Category: Travel

Buy a Home in Italy for Just One Dollar

No Comments

Ollolai, Italy is a gorgeous little town in the Puglia region and one hour away from Sardinia beaches.
Ollolai is a small town nestled in the mountains of Sardinia, is selling historic homes for just one Euro and they already have 200 applicants from all over the world.

Sardinia isn’t just a gorgeous little island off of the Italian coast, It is also where people live statistically longest and it was one of five Blue Zones mentioned in bestselling author Dan Buttner. This where you find best cheese and wine for longevity.

Ollolai is in the center of the Sardinia and an hour away from the cliffs of Cala Gonone, in the mountain region of Barbagia, famous for hikes, it’s a historic town filled with romantic beautiful alleyways and tiny restaurants with the greatest food on earth.

Young people left this town to the cities in search of better financial opportunity and left the houses abandoned.The city’s intent is to revive its dying historic district by selling these houses for 1 euro and bring investors to the town with the provision buyer has 3 years to finish renovating them. According to CNN, the village has already sold three houses, and more than 200 application

The mayor, Efisio Arbau, has proposed a solution similar to the one in Gangi Sicily in 2014, Around 20 houses were on sale for one euro ($1.30), with another 300 or so for up to 15,000 euros in an initiative the village hopes will reverse decades of population decline and boost the local economy even as Italy falls back into recession.
Australian film director Dominic Allen is one of a crowd of buyers from the United States, Britain, Dubai and Sweden who have rushed to Gangi to take advantage of these bargains and transform living spaces and animal stalls into summer homes. See article written in 2014 by yahoo business about Gangi Sicily
Mayor Efisio Arbau has proposed to sell the homes for as little as a 1 euro, with the provision that the buyer has three years to refurbish the dwelling, a project that would likely only cost about $25,000.
This solution will create jobs and make young citizens stay with their loved elderly ones.
It sounds too good to be true and it is if you don’t have enough money to renovate these old properties and in some cases, they need to demolish them.

By: A.Dababneh

A Traveler’s History of the Cinque Terre

A Traveler’s History of the Cinque Terre
Nestled along the coast, idyllic Vernazza was once prone to pirate attacks.
Nestled along the coast, idyllic Vernazza was once prone to pirate attacks.

It’s a sunny afternoon a thousand years ago in the Cinque Terre (CHINK-weh TAY-reh), long before it became the Italian Riviera. This string of humble villages, surrounded by terraced vineyards, is a two-day sail from Genoa.

The leathery old farmer, taking a break from tending his grape vines, picks a cactus fruit to quench his thirst. Suddenly howls come from the crude stony tower crowning a bluff that marks his village of Vernazza. Turkish pirates are attacking.

Avoiding powerhouse cities like nearby Genoa and Pisa, pirates delight in the villages. These Cinque Terre towns, famous since Roman times for their white wine, are like snack time for rampaging pirates. Villagers run for cover down corridors buried deep in the clutter of homes that clog Vernazza’s ravine.

A thousand years later, another leathery grape-picker is startled by the roar of a smoke-billowing train. Emerging from the newly built tunnel, it flies a red, white and green flag. It’s 1870 and the feudal and fragmented land of Italy is finally united. This first Italian train line, an engineering triumph of fledgling Italy, laced together Turin, Genoa, Rome…and, by chance, tiny Vernazza.

Decades later, in the 1930s, an Italian dictator teams up with a German tyrant. The war they started is going badly. In 1943 the German Führer calls on Vernazza’s teenage boys to report for duty. The boys, who are assured they’ll only work in German farms and factories, know they’ll end up as fodder on the front. Rather than dying for Hitler, they become resistance fighters. Running through the night, they climb the ancient terraces like giant stairsteps into the hills high above the village cemetery.

The 1970s bring on a different battle scene. Hippies exercise their right to lay naked on the Cinque Terre’s remote Guvano beach. Outraged, an angry armada of villagers — fully clothed and accompanied by a raft of reporters — converge on the ratpack of sunburned big-city hedonists. Conservative little Vernazza makes headlines across Italy.

Next, the age of tourism arrives. In 1978 a college-aged American backpacker, stumbling onto the region, finds the traditions vivid, the wine cheap, and the welcome warm. Inspired by the Cinque Terre and similar places throughout the Continent, he declares the region a “back door” and writes what will become a top-selling guidebook on Europe.

By the 1990s, word of this paradise is out. More and more travelers visit — staying in local apartments rather than in hotels. One day, at the crack of dawn, another invasion comes…this time by land. A platoon of Italian tax inspectors blitz the sleepy town, rousting out the tourists and cornering locals renting unlicensed rooms. B&B income in Vernazza is suddenly no longer tax-free.

Today gnarled old men still tend their grapevines. Now Vernazza’s castle — named “Belforte” centuries ago for the screams of its watchmen — protects only glorious views. And the screams ringing out are of delight from children playing on the beach below.

But the local economy has changed. The poor village is now a rich village, living well in its rustic and government-protected shell. Tourism drives the economy as the less-calloused locals feed and house travelers. While the private rooms rented are basic, the cuisine — super-charged by a passion for pasta, pesto, and seafood — is some of Italy’s best.

By: Rick Steves


Categories: Italy, Travel

New Zealand

New Zealand, a wealthy Pacific nation, is dominated by two cultural groups: New Zealanders of European descent, and the minority Maori, whose Polynesian ancestors arrived on the islands around 1,000 years ago.

Agriculture is the economic mainstay, but manufacturing and tourism are important and there is a world-class film industry.

New Zealand has diversified its export markets and has developed strong trade links with Australia, the US, and Japan. In April 2008 it became the first Western country to sign a free trade deal with China.

At a glance

New Zealand
  • Politics: John Key led the National Party to victory in elections in 2008 and 2011
  • Economy: The country officially went into recession in September 2008, for the first time in ten years
  • International: New Zealand troops have taken part in regional peacekeeping efforts and have been deployed in Afghanistan

British sovereignty was established under the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi – a pact between Maori chiefs and the British government over land rights.

The treaty gave rise to land claims which culminated in the “New Zealand Wars”, a series of skirmishes between colonial forces and Maori in the North Island.

The government awarded money and land in settlements during the 1990s, but the land issue remains controversial.

In 1984 the government embarked on a dramatic and controversial economic reform programme, which lifted controls on wages, prices and interest rates and removed agricultural subsidies.

Lord of the Rings cast
New Zealand boasts a world-class film industry

The landscape is diverse, and sometimes spectacular. This has fuelled tourism; visitors are drawn to the glacier-carved mountains, lakes, beaches and thermal springs. Because of the islands’ geographical isolation, much of the flora and fauna is unique to the country.

New Zealand plays an active role in Pacific affairs. It has constitutional ties with the Pacific territories of Niue, the Cook Islands and Tokelau.

Its troops served in East Timor when violence broke out in the territory in 1999 and were part of a multinational force intended to restore order to the Solomon Islands in 2003. Further afield, New Zealand forces have backed peacekeeping and development efforts in Afghanistan.

But its anti-nuclear stance – including a ban on nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed vessels from its waters – put it at odds with the US in the 1980s.

A significant amount of New Zealand’s electricity is generated by hydropower sources and the country has a range of renewable energy sources at its disposal.

Migration patterns have changed, with most incomers coming from Asia and Pacific island states, rather than from the UK and Australia. Officials estimate that Asians will make up 13% of the population by 2021 from about 9% in 2009.

New Zealand Facts

Auckland: New Zealand’s largest city and a major port
  • Full name: New Zealand
  • Population: 4.3 million (UN, 2010)
  • Capital: Wellington
  • Largest city: Auckland
  • Area: 270,534 sq km (104,454 sq miles)
  • Major languages: English, Maori
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 79 years (men), 83 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 New Zealand dollar ($NZ) = 100 cents
  • Main exports: Wool, food and dairy products, wood and paper products
  • GNI per capita: US $29,050 (World Bank, 2010)
  • Internet domain: .nz
  • International dialling code: +64

New Zealand Leaders

Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by a governor-general

Prime minister: John Key

NZ PM John Key
Mr Key’s victory ended nine years of Labour rule

John Key led the centre-right National Party to victory in the November 2008 general election and again in the November 2011 elections.

His party’s 2008 victory ended nine years of Labour-led government.

The National Party fell short of a parliamentary majority in both the 2008 and 2011 elections and was compelled to form a coalition with other parties.

Born in 1961 and brought up in relative poverty by his Austrian-Jewish immigrant mother after the early death of his father, Mr Key became a currency trader and has acquired a substantial personal fortune.

He rose to be head of foreign exchange at Merrill Lynch in Singapore, and served as a member of the Foreign Exchange Committee of the New York Federal Reserve Bank in 1999-2001.

National Party president John Slater encouraged him to enter politics in 2001, and Mr Key was elected to parliament the following year. He was appointed opposition finance spokesman in 2004, and became party leader in 2006 after Don Brash resigned over allegations of election-funding irregularities.

Since taking over the party, Mr Key has positioned it more on the centre ground. His first speech as leader pledged a future government to measures to prevent the creation of an “underclass”, and he has said that reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% in the next 50 years will be a priority.

New Zealand has a single-chamber parliament, the House of Representatives, which is elected for a three-year term. Coalition governments have been the norm since proportional representation replaced the “first past the post” electoral system in 1993.

16 July 2012 Last updated at 11:04 ET

New Zealand Media

Maori TV logo Government-funded Maori TV aims to revitalise Maori language, culture

Broadcasters enjoy one of the world’s most liberal media arenas.

The broadcasting sector was deregulated in 1988, when the government allowed competition to the state-owned Television New Zealand (TVNZ). Privately-owned TV3 is TVNZ’s main competitor.

Satellite platform SKY TV is the leading pay TV provider. Freeview carries free-to-air digital terrestrial and satellite TV.

The New Zealand Herald newspaper has the biggest circulation.

Some 3.6 million New Zealanders – more than 80% of the population – were online by December 2011 (InternetWorldStats).

Country profiles compiled by BBC Monitoring

World’s Best Places to Visit


Sometimes, when the travel bug strikes, the only cure is to pack your bags and go. But where to? We’ve compiled a list of our favorite spots from across the globe. Our list includes the most popular places and we’re adding new destinations all the time, so don’t worry if your favorite spot didn’t make the cut. Check back soon to see if your dream vacation makes the list.




Why go: Year after year, the magnetic City of Lights draws new travelers to its Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Notre Dame — but Paris also keeps experienced travelers coming back for more. See, there’s always a new Michelin-rated restaurant to try, a new exhibit to see at the Centre Pompidou or a new shop in which to swipe your credit card. And we can’t discount Paris’ je ne sais quoi charm that’s unexplainable but also unmistakeable.


Why go: Known around the world for its legendary fútbol team, Barcelona boasts much more than just athletic talent. Touring the city is a feast for the eyes: Visitors walk past medieval architecture in the Barri Gotic and the innovative creations of Gaudi in Parc Guell. Matching Paris’ Notre Dame with its own Sagrada Familia, Barcelona puts itself near the top of this list with a fun-loving spirit and creative ambition.


Why go: The United Kingdom’s capital city is a world unto itself. With eclectic neighborhoods and numerous landmarks, London requires several days (if not years) to get to know. That said, your inaugural visit (as you will certainly be coming back for more) should include trips to the Tower of London, the National Gallery, and the British Museum. But if you have more time, hit up Portobello Road and Borough Market to appreciate the local culture.


Why go: Relaxed yet professional, classic yet innovative — San Francisco takes its paradoxical qualities in stride, boasting diverse cultural enclaves. Neighborhoods like Nob Hill, the Castro and the Mission District offer unique experiences for every traveler. Yet, there are several monuments that you can’t miss, such as the cable cars, Fisherman’s Wharf and Alcatraz. And, of course, the city’s crowning architectural achievement — the Golden Gate Bridge — is unmistakable.


Why go: Author Ayn Rand once wrote, “I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York’s skyline.” While many disagree with her politics, her sentiment for the Big Apple is widely shared. America’s most populous city hosts infinite urban adventures. Enjoy an afternoon in Central Park or visit the exhibits at the MoMa or the Met. While new sites, like the National September 11 Memorial, are always popping up, the classics, like the Empire State Building, never get old.


Why go: Of all the Hawaiian Islands, Maui might be the most beloved. The island encapsulates all that Hawaii has to offer: exotic beaches (like Kaihalulu), palatial resorts (like the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea) and lush terrain (as seen in the Iao Valley State Park). Maui can also cater to a range of budgets — the same cannot be said for some of its sister islands, like neighboring Lanai. Visitors regularly return to the mainland singing praise for Maui, but the smart few just put down new roots and pick up a Mai Tai.


Why go: Here, it’s as if Paris migrated to North America. Montreal boasts elements of French culture with a friendly Canadian feel. Travelers adore the quaint cafés, bustling marketplaces and old-world architecture that characterize Montreal. To truly appreciate the city’s majesty, visit St. Joseph’s Oratory, next to Mont-Royal. This immense basilica crowns the skyline and provides an ideal vantage point.


Why go: While it may not be as grand as New York City or as historic as Montreal, why Vancouver caught the attention of the International Olympic Committee is no mystery. This coastal Canadian city boasts a vast amount of outdoor activities that beckon to adrenaline hounds. Kayak in English Bay or test gravity on the Capilano Suspension Bridge before enjoying a scrumptious meal in the second-largest Chinatown in North America.


Why go: Whether they’re swimming in Lake Zurich in the summer or skiing down the nearby Alps in the winter, travelers find delight in Zurich. Delectable pastry shops abound, as do museums and historic churches. Excellent shops reside in upscale Bahnofstrasse and more affordable Niederdorf. For fun, locals and travelers alike hit up the bars and clubs of edgy Zurich West.


Why go: Renowned for the Edinburgh Festival in August, this Scottish city entertains guests year round. Set among steep hills like Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh impresses visitors with its historic sites along the Royal Mile and its casual pub culture. While you’re here, don’t miss Edinburgh Castle or Holyroodhouse Palace for a glimpse of the royal lifestyle.


Why go: Pick a vacation experience you’re looking for, and Puerto Rico can oblige. An old town with historic architecture and cobblestone streets? Look no further than Old San Juan and it’s El Morro fortress. A beachside getaway with stunning vistas and miles of soft, white sand? Consider the bioluminescent bays of Culebra and Vieques. A cosmopolitan destination with high-end shopping and exciting nightlife? Head to the Isla Verde or Santurce neighborhoods of San Juan.


Why go: The U.S. Virgin Islands offers a taste of home (non-roaming cell phones, U.S. dollars, and no language barrier), as well as a varied international vacation (lively Carnival season, reggae music  and clear Caribbean waters). For the best deals and weather, consider visiting in late spring or early summer.


Why go: One of the most visited cities in the U.S., the country’s capital is filled with a huge number of postcard-worthy monuments and buildings. The White House and the Lincoln Memorial are here, as well as a variety of eclectic and walkable neighborhoods. Those on a budget will especially enjoy themselves here since the noteworthy Smithsonian museums are free.


Why go: Budapest is sure to be a highlight of any trip to Central/Eastern Europe. The city has a lot to offer all types of travelers with all ranges of budgets. And Budapest will keep you occupied with its thermal baths, mellow coffeehouses, ridiculous nightlife and pretty much whatever else you can think of.


Why go: Over the past decade or two, Prague has transitioned from a backpacker secret to the unquestioned tourist capital of Central/Eastern Europe. With well-preserved sites, such as the Charles Bridge and St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague retains its gothic mystique. You can spend the days taking in the architecture and the evenings enjoying local pilsners on a never-ending bar crawl.


Why go: If you have to choose one island to visit in Greece, it’s easy to make a case for Crete. Its diverse landscape features everything from anicent ruins to gorgeous beaches, and you can spend a day doing anything from shopping in Agios Nikolaos to hiking the Samaria Gorge.


Why go: If you’re looking for gorgeous weather year round and parties set against beautiful backdrops, look no further than Miami Beach. This Floridian city bursts with colors, crazy nightlife, an amazing coastline and intriguing Art Deco architecture. Head to South Beach’s Ocean Drive to reach the heart of the action.


Why go: If you want a laidback, family-friendly vacation, San Diego should be a top contender. Here, you can sunbathe on Mission Beach, engage in some retail therapy in the Gaslamp Quarter, hike through Torrey Pines State Reserve or the San Diego Zoo, and dine at the historic Hotel del Coronado. There’s plenty to keep you busy, but the Southern California ambiance keeps the pace of life at a comfortable level.


Why go: The Bahamas has so many islands that it’s hard to mash them all into one recommendation, compared to our other destinations. But that’s also part of their appeal. Airfare and hotel rates are generally modest year-round in the Bahamas, but you’ll get the best deals and have less crowds if you plan your visit for the summer or early fall. But take note: These islands’ atmosphere and activities largely cater to tourists, and you’ll be hard pressed to find an authentic Bahamian vibe during your getaway.


Why go: Puerto Vallarta stands out for its outstanding cuisine, eclectic bars and clubs and breathtaking landscape. You could spend just a day exploring the cobblestone streets and art-laden Malecón (or boardwalk) of Zona Centro, or extend your trip for a few more days to try out the nightclubs and European cafés of the downtown area, as well as the hiking in the nearby Sierra Madre Mountains.


Why go: You don’t need to be on a cruise vacation to experience two Caribbean countries for the expense of one. This dual-governed island nation offers chic dining and dazzling stretches of sand on the French side of Saint Martin, and animated nightlife, buzzing casinos, and some of the best duty-free shopping of the Caribbean in Dutch Sint Maarten. Consider visiting in late spring to cash in on the not-too hot weather and discounted hotel rates.


Why go: Limestone-carved Aruba will appeal to the adventure junkie better than any of our best destinations. Dive into the depths of Hadicurari Beach to explore the island’s many shipwrecks, avoid the Aruban rattlesnake on an ATV tour of the Arikok National Park, or party hearty until the wee hours on a booze cruise. But you should be prepared to pay for the adrenaline rush, as Aruba is also one of the pricier vacations on our list.


Why go: This notorious hedonist destination offers visitors every opportunity to make it or break it. Colossal casinos, like the Bellagio and Caesar’s Palace, beckon to travelers with neon light, fascinating shows and, of course, sprawling casino floors. But these mega-resorts offer guests more than just slot machines and drink. Spas, pools, luxury hotel rooms, elite clubs and exotic restaurants are now part of the allure.


Why go: The City of Angels, La La Land, the Entertainment Capital of the World — Los Angeles needs no introduction. But its notoriety both help and hurt its reputation. The traffic on the “101” will tire you out just as much as an evening at a lively West Hollywood club. And your disgust at the thick smog over the city will negate your enjoyment of a sunset overlooking Santa Monica Beach. To appreciate Los Angeles, visit the area more than once and get advice from locals.


Why go: When it comes to the best of the best, size doesn’t matter. Austin may be small compared to other capital cities, but its personality is overwhelmingly large, with citizens holding fast to the city’s mantra, “Keep Austin Weird.” Although home to vast green spaces, funky boutiques and cozy coffee shops, Austin really comes to life at night; the self-proclaimed “Live Music Capital of the World” boasts numerous live music venues and one of the largest music festivals in the U.S.

Also Consider…

Why Go: With the 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing officially debuted on the global stage and is quickly outshining its more modern brethren — Hong Kong and Shanghai — as a tourist destination. The city boasts world-class attractions, like the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, that showcase country’s past and present. Plus, the jaw-dropping Great Wall of China stands just north of the city, making Beijing a world-traveler must.


Why Go: Sydney has more than just an opera house. At the sight of this famous white structure, outsiders quickly forget all the attractions of this world-class metropolis. You’ll find the bustling Sydney Fish Market and the striking Sydney Harbour Bridge, which stretches high above sailboats and azure waters. Plus, there are numerous beaches (Coogee and Bondi for starters) that draw locals and tourists alike. Also, in its rivalry with Melbourne, Sydney wins the weather battle with its warm, sunny climate.

Rio de Janeiro

Why Go: With its sun-drenched beaches and soothing samba rhythms, Rio jockeys with Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo as South America’s hottest destination — and not just with its temperatures. The famous Christ the Redeemer statue presides over Copacabana Beach and Lapa, a vibrant neighborhood. And you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more riotously fun event than Rio’s Carnival.

Tel Aviv

Why Go: While Jerusalem may be the old city, Tel Aviv is the trendy new one. Sitting along the Mediterranean, Tel Aviv boasts a broad, sun-drenched shoreline that lures both locals and travelers. And once the sun goes down, a pulsating nightlife erupts across the city. Foreign visitors savor the mouth-watering cuisine found at intimate eateries or street carts. Take your time with this metropolis: There’s a lot to surprise you.



Easter in Greece

Greek Orthodox Easter Sunday is April 15th for 2012!

Easter is one of my favorite times to be in Greece for a couple of reasons. First of all even if you are not a devout Christian you can’t help but be moved by the ceremonies and the way life begins again on Easter Sunday after winter and 40 days of fasting. If you go to the countryside or to the islands wildflowers are in bloom and the hillsides that are usually parched brown in the summer are green from the winter rains. You can’t even imagine the fields of flowers and theway life seems to be popping and sprouting up from every crack and crevice. If you are not able to go to the islands or a village but have to stay in Athens, the city also seems blessed because everyone is gone. The streets are quiet and those people who have nowhere to go or who are like me and prefer to stay in Athens when everyone else has left, take walks in the streets and parks and the hills around the Acropolis which are also adorned with green grass and wildflowers.
Leaving the church at midnight Easter Sunday in KeaI never really cared much about the church ceremonies leading up to Easter, with the exception of the candle lighting ceremony that begins at 11pm on Saturday night and ends after midnight when all the candles held by the people in and around the church have been lit by the holy flame and they begin their journey home, each person holding one. To me there is something beautiful and magical about this. I think it is the most important ceremony in Christianity because it affects believers and non-believers. To see the church begin to glow brighter as each candle is lit and then the masses of people walking through the city streets or the towns and villages fills me with a spiritual feeling of being part of something bigger than myself. Even in the USA when I have gone to the tiny Saint Barbara’s church in Durham where people take their lighted candles and get into their cars and drive home, there is something special about being on the highway after midnight on Easter Sunday and seeing the interior car next to you aglow.
Easter at midnight, Ag Thomas, Athens GreeceLately though I have taken an interest in the whole Easter celebration, not just the Easter Sunday ceremony and then the roasting of the lamb and drinking wine which of course is my favorite thing about Easter. For one thing people ask me about Easter all the time and by telling them that for me it’s all about lighting candles, eating a lamb and getting drunk they may think I am some kind of pyromaniac, gluttonous drunkard, which is only part of the story. I actually come from a very religious Greek Orthodox family. However my father was the least religious member of the family, a socialist agnostic who took us to church twice. Once when our grandmother died and once for Easter in 1963 at Agia Thomas in Goudi, Athens. It was this Easter service that had a profound affect on me. We lived in an apartment right across the street from the church and from our balcony we could see the people leave the church with their candles(photo) and the fireworks at midnight. Soon afterwards all the people left and walkied like a candle-lit parade through the empty streets of Athens while the bells rang all over the city. From another window we could see a procession of candles making its way down Mount Lycavettos. A psychologist would call this an imprint. I have loved Easter ever since.In 2003 John L Tomkinson, a scholar and teacher in Athens who has put out a series of books about Greece, published Festive Greece: A Calendar of Tradition. The book describes in detail all the holidays in Greece and how they are celebrated in various parts of the country. It was this book that inspired me to create this page. I suppose I could have written something about Easter before this, from my own perspective, but John’s book gave me the background that enables me to make sense of my perceptions which in the case of Easter tended to focus on the lamb and the wine and everything leading up to it was just something happening in the background. Through John’s book I have more of an understanding of Easter to go with the childlike attraction I have had for the most beautiful and holiest time in Greece.


Easter does not just happen in Greece on that Holy week. It begins with Apokreas, which is to Orthodox what Mardi Gras and Carnival is to Catholics. Several weeks of partying, a tradition that may go back to the celebrations of Dionysious, take place all over Greece with special celebrations in Patras, Athens, and in various other towns and villages, many with special activities such as the famous Goat dances of Skyros. In Athens the last two weekends of Apokreas people dress up in costume and go to the Plaka, hitting each other with plastic clubs that squeak, and throwing confetti. These clubs are thought to be a remnant of the veneration of the phallus from the ancient Dionysian festivals of Athens and in the town of Tyrnavo in Thessaly giant penises are paraded through the streets There are celebrations in Moschato and Rendi, between Athens and Pireaus, that are similar to being in New Orleans on Fat Tuesday. In Patras the celebrating goes on for forty days and as many as fifty-thousand people take part in the parades. But after the last weekend of Apokreas, known as cheese week (the week before is meat week) many Greeks begin their fasting on Clean Monday, which is a day for spending time with friends and family, going to the countryside and flying kites. From clean Monday to the week of Easter things calm down conciderably.

Great Week

Friday of the Epitaphios in KeaThe week of Easter begins on Palm Sunday and there are church services everyday commemorating the last week in the life of Jesus Christ. The evening services are the most well attended of course, except for Wednesday when the Service of the Holy Unction is held in the afternoon. On Thursday morning the service commemorates the Last Supper and the Betrayal of Christ. This is the day that the hard-boiled eggs are dyed red, signifying the blood of Christ, and the Easter bread, called tsoureki, is baked. The evening service is a long one and features twelve gospel readings. It is in this service that a two-dimensional figure of Christ on the cross is brought into the church and set up, while the church bells ring. In some places a vigil is kept in the church all night.

Epitaphios procession in KeaFrom the point-of-view of a spectator from Friday it starts to get very interesting. The nails holding the figure of Christ are knocked off and the figure is taken down from the cross and wrapped in a white cloth. A large piece of cloth, embroidered with the image of Christ, called the epitaphios which has been decorated with flowers by the girls through the night, is brought into the church where it is sprinkled with rose-water and more flower petals are thrown upon it. The bells of the church begin to toll and all the flags in Greece are lowered to half-mast in while women in the congregation weep in mourning for the dead Jesus. In the evening a funeral service is held and at about 9pm the epitaphios is taken from the church and with the bells tolling mournfully, is carried through the streets in a solemn procession. In cities, towns and villages with more than one church the epitaphios parades may join together at certain points. In Hydra the epitaphios is taken into the sea at Kamini as it is in Tinos at the church of Saint Nicholas at Kalamia. In some places an effigy of Judas is burned while in others Barabbas is. In Skiathos the epitaphios service begins on Saturday at 1am and the procession through the town begins at four in the morning as it does in Zakynthos. On the island of Kea in the village of Ioulida the three congregations meet in the square with their epitaphios after taking different routes through the village. (photo)On Saturday the Orthodox Patriarch breaks the seal of the door of the tomb of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jeruselem and emerges with the Holy Fire, which is then flown by Olympic Airways, accompanied by high-ranking priests and government officials to Athens airport where it is met by an honor guard to the small church of Agia Anargyroi in the Plaka. From there the light is distributed to churches all over Attika and the rest of Greece.
Naxos Easter Lamb and Cheese market in Psiri, AthensMeanwhile around Athens there is all sorts of activity this week. The central market has thousands of lambs of all sizes and in Psiri the annual Lamb and Cheese Market has given the neighborhood a village atmosphere as farmers from the island of Naxos come to the city to sell their goods. Athenians who still have connections to their islands and villages on the mainland are preparing to leave the city as are people with no connections. On the islands people are working feverishly to paint restaurants, hotels and shops, white-wash houses and get ready for the second busiest  holiday week of the year (after August 15th the Saint Day of the Virgin Mary or Panagia). By Thursday ferries, flights and the roads leading out of Athens will be full. By Saturday Athens will seem like a giant village. It’s a great time to be in Athens which is a good thing because it is a terrible time to leave because the traffic is so bad.

The Resurrection or Anastasis  

Easter at Ag Thomas, Athens, GreeceAt 11pm on Saturday night pretty much the entire country is in church. The lights are turned off at midnight and the priest announces that Christ has arisen from the dead as candles are lit from his and then from each other. The tiny glow at the front of the church grows and soon the whole room is illuminated by the light of everyone’s candles. At the stroke of midnight the priest intones the paschal hymn “Christ has risen from the dead and in so doing has trampled on death and to those in the tombs he has given life“. The church bells ring in celebration, fireworks go off, ships sound their sirens and the light and sound makes the 4th of July seem tame in comparison. People greet each other happily with the words Christos Anesti (Christ has arisen) which is replied to with Alithos Anesti (Truly He has arisen). Then everyone heads for home with their lighted candles where they trace the cross three times above the door and to bless trees and farm animals. Most people either stay home or go to a restaurant for the traditional bowl of margeritsa, a thick green soup made from the intestines of the lamb that will be roasted the next day, breaking their 40 day fast which began with the end of Apokreas. Gunshots, dynamite and fireworks will be going off for the next 24 hours or more shattering nerves and blowing off a finger or two.

There are many traditions and ceremonies held around the country. in fact too many to mention here, but Tomkinson’s book goes into great detail and is a very helpful way to decide where to spend Easter if you don’t have friends or family to be with in Greece.

Easter Sunday

Easter day is most people’s favorite day of the year. A lamb is roasted and friends and families get together to eat, drink, talk and dance. In some towns like Arachova and  Livadeia,  it is a community celebration with rows of lambs roasting in the village square. In other towns like Monemvasia, Rhodes, Hydra, Halkidiki, Koroni, Chania and Leros the effigy of Judas or Barabbas is burned. In Syros and Karpathos people bring their guns and shoot Judas as a scapegoat for society’s ills. In the town of Asine in the Argolid they actually have a street battle with the men of the upper and lower parts of the village hurling insults and fireworks at each other.  In southern Messenia people go to the main squares to watch the saetapolemos, which are rockets without sticks that the men hold while the force of the explosions makes them jump as if they are dancing. This practice supposedly goes back to the War of Independence when people of the area fashioned this home-made bombs to scare the horses of the Turks to force their riders to dismount and lose their advantage. During the afternoon the red eggs are brought out and each person takes one and hits their end against someone else’s until the last person who has an un-cracked egg is considered the lucky person for the year.

Loula: Wife of George the famous Taxi driver with the wreath she made from the wildflowers she picked from the walk we took Many Athenians who have not gone home to their villages or to the islands will go up to Mount Parnitha or somewhere in the countryside surrounding Athens. After their meal some people pick wildflowers and make wreaths like Loula, wife of George The Famous Taxi Driver. (Every flower in this wreath was picked on our Easter Sunday walk in the hills on the outskirts of Athens. They were all growing wild on the side of the road.) There are very few ferries running on Easter Sunday since most people are with their families. There may be one boat a day to and from some of the popular islands and a few boats to the Saronics. People who stay in Athens until Easter Sunday and then want to leave town to celebrate in the country have to drive. From Monday until Wednesday it is nearly impossible to get a flight or ferry back from the islands and the roads are full of returning Athenians. Athens gets busier and busier and if finally back to normal with traffic and horns blaring as people get back into the swing of city life with renewed vigor. Besides being the holiest time of the year Easter also means that in a few weeks it will be summer.

Ka-LO PA-ska=Happy Easter

There are several family-run hotels that invite guests to celebrate Easter with them. This is a great way to actually take part in Orthodox Easter instead of just being a spectator.

On the beautiful island of Lesvos you can join the Greek-Canadian Hahathakis family who own the Hotel Aphrodite Beach in Vatera for a an island Easter celebration that will not only have you taking part in the ceremonies but also learning how to make the various Easter dishes and exploring the island. The Grand Finale is a lamb roast at the beach with live Greek music. The price: 360 Euros per person for everything! See Easter on Lesvos

If you are planning to be in Greece for Easter be sure to make your reservations well in advance. Most of the hotels on the islands are booked full for that weekend as are ferries and flights.

Original Article

Categories: Greece, Travel Tags: Tags:

Christmas in Austria

Christmas is undoubtedly the most important holiday in Austria.
As in other European nations, December 6th is the day Saint Nicholas, the giver of gifts, makes his rounds. Arrayed in a glittering Bishops robe and accompanied by his devilish assistant, Knecht Rupnecht, he can occasionally be seen roaming the streets giving sweets and apples to good children while his companion playfully beckons “little sinners” to feel the string of his golden rod.
On December 24th, when the city is frantic with last minute shoppers, the countryside is a refuge for quiet traditions. Farmers chalk the initials of the Three Wise Men on the archway of the stable door; C for Caspar, M for Melchoir, and B for Balthazar, to protect the heard from sickness in the coming year. Christmas trees are lit on this day and in many villages “shelter-seekers” plod through deep snow from farm to farm re-enacting the plight of Mary and Joseph as they sought shelter on the eve of Christ’s birth.
In the snow-covered Alps, families descend from their mountain homes to the valley below, illuminating the night with torches held high to light their way in the darkness. Carolers gather in church towers and village squares to guide the people to Christmas services with their melodies. All shops, theaters and concert halls close their doors for this is an evening spent with only with family.
Following church services, families return home for their more intimate celebrating. First Christmas Eve dinner is served, often with “Gebackener Karpfen” (fried carp) as the main course. Dessert may be chocolate and apricot cake called “Sachertorte” and Austrian Christmas cookies called “Weihnachtsbaeckerei” (yes, this is the actual spelling).
After the meal, the ringing of a bell signals the opening of a door long locked against the anxious eyes of the little ones. For the first time the children are permitted to witness the Christmas tree glistening with lights and colored ornaments, gold and silver garlands, candies and cookies. Beneath the tree is usually arranged an elaborate manger scene. Almost every family owns hand- carved manger figures handed down from generation to generation.
Father opens the Bible and reads of the “Kristkindl,” Christ Child. Then all sing traditional Christmas carols such as “Silent Night” and “O’Tannenbaum.” After this the presents are distributed and opened.
In Austria, there is no Santa Claus. Children are taught that their presents have been brought by the “Kristkindl,” a golden-haired baby with wings, who symbolizes the new born Christ. The story tells how the Christ child comes down from heaven on Christmas Eve and, with his band of angels, decorates and distributes trees.

christmas tree

Image by peminumkopi via Flickr

Christmas Eve at Weikersdorf Castle

Not far from Vienna, you can experience a traditional Austrian Christmas Eve celebration which the whole family will love! Get into the yule time spirit, with a White Christmas in the beautiful Austrian alps.
Christmas Eve at the Castle of Weikersdorf in Baden regularly sells out weeks in advance, so you’ll need to book ahead of time to avoid disappointment.

Not far from Vienna, you can experience a traditional Austrian Christmas Eve celebration which the whole family will love! Get into the yule time spirit, with a white Christmas in the beautiful Austrian alps.
Likely to Sell-out! Christmas Eve at the Castle of Weikersdorf in Baden regularly sells out weeks in advance. Book ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
Travel from Vienna to the distinguished Renaissance Castle Weikersdorf in Baden. Take your seat at the table to enjoy a delicious four-course dinner, including glazed Christmas-turkey ‘Viennese Style’ while a live band entertains you with traditional music.
After your Christmas dinner, take a short walk to St Christopher’s Monastery of Heiligenkreuz, where midnight mass will be celebrated. This is followed by the Austrian Christmas Eve tradition of recreating a Nativity scene.

Before the night is over you will be presented with a gift as a souvenir of your wonderful night of celebrations.

Salzburg Christmas Eve Tour to the Silent Night Chapel

The most famous Christmas carol of all time ‘Silent Night’ was written as a poem in 1816 by an Austrian priest called Joseph Mohr. The story behind this is magica itself. The St Nicholas chruch organ at Oberndorf had broken a few days before Christmas, so the priest after considering the options decided to give the poem of Silent Night (Stille Nacht) to his friend Franz Xavier Gruber and the melody for Silent Night was composed and it was composed on a guitar!!
Travel through the foothills of the Austrian Alps, along the Salzach river valley to Oberndorf, where you will have the opportunity to take part in a touching Christmas celebration in the Silent Night Chapel.

The church is small accommodating only 12 – 15 people inside, therefore the Holy Mass will be celebrated on the outside of the chapel.







Christmas Horse Drawn Sleigh Ride from Salzburg

Take one of those excursions to take you along the Salzach river valley past many of Austria’s ski resorts. Near Schladming, location of the 1982 Ski World Championships, you will ascend up to the ‘Steirische Ramsau’ 3,281 feet (1,000 meters) above sea level at the base of one of the Alpine glacier massifs – the Dachstein. In the village there is time for a stroll in the frosty fresh air and lunch in one of the local inns. Your guide will give you advice on all of the possibilities. Then you will hear the jingling bells on the reigns as the sleighs line up across the field and your winter sleigh ride begins!






Enhanced by Zemanta

The Somerset cider trail: from orchard to glass


Down in England’s West Country lies the old county of Somerset, a patchwork of meadows, quiet villages and an orchard around every corner. It is a land of pigs snuffling fallen apples, old farmers telling tales in crumbling pubs, and field after field of wondrous English countryside.

Where it all begins: the orchard

At five o’clock each afternoon, Somerset slips into soft-focus. As the sun readies itself for the day’s end, the light turns hazy and golden, coating every scene with the warm graininess of a Super 8 home movie. Stand in an orchard as the glow of late afternoon is filtered through the laden branches, sending a lattice of pale shadow onto the fruit-covered floor, and it is easy to understand why the orchard holds an elevated place in British mythology. From inspiring Newton’s theory of gravity to the wassail ceremonies that drive evil spirits from the trees each January, the orchard has long been a place of quiet contemplation and a very British kind of magic.

What it hasn’t been is a stomping ground for sex-crazed llamas. But that is what I’m confronted with as I explore the orchards of Burrow Hill Cider Farm, near Stembridge village. Two man-sized llamas – one brown called Louis, one white called Rupert – unnervingly stare me out as I wander past a Gloucester Old Spot pig snuffling among the apples at the base of a tree. Barrelman Stephen Ward is quick to issue a warning: ‘Watch your back around Rupert,’ he says, as we walk towards the truck that has pulled into the farmyard, its bed piled high with freshly gathered apples. ‘He thinks he’s human. He has a habit of leaping onto your shoulders if you turn away too fast.’

The truck tips the red-and-green Kingston Blacks – just one of 40 varieties used – onto the courtyard. As a stream of water washes the fruit along an apple-clogged trench towards the mill, Stephen tells me how Burrow Hill has rejuvenated cider making in this corner of Somerset. The early 90s were a dire time for cider devotees – the drink was out of fashion, and local farmers were competing to sell off their orchards. Twenty years on, the same farmers are selling Burrow Hill their apple harvest, and seeing it turned into top class cider brandy. The man responsible for this turn of events is Julian Temperley, owner of Burrow Hill.

A cross between Boris Johnson and Wurzel Gummidge, Julian’s rumpled exterior belies a sharp business brain and penchant for mischief. ‘You fall into cider making by mistake, or by default. It’s not a logical decision,’ he says. ‘Cidermaking is the last bastion of the peasants. We’re an anarchic lot.’ But Julian is in no doubt of the importance of cider to Somerset. ‘If we lose these orchards, the landscape of this part of the world changes entirely. The cider tradition needs to be protected.’

I stroll through the orchard, serenaded by the thwock of apples falling to the floor (cider farmers don’t pick apples from the tree; they wait for them to fall). Across the road from the farmhouse is the steep hill that gives the farm its name. The climb is short but sharp and I am struck by the sheer immensity of the Somerset Levels. Standing under the sky here is a full 360° experience – it feels like being in the centre of a child’s snow globe. The horizon is a circumference, not a straight line, and the land below unrelentingly flat, divided only by orchards lined up like military regiments. The leaves on the trees have begun to smoulder, not yet set alight with full autumn colour. On the breeze comes the sound of a tractor in an orchard, collecting the windfall for the next batch of cider – the sound of an ancient tradition surviving, adapting and prospering.

The ciderhouse

The track down to Wilkins Cider Farm is dotted with handwritten signs, the disparate clues of a rosy-cheeked treasure hunt. Every so often there is a break in the hedge and an instant panoramic of the Somerset Levels surges through the gap, but for most, this is a head-down, no-nonsense trip – it is not the views they have come for.

Inside the breezeblock ciderhouse, the air is cool and damp. The atmosphere is anything but. Six ruddy-nosed Scotsmen, down for the week, merrily poke fun at each other around a Formica table, a tankard in each hand and a few crumbs of cheese in front. Next to them, four large barrels of cider – two sweet, two dry – sit in a row, hissing out the day’s cider to any pilgrim who turns up with an empty glass. The wall opposite is covered with photographs and cuttings, including an interview with the late Clash singer Joe Strummer. Encircled is his description of happiness: ‘chilling in Somerset with a flagon of Wilkins’ Farmhouse Cider’. No-one here today would disagree.

At the centre of it all is Roger Wilkins, a burly, gregarious, faded Teddy Boy in overalls and wellies. He purposefully strides around his farmhouse, making sure that every visitor is welcomed and quenched. He has been making cider here for some 50 years, after learning the trade from his grandfather. ‘I was weaned on this stuff,’ he says, raising his ever-present tankard of green-yellow cider to his lips. ‘I’ve been drinking it since I was five years old. And I’ve never had a bad head.’

The reason why Roger does not know the meaning of the word hangover is the same reason why his cider is so revered, why people will travel 400 miles to sit in his draughty farmhouse. It is just apples. He adds nothing bar a teaspoon of saccharine in the sweet barrels. ‘I test everything by taste,’ he says. ‘I know exactly what it should taste like at every stage.’ Wilkins Cider is how cider used to be before the big brands cleaned it up – rough and ready, with the occasional piece of floating pulp and a sharp tang. The head might be fine, but after a couple of pints, the unsuspecting punter won’t be able to work their legs.

Three times a day, the hubbub in the farmhouse falls silent as Roger begins a pressing. Bags of apples are poured into the mill and ground into a pomace. Roger spreads it over a lissom, a wooden board covered in a rough, porous cloth, and repeats the process until he has made up a ‘cheese’, eleven lissoms in total, which is wheeled on rails to the press.

The large vice squeezes down upon the cheese, and the apple juice drips to the trough below. Roger scoops up a palmful, slurps it down and nods, satisfied. There is a murmur of approval from the congregation as he begins to build the next cheese. ‘I’ve been coming here every day for 40 years,’ whispers the man next to me. ‘I never get tired of watching this.’

The drinkers

The sign on the wall of the Tuckers Grave Inn leaves visitors in no doubt as to the primary purpose of this tumbledown country tavern: ‘Drink hard cider as much as yer please. Loose yer teeth an bow yer knees. Sours yer gut an makes yer wheeze.’

Perhaps not the most inviting prospect for recent converts, but for the hardy souls crammed into this front room-disguised-as- a-pub there is nothing better than a tankard of gut-souring cider, and nowhere better to drink it than Tuckers Grave Inn.

A ring of seats is arranged around a flickering fireplace, the air filled with the chat of the regulars – Roger ‘Cravat’ Bonsall, resplendent in synonymous neckpiece; Graham Clylee, proud veteran of ‘every cider pub in Britain and Brittany’; Stuart Delbono, young farm hand. Each holds a tankard of the near-fluorescent orange Thatchers cider that landlady Glenda Swift pours from the barrels piled up under a window. There is no bar here; that would signal a divide between punters and owners. Rumour has it this room was once the lounge of Glenda’s house, adjacent to the bar, but she would get so many people popping in for a drink and a chat that she turned it into the main room of the pub.

‘Doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from,’ says Graham, roasting a handful of chestnuts on the crackling fire. ‘People will always talk to you in here.’ Glenda nods her approval. ‘No subjects are barred in this room,’ she says, looking around at her customers with a tenderness that belies someone whose job it is to get them royally drunk. ‘We know everything in here – where the skeletons are hidden, where the babies are conceived.’

For all the reverence and ritual that surrounds the making of cider, it is this, the final stage in the apple’s journey from the orchard to the glass, that is the reason why Roger Wilkins and Julian Temperley have dedicated their lives to what is, in effect, squeezing fruit juice.

The next day, it is clear that cider’s value to Somerset is appreciated far beyond the pubs and pressing plants. Barrington Court, a grand National Trust property, is hosting its Apple Day celebration. A crowd of Somersetians has descended upon the sprawling, orchard-laden grounds, joining in with the apple pressing, picking up the windfall, paying tribute to the humble fruit that defines their homeland. In the central building, there’s a display of the varieties grown here; the names sound more like dashing World War II pilots than fruit – Broxwood Foxwhelp, Ribston Pippin, Harry Masters, Tom Putt.

It may not quite be the Battle of Britain, but in a strange way the resurgence of cider, and Somerset, owes a similar weight of gratitude to the persistence of these wholesome balls of juicy goodness – forever the heroes of the West Country.

Getting there

Trains to Yeovil Junction run direct from London Waterloo, Exeter and Salisbury (from £14.10 return;

Getting around

Buses do not cover the whole of Somerset. Hire a car from Vincents Daily Rental in Yeovil (from £29 a day;

Original Article By: Matt Bolton Lonely Planet



Spa Owners and Medical Spa Enthusiasts Planning for the Spa & Resort Expo and Trade Show – A New York Event

NYC Event Show Description:
The Spa & Resort Expo and Medical Spa Conference are the premier U.S. Spa Events that reflect and support the convergence of the Traditional and Medical segments of the Spa & Resort Industry. From cutting edge medical techniques to the most sumptuous of spa services,you are able to see, touch, smell, and experience the industry’s most diverse array of products, services, and ideas that will delight your clients.This is a great NYC Event held at Jacob Javits Convention Center – a classic New York Event.

What this New York Event is about:
Discover the most advanced technology, up-to-date treatments and procedures from leading company’s at the most progressive spa, medical aesthetic and wellness event of the year. Gain insights at industry relevant education sessions, manufacturer workshops and live demonstrations, and benefit from a productive and efficient buying environment on the Show Floor.

Co-located with this New York Event is the HBA Global Expo – the combination of both NY Events provides attendees a 360 degree experience of the entire life cycle of a product as HBA is where new products begin and Spa & Resort Expo is where you find the final product and understand the appeal to the customer.

New York Trade Show Highlights:
• 70% of registered attendees recommend or approve all purchases.
• 65% of Spa Owner and Managers in attendance visit no other Trade Shows during the year.
• Spa Owners and Managers is the largest professional category in attendance.

Choosing a New York Hotel for your visit:
There are many NYC Hotels to choose from in Manhattan including Milford Plaza Hotel – A Times Square Hotel. The Milford Plaza Hotel is located in the heart of Times Square, the Theater District and close to all Manhattan Activities, NYC City Tours, Manhattan Events and NYC Shopping, New York City Restaurants and NYC Attractions including Empire State Building.

Our NYC Hotel is also close to all the most popular NYC Attractions and Things to Do in Manhattan; the Empire State Building, Garment District, Diamond District, Central Park, Jacob Javits Convention Center and many other New York City Attractions that make New York City – ‘The Most Exciting City in the World!’

Dubai-Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa — The Tallest Building in the World

Former names Burj Dubai

Burj Khalifa (“Khalifa Tower”), known as Burj Dubai prior to its inauguration, is a skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and is currently the tallest structure ever built, at 828 m (2,717 ft). Construction began on 21 September 2004, with the exterior of the structure completed on 1 October 2009. The building officially opened on 4 January 2010, and is part of the new 2 km2 (490-acre) flagship development called Downtown Dubai at the ‘First Interchange’ along Sheikh Zayed Road, near Dubai’s main business district.

The tower’s architecture and engineering were performed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill of Chicago, with Adrian Smith as chief architect, and Bill Baker as chief structural engineer. The primary contractor was Samsung C&T of South Korea.

The total cost for the project was about US$ $1.5 billion; and for the entire “Downtown Dubai” development, US $20 billion.[ In March 2009, Mohamed Ali Alabbar, chairman of the project’s developer, Emaar Properties, said office space pricing at Burj Khalifa reached US $4,000 per sq ft (over US $43,000 per m²) and the Armani Residences, also in Burj Khalifa, sold for US $3,500 per sq ft (over US $37,500 per m²).

The project’s completion coincided with the global financial crisis of 2007–2010, and with vast overbuilding in the country, led to high vacancies and foreclosures. With Dubai mired in debt from its huge ambitions, the government was forced to seek multibillion dollar bailouts from its oil rich neighbor Abu Dhabi. Subsequently, in a surprise move at its opening ceremony, the tower was renamed Burj Khalifa, said to honour the UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his crucial support.

Due to the slumping demand in Dubai’s property market, the rents in the Burj Khalifa plummeted 40% some ten months after its opening. Out of 900 apartments in the tower around 825 were still empty at that time.

Burj Khalifa lifts the world’s head proudly skywards, surpassing limits and expectations. Rising gracefully from the desert and honouring Dubai with a new glow. Burj Khalifa is at the heart of Dubai and its people; the centre for the world’s finest shopping, dining and entertainment and home for the world’s elite.

Information Source

Other Stories


36 hours in Abu-Dhabi

Stockholm is Beautiful!

Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. It is the site of the national Swedish government, the Riksdag (parliament), and the official residence of the Swedish monarch as well as the prime minister. Since 1980, the monarch has resided at Drottningholm Palace outside of Stockholm and uses the Royal Palace of Stockholm as his workplace and official residence. As of 2010, the Stockholm metropolitan area is home to approximately 22% of Sweden’s population. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality (2010), 1.37 million in the urban area (2010), and around 2.1 million in the 6,519 km2 (2,517.00 sq mi) metropolitan area (2010).
Founded circa 1250, Stockholm has long been one of Sweden’s cultural, media, political, and economic centers. Its strategic location on 14 islands on the south-central east coast of Sweden at the mouth of Lake Mälaren, by the Stockholm archipelago, has been historically important. Stockholm has been nominated by GaWC as a global city, with a ranking of Alpha-. In The 2008 Global Cities Index, Stockholm ranked 24th in the world, 10th in Europe, and first in Scandinavia.  Stockholm is known for its beauty, its buildings and architecture, its abundant clean and open water, and its many parks.

It is sometimes referred to as Venice of the North.

Stockholm is a major international city with great natural beauty, good eateries, fabulous standard hotels, an internationally renowned club and music scene and a vibrant cultural life.
Stockholm, as a city, is over 700 years old and spreads across 14 islands as it faces proudly out to the Baltic Sea. You can get to just about all of Stockholm’s many wondrous sites on foot, a perfect way to see the city. You can also take a boat trip that will give you a different facet of Scandinavia’s largest and probably most beautiful city.

Attractions in Stockholm
One of Stockholm’s top attractions, Djurgården (English: Game Park) is an island right in the middle of Stockholm, known for its beautiful green spaces, many sights, events, parks, and tourist attractions. The island Djurgarden has more than 10 million (!) visitors each year. The location is perfect for an interesting 2 hour Djurgarden walking tour across Stockholm’s popular island.




Gamla Stan is one of the largest and best preserved medieval city centers in Europe, and one of the foremost attractions in Stockholm. This is where Stockholm was founded in 1252.






The Royal Palace
Welcome to one of the largest palaces in Europe! The Royal Palace is the official residence of His Majesty the King of Sweden, with over 600 rooms.





The Vasa Museum

The Vasa is the only preserved seventeenth-century ship in the world, and a unique art treasure.






Skansen Open-Air Museum
Skansen consists of the oldest open-air museum in the world and the Stockholm zoo, with a beautiful location on Royal Djurgården and a view over all of Stockholm.





Fotografiska is one of the world’s largest meeting places for contemporary photography. Fotografiska presents four unique major exhibitions and about 20 smaller exhibitions annually.





The City Hall
Stockholm City Hall is one of the country’s leading examples of national romanticism in architecture. The City Hall was designed by the architect Ragnar Östberg, and opened on Midsummer Eve in 1923. The City Hall is built from eight million bricks, and the 106 meter tall tower has the three crowns, which is the Swedish national coat of arms, at its apex. Behind the magnificent facades are offices and session halls for politicians and officials, as well as splendid assembly rooms and unique works of art




Moderna Museet
Experience one of Europe’s foremost collections of art from the twentieth century to today, featuring works by artists including Picasso, Dali, Derkert and Matisse.





National Museum
The leading museum of art and design in Sweden, with collections of older paintings and sculptures as well as drawings, graphics, handicrafts and design up to the present day.






Boat Sightseeing


Royal National City Park
The world’s first national urban park is a green lung forming an arc more than six miles long, stretching around and through the city.
The park abuts the adjoining forests around the city, ensuring an exceptional wealth of species. You can encounter deer and hares, even foxes and moose, and spot rare birds, butterflies and insects, right inside the city. You can walk for days through the Ekoparken, discovering ever new lovely spots.






Food & drink!

Stockholm is recognised as one of Europe’s most dynamic and exciting gastronomic metropolises.

Regardless of what you prefer to eat, Swedish, international, ethnic or a fusion of all of these. Stockholm’s restaurateurs and chefs are renowned for their culinary creativity, and the restaurant atmosphere are very much part of the total experience.




Budget Cafés

There are a huge number of good restaurants, bars, cafeterias and cafés, many with an ethnic flavor.
Casual eating
For casual dining, every district in Stockholm has local restaurants that serve a wide range of dishes in various styles and frequently function as local meeting places as well, often with adjoining bars.



Fine dining in Stockholm

At the top of the scale Stockholm has a number of restaurants with a Michelin star, including the well-established F12 and Esperanto, where diners can enjoy modern fusion cuisine, and the chic Lux in the up and coming area of scenic Essinge Island.
Stockholm never sleeps




Nightlife in Stockholm

Most bars and nightclubs are open until around 3 am. All restaurants, bars and nightclubs in Norway are smoke-free indoors but often have a sheltered smoking area outside.

Oslo’s nightlife is anything but boring. Clubs and bars in Oslo are inviting and friendly and DJs from all over the world help keep the action and mood going in the city’s bars and nightclubs.

Blaa is situated in the Grünerlokka district and is popular among people over 25 in Oslo. It is well known for having new and upcoming bands and bringing in different popular international DJs at the weekends. The music varies between techno, soul, hiphop, house, electronica, rock and pop. The club is situated in an old factory by the river.

Looking for some great nightlife in Helsinki? Keep in mind that Finns love late nights: Clubs in Helsinki often don’t open before 10 pm and close at 4 am. At most nightclubs, you have to be 20 to get in.

Some of the most popular nightlife locations in Helsinki include The Lux Nightclub. If you’re looking for nightlife with class, go party at the Lux. It’s got five bars and big terraces, along with a suitable dress code, and is more expensive than other nightlife locations in Helsinki.

Ever heard of ice hotels? Well, Helsinki has an ice bar, located at Yliopistonkatu 5! The Arctic Icebar (temperature: -5 C) is a unique nightclub that provides you with gloves upon entering. EUR 10 admission includes a drink.

Looking for the nightlife scene in Sweden? Well, Malmo offers countless bars and clubs in different styles, so you’re sure to find something good. Most clubs stay open until 3 am or 5 am – nightlife starts late here. Slagthuset , which translates to “slaughter house” is Scandinavia’s largest night club with three different dance floors and a party on every weekend. Go bowling at Big Bowl, Malmo’s hangout for bowling, dining, gaming, and even dancing.

Very few cities offer nightlife on a par with Stockholm’s – a scene that really lives, seven nights a week, year in, year out. In this respect, Stockholm has very little competition from anywhere north of Paris and London. The various Stockholm districts abound in meeting places – pubs, cafés and club-style restaurants with different profiles depending on age group and musical preference.

The ‘shopholm’ of Stockholm

Stockholm is known as a leading design center, and design in the broadest sense – both contemporary and traditional – is an important part of the city’s exciting shopping scene.
The City area is home to department stores Nordiska Kompaniet (NK), Åhléns and PUB.





By:  Adma Dababneh

Other Articles
Top Attractions in Turkey
Denmark’happiest place on earth’
Wadi Rum-The Valley of the Moon-Jordan
30 Hours in Abu Dhabi
Moving to Turkey
Geography of Europe
Geography of Asia


Denmark ‘happiest place on earth’

If it is happiness you are seeking a move to Denmark could be in order, according to the first scientist to make a world map of happiness.

Adrian White, from the UK’s University of Leicester, used the responses of 80,000 people worldwide to map out subjective well-being.

Denmark came top, followed closely by Switzerland and Austria. The UK ranked 41st. Zimbabwe and Burundi came bottom.

A nation’s level of happiness was most closely associated with health levels.


Prosperity and education were the next strongest determinants of national happiness.

Mr White, who is an analytic social psychologist at the university, said: “When people are asked if they are happy with their lives, people in countries with good healthcare, a higher GDP [gross domestic product] per capita, and access to education were much more likely to report being happy.”

He acknowledged that these measures of happiness are not perfect, but said they were the best available and were the measures that politicians were talking of using to measure the relative performance of each country.

He said it would be possible to use these parameters to track changes in happiness, and what events may cause that, such as the effects a war, famine or national success might have on the happiness of people in a particular country.

Measuring happiness

He said: “There is increasing political interest in using measures of happiness as a national indicator in conjunction with measures of wealth.

“A recent BBC survey found that 81% of the population think the government should focus on making us happier rather than wealthier.

“It is worth remembering that the UK is doing relatively well in this area, coming 41st out of 178 nations.”

He said he was surprised to see countries in Asia scoring so low, with China 82nd, Japan 90th and India 125th, because these are countries that are thought as having a strong sense of collective identity which other researchers have associated with well-being.

“It is also notable that many of the largest countries in terms of population do quite badly,” he said.

He said: “The frustrations of modern life, and the anxieties of the age, seem to be much less significant compared to the health, financial and educational needs in other parts of the world.”

Article Source:



Happiness map
1st – Denmark
2nd – Switzerland
3rd – Austria
4th – Iceland
5th – The Bahamas
23rd – USA
41st – UK
90th – Japan
178th – Burundi



1 Comment

Attractions in Hokkaido, Japan

Hokkaido (???, Hokkaid?) is the second largest, northernmost and least developed of Japan’s four main islands. Its weather is harsh in winter with lots of snowfall and below zero temperatures while its summer is mild and not as humid as the other parts of Japan. Hokkaido attracts outdoor lovers, skiers and snowboarders in the colder seasons and hikers, campers in the summer.

Hokkaido confounds expectations at every turn. While the mainland of Japan has a reputation for being tiny and crowded, Hokkaido is expansive and  populated. While the mainland features typically Asian architecture, the major cities of Hokkaido have a European feel. Hokkaido has natural wonders, from fields of alpine flowers in the summer to breathtaking ice-scapes in the winter months.

Cherry blossom year 2018

It has been predicated that skaura (Cherry Blossom) will start to bloom as usual in Okinawa. Therefore, cherry blossom festivals are scheduled to be held at different spots between January 27, 2018 and February 12, 2018.

Places to visit in Hokkaido

Cities and Resort Towns

Furano and Biei

are towns in the center of Hokkaido, Known for their pleasant and pictureque rural landscapes. Best time to visit in July when the Lavender fields are in bloom.  Furano is a popular downhill and cross country skiing resort.












Furano Ski Area is one of Hokkaido’s famous snow resorts. Located in a town known for its flowers and television dramas, the resort offers an exciting attraction for the cold winter months.





Asahikawa Winter Festival

The Asahikawa Winter Festival (??????, Asahikawa Fuyu Matsuri) is Hokkaido’s second largest winter festival after Sapporo’s Snow Festival. The festival takes place over a week in early February, about the same time as the Sapporo Snow Festival. Hence, it is possible for winter visitors to visit both festivals on the same trip as the two cities are only an 80 minute train ride apart from each other.

Asahikawa  has some of the biggest snow sculptures. Every year one massive sculpture is made as a stage for music and other performances. The giant sculpture of a Korean fortress in 1994 even made into the book of Guinness World Records as the largest snow construction built. The giant sculpture has a different theme each year, such as a snowman castle in 2010 or the Daisetsuzan Mountains in 2011.

An Ice Sculpture in the Heiwa Dori Area

Rusutsu Resort

Rusutsu Resort is considered one of the best ski resorts in Hokkaido. It has a large

ski area that covers three mountains, each having a variety of long runs with a good mix of groomed trails, great powder and tree runs. It is close to Lake Toya (Toyako) and is on the other side of Mount Yotei from Niseko.

A large hotel complex sits at the center of the resort, consisting of the highrise Rusutsu Tower, A monorail connects the buildings with each other.

Rusutsu Resort offers numerous attractions beside Skiing, hot spring baths, as well as places catering to foreigners such as the Cricket Pub sports bar. Summer activities include golf and an amusement park with over 60 attractions and 8 roller coasters.




Noboribetsu Onsen

Noboribetsu Onsen is Hokkaido’s most famous hot spring resort. A large amount of Noboribetsu’s many types of hot spring water surfaces in the spectacular Jigokudani or “Hell Valley” just above the resort town. Noboribetsu is part of Shikotsu-Toya National Park.

Other Nearby Attractions

Lake Toya,  Lake Shikotsu. Jigokudani, Hot Springs, ???Porotokotan, Mount Uso, Caldera Lake and Hell Valley.

Jozankei Onsen

is located inside Shikotsu-Toya National Park between the high cliffs of the Toyohira River. The town is only one hour from Sapporo, making it a popular side trip from the city for residents and tourists. As a result, Jozankei is very developed compared to smaller onsen towns in Hokkaido.

The onsen waters of Jozankei were discovered in 1866 and the town now has dozens of ryokan, restaurants and shops catering to hot spring tourists.




is Hokkaido’s third largest city, located at the island’s southern tip. Hakodate is best known for the spectacular views to be enjoyed from Mount Hakodate and its delicious, fresh seafood.

As one of the first Japanese harbor cities to be opened to international trade after the country’s era of isolation, Hakodate has experienced notable influence from overseas, and the foreign population’s former residential district and a Western style fort are among its main tourist attractions.

Onuma Park, a quasi national park with beautiful, island dotted lakes, is located only half an hour north of Hakodate.



The Shiraoi Ainu Museum, also called Porotokotan, is one of Hokkaido’s better Ainu Museums. Ainu culture and lifestyle is shown in an outdoor reproduction of a small Ainu village and inside a conventional museum building. Several performances, such as traditional Ainu dances, are held throughout the day.






Located in the center of Hokkaido, Asahikawa is the island’s second largest city after Sapporo. The city is not known as a leading tourist destination, but its zoo, Asahiyama Zoo, is among Japan’s best and most popular. The local noodle dish, Asahikawa Ramen, is also quite well known.








Otaru is a harbor city,  Its beautiful canal area and interesting herring mansion make Otaru a pleasant one day trip from Sapporo  to or from the Shakotan Peninsula.

Ferries from Niigata and Maizuru on Honshu arrive at Otaru Port








Sapporo is the capital of Hokkaido and Japan’s fifth largest city. Sapporo is also one of the nation’s youngest major cities. In 1857, the city’s population stood at just seven people.

Sapporo became world famous in 1972 when the Olympic Winter Games were held there. Today, the city is well known for its ramen, beer, and the annual snow festival held in February.




Hokkaido and Asahikawa are Famous for its Ramen


Hokkaido, Asahikawa is famous for its ramen. Whereas Sapporo is known for its miso based broth and Hakodate for its salt based broth, Asahikawa is known for its shoyu (soya sauce) based broths. Shops serving shoyu based ramen can be found throughout the city.

The broth of Asahikawa Ramen is also known for being quite oily, and there is often a thin layer of oil on top of the soup. Another characteristic of the local ramen is the generally thin, hard and wavy noodles. The range of toppings is quite typical and includes green onions, pork, bamboo shoots and eggs.

On the outskirts of the city there is an interesting collection of ramen shops called the Asahikawa Ramen Village. Eight famous ramen restaurants from Asahikawa have opened small branch stores besides one another in the complex alongside a gift shop and a small ramen shrine.


By: Adma Dababneh

Information taken from

Other Related Stores

Top Attractions in Turkey



Top Attractions in Turkey

St. Sophia Museum

Haghia Sophia Museum, the great masterpiece of Byzantine art. It was built by Justinian in 6th century AD and is the 3rd church to occupy this site.
At the time it was built, it was the largest church in existence. The church was sacked by the Latins during the 4th crusade in 1204 and many of its treasures taken to the west.
When Contantinople (Istanbul) was conquered by the Ottoman Sultan, Mehmet II in 1453, it was converted into a mosque.
Since 1936, by Ataturk’s order it has been a museum.



Blue Mosque



Blue Mosque, Sultan Ahmet Camii is one of the most beautiful mosques in the world. Its name is derived from the blue tiles decorating its interior. Completed in 1616 by Mehmet Aga, Imperial Architect and one of the students of the great architect Sinan.

Its grace and beautiful proportions were intended to reflect the splendour of Islam. It was the supreme Imperial Mosque of the Ottoman Empire. The famous blue and green

Iznik tiles on the walls are bathed in glorious light that is filtered through 260 windows.



The city was founded on a hilltop and spread down to the plains. Aspendus has one of the best preserved and largest Roman theaters in Turkey. It was built in the 2nd C AD. The city’s aqueducts are also well preserved and worth a visit.


Commagene Kingdom at Mt.Nemrut

One of the most spectacular sites in Turkey especially at sunset. Mt Nemrut (approx. 2552m) is an extension of the Taurus mountain range in southeastern Turkey. After the division of Alexander’s Empire into three, the Seleucids established the relatively small and wealthy Commagene Kingdom in the region.

In 62 BC, Antiochos I became king of Commagene and developed his kingdom as a strategic crossroad on the important trade routes between Syria, Mesopotamia and Rome.



Pamukkale is one of the natural wonders of the world. It is a unique geological formation formed over 14.000 years. The spring water at Pamukkale has therapeutic qualities and since antiquity has been said to cure rheumatism, kidney and heart diseases.

Hierapolis, means sacred-city and its history goes back 6th C BC. At its peak the population reached about 100,000. The ruins at Hierapolis cover an extensive area.

The theater, Temple of Apollo, Colonnaded Street, Byzantine Gate, Plutonium and Necropolis (Cemetery) are some of the highlights of the city. The Necropolis has approximately 1000 tombs and is the largest in Asia Minor.



Ephesus is one of the best-preserved ancient cities in the world with a history dating back the 12 C BC. It was an important trade and religious center. During the Roman period its population reached approx. 250,000.

One of the seven wonders of the world, Temple of Artemis was in Ephesus. It is also the site of one of the Seven Churches of Revelation.
St. Paul lived and preached for about 2 years in Ephesus.

Cappadocia Region

One of the geological wonders of the world. Cappadocia is a high plateau in Central Turkey at an altitude of 3270 ft / 1000 m. It lies in a triangle formed by the three main towns of Kayseri, Nevsehir and Nigde.

The history of Cappadocia begins 60 million years ago with the eruption of 2 volcanos, covering the area with lava and tufa. In later periods rain and wind eroded the land and created unusual valleys, canyons and cones.

For many centuries Hittites, Assyrian Colonies, Greeks and Romans lived in the region. Cappadocia is also a very important region in early Christian History.

There are over 600 hundred rock-cut churches built by monks and hermits between the 4th and 11th centuries. In some of these, church walls have been decorated with wonderful frescoes depicting scenes from the Bible.



The history of the city starts in the 8th C BC when Aeolian Greek colonies settled in the area. The city was founded on a hill overlooking the Caicos plain. During the reign of Eumenes II in the 2nd C BC, it became one of the cultural and intellectual centers of the day.

With the invention of pergamena (parchment) its library grew to rival in size, the great library of Alexandria. The famous Altar of Zeus was here.

Pergamum was one of the Seven Churches of the Revelations. The famous Roman physician, Galen was born and studied in Pergamum.The
ruins are separated into 3 parts, the Acropolis, Red Courtyard and Asclepion, which was the cure center of Pergamum.



Sardis was the capital of the Kingdom of Lydia. It was founded on the banks of the famous golden-bearing river Pactolus. The legendary
King of Lydia Croesus (560-540 BC) controlled most of western Asia Minor and made generous offerings to the temples of Delphi, Artemis and Didyma.
Part of the Gymnasium was converted into a synagogue in 3rd C BC. Sardis is one of the Seven Churches of Revelation.



Gallipoli Anzacs – Canakkale

In 1915, Allied warships tried to force their way through the straits with the intention of opening a supply line to Russia via the Black Sea. Allied landings on the Gallipoli Peninsula were finally beaten off by the Turks following bitter warfare.

Related Articles:

Moving to Turkey
Geography of Europe
Geography of Asia

More Articles about Investing in Turkey

36 Hours in Abu Dhabi

36 Hours in Abu Dhabi

WHAT would you do with $600 billion in cash? If you’re the capital of the United Arab Emirates, rich in oil, the answer is easy: go shopping. Once aloof from the spendthrift ways of neighboring Dubai, Abu Dhabi — which, so far, has not experience the unrest many Arab countries are facing is now ticking off items on a five-star shopping list. Top-notch museums? New branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim are rising from the sands. High-profile events? The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Abu Dhabi Film Festival and Gourmet Abu Dhabi have made their debuts in recent years. Toss in a multibillion-dollar hotel project and a stunning new mosque and you have one of the world’s most ambitious new destinations.


5 p.m.

Come early evening, all of Abu Dhabi — expat professionals from Europe, South Asian laborers, local families in white dishdashas (for the men) and black abayas (for the women) — strolls along the Corniche, a picturesque seaside walkway. It’s the perfect vantage point for taking in the city’s fast-rising thicket of skyscrapers. Finish up at the Heritage Village (Marina Mall breakwater; 971-2-681-4455; free admission), an ersatz old fortress that tries to recreate the Abu Dhabi of yore through camel enclosures, Bedouin tents and traditional artisans. At its beachfront cafe, Al Asalah (971-50-526-5575), sip a watermelon juice (15 dirhams, or $4.15 at 3.60 dirhams to $1) while watching the twinkling city skyline across the bay.

9 p.m.

Even if you can’t afford to make a withdrawal from the ATM that dispenses bars of gold, the gargantuan and garishly opulent Emirates Palace Hotel ( is worth a visit. Built at a cost of $3 billion, the 362-room behemoth is said to be the most expensive hotel ever built and contains some fitting hangouts. Hakkasan restaurant-lounge (971-2-690-7999; opened last year with Asian-cool décor and cocktails like the Hakkatini (orange flavored vodka, Campari, Grand Marnier, apple juice; 50 dirhams). For a traditional Emirati dinner, hit Mezlai (971-2-690-7999). Reserve an outdoor tent and sample local specialties like creamy shark velouté, sautéed chicken livers (with garlic, cinnamon and pomegranate sauce) and lamb nachif (slow cooked in zesty garlic-turmeric sauce). A three-course meal for two runs about 450 dirhams, without wine.

11 p.m.

The fastest-growing part of town is the formerly dusty Yas Island (, now brimming with diversions: a lush 18-hole golf course, a Formula One track, a sprawling indoor theme park (Ferrari World; see below), a marina and a host of five-star hotels. Hugh Grant, Sir Richard Branson and Prince are among the luminaries who have been spotted in the fractal-like white interior of Allure (Yas Island Marina, 971-2-565-0050;; cover, 150 dirhams). Opened last year by the Cipriani restaurant group, the glittery nightclub serves three-liter bottles of Cristal Champagne (68,000 dirhams) and Bellini cocktails (65 dirhams) to a BlackBerry-toting international crowd.


10 a.m.

It’s hard not to be awestruck as you stand on what is said to be the world’s largest handmade Persian carpet (about 65,000 square feet), gazing up at a huge, glittering chandelier in the main prayer hall of the enormous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (Al Salam Street; 971-2-441-6444;, which can hold more than 40,000. Opened in 2007, the marble mosque, with its 82 domes and some 1,000 columns, is a mix of Moorish, Ottoman and Mughal styles. Free tours are held on Saturday at 10 and 11 a.m. and 2, 5 and 8 p.m.

1 p.m.

Funky, bohemian and cheap are not adjectives normally used to describe anything in Abu Dhabi, but Zyara (Madinat Zayed area, next to Hilton Corniche Residence; 971-2-627-5007) is a rare bird indeed. Abstract art and couches upholstered with wild fabrics provide the décor at this cafe-restaurant, where locals and expats noodle on laptops (thanks to free Wi-Fi) and flip through Time Out Abu Dhabi. The menu ranges from French toast (22 dirhams) to savory manakish (warm flatbread rolled in spices and sesame seeds; 10 dirhams) and a dish called foul (mashed beans stewed with tomato, garlic and olive oil; 20 dirhams).

3 p.m.

Arabia goes avant-garde at the Souk at Central Market (Khalifa Street; 971-2-810-7810;, a soaring new shopping center of geometric wood slats and colored glass that was designed by Norman Foster. Trouble finding a date? Zadina (ground floor; 971-2-658-8637) has them in abundance: plain dates (100 dirhams per kilo), dates stuffed with pistachios (125 dirhams per kilogram, or 2.2 pounds), chocolate truffles made with dates (450 dirhams per kilo), and much besides. For tea glasses (six for 400 dirhams) and other glassware etched and painted with Arabesque patterns, visit Kudu for Arts (ground floor; 971-2-627-8980; Electronics stores, boutiques, waterpipe cafes and henna artists also fill the space.

5 p.m.

Speed freaks, thrill jockeys, car buffs and lead-footed drivers will get their kicks at the futuristic Ferrari World (Yas Island; 971-2-496-8001;, an amusement park that pays tribute to the most popular red product to come out of Italy since tomato sauce. The curvaceous complex houses pulse-quickening rides, from Formula One simulators to one of the world’s fastest roller coasters. Between thrills, check out the car exhibitions and the acrobatic musical show. Admission: 165 to 225 dirhams.

8 p.m.

If the designer Terrance Conran had read “1,001 Nights” too many times, the result would be something like Pearls & Caviar (Qaryat Al Beri; 971-2-509-8777;, a sultry den near the Shangri-La hotel with chain-mail curtains, a mosaic floor and a D.J.-spun soundtrack. The menu also melds Occident and Orient to original effect. Especially good are the tuna carpaccio (with pomegranate seeds and crispy thin bread) and tender strips of beef drizzled with hummus. The zucchini fries in a chickpea batter that are topped with a spicy tomato and red-pepper chutney are also excellent. A three-course dinner for two costs around 400 dirhams.

11 p.m.

Any lingering myths that there is no alcohol in the Islamic world will be put to rest at Souk Qaryat Al Beri (971-2-558-1670;, a sprawling bazaar filled with canals, boutiques, restaurants and ample booze-soaked nightspots. Left Bank (971-2-558-1680) is a den of slick black surfaces and red banquettes where a young crowd drinks Left Bank Iced Teas (vanilla vodka, rum, cachaça, Bombay Sapphire, sour mix and ginger beer; 40 dirhams) and other creative cocktails. Everything goes white and bright at Sho Cho (971-2-558-1117;, a sushi lounge whose drink list includes concoctions like the Sho Cho Infusion(Bacardi, ginger, lime, brown sugar, ginger beer; 43 dirhams).


10 a.m.

Started in 2008 and still expanding, the new (and free) Corniche Beach is endowed with powdery sand, translucent sea and abundant water sports, including waterskiing and parasailing (971-50-781-2312; There are even a few private family beaches — outfitted with sun beds and umbrellas — that can be rented for 10 dirhams.


Café Arabia (15th Street between Karam Street and Airport Road; 971-2-643-9698), a stylish new cafe and boutique, showcases creations from numerous Arabic-speaking nations. Ensconce yourself on the rooftop terrace or airy ground-level salon and feast on Lebanese fattoush (a salad of lettuce, tomatoes, red pepper, whole-wheat bread chips, powdered sumac and pomegranate syrup), Syrian fatteh (warm yogurt with croutons, chickpeas, garlic and mint), Moroccan-style mint tea and more. Afterward, shop for Palestinian ceramics (55 dirhams) and Egyptian mirrors (from 175 dirhams). Or score a chocolate bar made from camel’s milk. A high-end blend of East and West, it encapsulates the flavor of the new Abu Dhabi.


A sprawling low hotel complex with 128 rooms, One to One – The Village (Al Salam Street; 971-2-495-2000; has an impressive gym, a pool, a beer and shisha garden and several restaurants. Doubles from about 465 dirhams, or $130.

The towering Aloft hotel (Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center; 971-2-654-5000; has 408 rooms done in a sleek and angular style and contains the popular rooftop bar Relax@12, among others. Doubles from 405 dirhams.

Picturesque waterways run past the luxurious Shangri-La (Qaryat Al Beri; 971-2-509-8888;, affording lovely views of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque on an opposite bank. Amenities include a private beachfront, the Asian-inspired Chi spa and the opulent Pearls and Caviar restaurant and lounge. Doubles from 960 dirhams.

Major Discovery of Christian History found in Jordan!

Could lead codices prove ‘the major discovery of Christian history’?

By Chris Lehmann Wed Mar 30, 11:36 am ET

British archaeologists are seeking to authenticate what could be a landmark discovery in the documentation of early Christianity: a trove of 70 lead codices that appear to date from the 1st century CE, which may include key clues to the last days of Jesus’ life. As UK Daily Mail reporter Fiona Macrae writes, some researchers are suggesting this could be the most significant find in Christian archeology since the Dead Sea scrolls in 1947.
The codices turned up five years ago in a remote cave in eastern Jordan—a region where early Christian believers may have fled after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE. The codices are made up of wirebound individual pages, each roughly the size of a credit card. They contain a number of images and textual allusions to the Messiah, as well as some possible references to the crucifixion and resurrection. Some of the codices were sealed, prompting yet more breathless speculation that they could include the sealed book, shown only to the Messiah, mentioned in the Book of Revelation. One of the few sentences translated thus far from the texts, according to the BBC, reads, “I shall walk uprightly”–a phrase that also appears in Revelation. “While it could be simply a sentiment common in Judaism,” BBC writer Robert Pigott notes, “it could here be designed to refer to the resurrection.”
But the field of biblical archaeology is also prey to plenty of hoaxes and enterprising fraudsters, so investigators are proceeding with due empirical caution. Initial metallurgical research indicates that the codices are about 2,000 years old–based on the manner of corrosion they have undergone, which, as Macrae writes, “experts believe would be impossible to achieve artificially.”

Beyond the initial dating tests, however, little is confirmed about the codices or what they contain. And the saga of their discovery has already touched off a battle over ownership rights between Israel and Jordan. As the BBC’s Pigott recounts, the cache surfaced when a Jordanian Bedouin saw a menorah—the Jewish religious candleabra—exposed in the wake of a flash flood. But the codices somehow passed into the ownership of an Israeli Bedouin named Hassam Saeda, who claims that they have been in his family’s possession for the past 100 years. The Jordanian government has pledged to “exert all efforts at every level” to get the potentially priceless relics returned, Pigott reports.

Meanwhile, biblical scholars who have examined the codices point to significant textual evidence suggesting their early Christian origin. Philip Davies, emeritus professor of Old Testament Studies at Sheffield University, told Pigott he was “dumbstruck” at the sight of plates representing a picture map of ancient Jerusalem. “There is a cross in the foreground, and behind it is what has to be the tomb [of Jesus], a small building with an opening, and behind that the walls of the city,” Davies explained. “There are walls depicted on other pages of these books, too, and they almost certainly refer to Jerusalem.”
David Elkington, an ancient religion scholar who heads the British research team investigating the find, has likewise pronounced this nothing less than “the major discovery of Christian history.” Elkington told the Daily Mail that “it is a breathtaking thought that we have held these objects that might have been held by the early saints of the Church.”

Still, other students of early Christian history are urging caution, citing precedents such as the debunked discovery of an ossuary said to contain the bones of Jesus’ brother James. New Testament scholar Larry Hurtado observes that since these codices are miniature, they were likely intended for private, rather than liturgical, use. This would likely place their date of origin closer to the 3rd century CE. But only further research and full translation of the codices can fully confirm the nature of the find. The larger lesson here is likely that of Ecclesiastes 3:1—be patient, since “to everything there is a season.”

Moving to Turkey


Istanbul modern tramway

Image by mwanasimba via Flickr

Turkey’s geographical location, which features the only city       to straddle two continents, Istanbul, has made it an ideal destination for living and doing business for centuries. Connecting two continents by a body of water known as the Bosphorus, Turkey is home to many ethnic backgrounds, religions and cultures. With the great cultural treasure that holds artifacts, traditions and literature, Turkey is a melting pot of many cultures and peoples. Due to its colorful and long history, this beautiful country is also a mix of old and new, eastern and western, worlds.

Culture and Customs

Modern day Turkish culture and customs are derived from European, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Slavic and Asian heritages, making it truly diverse. The three major religions of the world are also to be found within the culture, each claiming historical beginnings in the region. Other major ethnic groups include the Albanians, Arabs, Assyrians, Bosniaks, Circassians, Kurds, Laz and the three officially recognized minorities, i.e. the Armenians, Greeks and Jews. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk created what is now known as modern day Turkey; one of his primary goals was to make it a progressive, secular, unified state, which helps to illuminate Turkey’s western-leaning foundations.

Turkey is 99% Muslim despite being a secular state; the remainder of the population consists of Christians and Jews.


Turkish has been the sole official language of Turkey since the founding of the Republic in 1923.
States and Territories

Turkey consists of seven regions: the Black Sea Region, the Marmara Region, Aegean, Mediterranean, Central Anatolian, the East and Southeast Anatolian. Turkey has three major coastlines (Black Sea to the north, Mediterranean to the South and Aegean to the west).


Education is compulsory for ages 6-15 during primary school years. High schools are either 3 or 4 years long and students can choose from either public or private. The majority of Turkish adolescents attend public schools. Public schooling is free and users pay fees for private schooling. University entrance in Turkey is based on a national exam, the OSS, which allows you to attend Turkish universities based on the score received. The literacy rate is 95.3% for men and 79.6% for women.

Family Life

Family is a cherished aspect of Turkish culture. Family ties here are strong, and extend far past the immediate members. Within recent years, younger generations are becoming more independent of their families and are establishing their own reputation and financial income. In rural areas, extended families tend to live together; a household might very naturally consist of parents, children, and grandparents and perhaps even aunts or uncles. Urban families mostly consist of parents and children and maybe grandparents. Because family life is so important here, children rarely move out unless they are married, even when/if they do, they still remain firmly connected and in frequent contact. Additionally, retirement homes are unheard of as their children almost always look after the elderly.


One of the most significant developments in the health care sector in Turkey recently has been the specialization of hospitals by branch, which has led to higher performance rates overall. Some of the most impressive hospitals include the Dünya Göz Hastanesi, which specializes in eye care, Acibadem Saglik Group’s Kozyatagi Acibadem Hastanesi, which specializes in neurology and oncology, and the Anadolu Saglik Merkezi, which focuses on oncology and was opened after an 80 million dollar investment. These hospitals are part of a collective with some of America’s most important medical schools including Harvard Medical and John Hopkins Medical Schools.

These investments have greatly increased the number of patients coming from abroad to receive treatment within Turkey, as well as having elevated the status of the health sector in Turkey significantly. For example, Turkey’s thermal hot springs are very popular and both locals and tourists enjoy the benefits of these natural wonders. In addition to the thermal hot springs, some of the most in demand treatments include organ transplantation, heart and eye surgeries, hair transplants and plastic surgery. Of the European and Middle Eastern countries, Danes, Norwegians and Swedes travel to Turkey in the largest numbers for treatments. Of the 100 billion dollars that will have been made in the health sector in the world, it is predicted that 10 billion dollars will belong to Turkey within the next 5 years.

Real Estate

The Turkish real estate sector, which experienced a surge in 2005, in Istanbul in particular, went through a golden age in the first half of 2008. Turkish real estate made significant developments in the city centre areas dominated by offices; in particular, in Istanbul, the area ranging from Barbaros Bulvari through Büyükdere Caddesi all the way to Maslak went through a major transformation during the golden years from 2005-2008. Many rented buildings and signed contracts even before the construction was done, thus elevating the status of the area and increasing the demand for even more buildings and in turn the prices as well.

Many international real estate companies are hoping to take advantage of the global economic crisis by significantly decreasing prices for real estate projects and thus filling a void in the market, by providing housing at more affordable prices.

Under the supervision of US company Pricewaterhouse- Coopers (PwC), The Urban Land Institute (ULI) prepared a ‘European Real Estate Sector New Trends Report’, earning Turkey the spotlight in 2006 for being the number one country to invest in. What made Turkey an attractive place for real estate investment were a number of things including the tourism sector’s potential, indicating the country’s need for more hotels as the report had stated. The report also stated that Istanbul and Izmir were among the most favorable cities to invest in, also due to a rise in their tourism sectors.


Recreation in Turkey tends to reflect the slower pace of European life. People of all ages enjoy meeting with friends and drinking tea, perhaps also while playing the very popular backgammon. Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Turkey and much time is spent watching, playing and discussing. The three most popular teams are Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Besiktas. Turkish people are very fond of the sun and everything that goes with it; the warmer months are spent outdoors or on the beach. Turkish people also love to dance and enjoy music, thus it is not out of the ordinary for a dinner party to turn into a dance party or sing-along. Turkey also has many impressive museums and the locals love to support the arts. Istanbul, for example, has the popular and impressive Istanbul Modern Art Museum, Sabanci Museum and Santralistanbul, just to name a few.


Though taxis are popular and inexpensive in urban areas, travelling throughout the country is usually done by bus. Traveling by water is another efficient option within the city and is popular in Istanbul and Izmir. One of the most exciting projects of late is the subway system, which is being worked on and developed. The aim is for the subway system to eventually be as impressive as that of any other European city. Istanbul has also been enjoying the addition of the Metrobus, which runs from Levent to the Airport; it is fast, inexpensive and easy. The best part about it? It has it’s own lane on the freeway, thus bypassing traffic completely.


Everyone has the right to work in Turkey if they have the right documentation and work permit. How quickly you can find a job in Turkey depends on economic factors, qualifications and skills, the type of work you are seeking, and particular circumstances that may affect the availability of certain types of work in different parts of the country. The government sets laws on wages and work conditions. The laws are about the types of legal agreements that define the work relationship between employers and employees. The agreements determine the amount paid to an employee, the hours worked and conditions such as safety, leave, allowances, training, anti discrimination and more. However, within private institutions working agreements are made between employer and employee directly. If you do not already have a source of income or a job available, and provided your visa allows it, you will need to look for work.

See Original Article
Related Articles:
Geography of Europe
Geography of Asia

More Articles about Investing in Turkey

Enhanced by Zemanta


Abadiania is located in the central state of GOIAS in the Brazilian Altiplano. It is aproximately 88 Km (55 miles) North East of the State Capital Goiania. It is also about 98 Km (61 Miles) South West of the Federal Capital Brasilia. The population of the Municipality of Abadiania according to the last census in 2005 was approximately 12,000 people. The local authorities now believe that number is closer to 14,000 now. Although only about 7,500 live in the part of town that is closest to the highway. The rest are in the old city of Abadiania and in the rural areas surrounding the city which are also part of the municipality. The original city was formed in 1953 and it is now known as old Abadiania. Once the highway that unites Brasilia to Goiania was built, many of the residents of Abadiania were unhappy with the distance between them and this major through fare. Some of these residents began building their homes closer to the highway and eventually the city government was transferred to this area making it the official Abadiania. The old Abadiania also known as Posse d’Abadia remains a quaint little village nestled in the middle of green rolling hills speckled with white Brahma cattle. The elevation of Abadiania is 1,052 Meters ASL. or 3,455 feet ASL. The principal industry in this region is agriculture and cattle ranching.

Weather in Abadiania is classified as Tropical Savana (AW). Concentrated rain showers in the summer months October through April and a dry season from may through September. The maximum precipitation generally occurs in December/January and the warmest months are September and October with average temperatures around 25o Celcius (77o F) although 40oC (104o F) is not uncommon. The coldest months are June and July with average temperatures around 18o C (64oF) and lows ao 12o C or (53o F)

The City of Abadiania is known as the City of Spiritual Cures because of the presence of psychic healer, João de Deus, (John of God) who attracts many national and international tourists seeking cures for their maladies. JOHN OF GOD: , (João de Deus) is without a doubt one of the most powerful channeling mediums and healers alive today. João has been working at the Casa de Dom Inacio for over 30 years. There are some thirty three entities he channels at the Casa, so named after one of the entities, St Ignatius de Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.

John of God is able to help heal so many people at once because he does not work alone. There are thousands of beings working with him who are able to attend to people. He has helped people recover from all kinds of illness, including AIDS, cancer, auto immune disorders, arthritis, injury from sports and accidents, every illness is treatable at the Casa although results can vary. John of God also treats all kinds of emotional disorders, including addictions, depression, schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. The majority of healing by John of God and the entities is invisible, visible surgery is entirely voluntary and makes up a very small proportion of the healing work.

For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who disbelieve, no amount of proof is sufficient.



For many people Jordan begins and ends with the magical ancient Nabataean city of Petra. Petra is one of the Middle East’s most spectacular, unmissable sights and the world’s most dramatic ‘lost city’.

Lawrence of Arabia, Holy land, bible stories,ancient cities, lost cities, Jordan is one of the most welcoming and hospitable countries of the world.

this where you get invited by total strangers to thier homes to eat and sleep over.

Ruined Roman cities, Crusader castles, desert citadels and powerful biblical sites: the brook where Jesus was baptized, the fortress where Herod beheaded John the Baptist and the mountain top where Moses cast eyes on the Promised Land. Biblical scenes are not just consigned to the past in Jordan; you’ll see plenty of men wearing full-flowing robes and leading herds of livestock across the timeless desert. But it’s not all crusty ruins. Jordan’s capital Amman is a modern, culturally diverse Arab city which is light-years away from the typical clichés of Middle Eastern exoticism.

The country also offers some of the wildest adventures in the region, as well as an incredibly varied backdrop ranging from the red desert sands of Wade Rum to the brilliant blues of the coral-filled Gulf of Aqaba; from rich palm-filled wadis to the lifeless Dead Sea. Ultimately it’s the sensual delights of daily life in the Middle East that you’ll hanker for longest after you return home; the bittersweet taste of cardamom coffee or the smell of a richly scented argileh (water pipe); the intoxicating swirl of Arabic pop sliding out of an Amman doorway and the deafening silence of the desert.

Jordanians are a passionate and proud people and the country truly welcomes visitors with open arms. Despite being squeezed between the hotspots of Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Israel & the Palestinian Territories, Jordan is probably the safest and most stable country in the region. Regardless of your nationality, you’ll be greeted with nothing but courtesy and hospitality in this gem of a country.
Please comeback for more details on Jordan!








Please vote for this photo from Capture Jordan


Visit Ireland

Deciding When and Where to Go to Ireland

Would you rather gaze at the rainbows that show up during the spring in Ireland, or enjoy the countryside during the winter? Maybe you rather experience the Galway’s Arts Festival in July, or Cork City’s Jazz Festival in October? Should you base yourself in one place and take day trips, or go the nomadic route?

The summers are warm and the winters are moderate with some snow. May and June are the sunniest months. Weather changes quite frequently from cloudy to sunny and vice versa. If planning the visit during the summer, lightweight woolen or cotton clothes are recommended and jacket for spring and autumn. Always carry raincoat for that untimely showers. Incase of emergency call 999 or 112.


Most of the locals prefer speaking English here. Handshaking is customary. Irish are social people and are good at having a lively chat even with strangers. People live in great harmony and make great friends. Foreigners are welcomed with warmth and are made to feel at home. Guests are never sent back empty stomach as food is always served at any time of the day, to the guest. Most of the locals come from an agricultural background. Dinner is considered to be a meal of importance as it is the time when the whole family gets together and eat. One can dress casually when out on the streets except women are expected to dress formally at social gatherings and at fine restaurants. Smoking is banned in public places.


Many towns organize flee markets at least once a week, which is worth checking out for cheap goods. Belfast is the shopping capital of Ireland; most of the stores open up early and close early too. On Thursdays, shops remain open till 8 in the night.  Value Added Tax of almost 17% is charged, which can be reclaimed later. So if the visitors buy anything from the stores remember to check if the store operates the Retail Export Scheme, which would require the passport and filling of the Tax Free Shopping Form by the sales person. If the restaurant bill doesn’t includes any tax, leave behind a 10% tip to appreciate their service. Giving a tip to the porters and hair dressers is customary here.

Getting There

The national airline that operates here is Aer Lingus, which provides service from most of the major cities of the world. Airlines like Delta Air Lines and many other have been introduced and to promote them, promotional air fares are being offered. Checking out such offers will prove to be money savers. There are many flights from UK to Ireland. The Dublin airport is located at 10 km away from the city. Services like taxis, air coach, buses transport passengers to their destination. Airport has duty free shops, bank, currency exchange, car hire, tourism information, and restaurants for a comfortable journey. Shannon Airport is situated to the north of Limerick City and is 24 km and 25 minutes away from it. Buses, coaches and taxis are available for transportation. Other services that are provided are duty free shops, currency exchange, bank, tourism information and restaurants. While planning to travel, check out other airports like Cork Airport and Knock Information Airport for more options. A departure tax of €10 is to be paid by people over 12 years of age at the Knock International Airport.

To take ferries check out the Baltimore, Galway, Dublin, Wexford and Kinsale ports. Most of the ferries offer high-speed services. Time to time special offers are being announced which can be availed to save money. Check out the websites as some of them offer online booking facility.


Beautiful Spain

Spain is famous world wide for its flamenco dancers and bullfights. The architecture reflects the Moroccan style. Cave paintings, renaissance cathedrals, Moorish palaces prove the diversity of the country. Spring, fall and early summer are very pleasant here, though summers are hot.

Spain Beaches
Excellent and quiet beaches can be found near  Malaga,  Huelva  and  Almeria  in the south as well as near the coasts of La Manga, Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and Euskadi. If you do enjoy extremely developed resort towns, there are plenty of crowded beaches on the Costa de la Luz and the Costa del Sol. Interesting is the harbour of Almerimar with cosy bars, just south of El Ejido (Almeria).


Spanish is the regional language of Spain. English is also widely spoken here. Over the period of time, Spanish people have become modern in order to gel with the changing times and are no longer conservative. But that hasn’t changed the values, traditions, manners and customs of the locals. People here have two surnames; the first surname can be used to refer to the person. To greet someone, a handshake will do the job. Take a small gift along when visiting someone’s house. Save the flowers for special occasions.

Dinner is generally taken very late in the night. People wear casuals most of the time. Men are expected to wear jackets at some restaurants. Swimsuits should be confined to the pools and beaches. Recently a ban has been applied on smoking in public places.


Shops open quite early in the morning and stay open late in the evening. In the afternoon, they are closed for lunch or siesta. Porcelain and leather goods are famous and they will be good gifts for friends and family members back home. Bills are to be paid along with the service charges, so tipping is a matter of gratitude.


Voltage is 220 volts and frequency is 50 Hz

Getting There

IBERIA is the national airline of Spain. Many other low-cost airlines offer services in the country. There are nearly thirty international airports in Spain, out of which Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante and Malaga are famous.
Madrid located at 13km away from the city has a good bus service every fifteen minutes. Underground service also works to transport passengers to their destinations. Other facilities offered at this airport are duty free shops, bank, restaurant, tourism information, and hotel reservations.

Barcelona is very close to the city, situated at a distance of 3 km only. Buses are available every 15 minutes and trains are available every 20 minutes. Taxis are available throughout the day. Duty free shops, restaurants, bank, car hire and tourism information are available here.

There is a good network of roads connecting Spain north to south. Toll booths are installed in some parts of the country. Carrying few Euros will help smooth sailing at the toll booths. If driving one’s private car, it would be better if the travel insurance covers medical costs too. Carrying a medical kit can prove to be of some help.