Daily Archives: 21.02.2014

Chamonix, France – Gateway to the European Cascades



Chamonix, France – Gateway to the European Cascades

Chamonix

France may be known for its luxury hotels, exquisite food, rich culture and fashion more than the adventurous sports. If you are looking for some adventure, while spending your holidays in France, then Chamonix is the place. Chamonix, situated between wonderful mountains in Southeastern France, is a great winter sports resort town. It is also known as “The gateway to the European Cascades”. As a matter of fact, it was the site of the first Winter Olympics in 1924. Skiing was introduced in Chamonix at the end of the 19th century by Dr. Payot. Although it’s known as the oldest Ski resort in France but it has many other winter sports to offer like Paragliding, Snow shoeing, Ice climbing and rafting. This is surely the place where everybody would want to go at least once in lifetime.

The Attractions:

Aiguille du Midi

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Aiguille du Midi, a famous mountain in Chamonix is known for its Cable car ride. It lifts you over 9000 feet within 20 minutes. Aiguille du Midi is the highest point that can be touched by cable cars.  It is known as one of the most thrilling cable car rides. It holds the world record of highest vertical cable car. On reaching the top, the whole Mont Blanc massif can be seen easily. This crazy but brilliant idea was adapted from the Aiguille du Midi lift. This thrilling and amusable ride is something nobody would like to miss.

Skiing

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Cannes is known for annual Cannes Festival, Paris is known for the Eiffel Tower and Chamonix “ The gateway to the European Cascades is known for Skiing off course. Just imagine yourself skiing through big slopes and around trees going with a super speed. Chamonix has recently started its official website by which anybody can register for Ski holidays and accommodation too.

Don’t know how to ski? You don’t need to be a diehard skiing fan to enjoy yourself. Everything is done under proper supervision of fully qualified experts.

Ice Climbing

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The non-skiers also can enjoy plenty of winter activities like snowmobiling, ice climbing, ice hiking, sleigh riding etc. It is absolutely necessary to go ice climbing in Chamonix but only with a guide to ensure safety.  The Compagnie des Guides( It is an association founded in 1821 to satisfy an increasing demand to ascend Mont Blanc. It was created by local men who knew the surrounding mountains inside out.) runs an ice climbing school and provides ice climbing courses. If you already have good climbing skills, the Compagnie des Guides will organize a climb as per your climbing abilities. Its really a mind blowing experience.

Sleigh Riding

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Horse drawn sledding is available and it is best to ask the Tourist Office for the details. It is a great experience to be pulled by huskies sitting in a sled but in the Mont Blanc valley, you will also have the opportunity to learn to mush a team. Doesn’t it sound awesome, well, blows my mind and hope yours too.

Snow Hiking

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No doubt, the best place in Europe to go snow hiking is Chamonix. It becomes more clear when you see the village at the foot of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain of Europe. However unless you know the alley well, don’t go hiking alone. Hiring a guide is the best way to explore the region. Summer is the best time to try snow hiking in Chamonix.

Snow Shoeing 

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Lots of outings are organized by the Campagnie des Guides, you can choose to go just for a day or a five day trek. They also organize a “night time walk” going through forests and offer a delicious dinner too. Quite Flattering! Snow shoeing is a great way to discover the mountains and it is an activity that everyone can enjoy, children or seniors. In Les Contamines, a special snowshoeing tour called “Mini Aventure igloo” is organized for children aged seven to twelve. Children learn about the animals of region and learn how to build an igloo.

Panoramic Restaurant

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There is Panoramic Restaurant right at the top station of Mont Blanc Tramway. The view from there is remarkable. You see the entire town of Chamonix, Mont Blanc and most importantly sunshines which are irresistibly beautiful. The restaurant serves Savoyarde food as well as pasta, soup, steak and even foie grass. It is also possible to reserve your table in advance too. The presentation at the restaurant is really overwhelmingly attractive. With top food and a breathtaking view of the Mont Blanc Massif, it is worth a visit.

Lac Cornu

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It is a lake in the Aiguilles Rouges massif. You can hike to Lac Cornu from the lift at Planpraz. On a sunny day it is sheer bliss to watch the lake.

Now, what else is great about Chamonix? This is a question that has thousands of answers. Those who are not looking for all the pumping sports and stuff then Sightseeing can be the reason to spend summer holidays in Chamonix. There is Helicopter tours available to fly high over the Chamonix and take some beautiful shots.

There is Haute Route, Mer de Glace, Mont Blanc Tramway, Lac Blanc, Bossons Glacier, Pointe Helbronner and the list goes on and on. This place is definitely worth experiencing.

The Fashion Capital of the World: Milan, Italy



The Fashion Capital of the World: Milan, Italy

The most important city of Italy in economic and financial terms is Milan. It is the second most populous city of Italy and is one of the most beautiful cities of Italy. It is the business capital of the country and the fashion capital of not just the country but the world. It represents the ‘New Italy’ in contrast to Rome that represents the ‘Old Italy’. There are a lot of modern and many historical sights in the city. Part of the architecture of the city was destroyed by the bomb raids in the Second World War but most of that is rebuilt.

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It is a city of international importance when it comes to fashion and is the stylistic capital of the country. It is compared to Paris, London and New York in the fashion industry and is a tough competitor for them. The fashion in Milan is inspired by the Parisian culture but has developed on its own over time. The Milanese fashion maintains the simplicity, sobriety and the fabric quality. The city houses two fashion weeks: in Spring and Autumn. It is the home of the leading designers of the world, which include Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Miuccia, Trussardi, etc. The city is also the home of many fashion houses and labels even though some of these labels were not originated in Milan. They include Valentino, Prada, Armani, D&G, Versace, Miu Miu, Luxottica, etc. The fashion agencies of Milan and the fashion institutes are famous worldwide and recognized internationally such as Beatrice International Models Agency, Style Design College, Istituto Marangoni, etc.

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Though Milan does not have the historical sites like in Rome and Florence, it is still one of the most visited cities of the country. The main attraction of the tourists in Milan is the Duomo. It is the heart of Milan and is called Milan’s Duomo. It is the largest cathedral of Gothic architecture on this earth build in 500 years starting from 1386. Tourists are allowed to take a walk on the roof which is an amazing experience to wander among spires and statues and look at the breathtaking views. There are in total 3200 statues and 135 spires on the rooftop. The cathedral is located in the Piazza del Duomo also known as Duomo square. Duomo Museum, the Contemporary Art Museum and the Statue of Vittorio Emanuele are also located on this square which makes the square the most historically important place in the city.

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Another one of the most important tourist spots in the city is the Santa Maria Della Grazie or Saint Mary of the Graces. This is the UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the architectural masterpiece of the world renowned architect named Donato Bramante of the renaissance era. The delicately carved exterior makes it very attractive from the outside and the beautiful, bright interior makes you want to stay inside the basilica forever. One of the most famous paintings, ‘the Last Supper’ decorates a wall of the church which was the former dining hall. The Last Supper is a masterpiece painting by the famous and exceptionally talented Leonardo da Vinci. The painting survived even after the bomb attack on this building in 1943. But only limited visitors are allowed to view the place and hence you should book in advance if you are visiting Milan.

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Another unimaginable piece of art and architecture in Milan is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele which provides you the reason of Milan being the fashion capital. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is the shopping mall designed and built in the 19th century and is like a palace having mosaic floor and a roof made of glass which makes it look stunning and wonderful. It has boutiques of Louis Vuitton, Prada, a store of silverware called Bernasconi, restaures and cafes such as Gucci Café, Zucca, and many more famous art galleries, boutiques, stores, books shops, restaurants, etc. The central dome of the mall is magnificent and the mosaic floor on the bottom is decorated with emblems of cities of Milam, Rome, Florence, etc. This place is the evidence of the style and fashion of the city.

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Apart from this, Milan also has a castle named Castello Sforzesco and is different from the usual castles that are located over hills and mountains. This castle on the central land of Milan houses many museums and a grand park which was the courtyard. There is the last sculpture of Michelangelo, the Rondanini Pieta in the museum of the castle and it also has a variety of collection of ancient art, ancient musical instruments, etc. Milan also has a very famous Opera House called Teatro alla Scala or simply called the La Scala. This historic opera house was opened in 1778, renovated in 2004 and is the most famous historical monument for famous operas by super stars like Pavarotti and Maria Callas. The opera house and theatre also has a museum by the name Museo Teatrale alla Scala which has a collection of many musical instruments.

In short, Milan is a city that offers a large variety of tourist places. There is everything available in Milan from a fine ancient church to old palaces and castles. There are excellent museums and opera houses and world famous theatres. There are cultural gems, strikingly beautiful buildings, modern works and sleek architecture along with squares and streets organized perfectly on the land of Milan.

Mauritius- Of Blue Waters And Shades of Sand



Mauritius- Of Blue Waters And Shades of Sand

Mauritius is the island nation in the Indian Ocean. It is located off the southeast coast of the African continent. It is a multilingual nation where languages like English, French and other Asian languages are spoken. It is known for its high democracy and economic and political freedom. It is an island of very diverse culture and language. People from all over the world are settled here. It is a major tourist attraction of Asia known for its beautiful beaches. But this is not all that Mauritius has to offer. There are lot of other things which one can do besides sunbathing and swimming. The country was also popular for being the only home for the Dodo bird which had now become extinct.

Mauritius

Port Louis is the capital and the largest city of Mauritius. If you want to see the diversity of Mauritius, Port Louis is the best place. It has the glimpses of the varied and diverse culture that had been passed down through the generations in Mauritius. The culture of Mauritius is a classic blend of Africa, India, China, France and other middle-east countries. The food here is splendid in taste and is from all around the world. It had inherited a variety of flavours from different migrations and colonies throughout history. Its cuisines include Indian dishes like roti, dal, curry, rice, etc. and also Mughlai dishes like biryani filled with meat and spices. The best of Chinese and French cuisines is also famous here. While staying in Port Louis you may visit the Aapravasi Ghat, a world heritage site. It is known for the fact that in the 19th century. The labourers or slaves mainly from India were brought in the island through this ghat.  The Port Louis Market and Theatre are also worth visiting.

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The Port Louis Market is the local market of the city which is famous for cheap clothes and goods. People from all over the country come for shopping here. The diversity of the nation is reflected in the types of goods sold here and also the crowd that visits this market. Unlike countries like Bali and Thailand, you should not expect much bargaining in this market but you can get maximum of 10-20% of discount from the shopkeepers. The market also has big shops and showrooms of branded textile companies whose goods are manufactured in Mauritius itself. The famous China Town is also there where you will find Chinese shops and restaurants.

Caudan Waterfront is a place to visit in Port Louis for the youngsters and is famous for being a favourite destination for young couples and teenagers. It has shopping complexes and restaurants which offer mostly all type of cuisines.

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Grand Bay is the city of Mauritius and is the first area to become a favourite of the tourists. It is a perfect place to have fun and is open for the whole night and had abundant of shopping complexes, discos, bars and restaurants. It has plenty of beautiful beaches and attractions like the recently renovated La Cuvette. The Pamplemousses Botanical gardens is one of the many attractions of this city and are famous for the giant pond full of Amazon lilies. It is the oldest botanical garden in the southern hemisphere. Mauritius also has a beautiful national park known as Black River Georges National Park. It is the biggest national park of the country and covers about 2% of the island’s land surface. It is the only left forest cover area of the island. It is important due to the fact that it is the habitat of thousands of indigenous specious of the island. Once a hunting ground, the area became a protected reserve in 1994.

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If you want to have a look on the rich history of the island, Eureka is the perfect place for you. It is a beautiful and marvellous specimen of engineering. It is a mansion of 109 doors and has such a structure that keeps it cool even in unbearable hot summers. Behind the main mansions, there are number of stone cottages and servant and kitchen quarters. Going along, there is the beautiful Ravin waterfall. The mansion was built in 1830s and reminds of the luxurious era of the French colonialism.

eureka

Mauritius being an island country is most famous for its beaches. The Pereybere beach is the best beach for swimming and is famous for its shopping facilities and its restaurants and bars. The Lle Aux Cerfs is a tiny island in the Mauritius landscape and is a paradise for water sport lovers. It has number of beautiful beaches. The restaurants and bars here are quite costly. The Blue Bay beach is the most beautiful beach of the island. It is a white sand beach and has the bluest water possible. It is very crowded on the weekends though. The Tamarin beach is the favourite of the locals and is very popular among the surfers. There was a time when the locals didn’t allowed the outsiders to visit this beach but now it has become the most popular beach of the island. It was earlier known as Santosha Bay and has its own dolphin pod. The beach offers great view of the nearby extinct volcano, Montage du Rempart.

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Mahebourg is also a tourist attraction of Mauritius and is famous for its Monday Market which is the biggest open air market held in the island. A great number of people visit this market. It is one of the main fishing villages of the island. The place is famous for its spicy street food, beautiful beaches and markets. Mauritius also offers a unique place to visit known as Chamarel which is famous for its various coloured earth surfaces, red, blue, yellow and green. It is formed due to erosion of volcanic ash.

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Mauritius is a great place to visit with family and for honeymoon vacations. You are responsible for your own safety in Mauritius. Do not fall into the trap of those offering free guided tours. Do not hire unlicensed taxis or cars.

The Empire of New York City: The Empire state Building



The Empire of New York City: The Empire state Building

We human are primal beings; however advanced the technology goes we will always be slaves to basic senses which tells us higher the better. The height gives you a heady feeling; it says you own the world. The Empire state Building is a testament to this thought. Since 1931, this magnificent creation stands tall and proud right in Manhattan, New York. The 103 story tall structure has a remarkable history and currently is fourth tallest sky scrapper of USA, 23rd tallest of the worlds and tallest in new-York. Remember King Kong! Yes that’s the one we are talking about.

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One may ask what is it that makes it good enough to be considered a tourist destination. Tall Buildings are no longer a rarity and more so in New-York! The answer lies in the history of the building, right from the foundation to the roof and the million-dollar view. Let’s dive down.

The world from the top of the world. It sure is beautiful. It is 443 meters in height overall with 381 meters at 102 floor. There are 85 stories of commercial area with the top 16 stories dedicated to art deco tower. The building has its own Zip-code, 73 elevators and 113 km of pipe! The architecture is pre-World War II with modernistic use of steel and glass.  The location of the building may seem a bit distant but the view makes up for the extra walk.

The major point is the observation Deck which gives you the best feeling in the world. The lines to the observation deck are as legendary as the building itself, but every good thing comes at a price, right! The crowd may be a put off but one look in any direction will knock your breath out. The miles and miles of buildings, people bustling for their work and an eerie silence of them all (you are on 103rd floor, remember!). The Hudson is right there for you to feast your eyes on. The sailors and coast guards appear as toy ships wobbling on the water. And as the sun sets, the lights are on. That’s when the fun begins. The sheer number of ordinary lights come together to give you a picturesque vision. The red taillights of cars all moving in a line and the gorgeous evening sky.  The vision will make you smile; no technology of the world can bring you this happiness. It only takes basics to create such a masterpiece master piece.

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The Empire state Building was the world’s tallest building since its first 40 years i.e. early 1931 to late 1970s. The idea began in the 18th century, took a firm hold in 19th. William F Lamb designed this modern wonder of the World and the design was produced in just two weeks! The design was a top-down one with a clear emphasis on height and view. The Excavation started on 22nd January while that actual construction began March 17th 1930. This time co-inside with the great depression giving the immigrants a place to work. One may conservatively think that the construction took them atleast few years but the pride of New-York stood firm and steady on 1st May 1931. 14 months is all that was needed to build a 103 story building!

What does one do with 103 story building? Rent it out! But the depression was cruel and thus for next 20 years it was only the observation desk on the roof that made money. In 1950 the jinx was broken and a 51million dollar deal (highest price paid for any single land at till that time) and the Empire was in the game.

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The empire state building has seen its share of accidents with five people dying during the construction itself. In 1945 a plane crashed into the building’s northern flank leading to death of 14 people. The lift man of the building hold the world record for surviving the longest elevator fall of 75 stories till date. A tall building is an obvious choice if one wishes to commit suicide, and one of the tallest buildings? Well it has seen its share of suicide attempts. 30 to be precise.

The name of the building is derived for the pet name of the city, Empire City. It has become a cultureal landmark for USA marking its superiority in engineering and innovation. Till this day, the building shines in floodlight every day. The special days have special display lined up. After the 7/11 attacks the building was bathed in red blue and white for several months. Death of Fay Wray was marked by keeping the building in dark for 15 minutes in 2004. From the important matches to the election and re-election of barrack Obama, the empire state building stands in support.

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If you are among lucky few, you could get married on the observation deck! This valentines three couples got their wish via a lucky draw. With whole New York as their backdrop, the couples exchanged vows. Now this is a perfect wedding.This would be the kind of tale you would want to tell your Grand Kids!
If you are a visitor to NYC or a passerby, this is not a place to miss. The architecture the feel and the freedom of the place will make it a memory for you. See the lights dim over the city, the sun set and the street shimmer in lights where you observe from the top. New York is proud of the place and rightly so.

The Royal and Exotic: The Grand Hotel Kronenhof



The Royal and Exotic: The Grand Hotel Kronenhof

The Grand Hotel Kronenhof is a extraordinary five star hotel situated in a village (Laret quarters) in Pontresina, Switzerland. The famous San Niculo Protestant Church (de) is also located adjacent to the Grand Hotel. The Grand Hotel Kronenhof is also in the list of Swiss Inventory of Cultural Property of National and Regional Significance. The founding family of this hotel, The Gredigs, owned thins hotel for over 140 years. Andreas Gredig took over the place of ‘Gasthaus Rossli’ in the year 1848 as a gift for his son Lorenz Gredig and he started a guesthouse business there which includes a wine shop also. He named this business as ‘Gasthauszur Krone-Post’ originally but later the name was changed to ‘Krone’ only.

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Over the years many additions were done in the construction of the buildings and he later transformed the guesthouse into a grand hotel. The hotel was designed by the architects, Georg and Jakob Ragaz (de), between the years 1896 and 1898. The structure of the hotel was a three winged and the whole building was in the shape of a horse shoe. The grand hotel was dome shaped with a crown on the top of its dome. The entrance hall of the building was in neo-baroque style and was light bathed. There was a courtyard also (which was three sided) surrounding the main entrance of the hotel. After this expansion of the hotel, the hotel was renamed as “Grand Hotel Kronenhof und Bellavista”. Today, the words ‘und Bellavista’ are dropped from the name and the grand hotel is known by the name “The Grand Hotel Kronenhof”. According to Travelers’ Choice Awards held by Trip Advisor in the year 2014, the hotel is the best hotel in the world.

There are in all 50 luxury apartments available for the people in the very supreme locations. These apartments are located separately in four impressive buildings. Even the famous Las Sours, the two sisters, are also situated near these apartments. Thus, the people can even visit Las Sours by taking a short and sweet walk from their respective allotted apartments. The décor of these apartments are designed with perfection in contemporary art design. We can say that the creativity of the designers has no limit. People will surely enjoy the luxurious and furnished ambience of these apartments. All the rooms and the suites of this hotel are of sizes ranging from 35 m2 to 75 m2. There are 15 junior suites, 22 deluxe junior suites and 9 suites made in different styles.

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In all the Grand Hotel Kronenhof consists of 9 suites, 22 junior suites De Luxe, 15 junior suites Comfort, 17 double rooms De Luxe, 26 double rooms Comfort, 9 double rooms Standard, 8 single rooms De Luxe, 5 single rooms Comfort and 1 single room Standard. The walls are of gold and royal blue fabric which is decorated with a highly modeled material. The furniture are furnished and newly dyed. The deluxe rooms are double sized are charmingly made to provide great comfort. All the 112 guest rooms have the facilities of satellite TV and internet. All sorts of internet connections are available such as Wireless/Lan internet access via a Hotspot or AD hoc. A ADSL connection is also available in almost every room of the hotel.

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The famous Kronenhof Spa of this hotel, spreads over a region of 2,000 square meters, is must for those people who want to relax in peace for some time. There is a private spa suite available for two in a private and peaceful location. People will feel relaxed in the hydrogen bath or steam bath. There is a special lounge on a waterbed which provides a refreshing experience. Apart from romantic couples, mothers and daughters, sisters and even friends can enjoy taking this spa together privately. Another atep towards a healthy life is yoga. Yoga sessions or workshops are also provided by the hotel. In addition there are breathtaking views of the glaciers of Val Roseg and Bernina. People can also look at the larch forests and the Swiss stone pine. The neo baroque styled bar & lounge of the hotel offers Champagne, Wine and fine Cognas from 11 am onwards. People can enjoy their desired drinks till late night freely. There is a wide collection of mesmerizing international cocktails with the facility of piano music during night.

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People who wish for a fairytale wedding can have their dream wedding at the various available premises (at Belle Etage) of the Grand Hotel Kronenhof. Perfect dinner, wedding flowers, appetizers and room decoration will be done by the staff itself. The staff is very professional and will make the place a perfect wedding destination. The whole scene will be magical for the wedding couples.   When it comes to the professional working people then this place also offers a perfect venue for SME or seminars having international attendants. The seminars can be held in the Rondo Convention and Event Centre which has a capacity to accommodate even 500 people. This centre covers about 50 metres of the land area of the hotel. The main goal of the hotel is indeed to promote team spirit and communication among people.This hotel comes under the category of most significant Grand Hotels architecturally. The generously furnished luxurious rooms and suites, elegant food and drinks and the availability of latest technology provide a perfect environment to live comfortably away from your own home.

Innovative, Creative and Reflection of Brotherhood: El Celler de Can Roca



Innovative, Creative and Reflection of Brotherhood: El Celler de Can Roca

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El Celler de Can Roca is one of the most famous restaurants in the world. It was opened in the year 1986 in Girona, Spain. The founders of the restaurants are the three brothers – Joan Roca, Joseph Roca, and Jordi Roca. Their parents had a restaurant named Can Roca founded in 1967. The sons, initially, build a restaurant right next to it in 1986 but later in 2007, they moved their restaurant to the place it stands now at about 100 meters from the original spot. It is the restaurant that has three Michelin Stars which is an achievement in itself. The number one restaurant of the world was el Bulli till 2012. El Celler de Can Roca is now ranked number one restaurant in the world after a close comparison from el Bulli. The restaurant has received a lot warm response from the critics every time and deserves the top position in the list of world’s restaurants and all the appreciation from the critics.

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The restaurant serves the traditional Catalan cuisine but not just as it is. They twist the food to an unimaginable extend and makes every little dish very creative. There are more than sixty thousand bottles in the very large wine cellar. The unique thing about the restaurant is that they serve the dishes based on rich perfumes and very exceptionally creative presentation of the food which is very unusual. For instance, they serve caramelized olives on a bonsai tree. The credit of this creativity goes to the three brothers who are founder of this restaurant. The oldest brother is Joan Roca and is the head Chef in this place and is a cook of the highest order. The middle brother is Josep Roca and is the sommelier, the one who is in charge of the wines and services in the wine cellar and is responsible for the smooth operation on the house. The youngest brother is Jordi Roca who takes control of the desserts in the restaurant and has broken all the rules of pastry making and is a chef that will blow the imagination. The brothers have gained a lot of popularity because of their work at the restaurant. They were invited in the Science and Cooking Program at the Harvard University of the United States.

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The new building of the restaurant is completely modern with a very nice ambience. There are wooden floors and perfectly dressed tables. To signify the brotherhood of the three brothers, there are three stones placed on each table of the restaurant. The tableware is of Rosenthal China. The kitchen has huge space and is better and bigger than before. It houses work space for thirty chefs. There is an open plan office of Joan Roca featured in the kitchen which gives him a view of the working chefs and he can supervise them while doing the administrative works. The restaurant has a capacity of 45 diners and you will find at least one of the three brothers present for every service.

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The restaurant menu comprises of variety of dishes. But most of the dishes are made from the ingredients of the local Catalan area. People have various terms for the food style they have at the El Celler de Can Roca. Some call it creative and some call it the ‘Fusion of traditional dishes and surrealist touches’. They serve simple flavor combinations with various distinct techniques like the molecular gastronomy technique, freezing calamari and liquid nitrogen, blending to be piped and baking in a cracker. The kitchen of the place has a special space in the kitchen called ‘El Mon’ which is exclusive to prepare small snacks for the guests and these small bites are served to the diners on their arrival. These small bite snacks come in a set of five usually and are typically served to demonstrate various flavors around the globe. They have typical dining dishes in the menu like the lobster, foie grass, etc. But due to the Catalonian tradition of the place, they also have pigeon, pig’s trotters and hake on the menu. Fishes in the menu include crayfish veloute which comes with spring onions, mint and cocoa. The restaurants have some dishes specific to perfumes. For example, they serve Calvin Klien’s Eternity, Lacome and Bulgari. The wines in the restaurant are classified under two lists: red and white. They are delivered in a trolley at every table and the combined lists have over 28 hundred wines.

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The restaurant has received a lot of appreciation from the fellow chefs and biggest competitors. Many combinations of the flavors served here are appreciated and recognized world-wide. Some of them are: veal tartare, kid goat with goat’s milk as well as mint, ice-cream of sheep’s milk as a dessert, etc. A very distinct dessert is served after the meal and is the specialty of the restaurant known as ‘Slow Disco’. This is an ice-cream which dances like a disco-ball in slow-motion over a lump of sourdough and comes with cocoa pulp, sherry-vinegar meringue and fired lychee. The El Celler de Can Roca has appeared on television and print media so many times. It has been on the TV series named ‘Master Chef: The Professionals’ of the UK television. It truly deserves to be on the top of the world’s famous restaurants.

Top of the world, Drake Passage and Antarctica!



Top of the world, Drake Passage and Antarctica!

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If traveling to all seven continents of the world is your dream then this is the place which will help you cover one of the most elusive of the list. It’s the Antarctica!  For the tech savvy generation, no corner of the world is too far. Even if it’s the end of the world! Talk about the end of the world and the word that comes to your mind is solitude. As there is no human settlements, this place is has no sign of human life. Look again; you see a world so beautiful, a world so immense and a world so white, you won’t regret making the journey. The world that’s untouched by any destruction, it’s pristine. Inhabited by a varied wildlife, the flora and fauna of the land will mesmerize you.

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You can be a part of a whole planned trip which will take around 6 days to reach the destination. The tour starts with you reaching Buenos Aires in Argentina. This place in itself is monumental. From there you play to the other side of Andes to a place called Ushuaia which is again in Argentina. Ushuaia is said to be the end of one world but in clearer terms it is really a start of different world altogether. It is here that the world of Antarctica begins. From Ushuaia you sail to Port Stanley which is outside Antarctica. From port Stanley (Falkland Island) begins the dreaded and turbulent passage called Drake’s Passage. Drake Passage is said to be the two way tax to be paid by one and all, to view the wonder called Antarctica.

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This 500 miles stretch is the world’s roughest water and motion sickness is more than a gentle threat. The picture above shows the choppy water. But the entailing pictures tells you why one should make the trip. FYI if you want to skip the journey straight to the destination takes the three hour flight straight there. In 2011-2012 over 35,000 visitors made it to and from the southern tip of the world, which considering its roughness is a commendable feat.

Safety and security might be a concern but there are numerous cruises approved internationally to undertake the journey. Get in touch with them and plan out. Chances are they provide you the option to view the cities mentioned above as a part of their itinerary. As this is a long journey to a whole new world, a well prepared plan will help you make the most of it. From the freezing temperature to choppy waters, the bare minimal food, everything should be understood to make the best out of the journey. It is suggested to read up before setting sails.

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The next logical question is, why go there at all? The answer is a long list. First you get to see a plethora of animals which were till date only a part of Cartoons, movies and for few lucky visitors at SeaWorld (USA). At Antarctica you can not only see the penguin colonies on the shoreline, you will stand right in the middle of them. The rituals of Emperor Penguins, the dives into the ocean will not simply be a part of the YouTube videos; it will be a part of your reality. A colony of penguins climbing the iceberg, cleansing themselves of fishing! The Happy Feet scenario will be a reality.

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Though the Penguins are clear favorites, they are by no means the only reason to go to Antarctica. A regular tourist can spot a wandering albatross circling at a distance, spreading its wings to take a dip into the choppy waters of Drake Passage. The seal, especially the elephant seals lolling on the beach is one lovely sight. They snort and bellow at each other all day long, apart from the time the sleep in a pool of algae. Another animal to look out for is the Leopard Seal. If you are lucky, you will see one floating on ice as you cruise by, keep an eye out. The noise element of the continent is mainly a mix of the diverse animal sounds.

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As expected, we save the best for the last, for a whale can overpower all the above animals (quite literally). How awesome would it be to see a gigantic whale from the shore, taking its dip and showing off perfectly timed acrobatic skills? Now let’s take it a step further, how about if you can see it right in the ocean, up and close, so close that you see its eyes, the textured head? How about having one swim below your ship in clear water? Chilling, is it not?

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And lastly the icebergs! They are nature’s way to mock and teach the artists of the world. The sky-high icebergs and the flat ones, they come in designs and shapes and sizes which make one ogle at them instead of the wildlife. Antarctic offers you both to feast your eyes on. They shimmer and glimmer in the scarce sunlight, are dotted by animals and are magnificent in all aspects.
If nature and wildlife is your thing, make a trip to Antarctica. If your holiday definition includes sunny beaches, spas and massages, you are on a wrong page. This is strange and adventurous kind of place, for the adrenaline junkies, it is just right!

 

Finland- The Land of a Thousand Lakes



Finland- The Land of a Thousand Lakes

Finland is a country in the European Union and a highly industrialized region in the continent. Recognized as one of the few nations to have the safest, cleanest and highest standards of living, Finland has accrued many accolades and international praise becoming an important juncture for top foreign investments. But what makes it unique lies in the equally breath taking scenic beauty that encompasses most of the mainland of the Nordic country which has paved the way for tourists to visit the place.  The countless lakes that are laid out through the land have earned it its popular designation.

This article will chronicle some of the fascinating tourist locations in the country and everything else a sightseer can do on a visit here.

The Finnish Haven

Among the first terrains in the country to be visited by globetrotters, the Koli National Park is an unco appealing area in Finland. The park with its scores of water bodies, hills and woodlands is so captivating that many of its picturesque sceneries have been used in portraits and paintings worldwide to adorn museums and art galleries.

However, natural landscapes are not the only features that evoke epiphany. The park also has 2 ski resorts and man-made pathways for the convenience of the passers-by. The ski resorts are designed in such a way to cater the needs of both amateurs and professionals.

The older generation will find tranquility in the temple located on the adjoining hill.  Whether it is to meditate or pray before the crucifix fitted on the vast ground, this harbinger of peace on the peak Akka Koli is archetypal and has been found to be relatively quieter than the nearby surroundings.

Koli_panorama

The burgeoning capital

Helsinki is the heart of commerce and finance of the country. It is also the most populous city of the nation where more than 25 % of the people reside. However this doesn’t limit it to a centre for politics and research for that matter. Helsinki houses many exemplary cultural establishments that corroborate the city’s importance.

helsinki_skyline

History Revealed

The homeland has undergone a myriad of changes whether it is political, cultural or financial, ever since the beginning of the ages. The National Museum of Finland at Helsinki depicts precisely this. One of the oldest and the most elaborate museums in Finland, the structure showcases items ranging from coins and miniatures to paintings and sculptures. The displays are divided into sections that intertwine to tell us the story of Finland. The nation has undergone significant reformations due to the rules and ordinances proposed by the successive rulers spanning from the 12th to the 17th century. This is expounded by the ‘realm’ zone. ‘A land and its people’ portrays the developmental changes that transformed the Finnish culture between the 12th and the 15th centuries. Bearing evidence to the rich history of the country are the items held at the ‘Treasure trove’. Weapons, statues, ornaments and portraits are some of the holdings to name a few that will confound any history enthusiast. The ‘Suomi Finland 1900′ shows the important modern day changes in Finland during the 19th and 20th centuries. To top it all there is an auditorium for hosting shows and a cafeteria to cater the needs of the customers.

 national-museum                          treasuretrove

 

The fons et origo of Father Christmas

Finland is best known for being the abode of one of the most celebrated mythical figures in the world, Santa Claus. Legend has it that Santa Claus resides in the capital of the Finnish Lapland Rovaniemi at a village near the Arctic Circle. The Santa Claus Village in the city is popular among tourists, mainly children. Every year people flock in numbers to this place which has a plethora of attraction sites that narrates the myths of the ancient figure. Whether it be the Santa post office for posting letters or the Santa Park where children can delve into the  can obtain exclusive souvenirs and information brochures or the numerous cafeterias spread thought the region, customers will find a variety of entertainment here apart from meeting the man himself at the Santa Claus office.

_santa_claus_village         office

An Arctic menagerie

Ever fancied watching the creatures of the North Pole? Housing about 50 exotic breed of Arctic animals, the Ranua wildlife park is also a routine drop by for tourists where more than 200 animals including polar bears and lynxes are reared and customers will encounter a unique expedition of their own.

ranua  polarbear

The light of our life

A dazzling phenomenon with an array of bright shining light in a fusion of vivid colours, the northern lights in Lapland is a spectacle that cannot be described by words alone. Between the months of September and March the event occurs from time to time over each night of the period. There are valid scientific explanations for the occurrence of the these lights, also referred to as ‘revonyulet’ in Finnish meaning fox fire with past credence believing that its origin owes to the sweeping of a fox’s tail.

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 Traditionally Finland

Rauma is one of the oldest towns in Finland and represents its traditional culture during the past centuries. The nucleus of attention is however in the old wooden town hall centre and the unique seafaring and lacework activities indigenous to the town. The central town hall is one of the largest collective town centres made of wood.  The 600 odd buildings in the town are testament of wooden architecture in the northern hemisphere. The grace and the sui generis nature of the site have enabled it to be nominated for the United Nations World Heritage program. The Rauma harbour is one of the first in Finland and the oldest till date. Visitors frequent the Rauma lace week conducted in the town where a wide consortium of laces is put in exhibition.

Rauma_Finland    rauma2

Wonder, Fortified      

Helsinki was a coveted target for many, especially the Russians in the past days. Hence as a measure to protect themselves, construction of defensive structures was the norm of the day. This led to the raising of fortresses around the south west corner of the nation. The Suomenlinna fortress is a military stronghold build on six islands close to Helsinki to safeguard the city from invasion. The entire length of the confining enclosure covers 6 kilometres in length. The structure is known for the unique combative style of building highlighting the construction technique of that time. The fortress is the largest maritime fortress ever built with approximately 200 rooms.  The spot has become an emerging tourist point with people using the location for excursions and picture sessions.

suomenlinna

This is but a mere pandect of the activities and locations in Finland’s tourist belt. The above account divulges just some of the many reasons why Finland will always be the apple of visitors’ eye around the world.

 

Paris – La-Ville Lumiere



Paris – La-Ville Lumiere

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One of the most enchanting and mesmerizing cities in the world, Paris, the largest and most populous of cities in Europe is the capital of the southern European country of France. The city which was on everyone’s mind for most part of the last millennia, Paris has been able to stand the test of time to become of the major cities in the world bracketing itself with the likes of London and New York. The home of fashion, art, literature, revolutions, museums and memorable buildings Paris is the heart of Western European culture and civilization. The city which is famously called “La-Ville Lumiere” or the “City of Lights” due to its elaborate street lighting system which was first established in the nineteenth century, is today one of the most visited cities in the world with annual tourist influx of more than 45 million peoples.

Situated in the banks of the River Seine, Paris got its name from the first hunter gatherer tribes that had settled at the western bank of the river around 250 B.C known as Parisii. The earliest sign of civilization and life in Paris has been found to date back to 4200-4500 B.C. The city came under the control of the Romans around 50 B.C before being annexed by the Germanic Tribes after the decline of the Roman Empire. Paris was regained and made into a Christian city by the French King of the Merovingian tribe called Clovis The Frank who made it his capital in 508 A.D. Paris went into a decline in the Middle Ages after the Carolingians decided to shift the capital away from Paris, after surviving centuries of Viking Raids which also saw the city being held to ransom for more than a year, Paris was brought under the French crown by Hugh Capet in 987 AD which saw the city become capital once again and retake its place as the center of European culture.

Gros_Napoleon_at_Eylau

The city of Paris rose to become the center of arts, literature and culture after the 11th century and was to remain so for more than six century before experiencing turmoil during the times of the French Revolution which was born in the very streets of Paris with the commoners laying siege of the Bastille. The 18th and the 19the century saw Paris rise again with the Age of Enlightenment which made the city the center of the new ideological revolution which was sweeping the whole continent. The works of authors such as Voltaire and Rousseau were published and widely sold around the city, theatre and music also became very poplar during these times with aristocrats and nobleman from all parts of Europe coming to the city.

paris

During the late eighteenth and the early twentieth century till the First World War, Paris entered a period which has been described as the ‘Belle Époque’ – the golden period of Paris. During the Belle Époque Paris again regained its positions as the cultural center of the world, with many famous artists, theatre personalities, renovations and buildings came about during this period. The period left its mark in the history and culture of Paris like no other. Today, Paris is one of the most densely populated metropolitan areas in Europe with a total population of twelve million people; the city is a modern center of finance, business, fashion and above all a top notch tourist destination. People travel from all parts of Europe and beyond to visit this beautiful city and marvel at its various treasures such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Pantheon among others.

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The city is divided into twenty districts in a clockwise motion making the exploration of the city very easy; many of the city’s greatest monuments can be located easily through these districts or arrondissement. The historic center of the city lies at the first arrondissement which lines the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, and Champs-Elysees and is also home to many luxury hotels. The second arrondissement is home to many famous Parisian theatres which make it a cultural epicenter with places such as Opera Communiqué, Theatre des Varietes, and Theatre du Vaudeville. The fourth arrondissement houses the famous landmark of Place de Bastille which has very huge political and historical significance in France also here is the world-renowned Notre Dame Cathedral. The Eiffel Tower which represents Paris like no other monuments is located in the seventh arrondissement along with the Axe Historique which is a line of monuments, buildings and thoroughfare aligned roughly in a straight line. The city has many other famous sites which are frequented by the town folk and tourists alike all year round.

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Paris has been immortalized in the works of many authors, painters and philosophers who lived here during their lifetime. The city which breaths love and romance and is widely known to be the most romantic city in the world is a dream come true for lovers of art, culture, history and the Parisian way of life.  In the twenty-first century Paris continues its legacy as one of the greatest cities of the world and attracts millions and millions of people to its doors who are as charmed by its beauty and life as were the nineteenth century aristocrats who termed it ‘the city of lights’.