tree House.

The Proper Dining Experience

For cute snacks, try the Aloha Isle inside Adventureland, they conjure up creative drinks and snacks, a good place to try something cute and different.

Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe provides a cool indoor dining area between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland where you can enjoy your food to your hearts content.

Make a visit to charleston

I have had the privilege to travel to all fifty states in America over the last ten years. For some reason, all of my training in writing has somehow qualified me to travel our great country and to take in some of the best (and worst) things that cities all over the US have to offer. So I've spent my fair share of time in cities all over the country, and I'll be the first to tell you that few cities compare to the charm of Charleston.

One of the best places in South Carolina, Charleston is a great city to visit for so many reasons. For starters, being the history lover that I am, there is so much to be learned in and around Charleston that I could be busy for days on end just soaking up the rich history of the area and of the state. You can find amazing tours and visit amazing museums that will teach you more than you could imagine about significant people and events that are rooted in Charleston.

Another great reason to visit Charleston is the sheer beauty of the place. I have been to few cities that have ranked nearly as high on the scale of natural beauty as Charleston. There is something about the quaintness of the city that invites visitors in and makes them feel like they are a part of something special. Charleston is big enough but not too big to get overwhelmed in. It is the perfect size to visit.

Charleston also boasts great hospitality, and I have never been let down when it comes to feeling welcomed and at home in this great southern state. The people are always warm and friendly and ready to help in any way possible. If you want to experience true southern hospitality, than Charleston is the place for your next trip. You'll love the wide variety of great bed and breakfasts you can stay in and you'll be filled all the time with great southern cooking.

Do a quick internet search about Charleston or pick up a book at your local library. Read for yourself all this great city has to offer. And then, when it comes time to plan your next vacation, look no further than Charleston, South Carolina. You'll be glad you chose it and you may even find yourself wanting to visit again. Charleston is truly one of the best undiscoverd cities in our great country. See for yourself.

Mystic seaport - tall ships whaling and preservation

A day at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut is a link to the glorious seafaring past of New England. The Museum of America and the Sea is an entertaining journey through 19th century nautical life as you visit the three main exhibits at Mystic Seaport: the historic ships, the authentic seaport village and exhibits, and the preservation shipyard.

The coastline in this part of New England was once home to huge whaling fleets and many where built along these shores. The area of Mystic had its share of shipbuilding yards and the recreation of the seaport village is an authentic and accurate depiction of life in a New England seafaring town.

Open year-round Mystic Seaport is on the Mystic River a short hop from the historic downtown area. Here’s what you’ll see and how to get the best out of your trip...

THE JEWELS AT THE DOCK

Tall ships still fascinate people and Mystic Seaport has an amazing collection in the museum dock area. I’m drawn like a magnet to these magnificent vessels, and the most popular to tour is the Charles W. Morgan - a wonderful example of a wooden whaling ship. It made 37 whaling trips from its launch in 1841 and before retiring in 1921. Other exquisite Tall Ships in the Mystic museum collection are the Joseph Conrad and L. A.Dunton.

Additional ships beautifully restored with a rich legacy include the Sabino and Emma C. Berry. The Emma C. first launched in 1866, and since then has undergone many changes as a fishing vessel and a coastal freighter. Allocate plenty of time to tour all the ships as they remain the centerpiece of the Mystic Seaport Museum. And when you’re finally ready for a rest take a 30 or 90 minute cruise on the Sabino steamboat as she travels up and down the Mystic River.

THE AUTHENTIC VILLAGE AND EXHIBITS...

A short walk from the ships is the village exhibits and galleries. Painstakingly recreated and authentic, the village consists of many buildings moved from other locations in New England and the Northeast. Stroll around the nautical shops and discover rope making, rigging, cooperage, and the sail loft.

There are over 40 delightful exhibits for you to enjoy, but two must-see displays are the Mystic River Scale Model, and the Shipsmith shop. Further down from the village check out the galleries and make sure you spend time inside both the Voyages and Figurehead exhibits.

The three-floor exhibit of Voyages celebrates the legacy of America and the sea, and how it continues to impact our lives in many subtle ways. And across the street is the Figurehead exhibit, and a wonderful collection of ship carvings. Unfortunately, these carvings are a bittersweet display. The desire for these on ships has dwindled and it’s now become an endangered art form.

THE PRESERVATION SHIPYARD...

In the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard many of the old mastercraft shipbuilding skills are still practiced to keep the museum ships in tip top shape. Unfortunately many of these skills are being lost as the economics of our time reduce the need for them. Wooden ships are a thing of the past, and so the wonderful carpentry and shipwright skills have dwindled throughout the world.

But in this corner of the world they are practiced and preserved.

In the yard you’ll see a rigging loft, a paint shop, carpenters and metalworking shops, a lumber shed, and an old-fashioned sawmill. The documentation shop contains vital records used by the museum’s craftsmen to maintain accuracy as they work on preserving the ships. At the nearby shipbuilding display you’ll not only see the keel of the whale ship Thames, but take in a revealing exhibit of the many stages of building a ship.

Mystic Seaport celebrates the historic seafaring past of New England. Its one of my favorite three living museums in New England. The other two are Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Central Massachusetts, and Plimoth Plantation and Mayflower at Plymouth, Eastern Massachusetts. All three for different reasons are marvelous experiences of New England’s contribution to American history. To discover more about each visit my web site at www. new-england-vacations-guide. com/

Travel to greece

Traveling to any new country away from one’s homeland for a vacation is exciting and filled with fun and when the destination country is such as Greece the excitement and joy attached with it are limitless. Traveling throughout Greece has been a hot favorite amongst both the historians and modern day vacationers. Many of the cities in Greece like Athens, Crete, Macedonia and other Islands of Greece hardly need any introduction. They are the most famous cities of ancient times and offer limitless opportunities for a present day traveler.

The geographical location of many cities in Greece favor wide spread physical structures in those regions. People can find both mountains and seacoasts along side the main city region. This creates an exotic view for any traveler that they would long cherish even after their vacations. A trip to any city in Greece would prove the richness of ancient culture and architecture in this country. A walk around any city would reveal the magnificent historical remains and the museums throughout Greece carry the stories of rich cultural past.

Names such as those of Aristotle, Plato, Socrates and many more all have their roots in the city of Athens in Greece. One of the most popular places in Greece is Athens which is a must visit region for any traveler here. It offers numerous options for sight seeing, visiting the most world famous museums and also a great shopping spree. Being a center for tourist visit the area also has various choices of hotels and eateries. All provide excellent services and things as suited to individual requirements.

Greece presents an amazing mix of ancient and modern culture. The archeological sites and latest modern structures all co-exist on the streets of Greece. Also there are immense food options available here. The recipes are mouthwatering and the delicacies served are an excellent blend of traditional food adapted to the modern eating habits. Restaurants in Greece are world famous for providing fabulous traditional dishes and hence it is also a paradise for food lovers.

Numerous islands here are a perfect place for water enthusiasts and the hotels offering rooms with an ocean view only make the place more attractive. Most places in Greece require some movement on foot to enjoy the best experience in these islands. The streets are narrow and vehicular traffic could cause congestion at those places hence vehicles are best avoided. Also an added attraction of the region is the lively nightlife that spreads through the entire region. Nightlife here is rampant and high in sprits offering another option for fun loving people.

As if the ancient views, exotic eateries and other reasons were not enough, being a home to many of the mountains and water bodies Greece also offers numerous facilities for water games and mountain hikes. Sea beaches along the islands are perfect time pass for visitors who can spend the day strolling through the fantastic views of the seashore. Rowing, rafting and boating are also common in this area. Hiking on mountains is an adventurous activity possible in Greece. Whatever be the taste of any traveler Greece has a reason for everyone to visit the country.

Hostels - the new cheap hotels

Hostels have long been the “dirty” word in the hotel and travel industry, but times are certainly changing for the better as the public realise more and more that hostels and youth hostels are a viable means of accommodation when they travel around the globe.

Despite their low price and somewhat bad reputation, many hostels are of a high standard and have great facilities for people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy.

The budget travel sector, such as backpackers, gap year travelers and also families wanting multi-location holidays, has boomed in the last few years and is driven to a large extent by word-of-mouth recommendation.

With competition in the industry “hotting up” and with millions of customers each and every year choosing cheaper, cost-effective accommodation, the standard and reputation of these places are ever-increasing.

The major hostel booking companies also have ratings systems which, not only helps customers to choose the right accommodation, but also helps to push hostel owners to do more to satisfy their customers as their ratings directly affect how much business they will receive from these booking sites.

The most popular hostel destinations are: London, Sydney, Rome, Amsterdam and New York and no matter where in the world you are travelling to, you will find a selection of great accommodation to suit both your taste and your budget.

Despite the arrival of budget hotel chains such as Travellodge, Ibis and Jury’s Inns, backpackers still prefer to stay in hostels due to factors such as atmosphere, fun and the social experience of meeting other backpackers.

The hostel industry, once considered a “cottage industry” has now grown rapidly with the entry of new players opening deluxe hostel chains including The Generator Hostel in London

see http://www. hostelbookers. com

Ingolstadt in germany

Situated at the beautiful Danube River in the heart of Bavaria, Ingolstadt is one of the eldest and most charming cities in Germany.

Early settlements prove the existence of a density of population since 1800 BC. The first time Ingolstadt was mentioned in an official document was in the year 806 by Carl the Great and it got its town rights in 1250. Although that, the city is being considered found around 600 AD by Ingold. The name was first "Ingoldes Stadt" (City of Ingold), but throughout the centuries it has received its present name - Ingolstadt.

An interesting thing to know about Ingolstadt's history is the foundation the Bavarian Illuminati, a famous secret society, which was established by Adam Weishaupt in 1776. Moreover, Ingolstadt is the seat of the automobile company AUDI, which was founded by August Horch. AUDI is also believed by some to be an acronym for Auto Union Deutschland Ingolstadt. The city has a very successful ice hockey team called ERC Ingolstadt, which is currently in the first place of the DEL in Germany and made the second place in last years' play-offs. The city is also the setting of the famous book "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelly.

Through the centuries, the city center of Ingolstadt has kept its old typical town architecture style and buildings that date from the middle Ages. Some parts of the city wall are restored in their original look and there are a couple of museums that are worth a visit, like the Military Museum, the Toy Museum, the German Medicine Historical Museum and others.

Although this city has a quite small population of approximately 122 000 people, Ingolstadt has a big number of feasts celebrated throughout the year. The most famous ones are the "Pfingstvolksfest" (02.06-11.06) and the "Herbstfest" (22.09-03.10), where people are drinking a lot of beer, enjoying the theme park-like atmosphere and looking at the little sales booths. You could actually say that it's a small version of Oktoberfest. Having mentioned these beer-feasts, it now seems appropriate to name the four breweries, which are providing the beer for them and are of course situated in Ingolstadt: "Ingobrдu", "Herrnbrдu", "Nordbrдu" and "Westpark Brдu 1516". Other bigger feasts are the "Brunnenfest" (01.04-17.04), "Septemberdult" (09.09-17.09 and the "Christkindlmarkt" (01.12-23.12). In this year there will be even more feasts and parties, as Ingolstadt is celebrating its anniversary - exactly 1200 years, in February.

Newport ri - jewel on the ocean

Newport RI has long been the playground for the rich and famous. In the 19th century it became a popular summer retreat for the wealthy escaping the hot humid weather in the large industrial cities of the Northeast. They built their magnificent mansions and brought along their extravagant yachts and boats. The legacy of this era abounds throughout Newport even today.

The mansions still remain and many can be visited and toured throughout most of the year. A trip around Newport conveys a city with a distinct nautical past, and which for many years was the pride and center of American yachting as the home for America’s Cup races.

Whoever nicknamed Rhode Island - The Ocean State - must have been thinking of Newport when it was done. Newport lives and breathes the Ocean. In this article you’ll experience the vibrant harbor area, relive the Gilded Age in a Newport Mansion, soak up the stunning views on Ocean Drive, and trek the famous Cliff Walk. Newport RI is in a class of its own and your gateway to all this... and much more.

Newport RI is located at the eastern mouth of Narragansett Bay. Either Newport Bridge from the west on route 138, or Mt. Hope Bridge from the North East on route 114 can reach it.

Founded in 1639 Newport quickly became an important seaport with trading routes to the West Indies. Its years as a major seaport ended with the British blockade in 1776, and the subsequent almost leveling of the town by the soldiers. In the 19th century Newport once again attracted attention, but this time as a vacation refuge for the social elite. Many of the attractions you’ll visit in this article stem from that gilded age.

NEWPORT HARBOR

The center of the harbor area is Bannister’s and Bowen’s Wharf’s. Here you can yacht "watch" while sipping your favorite beverage or savoring a few steamed mussels - my personal favorite. The alleys in the wharf area are full of specialty shops, restaurants, and open-air bars. In the summer this is a good area to visit mid-morning or late afternoon when it’s not so busy.

If you have time experience the harbor on "The Spirit of Newport" cruise that leaves from Bowen’s Wharf. This is a one hour narrated tour and passes by many striking attractions as it makes its way out to the southern tip of the Bay. You’ll see smugglers coves, backyards of mansions and learn about the history of the city and its colorful citizens.

THE NEWPORT MANSIONS

One of the major draws to the area remains the Newport Mansions. The mansions were affectionately called "summer cottages" by the original owners because they were only used 6-12 weeks of the year during the summer season. These are 70 and 80 room houses and showpieces right down to the last beam of timber - or marble!

There are about 13 mansions in all to visit in Newport RI, with most located on or in the vicinity of Bellevue Avenue. The Preservation Society of Newport County operates ten of these and offers combo priced tickets. I suggest you try and visit no more than three in one day, as they are expansive and to be appreciated in unrushed discovery.

The most popular Mansions are The Breakers, Marble House, and The Elms. But to experience something different visit The Astors’ Beechwood, where you’ll literally be treated like a guest by role-playing hosts.

THE TEN MILE OCEAN DRIVE

Ocean Drive is a 10-mile route that starts on Bellevue Avenue and follows Ocean Avenue around a rocky peninsular with fishing coves, swimming beaches, and public parks. A wonderful and popular way of enjoying the almost flat terrain is by bicycle, with plenty of places to stop and admire the views.

The Ocean Avenue part of the drive is probably the most scenic with magnificent houses on rocky necks amidst the backdrop of a windy Atlantic Ocean. You’ll see plenty people fishing and others clambering over the rocks searching for creatures in the tidal pools. Why not stop yourself and join them?

Brenton State Park is a halfway point on Newport RI Ocean Drive, and is one of my family’s favorite stopping spots to have a picnic and fly a kite. The park allows pets, and has tables and open-pit grills - make sure you bring your own charcoal.

Leave the park heading back to Newport Harbor, and while the scenery isn’t quite as spectacular on this part of the trip, you’ll pass the landmarks of Castle Hill Lighthouse, Hammersmith Farm, and Fort Adams State Park. The Fort Adams area is worth a few hours touring the old fort and the recreation centers.

THE CLIFF WALK EXPERIENCE

The Cliff Walk provides spectacular views of the ocean, but you have to be prepared to work for it in parts, and it’s not recommended for small children. The path is 31/2 miles in length and in some areas has been eroded and battered by the natural weather patterns of the area. Wear sneakers if you can, and show caution.

The North End Cliff Walk starts where Memorial Blvd meets Easton’s Beach. The first part of the walk is easy on good pavement and leads you to The Forty Steps. After the steps you’ll have great views of Ochre Point, Ochre Court, Cave Cliff, and Vineland.

You’re now heading towards Bailey’s Beach at the South End of the walk. This is a rough section and at times the path is narrow and even seems to stop. But by scrambling over the rocks you’ll rediscover the path and be able to take in more stunning views of the ocean area.

Newport RI is a combination of invigorating ocean air with dramatic vistas, a town steeped in history and gorgeous mansions, and a boatload of delightful diversions and distractions to suit every taste, make this one of New England’s top destination spots.

Discover jj steak house in pasadena california

: Have you been looking for that perfect romantic restaurant to take a date or spouse to? Do you like old fashion elegant steak houses with lots of dark rich wood, plenty of marble and romantic lighting? Do you like the idea of a large fireplace? Do you like soft romantic harp music played by a very talented harpist? Do you like excellent leisurely attentive service where you never feel rushed? Do you like personal attention from the owners? Do you like aged prime cuts of beef that are exceptionally well prepared? Do you like fine wines and a relaxed quiet atmosphere where you can enjoy good conversation with your guest?

There is a spot in Pasadena, California that gives you all that and more. JJ Steak House which is on the upper floor at 88 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91105, telephone number 626-844-8889.

JJ Steak House, which is fairly pricey for a Pasadena area restaurant is inexpensive when compared to comparable restaurants in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. There is an old saying, You get what you pay for, however in this case, with JJ Steak House you get more than you pay for. I have been to a few restaurants that may be slightly better than this one, however their prices were all considerably higher. I have also been to many restaurants that are not nearly as good but still charge much more.

This place is not in a ritzy glitzy building, is not in Beverly Hills, Manhattan or on the Loop, does not have a fancy entrance with expensive cars parked in front and you can walk or drive past it every day without knowing it is there. What it does have is great food served well in a romantic setting. If you appreciate fine quiet elegant dining with excellent fare served properly at very reasonable prices, you will love JJ Steak House. By the way, it is JJ Steak House not JJs Steak House.

If you like loud music, a noisy atmosphere, fast impersonal service or if you think that Sizzler Restaurants serves delicious prime rib, then JJ is not the place for you.

This steak house is very popular, therefore reservations while not required are a good idea, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

For a directory of restaurants and restaurant reviews in the city of Pasadena, California see http://pasadena. usacitydirectories. com/restaurants. html, a directory listing Pasadena restaurants alphabetically and by category or type with reviews written by restaurant customers.

Costa rica your place in the sun

In Central America, just south of Nicaragua and north of Panama is Costa Rica. Costa Rica has the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west side. Therefore, the majority of Costa Rica's borders, sixty-five percent, are coastline.

Although a relatively small area, about the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined, it has everything one could want in a vacation. Beautiful white sand beaches, great surf, active volcanoes, natural hot springs, and towering rain forests are just some of the sites in Costa Rica. Site seeing in the area is relatively simple via rental car or public bus.

A number of the principal mountain ranges are volcanic, and visitors can easily visit many of these areas. In the province of Cartago, for example, which is not far from the capital of San Josй, you will find Irazъ volcano, which erupted in the early sixties. Poбs volcano, located in the province of Alajuela, has one of the largest active craters in the world. In addition, Arenal volcano, in the northwestern region, delights thousands of visitors each year to a constant stream of red, hot lava rocks tumbling down its slopes.

Picturesque forests grow in the crater of the dormant Barva in Heredia. Arenal, a young volcano in the northern part of the country is constantly active (and is the site of a spa with natural hot springs). The country's highest peak, Mount Chirripу, is not volcanic; it measures 12.412 feet. On a clear day one can see both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans from atop Mt. Chirripo.

The capital of Costa Rica is San Josй and is a good starting place for exploring the country. It is conveniently located in the center of the country and all the bus lines stop here. The port of Limon on the Caribbean Coast has quite a different atmosphere from the capital. Life is easy going on the Caribbean coast compared to the city life in San Jose.

San Josй is located in the Central Valley region of the country. Evenings in San Josй can be cool do to the high altitude, but you will not forget that you are in a tropical place even in this bustling city. The city itself is busy and filed with traffic. There are many things to do, but travelers often miss these sites choosing instead to head straight from the airport to beaches or rainforests. Although San Josй is not the most beautiful city in the world, it is generally safe and has a lot to offer tourists.

Travel central america

Travel Central America

Sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Central America offers travelers the opportunity to visit one of the world’s most amazing ecological and cultural destinations. Central America is home to beautiful jungles, sandy beaches, waterspouts like surfing and SCUBA diving, and some of the western hemispheres most hospitable resort destinations.

While Central America has experienced a tumultuous past that includes colonial exploitation and violent uprisings, travelers who visit today will experience relative safety. For those visitors who choose to travel South America, each country offers a unique experience that will engage and entertain them.

Check out the following countries and attractions when you travel South America:

Belize:

By far, the most stable country in Central America, Belize was created for travelers seeking a Caribbean flavor with a mainland location. In fact, most visitors agree that Belize has more in common with islands of the Caribbean than with its more volatile Central American neighbors. Home to a 180 mile long barrier reef, Belize is a SCUBA and snorkeling enthusiasts dream.

Guatemala:

Despite its reputation for social and political repression, travelers flock to the Central American country of Guatemala in an effort to see its natural wonders. Huge volcanoes and the regions highest concentration of Mayan ruins draw visitors to this turbulent nation.

El Salvador:

With the civil war of the 1980’s long over, El Salvador is now transformed into a traveler-friendly destination with huge natural volcanoes. Travelers should certainly visit places like the Montecristo Cloud Forest, which receives over 80 inches of rain annually, and the capital city of San Salvador.

Honduras:

Honduras may appear to be a true banana republic, but travel there is easy, enjoyable and inexpensive. The slow pace, natural beauty and low-profile tourism make it particularly appealing to travelers who enjoy getting off the beaten track.

Nicaragua:

This troubled Central American nation is rebuilding after years of war. Travelers are drawn there by its wondrous natural landscapes and vast natural treasures.

Costa Rica:

Known as the most stable and ecologically stunning nation in Central America, Costa Rica is the most successful tourist destination in the region. By embracing a very progressive attitude towards the preservation of the environment, visitors who travel Costa Rica can experience the amazing natural wonders of the Central American region. With miles of beautiful coastline on both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica provides surfing and snorkeling for its guests. The rain forest of inland Costa Rica is home to monkeys, sloths, crocodiles and exotic birds as well as some rare and endangered plant species, as well.

Panama:

Except for the world famous Canal that bears the country’s name, Panama is largely overshadowed by its neighbors as a popular destination for Central American travelers. Those who do choose to visit Panama will be enthralled by numerous natural and cultural wonders that should not be overlooked. Visitors should be sure to experience the nation’s native birds and the thrill of off-shore deep-sea fishing.

Car hire in nice

The stylish French city of Nice is situated on the southern coast of the French Riviera. Nice has long been a popular destination for both summer vacations and short city breaks and offers excellent scope for car hire touring.

Things To See/Do in Nice:

A walking tour of the city center is one of the best ways to see what Nice has to offer in terms of tourist attractions. The cours Saleya is a good place to start. Here the pretty flower market, the beautifully baroque Chapelle de la Misйricorde and elaborate Palais Lascaris are guaranteed to catch your eye. Some of the finest beaches on the Cфte d'Azur are to be found in Nice. The silver sands of the Promenade de Anglais will definitely impress sun-worshipers and water sports enthusiasts.

However, there's so much more to Nice. Car hire makes fascinating places like the remote crest-top district of Cimiez accessible. This cultural hub boasts a range of absorbing museums and galleries including Musйe National Message Biblique Marc Chagall, Musйe Matisse and The Opйra de Nice.

Meanwhile, the charming old Provenзal town of St Paul makes for another worthy rental car drive. The town that captivated Matisse, Chagall and Picasso is just a 12-mile journey from Nice. Other world-class attractions reachable by hire car include Grasse, known as the capital of perfume, the ritzy principality of Monaco, with its famous casinos and of cours Saint-Tropez, the French Riviera's most exclusive beach holiday destination.

Eating Out/Nightlife/Accommodation in Nice:

Eating out in Nice offers something to suit every budget and taste. Italian and Provenзal influences are obvious in the cuisine of Nice. Cheap local specialities worth a try include 'socca' pancakes, 'stockfissa' cod stew, and 'pissaladiйre' anchovy and olive tart. At La Rotonde in The Hotel Negresco, you're guaranteed to pay less for good quality fare.

Nice has a lively and varied nightlife. Cours Saleya is the place to head for after dark entertainment. Here bars and clubs such as Barrio Latino, Oxford and Bodeguita del Havana keep night owls amused well into the early hours of the morning.

In terms of accommodation, Nice offers something for everyone. Whether you're looking to live it up in luxury at a chic establishment like Hi Hotel on Avenue des Fleurs or you simply want to rest easy with cheap and cheerful lodgings at a budget hotel such as Le Petit Palais on Avenue Emile-Bierckert, you'll find Nice offers something to match every budget.

Have you heard about hvar island

Hvar Island is situated in the Adriatic Sea and belongs to Croatia. The island spreads out on 80 km from west to east and it is truly paradise for its tourists. People all over the world visit all four major parts of the Hvar Island as its surprises are many and diverse.

During its existence, the Hvar Island was know by other names also, depending on what culture it belonged to. First it was known as Pharos and after that it was called Piteyeia (around the third century B. C.) as we know from the Greek poet Apollonius of Rhodes. While it was under Roman rule it was called Pharia and later Fara. The Slavs, people that occupied the island during the middle ages, named the island Hvar. Even if the island was under Slav occupation, a lot of the inhabitants were Roman-speaking and convinced the Slaves to change the official name once more, this time into Quarra. In the eleventh century the Italians changed the name again into Lesina (meaning forest), a word full of meaning because at that time the island was perfectly characterized by a woody terrain. This name was kept until the nineteenth century when it was changed back into Hvar Island.

This place exists nowadays under the name of the Hvar Island, but the Hvar Culture has long been extinct. It is said that this culture existed from the year 3500 to 2500 B. C. The Hvar Island is an important piece in Croatian history being one of the important literary centers of this country during the Renaissance. Nowadays it is known as a producer of lavender, honey and wine and these aspects can be charming to those interested in stimulating their senses. Because of its climate and unique position, the Hvar Island is home to a lot of different species of flora and fauna like the Croatian Fighting Toad. An interesting fact about the Hvar Island is that it gets 2800 hours of sun per year. As you can see, there is no possibility for anyone to get bored on this island because it reunites history and culture for those with this kind of interests and it can be a great place to relax by bathing in the sun and admiring nature.

There are many cities to visit on this island, each with its own story and appealing characteristics. The town of Hvar had a population of little over four thousand people in 2001. It can be a tourist attraction because this is the place where the first public theatre was opened in Europe back in 1612. The town of Stari Grad located in the northern part of the Hvar Island had almost three thousand inhabitants in 2001. It is the site of some of the first human settlements on the Adriatic Sea from Antiquity. Jelsa, a town in the central northern region of the island, it’s said to have had a population of approximately 3.600 back in 2001. The fourth region that might capture your attention is the town of Sucuraj, a city of picturesque beauty situated on the east cape of the Hvar Island. Sucuraj has been named officially the center of the eastern part of the Hvar Island. The town is said to be 2300 years old, fact which can fascinate anyone. The city has been blessed with mild climate and a beautiful country side which makes it even more perfect for contemplation and relaxation. The 400 people settled here live off tourism and fishing therefore any person who is interested in this location will be received with open arms and will have a wonderful time.

The Hvar Island is thought to have been inhabited since the year 5000 B. C. Since then, a lot of different cultures living there in each age known to man have left their own fingerprint on the place. The Neolithic age proves its existence in the history of the Hvar Island by a fragment of pottery dating from the year 2500 B. C. The bronze pottery and hilltop sites represent the Bronze Age. The Iron Age left behind a lot of settlements including a castle; most of these settlements were even equipped with some rudimentary forms of defense. After that, the ancient Greeks became very interested in the Hvar Island. Remains of the Greek colony can still be seen through some of the defense walls that are still standing. After the Greeks, a lot of different cultures left their legacy to the people on the Hvar Island, like the Romans, Byzantines, Slavs, Venetians, Turks and even newer states like Austria, France, England and Russia had their own influence.

The Hvar Island is a great place for a vacation. One of the few places were you can escape from the big city life and all its problems, a place where you can really catch your breath and relax. Strolls on a forested sea path or a week of quiet life in one of the picturesque villages to see how life is without any connection to civilization. The Hvar Island is a relaxation heaven. There are a lot of sites to admire like one of the monuments of the Hvar Island, the Saint Lawrence Church which is known for the collection of paintings by old masters. The Hvar Island also has one of the largest naturist camps. There is simply no way you can get bored here.

One of the few places that man hasn’t destroyed yet, the Hvar Island is a must see just like other famous places in the world. It’s just that it hasn’t had so much publicity and this is perhaps the reason its beauty remains untouched. You can enjoy the scenery and you can see the way native people live there. This will give you an idea about the way our forefathers made a living without having to work in loud plants and polluted environments. As a fact, it is necessary to say that Hvar Island is one of the perfect places you can visit and unwire yourself.

A fresh look at ibiza

Ibiza has long been one of the world’s premier summer-sun holiday destinations, although in recent years many visitors (including myself) have been put off by the seedy ‘Ibiza uncovered’ style publicity that the island has received. Thankfully, the White Island is now moving away from this tacky lads-on-holiday image, and is once again attracting a more up-market style of tourism.

This is hardly surprising if you take a moment to consider what Ibiza can offer to the discerning visitor, with fabulous white beaches adored by the rich and famous for decades, unspoilt pine forests, white-washed villages, a whole range of restaurants offering the best of world cuisine, world-famous nightlife and some of the friendliest locals you will ever meet.

Ibiza is again becoming ‘the’ place to be seen, so for those after a piece of the limelight, strut your stuff through the old Ibiza institution Pacha, or have a long lunch on the beach at the Jockey Club, and you are guaranteed to be rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous.

If you are looking for a relaxing week away from it all, take my advice and go in early May; the weather is perfect, and the island is all but deserted compared to the madness of August. You will get beautiful beaches all to yourselves, and great service at all the restaurants.

The level of service has improved greatly as well, with activities such as water sports, hot air ballooning, mountain-biking, boat rental and yoga easy to find and well-priced. For the full rock-star service, I would recommend hiring a villa complete with chef, maid and chauffeur; some villa rental agents are even offering a concierge service through which you can book tables at exclusive restaurants, get VIP tickets to the best clubs or arrange other services such as masseurs in your villa.

If you are planning your summer holidays, think twice before rejecting the idea of Ibiza as your chosen destination…I think you will find yourselves as pleasantly surprised as I was.

Go scuba diving in maui

Do you want to see a side of Maui like never before? Check out the beautiful island of Maui from a different view - underwater! There are many places in Maui where you can go scuba diving even if you have never been before. You can go on a guided tour, learn from an instructor or rent equipment if you don’t have your own. Below is more information about snorkeling and scuba diving in Maui.

Diving Trips

There are many different diving trips for you to choose from if you are staying in Maui. Many places offer small group SCUBA trips to at least two different destinations on each day of the week. Set out with other divers on a fully-equipped dive boat and enjoy comfortable seating and amenities (such as a bathroom) while you travel to your dive location.

There are knowledgeable crew members and diving instructors that can help you no matter what your level of experience and most dives are very affordable. If you are concerned with price, you might also look into package deals to save you money or go with a group.

There are also many specialty diving opportunities such as diving in caves or caverns. There are special excursions you can take with a professional tour guide to show you sights you probably never dreamed of before.

If you are a novice diver or if you are in a party with snorkelers, then you might want to take a different boat trip or tank dive trip. You will have to contact facilities that offer these to find out all the details. There are also many introductory dives and diving courses for you if you are new to the underwater world.

Snorkeling Trips

In addition to scuba diving, you might want to try snorkeling. There are many places that let you view gorgeous coral reefs and much more as well as the many exotic underwater living creatures of the Hawaiian Islands. Set out on a boat with many other snorkelers whether it’s your first time or you’ve been doing it forever. Head out to a nice snorkeling location such as a coral reef and friendly, knowledgeable crew will help you even if you have never done this before. There are “boogie boards” available to help you while moving through the water.

Even if you have been snorkeling before, you have likely never seen it like it is in Maui so it is well worth the time to go for at least one day and check it out. Snorkeling usually costs around $50 a day per person but you will have to call actual facilities since prices are subject to change. There are also group deals and discounts that you may be eligible for as well if you call and check into it.

Diving Courses

If you don’t know how to dive, you might want to look into getting some instructions first before you set out to go on a dive with people that know what they are doing. There are also many places that offer diving courses for those of you that may not have even been diving before. You can take classes on all the details of diving as well as go out on a boat with an instructor that will show you exactly how to do everything properly and safely.

If you are looking to find out exact pricing and diving schedules for different resorts and facilities, you will have to call them to find out all of the details. Equipment rentals can vary in pricing according to exactly what you need and what company you go through so you have to call to find out for sure. There are some places in Maui that offer trips and equipment that have their information available online and this may make it easier for you to plan ahead for your trip and find which location you want to use.

If you are going to be in Maui for vacation, you really need to take at least one day to go scuba diving or snorkeling and see the amazing underwater world in person for yourself. You might even want to take along an underwater camera to remember your adventure.

You can check into pricing, dive days and times as well as what certifications they have and what comes in their deals to help choose the one that suits your needs the best.

Spain bullfights and sangria

A cocktail of bullfighting, flamenco and sangria, Spain is a country blessed with rich history and culture. Add beautiful beaches and warm climate, and it’s evident why Spain is the world’s second most visited country.

The demise of Franco opened Spain to a curious world. A booming tourist industry allowed the country to grow, revealing its history and way of life to an interested planet.

Each town revels in its individual brand of architecture, none more so than Barcelona, bearing the architectural signature of Antonio Gaudi. The Hostal Dos Reis Catolicos in Santiago de Compostela is believed to be the world’s oldest hotel. Buildings in the far south of Spain retain a distinct Moroccan influence, a consequence of invasions from ancient past.

Northern Spain seems to have been inspired by Celtic Britain, even borrowing the Scottish bagpipes as instrument of choice.

Spain’s emotional love affair with the art world is captured in its many fine museums. Works of the country’s favourite sons, including the surreal compositions of Dali, and the enigmatic genius of Picasso are displayed with honour.

Attracting over 2 million visitors a year, La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is Gaudi’s most celebrated masterpiece. Under construction since 1882, this magnificent cathedral is not expected to be completed until around the year 2080. Today, the project is funded from tourism.

The Plaza Major in Madrid is the capital’s most historic landmark. This old town square is the perfect place to sit and relax, drink your coffee, and watch the world go by. Tourists and locals congregate each day to absorb the ambience and exchange thoughts.

However, there is more to this place than meets the eye. In days gone by, kings have been crowned here and trials of the inquisition held. Other events such as bullfighting have also taken prominence. Despite its age, meticulous attention has kept the square beautifully preserved.

Sun worshippers with little cultural interest can find solace on the Costa del Sol. A haven for beach lovers, the long golden sands provide ample opportunity for that bronze tan.

Located off the west coast of Morocco, the Canary Islands are the ideal destination for beach holidays. Born of volcanic activity, plant life and vegetation thrive in the rich soil, providing safe refuge for local wildlife. Golden sands contrast the black volcanic rock, while the cool Atlantic breeze retains a comfortable temperature.

The Balearic Islands, southeast of Barcelona are another suntrap, a lure for those who enjoy a hot sun and long nights. Indeed, the island of Ibiza is the party capital of Europe.

For those of a more cultured persuasion, the Prado Museum in Madrid houses some of the greatest works throughout Europe. Since construction in 1819, millions have passed through and revelled in its glory.

New zealand is for lovers of adventure that is travel to new zealand

Although often times in the gigantic shadow of its Australian neighbor, New Zealand is worlds apart from any experience found elsewhere and it is geographically much farther southeast than most people imagine. New Zealand is a former British colony, with fascinating cultural influences due to its location in southern Polynesia. Large swaths of rolling green meadows, churning geysers, creaking glaciers, and never-ending stretches of magical overgrown beaches encourage travelers to make the long haul across oceans to indulge in the disarming natural beauty of New Zealand year after year.

New Zealand was one of the last landmasses to be inhabited, only discovered in 800 AD by Polynesian navigator Kupe. The discovery initiated a steady stream of migration from today’s French Polynesia until Dutch Abel Tasman and finally James Cook came across the islands and claimed them for the British Crown, ruled from Australia. The native Maori people are still a considerable minority, enriching the cultural climate of the largely European (Pakeha) nation.

Cinematic Sanctuaries and Bungy* Jumping Buffs

New Zealand’s geography is divided into two major north-south islands. Depending on where you travel and the time of year, the activities and topography will change dramatically. The South Island is famous for its unique relics of the last Ice Age, the Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers, which plunge just below the islands tallest peak in the Southern Alps, Mount Cook. These glaciers are particularly spectacular because they continue to flow through temperate rainforest strikingly close to sea level. Winter in the Alps region is excellent for skiing, mountaineering and filmmaking – scenes from The Chronicles of Narnia were filmed here. For a thrilling wildlife experience, do not miss the South Island’s Otago Peninsula where you can enjoy a cozy bed and breakfast among sea lion, sea elephant and penguin habitats, to name a few.

The North Island is relatively warmer during the summer and milder all year long. Put yourself ‘on edge’ with a trip to serene Lake Taupo, which also happens to fill the caldera of one of the largest super-volcanoes in the world. Extreme outdoor sports abound on both islands, as New Zealand is the original inventor of Bungy Jumping (also found at Lake Taupo) among other creatively dangerous activities. The west coasts are extremely popular for black water rafting, otherwise known as cave rafting. This exhilarating experience should not be missed, even by the beginner. If a new heart rate is not what you are looking for, make your leisurely way to Ninety Mile Beach at the very north end of the island; the name is not deceiving and the experience is absolute paradise in the summer months. The Great Barrier Island to the east is a mind blowing underwater experience for most scuba divers and an equally sensational getaway for the sand-bound.

New Zealand is a destination for all seasons, with activities spanning the elements and progressive cities to keep up with those of faster pace. Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown are all very youthful and spirited cities with the distinct eclecticism of New Zealand culture to overload the senses and invigorate the spirit. New Zealand may be far from most places in the world, but it is certainly worth any length of travel to reap the fruit of this nation’s existence. Travel to New Zealand and experience it all for yourself.

Visit the florida keys for fun quirky events

Visitors to the Florida Keys always find something unique and exciting to do, especially in the summer and fall. The choices range from watching championship offshore powerboat races to enjoying culinary, musical, historical and cultural celebrations.

And for those in search of quirky, off-the-wall fun, the Keys certainly don't disappoint. Key West even hosts an annual event celebrating chickens. Yes, chickens!

Fun-seekers should visit the Keys for these and other not-to-be-missed events.

* ChickenFest Key West: This celebration, which occurs each June, honors the vivacious, squawking Key West chicken with a variety of lighthearted events culminating in the "Poultry in Motion" parade.

* Underwater Music Festival: This unique annual concert in July is broadcast underwater for divers and snorkelers. It is held at Looe Key Reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

* Hemingway Days: Fans of Ernest Hemingway's literature and lifestyle commemorate the author's July birthday each year in Key West, the island where the author lived and wrote throughout the 1930s. Events include a "Papa" Hemingway Look-Alike contest at Sloppy Joe's Bar, the catch-and-release Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament, the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition and an offbeat "Running of the Bulls."

* Key West Food and Wine Festival: This early August event showcases local restaurants' special cuisine presentations, including indigenous seafood favorites.

* Fantasy Fest: This annual, 10-day party with thousands of costumed revelers is the most outrageous of all fall events in the Florida Keys. It occurs in Key West during late October and features elaborate costume competitions, promenades and street fairs, masquerade galas and a grand parade with lavish floats and eccentric marching groups.

* Underwater Pumpkin Carving Contest: Divers carve pumpkins among the marine life during this annual event held off of Key Largo as part of the island's Halloween festivities.

Some of these events occur during periods of excellent lodging values.

Virginia is for lovers with plenty of bed and breakfasts

The state slogan for Virginia is "Virginia is for lovers" and there are plenty of bed and breakfast locations to help lovers spend some quality time together in a peaceful, relaxing and special atmosphere that simply cannot be found in a hotel. As a result, if you live in Virginia or are simply passing through, consider a Virginia bed and breakfast for your accommodations and you will certainly enjoy your stay even more.

Virginia is a very diversified state in the fact that there are mountains, city, the beach, and everything in between. And, no matter where you find yourself in Virginia there will be a bed and breakfast to meet your needs. Of course, there are more bed and breakfast locations in the cities especially closer to Washington D. C., but there are so many bed and breakfast locations that you can truly find just what you are looking for no matter where you find yourself. It might be difficult to just happen across a bed and breakfast in Virginia however because they are generally houses with signs, but nothing to compete with the big lit signs of hotels. As a result, you should plan ahead and look for Virginia bed and breakfasts in one of the many bed and breakfast directories available. Doing this will allow you to find all the bed and breakfasts listed in Virginia and you can check out rates, amenities, and then contact the b and b to make a reservation. Having your stay planned in advance will make you rest easy.

A bed and breakfast in Virginia is really a great option because it is almost as if you are staying at home, but with someone preparing a full breakfast for you and willing to meet your every need and even whim. As a result, a bed and breakfast can be an enjoyable and very romantic place to stay. If you are planning a trip to Virginia, check out the bed and breakfast options and you will more than likely choose to stay in a bed and breakfast on your next trip to Virginia.

National park vacation adventures

If you are planning a National Park vacation you might want to consider one or a few of these top 10 National Parks listed below.

There are many National Parks to visit, but the parks listed below are the most scenic and most popular of all the National Parks and recreation areas. I can personally attest to the beauty and grandeur of all 10 of these favorite National Parks. They are truly the best natural recreation areas the United States has to offer.

Spending your vacation in the great outdoors is a much better alternative than staying cooped up in a hotel room or visiting touristy theme parks.

A National Park vacation is an incredible way to treat yourself and your family to the beauty of God's creation.

These top 10 National Parks below offer a vast array of activities for the entire family. Some of those activities include hiking, biking, camping, rock climbing, mountain climbing, whitewater rafting, tubing, horseback riding, snow skiing, bird watching, fishing, and much more.

As you can see you will never run out of things to do on your National Park vacation.

Here are my top 10 recommended National Parks for your vacation:

Acadia National Park

Located on the rugged coast of Maine, Acadia National Park encompasses over 47,000 acres of granite-domed mountains, woodlands, lakes and ponds, and ocean shoreline.

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake is located in Oregon and is famous for the intense blue color of its waters and for its spectacular views. There are steep 1,500' to 2,000' drop offs all around the lake...simply beautiful.

Grand Canyon National Park

The beauty of Grand Canyon is beyond compare. When you first lay eyes on its magnificence it will take your breath away. You are completely humbled by its immense beauty and size and there is truly no place like it on earth.

Grand Teton National Park

Located in northwestern Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park is home to stunning mountain scenery and a diverse array of wildlife.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Ridge upon ridge of endless forest straddle the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the largest National Park areas in the Eastern United States. It is also the most visited National Park.

Mount Rainier National Park

Mt Rainier National Park was established in 1899 and covers 235,625 acres (97% is designated Wilderness). Includes Mount Rainier (14,410'), an active volcano encased in over 35 square miles of snow and ice. The park contains outstanding examples of old growth forests and subalpine meadows.

Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park is a surprising land of scenic wonders and fascinating science. The park features one of the world's largest and most colorful concentrations of petrified wood and the multi-hued badlands known as the Painted Desert.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Established on January 26, 1915, Rocky Mountain National Park is a living showcase of the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains and my favorite National Park vacation site.

Yellowstone National Park

In 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed a law declaring that Yellowstone would forever be "dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people." Maybe one of the most famous National Parks and the home of Old Faithful.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park embraces a spectacular tract of mountain-and-valley scenery in the Sierra Nevada, which was set aside as a national park in 1890. Yosemite was made famous by Ansel Adams spectacular black and white photography.

Spending your next vacation in one or many of these National Parks will be a treasure and the memories will certainly last a lifetime.

Relaxing lodgings for michigan getaways

As the season turns, it is time to consider a little vacation leisure time. If a Michigan getaway is on your menu, there are a lot of informal lodging options

Relaxing Lodgings for Michigan Getaways

Michigan is one of the most popular vacation spots in the Midwest. Situated between four Great Lakes (Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Superior), this state has over 2000 miles of shoreline for excellent lakefront vacationing. Add to that the charm of the forest wilderness that abounds in Michigan, which includes great golfing, fishing and hunting, and the state becomes a great place to take a family vacation away from it all.

When you are thinking about taking a vacation in Michigan, why not choose to stay in one of the many vacation rentals that are more homey than hotels? Aside from being more rustic and outdoorsy, these cabin lodgings also offer families an affordable and fun place to stay. Available for long or short term rental, these cottages are perfect for family retreats and trips. Finding a relaxing lodgings that suit you is as easy as taking a look at the area you want to vacation in.

The beautiful area around Oscoda, Tawas City and Mackinac Island, Michigan is known as the "Sunrise Side", and it borders Lake Huron. Here, lodgings can be found on the sugar sand beaches of Lake Huron or on any of the smaller, more secluded lakes that are found in the vicinity. Some unique places to check out here are the Anchorage Cottages, located in Oscoda. Available with a weekly rental rate, these cabins are situated along 150 feet of sugar sand beach bordering Lake Huron. The Anchorage Cottages offer separate bedrooms, kitchens and living areas, as well as amenities such as water sports, swimming and fishing.

If you would prefer to stay in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, there are also plenty of interesting little places to choose from. Here, A Cottage UP North, located in the Porcupine Mountains State Park, offers family vacation fun. UP North is actually a four season vacation home, which is available to be rented weekly year round. It sleeps ten with three bedrooms, and it is near both the state park and Lake Superior. This gives you the opportunity to go water skiing, fishing, hiking or just loaf at a relaxed pace of life.

Whether you prefer to stay on a lake or in the mountains, Michigan offers the charm and economy families need and enjoy. Whether you plan on staying in Michigan for a few days or a week, relaxed vacation lodgings beat out hotels any day.

Visitors guide to venice veneto italy

One of the jewels of Italy, Venice is known throughout the world for its stunning architecture and miles of canals. Consisting of 117 separate islands linked by a series of historic bridges, canals and pavements, Venice is visited each year by many thousands of tourists. Home to some of the world most stunning buildings, impressive museums and art galleries, and a large selection of top restaurants, Venice has much to offer and rarely disappoints.

Central Venice consists of six main regions, Cannaregio, Castello, Dorsoduro, Santa Croce, San Polo and San Marco, each full of local charm and appeal. One of the most famous landmarks in the city, San Marco Square is the only public square in Venice and offers a rich heritage, with the magnificent buildings of Doge's Palace and the Basilica San Marco nearby. Castello is the most historical area of the city and is known for its Arsenale ship-building yard.

On the northern side of Venice, Cannaregio contains the Santa Lucia Railway Station, with nearby Santa Croce linking the city to Italy's mainland. The smallest area of the city is the San Polo district, which offers many local eateries and inns. On Venice's southern side you will find the district of Dorsoduro, which contains the notable 17th-century Dogana da Mar.

Transport in Venice:

Central Venice is easy to traverse on food, being generally well pedestrianized. Popular methods of transport include inexpensive water buses and more pricey motorboat taxis, both of which offer a convenient and extremely scenic way to travel around the canals. Connected by rail to many large cities in both Italy and Europe, Venice stands on the A4 Autostrada.

The city is home to a large and busy airport, which is located around 8 miles / 13 km from the centre and caters for many international airlines. Venice's Marco Polo International Airport is easy to reach by a range of transportation, such as buses, cars, taxis, boats and rail.

Venice Tourism:

No trip to Venice would be complete without a trip in a traditional gondola and the city is geared up towards the tourist trade, with many must-see sights and attractions. Some of the most popular things to see in Venice include the numerous palaces and historic structures, such as the Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto), the Palazzo Mocenigo, the Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace), the Scuola Grande di San Rocco and a host of churches. The city is also home to countless trendy shopping areas, which are lined with local boutiques and specialist shops, together with a number of colourful markets.

Some of the most outstanding art galleries and museums in the city include the Marciano Museum, the Archaeological Museum (Museo Archeologico), the Accademia Gallery and the Contini Gallery. The watery city of Venice is also home to a surprising number of green spaces and parklands, such as the Royal Gardens (Giardinetti Reali) and the Giardino Giusti. Nearby Venice you will find a many interesting and appealing towns worth a visit, such as Burano, which is just a short trip by ferry and is known for its lace making.

Throughout the year, many major events are held in the Venice area and consist of religious festivals, cultural events and sports. Events not to be missed include seasonal carnivals, the Festa di San Marco at the end of April, the Festa Medioevale del Vino Soave Bianco Soave each May, the Vogalonga rowing regatta in May, the Venice International Film Festival at the end of August, and also the New Year's Eve masses in the city's Catholic churches.

Venice Shopping:

Full of elegant and trendy boutiques, independent shops and vibrant markets, the city could be called a 'shopper's paradise' and offers plenty of genuine bargains. The best shopping areas in Venice are around the San Marco region, the Mercerie and also close to the Calle dei Fabbri. Also, regular fish markets are held alongside the Grand Canal and are popular with both locals and visitors to the city.

Venice Restaurants:

With a vast selection of restaurants, cafes and eateries, Venice offers many traditional Italian dishes, which include freshly made pizzas, pastas, paninis, cheeses and salads. Many other types of cuisine are also available aimed at tourists visiting the city, such as fast-food outlets and bars. Al fresco dining is particularly popular in the city and around the San Marco area, known locally as the 'Piazza San Marco'.

incredible india with pushkar camel festival

We arrive to the land of 1000 languages and 1000 gods. At the Intercontinental, the women in my group are welcomed with marigolds and branded with the typical red dot on our foreheads. This hotel is an oasis of luxury in a polluted city of 14 million people. Two days are spent touring Delhi. The obligatory sites include Gandhi’s Tomb and many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. No where else have ancient traditions blended with the modern on a scale so evident as in Delhi. Fat sacred Brahma bulls block traffic creating delays. In this Hindu land, cows rule. Dogs, monkeys and children cross at their own risk.

I love spiced food and begin each day with a 3 alarm-curry breakfast. We head by coach for Rajasthan, the beautiful desert state where cows are replaced by camels. The air is sweeter and everything more colorful. Here is a microcosm of all that India is. The people are genteel with a humility if spirit and still light up at the sight of foreigners. We continually wave through our windows to those who stare with curiosity and seem to say, “why have you come here?” As a fan of the third world, this place has been on my dream list for years. I now vividly enter that element of travel that provides me astonishment.

We’ve come to attend the annual Camel Fair in Pushkar that has taken place for a thousand years. As the world’s largest, it has at its peak attracted 50,000 camels with 200,000 traders. We unpack at our camp called Exotic Adventures. Our spartan tents did have ensuite toilets but toilet paper was at a premium. There was a 24 hour guard outside who stingily rationed our quota. In the desert, nights are frigid and afternoons sweltering. I confided to a guest there from the American Embassy that I felt like I was in an episode of “Survivor.” She laughed assuring me that it was all worth it. Soon my shock turns to awe as I enter the fairgrounds.

Set on miles of shifting sand dunes with festooned camels and a flood of pilgrims, the scene looks totally surreal. Its like a State Fair on steroids. There is a flurry of horse, bullock and camel races, contests for milking, animal decorating, turban tying, tattooing as well as snake charmers, free carnival rides, mystics, astrologers and dazzling stalls of handicrafts at giveaway prices. The ground reverberates with activities. Thousands of Rajasthani woman have arrived dressed in their finest clothes in near neon colors. I watch trained monkeys, painted cows and cobra’s dance. No words can adequately describe how this helter skelter overwhelms my 5 senses. Others can have Europe with its cathedrals and museums. For me, this exotic exposure and cultural immersion is the ultimate travel!

Covered in dust, we return to camp. Each night there is entertainment under the stars with musicians, folk dancers, puppet show or fire eaters. No alcohol is allowed here and all meals are vegetarian buffets. An Ayurveda Center offers us treatments to cleanse body toxins. We decline them: induced vomiting, enemas, nasal drainage and blood letting.

We tour the holy city of Pushkar with its sacred lake created by Lord Brahma. Pilgrims come from afar to bathe in the ghats and worship round the clock. We learn about religions here: Zorastrism, Sihkism, the mystic Sufi’s, Jainists who won’t kill a mosquito, Hinduism that claims no absolute truth and the caste system. We tour temples at the lake; some are “blessed” by priests. Later, a highlight for me was a one hour Camel Cart Safari behind the scenes of the fair. Children line our route shouting to us “hi, hello, one pen please!” We see a camel slaughtered and half naked people washing. Back inside the grounds, we visit an orphanage and scatter individually to get lost in the feverish revelry. We ride huge spitting camels that provide us a heightened perspective of it all. I purchase a dozen garnet necklaces and silver ankle bracelets. Teenage boys approach Terry to photograph him. He’s 6’5’’. One politely as him, “Sir, what do you eat?”

Our group was wonderful!

There are endless food courts however we must pass all enticements to prevent “Delhi Belly.” I find the cacophony of chaos delightful. Pushkar is truly a party affair for the locals and we are just observant guests. I’m so grateful to experience such but time to proceed on with our busy itinerary.

We arrive to the famed “Pink City” of Jaipur, now more deep maroon from pollution. In touring its palaces, fort and architectural marvels, we learn of the great Amber rulers and maharajahs of the Moghul empire. History comes alive and I find myself so interested in that which I never cared about. And here is a shopper’s paradise for silk sarees, gems, jewelry and marble crafts. I visited an animal sanctuary called “Help In Suffering.” The worst cases of various species are treated here by volunteer veterinarians. Forty five stray dogs are sterilized daily and I witness a surgery. (See www. HIS-INDIA. com ) You can simply mail them a check to help.

At 'Help In Suffering' a dog spaying Making a donation Volunteer vets talk to Suzy

On to see the grand Fatehpur Sikri, “Ghost City of Akbar” that was abandoned due to scarcity of water. We finally reach Agra, a broken city of 2.5 million. Hawkers harass us. Chained bears dance for rupees in the street. Hungry children beg. We are thankful to lodge at the deluxe Sheraton here with its western cuisine and affordable massages at $20. It was like a galaxy change from the downtown.

After witnessing an eyeful of wonders along the way, we have saved the best for last at the world’s greatest tribute to love. Goosebumps rise as I enter the majestic gate to the Taj Mahal. Morning sunlight illuminates it like a flawless pearl…22 years to build by 200,000 men with 2 million pieces of inlaid semi-precious stones. After a lecture on why this perfect symmetry was created for Queen Mumtaz, we disperse to photograph what looks to be a mirage. It is poetry in architecture and as magnificent as can be imagined.

Back in Delhi, we all enjoy a free day of leisure to explore as we choose! Most go shopping as prices are extravagantly low but how many Pashmina shawls does one need? For our final evening we enjoy a show called “Dances of India” followed by a farewell feast of our Last (Indian) Supper.

I remises another journey well done with excellent guides, drivers, assistance and accommodations. I recall my favorite moment which took place at the fair when I hired two “body guides” to assist me through the crowds, Jamal and Ranshi. These two 11 year old boys bonded to me like barnacles and their beaming smiling faces will forever remain etched in my memory of India. This trip has renewed my curiosity of the world reminding me again that my love of travel proliferates itself. The more I see, the more I want to see.

This country is for the seasoned traveler. I am extremely impressed with the fortitude and patience of my group of 60 people in a land of erratic infrastructure. For some it was their first visit to the third world but they all persevered like pros. To witness suffering first hand is the fullest way to appreciate home. We saw things both appalling and joyful. The word “fascinating” however would sum up the entire trip. I must return again.

Ayers rock mystery in the desert

Ayers Rock stands as a challenge to those that view it – its imposing, and it challenges all with questions. What is this chunk of rock doing here? Is it of terrestrial origin? What is it made of? The huge prospect of the mass of rock confounds logic, much like the rock-face in the Hollywood movie Mission to Mars that raised a thousand questions.

It not without justification for the local aborigines, who call this rock Uluru, probably a family name, is worshipped as a sacred place. Like Benares or Parthenon, it is a place or worship to some, and a venue of tourist wonderment for others.

Situated in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, it is virtually in the middle of nowhere, but it draws tourists year round from throughout Australia and the world. Temperatures during summer months can be uncomfortable, and it is always advisable to wear clothes in accordance with weather.

At a height of around 350 meters above ground, it is 8 kilometers around. Mistakenly called a monolith, it is part of a much larger underground structure which includes nearby mountains like Mount Connor and the Kata Tjuta, or Mount Olga. Largely a limestone structure, it affords varied surfaces, from long clefts on the surface, perforations and smooth faзade.

Discovered in 1872 by explorer Ernest Giles, he described it as the ‘remarkable pebble’, an apt name for the smooth megalith named Ayers Rock after the Chief Secretary of South Australia, Sir Henry Ayers. The rock is famous for changing colors. Not only does it seem to change color from season to season, but even during the day as it captures sunlight from differing angles. The surface feldspar reflects a red light during sunsets and sunrise. A rare rainfall brings out a rush of black algae on its surface, giving it a silver-grey color.

The whole area including and around Ayers Rock is filled with cultural and spiritual artifacts of the local aborigines. The rock is said to house dozens of ancestral ‘beings’ whose abodes are decorated with venerated artwork. The rock forms part of a religious myth that tries to explain the birth of time. It is not surprising, therefore, that many of the aborigines are offended at the tourist intrusion of their ancient land which is held sacred by them.

While climbing Ayers Rock remains a favorite pastime of many sturdy tourists, the aborigines dissuade climbers, in essence. The Cultural Center located in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is a veritable treasure trove of local culture and artifacts and is a center of education on the local culture. The photo collages, history panels, sound samples, interactive audio-visual productions and live interaction with the Ananga people brings about a great understanding of what Uluru has come to mean for them.

However climbing the Ayers Rock is considered a ‘done’ thing by most tourists, much like taking a snorkel dive in the Great Barrier Reef. But tackling the Rock can be a bit of a challenge to all but the fit trekkers. There are many routes that one can take depending upon how comfortable you are with each. It is generally advised that starting trekkers should take the easier routes lined with railings and notices. You can also go with local guides who take you through easier routes providing you with running commentary on significant places. Many people like traveling in groups which is, in fact, a safer option. Of course, it is mandatory that you are properly dressed, have the requisite gear and take lots of water.

Very near to the Uluru are The Olgas, literally meaning ‘little heads’, another group of peculiar rock formations that attract a lot of tourists. A little more distant (100 km) is the much larger Mount Conner, located southeast of Lake Amadeus.

Ayers Rock has fascinated people for as slong as we can remember. It has been a venue of religious veneration and mystique, and now it is an object of public fascination. A symbol of the elemental Australia, Ayers Rock is a must see for all who visit the Northern Territory in this part of the world.

Disclaimer

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The life of luxury in dubai

The United Arab Emirates are a prime tourist destination because they stand out as a remarkable example of how petrodollars can be used to improve the lives of Arabs. In contrast to the poverty for which so much of Arabia is renowned, Dubai features skyscrapers and futuristic amusement parks. Modern Dubai is the product of 20 years of intensive planned development; prior to this, it was a small fishing port of little importance.

The United Arab Emirates, or UAE, is 32,000 square mile political union of seven sheikhdoms, formed when the British left the Gulf region in 1971. The total area of Dubai is approximately 1000 square miles, and it is the second largest emirate in the UAE, after Abu Dhabi. In addition to a federal president and prime minister, each emirate has a separate ruler who oversees the local government. Dubai, a small fishing settlement, was taken over around 1830 by a group of Bani Yas tribesmen from the Liwa oasis, led by the Maktoum family which still rules the tiny nation today. For most of its history, main economic activities were agriculture, fishing and pearl production.

The ruling clan of Dubai was exceptionally progressive, and did their best to make their tiny nation attractive to traders from nations including India and Persia. These businessmen settled in the growing city of Dubai and made it a leading entry port for trade goods. In 1971, the independent emirate joined with the other small sheikhdoms of Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah and, in 1972, Ras Al Khaimah to create the federation of United Arab Emirates.

The discovery of oil in 1966 transformed the region by providing funds for the development of a modern, western infrastructure. The Maktoum family, unlike many middle eastern rulers who hoard oil wealth for their private use alone, ensured that the oil revenue was deployed in national development. Much of the modernization is due to the efforts of Sheikh Rasid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who ruled from 1958 to 1990.

Well informed of the risks of oil-dependency, Sheikh Rashid actively promoted industrial ventures to build his nation's infrastructure. The Aluminium and Cement factory are the result of this endeavour. He also establised the Jebel Ali Free Trade Zone, the fifth largest free trade zone in the world. Within 10 years of its inception, it attracted over 900 international companies that include global giants such as General Motors, AEG, Aiwa, BP, Ciba, Geigy, Daewoo and Heinz.

Dubai is appealing to tourists as well as business executives. Like the rest of the U. A.E., it has also been actively promoting itself as a vacation destination. In June 1996 World Travel prizes ceremony held in Las Vegas, USA, it won the gold prize for the best destination in the Middle East.

Dubai features the annual Dubai Shopping Festival, the Dubai World Trade Center which hosts innumerable international events and fairs, the Dubai Air Show, the Dubai Summer Surprises, the world's tallest skyscraper, an undersea hotel and even indoor alpine skiing at the Ski Dubai Dome.

The Dubai International Airport is reputed to be the world's second best transit airport. It currently handles 7.3 million passengers per year with a growth rate of 12% that is double that of any other airport in the world. The emirates, which will begin receiving Airbus A380 superjumbos starting April 2007, will hire 8,000 new staff members as cabin crew for its rapidly expanding air fleet. It is investing $20 million to expand its crew training facility at the Emirates Training Center in Garhoud.

Colorado takes center stage

Whether it's winter, spring, summer or fall, visitors to Colorado have plenty of choices if they want to enjoy live entertainment. Each season, there are curtain calls for repertory theater and Broadway productions, children's plays and a variety of musical performances.

Visit Colorado and experience these "must see" venues and events.

* Denver Center for the Performing Arts: In the heart of Colorado's Mile High City, the center is home to the region's largest resident, professional theater company. You'll enjoy top performances such as "Always ... Patsy Cline," "Peter Pan" and "Fire on the Mountain."

* Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center: Tap your toes to hit show tunes, such as "Cabaret" and "Singin' In the Rain" - world-class acts in a popular local venue.

* Diamond Circle Melo-

drama: Located in the historic Strater Hotel in Durango, this is where theater-lovers go to get into the act; audience participation is strongly encouraged.

* Fort Morgan: Visitors will always be in the mood for big-band performances in this area, former home of world-famous musician Glenn Miller.

* Winter Park Resort: Since 1988, its ski slopes have provided perfect seating each July for the annual KBCO World Class RockFest.

* The Benedict Music Tent: Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, this 2,050-seat venue at the internationally renowned Aspen Music School combines Colorado beauty with more than 200 premier performances throughout the summer.

* Chautauqua Auditorium: This auditorium in Boulder, one of only three remaining Chautauqua performance sites in the United States, welcomes 1 million visitors annually. Now in its 106th season, the unique auditorium features educational and cultural programming in the spirit of the country's historic Chautauqua movement for the entire community to enjoy.

* Telluride Town Park: With its highly acclaimed blend of mountain and creative splendor, this park hosts the annual Telluride Jazz Festival.

* Music Festival Park in Steamboat Springs: Enjoy mountain vistas and musical vibes at this venue, which hosts the annual Strings in the Mountains orchestral ensemble. The park also hosts 10 free concerts each summer.

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