Category: Vacation

Buy a Home in Italy for Just One Dollar

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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

Gstaad-Switzerland

Gstaad

Bernese Oberland

The Gstaad-Saanenland holiday region in the Bernese Oberland is popular with a charming mix of visitors: while the chalet village of Gstaad attracts countless stars and starlets the smaller neighbouring villages offer attractive options for families with children.

Zoom map

 

In the past years the centre of Gstaad has developed into the most popular and shortest shopping street in Switzerland. With its top hotels, gourmet restaurants, luxury chalets and nearby Saanen airport, the car-free resort of Gstaad is a popular destination for international celebrities. With the neighbouring resorts of Saanen, Rougemont, Schönried, Saanenmöser, Zweisimmen, Gsteig and Lauenen, the Saanenland as a whole however offers a considerably broader spectrum: the nature preserve by idyllic Lake Lauenen with its waterfalls and high moors, the narrow streets in the historic village centre of Saanen, the advantageous situation of Schönried and Saanenmöser for winter sports enthusiasts and the peacefulness of the idyllic mountain village of Abländschen are examples of an extremely diverse holiday region.

The Saanenland ski and hiking arena with 57 transport facilities has been given the name «Gstaad Mountain Rides». It is accessible from several villages by link transport facilities. The Montreux-Oberland-Railways (MOB) and buses connect Gstaad with other base stations in Saanenmöser, Schönried, Zweisimmen, Gsteig, Reusch, Lauenen Rougemont and Château-d’Oex in the French-speaking neighbouring region of Pays d’Enhaut.

Summer

The wide-open countryside of the Saanenland offers a versatile and and diverse sports programme: hiking (trail network of over 300 km), mountain biking, paragliding and golf. On the River Saane there are opportunities for mountain torrent and canoo adventures. Summer cross-country skiing is possible in the «Glacier 3000» ski region. The summer toboggan run in Schönried, a via ferrata and the Lake Lauenen nature paradise are ideal excursion destinations for families.

 

Winter

In winter, 220km of pistes at altitudes of up to 3000 metres above sea level await skiers and snowboard riders. Several snowparks and numerous toboggan runs as well as 165km of trails for classic- and skating-style cross-country skiing are at the disposal of visitors. For walkers there are about 200km of winter walking trails. Among the rather more unusal activities on offer there is Bavarian curling in the centre of Gstaad and glacier- and heli-skiing.

Winter in the smaller resorts in the region, such as Lauenen, means peace and pleasure on long winter walks, while cross-country skiing or taking a ride in a horse-drawn sleigh.

 

Wellness

True to its slogan, “come up, slow down”, Gstaad provides a deliberate counterpoint to our increasingly hectic daily lives. The wellness destination of Gstaad guarantees a perfect wellbeing experience thanks to its intact nature, unsurpassed variety of leisure activities, healthy mountain agriculture and international top events. The right pampering programme is provided by five hotels with a publicly accessible and complete wellness infrastructure, eight hotels with a partial wellness offering and a sports centre with indoor swimming pool. The area’s harmonic topography is made up of five valleys. The location between 1,000 and 3,000 metres above sea-level has a positive impact on your wellbeing. Rushing mountain streams, sparkling mountain lakes, forests and gently rolling green hills with a spectacular Alpine backdrop lend the landscape its idyllic charm. Gstaad is also a paradise for fine diners, with more than 100 restaurants ranging from cosy raclette restaurants to acclaimed gourmet temples. Those who are fond of Alpine authenticity will find plenty of options for accommodation in traditional Alpine operations. Gstaad’s car-free promenade and its easily accessible recreation areas complete the overall impression in a pleasant way.

Highlights

  • Gourmet restaurants – the gourmet’s paradise of Gstaad has no fewer than fifteen renowned restaurants, including the Restaurant Chesery which has been awarded 18 Gault Millau points.
  • Lake Lauenen – idyllic mountain lake you simply have to take a dip in and excursion destination with a restaurant for mountain bikers and walkers.
  • Scooter fun – Wispile-Gstaad or Sparenmoos-Zweisimmen offer fast descents on special scooters.
  • «Golden Pass» panorama railway – journey from Montreux on Lake Geneva via Gstaad to Lake Thun and from there on to Lucerne in Central

Top Events

  • International Balloon Festival in Châteux-d’Oex – most important Alpine balloon event with about 90 hot-air balloons in a variety of shapes and colours (January).
  • Swatch FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour – 1to1 energy Grand Slam Gstaad – volleyball admidst impressive scenery (July).
  • Crédit Agricole Suisse Open Gstaad – international ATP Tennis Tournament with elite players (July).
  • Davidoff Saveurs Gstaad – celebration of authentic flavours from kitchen, cellar and humidor (July).
  • Menuhin Festival Gstaad – summer music festival in honour of the great violinist and conductor (July – September).
  • Hublot Polo Gold Cup Gstaad – international teams riding fiery Arab horses fight for victory (August).
  • Country Night Gstaad – leading country event encompassing a wide musical spectrum (September).
  • Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad – intimate festival of classical music in spring (February/March).

MySwitzerland.com

Hawaii

Hawaii Information

Hawaii is the most current of the 50 U.S. states, built entirely of islands. Hawaii is the northern island group in Polynesia, placed most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan and northeast of Australia. Owed to its mid-Pacific location, Hawaii has many North American and Asian influences along with its own vigorous native culture. Hawaii capital is Honolulu on the island of Oahu. The state comprises nearly the complete volcanic Hawaiian Island chain it encompass hundreds of islands spread over 1,500 miles. End of the southeastern archipelago, the eight “main islands” they are Kauai, Kahoolawe, Niihau, Hawaii, Lanai, Molokai and Oahu. Hawaii is largest and “The Big Island”. The archipelago is physiographical and ethnologically segment of the Polynesian sub field of Oceania. In United States the Hawaii is the 8th-least extensive, the 11th-least populous, and the 13th-most thickly populated. Hawaii’s coastline is nearly 750 miles long it is fourth in the United States after Alaska, Florida, and California. Hawaii has its own language. Hawaii’s different natural scenery, mild tropical climate, plenty of public beaches and oceanic surrounding, and active geology make it a popular destination for tourists, surfers, biologists, and volcanologists alike. Hawaii Island has a remote climate. Hawaii has variety of environments like lush rainforests, volcanic deserts, and some of the world’s best beaches.

 

Hawaii Recreation Culture and Attractions

The earliest culture of Hawaii is Polynesian. Hawaii describes the northernmost expansion of the vast Polynesian triangle of the south and central Pacific Ocean. As Hawaii has become habitat to many different ethnic groups through the past 200 years, each ethnic group has further elements of its own culture. The culture of Hawaii is arguably one of the firm’s residual in the world and certainly within the United States. The roots of Hawaiian culture expand south to former areas of Polynesia and behind to the islands of the Western Pacific and the edges of Asia. Hawaii has two National Parks that is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the island of Hawaii and Haleakala National park on Maui, as well as the vacation U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately many of these heiau were demolished when the early kapu system was revoked in the 19th century and when the early missionaries arrived shortly hereafter. Music has major role played in Hawaiian culture. Steel guitars were basically invented and popularized in Hawaii. Hawaii is familiar to numerous cultural events; some of the events are the Merrie Monarch Festival is a biggest hula competition and celebrated in April, Lei Day is a lei-making competition and celebrated in May, King Kamehameha Day is state holiday with parades and celebrated in June, Aloha Festivals are celebration with parades, cultural events, canoe races and Hawaiian music and celebrated in September and the Quicksilver/Eddie Aikau Memorial Big Wave Classic celebrated in December.Hawaii Demographics

Hawaii total population - 1,360,000
Hawaii male population - 680,000
Hawaii female population - 680,000
Hawaii White population - 25%
Hawaii Black population - 2%
Hawaii American Indian population - 1%
Hawaii Asian population - 39%
Hawaii Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population - 10%
Hawaii Other race population - 1%
Hawaii Two or more races population - 24%
Hawaii Hispanic/Latino population - 9%

 

Hawaii Education

Hawaii education system is managed by the Hawaii State Department of Education. It is only statewide public education system in the United States. The department also prepares a system wide budget for the public school system to submit to the Hawaii State Board of Education, which submits a final planned budget to the Legislature. The department is supervised by the education board and run by the superintendent of education. The Department of Education is separated into seven districts, four on Oahu and one for each of the three other counties. There is growing demand for upper division and graduate teaching from the neighbor islands which may only have a community college or education center. Public elementary, middle, and high school test marks in Hawaii are below national averages on tests authorized under the No Child Left Behind Act. Hawaii educates more students in independent organizations of secondary education than any additional state in the United States. The University of Hawaii is the major university in Hawaii. There are many private universities in Hawaii. Some of the private universities are Brigham Young University-Hawaii, Chaminade University of Honolulu, Hawaii Pacific University, Wayland Baptist University, or University of the Nations.Hawaii HistoryBefore 300AD Hawaii was feasibly used as a base for peoples with a trans-Pacific communication between Asia and the northwest coast of South America. The primary habitation held up by archaeological evidence dates to as ancient as 300 CE, expediently by Polynesian settlers from the Marquesas, supported by a second wave of voyage from Raiatea and Bora Bora in the 11th century. The first entered European contact with the islands was in 1778 by British explorer Captain James Cook, who called Hawaii the Sandwich Islands. In 1782 Kamehameha I was the ruler of the Big Island of Hawaii. In 1819 Kamehameha II takes control of Hawaii. The Kingdom of Hawaii was monarch from 1810 till 1893 when the sovereign was beaten by resident American businessmen. In 1820 enter two new teams Hawaii the Congregationalist missionaries of the Calvinist ideology and New England whalers. Kamehameha III declares the First Constitution which consit of freedom of worship. Hawaiian capital is changed from Lahaina to Honolulu in 1845. 1868 saw the first Japanese liability workers arrive in Hawaii. In 1879 the first Portuguese land. In 1900 Hawaii became U.S territory. In 1941 Hawaii was the objective of a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by Imperial Japan. The human history of Hawaii includes aspect of first Polynesian settlement, unification, British arrival, Euro-American and Asian immigrators, the depose of the Hawaiian monarchy, a brief period as the Republic of Hawaii, and admission to the United States as Hawaii Territory and then as the state of Hawaii. Hawaii is a 1,523-mile chain of islets and eight main islands-Hawaii, Maui, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai, and Niihau, 2,397 miles west-southwest of San Francisco. “The Merry Monarch” David Kalakaua was the first king in history to vacation the United States.

Hawaii Symbols

Hawaii State nickname -  Aloha State
Hawaii State bird - Nene
Hawaii State flower - Hibiscus
Hawaii State tree - kukui
Hawaii State Fish - The Reef triggerfish
Hawaii State motto - "Ua mau ke ea o ka aina I ka pono" - The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness
Hawaii State song -  Hawaii Ponoi 
Hawaii State mammal - Monk Seal

Hawaii Flag

image of Hawaii flag

 

Hawaii Tourism

Most of the popular tourist attractions in all of the islands are located on Hawaii Island’s southeastern regions of Kau and Puna. Hawaii is the name of different islands and is among the numerous Pacific Islands in the Pacific Ocean. In summer months the outside visitors are visited. The Hawaii tourism based economy and the genuine aloha spirit assures that tourism is held seriously in the Hawaiian Islands. Hawaii tourism contains world class lodging and accommodations, couture shopping for the latest runway trends, upscale fine dining and an array of things to do in Hawaii and tours at various magnificent locales on the islands sure to impress any world traveler. Hawaii with a bustling downtown, fine art galleries, upscale dining, Honolulu offers travelers urban culture in a tropical setting, world class entertainment and a thriving nightlife, with rural, unspoiled. Hawaii has significant tourism attractions are Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Hawaii and Lanai.Hawaii Taxes

Hawaii State Tax Rate Range Low 1.4% High 11.00%
Hawaii State Tax Income Brackets Lowest flat rate 2,400 - Highest flat rate 200,001
Hawaii State Personal Exemptions Single 1,040 -  Married 2,080 -  Dependents - 1,040

Hawaii Transportation

Hawaii has bus, airlines, railway, boats and ferries transportation system. A Hawaii of state highways comprises each main island. Only Oahu has national highways and it is the only area outside the bordering 48 states to have signed Interstate highways. Travel can be slow due to narrow turning roads and every major island has a public bus system. The major air port is Honolulu International Airport, is the piloting hub of Hawaii, with transnational services to North America, Asia, Australia, and Oceania. In Hawaii some more airlines are there they are Hawaiian Airlines, Mokulele Airlines, Island Air and Pacific Wings. Private steamships and ferries were traveling between the islands from the 19th century till the 1950s. The Hawaii Super ferry maintained between Oahu and Maui between December 2007 and March 2009. Hawaii had a network of railroads on every larger island that helped move farm commodities as well as passengers. In World War II play important role moving troops and goods of OR&L, the mainline was abandoned in 1947.


Hawaii Universities and Colleges

University of Hawaii at Hilo, Hilo, Hawaii, USA - 3,900 Students
University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu CDP, HI, USA - 20,000 Students
University of Hawaii - West Oahu, Pearl City, Hawaii, USA - 1,000 students
Brigham Young University-Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA - 2,000 students
Chaminade University of Honolulu, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA - 4,000 students
Hawaii Pacific University, Hawaii, USA - 9,000 students

Hawaii Tourist Attractions

Pele's Cursed Tourist Rocks
Polynesian Cultural Center
Hawaii FiveO Jack Lord Bust
Hawaiian Trading Post
Tsunami Clock of Doom
Puuhonua - Place of Refuge
King Kamehameha the Great

Hawaii Museums

Anna Ranch
Astronaut Ellison S Onizuka Space Center
East Hawaii Cultural Center
Greenwell Store
Jaggar Museum
Isaacs Art Center Museum and Gallery
Kona Coffee Living History Farm
Laupahoehoe Train Museum
Lyman House Memorial Museum
Mokupapapa Discovery Center
Nani Mau Gardens
Onizuka Center for International Astronomy
Pacific Tsunami Museum
Parker Ranch
Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site

Hawaii Parks

Akaka Falls State Park
Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area
Kalopa State Recreation Area
Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park
Kohala Historical Sites State Monument
Kona Coast (Kekaha Kai) State Park
Lapakahi State Historical Park
Lava Tree State Monument
MacKenzie State Recreation Area
Manuka State Wayside
Mauna Kea State Recreation Area
Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area
Wailoa River State Recreation Area
Wailuku River State Park

Hawaii Religions

Hawaii Percent Religious population is 34%
Hawaii Catholic population is 19%
Hawaii LDS population is 4%
Hawaii Baptist population is 2%
Hawaii Episcopalian population is 1%
Hawaii Pentecostal population is 4%
Hawaii Lutheran population is 1%
Hawaii Methodist population is 1%
Hawaii Presbyterian population is 1%
Hawaii Other Christian population is 5%
Hawaii Jewish population is 1%
Hawaii Eastern population is 0%
Hawaii Islam population is 1%

Hawaii Government

The Hawaii is an Island 3,300 kilometers long and the broad arc in the mid-Pacific. The Hawaii Island at 8,150 square kilometers encompasses approximately two-thirds of the state’s total area, and it is referred to as simply the Big Island. Honolulu is the state capital of Hawaii is 3,850 kilometers west of San Francisco, California, 6,500 kilometers east of Tokyo, Japan, and nearly 7,300 kilometers northeast of the Australian coast. Hawaii total area is 10,932 square miles and 4,508 square miles of water. Kingman Reef and Palmyra atoll are the boundaries of Hawaii. Hawaii’s Big Island features hardly lava landscapes as well as Kilauea Volcano, erupting to this day at Hawaii. Hawaii is the 43rd largest state. Hawaii’s climate is ideal for the tropics, despite temperatures and wet. Mount Waialeale, on Kauai, has the second highest rainfall on Earth, around 460 inches. Hawaii has mainly two seasons they are bare season from May to October and humid season from October to April.Hawaii EconomyThe Hawaii economy is depending on tourism, agriculture and industries. The history of Hawaii can be followed regular a succession of dominant industries they are sandalwood, whaling, sugarcane, pineapple, military, tourism, and education. In Hawaii tourism has been the largest industry. Hawaiian exports bear food and apparel. Food exports are coffee macadamia nuts, livestock, pineapple, and sugarcane. Hawaii has a moderately high state tax burden. Hawaii citizens had the highest state tax per capita because education, health care and social services are provided by the state. Hawaii was one of the states to control gasoline prices into a Gas Cap Law.Hawaii GeographyThe Hawaii Government is decided by its constitution, and it emulates a general republic model where the government is separated into three branches they are legislative, executive, and judiciary. In Hawaii the legislative branch for Hawaii is formed of 25 senators and 51 representatives across the various districts. The head of the Hawaii is the Governor it is running mate of a Lieutenant Governor and both are the only statewide elected officials in Hawaii. The Lieutenant Governor is also investigated the Secretary of State of Hawaii. The Hawaiian Government, the Governor has the power to select officials for the 20 departments set by the constitution. The Hawaiian Constitution states the Hawaii have one Supreme Court, circuit courts, an appellate court, and district courts. The Local governments of Hawaii are spilt into four counties, although these could also act as municipalities at the same time. The budget for each city council is minor representatives and the nearly made by the local senate for each location.

Hawaii Information Sources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawaii
http://media.gohawaii.com/statewide/hawaii-information
http://www.onlineatlas.us/hi.htm
http://www.hawaii.edu/henc/page3.html
http://sunshinereview.org/index.php/Hawaii_school_system
http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/us/A0858561.html
http://countrystudies.us/united-states/geography-23.htm
http://geography.howstuffworks.com/united-states/geography-of-hawaii.htm
http://www.hawaiianair.com/hawaii-tourism/
http://www.city-data.com/states/Hawaii-Economy.html
http://www.waimea.com/government.html
http://www.hawaiian-roots.com/hawaiihistory.htm
http://www.deephawaii.com/hawaiianhistory.htm
http://hawaii-inns.com/history/index.htm
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/usa/hawaii/history
http://www.pacificislandtravel.com/hawaii/about_destin/culture.html
http://www.hawaii-guide.com/content/posts/hawaii_culture_and_hawaii_heritage
http://www.hawaiihistory.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=ig.page&CategoryID=305

 

 

 

Summer In Cyprus

 

For those seeking the splendour of the Mediterranean at its peak, summer is an ideal season to visit Cyprus.
From May to mid-October, in Paphos, temperatures are at a steady high, the sky is a cloudless azure blue and, when the heat gets too much, the sea is a stone’s throw away for a refreshing dip. It’s also the ideal season for a range of water sports activities such as scuba diving and sailing.
The early part of the day is perfect for exploring the exceptional local archaeological remains, including the Temple of Aphrodite, where the goddess of love was worshipped.
During the summer, visitors must get into the habit of wearing sunscreen and protective head-wear.
April and May bring in early summer when days are comfortably warm but the evenings are cool. Light daytime clothing and long sleeved cotton or thin woolies are recommended for this part of the season. Especially in April, the countryside is in bloom with wild flowers making it an ideal time for nature-walking.
June, July and August mark the height of summer when temperatures soar and the beaches are at their busiest. There is a selection of tourist and less well known beaches to enjoy in Paphos. The Cyprus Tourist Organisation can advise visitors on where it is safe to swim.
A day-tip to the Troodos villages in the mountains provide an opportunity for traditional dining, visits to UNESCO churches and welcoming cooler climes.

Climate
April
Day Temperature High: 22C
Night Temperature Low: 12C
Sea Temperature: 20C
Hours of Daily Sunshine: 9
Humidity: 67%
Days of Rain: 3
May
Day Temperature High: 26C
Night Temperature Low: 16C
Sea Temperature: 21C
Hours of Daily Sunshine: 10
Humidity: 68%
Days of Rain: 3
June
Day Temperature High: 30C
Night Temperature Low: 18C
Sea Temperature: 24C
Hours of Daily Sunshine: 12
Humidity: 64%
Days of Rain: 1
July
Day Temperature High: 32C
Night Temperature Low: 21C
Sea Temperature: 26C
Hours of Daily Sunshine: 12
Humidity: 60%
Days of Rain: 1
August
Day Temperature High: 33C
Night Temperature Low: 22C
Sea Temperature: 27C
Hours of Daily Sunshine: 12
Humidity: 61%
Days of Rain: 1
September
Day Temperature High: 31C
Night Temperature Low: 20C
Sea Temperature: 26C
Hours of Daily Sunshine: 11
Humidity: 59%
Days of Rain: 10
October
Day Temperature High: 27C
Night Temperature Low: 16C
Sea Temperature: 24C
Hours of Daily Sunshine: 9
Humidity: 64%
Days of Rain: 3

Original Story

 

The World’s Most Dreamy Beaches

Professional photographers know that when taking shots of beaches, there are some important rules and guidelines to follow, such as: looking for a focal point, not disconsidering the horizon, the importance of timing, the UV filters and many others. That’s why in today’s showcase we have decided to present 50 of the most beautiful photographs of shores, as a result of following such rules and applying the knowledge in this type of art.

Be amazed and impressed, dream far away at the sunny places and relaxing sounds of the tide and waves! Some of the most famous vacation destinations by the sea and ocean can be admired in this post: Hawaii, Bora Bora, Ibiza, Seychelles.

What we have learned, though, is that not only a beautiful shore can make a stunning photo. A talented and patient photographer csn turn the most dull beach into a breath taking landscape. There’s proof of that too, just look below, through the whole showcase!

Hanalei Mist – Kauai, Hawaii

Hanalei Mist - Kauai, Hawaii
author: Patrick Smith

Pearl Beach Resort Bora Bora

Birds

Beautiful Beach

Beautiful Beach
author: RAIS1

Beach

Beach
author: atoes

Sunset Beach Resort Seychelles

Indigo and Aqua

Indigo and Aqua
author: Dan Cabral

Sta Rita Island Beach Resort

Sta Rita Island Beach Resort
author: Lenareh

Anantara Dhigu Maldives

Anantara Dhigu Maldives
author: The Maldives

Aerial View of Riomaggiore

Waiting

Waiting
author: Terrance Lam

Boracay

Boracay
author: Daniel Go

Pigeons on the Beach

Pigeons on the Beach
author: Dexter Baldon

Six Palms

Jolly Beach Resort Antigua

Jolly Beach Resort Antigua
author: David Pollitt

Bentota Beach Hotel Sri Lanka

Beach Resort

Bali Resort

Bali Resort
author: alexhepburn

Coral Garden

***

Truly Maldives

Truly Maldives
author: Smokegreen

Komandoo Island, Maldives

Komandoo Island, Maldives
author: Tibor Mester

Paradise @ Sancho

Barbados Beach

Barbados Beach
author: p0p0c4t3p3t3l

Paradise

Paradise
author: André Landin

Tallows Beach, Byron Bay

Tallows Beach, Byron Bay
author: Kim Fong

Bora Bora – Tahiti

Bora Bora - Tahiti
author: Nanah66

Tahiti

Pearl Resort, Moorea, Tahiti

Pearl Resort, Moorea, Tahiti
author: Mark Watts

November-Daydream

November-Daydream
author: Klaus Wiese

Seychelles Islands

Seychelles Islands
author: Nanah66

The Emerald

The Emerald
author: Nanah66

Imbricated Turtle in Desroches Island

Intendance

Intendance
author: Viktoria-a

The Beach

The Beach
author: Viktoria-a

Baie Lazare

Baie Lazare
author: Viktoria-a

Four Rocks

Four Rocks
author: Juan F Ribas

Somewhere at Ibiza

Ibiza’s Spring

Ibiza Spring
author: eswendel

Whitehaven Beach 1

Whitehaven Beach 1
author: jdurbin

Purity

Purity
author: Jason Round

Whitehaven Beach

The Recipe

The Recipe
author: Jeff Jacobson

Tulum Dream

Tulum Dream
author: joseluisrg

Fraser Island

Fraser Island
author: Mike Hince

Datai Beach

Datai Beach
author: Jansen Tang

Haena Surf – Kauai

Haena Surf - Kauai
author: Patrick Smith

Napali Coast

Napali Coast
author: Dain Blair

Maya Bay – Koh Phi Phi

Sunset at Turimetta Beach

Sunset at Turimetta Beach
author: yury
Author: Giulia

Where to Go this Summer

Posted by Fodor’s Guest Blogger on June 18, 2012 at 4:25:01 PM EDT

By Blane Bachelor

Along with backyard barbeques and baseball games, summertime is synonymous with wanderlust. And since this breezy season officially begins on June 20th, here are our picks guaranteed to make for a brag-worthy getaway in some of the latest travel hotspots, from Fourth of July celebrations in Philadelphia, the Birthplace of America, to spectacular shopping deals in St. Barts to a flurry of festivals in Montreal.

1_boston.jpg

Boston

Why Go Now: 2012 is a big year in Boston, particularly for baseball fans, history buffs, and art aficionados. Two iconic structures are marking their 100th anniversaries: Fenway Park, the grand dame of baseball diamonds, and the majestic Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, which will host celebratory events throughout the summer. Then, artsy types will swoon over the recently unveiled Renzo Piano-designed new glass wing of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

On the history front, the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, along with the Star Spangled Banner Celebration, coincide with the always-popular Boston Harborfest during the week of July 4. And no matter which end of the political spectrum you fall on, the new Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, which opens on June 26, is a captivating blend of history and technology. Unwind all season long with the Summer on the Waterfront series, featuring live music and historic and cultural attractions.

Where to Stay: Boston’s newest lodging is The Revere Hotel, named for the city’s most famous patriot (rooms from $258). It’s a brilliant blend of historic flavor and modern-day style, with a balcony for all of its 356 rooms (just refrain from shouting “The British are coming!”). For luxury, the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, which turns 100 on August 19, can’t be beat. Price-wise, neither can its Celebration of a Century package, starting at $100/person for lodging for two.

Where to Eat: Wood-fired ovens are the inspiration at Area Four, producing divine puffed crust pizzas and roasted veggie dishes that are alone worth the trip to Cambridge. Tap into the city’s tacos and tequila explosion at Tico, a lively Nuevo Mexican hotspot in Back Bay that serves up tasty lobster-avocado tacos, ceviche, and margaritas.

2_bordeaux.jpg

Bordeaux

Why Go Now: Bordeaux may be best known for its world-famous wines, but it’s also an under-the-radar destination for arts and culture, making it a magnifique choice for an upscale summer getaway. Oenophiles should mark their calendars for the famed Bordeaux Wine Festival, with nearly 80 appellations represented along a mile-long stretch of tastings (June 28-July 1), while art fiends can opt for a river cruise to UNESCO World Heritage sites or a visit to the prestigious National Opera of Bordeaux. Foodies will find their fill of culinary delights at the Les Epicuriales festival (June 14-July 1), which features about 30 top restaurateurs in the Allées de Tourny, or Golden Triangle, as well as cooking and tasting workshops in a festive atmosphere.

Where to Stay: The elegant Regent Grand Bordeaux, the masterpiece of famed French designer Jacques Garcia that opened in 2006, has added another luxe extra to its already-impressive amenity list: wine concierges. These grape gurus take the guesswork out of tasting logistics by setting up personalized tours and appointments at prestigious chateaux in the Bordeaux region and tracking down rare bottles.

Where to Eat: The Regent Bordeaux’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Pressoir d’Argent, is named after a coveted piece of culinary equipment, “The Silver Press”—a silver lobster press that’s one of a handful in the world. Order one of the lobster dishes from a quintessentially French menu, and you can see it in action. In town, locals are flocking to Solena, run by a French chef and his expat American wife for whom the restaurant is named. The farm-to-table French bistro serves an inventive prix-fixe menu focused on fresh, regional fare–recent items have included foie gras with sweet corn and a bone-in ribeye for two—complemented by a Bordeaux-centric wine list.

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Montreal

Why Go Now: Summer or not, Montreal has never been hotter, with a growing culinary status, exploding arts scene, and a terrific tradition of festivals–which, let’s face it, are way more appealing when the city isn’t blanketed in snow. From July to August, the head-spinning Montreal Festimania takes over with 11 overlapping festivals, from the 30th annual Just for Laughs Comedy Festival (Joel McHale and Howie Mandel are among the top names this year) to the Festival Mode & Design, a mashup of fashion shows, cutting-edge design exhibits, and, of course, chic parties galore.

Other noteworthy festivals: Festival International Montreal en Arts, or FIMA, an outdoor art extravaganza on the BoulevArt, a one-kilometer stretch of the car-free-for-the-summer Sainte-Catherine Street, and the Montreal International Jazz Festival (June 28-July 7, 2012), whose spectacular lineup of 650-plus shows (including 370 free outdoor concerts) includes everyone from James Taylor to Esperanza Spalding to Norah Jones. Finally, to enjoy one of summer’s simple pleasures Montreal-style, grab a set of wheels in the city’s acclaimed BIXI Bike rental program (day rentals, $7) for a carefree cruise.

Where to Stay: Recently re-opened after an extensive renovation, the Ritz-Carlton Montreal (rooms from $425), the first hotel in the world to bear the Ritz-Carlton name, boasts plenty of reasons besides its Aug. 31 centennial to celebrate: 130 elegantly redesigned rooms and suites, a new indoor saltwater pool and an exquisite lobby.

Where to Eat: BEVO Pizza, a fresh new bar and pizzeria in Montreal’s Old City, has earned rave reviews for its simple, well-executed pastas and wood-fired pizzas, accompanied by a cocktail list that puts a creative spin on the basics: prosecco sangria, for example, and a limoncello drop. Another trendy newcomer, Hambar Resto, co-owned by Phillipe Poitras, one of Montreal’s top sommeliers, serves up an extensive menu of charcuterie-inspired dishes and an excellent wine list in a chic, although sometimes noisy, setting in the St. Paul Hotel.

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Panama

Why Go Now: Panama, one of our 21 Places to Go in 2012, has firmly planted itself on the map for in-the-know travelers. It’s no surprise why: cutting edge culture, adventure offerings galore, and inimitable Latin flavor, all at affordable prices. Experience it all by making Panama City your home base, which offers the best vantage point for exploring the city’s revitalized Casco Viejo (or Old Town (though the Spanish translation literally means “old shell”), and easy access to adventure-based day trips such as biking through the rainforest.

In addition to the ongoing expansion of the Panama Canal (its capacity will be tripled by 2014), another much-anticipated arrival to Panama is the Frank Gehry-designed Biodiversity Museum: Panama Bridge to Life, a spectacular tribute to both Gehry’s genius and the remarkable biodiversity of the region.

Insider Tip: Cap off your summer with a trip in August, as July is the rainy month in Central America.

Where to Stay: Panama City’s newest boutique offering, the Tantalo Hotel (rooms from $160), offers a breath of fresh, art-inspired air into the Old Town. With 13 rooms featuring the creations of 13 different artists, a stay here is like immersion into a hip museum. For a more glamorous experience, check out the 1,500-room Hard Rock Hotel Panama (rooms from $159), the Westin Playa Bonita (rooms from $185)with views of the Panama Canal, or the Trump Ocean Club (rooms from $175), a soaring, 70-story building that’s the tallest in Latin America and resembles a soaring sail.

Where to Eat: Tuck into simple, flavorful Pan-Asian favorites like spicy pork edamame, pad Thai, and shrimp curry at Elephant Grill, a local joint recently opened by one of Panama City’s most successful restaurateurs (reservations are recommended; no website; the restaurant is located on Calle Uruguay).

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Philadelphia

Why Go Now: The City of Brotherly Love is a destination that travelers, especially history and art buffs, are sure to love this summer, with a bevy of art events and 4th of July celebrations (annual favorite Let Freedom Ring brings together descendants of the signers of the Declaration of Independence to ceremonially tap the Liberty Bell). Creating plenty of buzz in art circles and beyond is the reopening of the world-renowned Barnes Foundation in a 93,000-square-foot architectural marvel that houses one of the world’s largest collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and early Modern paintings.

More world-class creations beckon at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (“Visions of Arcadia” runs from June 20 to Sept. 3). A must-do item for any itinerary: Taking a peek at history’s oldest surviving biblical texts as part of the fascinating Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times exhibit at the Franklin Institute (through Oct. 14). And, for a perfectly patriotic cap-off, the The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen (through Sept. 3) provides visitors a rare look at 150+ artifacts from the career of this American music legend, including Fender Esquire guitar from the cover of Born to Run and numerous lyrics, handwritten by The Boss himself.

Where to Stay: Revel in both history and luxury at the Hotel Latham, a 139-room boutique property housed in a century-old former upscale apartment building (also on the National Register of Historic Places) that unveiled a multi-million renovation this spring. Expect sophisticated but welcoming décor, friendly service, and thoughtful extras like complimentary (though first-come, first serve) chauffeur service in an Audi A8 luxury sedan.

Where to Eat: A welcome new addition to bar-studded 18th Street is the Rittenhouse Tavern, housed in a 1906 mansion and part of the Philadelphia Art Alliance. Grab a table on the charming patio and order some bistro-style small plates and a hand-crafted cocktail (the gin-based Betsy Ross, perhaps). Over the summer, the tavern hosts Firkin Fridays, when it taps casks of ale and offers specially priced dishes. For creative comfort food–think cheese steak pot pie and white chocolate habanero chicken wings–in a cozy, ages-old vibe, check out the Square Peg, housed in a building that dates back to the 1790s.

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Sicily

Why Go Now: While this spectacular island has long been a holiday favorite for European jetsetters, it still remains under the radar for many foreign tourists. Get in on the secret during the dry summer months, lounging on sun-drenched beaches and savoring languorous seafood lunches by day and strolling the enchanting village streets by night, all against the majestic backdrop of Mount Etna (a still-active volcano!) and the Mediterranean and Ionian seas. While Palermo, the Sicilian capital in the northwest corner of the island, deserves a visit, in-the-know Italians opt for Taormina in the northeast, as our recent Insider’s Guide uncovers. From July to August, the city’s annual Summer Arts Festival takes center stage with music, dance, and opera, and this year’s lineup is studded with stars including Sting and Ben Harper. An idyllic day trip is the Egadi Islands, a blissfully secluded aquamarine paradise about a 40-minute ferry ride from Sicily.

Where to Stay: The Ashbee, a chic, spacious boutique property perched in a historic mansion on a cliff facing the Ionian Sea, is decidedly the latest it-spot for travelers, with whitewashed décor, an infinity pool, and exquisite gardens (rooms from around $340). About 15 minutes from Taormina’s town center, Villa Ducale is a longtime favorite (rooms from around $340), with cheerful, Mediterranean décor, balconies in every room, and gracious service.

Where to Eat: Spend a warm summer evening on the terrace of Al Duomo, a classic Taormina trattoria that serves traditional favorites from East Sicily (braised lamb stew, mashed beans, and seafood fresh from the sea) in a relaxed, friendly setting.

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St. Barts

Why Go Now: Forget the sky-high prices and crowds of celebrities and their overstuffed entourages during winter’s high season, and opt for a swanky summer escape to this glam Caribbean paradise. Savvy fashionistas head to St. Barts in June, July, and August to snap up massive sales on breezy, boho-inspired beachwear and jewelry from some of the world’s top designers, including Calpyso, a beloved New York City brand that originated here. From Aug. 6-18, bargains flourish in the shopping haven of Gustavia. Francophiles will also delight in island-wide Bastille Day celebrations on July 14.

Where to Stay: Pamper shopping-weary feet at the ridiculously elegant Hotel Guanahani and Spa, which has a “Run of the House Room” special through July 15 (370 Euros includes single or double occupancy, breakfast and round trip transfers). Nestled in an upscale residential area, The Hotel Christopher beckons with a more low-key vibe without sacrificing sophistication or glamour. The recently refurbished property features well-appointed bungalows and modern décor (rooms from $412).

Where to Eat: Fitting for such a star-studded destination, celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten has brought his culinary pedigree to the restaurants at it-hotel Eden Rock. Savor a rosé-soaked lunch inspired by Vongerichten’s beloved ABC Kitchen at daytime hotspot Sand Bar, located right on the beach; by night, the chef’s vibrant Asian street-food flavors take center stage at On the Rocks.

Photo Credits: Boston: Bostonvia Shutterstock.com; Bordeaux: Bordeax countrysidevia Shutterstock.com; Montreal: Montreal via Shutterstock.com; Panama: Panama City via Shutterstock.com; Philadelphia: SeanPavonePhoto / Shutterstock.com; Sicily: Taorminavia Shutterstock.com; St. Barths: St. Barthsvia Shutterstock.com

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.

#2

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.

#3

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.

#4

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.

#5

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.

#6

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.

#7

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.

#8

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.

#9

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.

#10

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.

#11

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.

#12

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.

#13

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.

#14

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.

#15

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.

#16

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.

#17

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.

#18

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.

#19

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.

#20

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.

#21

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.

#22

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.

#23

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.

#24

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.

#25

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…
Beijing

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.

Sydney

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.

US NEWS

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

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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; thetrainline.com).

Getting around

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


Original Article By: Matt Bolton Lonely Planet

 

 

Experience The Life Of The Rich And Famous In An All-Inclusive Resort

When you are on holiday, you’ve some pretty essential things to consider. Should I have the grilled octopus for lunch, or perhaps the fried squids? Go snorkeling first, or play beach volleyball? Wake up early to look at the sunrise on the beach, or don’t bother going to sleep at all? Of all of the stuff you need to take into consideration on holiday, the main thing you should not have to worry about is the budget.

The majority of us are never able to live our lives like the wealthy and famous do, taking luxurious holidays and investing huge amounts of money on the very best of everything. The all inclusive resorts, however, allow us to experience a somewhat similar lifestyle, at least for a short while.

To be certain, budgets really are a fact of life. So, does having a financial limit mean always controlling all your needs, simply because there is no room for them within your budget? Absolutely not. When you are on holiday, you should be spoiled. You’ve labored hard for so long, and you’ve gained the right to have some excellent food, a few expensive drinks and simply have a great time.

All-inclusive beach resort holidays make it easy for travelers to get the most bang for their buck. Today you will find over four hundred resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean alone offering all-inclusive travel packages for people looking for budget-friendly holiday opportunities.

Having said that, all-inclusive holidays aren’t always as trouble-free as they may appear. You have to thoroughly compare available resorts before finally selecting your holiday destination.

Comparing and researching the available offers will lead you to the conclusion that the packages, lodging and resorts themselves can differ to a great extent. Some hotels offer packages that are designed for couples only. Others introduce offers for singles, gay couples, or families. Many beach resorts are meant for grown ups only, so be cautious if you are planning a vacation with your little ones.

Besides the resorts as such, travel packages can differ when it comes to what they offer. Regrettably, not everyone’s understanding of “all-inclusive” is identical. Some include airfare and hotel. Others cover airfare, hotel, transfers, plus some foods. You will find resort holidays which are all-inclusive, except for airfare. Some beach resorts include all alcoholic drinks, as long as they are not premium brands, or offered before 7 pm or after 12 am. Make a price comparison while doing your research, and you will surely find ways to save cash. Including airfare in your all-inclusive package could cost less than booking a flight and having to pay for it on your own, and could save you some energy that scheduling your vacation undoubtedly requires.

If you wish to find a very good deal, it is best to first identify what you would like and need in order to have a great vacation. When you realize the characteristics and amenities you are expecting, you can start to examine all of the holiday offers you will find. Travel agencies and also the Internet are efficient ways to find many resorts and packages to check out.

The most significant benefit of booking an exciting-inclusive beach resort vacation is getting all you need for a one-time expenditure. Being aware of this, you will able to relax and revel in your vacations knowing there will not be any unpleasant surprises waiting at the destination. Your finances will remain intact, and the only thing you’ll have to make up your mind about will be the choice between an exotic drink or a cold beer.

By: Stan Rich

“Stan is an online entrepreneur and rock guitar player. He enjoys traveling the world together with his wife, two children and… four cats. He’s also the webmaster of Best All Inclusive Resorts.”

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:

BBC NEWS

 



WORLD MAP OF HAPPINESS
Happiness map
HOW THE NATIONS RANKED ON HAPPINESS
1st – Denmark
2nd – Switzerland
3rd – Austria
4th – Iceland
5th – The Bahamas
23rd – USA
41st – UK
90th – Japan
178th – Burundi

 

Hokkaido-Japan

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Attractions in Hokkaido, Japan

Hokkaido 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.

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.

 

 

Hakodate

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.

 

 

 

 

Asahikawa

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

 

 

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

 

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 Japan-guide.com

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Jordan

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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 http://www.capturejordan.com/SearchViewPhoto.aspx?UserPhotosId=2446&txtSearch=amir%20abuhouran

Ireland

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.

Culture

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.

Shopping

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.

Spain

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).

Culture

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.

Shopping

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.

Electricity

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.


Greece

Visit Greece

Being one of the earliest civilizations known to human kind Greece is a country with rich history, heritage and culture. It is the place where Byzantine Empire once ruled and also great Ottoman Empire. It is also considered to be as the birth place of Democracy. Athens is the capital city of Greece. The Olympic games originated in Greece. Not only that, it was the world center for western philosophy, political science, astronomy, mathematics, major scientific studies and what not. It is also known as a Mediterranean country as it has Mediterranean Sea in the south. It is a popular destination for world tourists in that region known for its beautiful beaches, reach history and charming villages. The Greek islands are one of the most wonderful places to be explored by Cruise or Yacht. The trip of Greece will definitely be one of the most memorable to remember in one’s life.

Population & Languages

The population of Greece is around 11 million and the official language being spoken is Greek. The other popular languages are English and French.

Electricity

The voltage is 220 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. The types of plug used are round pin with attachment, round pin with ground, Round pin plug and receptacle with male grounding pin and “Schuko” plug and receptacle with side grounding contacts.

Geographic Location

It is located in Southern Europe bordering the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea and the Mediterranean Sea between Albania and Turkey. It is situated in the southern side of Balkan Peninsula. It is also bordered by Bulgaria and Macedonia in the southeast.

Climate

It has three distinct climates namely Alpine, Mediterranean and temperate climate with mild and wet winters and also hot and dry summers due to Mediterranean affect. Alpine system is seen in mountainous regions. The temperate climate is seen near border along Macedonia. Athens has both temperate and Mediterranean weather.

Customs

The Greece is a place with strong historic and cultural background. There are different traditions and customs in different parts of the Greece. The throwing back of a hand is considered to be a negative gesture here in Greece. Casual dress can be worn most of the times. Smoking is prohibited in public transport services and public buildings. Tipping 12 to 1 percent is customary in restaurants, hotels and taxis.

Attractions

* The Olympic Games in Athens (the spot of the historic 2004 Olympic Games)
* Mardi Grass Celebrations in February
* The Parthenon in Athens
* Skiing in Arahova Mountains between October and March
* Easter Celebrations
* Thessaloniki’s White Tower and country’s rich Byzantine culture
* The south of Corinth
* The beaches in Lesvos
* The wine vineyards in the countryside
* The islands near the Aegean Sea
* The wildlife preserve in Alonissos (Sporades Marine Park)
* The famous, Moni Panagia Chozoviotissa, a Byzantine monastery in Amorgos

Travel

By Air – The national airline of Greece is Olympic Airlines. Many popular airlines like British Airways and Delta Airlines operate daily flight from Athens. The biggest airport is newly constructed Athens International Airport which is located like 17 miles northeast of the city. The other international airports of Greece are Heraklion (Crete), Thessaloniki (Macedonia) and Corfu (Kerkira).

By Sea – The popular Greek ports include Corfu, Heraklion, Igoumenitsa, Patras, Piraeus (Athens), Rhodes, Thessaloniki and Volos. Shipping vessels and ferryboat lines link these ports with Italy, Croatia, Cyprus, Russia and Turkey. Some of the popular cruises operating in Greece are Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Festival Cruises, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Silversea and Swan Hellenic.

By Rail – If one is coming from UK, the best way is to take Eurostar train to Brussels or Paris and from there take connecting train to Greece.

Ski Megeve in the Heart of the French Alps

Ski- Megeve, France and discover its Chic and Charm!

I am one of those who never know the direction of my journey until I have almost arrived………
I spent 3months in Megeve, France taking French Language and Ski lessons, I just adore Megeve!!
Megeve is made up of a well linked collection of resorts; St Gervais, Jaillet, Combloux, Cote 2000, Rochebrune, Mont D’arbois, and Mont Joly. These are all lift connected ski areas, the lift passes allow skiers to ski Les Contamines too but this is a drive. The ski areas setup is beginner-intermediate friendly and has plenty of terrain for this, but the thing is there are great selections of terrain to move way past this level to cater to the expert skier too. Easliy accessible backcountry terrain and a great area (Mont Joly) for free ride and steeps 35-50 degree pitches. Not to mention the women’s world cup downhill course at cote 2000, which is a must, plus through a short backcountry ski route you can get into the heart of the Les contamines ski area, “you need a professional to take you on this one”

Megeve has so much to offer. It beats the Killy range, Porte du soleil, and the 3 valleys.
Michelin Guide rated restaurants, high-end shopping stores, casinos, and quaint narrow cobbled streets. The village is dominated by the traditional church belfry, and a square all in a pedestrian friendly atmosphere. Horse drawn sleighs carry tourists all over during the peak periods adding a festive and memorable experience for young and old.

There is plenty to do off the pistes. A sports center with an indoor pool, indoor and outdoor ice skating ring and curling rink, climbing wall, indoor tennis courts, table tennis, weights gym, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room. Scenic flights over Mt, Blanc, hot air ballooning, dog sledging and snow shoeing excursions, cross country skiing areas and a bowling alley. There are also numerous events such as FIS ski racing fixtures, winter polo, and winter golf cup, ball room dancing competitions, International ice hockey competitions and music festivals. There are numerous Michelin star restaurants in town and on the mountain but be prepared to pay for the privilege of being in the most entertaining and exclusive resort in the French Alps!
Also Genève, Switzerland is only 33 miles to Megeve, it is great for shopping and night clubs or if you like Milan is only 126 miles away from Megeve, not to forget the high-end shopping stores in Megeve.

Now down to the snowfall:
With the regard to the resort’s altitude and the snow fall; most of the terrain is around the 1800-2000m mark with slopes for all levels (1 week skier to expert) the skiing base station starts at 1600m and the highest point is 2380m (plenty of steeps and free ride terrain up here). Megeve has always benefited from an above average snow record for its altitude range thanks to the microclimate resulting from the proximity of Mont Blanc. Sufficient snow cover is always expected from Christmas until mid-April. Megeve also benefits from tree line skiing which provides good shelter and visibility on bad weather days so it has the luxury of always having somewhere good to ski. And a few lesser known facts that work in favor of Megeve are; because it is a lower resort the terrain underneath the snow is generally grass land and tussock as opposed to a rocky topography, this means that it takes very little snow coverage to open up all areas and keep them open! Not to mention when the winds pick up the windward slopes that get scoured will still be skiable without wrecking skis on rocks! Megeve is always open until the very last scheduled week.

What a place to ski!!!


What better way to ensure a white Christmas than to treat the family to a Magical Christmas in the enchanting resort of Megeve., Spend Christmas day skiing, sledging or having a snowball fight with the kids, listen to the children carol singing in the village, watch Father Christmas passing through on his sledge and ski Instructors skiing into the village by torchlight.

Paris in Spring

Paris in spring:

Paris is popular year-round, as mentioned in my post “Paris the City of Love”, there is a low season as far as prices goes. In November you will find a lot of good bargains in Hotels and flights, you will find special discount on almost everything. So you’re more likely to save money on your Paris airfare by traveling in late summer and autumn.

Spring Weather in Paris

Paris in spring is a delight. After a few months of cold, and a little rain, the sight of new flowers and more consistent sunlight is always welcome – to Parisians and tourists.

canal-st-martin-spring1There is a chance of getting rain in early spring. But the average temperatures climb noticeably from February into March. The nights are still cool, so bringing warm clothes is good policy. Pay attention to current Paris weather forecasts as you’re coming up to your trip, as much of Europe has been experiencing unseasonably warm weather in the Spring in the last few years.

 

imagesGetting around Paris

France has a terrific rail network that reaches almost every part of the country. If you would prefer to navigate around Paris and France by bus, inter-regional bus services are limited but buses are used extensively for short distance travel within regions.

Having your own vehicle can be expensive and is inconvenient in city centers where parking and traffic is problematic. Renting a car is expensive if you book on the spot but pre-booked and prepaid promotional rates are reasonable.

marais-paris-shoppingThe Paris Metro or Metropolitan (French: Métro de Paris) is the rapid transit metro system in Paris. It has 16 lines, mostly underground, there are 300 stations. Since some are served by several lines, there are 384 stops in total.

Paris has one of the densest metro networks in the world, with 245 stations within 86.9 km2 of the City of Paris. Lines are numbered 1 to 14, with two minor lines, 3bis and 7bis. The minor lines were originally part of lines 3 and 7 but became independent.
Lines are identified on maps by number and color. Direction of travel is indicated by the destination terminus.

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Paris is the second busiest metro system in Europe after Moscow It carries 4.5 million passengers a day, and an annual total of 1.388 billion (2007). Chatlet-Les Halles, with 5 Metro lines and three RER commuter rail lines.
The Paris subway system is the second oldest in the world

2000047-460x686Why Paris in Spring?
I loved this poem by Sara Teasdale

Paris in Spring

Oh it’s Paris, it’s Paris,
And spring-time has begun.

I know the Bois is twinkling
In a sort of hazy sheen,
And down the Champs the gray old arch
Stands cold and still between.
But the walk is flecked with sunlight
Where the great acacias lean,
Oh it’s Paris, it’s Paris,
And the leaves are growing green.

The sun’s gone in, the sparkle’s dead,
There falls a dash of rain,
But who would care when such an air
Comes blowing up the Seine?
And still Ninette sits sewing
Beside her window-pane,
When it’s Paris, it’s Paris,
And spring-time’s come again.

Sara Teasdale

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