Archive for June, 2007

Sun and Fun in the Beaches of Grand Cayman

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

The island of Grand Cayman is situated on top of a mountain of corals and is a place well worth visiting especially if you want to experience the thrills of scuba diving. The Caribbean waters are also famous for their corals that descend steeply into the waters and which will provide you with some splendid as well as unique dives down into the waters that are a challenge for every diver. In addition, the Grand Cayman Island also provides many places ideally suited for diving and with unquestionably fantastic underwater delights you will be hard pressed to find a better location for scuba diving adventures.

Grand Cayman Beach

There are plenty of well known dive sites on the Grand Cayman which you will find are situated on the west of the island and this area goes by the name of West Wall and it is very easy to reach here as all that it takes for you is to hop on a boat and soon you will find that you are on the beach that is not far from resorts. Among the famous dive sites you can check out Armchair Reef as well as Aquarium Reef that are certain to offer a wide assortment of underwater species and novice divers as also snorkelers won’t be able to get enough of this experience. Another dive site worth a visit is Wildlife Reef.

To the windward side of the island you can also find amazingly sharp coral walls and it is here that there are some of Island’s better known and reputable dive sites in the world in close proximity to the sandy beaches. Be sure to check out Stingray City that is ideally suited for all manner of divers as well as snorkelers irrespective of their ages and levels of skill. You can easily dive down beneath the surface of the water and swim along with groups of Southern Stingrays that even have wingspans of as much as four feet and the thrill of snapping pictures and giving food to these stingrays in Stingray City is indeed very special.

You may also want to check out the Grand Cayman Islands’ east side where in spite of the relatively scanty number of diving operators in action, you will be hard pressed to locate better as well as untouched coral reefs than these, and with tunnels within easy reach of the reefs along with many caves that lie beneath the water’s surface and also arches you will have a pretty exciting time diving in these parts of the island. You should try out the areas that have special attraction which is best seen in Babylon that has abundant fish, sponges as well as sea turtles.

There is also plenty more in store for you in Grand Cayman and your visit here would be rather incomplete without at least diving down to view the wrecks. You could look for The Balboa that sank in 1932 when a storm was blowing and which is a three hundred seventy five feet cargo ship that is nestling at the bottom at depths of only thirty feet. The place where you will find this wreckage is known as Georgetown Harbor. However, pride of place as far as wreck dives is concerned goes to Oro Verde that is a freighter covered with corals and which is resting at just sixty feet depth just off the beach’s shore.

Take a Vacation to Yucatan, Mexico

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

For those that want to enjoy summertime, there would hardly be a better place to visit than the Yucatan peninsula where you can enjoy a glorious time whenever you visit here during certain summer months. If you come here during the months July and August you will encounter many bustling crowds and during the months between September and June, you will find the place pretty much deserted and very low key.

Be sure to come in July and August and sample the excellent Yucatan cuisine and for more fun and frolic head out over the weekends to Progresso where you can see bands playing music on the beaches and there is also many a crowd there as well. There is also the Hobie Cat regatta that is big draw in the summers and one of the biggest of these regattas is the Cummins Cup that will take place just off from the Marina Silcer in Chicxulub on the weekends. Such events prove that the Yucatan is more than pyramids and also colonial cities and with wonderful beaches there are also these special events as well to make life more enjoyable. So, don’t hesitate and head down to Marina Silcer and hit the beach running where the crowds are huge and the fun is aplenty.

Chichen Itza in Yucatan, Mexico

There is also free Saturday night Fiesta Mexicana and the fun spills over to Sundays as well with the free Merida en Domingo in the streets of Merida. When these events are taking place, the streets are out of bounds for traffic and the many bands, vendor artists as well as cafes will enliven the atmosphere greatly.

Be prepared for the high temperatures that can reach the mid to high nineties and when taking any daytime activities, you must remember to stay well hydrated. It pays to wear cool clothing and a hat and also pace your activities and try and do them in the mornings and then later on in the evenings. There is also plenty of rainy weather to contend with and don’t be surprised that it normally rains between three in the afternoon and five in the evenings. After the showers, you may want to take a stroll, try the free cultural activities and even perhaps check out the sorbets at Helados Colon on the Main Plaza. An evening would be made even more enjoyable by taking a horse and buggy ride that is known as “calesas”.

The state of Yucatan is situated on the Yucatan Peninsula and the Yucatan itself is made up of three states on the peninsula that include Yucatan, Campeche as well as Quintana Roo, all of which are modern states and the state capital of the Yucatan is known as Merida.

The state of Yucatan was once the home of the Mayan civilization till the Spanish arrived and there are still many archaeological remains that bear testimony to the ceremonial architecture that goes back some three thousand years. Even today, the Yucatan is a good example of a very unique culture that is different from the rest of Mexico and even the food is very different from normal Mexican fare.

Cruising the Norwegian Fjords

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

It should not come as a big surprise that the most popular World Heritage site is the Norwegian Fjords. The reason most certainly is because each fjord has its own characteristics as well as attractions and you will find Geirangerfjord to have the tallest and also the most scenic waterfalls in the country. Also, the longest fjord in the world is in Norway and is called Sognefjord, where Naeroyfjord is an arm of this fjord and which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Norwegian Fjords, Norway

If you want to seriously explore the many fjords of Norway, you would do well to make a beginning from the Hanseatic city known as Bergen that also has the honor of being the European City of Culture in 2000 and there is also a lot of other attractions in this city besides the fjords such as the Wharf, the Fish Market and Mount Floien and the city is also the starting point for Norwegian Coastal Express.

This kingdom that lies on the western part of the Scandinavian Peninsula is very long and has the countries of Sweden, Finland as well as Russia on its borders, and obviously is most famous for its fjords. The country also includes the islands of Svalbard and Jan Mayen that are part of its territories, and this country has the distinction of also having been voted the most peace loving country in the world.

A visit to this northern European country holds much promise besides its fjords and it also is known as the Land of the Midnight Sun due to the fact that some parts in the north of the country never see the sun go down at night. There, you may want to visit the town of Tromso because here the sun does not rise in the winter and does not set in midsummer.

The capital of the country is Oslo where you can ski at the famous ski jump in the city and take in some serious theater at the National Theater and the city is also the most populated of all cities and towns in Norway having one tenth of the total population living here. A main attraction is the Munch Museum as too are the National Gallery, Norwegian Museum of Applied Arts, and the Thor Heyerdahl Kon-Tiki Museum as also the Norwegian Folk Museum. And, a central feature of downtown Oslo is the Kongelige Slott or Royal Palace which is the home of the present Queen of Norway.

A trip to Skien may be worth your while especially if literature holds a special place in your heart because the famous playwright called Ibsen was born here. A visit to Stavanger will show you the largest collection of wooden buildings in Europe and the former capital of Norway Trondheim is also a major tourist attraction.

In Tromso you can sample beer at the world’s northernmost brewery, and to the southwest is Fjordland that is the most important tourist area in Norway where cruise ships take you down the coast of Norway starting from Stavanger all the way up to Haugesund. And you can head to the Hardangervidda Mountains for some excellent glacier walks as well.

Beach Holidays in Aegean Islands

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Greece is well known for its more than two thousand islands of which just hundred are inhabited and most of them are situated in the Aegean Sea, with the Aegean Islands being quite peculiar in them as even though most of these islands lay in close proximity to one another, their culture and history is still quite different from one another. No matter that their architecture as well as geophysical features is different, there is one thing all of the Aegean Islands have in common and that is the wonderful blue skies and the Aegean blue waters with plenty of Greek sun as well. You will find many chapels and scenic landscapes as you hop from one Aegean Island to the other and you can expect to find traditional style villages as well as exciting seaside along the way.

Aegean Islands

In the north of the Aegean Islands you can find the islands of Chios, Ikaria, Fournoi, Psara as well as a few more while in the Dodecanese there are islands known as Astypalea, Karpathos and more. Most of the Aegean Islands are under Greek control though some of them do fall under the control of Turkey and also the Italians.

If you visit the northeastern Aegean Islands you will certainly want to stop off at Chios that along with Lesvos and Chamos form the three major islands in this part of the Aegean Islands. Though Chios is not very well known to tourists, it is nevertheless very beautiful and this splendid wooded island has a culture rich in tradition as well as many sandy beaches, a conference center and also hiking trails that you can use to hike and even visit the unspoiled villages on the island. The weather is mild and this island is also one that has wonderful smells that will please your senses no end.

Another island that you should give your attention to is Lesvos that is very seductive and once you visit here you may forget about going to any other of the Aegean Islands. This is perhaps the most famous of these islands and is the home of the lady named Sappho who is a woman poet and this large and beautiful island is certainly a destination that will surely enchant you. The capital of the island is Mytilene and there is also a Genoese castle here named the Kastro of Mytilene that was built where an earlier Byzantine fortification once stood, and it is a major point of interest for visitors to Lesbos.

Further to the east among the Aegean Islands is another island called Ikaria that is a majestic island that is supposed to be the home of the mystical Ikaros and in this lovely island there is plenty of breathtaking scenic beauty, invigorating mountainous air as well as good hot springs that have great therapeutic value, and the unspoiled seas are only made better by the friendly peoples of this island.

You will be amazed that even in these modern times, the island of Ikarias has maintained its true identity and the ways of its people are unchanged and unspoiled by outside influences.

Darjeeling – A Window into Himalayas

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

The first that comes to the mind when you say ‘Darjeeling’ is tea. The Darjeeling tea is world famous (the vanilla jasmine tea) for its aroma and high and unmatched quality. This is what you would first observe in Darjeeling (during the best time for your visit, April-June or October-November) wherever you would look – tea gardens. Where the greenery is not a tea garden, then it would be a Bamboo enclave or Fern jungle.  Darjeeling is also known as ‘The City of the Celestial Thunderbolt”.

Darjeeling, India

Darjeeling is natural beauty at its best. This is why it is one of the most sought after tourist spots both nationally and internationally. Sports enthusiasts would have plenty to do here as this place has a plethora of natural trails that you could trek and mountains that you could climb and enjoy the crisp and fragrant air of high altitude. Do not forget to pay a visit to the famous Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Museum. Here you would be privileged to see the equipment that Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzong Norgay used when they climbed the Mt. Everest.

Another way to enjoy the wonderful altitude is with the cable car that runs between Darjeeling and Singla Bazaar. You will be able to see and savor the exquisite beauty of the Himalayas during the few hours hat you would have to travel by the cable car.

Some must-see sights for any tourist are:

1. The Mall – this is where you would find everything that you need to buy as souvenir; this is where you could do most of your shopping. The whole road is lined with cottage entrepreneurs selling different varieties of real and imitation antiques. You would also find an exceptional array of hand-knitted sweaters at reasonable prices. Remember, when you are here to check out the oil painting – some of them are simply stunning.

2. The Tiger Hill – You could see the famous Mt Everest from here, besides enjoying one of the most beautiful sunrise scenes over the mountains. The Tiger Hill is located some 13 kms outside the town, at an altitude of 8482 ft (2590 m).

3. Kanchenjunga View – Nature enthusiasts would have the choice of another exceptional treat by nature – the Kanchenjunga View. From here you can enjoy to your heart’s content the splendor of the Himalayas and the Kanchnjunga Peak which is the third highest peak in the world.

4. Chowrasta – situated at the end of The Mall, this is a continuous hub of activity. You will find here a good display of the eateries and wonderful souvenirs.  Some of the best handicrafts are available here.

Do no miss a trip on the Toy Train or the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway which would show you four mountains peaks besides the breath-taking natural beauty of Darkjeeling – Lhoste, Everest, Kanchenjunga and the Makalu.

Bangkok – A City Everyone Should Visit At Least Once In Their Lifetime!

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

The capital of Thailand, Bangkok, is one of the most inviting and beautiful cities of Asia. The name of the city is actually Krug Thep in short. The real name of Bangkok is so long that it is entered the Guinness Book of Records as the place with the longest name, i.e. Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit which is translated in English as, The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city of Ayutthaya (Lord Indra), the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn.

Thailand City Palace Bangkok.jpg

The meaning of its name would be sufficient to explain to you why the city is such a great tourist attraction. It is beautiful. It is both old and new and one of the most active commercial cities in Asia. You will find the most modern amenities in hospitality combined with the oriental culture and food which leave an indelible impression on your mind.

Travel the city in the famous tuk-tuks as well as the ferry service and enjoy the wide variety of food this city offers and the shopping outlets that has made this city known as shoppers’ paradise. The specialty here is that each street focuses on one thing only and that something is sold all over the street. There is nothing that you would not be able to find in the markets of Bangkok. If you want something, you will definitely find it here.

Known as the ‘City of Angels’ Bangkok is famous for its wonderful night life where you could get any type of entertainment you like. From the notorious Patpong to some excellent live band classy jazz bars, there is not one dull moment in Bangkok at night. Check out the traditional dance performance at Patravadi Theater or enjoy an excellent Thai meal on a traditional rice barge on the Chao River.

Though this city was once famous by the name of ‘The City that Never Sleeps’ new Government rules have the shutters down for all the night clubs and bars by latest 2 am. Yet that gives you enough time to sample the fun that this city can offer its tourists. Given the entertainment and fun and frolic it offers, Bangkok should be renamed as ‘The City Where Fun Never Ends!

Melbourne – A City to Remember

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

The beauty of Australia has long been praised and people from all over the world still flock to relocate here. This continent-country has a myriad of things to offer to both tourists and people who are looking for a permanent home here.

Situated in the State of Victoria, Melbourne is the Capital and second largest city in Australia boasting of a population of three million plus. This city has earned its world acclaim not only for its picturesque beauty but also for its focus on arts and culture. You will find that greenery and gardening is one of the most successful enterprises here due to the very conducive climate.

The best time to visit Melbourne is definitely the summer when this city becomes a hub of entertainment. There is some of the most exciting sports events held at that time such as the Sail Melbourne Regatta, the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Grand Slam, Tooheys Blue Melbourne Cup and the Heineken Golf Classic to name a few.  You will also be regaled by live concerts of world-famous singers during the Melbourne International Music Festival.

Another great attraction would be the Melbourne International Comedy Festival which would have you in splits with the best of international talent. This is a time when you could rub shoulders with veterans such as Jerry Seinfeld and Jim Carrey and enjoy their live performances.

For shopping enthusiasts there is a Collins Street which is an exceptional spot for buying men and women’s apparel. Other places that you should visit would be the Bourke Street (for book lovers) and the Flinders Street.

Melbourne, Australia

Food is always a great attraction in Melbourne. You could have some exotic Indian food at the Flora Restaurant or Little Bourke on Swanston Street or excellent fast food from Hungry Jack and McDonalds. You should never miss having a meal at the excellent Swanston Walk Café and Gopal Restaurant if you are a gourmet. Williamstone is one of the most famous food destinations in Melbourne where you could get anything you ever wanted to eat. Here, alongwith the excellent food, you would be able to enjoy exquisite Australian wines and a mind-blowing view of the city.

Things to see in Melbourne should definitely include the Melbourne Aquarium with its amazing seal life, the Phillip Islands, the Ganesh Temple (Indian Temple) and the Dunn’s Leather Goods shop where you find a stunning array of miniature things. You would also love to take a cruise on the Yarra River and if you are a nature lover you will have to stop by the Werribbee Park and the Organ Pipes National Park, to see the spectacular rose gardens and natural rock columns respectively. Animal lovers should visit the Healsville Sanctuary for a great with all types of native Australian animals.

Overall, the Garden City, as Melbourne is known world wide, would offer you everything you ever wanted to see and enjoy.

Heritage Tours in Edinburgh

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

A very beautiful city, Edinburgh is more than just the Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile. It is also a place from where you get a wonderful view of the Firth of Forth and though there are many places to see, you should contemplate taking the Lothian Buses instead of venturing out on foot to see the sights.

You can start off by visiting Calton Hill that is located on the east side of Princess Street and this centrally located attraction is well worth paying a visit to. You get excellent views of the city itself as well as across Forth Estuary and on to Fife and the rest of the skyline of Edinburgh. This is also where you will find the National Monument that was constructed in 1822 and is somewhat of an Athenian type of acropolis that commemorates the defeating of Napoleon at Waterloo. Another place of interest at Calton Hill is the City Observatory.

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland

Closer to the city center is Holyrood Park that was once used for royal hunting parties and for more excitement and thrills check out a climb of Arthur’s Seat from where you can get an excellent panoramic view. Then there is Water of Leith Walkway that in more poetic terms is known as “silver thread in a ribbon of green” and this twelve mile path that stretches from Balerno all the way to Leith is a very unique walk indeed and even in spite of the proximity to the hectic city noise and traffic you will hardly feel distracted. There are excellent walkways that take you to Canon Mills and also Dean Village and the Dean Village Walk will allow you to sample the history of the village with the Dean Gallery of Modern Art close by as well.

Edinburgh is also famous for the Royal Botanical Gardens that came into existence in the year 1670 and has as many as six percent of all known plants in the world. Entrance is free though you will have to pay three pounds and fifty pence to enter the greenhouses and among the many areas is Chinese Hillside, the Rock Garden and also Woodland Garden.

You may also like to visit Craigentinny Marbles which is a classical mausoleum that was the prized possession of one William Henry Miller and there is also the Miller Mausoleum that also has bas relief sculptures depicting scenes from the Bible.

A trip down to Portobello Beach should not be missed and this beach is just three miles to the east of Edinburgh city center and on clear and cloudless days you will get an excellent view of the Firth of Forth and also the county of Fife as well as the three Lomond Hills. And, you may be surprised to know that famous James Bond actor Sean Connery once worked as a lifeguard at the now defunct outdoor Portobello Swimming Pool during the fifties.

A Historic Journey to Milan

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Milan is a wonderful city in Italy that boasts of many diverse attractions and will suit people with different tastes. In this city, you can find modern art and some very amazing architectural delights. In fact, anyone that is interested in art and culture must make Milan one of their tourist destinations as there is awesome art and plenty of culture to view as well. Be sure to check out the National Museum of Science and Technology that enjoys the enviable reputation of being among the foremost scientific as well as technical museums in the world.

You can also take in a stretch of water in the center of Milan and when you enter Brera you will almost feel like you are in Paris and not Milan because of the high fashion you will get to see. For sure, you will not be able to resist the apparel displayed out in the open air that is exquisite pieces begging you to dip into your wallet and make a purchase.

Castello Sforzesco, Milan

If you have time to spare, you can take in the excellent parks with meadows and more that are situated close to Castello Sforzesco. And, of course you must take a nibble of the excellent multi-cuisine that is freely available in Milan that encompasses culinary fare from diverse parts of the world including African, Indian, Middle Eastern as well as Japanese, to name a few. However, you will also relish the indigenous food of Milan and your visit to Milan would lack certainly lack in flavor if you did not try out the fare of the local eateries. Of special interest would be the Negroni that is an aperitif that you can sample along with snacks, and other worthwhile dishes include Risotto alla Milanese as well as Cassouella.

There is perhaps no better place to pick up on fashion trends and clothing than Milan and you should take the time to visit the Fashion Quadrilatero where you will see the best in Italian and other fashion with the entire world famous fashion brands being readily available.

Without a doubt, a visit to Milan will convince you that you have come to an enchanting and exciting city where you can view a great number of places of historical importance though art as embodied in the work “Last Supper” that is the work of Leonardo da Vinci really stands out.

And, if you have had had your fill of art, culture and fashion there is still more to enthrall you in the form of skiing that is also quite popular here. There are many skiing vacations to take even for those who are beginners and even for experts as well as intermediate skiers. Skiing in the Alps on the Italian side is not only very exciting but the prices too are quite reasonable and you also won’t have to travel far to visit some of the other more well known skiing slopes of the world.

Relaxing Scenic Breaks in Naples

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Situated in the south of Italy, a trip to Naples is a welcome change from the rich and famous cities that you will find in the wealthier parts of Italy located in the north of the country. There are many that would not really speak any kind words when they discuss Naples thanks to the dubious reputation it enjoys as being a seamier city in Italy that boasts of high crime rates and where the people are very fanatical. Though a visit to Naples will certainly come with the risk of being mugged or encountering other seamier side of life, using proper sense of caution should see you safely through your visit without much mishap or other nasty occurrences.

You should really make it a point to give yourself the time to go out and seek out the city for all that it offers, because you will find more to interest you out on the streets than in the many museums. Still, you could have yourself photographed in Naples and a good location for that would be at the Galleria Umberto I.

Naples, Italy

A visit to Naples should also convince you that in spite of its rather unsavory reputation, it is still a very beautiful city with wonderful bay as well as great viewing opportunities such as taking in the sight of Capri and also the Ischia Islands.

When in Naples, you can take a slight excursion and make a trip to Pompeii as well as Herculaneum, which are a pair of cities that were once buried beneath a volcanic eruption around 79 AD.

There is also Naples’ old district to visit and here there is much of the city’s history embodied in the buildings that have somehow come through unscathed even in spite of blazes, wars and also earthquakes.

The origins of Naples can be traced back to its foundation by Greeks in the year 7 BC and the designs from those ancient times have survived till the present. And, to add to this marvelous atmosphere is the utter disregard that people show to rules as there is a complete absence of rules, sidewalks and also traffic signals and signs, and in spite of that, there is still a coming together of people and machines in some semblance of order that really defies all logic.

There are also many churches as well as religious buildings to see including the Cathedral of Naples, San Domenico Maggiore and San Pietro Martire to name a few. Add to that a number of castles, palaces and also museums and you will certainly get to see a lot of places while in Naples including Castel dell’Ovo, Castel Capuano, Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte and Royal Palace and many more.

There is also a subterranean side to Naples where there exist some old reservoirs of the Greco-Romans on which the city had been built. Thus there are many kilometers of tunnels running beneath the city, which you might want to see by going to “Napoli Sotteranea”.