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Monday, August 30, 2010

3 Weird Vacation Destinations

Art on display in the Museum of Bad Art in Ded...Image via Wikipedia

With several weeks of summer still left there are still plenty of vacation spots to enjoy. If you're tired of the same-old-same-old you just might want to pack your family into your car, stuff your trunk with a few changes of clothes, and hit the road in search of some weird vacation spots.

Here are a few places along the way that you might want to stop off at.

The first is MOBA - The Museum of Bad Art - which is located in Dedham Massachusetts. You can find it in the basement of a movie theatre, right near the men's room.

The concept behind the museum is simple. According to Michael Frank, its curator-in-chief, in order for art to be accepted "it must have been created by someone who was seriously attempting to make an artistic statement—one that has gone horribly awry in either its concept or execution."

Each of the pieces of bad art that's on display was either pulled from the trash or cost less than $6.50.

MOBA was founded in 1994 and is dedicated to bad art. Their goal is to bring the worst art to the widest audience. Although their collection includes almost 500 pieces of truly bad art they only have enough space to exhibit between 50 and 70 pieces at a time.

Some of the worst pieces include "Lucy in the Field with Flowers," "Madonna and Child III," and "Sunday On the Pot with George."

If you're closer to Illinois you may want to stop off in Colliinsville in order to view the world's largest catsup bottle. Back in 1949 the people who made Brooks' Original Catsup wanted to advertise their product so they built a hundred and seventy foot tall water tower in the shape of a catsup bottle.

Although both the plant that manufactured the catsup and the brand are long gone the old tower still remains. And in 1995 it was restored to look as it did in its heyday.

Next, if you want to see how much garbage the average consumer creates every year then why not head over to Stratford, Connecticut, to the Museum of Garbage? While there you'll find a Trash-o-sauarus. It is a twenty foot sculpture of a dinosaur which is made out of a ton of garbage.

If this is of interest to you then you'd better hurry because the museum may close due to the lack of funding.

Now, on the other hand, a lot of people would rather just take a vacation away from work and relax with their family and friends in their own backyards. You know - the type of vacation where you can just kick back and have a barbecue, sip your favorite beverage, listen to good music, and enjoy enlightening conversations.

And to make it even more comfortable many like to decorate their backyards with Oxford Garden Outdoor Furniture. Go to => where you will find a wide selection at great prices.

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Arc De Triomphe, Paris - All Roads Lead to the Roman Arch

Paris: Avenue des Champs-Élysées - Arc de Trio...Image by wallyg via FlickrBy Derek F Wright
The Arc de Triomphe in Paris occupies a location in the Place de l'Etoile at the western end of the Champs-Elysees and at the centre of a star of twelve major avenues. No wonder, then, that the roundabout immediately circling this triumphal arch is particularly busy with traffic. Anyone studying an aerial view of the avenues radiating from the Place de l'Etoile would conclude that all roads must lead to this stunning Roman arch.
After all, the Arc de Triomphe was modelled by its architect, Jean Chalgrin, on the first-century Arch of Titus located on the Via Sacra, Rome. The Parisian version, dating from 1806, was commissioned after Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz, his greatest triumph, and dominates the landscape at 50m in height.

Yet the view of the Arc de Triomphe was not always so easy. Located on the right bank of the Seine, the arch was only subject to rationalisation of its environment under the supervision of Baron Haussmann, who was appointed by Napoleon III in 1852 to "modernise" the city. Haussmann redesigned the Place de l'Etoile and created the long avenues that give the arch its perspective.

Prior to Haussmann, the city echoed its medieval background, with winding streets and worn-out houses. Haussmann adorned the surroundings of the Arc de Triomphe with tree-lined boulevards, spacious gardens and buildings of uniform heights.

With its strong military feel, as conjured up by iconography of French youths fighting bearded Germanic warriors, the Arc de Triomphe became a destination for troops to parade after military campaigns. The French paraded there in 1919 and 1945, the Germans in 1871 and 1940.

Probably the most daring journey to the arch was by a pilot by the name of Charles Godefroy who flew his bi-plane through it in 1919 to celebrate the end of the First World War.

Nowadays, if you want to get there, you'll have to take the RER or the Metro and get off at the Charles de Gaulle-Etoile stop. You'll have to take an underpass to get to the arch as the roundabout is far too busy.

If you want to learn more about the Arc de Triomphe, visit After your visit you might want to stay in one of the nearby hotels in the Champs-Elysees area of Paris.

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5 Historic Places to See in Madrid

Courtyard of the Royal Palace of Madrid, SpainImage via WikipediaBy Sam Cassidy
Madrid, the beautiful capital city of Spain is and features numerous charming historical places to visit. Madrid is Spain's largest city and a large number of tourists visit the city each year. When visiting Madrid these 5 places are definitely worth a look:

1. The Royal Palace is the largest and one of the most impressive palaces in Europe. It has over 2000 luxuriously decorated rooms. After the fire that destroyed the old Alcázar of the Habsburgs during Christmas 1724, Philip V commissioned the Italian architect Filippo Juvara (1678-1736) to design a new palace. Visitors to the palace get to view 50 of its 2800 rooms. It is situated on the east of Madrid's historic centre. The palace is still used for head of state visits and other ceremonies.The palace is built entirely of stone consisting of granite from the Sierra de Guadarrama and white Colmenar stone. Colossal foundation walls support the building on the steep slope down to the Manzanares which is laid out in palace's gardens. It looks truly magnificent.2.The Plaza de España is one of Madrid's largest and most popular squares. On a sunny day it is filled with street vendors, tourists and sunbathing locals. The square is situated at the end of Gran Via, which is one of Madrid's popular main avenues. The square features a huge fountain and famous statue honoring the well known Spanish writer Cervantes.The square dates all the way back to the 18th century, when military barracks mainly occupied it. Today it is a popular spot for sunbathing and a vast number of street vendors on warm days.3.Gran Via is an absolutely beautiful street that showcases early 20th century architecture. The street is extremely lively and is one of the city's most popular shopping areas.Gran Via is composed of a vast number of hotels and movie theatres. The architectural design is rather elaborate particularly with the larger buildings. While in the square you can admire the beautifully decorated grand 'edificios' which is a street comprised of tall buildings including the landmark building Edificio Metrópolis.4.Theater Royal, Madrid is a beautifully built building. It is situated in the Plaza de Oriente facing the Palacio Real, was built in 1818 after the demolition of the Caños del Peral Theater. The young Queen Isabella II inaugurated the theatre in 1850 with a performance representing Donizetti's opera "La Favorita".

Located on the Plaza de Oriente, numerous European opera singers of the 19th and early 20th century appeared on stage at this grand theater and, for decades it was at the centre of Madrid's cultural scene. The theatre became extremely famous for performances of Verdi and Wagner operas, works by Stravinsky and Russian ballet.
5. Las Ventas is situated in the east of Madrid. It was constructed in 1929 and houses the most important bullring in the world. The first bullfight was in 1931. Each year thousands of people come to watch bullfighting, an event considered controversial to say he least around the world.Las Ventas has a very interesting style of architecture referred to as the Mozarabic style. This particular design is comprised of horseshoe-shaped arches and ribbed domes. This building also features pottery "incrustations" representing the shields of all the provinces of Spain.Madrid has a wonderful transport network and makes it easy to get around seeing all the is a regularly updated global hand picked selection of design, boutique and eclectic hotels all around the world for a budget of around US$150 a night and under.Featuring hotels all around the world, including the Hotel El Coloso in Madrid, Spain.Article Source:

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Friday, August 27, 2010

The Beautiful Venetian Masks of Venice

Example of masks used during the Carnival of V...Image via WikipediaBy Christopher Auriol
Mask Wearing in Venice
There was a time in the history of Venice when Venetians wore masks almost all year round, and not just for special occasions. They were a part of everyday life and became really popular when they started appearing at the Carnival of Venice in 1268. They were so popular with people from all walks of life because they allowed the wearer to hide their identity and to mingle with people from other classes of society without being known or found out.
The mask-makers, called mascherari, held a very important place in society and were highly skilled at the art of mask making. There was even a mask-makers statute dated 10 April 1436 in recognition of the industry, but after several hundred years of Venetian Masks being very much a part of the culture of Venice, the Senate decreed that mask wearing would be severely restricted. They believed there was a rise in mask wearing for illicit and illegal activities and with the culprit being masked it was very difficult to identify them.
Masks became a thing of children's parties until the Venice Carnival was re-launched in 1979 and suddenly their popularity shot up once again. During the Carnival of Venice you'll see many of the locals and tourists in Venice wearing Venetian masks of all different kinds, but you can buy these often exquisite works of art at any time of the year from numerous shops in Venice.
Where to Buy Venetian Masks
Authentic handmade Venetian Masks have been very carefully made with great skill and attention to detail so these masks come with a high price tag. But if you're looking for a mask that you would proudly hang on your wall or display on your sideboard the authentic Venetian Masks are what you should be buying.If you're looking more for a souvenir of your visit to Venice, or you want something affordable to wear at the Venice Carnival you can buy cheaper imitations in the majority of tourist oriented shops in Venice. These will be more affordable, but the quality will show and it's quite likely they weren't even made in Venice!
Different Types of Venetian Masks
There are several different kinds of Venetian Masks, some of which are more popular than others, and some are more beautiful than others. The popular Plague Doctor Masks (Medico della Peste) can be quite frightening and not at all beautiful in appearance, but this depends on how it's been decorated. If it's brightly coloured and decorated it makes them far less macabre!
The Plague Doctor Mask includes the characteristic long beak and they originated in the 16th century from a design by a French physician who was trying to protect himself from the plague.The other types of Venetian Masks are a little more normal in appearance and include the plainer Volto (or Lava) Masks that are mainly white and are usually worn with a 'tricorn' hat and a cloak.
Bauta Masks are beautifully decorated in comparison and are usually the most common mask that you'll see being worn at the Carnival of Venice, plus the most popular to buy as souvenirs. They usually cover the whole face, whereas a Columbine Mask covers just half of the face.
How to Make a Venetian Mask
If you're visiting the Venice Carnival and want to make your own mask this is possible! The most common way of making it is with paper-mache though this can be messy and time consuming. Another popular alternative is to buy a plain mask in your home country and then decorate it with feathers, beads, crystals and glitter for example, creating your own unique and personalised mask that you can bring with you to Venice for the Carnival!
Christopher Auriol is a specialist in European Travel. Read more about Venetian masks and the venice carnival.
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Top Ten Vacation Spots Enjoyed by Celebs

View from the bayImage via Wikipedia
Want to spend your holiday like a star? We've got you covered. Get ready to flip flop your way to summer bliss because there's nowhere better to bask, bathe, or banquet then here!

1.Cabo San Lucas

Considered the jewel of the Baja Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas is anything but boring. From world-class golf, to swimming, snorkling, and scuba, your days will be easily filled... or not (if you'd prefer).

2.Miami Beach

More then just a hot spot in the sun, Miami Beach has world famous nightclubs, Art Deco architecture, and designer fashion. It's no wonder supermodel Heidi Klum loves to go!

3.St. Barths

This pearl of the Caribbean is the perfect place to go and relax. With delicious restaurants, great shopping, and fourteen white sand beaches to choose from how can you go wrong? Mariah Carey doesn't think you can!

4.Turtle Island

For romance, relaxation, and adventure, take a trip to Turtle Island, a place named by Captain Cook and his sea turtle eating crew. Privately owned since 1972, this South Pacific paradise is thought to be "as close to heaven on earth as you're likely to get."

5.St. Tropez

Located on the French Riviera, St. Tropez has a reputation for famous and wealthy summertime guests. It has been dubbed the "playground to jetsetters, fashion models, and millionaires."

6.Martha's Vineyard

"Hollywood East", a summer colony only accessible by boat and air, is a favourite of Oprah and Sir Paul McCartney. A study found that the cost of living on the island is 60% higher than the national average and housing prices are 96% higher.


A picture perfect destination where every island is more beautiful than the last. The Aloha state has an incredible history and a flame living within its people that can't be put out. When up for a surf, Cameron Diaz likes to visit.

8.The Hamptons

For those busy New York stars who can only escape for the weekend, the Hamptons is the perfect compromise. Distinguished by its shops, restaurants, and galleries, it's no wonder high-stress New Yorkers like to spend their summers there.

9.African Safari

For those celebrities who look for adventure in their holidays, African Safaris seem to be a popular choice. But don't be fooled by their hats and habits, these holidays offer every possible creature comfort in the middle of immaculate wilderness.

10.Bora Bora

A Polynesian jewel of coral, crystal blue water, and lush forests, Bora Bora is one of the world's most beautiful islands. Located 160 miles northwest of Tahiti, Charlize Theron likes to go.


Aspiga was set up in 2005 to supply the best of hand made beachware from local manufacturers in Kenya. Products include hand made sandals and belts, beachwear (sarongs, flip flops and dresses), swimwear and bags. All items are of the highest quality.



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Eiffel Tower, Paris - What's the Best Way to Climb It?

The Eiffel tower at sunrise, taken from the Pl...Image via WikipediaBy Derek F Wright
The Eiffel Tower in Paris doubtless offers splendid views of the City of Lights when you get to the top of it. But after spending a morning on the tourist trail, is climbing the Eiffel Tower a challenge or a chance to take a breather?
Fitness fanatics will be pleased to hear that to get to the first and second levels, which both have restaurants, stairs can be climbed, in addition to a lift. The walks to each of the first and second levels consist of about 300 steps. Officially, the third and highest level can only be got to by lift, though there is an original spiral staircase to the third level which has stairs that are only 80 centimetres wide.
More relaxed visitors may wish to take a lift all the way to the top as the tower is 324 metres in height, equivalent to an 81-storey building.

Not surprisingly, the intrepid French climber Alain Robert has made the ascent of this iconic Parisian structure with his bare hands and feet on the exterior. This was in 1996 as part of his career as a climber of 85 giant structures around the globe.
During the war, the retreating French cut the lift cables so that the invading Germans would have to take the stairs to get to the summit. German soldiers got to the top to plant the swastika, only for the flag to blow away a few hours later. Hitler dodged the opportunity to take the narrow stairs to the top, so it is said that while he conquered France, he did not conquer the Eiffel Tower. Meanwhile, this symbolic tower was scaled by a Frenchman who hung the French flag during the German occupation.
But how to get down from the top? Safety nets on each of the levels limit the chance to make a swift descent by jumping. In 1912, however, a certain Franz Reichelt, a tailor, died after jumping 60 metres from the first deck with his home-made parachute. Rather foolishly, this was his first attempt with his invention and he had told the authorities that he would test it in advance with a dummy.
In 1987, the first bungee jump from the top of the tower was made. On reaching the ground, the extreme sports practitioner was arrested by Paris police.
You can read more about the Eiffel Tower at and nearby hotels and accommodation in the Invalides area of Paris where you can relax after your visit.

Article Source:,-Paris---Whats-the-Best-Way-to-Climb-It?&id=4889601

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Five Things You Must Do in Venice

The Caffè Florian in Venice, Italy. The Caffè ...Image via WikipediaBy []Christopher Auriol
Venice has so many things to see that there are admittedly about one hundred things you must do in Venice! As all the guide books will tell you, you can't visit Venice without visiting Saint Mark's Square and the Basilica, but the following guide is a bit different and includes some things you may not have thought of!

Coffee in Florians

While there are many cafés in Venice where you can grab a quick cup of coffee, none of them are as much a part of Venetian history as Caffe Florian. When you come here for a coffee you'll want to sit and stay a while, taking in the opulent decorations and relishing in the fact that so many famous people have drunk coffee here before you!

Opened in 1720 Caffe Florian is perhaps the oldest continuously operating coffee house in the world. When it first opened, the owner Floriano Francesconi named it 'Caffe alla Venezia Trionfante' meaning 'the café of the triumphant Venice', but it soon became known locally as Florians so he changed the name accordingly.

Caffe Florian has always occupied this prime position right on Saint Mark's Square, so this, along with the fact that back then it was the only coffee house in Venice that allowed women as well, meant that Florians was the most popular place for coffee in Venice. Today there are seven differently themed halls where you can sip a coffee, depending on your mood!

Bellini in Harry's Bar

Just as famous as Caffe Florian is Harry's Bar, and this is 'the' place in Venice to enjoy a Bellini! The Bellini and the Carpaccio were invented in Harry's Bar so strictly speaking there shouldn't be a better Bellini served anywhere in the world. This isn't just a cocktail bar though - Harry's Bar also serves some great food and the restaurant specialty is Italian favourites and classics.

The warm and friendly welcome has always been a characteristic of Harry's Bar and has helped to attract some famous names over the course of its history, including Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Ernest Hemingway, Woody Allen, and Alfred Hitchcock. It's been a part of the culture of Venice since 1931 when a Venetian bartender called Guiseppe Cipriana opened the bar. He'd lent a disowned Bostonian named Harry Pickering 10,000 lire a couple of years earlier. Harry paid him back but with an additional 40,000 lire telling Cipriana there's enough here to open your own bar, and we'll call it Harry's Bar!

Secret Itinerary Tour of the Doge's Palace

Everyone knows about the Doge's Palace but did you know about the Secret Itinerary Tour of the Doge's Palace? This is a more detailed tour that takes you behind the scenes to places the public are not normally allowed. It even includes the chance to cross one of Venice's most famous bridges, the Bridge of Sighs, which connects the Doge's Palace to the old prisons. In the old prisons you'll also see Casanova's cell, and find out where the city administration used to work. This really is a great tour and is so much more revealing than most of the others - the opportunity to cross the Bridge of Sighs alone makes it worthwhile for many tourists!

Explore the Islands of the Venetian Lagoon

The historic centre of Venice is set across 117 different islands that are all connected together by 455 bridges. These islands are called the Rialtine Islands and this is by far the most popular part of Venice for tourists to visit. But there's more to Venice than just the historic centre as the Venetian Lagoon is dotted with many other islands as well, all offering something a little different.

If you're staying in Venice for more than just a few days the islands of the Venetian Lagoon offer a completely different atmosphere to the busy streets and canals of central Venice. There's Murano for example, famous for the beautiful Murano Venetian glass, while on the island of Burano Venice's exquisite lace making industry is still going strong.

Walk the Venice Waterfront

Another opportunity to get away from many of the crowds during a warm summer's day is to walk along the Venice waterfront. Entering the waterfront promenade from Saint Mark's Piazzetta you turn to the left and have the opportunity to walk for about 20 minutes before reaching the end of the path. From all along the waterfront you can enjoy views of Saint Mark's Basin where the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal meet. Off in the distance is the island of San Giorgio and the bell tower of San Giorgio Maggiore. You can stop and admire those views for longer from one of the cafés you'll pass along the way, or sit in the shade of the Giardini Pubblici Park.

Christopher Auriol is a travel specialist who enjoys writing about the destinations throughout Europe. Visit his website for more information about []visting Venice and the []Venice Carnival.


Article Source: [] Five Things You Must Do in Venice

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Paris, France - La Seine Boat Trip

Bridge of Arts (just behind : New Bridge)Image via WikipediaBy []Harry Preston
One of the most pleasurable ways to see Paris is from the waters of the Seine. A number of companies run river cruises, almost all with commentary during the day, and most offer romantic after-dark trips lasting several hours that reveal the city in a different perspective. The most coveted place is on the top deck during an evening cruise, from where you can admire the subtly lit monuments, while inside you can enjoy a three- or four-course meal and fine wine inside.

Starting points vary; some companies start from lower quayside locations close to the Musee du Louvre, others closer to the Tour Eiffel. Typically, a cruise starting at the Port de la Bourdonnais and heading west will pass under a series of bridges, such as the Pont d'lena, with the Tour Eiffel to the left and the Palais de Chaillot and Jardins du Trocadero to the right, and the two-tier Pont de Bir-Hakeim before turning back along the Seine in an easterly direction. The cruise will then follow a route under the Pont de l'Alma and the beautiful Pont

Alexandre Ill, with its four gilded bronze winged horses at either end. Look to the right and glimpse the gold dome of Les Invalides, while to the left stand the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais. From here, the boat will pass under the Pont de la Concorde, with the Place de la Concorde, although not really visible, to the left, and under the wooden structure of the Passerelle Solterino. A spectacular view of the Musee du Louvre on the left will now start to emerge.

Passing under the Pont Royal, the Pont du Carrousel and the Pont des Arts, one of the most romantic bridges in Paris, and on to the ancient Pont Neuf, where the river meets the lie de la Cite and divides, the boat takes a route past the cathedral of Notre-Dame and on to the lie Saint-Louis, before making a turn and following the route back to the starting point.

For more information about []Paris, France and things to do in Paris, please visit

For more information about Switzerland and things to do in []Switzerland, please visit

Article Source: [,-France---La-Seine-Boat-Trip&id=4898094] Paris, France - La Seine Boat Trip
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Friday, August 20, 2010

Piazza Unità d'Italia - Firenze

Piazza Santa Maria Novella.Image via WikipediaBy: Daniele Davide

When You book a guided tour in Florence, with us You'll realize  how beautiful and magic this town is.
Piazza Unità d'Italia (Italian Unity Square) is a square in Florence, very close to Piazza della Stazione, with which it shares its important role as hub of  city bus routes. The square is on the north side of the church of Santa Maria Novella and formerly called the Old Town Square of Santa Maria Novella: the  square in fact already existed in the tenth century, when Santa Maria Novella it was still called "Santa Maria delle Vigne", so this reason in his name was  distinguished by the "new" Piazza Santa Maria Novella, open when the church became a great basilica. The large building on the corner of Station Square was
built by  Lucalberti. The building is today known as Palazzo Cerretani, after the family that owned it. In 1802 with the extinction of the Cerretani family  the building passed to Gondi family, who then sold it to the mayor Ubaldino Peruzzi for "Strade Ferrate Romane" (Roman Iron Roads). Today, after being owned  by the Railways for almost two centuries, it was ceded to Tuscany Region since 2005, who regularly holds exhibitions and other initiatives. The current naming of the square dates back to 1882 and was intended to celebrate the achieved political unity of the peninsula, which occurred a decade earlier. On that occasion the obelisk in the center was inaugurated to honor the victims of the wars of Independence, made by John Pini.
Book one of our guided Tour in Florence, and You'll enjoy the unique atmosphere of this beautiful town

About the Author
Daniele Davide, manager of Tredy Sas.
When You book a guided tour in Florence, with us You'll realize how beautiful and magic this town is.

Book one of our guided Tour in Florence, and You'll enjoy the unique atmosphere of this beautiful town
(ArticlesBase SC #3088875)
Article Source: - Piazza Unità d'Italia - Firenze

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The World's Ten Best Sights from Balloon Rides

Overlook over the Colorado River in the Grand ...Image via WikipediaIf only I lived in a balloon, I could see the whole world from the sky. These are the sights I would choose to see and the reasons why.

1.Grand Canyon, USA

Carved by the Colorado River in the state of Arizona, the Grand Canyon is 446km long, 29km wide, and in some parts 1.8km deep. The stone's burnt orange colour looks like terracotta and is absolutely magnificent.

2.Halong Bay, Vietnam

This "Bay of the Descending Dragon" consists of a dense group of 3000 colossal islands, each topped with thick, jungle vegetation, which rise dramatically from the ocean.

3.Ngorougoron Crater, Tanzania

Located at the eastern edge of the Serengeti, this crater lies within the Ngorongoro Conservation area, which covers more then 8000 square kilometres of immaculate African wilderness.

4.Machu Picchu, Peru

This "Old Mountain" is a pre-historic Inca site located 2,430 metres above sea level. It is believed to have been built as an estate for the 15th century Inca emperor Pachacuti. "The Lost City of the Incas" is perhaps the most familiar icon of the Inca world.

5.Chichen Itza, Mexico

This archaeological site was built by the Maya civilization in the Yucutan state of Mexico. The three best known complexes on the site are the Great Northern Platform, the Ossario Group and the Central Group.

6.Egyptian Pyramids, Egypt

These spectacular pyramids were built as tombs for the country's Pharaohs and their wives during the Old and Middle Kingdom periods. The most famous pyramids are located in Giza and on the outskirts of Cairo.

7.Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Built between 802 and 1220 AD in the Kmer civilization, Angkor Wat represents one of humankind's most astounding and enduring architectural achievements. The site was covered for centuries until French explorer Henri Monhot brought it to the world's attention in 1860.

8.Amazon Rainforest, Ecuador

This wet broadleaf forest covers most of the Amazon Basin of South America. The basin encompasses 7,000,000 square kilometres and is home to 2.5 million insect species, tens of thousands of plants, and 2,000 birds and mammals.

9.Iguasu Falls, Argentina and Brazil

A collection of 275 amazing waterfalls spanning 3 km along the border of Argentina and Brazil. Standing before this emotionally powerful and stunning force of nature is nothing short of humbling.

10.Stonehenge, England

One of the most famous archaeological sites in the world, these large, freestanding stones are surrounded by the most gorgeous earthworks. The Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments were erected around 2500 BC as burial grounds.

Ohhhh... If only I lived in a balloon....

British Safaris provides hot air balloon rides in the south east of England. All departure points are easily commutable from London. Flying with Balloon Safaris an experience you'll never forget. Check out their website



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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bed and Breakfast: A Different Way of Tourism in Sardinia and Sicily

Description: Topography of Sicily, created wit...Image via WikipediaBy: Paolo Pilia
Sardinia is a land that loves having guests. You get to know it slowly but it gives you a great warmth in return.

Its insularity is its character. It is a feature that limits it and at the same time gives it strength. It is not easy to reach and who lives in Sardinia knows it and its economy suffers.

The sea surrounds it and defines it with the grace of a gentle hug. But above all its position gives it a uniqueness that reflects in its nature, its history and its immense cultural heritage.

What stikes the visitor who arrives in Sardinia for the first time are its colors, the colors of its blue sea, its clear sky, the Mediterranean scrub and earth, sometimes dry, sometimes rocky, sometimes crossed by unexpected rivers.

But even more unique are its perfumes of sea and Mediterranean scrub, wood and mountains. Land of flavours to be discovered.

What is surprising about Sardinia is that despite of being bathed by a beautiful sea it is not a land of fishermen but mainly of agriculture and farming. The bed and breakfasts are a good solution in terms of hospitality and an opportunity to know the typical Sardinia. Especially during the summer the choice of a b & b in Sardinia, in the coastal areas or around hinterland areas, shows as a perfect solution to combine elements such as cheapness, authenticity and comfort.

The hospitality of the b & b, usualy family run, is obviously linked to the authenticity of its owners, but in Sardinia it is hard not to find this sacred ingredient. Such structures are located in every corner of Sardinia: in cities, by the sea, in hinterland areas, the choice is extensive and you can find the most suitable to your idea of vacation. It is important to note that the b & b is an excellent opportunity, if not the only one sometimes, to stay in those areas by location and convenience that has no equipped structure such as hotels, resorts and residences. The bed and breakfast thus allows to follow secondary routes, living in a comfortable environment that reflects the history and traditions of a ancient and fascinating land.

Sicily is the biggest island of the Mediterranean sea. It is also the most extensive and southest region of Italy. Sicily presents itself as a great land to be discovered. Its beauties are many and varied, different from area to area.

Along with amazing natural and unique landscapes there is a huge and complex historical - multicultural heritage.

Not to mention the wealth of local traditions and cuisine result of the resourse of the land and together with the wisdom of its inhabitants. In a frame so smooth, wide and varied there are many routes to discover its many faces. Colors, profumes, sounds and tastes of a single place are ready to accept and touch those who decide to visit.

A holiday in Sicily can take many forms depending on the destination and accommodation suited to the needs of individual travelers. Sicily deserves time to be seen since it is so full of attractions, and this applies to every single province.

Staying in a bed and breakfast in Sicily is a solution that certainly responds to a right decision for long stays. Indeed its main strength are the cheap prices compared to other types of accommodation such as hotels.

In addition there is the hospitality of the owners of these facilities and the possibility to share their lifestyle. That is with no doubt a source of personal enrichment and provides an opportunity to learn an important ingredient of this land and its inhabitants.

You can choose to stay by the sea, in cities, or in the hinterland of Sicily or you can study a route through one of the Sicilian provinces. Accommodations like this are distributed throughout the island and ensure good prices and familiar services.

About the Author
Paolo Pilia, is the marketing manager of the sardinian and sicilian Engedras TO. With Engedras you can tailor-make the dream holiday in B&B in Sardinia and B&B in Sicily.
(ArticlesBase SC #633414)
Article Source: - Bed and Breakfast: A Different Way of Tourism in Sardinia and Sicily
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Buying Property in South Italy

veduta di Reggio Calabria, view of Reggio CalabriaImage via Wikipedia

By:Peter J Flynn

I bought an apartment in Scalea, Calabria, South Italy three years ago and I must say that I am glad I did. Calabria is a very popular tourist destination for Italians from all over Italy, but is relatively unknown to foreigners, Calabria has not received the publicity and investment of the North but it does offer a real opportunity to find the holiday home of your dreams.

A word of warning.

Italy is known for it's red tape but the process of buying property is normally straightforward, the most important thing is the documents for the property. It can be difficult to purchase a property without the proper documentation. Properties are often handed down from generation to generation particularly in the South because as the people of South Italy tend not to move to different areas, the consequence of this is paperwork is not always available and it can be extremely hard to trace the original documents which could date back for generations. My advice is if the documents are not readily available it may be worth considering buying a different property because it could a long time before the documents are found it at all.

That said the buying process usually entails the following.

1. The price is agreed by the buyer and seller

2. There is a document called a compromesso which is the official agreement between the buyer and seller which must be signed by both parties

3. The properties details, including the catastal. The catastal is the rateable value of the property in question, this is what the tax and some of the notary fees are based on. It also states the conclusion date of the deal.

4. The buyer's (all parties who name's will be on the deed) need to obtain a "codice fiscale" personal tax code number. This applies to both parties whether they are Italian of not, no deal can be completed without these details. Registration for foreign buyers is free, you will need your passport when registering for your tax code.

5. You can also open an Italian bank account to transfer funds again you will need your passport for proof of I.D.

6. A date is then set to conclude the deal at the Notary office (a local government official), all funds must be available on this date before contracts are exchanged. The Notary does a check on the property to ensure there are no outstanding debts.

7. The details of the sale will be read out by the Notary in Italian - most agents will provide a translation service (extra fees usually apply).

8. The funds are transferred, then the keys are exchanged

9. The deed will be registered by the Notary and dispatched to the land registry office.

The deed will be registered in the new owners name. A copy is produced, stamped and returned to the Notary's office. This can take up to 6 weeks, you will then have your own copy and the original document is kept at the Notary's office.

Nowadays due to the current economic climate it is much harder to attain mortgages such as in the UK, but in Italy the restrictions are not so severe, and a mortgage can be obtained more easily.

In summary; once you have agreed the price, obtained a tax code, you have had the property checked out by the Notary and all the documents are in place, the monies are transferred and registered - the property is yours!

It is always advisable to seek legal advice before purchasing any property.

I hope you find this useful, having been through this process myself it is pretty painless, good luck.

To see FAQ's about buying property in Italy and finding out more about what South Italy has to offer please visit

Article Source: [] Buying Property in South Italy   
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Iron Age Grave Site Discovered Near Novo Mesto - 29 July 2010 - Guide2Slovenia News

Novo mesto, Novo mestoImage via WikipediaIron Age Grave Site Discovered Near Novo Mesto - 29 July 2010 - Guide2Slovenia News

Iron Age Grave Site Discovered Near Novo Mesto29 July 2010

A dual grave from the 4th century BC was discovered at an archaeological site near the city of Novo mesto in the Dolenjsko region (SE) on Monday. The archaeologists assume a man and a woman were buried together.

Since there were no skeletal remains in the grave the scientists had to make their assumptions on the basis of the objects found in the grave.

Finds such as this are very rare in the Halstatt culture area, two have been found near Novo mesto. The grave contained objects such as glass and amber beads, clay pots and weapons, said the head of excavations Borut Kriz of the Dolenjska Museum.

The reason for such double burials is still disputed. There could have been ritual reasons, as it had been recorded by the "father of history" Herodot for the people living in the Balkans, there could have been emotions or something completely different, curator Kriz added.

The area where the grave was discovered, the Kapiteljska field, is a rich archaeological site where in the three decades of excavation 36 sepulchral mounds, 300 Late-Bronze-Age urns and 700 Halstatt urns had been found.

The excavations, sponsored by the Novo mesto municipality and the Ministry of Culture, have been carried out throughout by the Dolenjska Museum. President Danilo Tuerk has also visited the excavation site.


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Friday, August 13, 2010

Miracle of Saint Catherine of Bologna

Bologna-piazza maggioreImage via WikipediaCopyright © 2010 Bob and Penny Lord's Site
Saint Catherine of Bologna
From Visionaries, Mystics and Stigmatists
Perhaps, one of the greatest Miracles is the incorrupt body of our Saint, seated on a regal throne in a Chapel to the left of the main altar in the Church of Corpus Domini in Bologna.
It remains intact, never having decomposed for over five hundred years!
In the beginning, after they realized they could not place her body in the grave, four nuns would carry Saint Catherine's body to the parlor on a wooden stretcher, every time visitors came to view the body, or the faithful wanted to venerate the Saint.
This went on for twelve years!
Then the nuns decided that the faithful could view her better if she were seated on a chair.
To their amazement, her body which had lost none of its suppleness, rigor mortis never having set in, became stiff, and the nuns could not place her in the chair.

It was only when the Abbess ordered her, did Catherine, out of obedience, sit unaided in the chair and in the same position she can be found to this day.

Our Saint wanted to be where all the people of God could venerate her easily, and so she appeared to one of the nuns of the Monastery of Corpus Domini and told her she wanted a Chapel built close to the outer church.

Previously, she had been in a Chapel inside the Monastery.

From the very beginning, Saint Catherine's Miracles and fame have brought people from all parts of the world, not only the simple faith-filled believers who fill and enrich our beautiful Church, but also future Saints, Kings and Queens and scholars.

Among the first to come was Queen Isabel of Naples, Italy, who arriving in her regal finery, venerated our Saint and then left her ring as a token of her affection. She was followed by Popes (one of whom was Pope Clement VII), Cardinals (including St. Charles Borromeo who gifted her with a precious vestment), Emperors, Princes and all kinds of personages.

Pope Clement VII granted the nuns permission to say the Office and celebrate Holy Mass in honor of Saint Catherine on March 9th which became her Feast Day. He inscribed her name in the Martyrology of Saints of the Roman Catholic Church. He was followed by other Popes who have granted indulgences and privileges to pilgrims coming to the Sacred place to venerate the saint.

The process for her Canonization was started in 1669 and was solemnly concluded on Trinity Sunday, the 22nd of May, 1712 when Pope Clement IX proclaimed to the whole world, to the whole Roman Catholic Church that we had a Saint!

The first time we went to visit Saint Catherine, it was out of holy curiosity; her body was incorrupt! But when we got there, we discovered a very powerful Saint who became very personal to us. We have loved her since 1977, the first time we brought our grandson, all of ten years old, to Europe with us. We hope reading about her that you will turn to her and get to know her with your head and heart, as we have.

[1]Every mortal sin is a sin against God. [2]make amends, restitution [3]a substance emanating from tar - used for waterproofing and covering roofs [4]refer to chapter on St. Catherine of Genoa

Bob and Penny Lord are renowned Catholic authors and television hosts on EWTN, Global Catholic television. They are prolific writers about the Catholic faith, especially the Saints for which they have been dubbed "experts on the Saints." For more information about Visionaries, Mystics and Stigmatists like Saint Catherine of Bologna go to:



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The Paris Top 10 Sights

Eiffel Tower, seen from the champ de Mars, Par...Image via WikipediaCopyright © 2010
Paris is unsurpassed in it's natural beauty, charm and history. First time visitors are often overwhelmed by the sheer amount of attractions to see, and how to fit it all into their limited time.
No wonder so many people return to Paris!
However, if you only plan on going to Paris once, you will want to see the best that Paris has to offer. With so many sights and attractions to see, it's very difficult to narrow the field of choices, but there are some sights which shouldn't be missed.
With that in mind, here are the top ten sights in Paris, chosen because of their historical significance, popularity or natural beauty.

The Eiffel Tower: When you mention Paris, most people automatically think of the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower was built for the 1889 World Exposition. When the tower was first unveiled, the populace thought it was a towering monstrosity, and it was nearly torn down. Since then, more than 220 million people have visited the Eiffel Tower, and it has become a national icon. The tower is beautiful to behold when lit up, and offers a spectacular view from above, or below.

Notre Dame Cathedral: The Notre Dame took over a century to build, and was once the center of medieval Paris. It is probably the most beautiful cathedral in all of Europe.

Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysees: The Arc was built by Emperor Napolean, and offers a fantastic view. No trip to Paris is complete without seeing the sculptures and reliefs that adorn the arch. The promenade offers some spectacular shopping opportunities, as well as an assortment of cafes.

Versailles: Versailles was home to the King of France, as well as the seat of their government for more than 100 years. A walk through this remarkable palace, will ensure you feel like your walking in the footsteps of nobility. Inside is the Hall of Mirrors, which consists of 250ft of sheer glass. The Louvre: The Louvre is home to some of the most famous works of art in the world.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery: The crypts are amazing to behold, and there are some extremely famous people buried here. Including Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and Richard Wright of Pink Floyd fame.

Seine River Cruise: See the majesty of Paris glide by while riding in a glass boat. You'll get to see the Eiffel Tower, old historic bridges and even the Notre Dame Cathedral.

Musee d'Orsay: One of the most visited museums on the planet, the Musee d'Orsay has the largest collection of paintings and sculptures produced between 1848 and 1914. If you're a lover of art, then this is a sight you won't want to miss.

The Sorbonne: Founded in 1257, the Sorbonne is one of Europe's oldest universities, and many a great thinker has wandered its halls.

Sacre Coeur and Montmartre: This basilica dominates the highest point of Paris, and was consecrated in 1909. It boasts gold mosaic interiors, and offers a magnificent view of the city below.

To find your perfect Paris city break, visit to search for the very latest deals & offers.



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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Caravaggio And His Followers In Florence

The MatchmakerImage via Wikipedia

"The dark voice of reality"... is not the title of an unedited album by the Doors, but one of the most appropriate definitions ever given to the work of Michelangelo Merisi, also called Caravaggio. Indeed, Merisi's approach to life was that of a contemporary rock star. His short life, turbulent and dissipated, characterized by violence, riots and general excess (he was also condemned to death for murder, even if he was not executed) make him a perfect example of a "cursed artist", compared to which Mick Jagger and Ozzy Osbourne come across as little more than beginners.

Caravaggio, though, was much more than that. One of the major representatives of the Baroque, he was probably one of the greatest painters of all time. His ability to represent reality in all its rawness, along with the characters of his works, their faces distorted by emotions, deformities, seduction and fury, make him a real "man of our times". The strong contrast between light and shade and the gloomy and nocturnal atmosphere of his works still upset and attract real art lovers as well as amateurs from all over the world.

However, not everyone, at that time, understood the greatness of Caravaggio. Florentines in the first place (painters and non) remained indifferent to his work, regardless of the fact that the Grand Duke Cosimo II de Medici, a member of the most famous Florentine family, demonstrated his appreciation for his work on more than one occasion. After all, Florence has always been a conservative city and its citizens have certainly never been willing to be taught by a "foreigner". Therefore, even if the most important families of the city did appreciate his works, the Florentine artistic community remained anchored to the "academic" painting tradition in fashion at that time.

As far as we know, Caravaggio never went to Florence. He wanted to, but did not make it on time. Regardless of this Florence is, after Rome, the city where most of his and his followers' works are found. This is why the exhibition "Caravaggio and his followers", organised to remember the 400th anniversary of his death, is an unmissable and unique event. From the 22nd of May to the 17th of October 2010 Florence will host nine of the most important masterpieces of the Milanese painter and tens of his followers' works, which will be spread among Palazzo Pitti, Uffizi and Villa Bardini.

The exhibition will include paintings such as "Bacco", "Amorino Dormiente", 'Medusa', "Sacrificio di Isacco", "Cavaliere di Malta" and the "Cavadenti", displayed at the Galleria Palatina and the Uffizi gallery, and the "Ragazzo morso dal ramarro", displayed at the Villa Bardini. These are incredible paintings that revolutionised painting in the 1600's and still impress the viewers 400 years later with their modernity and emotional impact. Along with them, the exhibition will display "Ritratto di Maffeo Barberini" and the "Ritratto di Cardinale", both of which are paintings that have only recently been attributed to Caravaggio.

These last two paintings will be the greatest surprise for the public as these works have only recently been attributed to the Milanese master and are therefore previously unseen by viewers. Along with the works by Merisi, viewers will enjoy a wide range of works by the so called "Caravaggeschi authors" (including Spadarino, Gerrit Van Honthorst, Artemisia Gentileschi) who were inspired by the same intuitions as their master. These are painters who found in Florence the passionate support of local families, such as the Medici, who adopted the style and atmosphere of Caravaggio and who sometimes met him in person, but who cannot be called real disciples because Caravaggio was always too involved in his chaotic life to find the will or the time to transfer his knowledge to others. It actually seems that Caravaggio never liked the idea of having followers and imitators. Apparently, he was not the easiest of men to get along with....

However, the real reason why Caravaggio is still so successful in 2010 is his ability to mix the sacred and profane, beauty and curse, splendor and squalor, paintbrush and sword. The reason why he is still so beloved by contemporaries lies in his ability to avoid academic or symbolically rich language and to talk to everyone through the most powerful emotions common to all mankind: rage, hate, love, light and shade. This is why we feel so close to him. The shady artist from many centuries ago and us, always in search for real, concrete and authentic emotions out of the glittering fictions of our time.

We rent two apartments in the very center of Florence, (by two-minutes walk you are in the Duomo square) equipped with all the comforts : air conditionning, tv-sat and everything you need to cook your own meals. A nice cheap way to visit Florence!
Florence Holiday Apartments



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