Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cappadocia


Cappadocia
Cappadocia – A Historical Region 

Cappadocia or Capadocia in Turkish, is a historical region in Central Anatolia in Nevsehir Province in Turkey. The earliest record dates from the late 6th century BC which appears in the trilingual inscription of two early Achaemenid kings Darius I and Xerxes as one the countries of the Old Persian Empire where the Old Persian name was Katpatuka meaning `the land, country of beautiful horses’ and Cappadocia comes from the Luwian or Luvian language which means `Low Country’.

Being a historic area of Central Anatolia, it is surrounded by the towns of Hacibektas, Aksarav, Nigde and Kayseri and known as Cappadocia in ancient time and is still called Kapadokya. It is the most striking region specially the `moonscape’, area surrounding the towns of Goreme, Urgup, Uchisar, Avanos and Mustafapasa where due to erosion, caves, clefts, pinnacles, fairy chimney together with sensuous folds in the soft volcanic rocks have been formed.

It is best known for its unique moon like landscape together with cave churches, underground cities and houses carved in the rocks.

Unusual Rock Formation

This region has valley, canyon, hills with unusual rock formation which have been created as a result of the eroding rains and winds thousands of years ago, of the lava covered plain which are located between the volcanic mountains Ericyes, Melendiz and Hasan together with its dwellings which have been carved out of rock. Cities were dug out into underground, presenting a different world.

The mountain eruptions which lasted until 2 million years ago in geological times seemed to be active volcanoes forming soft layer which was 150 m thick caused by the lavas in the valley surrounded by mountains. Fairy chimneys were the result of the rivers; flood water running way down the hills of valleys together with strong winds which eroded the geological formations consisting of tuff on the plateau forming tuff layers created these shapes.

The Cappadocia Kingdom formed in 332 BC

The Cappadocia Kingdom was formed in 332 BC and during the Roman period it was inhabited by the Christian who carved thousands of cave churches, chapels and monasteries out of the rock. Most of these churches were also decorated with frescoes of medieval saints whose images still gaze from the walls and these ancient churches are an amazing site for visitors.

The underground cities were used as hideouts and shelters in Cappadocia by the early Christian.There are various interesting sites in Cappadocia and the main attractions are the two large open air museums and the underground cities.

 Besides these there are also several small but forgotten rock cut churches and monasteries, spectacular caravanserais, hiking trails, together with dramatic rock formation which are worth exploring. The most comfortable and quickest way to reach Cappadocia is by air where there are two airports, one being Kayseri Erkilet Airport – ASR which is located in Kayseri with a one hour drive to the centre of Cappadocia region.

The other is the Turkish Airline which operates several nonstop flights from Istanbul Ataturk Airport to Kayseri Erkilet Airport with daily flights from Izmir to Kayseri through Istanbul. A transfer or shuttle bus is easily available from Kayseri Airport to Cappadocia.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Gros Morne National Park


Gros Morne National Park
Gros Morne National Park, a world heritage site is located on the west coast of Newfoundland and at 1,805 sq. km it is the second largest national park in Atlantic Canada and surpasses Torngat Mountains National Park, which is 9,700 sq. km.

It takes its name from Newfoundland’s second highest mountain peak which is 2,644 feet, located within the park.Located on the west shore of the Great Northern Peninsula of the island of Newfoundland, the Park is a rare example of the process of continental drift where deep ocean crust together with the rocks of the earth’s mantle lie exposed.

The recent glacial action was the outcome of some spectacular scenery together with coastal lowland, alpine plateau, glacial valley, fjords, cliffs, waterfall as well as several pristine lakes. It consists of a part of the Long Range Mountain towards the Gulf of St. Lawrence which includes coastal lowlands and an alpine plateau. Included in the park in the marine areas it covers the inner portion of St. Paul’s Inlet, with intertidal zones and estuaries.

The shoreline has amazing beaches, steep cliffs together with dune formations which are up to a height of 30 metres. A large proportion of the eastern central park is covered by an upland alpine plateau with perched lakes, bare rocks and valleys while the serpentine hills towards the south west consist of ultra-basic igneous rocks the outcome of high heavy metal content that inhibit most plant life.

 Cutting through the Long Range scarp face, is a number of steep sided glacial valleys which form deep oligotrophic fjords, with vertical cliffs of around 685 meters high. Several waterfalls are fed by snow melt at higher altitudes in the summer.

Coast Inclusive of Shoreline Communities 

The coast is also inclusive of typical shoreline communities, active dunes along with white spruce together with cliffs of prostrate spruce and balsam fir and further island, the coastal plain has a variety of plant communities which include mosaic of sedges in meadows together with American larch scrub.

Balsam fir is found in more protected and mesic areas and black spruce dominates wet, oligotrophic sites. The park is geologically diverse with area of Ordovician sedimentary rocks, Precambrian granite and gneiss, Palaeozoic serpentineultra-basic rocks, gabbros, volcanic as well as Lower Palaeozoic sedimentary rocks.

Exposed oceanic crust, mantle, which is a section of ancient Mohorovicic discontinuity together with other distinctive geological features are also found here. Besides this there is also an unusual complete palaeotological sequence which could have been probably been the world stratotype for the border of the Cambrian Ordovician.Moreover there are also 36 distinct vegetation types and communities along with some vascular species and bryophytes which represent around sixty percent of Newfoundland’s insular flora.

Immense Natural Beauty

Gros Morne National Park of Canada had been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and the park is covered with an area of immense natural beauty with rich variety of scenery, wildlife as well as recreational activities.

Visitors can have a hiking experience through wild uninhabited mountains or even camp by the sea. Besides these, boat tours also bring the visitors under the towering cliff of freshwater fjord that has been carved out by the glaciers.

The waterfalls, marine inlets together with sea stacks and sandy beaches and colourful fishing villages in the vicinity provide an aura of natural and peaceful environment at this remarkable site known as Gros Morne National Park.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Kremlin – Living Example of Russian Culture and History

Kremlin
In the Russian language, the word kreml means citadel where several Russian cities have kremlins of their own. The Kremlin is located on Borovitsky Hill, which rises above the Moscow River in the centre of the city.

During early decades of the Soviet period, Kremlin was an exclusive enclave of the state’s governing elite’s workplace and residence. The site was the official residence of the president of the Russian Federation though access to other areas within the walls was admitted considerably.With almost a dozen churches and palaces, Kremlin is a living example of eight centuries of Russian culture and history together with its power.

The walls which run almost a mile and half, stands as high as 62 feet and 21 feet thick and has 20 towers and gates. The Kremlins or fortresses were built by several medieval Russians for protection from invaders.The original Kremlin in Moscow started in 1156 as a wooden structure towards the north of the Moskva River.

As the power and wealth of Muscovite increased by 1400, Prince Ivan III had the area presently known as Red Square, cleared, which at that time was a shantytown housing poor peasants and criminals and converted the Kremlin into its splendid form bringing in Italian architect to enhance it by building new fortified stone walls and structures like the Cathedral of the Assumption which is also known as the Cathedral of the Dormition.

Red Square – Interior Rich & Iconic

This was built directly east of the Kremlin, Moscow’s historic fortress and the centre of the Russian government, Red Square is now home to some of the most distinctive and important landmarks of the country which dates back to the 15th century and the Muscovite prince Ivan III – Ivan the Great expanded the Kremlin reflecting Moscow’s influence and growing power.

Red Square has the ornate of 16th century, St. Basil’s Cathedral, which are the State Historical Museum and the enormous GUM Department Store together with a modernist mausoleum for the revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin.

Red Square’s interior is rich with painted walls and icons from a different period of the church’s long history though its exterior domed spires and tents each capping one of the nine separate chapel are very iconic.

Kremlin – Private/Red Square - Public

Towards the 20th century the square was famous as a site of large scale military parades as well as other demonstrations which were designed to showcase the strength of Soviet.

Kremlin stands towards west side of the huge bricked Red Square separating the fortified citadel from the city where the square, for centuries was a marketplace, gathering place, festival ground and during the Soviet period, it was used as a parade ground.

Moreover, the tomb of Lenin lies along the Kremlin side of Red Square and since 1924, the former leader’s body which is embalmed has also been on view inside. Kremlin represented the private hidden side of the power of Russia while Red Square which is at the east of Kremlin is the public side of Russia where the square was created shortly after the completion of the Kremlin wall where the two since then have been interlined in popular imagination.

Great Barrier Reef



Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef – World’s Largest Coral Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is larger than the Great Wall of China which is visible from outer space and is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms.

The reef structure is composed and built by billions of tiny organism which are known as coral polyps with over 2,900 single reefs, with 900 islands stretching over 2,300 kilometres across an area of around 344,400 square kilometres.

It is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, in Australia. It supports a wide diversity of life and in 1981 had been selected as a World Heritage Site. Moreover, CNN has also labelled it as one of the seven natural wonders of the world and the Queensland National Trust named it a state icon of Queensland.

A major area of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park which helps in restraining the impact of human use like fishing and tourism besides other environmental pressures on the reef and its ecosystem include runoff, climate change accompanied with coral bleaching together with cyclic population outbreaks of the crown of thorns starfish.

Breeding Space for Humpback/Whales/Dangerous Species

As per the study done by Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, which was published in October 2012, it is believed that the reef had lost more than half of its coral cover since 1985.

The Great Barrier Reef is a breeding space for humpback whales that have migrated from the Antarctic as well as the habitat of a few dangerous species like the Dugong– Sea Cow and the large Green Sea Turtle.

On closer encounter with its impressive coral garden, it portrays many amazing underwater attractions which include the world’s largest collection of coral, which are over 400 different types of coral, coral sponges, rays, dolphins, molluscs, more than 1500 species of tropical fish, over 200 kinds of birds, about 20 kinds of reptiles which include sea turtles together with giant clams which are over 120 years old.

Home to Diversity of Plants/Lower Animals

This amazing colourful aquatic ecosystem is a home to a diversity of plants and lower animal though it is also frequented by the larger species like dugongs, sharks, besides dolphinsand sea turtles and to protect these biological treasures, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was designated in 1975 which is the world’s largest national marine sanctuary.

Due to its natural beauty both above and below the water, this reef has become the most sought after tourist destination in the world. There were around 820 operators together with 1500 vessels and aircrafts that were permitted to operate in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to provide easy access to all visitors for the Great Barrier Reef experience and to learn about its natural delights together with the World Heritage values.

The reef had for long been known and used by the Aboriginal Australian as well as the Torre Strait Islanders and is also an important part of their groups and cultures as well as spirituality. Moreover, the reef is a popular destination for tourist, especially in the Whitsunday Islands, and Cairns regions and tourism is an important economic activity for the people of this region, generating revenue of over $3 billion annually.

Victoria Falls – Spectacular Natural Wonders of the World

Victoria Falls
The Victoria Fall is one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world which the locals call `Mosi-ao-Tunya’, referred to the smoke that thunders and the Falls that are remarkable,by the locals. Though the falls is not the highest or the widest in the world, yet it has been classified as the largest, due to its width of 1,708 metres and a height of 108 metres which has made it the world’s largest sheet of falling water and is roughly twice the height of North America’s Niagara Falls.

Moreover it is also twice the width of its Horseshoe Falls and in height and width Victoria Fall competes only with Argentina and Brazil’s Iguazu falls. The rivers’ course is scattered with various tree covered islands which tend to increase in numbers as the river reaches the fall. Some distance upstream from the falls, the Zambezi flows over a level sheet of basalt in a shallow valley which is bounded by low and faraway sandstone hills. There are no mountains, or deep valleys, but only flat plateau which tends to extend miles away in all directions.

Boaruka/Livingstone Islands

These fall are formed as the full width of the river which plunge into a single vertical drop into a transverse chasm of 1708 meters wide which have been carved by its water towards a fracture zone in the basalt plateau where the depth of the chasm which is called the First George ranges from 80 metres towards its western end to 108 meters at the centre.

The outlet which is the only one to the First Gorge is a 110 metres wide gap which is about two thirds of the way across the width of the falls from the western side, through which the entire volume of the river falls into the Victoria Falls gorges. Then there are two islands that are large enough, to divide the curtain of water even at full flood on the crest of the falls, namely Boaruka Islands towards the western bank and Livingstone Island at the centre, the point from which Livingstone had first viewed the falls.

When lesser than full flood, additional islet tend to divide the curtain of water into separate parallel streams and the main streams are named as Devil’s Cataract also called Leaping Water by some, Main Falls, Rainbow falls, which is the highest and the Eastern Cataract. These are named in order from Zimbabwe – West to Zambia – East.

Preserved in Its Natural State

The Victoria Falls being 1,708 meters wide makes it one of the largest curtain of water in the world which drops between 90 metres and 107 meters into the Zambezi Gorge as well as an average of 550,000 cubic metres of water plunging over the edge every moment.

The Victoria Fall is amazing with a magic, manifested in the towering column of spray when the river is high along with the thunder of the falling water, accompanied by the terrifying abyss and tranquil lagoon upstream, where one will find hippo and deadly crocodiles lurking there.

Victoria Falls is preserved in its natural state inspiring many visitors today as it did in the 1860s where the falls together with its surrounding areas have been declared National Parks as well as a World Heritage Site, thereby preserving this area from being commercialised.

4 Great Places To Buy Property in Ecuador


If you're dreaming of your own home on the coast of Ecuador, you should know in advance that some places are bigger, better and more valuable than others. Here are just four cities worth your time and your check.

1: Manta

If you enjoy blue skies, beautiful beaches and sun-kissed produce, you won't want to miss Manta. Buy a vacation home or simply rent a high-rise suite a few times a year in order to take full advantage of this tropical paradise.
2: Salinas

Salinas is one of the most affordable places to purchase real estate in the entire country of Ecuador. As a bonus, with malls, shops, restaurants, theaters and coastal activities as far as the eye can see, you'll never run out of things to do when you buy a home near the water.

3: Bahía de Caráquez

Known to the locals as Bahia, this sunny peninsula is a big tourist attraction for the wealthy, making it an excellent location for your expanding business. You'll enjoy thousands of visitors per year in addition to the ever-growing native population.

4: Cuenca

As an official UNESCO World Heritage, you won't find a better place to make an investment in Ecuadorian real estate. Property values will remain high as long as the government continues to recognize its worth, and their regard shows no sign of abating anytime soon.

These are just a few places in Ecuador where you might enjoy settling down or establishing your international business. Visit this site to learn more!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast
Credit: hotmediterraneancruises.com
Amalfi Coast – Magnificent Mediterranean Landscape

Italy’s Amalfi Coast is a stretch of about 50 km of coastline on the southern coast of the Sorrentine Peninsula in the Province of Salerno in Southern Italy. It is a very popular tourist destination for the people of that region as well as Italy, attracting many tourists every year.

Amalfi Coast has a magnificent Mediterranean landscape which is a blend of both natural and cultural wonders with its breath-taking terrain which includes dramatic coastline topography with terraced vineyard, pasture and orchards together with the amazing views of the water below.

The Amalfi Coast is one of Europe’s most breath taking site with cliffs that are terraced with scented lemon groves together with sparking seas, whitewashed villas giving way to slopes adding an awesome sight with the sea and the sky merging in one vast blue horizon.In 1997, the Amalfi Coast was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a cultural landscape.

For many centuries, its abundant resources, pleasant climate and its natural beauty has drawn many people to this coast with many leaving their mark like the Greeks, Norman, Arab-Sicilians, Romans and Saracens.

Picturesque Tourist Centre

Amalfi itself is a picturesque tourist centre though in the 11th and 12th centuries the city was centred on the Amalfi Maritime Republic and became the naval power throughout the Mediterranean. Its ports were a source of extensive trade with North Africa with the city retaining cloister of Arab-Sicilian architecture throughout, along with the Arsenale, which was a partially preserved medieval shipyard from a glorious period.

For many years after the Amalfi’s glorious days as a maritime superpower, the area became poor and its isolated villages became the target of regular foreign incursions, earthquakes and landslides but it was this isolated environment that drew many visitors in the early 1900 that gave way to the entry of tourism in the latter half of the century.

Presently Amalfi Coast is one of Italy’s most sought after destination which is a favourite to some well to do jet setters and couples seeking some privacy from the hustle and bustle of life.

Positano – Most Expensive and Photogenic Town 

Amalfi is a popular day option together with Positano which is the most expensive and photogenic town along with the town of Ravellowhich is perched high on a hill looking down over it. Salerno which is useful as a transport hub is a lovely old town with several winding medieval streets in its vicinity. The best time to visit Amalfi, is in spring or early autumn.

In summer, the coast’s single road tends to get busy and prices on commodities are inflated while in winter much of the coast seems to be shut down. The Amalfi Coast is famous for its production of limoncello liqueur since the area is popular for cultivation of lemons which are known as sfusato amalfitano in Italian.

These are grown in terraced gardens all along the either coast during the month of February and October. Moreover, Amalfi is also known for its handmade thick paper known as bambagina with other renowned local products which are a kind of anchovies, local Italian – alici from Cetara together with the colourful handmadeceramics which come from Vietri.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Great Wall of China


Great wall of china
The Great Wall – World’s Largest Military Structure

Under the rule of Qin Shi Huang, in 220 BC, certain sections of the previous fortification had been joined together forming a great military defence system of successive Chinese Empire against invasion from the north and construction were carried up to the Ming dynasty in 1368-1644. This Great Wall came to be known as the world’s largest military structure.It has a total length of more than 20,000 kilometres where the Great Wall begins in the east at Shanhaiguan in Hebei province ending at Jiayuguan in Gansu province towards the west.

Its main body consisting of walls watch towers, horse tracks together with shelters on the walls, also includes fortresses and passes along the Wall and its strategic and historic importance is credited only by its architectural significance. It is an outstanding example of the excellent military architecture, art and technology of ancient China and embodies great significance as the national symbol in the protection and securing the people and its country.

Series of Fortification – World Heritage Site 

The Great Wall of China has been a series of fortification which was made of stone, tamped earth, brick, and wood together with other materials and was built along an east to west line on the historical northern borders of China. It is one of the most amazing wonders of the world and has been listed as a World Heritage by UNESCO in the year 1987.

Like a huge dragon, the Great Wall winds up and down across grasslands, deserts, mountains and plateaus stretching from east to west of China. It was constructed with the intention to protect the Chinese Empire or its prototypical states from the intrusions of several nomadic groups or military invasion. Most of the walls were built during early 7th century wherein later on were joined together leading in the expansion of these walls, making them stronger and unified.

It has been rebuilt, maintained and enhanced on several occasions while the majority of the present wall was reconstructed during the Ming Dynasty. Having a history of over 2000 years, some of the sections have been in ruins or have disappeared but it is one of the most appealing attractions of the world due to its awesome architectural grandeur as well as historical significance.

Great Masterpiece

The mystery of construction of the wall isamazing which drew heavily on the resources of the local for construction purpose that was carried out in line with the local conditions under the contract of management and responsibility system.

The manpower comprised of prisoners, soldiers and the local people who built the wall and the results of the construction portrays the wisdom and tenacity of the people of China. It is a great masterpiece and the only work that has been built by humans and can be seen from the moon,which is an excellent piece of architecture integrated into the landscape.

The Great Wall does carry a considerable part of Chinese culture and has been incorporated into Chinese mythology as well as symbolism. One well known legend is related to the collapse of a part of the Wall which was due to Meng Jiangnu who had cried bitterly at the death of her husband and who had died while building the wall. This legend was related in textbooks, traditional operas as well as folk songs.

Byzantine Architecture in Istanbul

The Romans brought a lot to the field of architecture. Without them, we wouldn’t have the dome of the Hagia Sophia, or the aqueduct of Segovia, Spain. That architecture is on display in all of its glory in the city of Constantinople, today known as Istanbul.

Marble was once the building material of choice for ancient builders, but it was quickly supplanted by the much cheaper tiled concrete. Great pillars needed to be erected in order to support these massive structures, and concrete could be shaped to flow freely.

There are examples of this amazing architecture still standing in Istanbul. The Hagia Sophia cathedral, with its amazing dome, is the most famous example. With the Sophia, the dome is supported by large stone pillars that evenly distribute the weight and gravitational force of the structure. Forty windows were placed around the base of the structure, which give the appearance of the dome floating over a sea of white light.

The Karamagara Bridge is another interesting landmark, and the earliest known pointed arch bridge. The arch itself was built without the use of mortar, and a transcription from the bible runs along the eastern side of the structure.

Byzantine architecture had a profound influence on the ancient world. Syria and Palestine based almost all of their art and architecture on Byzantine influences. It also found a small revival during the gothic period of England, where the Westminster Cathedral’s arches and domes still stand.

Written by Samuel Phineas Upham

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Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his website.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fair Isle, Scotland


Fair Isle
Fair Isle – One of Britain’s most Remote Inhabited Island – Northern Scotland

Fair Isle is located halfway between mainland Orkney and Shetland and is one of Britain’s most remote inhabited island in northern Scotland.

It is three miles long and one and a half miles wide and is famous for its bird observatory as well as traditional style of knitting. The Bird observatory and the Lodge are major attractions where bird watchers tend to relax in comfort observing some of the 350 species which have been recorded in this place and a twitcher’s paradiseat the time of bird migratory seasons.

Being a crofting community and thriving with traditional industry, one can see the crafts people of this island at work like boat building, weaving, spinning and knitting. Knitwear originated from Fair Isle and it is still the only place in the world producing these articles.

Besides being known for various species of birds, Fair Isle also has more than 250 species of flowering plants. During summer, the wetlands are covered with bright yellow Bog Asphodel and deep purple Early Marsh Orchids which looks amazing, Towards late May, the cliffs are covered with delicate blue to Spring Squill while in June it changes to a bright pink carpet of Thrift. Rare species of plants include Frog Orchid.

Archaeological Remains/Unusual Flora/Military Relics/Wildlife

One will find archaeological remains, unusual flora, military relics and plenty of wildlife together with amazing cliff scenery. Fair Isle had been carefully studied by archaeologists than any area in Scotland and evidence are found that the Isle could have been settled by Neolithic inhabitants around 5000 years ago.

Besides, there have been traces of oval shaped stone houses which could probably be 3000 years old with line of turf and stone wall which pass across the landscape. The archaeological remains comprises of burnt mounds which are piles of blackened stones that seems to have been heated in fire and dropped in stone trough to warm the water but the purpose is not clear.

It could have been used for cooking, tanning, preparing cloth or for primitive sauna. Besides these, there are also two known Iron Age site, the foundations of a house underlying an early Christian settlements at Kirkigeo and a promontory fort which is at Landberg.

Useful Landmark for Shipping 

For many years, Fair Isle had been a very useful landmark for shipping though in fog and storms, the coastline seemed to be very dangerous.

Fair Isle, in all has around fourteen scheduled monuments which range from the earliest signs of human settlement to the remains of World War II radar station with two fine lighthouses which have been automated and are listed buildings.

From 1982, around two thirds of the power had been supplied through wind turbines with a third by diesel generators. Since Fair Isle is not connected to the national grid, its power supply is being provided by the Fair Isle Electricity Company where power is generated by two wind turbines and two diesel generators.

Diesel generators gets automatically switched off when the wind turbines tend to provide adequate power and additional capacity is distributed through separate network for the purpose of home heating or if insufficient, through a dump load.

Time for a Family Vacation? Tips to Make Yours Less Stressful


travel
Whether you’re going on a summer vacation because the kids are out of school or you’re just looking to get away for the holidays, a family vacation is time everyone can spend relaxing away from the stresses of daily life. However, it doesn’t matter whether you’re taking a trip down to the beach or going to a theme park like Adventure World – family vacations can be a little hectic, at least for parents who have to deal with all of the travel arrangements and packing.

When you’re ready for your family vacation, use these tips to make sure you have fun without losing your mind in the process!

Involve Your Kids

Planning a family vacation should be fun, so why not involve the kids? Before you do however, make a short list of potential trips and vacations that will work for your budget and timeframe. After all, kids may make some suggestions and get their hearts set on something you can’t afford or feasibly do if you don’t have some sort of ideas prepared before involving them.

Get Kids Packed Early

Kids don’t really enjoy packing their suitcases, and chances are they don’t know exactly what they need to bring if they under the age of 15. However, as a parent, you can help guide them along in the process by making them a checklist of everything they need to pack for the trip. After all, you’re their parent and you know what they have – you bought it for them!

Have your kids start packing about 72 hours before the trip if possible, that way you’ll give them a chance to get everything together on their own. 24 hours before you need to leave, double check everything and make sure it’s ready to go. That way you won’t be stressing about what is or isn’t packed the day you’re heading out the door for what should be a fun family vacation.

Load Up the Night Before

If you’re going to be traveling by car, taking the time to pack everything that you’re taking with you except your toiletries – which can all go in a separate bag – to load up the car the night before you head out the door can make the morning much less stressful. You’ll have time for a nice breakfast and you won’t have to panic.

Just make sure you leave your travel clothes for at least the first day out.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Canary Islands – Spanish Archipelago

Canary Islands
Credit:travelaroundspain
The Canary Islands also known as the Canaries are a Spanish archipelago which is situated off the northwest coast of Africa mainland around 100 kilometres west of the southern border of Morocco. The Canaries are one of the 17 autonomous communities of Spain and among the exterior region of the proper European Union.

The islands from the largest to the smallest include Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro, La Graciosa, Alegranza, Isla de Lobos, Montana Clara and Roque del Oeste. The islands has a population of 2 million wherethe major island have well developed communication system, ports and airport making the Canary Islands a major European tourist destination.

The population is a mixture of Spanish, European – British and German, South American, especially Venezuelan and Cuban together with Northern and sub-Sahara African. Besides these, there are also a small section of historical minorities like Indian, Russians and Koreans.

Tenerife is the largest and the most popular island of the archipelago while Gran Canaria has around 865,070 inhabitants and is both the Canary Island’s second most popular island as well as the third most popular one in Spain after Majorca. Fuerteventura Island is the second largest in the archipelago which is located 100 m from the African coastline.

The Volcanic Islands – Steep Ocean Cliffs

With the Azores, Cape Verde, Madeira and the Savage Isles, the islands form the Macaronesia ecoregion. The archipelago also comprises of seven large together with several smaller islands which are volcanic in origin.

The originally volcanic islands were formed by the Canary hotspot and is the only place in Spain where volcanic eruptions which have been recorded during the Modern Era. On Tenerife, the Teide volcano is the highest mountain in Spain and also the third tallest volcano on Earth on a volcanic ocean island.

 Four of the islands namely Tenerife, La Palma and El Hierro have historical records of eruption since the European discovery and all the islands with the exception of La Gomera have been active in the past years.

The volcanic islands like those in the Canary chain have steep ocean cliffs which are the result of catastrophic debris, landslides and avalanches.

Less Rivers or Source of Fresh Water

Since there are less rivers or sources of fresh water, clean drinking water has been a problem on the island besides other problems with regards to erosion, depletion of nearby marine life as well as the general degradation of coast and tourist locations.

 The seven islands for some time were considered the poorest regions of Spain and has begun to prosper bringing the Canaries closer to the mainland which only decades ago was an afterthought to mainland Spain.

The Canary Islands are very European, modern and liberal. Ancient legend considered the Canary Islands as the lost islands of Atlantis and has been referring it as the land without sorrow, holding on to the edge of the world.

The first to arrive and settle there on the island were the North Africans in the 10th century BC; who were known as Phoenicians. During the 14th century, the Canary Islands were invaded continuously by various European countries.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

St. Petersburg – Russia’s Window to the West

St. Petersburg
Saint Petersburg, Russia, is a world class destination as well as Russia’s second largest city having a population of over 5 million and is located at the eastern tip of the Baltic Sea and the Neva River. Saint Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter The Great on 27th May 1702 and was the imperial capital of Russia between 1713-1728 and 1732-1918.

Towards 1918, the central government bodies shifted from Saint Petersburg which was then named Petrograd, to Moscow. It is a major European cultural centre as well as an important Russian port on the Baltic Sea and is one of the most amazing places on earth.

St. Petersburg has been called Russia’s window to the West featuring canals and neoclassical architectural that were designed by Italians giving the city a European look lending a European feeling with modern art galleries together with underground clubs making the city a spectacle at night. The city was formerly known as Petrograd and later known as Leningrad.

The city is threaded with canals dotted with baroque bridges which adds to the attraction and is considered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Hermitage Museum which is housed in the Winter Palace of the Romanov dynasty is one of the world’s greatest as well as the oldest collections of treasure, art and antiquities and also one of its most amazing buildings.

Exciting and Rich History 

Though Saint Petersburg is just 300 years old, it has an exciting and rich history which is full of major historical figures and dramatic events and is described as the most western city of Russia and its cultural capital. The city enjoys a vibrant, cosmopolitan atmosphere together with some beautiful architecture in Europe.

It is also home to The Hermitage one of the largest art museums in the world. Besides this, a large number of foreign consulates, banks, international corporations, together with other businesses are also located in St. Petersburg.

It is a fascinating and a beautiful destination for holiday, intriguing and historically significant cities in Europe and can be visited during a snowy Russian winter or during the dazzling White Nights of the summer months, where St. Petersburg’s beauty and culture is breath-taking. St. Petersburg has often been a city of ideas inciting the Russian Revolution, ushering in seventy years of communist rule. It was St. Petersburg that encouraged democracy and brought about immense changes.

Satellite Town – Horseshoe Shape

Greater St. Petersburg city with its satellite towns forms a horseshoe shape surrounding the head of the Gulf of Finland, including the island of Kotlin in the gulf. Towards the north it stretches westward along the shore for around fifty miles which is an extension of an area of dormitory towns, sanatoriums, resorts and children’s camps which have been set amidst extensive coniferous forest, accompanied by beaches and sand dunes.

Some of the upper class residents have summer cottages or dachas around this area and towards the southern side of the gulf, the metropolitan limits give way westward to include Peterhof and Lomonosov and eastward it stretches up to the Neva River to Ivanovskoye.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Londonderry

Londonderry
Derry Official name Londonderry- Second Largest city of Northern Ireland 

Derry, officially named Londonderry is the second largest city of Northern Ireland as well as the fourth largest city on that island. Derry is an Anglicisation of the Irish name Daire or Doire which means `oak grove’. The city was granted a Royal Charter by Kind James I in 1613 and the London prefix was added thereby changing the name of the city to Londonderry.

Londonderry is commonly used and remains the legal name though the city is usually known as Derry. Derry never seemed to be an interesting place and lagged behind Belgast with regards to investment and redevelopment. In preparation as UK City of culture 2013, the city centre underwent a makeover and an amazing change.

The new Peace Bridge, Ebrington Square as well as the redevelopment of the waterfront and Guildhall area comprised most of the city’s riverside setting and Derry with determination made the changes turning it into the powerhouse of the North cultural revival.

Intact walled City in Ireland 

Derry is one of the only remaining walled city in Ireland which is completely intact and one of the best examples of a walled city in Europe. The old walled city is situated on the west bank of the river Foyle and is spanned by two road bridges and a footbridge with the city covering both banks with Cityside on the west and Waterside on the east.

 It also extends to the rural areas towards the southeast. The Greater Derry area is within 20 miles of the city where the population is around 237,000 while the population of the proper city was 83,652 during the 2001 census and the Derry Urban area had a population of 90,736. The district was administered by Derry City Council containing Londonderry Port as well as City of Derry Airport.

The Greater Derry comprises of the districts of Derry City and parts of Limavady district, Strabane district together with East Donegal which includes Raphoe and St. Johnston and Inishowen. Derry seems to be close to the border along with County Donegal having a close link for several centuries. Saint Colmcille is considered as the founder of original Derry, a holy person from Tir Chonaill, an old name for all of modern County Donegal.

A City with Plenty of History

One can look forward to plenty of historyhere right from the Siege of Derry to the Battle of Bogside and a walk around the 17th century city walls should not be missed as also a tour of the Bogside murals. One can take a look at the city’s lively pubs which are home to awesome live music scene though the greatest attraction are the locals who tend to be warm hearted, witty and very friendly.

Londonderry being the UK City of Culture 2013 underwent a great change bringing along a wealth of cultural events inclusive of the 10-day All Ireland Fleadh, which is the world’s biggest Irish festival as well as plays host to the always controversial Turner Prize.

It is a city buzzing with various events throughout the year from pageants to music to contemporary dance besides hosting several festivals like the Jazz Festivals and Earhart Festival. It is an amazing destination with rich history to explore and enjoy.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Germany – A Federal Parliamentary Republic in Western Central Europe

Germany
Germany, which is officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a federal parliamentary republic in western central Europe. It comprises of sixteen constituent states most of which retain limited sovereignty, with Berlin which is the largest city and its capital. Germany covers an area of 357,021 square kilometres having a temperate seasonal climate.

 It is the most popular member state in the European Union with inhabitants of around 80.6 million which is the largest population of any European Union country and the major political and economic power of the European continent besides being a historic leader in the field of theoretical, cultural and technical. Its territory stretches from the North Sea and the Baltic in the north with the Alps in the south and is crossed by some of the major rivers of Europe like the Danube, Elbe and Rhine.

After the Second World War, Germany had been split into the democratic West and the Communist East – German Democratic Republic and the Berlin Wall was the symbol of this division. Towards 1989, it fell and Germany was once again reunited a year later, Germany was responsible in the Reformation of Christianity.

Johannes Gutenburg – 1400-1468 printed the first Bible in Mainz in 1456 and the printing press permitted ordinary people to possess a copy of the bible which was earlier reserved only for the clergy and the noble people.

World’s Largest Economy 

Germany is the world’s largest economy, producing automobiles, engineering product, electronic and communication equipment, pharmaceuticals and chemicals etc. As a global leader is various industrial as well as technological segments, it is the world’s third largest exporter and the third largest importer of goods.

Besides this, Germany is also a well-developed country having a high standard of living, featuring some of the most comprehensive social security which includes the world’s oldest universal health care system. Germany has also been a home for most of the influential philosophers, scientist, music composers and inventors and is also known for its rich cultural and political history.

Germany was a founding member of the European Community in 1957 which then became the European Union in 1993. It is also a member of the United Nations, NATO, the G7, the G20, the OECD as well as the Council of Europe.

Some Interesting Sites in the World

Some of the interesting sites are the Ulm Cathedral which is the tallest church in the world and is 161.53 metres in height while the Cologne Cathedral was the highest building of the world from 1880 to 1889. The world’s two biggest cuckoo clocks are located in Schonach im Schwarzwald, Baden-Wuttember, and one of the cuckoos measuring nearly five meters weighing 150 kg.

The oldest motorway network in the world is the German Autobahn, the first edition of which was completed in 1932 and also one of the densest which is the only one in Europe with no general speed limit. Besides these, there are also over 300 bunkers and hundreds of kilometres of underground tunnels which were built during the Nazi era which still remain under the modern city of Berlin though not accessible due to poor maintenance which are now crumbling due to floods from water tables.

The world’s largest fresco ceiling of 677 m2 is the Wuzburg Residence and is the work of Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Champs Elysees – The Most Famous Avenues in the World

The Avenue des Champs Elysees, a street in Paris, France, is one of the most famous avenues in the world. It is around two kilometres long and seventy meters wide. Towards its western end, the street is bordered with cinemas, theatres, cafes together with luxury shops.

Champs Elysees
Several French monuments are seen on this street including the Arc de Triomphe besides many others. On the opposite side near the Place de la Concorde is the street which is bordered by the Jardins des Champs Elysees, beautifully adorned with gardens and fountains with some grand building which include the Grand and Petit Palais at the southern end and the Elysees is at its northern end.

 The street has one of the elite institutions like the Presidential Elysee Palace which had been the residence of the French Presidents since 1873. According to a much used description, the Champs Elysees is` la plus belle avenue du monde’ which means `the most beautiful avenue in the world’. Besides being one of the most famous streets in the world, it is also one of the most expensive strips of real estate as well.

Redesigned – Extension of the Jardins des Tuileries 

In the sixteenth century it was but fields outside the centre of Paris and in 1616. Marie de Medicis planned to create a long tree lined path towards east from the Tuileries and the route was redesigned in 1667 by Andre Le Notre, a renowned landscape designer. This was an extension of the Jardins des Tuileries.

Grand Allee du Roule or Grand-Cours promenade had become a fashionable place though it was still isolated from the city with few building in the surrounding area.

Twenty seven years thereafter, the promenade was renamed to Champs Elysees or Elysian Fields in English where the name was derived from Greek mythology where Elusia is a place where heroes come to relax.

The Champs Elysees, in 1724, was then extended all the way to the Chaillot hill which is presently known as l’Etoile, which is the site of the Arc de Triomphe. It took its present shape in 1838 when the French architect Ignaz Hittorf who had redesigned the Place de la Concorde, created the Jardins des Champs Elysees.

Moreover he had also implemented sidewalks, fountains and gas lamps and the Champs Elysees gave way to more and more restaurants and hotels especially after 1900 when the Paris metro line 1 reached the Etoile station.

Major Celebration Conducted on the Avenue

Bernard Huetconducted the latest redesign of the prestigious avenue in 1994 where the side lanes were converted into pedestrian zone, with underground parking lot together with new trees that were planted which further enhanced the appearance of the street. Cars could occupy only half the width of this amazing avenue.

For all the major celebrations, the Champs Elysees was the preferred location and this is where Parisian celebrates New Year’s Eve as well as the military parades which are held on the 14th of July each year.

Other historic national events like the Liberation at the end of the Second World War or even the victory in the World Cup football were also celebrated on this avenue.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Stroget – A Car Free Zone

Stroget
Stroget is a car free zone in Copenhagen, Denmark and one of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets with a range of shops ranging from budget friendly chains to some of the most expensive brands in the world. It is the popular tourist attraction in the centre of the town where the street is bound by the City Hall Square on the west, the central town square by Copenhagen City Hall and towards the east by Kongens Nytorv, - The Kings’ New Square which is another large square at the other end.

Infact the Stroget area is a collection of streets which are spread out from this central area. The pedestrian shopping street Stroget stretches through the city centre from Radhuspladsen to Kongen Nytorv and besides being the city’s main shopping thoroughfare consists of five continuous streets.

The street is busy and packed on Saturday but in recent years it seems to stagnate and while the rest of the city normally moves ahead in times, this street is way behind, offering the same old international brand names at its eastern, posh centre, with a mixture of budget clothing stores, kebab houses and tourist shopstowards the west side area of Radhuspladsen. Strolling down this street is fun with its broad squares, vibrant with street musicians, tourists and the locals.

Stroget – Copenhagen’s Pedestrian Network

Stroget developed in November 1962 when cars started dominating Copenhagen’s old central street and the street had been closed to the traffic for a couple of days during Christmas in 1950.

Towards 1962, the closure was half disguised as an extended holiday closure though the road remained closed ever since. This seemed controversial and some of them believing that the Danes were not in favour of `public life’, by such a street and many local merchants were of the belief that this would affect their business. However their fears were short-lived and it proved a success with the area soon bursting with shoppers, cafes with a renewed street life.

This success further expanded the network with other streets and few more squares got emptied of cars in 1968 with more closures taking place in 1973, 1980 and 1992. The 15,800 square metres of the Stroget Copenhagen’s pedestrian network was expanded to around 100,000 square metres. Jan Gehl, Danish architect and urban planner had been instrumental in the creation of this amazing pedestrian street.

Represent Famous International Brands

Famous international brands like Gucci, Prada, Max Mara, Louis Vuitton, Mulberry are represented at the end of the street, facing up to Kongens Nytorv and if one’s budget is a bit tighter, one can find shops like Vero Moda, H&M, and Zara which are closer to the City Hall Square.

Lot more than shopping can be done at Stroget while strolling down this street where there are severalof Copenhagen’s amazing sights as well as attractions together with street entertainers, keeping the tourist occupied with their entertainment. In the late 20th century, for several years, tourist on Stroget enjoyed the spectacle of a huge man in full Viking costume who would direct them to one of the sweater markets.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Jerusalem – The Oldest City in the World

Jerusalem
Jerusalem is situated on a plateau in the Judean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea and is one of the oldest cities in the world. Jerusalem is considered to be holy to the three major Abrahamic religions namely Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The Palestinians as well as the Israelis both claim Jerusalem as their capital with Israel maintaining its primary governmental institutions and the State of Palestine foreseeing it as its seat of power, though neither of their claims has been recognized internationally.

It is an amazing city overwhelming with emotion which promises a spiritual and religious experience, combined with excitement and pleasures accompanied with entertaining adventures and interesting appealing tours. All around Jerusalem, there are amazing historic and archaeological sites for tourist attractions for people of various cultures.

The Old City is the heart of Jerusalem which is surrounded by a wall and divided into four separate quarters namely Jewish, Christian, Armenian and Muslim. Within the walls are the most important sites of the three major religions, the Western Wall that is holy to the Jews, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.

Millions of worshippers visit the Western Wall plaza, where at the base of the massive wall, isthe remnant of the Holy Temple, wherenotes containing heartfelt desires were wedged between the crevices together with prayers.

Jerusalem Important to Christians

All along the Western Wall one will find important Jewish sites like the Western Wall Tunnels, the Davidson Centre which is unique, the Jewish quarter with its magnificent Cardo and David’s Citadel which stand out proudly with its amazing beauty.

Towards the south of the Old City is the City of David where the ancient Canaanite and Israelite Jerusalem emerged. Jerusalem is considered to be very important to the Christian since Jesus Christ the Saviour lived and died here.

In the Christian quarter alone there are around 40 religious building which include churches, monasteries and pilgrims hostels and one of the prominent site of importance in the Christian quarter is the Via Dolorosa or the Way of Sorrows.

 This was the final path of Jesus leading from the courthouse to Golgotha Hill where he was crucified, died and buried. Several pilgrims visit Jerusalem in order to follow the steps of Jesus along a route which started in the Muslim Quarter, at Lions’ Gate while passing the fourteen Stations of the Cross and finally ending in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre 

Most of the important Christian relics are housed in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which includes the anointing stone on which Jesus’ body was laid at the time of his burial together with the grave of Jesus.

 This has become a pilgrimage site for millions of Christian all across the globe. Towards the southwest area of the Old City is Mount Zion and the Dormition Abbey was built on the site, which according to Christian tradition, believe that Mary had spent her last night here.

The Abbey is said to have been built about 100 years ago where in the basement one will find a stature of the Sleeping Mary and besides the Abbey is the Room of the Last Supper where Jesus had his last meal along with his disciples before he was crucified. The Mount of Olives is towards the eastern side of the Old City.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Petra – World Wonder of Valuable Treasure

Petra is derived from the Latin word `petrae’ which means `rock’, and lies in a rift valley east of Wadi Araba, in Jordon which is about 80 km south of the Dead Sea. It was inhabited since prehistoric times and this city was the principal city of ancient Nabataea situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea and became famous for trade and its hydraulic engineering systems which were locally autonomous till the reign of Trajan though it flourished during the Roman rule.

Petra is a world wonder with valuable treasure and has been drawing many tourists to its destination. It is a unique city carved into rock face by the Nabataeans who were industrial Arab people and had settled there, more than 2000 years ago and who had turned this destination into an important junction for silk, spice as well as other trade routes which linked India, China and southern Arabia with Egypt, Greece, Rome and Syria.

 It was first discovered by the Cincinnati Art Museum in 1994 and joined with the American Museum of Natural History in New York City in a long attempt toretrieve the 200 unique objects for exhibition.

Petra Half Built/Carved

Petra is half built and carved into the rock, surrounded by mountains with mysterious passages and gorges and is also one of the most famous archaeological sites blending ancient Eastern traditions with Hellenistic architecture.

The easiest entrance to the city is through the Siq, which is a narrow winding cleft in the rock that ranges between 5 to 200 meters wide and its awesome state of preservation is due to the fact that all of its hundreds of building have been carved out of solid rock with only a few free standing buildings in the city. Many of these caves were the homes of the local Bedouins till 1984.

Petra
To preserve the monument, the government had outlawed this and had directed the Bedouins to houses near the town adjacent to Wadi Mousa. The colour and the formation of these rocks were dazzling and as one reaches the end of the Siq one will get the first glimpse of Al-Khazneh – Treasury which is 30m wide and 43m high, carved out of the dusky pink rock face, overlooking everything that surrounds it. This had been carved during the 1st century as the tomb of an important king of Nabataean which portrays the engineering skills of the people belonging to this period.

The Treasury – Roman Style Theatre – Ad-Dier Monastery

The Treasury is one of the many wonders which make Petra very appealing and worth exploring which takes at least four to five days to explore. When one enters the Petra valley the natural beauty with its outstanding architectural achievements is mind blowing.

The Roman style theatre has a capacity of 3,000 people and has obelisks, temples, sacrificial altars accompanied with colonnaded streets while high above is the impressive Ad-Deir Monastery overlooking the valley with a flight of 800 rock cut steps leading the tourist there.

Another most interesting site besides many other places to explore is the High Place of Sacrifice which is one and a half hour trip which is best done in the early hours of morning.

Plitvice Lakes National Park – Oldest and Largest

Plitvice Lakes National Park
The Plitvice Lakes National Park which is the oldest and the largest park is located in Southeast Europe. It was founded in the year 1949 and is situated in the mountainous karst area of central Croatia towards the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 The Croatian inland with the Adriatic coastal region is connected to the important north south road junction that passes through the national park area.The protected area spreads over 296.85 sq. km and about ninety percent of the areas are part of the Lika-Seni County and the remaining ten percent are part of Karlovac County.

In the year 1979, Plitvice Lakes National Park had been added to the UNESCO World Heritage list as the first natural sites worldwide and is world famous for its lakes which are arranged in cascades with over 1,200,000 visitors visiting this site every year.

The charges for entrance are variable, around $18USD or up to 110 kuna for adult during peak season where strict regulations are applicable.

Beautiful Lakes/Waterfalls/Caves

It contains many beautiful lakes, waterfalls and caves and currently there are sixteen lakes which can be seen from the surface which are the result of the confluence of some small rivers and subterranean karst rivers where the lakes get interconnected following the water flow.

These are separated by natural dams of travertine which gets deposited through the process of moss, algae and aquatic bacteria.

The sensitive travertine barriers are the outcome of the combination of air, water and plants where the bacteria and encrusted plant settle over each other thus forming travertine barriers which tend to grow at the rate of around 1 cm per year which continues till date.

The Plitvice Lakes basin is a geomorphologic formation of biological origin, a karst river basin made of limestone and dolomite with lakes that have been created through the deposits of calcium carbonate precipitated in the water besides the moss algae and aquatic bacteria, creating strange, characteristic shapes, containing travertine roofed as well as vaulted caves.

Fauna Rich 

The lakes are known for their awesome colours which range from azure to green, blue or grey which changes constantly based on the quantity of minerals or organism in the water together with the reflection of the sunlight.

The lakes are divided into 12 Upper Lakes or Gornja jezera and four Lower Lakes. It is also heavily forested with spruce, beech as well as fir trees, featuring a combination of Alpine and Mediterranean vegetation and a wide variety of plant communities due to its range of micro climate, varying levels of altitude and differing soils.

The Plitvice Lakes National Park is also a home to a large variety of animals and bird species which is fauna rich comprising of the European brown bear, eagle, owl, lynx, wild cat, wolf and capercaille are found, together with several additional common species.

Around 126 species of bird have been recorded out of which 70 have been found to be breeding there. It is one of the most beautiful natural wonder of Croatia with its various number of waterfalls combined with beautiful landscape, together with the wildlife of a variety of species.

The special attraction include the Veliki Splat, which is a 100 ft. waterfall surrounded by boulders which enables tourist to access the site.

Rome Capital of Province of Rome/Region of Lazio

Michelangelo’sPieta
Rome is the capital city of Italy as well as of the Province of Rome and the region of Lazio. It stands on seven hills along the Tiber River which is a treasure trove of various monuments that are worth seeing. The city is situated in the central western area of the Italian Peninsula within Lazio along the shores of the Tiber River while the Vatican City is an independent country which is within the boundaries of the city of Rome and the only existing example of a country within a city due to which Rome is defined as a capital of two states.

Rome is an awesome European capital filled with unique appeal and ancient monuments of 3000 years of the history of Western Civilization and is a great tourist attraction. Architecture was the focal point to the success of the ancient Romans and by building their amazing capital; they were the first to use architecture in handling problems of infrastructure, urban management and communication.

In order to bring about this change, they adopted advanced methods of Etruscans and Greeks in developing techniques in construction and building material which enabled them to construct on a massive scale.

1st Century - Seat of the Papacy 

From the 1st century AD, Rome was considered the seat of the Papacy and became the capital of the Papal States, in the 8th century lasting till 1870. Towards 1871, Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy and in 1946, the capital of Italian Republic as well.

Rome was ruled by popes like Alexander VI and Leo X after the Middle Ages who then transformed the city into major centres of the Italian Renaissance together with Florence. The present version of St. Peter’s Basilica was constructed and the Sistine Chapel was painted by Michelangelo. St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the most outstanding churches and is Italy’s richest, largest and the most spectacular church containing great works of art, which includes three of Italy’s celebrated masterpieces namely, Michelangelo’s Pieta, his breath-taking dome and Bernini’s baldachin or canopy over the papal altar.

It is one of Rome’s busiest tourist attraction drawing thousands of people from all across the world. Famous architects and artists like Bramante, Raphael and Bernini had resided in Rome for some time making their contribution to its Renaissance and Baroque architecture.

Holds the Status of the Global City

Rome holds the status of the global city and was the 11th most visited city in the world, the third most visited country in the European Union and the most popular tourist attraction in Italy while its historic centre has been listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

 Moreover the monuments and museum like the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum are also the mostvisited tourist destination in the world which is visited by thousands of tourists each year. Rome is the seat of the United Nations `Food and Agriculture Organization – FAO and had also hosted the 1960 Summer Olympics.

The city of Rome dazzles with life with its beautiful piazzas which are filled with beautiful cafes and excellent restaurants. The history of Rome is more than two and a half thousands of years founded in 753 BC and is one of the oldest occupied cities in Europe. Rome is referred as `The Eternal City’, which is a central notion in ancient Roman culture.

Top 5 Beach Destinations in India

Summer vacation and beaches appear synonymous after a stressful year of work. Beating the heat on India’s beautiful and attractive beach destinations is one of the most popular and exciting vacation plans. The morning breeze on the shores, feel of water touching your feet, a relaxed afternoon reading your favorite book while sipping the best drink on the shining sand, and the soft sound of waves at night; what more can one ask for when planning for the perfect holiday destination. Of course, count in some delicious food and lots and lots of fun in addition to sunbathing and making sand castles, and the list for a prefect holiday package is ready. When it comes to enjoying the sun, sand and sea, these are the top 5 beach destinations in India.

Kovalam
1.Kovalam Beach, Kerala: This picturesque beach is located at a distance of 16 kms from Trivandrum. It is an internationally known and acclaimed beach for the perfect mix of beauty, peace, great food and amazing fun. Budget restaurants with plenty of sea food make the beach one of the favorite destinations in India. Fine sand, beauty of coconut trees and the view of an attractive lighthouse add on to the visual pleasure. The word Kovalam means a grove of coconut trees. It is also referred to as the paradise of south. If you are planning to visit Kovalam beach you can book hotel at discounted rate from leading website goibibo, makemytrip, expedia and more by using goibibo and makemytrip coupons. For more offer and deal on hotels booking visit leading coupon website CouponzGuru.com.

2.Kapu Beach, Karnataka: This is a serene beach because it is comparatively less exposed. It is however, very famous among students. There is a lighthouse built on a rock which is an additional attraction in the place and tourists are allowed to go on top of the lighthouse. Rocks situated on the shores make for beautiful roaring waves and they increase the value a stunning view at the shore.

Goa
3.Palolem Beach, Goa: A beach situated far in South Goa, this place is surrounded by a thick forest of coconut palms. It is considered to be the state’s most beautiful beach by many tourists. It is a mile long semi circular beach that is slowly gaining popularity among many visitors in Goa. This beach is meant more for relaxation purposes and to gain peace.

Andaman
4.Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Islands, Andaman: Considered to be one of the best beaches in the world by many tourists, this beach is known for its periodic intervals between waves and the silence that follows. Waves arrive on the shore at regular intervals and there is a sequence of momentary silence that follows. The coastline is 5 kms long and gives tourists the joys of elephant rides as well. The place is extremely beautiful and clean and attracts a large number of tourists every year.

5.New Digha Beach, West Bengal: West Bengal has a number of beautiful beaches and New Digha is one of them. The place is usually very crowded because of its popularity in West Bengal. Tourists and natives alike, visit the beach with the same enthusiasm and excitement to beat the Bengal heat and have some fun with friends, family and delicacies.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Interlaken – Impressive Mountain Scenery


Interlaken
Interlaken is a small city in the Bernese Highland region of central Switzerland. It is situated between two Alpine lakes, Brienzersee and Thunersee, Interlaken is a popular base camp for outdoor sports and travel in the Bernese Oberland Alps.

Towards the 19th century, Interlaken in the Bernese Oberland had become a renowned place with its impressive mountain scenery drawing famous contemporaries to this awesome destination. Its success as a tourist site was enhanced further on completion of the Bernese Oberland Railway in the year 1890 as well as the Jungrau Railway in 1912.

It is an ideal location for various excursions as a vacation and convention destination of international importance. Being a small city it is easy to get around on foot or a bike though taxis are available from either train stations as well as the hotels.

Has a Variety of Attractions and Activities

It is one of the most captivating destinations where the small town between the crystal clear lakes of Thun and Brienz is surrounded by Alpine pearls like sparkling streams with beautiful falls combined by awesome mountain scenery of the famous peaks of the Eiger, the Moench and the Jungfrau.

The area surrounding Interlaken has a variety of attractions and activities during winter as well as in summer and the mountains beckons people who are lovers of nature to experience nature at its best while indulging in hiking and climbing in summer and skiing and snowboarding during winter.

Tourist can also indulge in the popular relaxed mountain excursions and enjoy the breath-taking view of the valleys and the Alpine peaks from its summit. Interlaken is so ideally situated that one can also indulge in daily excursion to various cities like Lucerne, Bern or Thun. Besides this, the city also offers various other options to have a nice holiday.

The First Regional Museum in Switzerland

The Jungfrau Region Museum of tourism is the first regional museum in Switzerland which traces the history of travel and tourism to the Jungfrau Region. There are many exhibits which date back 200 years ago, ranging from local crafts and hotel interiors to fashions, folklore and the means of transportation.

 The Tin Figure Museum is an exquisite exhibition of beautiful blend of entertainment and art which consist of 150 scenes from world history right from Old Egypt to Antic Greece, to the Roman empire to the Swiss hero Winkelried and to the World War II where the multitude of miniature figures on display are mind blowing. A stroll along the famous `Hoheweg’, promenade which links the urban centre of Interlaken West with the scattered Interlaken East should not be missed.

 It is also one of the best places in Switzerland for watch shopping, sports equipment and souvenir while at the same time offers a magnificent view of the Jungfrau mountain range. One will also find a variety of handicrafts and art object that one may need.

The nearest international airport is at Zurich-Kloten and the travel time by car is approximately 1.5 hours and 2 hours by train. The Euro Airport in Basel-Mulhouse is within 2 hours and the Geneva-Cointrin Airport is within 2.5 hours. The Bern-Belp Airport with international flight can be covered within an hour by car.