Normandy Beaches

Normandy Beach
Photo by: caspermoller, Creative Commons

One of the greatest battles ever to take place in the history of the world took place at Normandy beaches in France. Today it is possible to visit the location where so many people died fighting for their freedom. This location will bring to life the harrowing battle of that fateful day in June 1944 when allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, attempting to liberate France from the grip of the Nazis. D-Day refers to the first day of a military operation, hence it was deemed fitting to call the beaches by that name, bringing to mind the valiant heroes who fought to obtain freedom for their country.

There are several ways to visit the Normandy beaches. Several of the ways are to take a river cruise down the Seine from Paris or an ocean cruise porting in Le Havre or Honfleur.

For travelers wishing to experience the historic past of France, notably a first-hand view of where the Great Invasion of 1944 took place, will find other fascinating things to experience as well. It’s also a great opportunity to savor Normandy cuisine at one of the many French restaurants in the area. Also get a close look at the charming villages along the way. A scenic drive along the Normandy Coast, a museum visit, and getting a first-hand glimpse of the famed beaches in their tranquil state can all offer a beguiling experience. The journey lets the average traveler reminisce and think how it must have been for the combatants and dwellers of the area back in 1944.

The D-Day beaches themselves are a sight to behold. They are still referred to by their wartime code names — Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha and Utah. The Utah and Omaha beaches are where American forces made their landing, while Sword and Gold are where British forces landed. Other must-see spots in the area are the Mulberry Harbor and Pointe du Hoc, a cliff top location that overlooks the sea. There are not too many places where you can stumble upon unexpected scenes that hit a spot in the heart. The D-Day beaches and other memorable sights in Normandy can accomplish just that.

January 27, 2010 at 12:27 pm | 1 comment

The Budapest Castle Hill

The Budapest Castle Hill
Photo by: kyz , Creative Commons

It is a given that Europe has the most breathtaking views and places in the world. Many influential civilizations have originated on this continent, so it would be interesting to see whether they were able to preserve their own or not.

The Budapest Castle Hill is one of the most visited spots in the continent of Europe. Besides being situated in culture-rich Hungary, the Budapest Castle Hill is itself home to many landmarks that are popular all over the world because of their beauty and implication.

The most popular of the landmarks here would be the Royal palace. It is notable for its then gothic-turned-Baroque finish. The reconstruction was done when a particular event happened which eventually destroyed much of the palace. Mary Magdalene Tower is also one popular landmark because it is the only remaining Christina church that wasn’t turned into a mosque during the Turkish rule in Hungary.

The Vienna Gate, on the other hand, was the marketplace before and can be traversed even if it is kind of steep for most people. The Budapest Castle Labyrinth is an underground spot that is recommended for family viewing, since it features elements that children would like to see (some things that appear in many games that they play, such as the aura of the area.) Other areas worth visiting would be the Matthias Church, Fisherman’s Basthion, the Sculpture of a Turul Bird and the National Gallery, which are all in the vicinity of the Budapest Castle Hill.

Coffeehouses and restaurants are also available for visitors to have a taste of what Hungary or the area of Budapest has to offer to people’s appetites. Souvenir shops are also all over the metro so that visitors will have a remembrance or a keepsake of their trip to this wonderful place in Hungary.

January 27, 2010 at 1:01 am | No comment

17 Mile Drive

17 mile drive 400
Monterey Peninsula – a portion of the 17 mile drive
Photo by: Rudolf Stricker, Creative Commons

Located in the sunny side of California, 17 Mile Drive is one of the most famous places that a visitor should not fail to visit when he is in the area. It is a very long scenic route through the Pacific Grove that leads you to Pebbles Beach community. Visitors will have a great time taking pictures of the long stretch of the Pacific coastline as well as the many elegant mansions and golf courses that line the stretch of 17 Mile Drive.

The best time to take that road trip along 17 Mile Drive is during the morning when the fog usually lasts until late noon. One will love the breathtaking view the long stretch has to offer that frequent stopovers during the road trip are quite tempting to make. The incredible beaches and the golf courses, not to mention the mansions are a marvel to look at. During your drive, you will also be passing by the Del Monte Forest, which is quite awe inspiring because of the abundance of cypress trees and Monterey pines in it. There are also several villas in the forest that are available for visitors who would want to book and stay in the area for a break. Do remember to bring your camera with you and load up on the batteries and films so that you can capture all the wonderful places and things that you will be seeing while cruising along the winding road. Don’t be surprised to see seagulls, sea lions and even seals at the Seal and Bird Rocks area which you will also be passing by during your drive, as they are the frequent “visitors” of the area.

Cruising along 17 Mile Drive is something a group of travelers should take time to do as they will definitely enjoy the scenic route the whole seventeen miles has to offer. They will even get to appreciate the natural beauty of the different sites that they will be encountering during their road trip.

January 27, 2010 at 12:07 am | No comment


Wat Arun Temple in Bangkok

Bangkok is one of Southeast Asia’s most exciting and dynamic cities. The city offers tourists a wonderful mix of ancient and modern cultures. There are many scattered skyscrapers that are mixed in with traditional-styled wood houses. Tourists can also visit the Grand Palace, which is arguably the most popular sightseeing attraction in Bangkok.

Every year many visitors travel to the city to appreciate Thailand’s special cultural traditions. There are over four hundred Buddhist temples in the city, so it is not unusual to see monks wearing saffron-colored robes when they are out gathering morning alms. This city is called the “Venice of the East” because the Chao Phraya river, which runs through the city, is connected by several canals. Tourists can travel around the city by cruising the river, taking the underground subway or the elevated sky-train.

Many have called Bangkok the food capital of Asia, if not the world. This city has many wonderful restaurants and it is renowned for its street food stalls that make a variety of tasty dishes. No Thailand trip is complete unless visitors have experienced Bangkok’s vibrant nightlife. The city really comes alive in the evening and there are many venues to enjoy. Travelers are guaranteed they will experience a trip that will be not only interesting and fun, but also very memorable.

Bangkok Famous Landmarks

January 26, 2010 at 5:51 pm | 1 comment

Fasilides Castle

Fasilides Castle
Photo by: mk_b , Creative Commons

Fasilides Castle is a stunning tourist destination in Ethiopia. It is an old castle built in 17th century for the Ethiopian emperor Fasilides Alam Sagad. The castle can be found in Gondar, Amhara Region. The castle’s structure is purely made of stone. Definitely, Fasilides Castle is a representation of Ethiopia’s great history.

Ethiopian Emperor Fasilides Alam Sagad is one of the remarkable rulers in Abyssinia, the ancient name of Ethiopia. He founded the city of Gondar in 1636 which became the capital of Abyssinia, which is in the northwestern part of Ethiopia. The Gondar city during that time was one of the most significant business centers in Abyssinia. It is also home to various cultural and administrative amenities. Because of that, the city prospered and different structures were built. From time to time, castles, churches and other infrastructures were constructed. One of those is the emperor’s castle, the Fasilides Castle. It is one of the most important castles in Ethiopia. There are many other castles and old churches around the place, but the Fasilides Castle is the most remarkable because little damage has been done to it. A tourist can be amazed at how this enormous castle was built during the early times and how it battled to remain standing until the 21st century. Currently, a preservation task group is taking care of this castle as well as the other castles and churches in Gondar in order to maintain their ancient beauty.

Paying a visit at Fasilides Castle is not hard as there are also many tourists roaming around the old city. The locals here are sell souvenir items, food and refreshments, perfect if you are hungry or needing ornamental gifts to take back with you. So, if you ever visit Ethiopia, don’t forget to visit the Fasilides Castle!

January 25, 2010 at 11:27 pm | No comment

Dragon Mountain Temple

Dragon Mountain Temple
Photo by: wikipedia commons , Creative Commons

The Lungshan Temple is one of the most well known temples in the world. Located in Lukan, Taiwan, it is dedicated mainly to the divine spirits like the Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin. Its astonishing architecture will overwhelm you and the intricacies of its design will enchant you, as you travel through a portion of China’s ancient culture through entering this enigmatic portal of religious figures. Its architecture highly resembles that of the Sung Dynasty and it was constructed by the Buddhist master Chao-shan in 1963. It is the oldest Buddhist temple located in Taiwan. The Lungshan temple is also known as Taiwan’s forbidden city.

Translated in English, the Lunghshan literally means, “dragon mountain. “ It is also known as the meeting place of the gods because of the hundreds of deities being worshipped in this religious place. Everything from the pillars to the doors were given as a dedication to the goddess of Mercy-but aside from her, deities such as the sea goddess Matsu and the war god Kuan Kung are also worshipped there as well as some of their other gods.

The temple is usually visited by dedicated worshippers and curious tourists from all over the world. This worship place also holds witness to many festivals as it hosts various celebrations within the venue. They usually light up incenses in there as offerings to their gods. Paper money is usually burned to serve as bribery, to lighten the load of the souls in the other world.

The temple underwent a series of destructive devastations throughout the years. It had gone down in an 1815 earthquake and was destroyed in an 1860’s typhoon. It was also bombed in World War II. After it served as a home for squatters and government offices, it was proclaimed as a historical site.

January 25, 2010 at 8:45 pm | 4 comments

The Madaba Mosaics

The Madaba Mosaics
Photo by:
Verity Cridland
, Creative Commons

For those who are really interested in ancient art and history, the Madaba Mosaics in Jordan is simply an irresistible place to visit. The Madaba Mosaic Map is significant because it is the oldest surviving depiction of the Holy Land which includes Jerusalem that dates back to the 6th Century AD. Also in art history, the mosaic map is considered the oldest known floor mosaic of geographic significance. Because of the existence of the Mosaic Map in Madaba, the identification as well as verification of many biblical sites was facilitated.

The scholars who studied the floor mosaic were able to determine the location of the site Askalon. Excavations in 1967 have also proven the accuracy of the depiction of the Cardio Maximus and Nea Church in the map.

Artists who worked on the map remain a mystery and some have suggested that the genius behind the mosaics were probably Christians who were commissioned to make the map during that time. The artwork was originally 21 by 7 meters, but at present, it is only 16 by 5 meters. It includes about 2 million tesserae. The factors that led to the destruction of some parts of the mosaic map are damages caused by fire, moisture and activities on the site by different visitors to the church. The church was used frequently and the people who neglected the mosaic might have added to destruction of some parts.

Thanks to many people and foundations as well as private companies who have donated and contributed for its restoration, the mosaics in Madaba have become well taken care of and its total destruction was hindered. A visit in Jordan will not be complete without seeing the map which will tell you what many parts of the Middle East looked like thousands of years ago. If you are in Jordan or you plan to visit fascinating places, travel back in time and don’t forget to include the Madaba Mosaics in your destination.

January 25, 2010 at 6:47 pm | No comment

Kabul Old City

Kabul International Airport
Photo by: Carl Montgomery, Creative Commons

Kabul Old City or the heart of Afghanistan is the capital and largest city of the country. It is distinguished for being the most commercialized town of Islam with various places of interest from ancient mosques up to the latest designs of hotels. Kabul City has a very intriguing setting situated at 1.8 km above sea level in between valleys, mountains and rivers. Prehistoric parks, mosques and museum as well as contemporary style of hotels, airports and malls can be seen in this city.

Unlike any other parks with colorful flowers and mini playgrounds, parks from Kabul are beautifully landscaped with gardens, edifices and small bodies of water. The 11-hectare Babur Garden is the most popular and visited park in Kabul. You can find the tomb of the first Moghul Emperor Bāgh-e Bābur on this square stirred with Islamic architecture built on over five centuries ago. Mosques on the other hand, Pul-e Khishti Mosque and Haji Abdul Rahman Mosque, are the leading mosques in the country where Islam people worship and pray for Allah.
The national museum, also known as the Kabul Museum has almost 100,000 treasures made up of ivory and other antiques. However, for visitors who want to savor modern buildings, Kabul has an answer for that hunger.

Contemporary Islamic architecture consists of mix materials and minimizes the use of traditional bricks and carvings. Among the long lists of chic hotels in Kabul, InterContinental Hotel is the largest and hottest hotels in the city. And it is only 15 minutes away from Kabul International Airport, which will serve as a great haven for tired visitors.

There are a lot of things this place has to offer such as ancient and contemporary structures that are conveniently available. So, what are you waiting for? Listen to the beat of Islam’s heart.

January 25, 2010 at 4:08 pm | 3 comments

Luxor Temple

Luxor Temple in Egypt
Photo by: watchsmart, Creative Commons

Luxor is a town cum city which is located in the southern Egypt and is called the capital of Luxor governorate. Almost thousands of tourists visit the site every year and contribute a lot to the economy of the town. It has some great historic monuments. The temple of Luxor fulfills the purpose for suitable set of rituals and festivals. The Luxor temple is considered to be the center of attraction in the entire town. A lot of festivals are celebrated in this temple. The most common one is the festival of Opet.

The temple was built by Amenhotep III and Ramesse II. The history of the temple is very interesting and exciting. It is said that during the 18th dynasty the festival were celebrated as a reconciliation of the human aspect of the ruler. During this time the festival used to last for 11 days. However, by the end f 20th century the festival celebration days went up to 27 days which is almost close to a month. More than 11,000 bread slices, close to eighty five cakes and 385 jars of beer was distributed amongst the local town people. The entire town was only into modes of fun and celebration. A procession of the images was carried out & used to be taken to the temple. Herds of crown could be seen dancing, singing and having fun while the procession was carried out. The Luxor temp is a must to see site, if you plan your tip to Egypt. One can hire a well trained guide who can help you show the temple and enrich your experience with his in depth knowledge of the history.

January 25, 2010 at 4:02 pm | 8 comments


If tourists haven’t been to Guatemala, then they’re missing a lot of what the country has in store for them. If they are in Guatemala but cannot decide where to go next, then Flores should be their next stop.

Flores is quite different from any other popular cities in Guatemala because for one, the Spaniards were not able to colonize this city right away. It took them until 1697 to penetrate the area and rule the people under their reign. It will be interesting for the visitors to see how much or how little the Spaniards influenced the way the people live, and how the structures and the buildings look.

Another reason would be because of the body of water that surrounds the city. Resembling a peninsula or even an island, Flores boasts its clear blue water that is home to lots of aquatic wildlife. Visitors can go and explore the city’s edges using boats, and even try fishing for both common and unfamiliar species of fish.

The foods that the people eat here are made from the finest herbs and spices that are grown in the fields outside Flores. This means that Flores gets almost all of the delicacy ingredients available from other towns and cities, making it a melting pot for the most sought-after ingredients in the entirety of Guatemala.

Visitors can stay in hotels if they want to explore the area for a few days. One popular hotel in the city is Hotel Villa Del Lago, since it has a clear view of the body of water surrounding the area. The people in the city are also very accommodating, so tourists will surely enjoy their trip.

Visiting Flores in Guatemala should be one of the things tourists do before going back home or if they feel like going home, since they will feel at home very much in this city.

January 25, 2010 at 3:33 pm | 1 comment

Nîmes Amphitheatre

Nimes Amphitheatre
Photo by: wyzik, Creative Commons

Looking for a taste of adventure and a historic trek back in time to the glory days of the Roman Empire? Head for Nîmes in southwest France, which is renowned for its Roma architecture. One structure that looks marvelous even without activity is the Nimes Amphitheatre in France. This structure was built in the first or second century A.D. When visiting the place, travelers can ponder events of the past and almost hear the sounds of gladiator combat or echoes of fighting bulls and ecstatic spectators in the audience.

Originally the amphitheater at Nîmes was used for purposes not at all related to entertainment. It had once been a fortress. It also became a walled village for thousands of destitute people, complete with houses and a chapel constructed at the center. During the 19th century, the Roman amphitheatre at Nimes was restored. The historic landmark today is used primarily for exciting bullfights. It has numerous internal stairways for up to 20,000 spectators can leave the stadium in about five minutes. The structure follows an enclosed elliptical design. The spectator area surrounding the arena has 60 radiating segments, each corresponding to two superimposed arches visible from the outside. Terraced rows are separated by a circulation corridor. The Nimes Amphitheare is a sight to behold inside and outside. When illuminated at night, the building façade looks mesmerizing. The amphitheatre is actually one of the best preserved architectural masterpieces in the whole of France.

Today, the Nimes Amphitheatre still reverberates with pulsating action. Among the events held in the awesome landmark made of marble and limestone are concerts & aquatic spectacles & special performances, circuses, bull fights, and international festivals. During winter, the place is covered with a fabric dome roof and heated.

Visit Nimes for a rare glimpse of an architectural feat like the amphitheatre and many other nearby attractions that add color & life to a city that’s continually undergoing modernization while retaining historical sites.

January 25, 2010 at 1:01 pm | No comment

Mariánské Lázně

Mariánské Lázně
Photo by: Caroig, Creative Commons

If you were to visit the Czech Republic, there is one tourist destination you could stay for a longtime – Mariánské Lázně. There are so many things that this place has to offer that evolve around the Art and Culture, Food and Beverages and Recreation of this culture. Over the years, this tourist destination has welcomed guests to visit the Springing Fountain, mineral springs, churches, colonnades, museums and the geological parks.

You will feel like a child all over again when you see the springing fountains that is found in Mariánské Lázně. The best time to watch it is at night when a display of wonderful lighting highlights the water’s motions. One piece of trivia is that the waters that could be drunk here are very laxative. Yes, they are even exported to other parts of the world as seltzers to aid in constipation.

When you consider of visiting Mariánské Lázně to help you cure some skin ailments, then you in the right place – they have mineral springs that would cater to your submerged baths for a given time to ease the itch and inflammation brought about by impurities of the body. What is attractive to tourists is that many of the several mineral springs in the area are free of charge.

You can call the Mariánské Lázně as the place where different religions converge to pay homage to their respective churches that can be found at this place. Even though this small town has around less than 20 thousand citizens, anywhere you turn, you will successfully find a refuge for your soul.

Museums are also one of the attractive tourist destinations since you will be able to witness the works of brilliant and gifted artists who have received world recognition in their respective crafts. There is one built for the great Fryderyk Chopin that houses his musical albums and prints.

January 25, 2010 at 12:16 pm | No comment

Amandari Resort

Amandari Resort
Photo by: hirohama , Creative Commons

Amandari is a luxury resort which richly defines Balinese. It upholds the values, culture, and the extraordinary beauty of Bali. Looking at every side, every corner of this magnificent place just makes it even better. It is located in central Bali near the wonderful village of Ubud. Amandari resort is in the midst of the breathtaking rice terraces, richly green forests, and the powerful Ayung River Gorge. Its architectural design is inspired by the wantilan or the village meeting place. The coconut wood and the stone floor just complete the open lobby.

Amandari resort has many facilities that offer different types of activities. They have a restaurant which is known to serve Western and Indonesian cuisine, and a bar with a wide variety of drinks to choose from. They have a library where you can do more than just read books and newspapers. It is also a place where you access the Internet. Amandari resort also offers a fully-equipped gym, an overlooking swimming pool, a world-class tennis court and golf course, and a locally-inspired spa. If you are more into extreme sports, then the white water rafting in the Ayung river is perfect for you.

Tourist can also enjoy the unique art, singing, and dancing in the nearby villages. Trips to these villages, either by foot or bicycle, can be arranged and you can instantly experience the warm culture and tradition of the area. Price ranges from US$ 750 to $3,500, depending on the suite and duration of stay. Amandari resort has received numerous awards from different award giving bodies for being one of the top resorts to stay in. The island of Bali is said to be the Island of the gods and a stay on Amandari resort would just make you feel that the gods share with you the true Balinese spirit.

January 25, 2010 at 12:48 am | No comment

Statue of Liberty

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Statue of Liberty
Photo by: wwarby, Creative Commons

A visit to New York City is not complete without a visit to the Statue of Liberty. Lady Liberty happens to be one of the most famous visitor attractions to both New Yorkers and travelers alike whenever they visit the United States. A vacation will never be complete without a souvenir photo op with the famous green Statue.

The Statue of Liberty, or “Liberty Enlightening the World” is a gift of friendship from France to the United States to commemorate the centennial old independence of the United States. Lady Liberty stands at 151 feet high and was created by French architect Frederick Batholdi and its Structural Engineer is Gustav Eiffel who was also responsible for the equally famous Eiffel Tower in France. Up close, one will notice that the Statue of Liberty is of the color green and not white as often depicted in movies, books or shows. The reason for the green color is largely due to the effect of acid rain on the copper sheathing of the Statue.

When taking a tour to New York to visit the State of Liberty, it is best to take note of the following information regarding the available tours and visitor information so that your vacation would be enjoyable and stress- free. The Statue is open for viewing daily, with extended hours during the summer. The only time the Statue is closed is on Christmas Day.

The type of tour must already be decided upon even before purchasing a ferry ticket as it is difficult to obtain one. A time-pass ticket is also necessary so that one is able to fully utilize the day for the tour. Upon purchasing all the necessary tickets, hop on aboard your ferry and enjoy a historical and educational tour of the Statue of Liberty which is a symbol of goodwill, friendship and freedom for the Americans.

January 25, 2010 at 12:07 am | 1 comment

El Djem Amphitheater

El Djem Amphitheater
Photo by: hisgett , Creative Commons

Have you ever wanted to visit an ancient amphitheater? An adventurous trip to El Djem is what you need. To do this you have to visit Tunisia. Known historically as a temporary settlement for ancient civilization, including Romans, Tunisia is a product of ancient cultures. Evidence of that is the enormous El Djem Amphitheater. Situated in the town of Mahdia Governorate, El Djem Amphitheater is an obvious landmark of the country. Its big dome can accommodate at most 35,000 spectators, making it the third largest amphitheater in the world, next to the Coliseum of Rome and the eroded amphitheater in Capua. In that sense, imagining that you are sitting in one of those numerous seats inside the amphitheater is a very unique experience. Obviously, it would be much better for you to actually experience it.

However, remember that because of age, this amphitheater had lost its original structure and form. This was due to the endless wars it had suffered through the years and the constant use of some of its building blocks for other purposes. With that, full security measures are implemented to further lengthen its lifetime. This can also be seen as a consequence of this amphitheater being a World Heritage Site since 1979. Thus, it would be unwise for you to scrape off some pieces of the actual dome for souvenirs. Aside from the fact that doing this is virtually impossible, many stores offer miniature sizes of this amphitheater.

On the positive side, pictures are allowed, so bring fully charged digital cameras to capture those priceless moments.

January 24, 2010 at 10:37 pm | No comment

Myvatn Lake

Myvatn Lake
Photo by: kaet44, Creative Commons

Myvatn Lake, located in Northern Iceland is the country’s fourth largest natural lake. Myvatn Lake or Midge Lake got its name from the insects that live in the water. It has an area of 37 square kilometers with numerous islets on the lake. There many geological formations due to an active volcano nearby. There is so much volcanic activity in this area that nine eruptions took place in nine years. Also, North America and the Eurasian plate are said to be drifting 2 centimeters away from each other every year due to the eruption of active volcanoes.

Myvatn Lake was formed due to the blocking of a river by a large lava field. The lake is said to be fertile because the lake water is rich in minerals. For those who want to get in touch with nature, the area is a known sanctuary for different kinds of birds including 15 species of ducks.

Other activities that can be enjoyed are camping and fishing in the nearby Laxa – where many fishers enjoy catching salmon and trout. Sheep are a common sight in the area since sheep farming is a common form of livelihood. The sun shines bright in Myvatn Lake making the lake a suitable place for algae to grow. The algae give the water a greenish color.

There is also an annual marathon held during the summer. Tourists will have much convenience during their visit, for there are hotels, restaurants, shops and travel firms in the area. Car and bike rentals also provide ease of mobility around town and visiting the various sites in Myvatn. Myvatn Lake is also a home to the early inhabitants of the world. A Viking board game and a 10th century dwelling lodge are some of the greatest archeological discoveries in the area. The place is an excellent destination for nature lovers and even for those who just want a quiet get-away.

January 24, 2010 at 10:22 pm | No comment


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Porto o Douro
Photo by: JAIRO BD, Creative Commons

Douro is one of the major rivers that runs along the Iberian Peninsula. It stretches 557 miles long, and only the part that runs along the Portuguese territory is navigable by light river craft. The 70 miles of the river forms part of the border that separates Portugal and Spain. This region has narrow canyons which served as a barrier and the dividing line of linguistics. This isolated area is protected by both countries from one side to the other.

Douro, Portugal is chiefly known for two things: the valley and the wine (called the Port wine). The valley is breathtakingly beautiful with the foothills falling down to the river’s edge. The river used to flow here rapidly but over the past 25 years, with the construction of eight dams within the area, the river has been tamed and appears more like a lake than a river. The color of the valley changes throughout the year depending on the maturity of the vines.

A cruise along the river Douro is what brings visitors back again and again. Cruises from Porto allow you to enjoy cocktails and wine-tasting as you explore different historical places. One of these places is the Casa de Mateus and Gardens, an example of Baroque architecture in Portugal built in the 18th century. If you happen to visit in February and March, you can enjoy the lovely sight of almond trees in blossom. Blankets of pink-white are everywhere and this never fails to invite people– citizens and visitor alike– to go out on a picnic and just have a good time.

The valley was the first demarcated wine-producing region in the world established in 1756. And till date, it is very famous for the fortified wine called the Port wine. When you visit the valley now, you will not find modern wine-making machinery and equipment. Their wine industry operates as how it did over a hundred years ago. No wonder that Port remains one of the world’s greatest wine.

So if you enjoy taking a cruise along the river going to Portugal from Spain or vice versa, and you would like to savor excellent wine on either side, Douro is the answer.

January 24, 2010 at 5:37 pm | 1 comment

Tierra del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
Photo by: nestor galina, Creative Commons

Tierra del Fuego got its name from the campfires tended by one of its early settlers, the Yamana tribesmen, which was visible to the ships passing by. Hard to reach and isolated, it is no wonder that early explorers such as Ferdinand Magellan and Charles Darwin refer to it as the end of the world. Magellan was actually the one who first used the name Tierra del Fuego, thinking that the fires meant that the Indians where waiting to ambush his armada. Exploration into this archipelago continues up to this day with adventure seeking travelers. Tierra del Fuego can offer many activities for its adventurous visitors.

This triangular archipelago is richly blessed with a multitude of natural attractions. One can go sailing and sightseeing amongst glaciers, trek along the forests, hike its mountains and go fly-fishing in its waters. Skiing is also a popular outdoor activity here. Though for centuries, this windswept place has been home to many shipwrecks. This is the place to get the best seafood in Argentina. Sea Run Brown trout is found in abundance in the waters of the Rio Grance, San Pablo, and in the Lago Fagnano.

The largest city in Tierra del Fuego is Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Although the subpolar climate in the area is inhospitable, Ushuaia is a very busy hub of activity mainly due to the increasing number of Antractica-bound ships that make a stop in its port. Aside from tourists, this former penal colony has steadily been attracting people to resettle here due to the relatively high wages.

January 24, 2010 at 5:29 pm | 5 comments


Sukhothai 400
Photo by: Argenberg, Creative Commons

Sukhothai is the capital city of Northern Thailand. It has a population of about 35 thousand and the name literally means dawn of happiness. The place has been popular to visitors because the ruins of the ancient city built in the 13th century can still be seen.

The Sukhothai Muang Kao is only 12 kilometers west of the central city. The city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. By the 60’s, the place underwent a restoration and has been well maintained ever since.

To tour the city, bicycles are best and there are many places where you can rent one. The central part of the ruins contains 11 structures surrounded by moats, bridges and lakes. In the Mat Mahathat, a large Buddha can be located and a nice view of the nearby lake is available.

The north part of the ruins called the Wat Phra Phai Luang contains many buildings with fantastic reliefs. There is also a stairway which leads to the Buddha image.

Here are some activities you can enjoy while visiting Sukhothai
• Use a bike to explore the city and the ruins
• Tour Si Satchanalai
• Explore the fresh fish market and indulge yourself in the local cuisine

Aside from these activities, there are many bars where you can visit. The Poo and King serves varied Western as well as Thai cuisine. The Chopper Bar is a roof-top restaurant serving the best in gastronomical delights. Sukhothai Night Market is another destination worth the visit where you can indulge yourself with authentic Thai cuisine. The night market has many food stalls to choose from.

January 24, 2010 at 1:17 pm | No comment

Lemaire & Neumayer Channels

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Lemaire & Neumayer Channels
Photo by: cloudzilla , Creative Commons

Make your Antarctica expedition more memorable by including the Lemaire & Neumayer Channels in your travel itinerary. These channels happen to be one of the favorite tourist destinations since it is one of the most magnificent places to see in Antarctica. It is such narrow passage, so before you pack your bags to make this first stop, check with the locals if the passage is open. There are times when glaciers as big as the cruise ship you rode goes through the narrow passage blocking the entire portion of the channel.

Since the glacier is just passing through, it shall be cleared in no time. You would really feel as if you are the king or queen of the world since the moment you pass through the Lemaire & Neumayer Channels, penguins and seals will greet you. They are also one of the reasons why tourists seem to be so enamored with the place. In addition to these playful animals, occasionally whales drop by and even follow your zodiacs around.

Zodiacs are not only at night in the form of constellations. These are what you call small inflatable boats. They are safe to ride and have brought thousands of adventurous tourists through the Lemaire & Neumayer Channels! So always keep your cameras ready for the entire duration of the trip so you don’t miss a photo opportunity. Did you know the channel even has a nickname for camera buffs? They call it the Kodak Gap since you can really take amazing shots when you pass through the narrow passage.

What actually attracts tourists to Antarctica is the extended time that daylight is present. Even if you are not a professional photographer, you will appreciate the magical natural lights that are so beautiful when you take your shots.

January 23, 2010 at 4:25 pm | No comment

Kutna Hora

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Kutna Hora
Photo by: Robert Paul Young, Creative Commons

Escape the deafening sounds of the city when you travel to the Czech Republic. There is once place that will offer tranquility known as the Kutna Hora. This little town is one of the top tourist destinations which will take you a day’s trip from Prague to reach. Do not underestimate this small town for it is extremely rich in history. It is in the 13th Century when Kutna Hora discovered silver in their land. That is why a few decades after that discovery, the royal mint was started and soon produced the Prague groschen coins. Even though they are indeed known as the original royal mint, you will find it very interesting and worthwhile to know that even though the town sleeps, the history of past periods still seep through every wall.

Aside from the melting pot of royal mints, the little town of Kutna Hora has attracted millions of tourists from different parts of the globe to come and feel what its like to visit the Ossuary or more commonly known as the Bone Church. This is the resting place of over 40,000 bones from different people who donated their family’s remains to the Church. It is one landmark to visit for your travel since it would surely give you the creeps. Since they are human bones artfully laid out, you surely would gasp in awe and respect to the builders of such place. You can reach Kutna Hora by bus where you’ll find first-class hotels for you to drop off your things before you start the tour.

January 23, 2010 at 12:16 pm | 1 comment

Smithsonian Institution

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East Wing of the Smithsonian
Photo by: luckywhitegirl, Creative Commons

The Smithsonian Institution is one of the most visited attractions in the United States. A museum that lives up to its mission of spreading knowledge, what many do not know is that this museum was actually just bequeathed to the United States by British scientist James Smithson. Why he decided to do so still remains a mystery to everyone.

The Smithsonian Institution is touted to be the largest museum complex and research organization in the world. It houses nineteen museums, the National Zoo and a research organization that is dedicated to the mission and vision of James Smithson. Admission to the museum is absolutely free and is open everyday for the public. Visiting hours start at 10am until 530pm.

If you plan to visit the Smithsonian Institution, it is suggested that you take one of their guided tours so that you are able to fully grasp the meaning and culture behind each of the exhibits. The Smithsonian tours are not the same every single day so it is best to call ahead of time and inquire about the tours that are in their calendar of events for the month and pick the ones that suit your fancy. Some of the famous Smithsonian tours are: The Ocean Hall Navigators, Air and Space Highlights Tours, and the American Art Museum Highlights Tours to name a few. The Institution is also proud of its “live exhibits” wherein every summer there are concerts, activities and programs that celebrate the Festival of American Folklore. This festival runs through the whole year and is one of the most exciting events that many visitors look forward to when they visit the museum.

Should one go hungry after taking the tours, he should not worry as there are restaurants that are also available inside the Smithsonian Institution. Each of the nineteen museums has different restaurants that sort of cater to the theme of the said museum. Kids who enjoy burgers will not be disappointed to know that there is a McDonalds store in the Smithsonian.

January 23, 2010 at 12:07 am | No comment

National Art Gallery

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National Art Gallery East
Photo by: Son of Groucho, Creative Commons

Immerse yourself in culture from two separate eras. This is what the National Gallery of Art offers. The museum is made up of two buildings that are in itself works of art. The two buildings proudly stand on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., through the funding of the United States Congress with major contribution by Andrew W. Mellon.

First erected was the West Building constructed in 1941. The neoclassical building was designed in such a way that it will remind you of the Pantheon in Rome. The West Building houses an extensive collection of European art works from the medieval period. Its classic architecture compliments the works of Rembrandt, Van Gogh and da Vinci.

Linked by an underground passage is the East Building. It was built in 1978 to house modern and contemporary art works. Art pieces from Picasso, Matisse, Pollock, Warhol and Calder are displayed side by side chronicling the poetry of 20th century art.

Students, visitors and history buffs can satisfy their thirst for art through different means. They can take audio tours or guided tours. Foreigners need not worry about language barrier because they can always request for foreign language tours. Lectures and talks are also frequently scheduled for the benefit of students or any one who seek self-improvement. National Gallery of Art have also recently adopted the modern means of proliferating art and culture by having podcasts and video presentations.

National Gallery of Art is more than a venue for educational tour. It is a visitor attraction that fosters appreciation of art and culture. With its two buildings, it is a marriage of medieval and contemporary art. It is a place to admire the past that eventually help us appreciate what is yet to come.

January 22, 2010 at 8:34 pm | 1 comment

Evora Historic Town

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Downtown Evora
Photo by: Honza Soukup, Creative Commons

If you have not experience a walk in an open-air museum, then you might want to visit Evora historic town in Portugal. Being one of the country’s finest towns, with a number of well-preserved monuments, this place is truly worth your time and attention.

Evora is in the heart of the Alentejo Province, a region of wide plains at the south of River Tagus. It boasts a two thousand year history and a number of popular visitor destinations. Here are five of the must-sees when you visit this town:

Temple of Diana – is Evora’s most famous landmark. This was built by the Romans in the 2nd century. It is elevated on a 10-foot high platform with 14 of its original 18 Corinthian granite columns still intact.

Praca do Giraldo – This is the town’s main square. It used to be an execution ground way back the period of Inquisition, but is now swarmed by people, shops, and cafes. The square is surrounded by striking townhouses that have wrought- iron balconies. One end of this square has a fountain built in 1571, facing the Santo Antao Church built in the Renaissance period.

Evora Museum – The museum has captured the city’s long history. It has the Roman columns, paintings from the 16th century, and also modern sculptures.

Saint Francis Church – This church was built between late 15th century and early 16th century. It has mixed Gothic-Manueline styles. It has a number of chapels which are Baroque-designed including the Capela dos Ossos (the Chapel of Bones) which is totally covered with human bones.

Palace of Vasco da Gama – This was where the famous voyager resided from 1519 to 1524. This time corresponds his nomination as the Viceroy of India. Some of his Renaissance mural paintings are still displayed here.

There are a lot more spots to see and photograph in Evora historic town, like the Palace of the Counts of Basto, the University of Evora, the Cathedral, and the Palace of the Dukes of Cadaval. It is truly an open-air museum and it must be the most remarkable museum you could ever explore in your whole life. Don’t miss the chance!

January 22, 2010 at 5:36 pm | 1 comment

The Notre Dame de Tournai

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The Notre Dame de Tournai, Belgium
Photo by: Maciekbor , Creative Commons

Because of the rich medieval history that is associated with Belgium, it is no wonder that many of its cities and landmarks have been declared as World Heritage Sites in recent years. One of these heritage sites is the Notre Dame de Tournai Cathedral, a religious edifice that has weathered almost 800 years of existence.

The Notre Dame de Tournai is a rare piece of architecture that artfully combines three periods of architectural influence such as the Romanesque, the Gothic and the Transitional. This is due to the countless reconstructions it has undergone throughout the centuries. You would find Romanesque influence in the fresco paintings that depict the life of St. Marguerite of Antioch. These painting, are considered the largest series of Romanesque fresco paintings in Belgium. The nave of the cathedral also has Romanesque roots. This is characterized by an intricate attention to harmonious proportion, evident in the four horizontal window levels that span the length of the cathedral. These windows were originally adorned with rose-colored windows, until stability issues forced authorities to replace them with brick vaults. Breaking from the Romanesque theme, the choir part of the cathedral owes its construction to Gothic inspirations. The choir’s abundant lighting and awe-inspiring verticality–36 m above the keystone– renders a solemn mood to the cathedral’s centerpiece, a 1727 marble altar. Stained glass windows provide a colorful backdrop to an already impressive setting.

The cathedral also holds reliquaries that may be an interest for the devout Catholic or curious historian. These include the Byzantine Cross, a relic that contains a fragment of the cross of Jesus Christ. You can also find other liturgical furniture donated by the faithful in the cathedral’s treasure room.

Your journey through medieval Belgium wouldn’t be complete without a visit to this interesting and historical cathedral.

January 22, 2010 at 5:10 pm | No comment