Daily Archives: 30.03.2014

Blue Grotto, Capri



Blue Grotto, Capri

Location

Blue Grotto is a place not to miss in Italy. It has the favourite tourist attractions of Capri, Italy in the 1830′s .Famous sea cave is located off the coast of island of Capri..

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History

The famous roman emperor,  Tiberus  adorned the grotto with the statues paying tributes to the roman sea Gods and used as his personal swimming hole.The flourescent glow comes in part from a large underwater cave opening beneath the entrance used by the visiting boats.And since, the days of ancient romans , the blue grotto had mystified reverence among visitors.

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According to an underwater survey of the cave , a number of ancient roman water statues lie beneath the water.

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Why grotto’s water is blue ?

It is created by the daylight, which enters via an underwater opening  located immediately below the entrance of the cave. The light is filtered by water which absorbs the red tones , leaving only blue ones to pass the cave .It created the silver appearence of the object immersed in the water. Due to the coloration of the water , everything in the blue grotto water appears silver, and that is the mesmerising effect .

The quality and nature of colour in each cave is determined by the particular lightning conditions in that particular cave. The light comes from two sources .One is the small hole in the cave all , that is meter and half in diameter. And this hole is barely large enough for an entrance of a tiny boat  and at the same time , this hole is also used as the entrance  way. The photographs taken from within the cave gives you an amazing view. And the another source of light is a second hole, with a surface area about ten times as large as first and this hole lies directly below the entranceway. This hole is separated from it by a bar of rock between one and two meters thick . It becomes impossible for a visitor who is taking a ride to identify the shape of the larger hole  who places a hand in the water can see the “glow” in the light.

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How to get to blue grotto ?

It is a 10 minute boat journey from Marina Grande .In Anacapri, bus facility is also easily available from from Paizza Vittoria .You can save a bit of money by taking a bus .

The roof of entrance is exactly situated 1 meter above the level of the sea and only for this reason , passengers are obliged to bent a little in order to enter into the cave .

Highlights of Grotto

Even pictures cannot truly capture  the beauty of the cave. It is a 60 meter long , 25 meter wide cavity .The cave has actually a bigger but a submerged opening .Due to phenomenal sunlight reflection , the underwater entrance allows the blue coloration of the water inside the grotto.There is an excellent view inside , the blue colour of the water gives the impression of navigating through a clear sky .This tour of the cave is always possible due to sunlight conditions but under optimum condition such as special water transparency.

The best way to see the beauty of capri is only from the sea by the boat .It is one of the natural wonders that you cant afford to miss if you are in Capri. The tour to Capri will be incomplete without having a visit at Blue Grotto. Blue Grotto is complete package to relax with the family and having a view at the natural wonders.

Tours and guides

You will have to switch to a lowboat to enter the cave , irrespective of the motorized boat you take to reach . There is a fixed fee to enter the grotto.Outside the grotto, a  long queue of boats patiently waits for the preceding waits to finish.The visit lasts a merely two to five minutes depending upon the number of boats outside and how well you tip the guide.

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Swimming

Swimming in the afternoon will give its own pleasure in the daylight .The row boat tours clear out at 4 p.m .

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 Why to visit blue grotto?

The water glow is brilliant . It is unearthly blue from the effect of light refracting through an entrance tunnel.It is best to visit the island in the morning or in the late afternoon. The water of the blue grotto looks as if there are neon lights underneath it,It is very beautiful and it can only be seen during the perfect light . The blue  and shiny colour of the water is definitely an unforgettable treat to the eyes. Its dazzling effect has been known in ancient times.Blue Grotto has become an emblem of the “Beautiful Island Of Capri”.The grotto is known for the intense and brilliant water of the sea.Hence the name “Blue Grotto”.The blue reflection of the sunlight actually illuminates the cave .No special effects needed.

It is so mesmerising that ancient romans celebrated the beauty of grotto by installing statues .Other ancient romans came here to seek blessings. It is a very special place indeed . Couple visiting Italy can’t even afford to miss the natural beauty of the island.It is a surreal experience .Thus , Blue grotto is a place to be actually seen,discovered and appreciated.

The Windsor Ruins of Mississippi



The Windsor Ruins of Mississippi

 

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People from all over the world have traversed the Port Gibson road of Mississippi to have a glance at the stately columns which are all that remain of Windsor, one of the most magnificent homes in the Clairborne County of the U.S.  Built in 1859-61 by Smith Coffee Daniel, a wealthy planter, it was the then largest antebellum Greek Revival mansion in the state. The Windsor plantation covered over 2600 acres and stood overlooking the Mississippi river. Legend says that from a roof observatory in the mansion, Mark Twain watched the Mississippi River in the distance. Unfortunately on February 17, 1890 the house was burned to ruins because of a lighted cigar left behind by a house guest. Everything was destroyed except 23 of the Corinthian columns, balustrades, iron stairs and a few pieces of China.

Today the mansion is known to the public as Windsor or Windsor Ruins, the name derived from the sound of the wind whistling through its columns. The four storey mansion was built to reflect the height of Southern life at that time. The home was used by both Union and Confederate troops during the American Civil War. History says that the house topped a roof observatory from where the Union troops used to send signals to alert the Confederate troops of the Yankees. A Yankee soldier was even shot dead in the doorway of the mansion! The mansion was used as a Union hospital and observation post after the battle thus sparing it from being burned by the army troops. How Windsor actually looked before it got burned down was a mystery until a drawing by Henry Dwight, a Civil War officer was recovered.

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Though a Greek Revival mansion, Windsor also borrowed details from Italianate and Gothic styles of architecture. Windsor had twenty-five rooms with twenty-five fireplaces and an above-level basement with a school room, diary and supply rooms. Tanks in the attic supplied water to the baths. The ell shaped extension on the east side contained the kitchen, pantry and the dining room. Unfortunately Smith was able to live for only a few weeks at the mansion before the passed away. It is said that Mark Twain thought Windsor to be a college instead of a residence due to its majestic size. Twain has also immortalized its elegance in his book ‘Life on the Mississippi’.

Windsor was handed over to the State Department of Archives in 1974. The wrought iron stairs now belong to the nearby Alcorn State University. The Ruins have also featured in several films including Raintree County (1957) that had Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Cliff in the lead roles. Ghosts of Mississippi is a recent film that featured the Ruins. Walking around the Windsor grounds is an amazing experience. The 100 years old walnut trees surrounding the columns make the place even more magnificent. Unfortunately the trees in front of the ruins have been chopped and burned recently. However one can still feel the sense of grandeur that once held the Windsor Ruins. The place is worth a drive back again as the ruins are, simply put, very impressive.

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Finding Windsor is a bit difficult even if one is not new to the County. Make sure you do your research on how to reach Windsor as it is off the beaten path. The Ruins are located about 10 miles from the Port Gibson road near the Alcorn State University. From the Natchez Trace Parkway take Mississippi Highway 552 at milepost 30. Travel west and follow the signs. However there are no inns or restaurants in the vicinity. But this doesn’t prevent tourists from visiting this extraordinary wonder. Windsor provides the best atmosphere to relax, to take a break from the hectic routines of day-to-day life. People take lunch and snack with them and go picnicking with their families. One can almost hear the crunch of carriage wheels on the gravel drive in this quiet spot! Windsor is beautiful beyond imagination that we would so wish we had a time machine that could take us to the time when we could see this place in its heyday.

The Bethel Presbyterian Church and the town of Rodney are two other important tourist spots that lie in close proximity to the site. The ghost town of Rocky Springs is also nearby. Also near Windsor is a cemetery where the members of the Smith family have been buried since the early 19th century. A visit to the Grand Gulf Military Park is also an interesting side trip. The Oakland chapel at the Alcorn State University is one of the most beautiful churches in the vicinity. There you can also see the actual metal stairs that once graced the front of Windsor.

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Windsor Ruins have, no doubt, left a mark in the history of mankind. On November 23rd, 1971 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. A drive to and from Windsor is worth one’s precious time.  It gives us an idea of how grand and stately an antebellum plantation is. The fact that Windsor has been there for the past 150 years is by itself a testament to the craftsmanship of the past. Architecture lovers and history buffs are normally advised to not miss visiting the Ruins. Today the haunting beautiful Ruins stand tall; its visitors enthralled by its majestic beauty.

The Colourful lands of Namaqualand, South Africa



The Colourful lands of Namaqualand, South Africa

This arid region of Namibia and South Africa covers a total area of about 170,000 square miles. Split by the Orange River into Little Namaqualand and Great Namaqualand, this region is a colourful land hidden away from the rest of the world. The land of Great Namaqualand is inhabited by the Namaqua (who area a Khoikhoi people) since many centuries. Blessed with beautiful natural scenery during the spring time, this region attracts a lot of local as well as foreign tourists throughout the entire year.

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The Town of Springbok

Springbok, the capital town of this region is also the largest town in the Namaqualand region. Due to its idle location it is a favourite amongst tourists on their way to Namibia. The town gets its main income from tourism activities, copper mining and farming. While at Springbok you can visit the City museum located in an old synagogue. You could also take a leisurely stroll through the town of Springbok and also visit the Blue Mine. The town is nestled in a beautiful valley with mountains and hills surrounding it on all sides. This provides the town with one of the most spectacular hill views of all time, especially during the spring time when the colourful wildflowers bloom all over the mountains. Numerous hotels and motels are built around the town for the comfort of the tourist and most of them provide spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.

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The Town of Bitterfontein

Bitterfontein is a charming, quiet and serene little village with a laid back pace of life. It is perfect for winding down after a long trip and relaxing. You can visit the local shops and arrange to see some local dance performances in the area while you’re here. Often you can see people baking bread in clay ovens outside and also riding donkey driven carts along the streets. This town has a unique ancient feel that very few other towns these days have. Also the landscape of Bitterfontein has beautiful gently sloping hills with colourful blooming flowers in the spring season. The many country roads here are wonderful for hiking, for cycling or for running.

Alexander Bay

Alexander Bay

Alexander Bay is a lovely little mining town located on the South bank of the Orange River mouth. Various copper and diamond mines were established here in the early days. Being a coastal town, and also a part of the colourful Namaqualand region, it is blessed with a colourful view of the blooming flowers during the spring season as well as a wonderful view of the coast and the bay.

Namaqua National Park

The Namaqua National Park

The Namaqua National Park was basically established to help preserve and protect the many thousands of colourful and beautiful flowers in the Namaqualand region This mesmerizing park is a part of the semi-desert ‘Succulent Karoo Biome’ which is considered as one of the rarest and most unique type of biome in the world. This National park has the highest concentration of succulent plants in the world in any arid region. Approximately 40% of these species are endemic while 18% are threatened. . During spring season flowers seem to bloom on every surface. This remarkable and aesthetically pleasing sight is one of the main tourist attractions of the National Park. These colourful flowers include flowers such as daisies, lilies, aloes and perennial herbs.

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About 4,000 plant species grow in this region and this unique diversity adds to the beauty and splendour of this place. With an estimate of 100,000 tourists per year tourism is boosted by the government to help the economy and ecology of the Namaqualand region. Many tourists simply come to see the blooms in the spring season. The facilities for tourists include long scenic routes, picnic spots, two nature walks, and information centres. There are also chalets available for accommodation in the Park.

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The Goegap Natural Reserve

Boasting some marvellous scenery of colourful flowers in spring season, the Goegap Natural Reserve also offers three hours guided tours in open trucks for the tourists. The Goegap Reserve also showcases a record of 45 mammalian species including the Hartman’s Zebra which is an endangered species and also the aardwolf, amongst numerous other wonderful species. For bird lovers there are about 92 different species of birds to view including the great ostriches, spotted dikkops and bald eagles. This wonderful Nature Reserve is blessed with scenic surroundings and a thriving flora and fauna.

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The Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park

This ruggedly beautiful park offers a dramatic landscape of high mountains and an arid desert scenery. An astonishing variety of plant life, some being species that are not found elsewhere, are also to be found in this land. Gnarled quiver trees, tall aloes and quaint ‘half-mens’ stand tall over this inscrutable landscape. The Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is looked after by the Nama people and by the South African National Parks. This park contains one of the world’s richest desert flora in the form of miniature rock gardens, and tiny succulent plants. Being an extremely arid region most of its moisture comes in the form of the early morning fog from the Atlantic ocean which the locals refer to as ‘Malmokkies’

Lord Howe Island, Australia



Lord Howe Island, Australia

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Lord Howe Island, the crescent shaped volcanic remnant in the Tasman between Australia and New Zealand sea in the southwest pacific ocean. The 7 million years old lord Howe island is about 10 km long and between 2.0 km and 0.3 km wide with an area of 14.55 Km2. The Lord Howe Island Group of islands comprises 28 islands, islets and rocks,  popularly known for its geology, birds, plants and marine life. Lord Howe island is Australia’s premier bird watching destination with 14 spices of seabirds breeding here. It is a Home of 500 fish species and 90 species of coral, Lord Howe’s snorkeling is second to none. Total 202 different birds have been recorded on the island. Visitors can have the glimpses of largest sea birds nesting and gliding along the sea cliffs at mutton bird point on Lord Howe Visitors can also see the rare seen Large forest bat native mammals.

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The island can be reached by plane from Sydney in 2 hours.  the island is about 10 km long with the whole southern part is dominated by forested hills rising to the highest point on the island

The Lord Howe Island is recorded by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Most of the island is virtually untouched forest with many of the plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. other natural attractions includes the diversity of its landscapes, the variety of upper mantle and ocean Basalts, the world’s southernmost barrier coral reef, nesting seabirds and its rich historical and cultural heritage.  the north and south sections of the island are high ground of relatively untouched forest, the southern part is comprising of two volcanic mountains which were produced by volcanic eruptions mount Lidgbird (2,549 ft. height) and mount Gower with 2, 871 far above the ground are the highest points on the island. The rocks and land of the island cemented into stratified layers by water Rocks and land at the foot of these mountains. Popular tourist activities include scuba diving, bird watching, fishing and snorkeling.

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The major attractive sites of island includes the transit hill, centered on the island, visitors can start their stroll near the island’s administration center, or walk across the picturesque Blinky beach along a narrow track, to reach the look-out point. the return walk can be done at leisure in around an hour and is well worth it for the fantastic 360 degree views.  after soaking up the sights, visitors can stroll back down to Blinky beach to cool down with a swim. Blinky beach located on the island’s east side, the beach is the most popular place to catch a ride on some of Australia’s least crowded waves. this white beach is a top spot to enjoy a relaxing picnic, take a refresh swim or to cast a line in, all against the backdrop of a sharp cliff face.

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Than the Malbar hill gives panoramic view of the island encompass the towering volcanic peaks of mount Lidgbird and mount Gower to the south.Red. From Malbar cliffs, which plunge dramatically into the ocean, play host the world’s largest nesting ground for the birds.you can watch red tailed tropic birds performing their balletic, airborne countering rituals in may countless shear waters known as mutton birds return to the island at dusk each day in one of the world’s most extraordinary avian spectacles and one of the world’s rarest birds, the providence petrel return to the island to nest. Visitors  can stay at old settlement beach, situated to the north of the island the beach is a great place to surrender for relaxing with enjoying sun warm rays and admirable impressive mountain views. The beach is a picture-perfect spot for picnickers, revitalizing swims, relaxing snorkeling.

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Than the other attractive sites are the Admiralty island just 15 minutes by boat from lord Howe island rests an intriguing group of volcanic formation is a cluster of seven small uninhabited islands. Just off the east coast is 4.5 ha Mutton Bird Island, and in the lagoon is 3 ha Blackburn (Rabbit) Island, Mt tower standing at 875 meters, is the highest mountain rated as one of Australia’s best day walk by encountering some of the rarest plants and wild life of the island. By standing atop Gower’s iconic peak you can experience breathtaking 360 degree views of the island and its crystal blue water. the other attraction of island the Neds beach you will instantly be surrounded by a feeding frenzy of mullet, warsse, garfish, silver- drummer and king fish. Visitors can enjoy the soft Golden sand and calm waters by snorkel above a colorful kaleidoscope of fish and corals along a fringing coral reef.

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Visitors can also scale The 551 meter tall ball’s pyramid, world’s tallest stack and the site of some of Australia’s most remarkable diving can be found. Visitors can explore the caves and waters surrounding the basalt spearhead. Balls Pyramid is a popular spot for fishing charters and is the only known place where the Ballina Angelfish can be sighted  the Erscott’s hotel with luxuriant garden of stag horn coral dominates the iconic snorkeling destination is a natural wonder.

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At the North of Lord Howe lies North Bay, a secluded beach accessible only by foot or water. Travelers admire migratory sea birds and take short walks to Mt Eliza, Old Gulch and Herring Pools from the bay, or laze the day away on the white, sandy beach. Amazing snorkeling opportunities can be found here, with a large variety of fish, turtles, stingrays and colorful corals all common sightings. The lord Howe Island consisting of diversity of conditions ranging from the valleys, beautiful beaches, unseen views of rarest birds of world and mysterious mountain tops lefts a unforgettable memory in visitors mind.

Home outside Italy: Little Italy, New York



Home outside Italy: Little Italy, New York

In the dense populated city of New York, away from the busy streets and the honking cars lies the narrow streets of Little Italy. The melodic Italian songs and streets hustling with children is a common sight in the neighbourhood of Little Italy. In the 1950’s, it was estimated that more than 10,000 New Yorkers who live in the small part of the town called Little Italy were Italian-Americans. But, a later census in 2000 has revealed that only 6 percent of the entire population were Italian born, which makes it only 44 people when compared to the 2,150 odd people who were identified as Italian born half a century earlier. Though the population has been decreasing with time, the culture and the traditional way of Italian living has never been touched in this part of Manhattan.

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This part of the city is placed right on the Mulberry Street and it extends towards the south up to the Canal Street. To the north is the Kenmare Street and to the west is the Lafayette and to its east lies Bowery. The history of Little Italy states that this part of the town was a Neapolitan village and it had everything of its own, including the customs, financial and cultural institutions. As a matter of fact, this part of the town was not home to the largest population of Italians in New York as the East Harlem had more Italians than Little Italy had.  Soon after the World War II got over, many of the people in Little Italy started moving out to other parts of America such as Long Island, New Jersey Etc. In addition to this, the Immigration Act of 1965 removed many immigration restrictions which made sure that the Chinese people started to move inside the United States of America. This led to the increased fame of the Chinatown and it started to defame the part of the town which was home to the Italians, Little Italy.

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One of the most famous commemoration in this part of the city is the Feast of San Gennaro. It is celebrated as a religious commemoration which took place for a single day. This event is celebrated to mark the arrival of San Gennaro as the Patron Saint of Naples. People of Italian origin gather in the streets of Mulberry in Manhattan to mark this event and celebrate the occasion with their fellow country mates. However, the Feast of San Gennaro has moved on to be a large street festival among the Italians and it now lasts for about 11 days in the month of September in the streets of Mulberry between the Canal Streets and Houston. This festival marks the annual Italian-American and Italian tradition and cultural heritage. Further down the years, after the advent of Mart Berkowitz as the head of the community, the group has taken the feast to a whole new level of celebration. After that, the group has been involved in doing other recreational activities during other festivals including the Christmas events, Columbus Day and other summer activities as well.

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So, with enough information about the history of Little Italy, without much delay, let us get into the detail as to why one has to visit Little Italy in Manhattan. One of the primary reasons as to why one should visit this part of the town is the architecture. The Italian architecture is known for its beauty and the tall structures with the beautiful cornices which are made up of ornate make it a visual treat to the human eyes. Not only these, but the plain tenements here in this part, which are a blend of Italian and American architecture is a treat as well. It is a matter of fact that the glass tenements formed a part of the building, but these days only a few of these buildings are visible to the human eye. The look into the sky will reveal the beautiful Italian stone work and iron work, with the occasional gargoyle.

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Not only the architecture, but the Italian food speaks for itself as well. In case you walk in the neighbourhood of Little Italy, you will find many street food stalls which serve some of the tastiest food in the entire city. And, if you are a fan of the Italian cuisine, then there is no other place in the city rather than Little Italy to enjoy the lip smacking food. People from all around New York visit this part of Manhattan, just to have the authentic taste of Italian food. There are more than 36 restaurants in Little Italy which serve Italian food. Most of these restaurants have very little seating capacity and it is always good that you do reservation before planning for a trip to one of these restaurants. Well, now that you are in Little Italy, don’t overlook the numerous bakeries that you sight in Little Italy. Some of the best authentic bakery items are available in these bakeries. You can also buy some of these items back home so that you can treat them with some authentic Italian snacks as well.

Stunning Beauty: Cunda Island, Turkey



Stunning Beauty: Cunda Island, Turkey

Also known as Alibey Island is a stunning beauty in the Ayvalik Islands Archipelago in Turkey. Located close to Greece in the North-eastern Aegean Sea and connected by a causeway to the mainland, the Cunda island is easily accessible to tourists. The Ayvalik Islands are a large group of 22 islands of which only Cunda and Lale Islands are inhabited. Cunda Island was once predominantly inhabited by the Greek. Today much of its culture, lifestyle and cuisine has been retained from its Greek roots. Being an island town, seafood restaurants are in abundance and serve exotic local dishes such as the grilled ‘çipura’(a local fish.) Also a pleasing variety of Turkish and Greek foods is available to the people on this small island. The Island is also known for its beautiful greenery and forests. Many reptiles, insects and animals inhabit the Cunda islands.

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The St Nicholas Church

This 19th Century Greek Church is a major landmark in the middle of the town. With great cracks in its façade due to the earthquake of 1944 and surrounded by dozens of run-down houses and shops, the Church has an eerie and spooky feel to it. Inside the church are some beautiful but defaced frescoes which are currently undergoing some restoration work which is estimated to be complete by mid-2014. On the left side of the quiet courtyard of the church lies a small café where tourists and locals alike sit and relax, enjoying the lovely weather and the scenic surroundings. Further up the hill, a short walk away is a hauntingly attractive old windmill. The windmill is a good spot for some pictures with friends and family.

Walk

Take a Leisurely walk from The Ayvalik Centre to the Cunda Island

With its stunning boardwalks and bridges, the 5-6 kilometres walk from the Ayvalik centre to Cunda island is a breath taking melange of scenic views and pleasant weather. Though regular buses run from both locations of Ayvalik and Cunda every 10-20 minutes, there are some sights that you simply cannot have the pleasure of experiencing while driving to the island in a bus. Its serene, opulent and enthralling blue waters and the bays are most definitely a sight to behold.

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The Seytan’s Sofrasi (Devil’s Foot) Mountain

A short and leisurely hike up the Seytan’s Sofrasi Mountain leads you to a giant one metre footprint enclosed by sturdy steel railings. This was believed to be the Devil’s footprint by the locals and their local legends. Apart from this mysterious attraction, the Seyton’s Sofrasi Mountain also offers a heart stopping panoramic view of the island and the blue sea beyond it. On a nice summer day, it is a perfect spot for a picnic where you and your family can relax after the short hike and spend some quality time together. On top of the Seytan’s Sofrasi Mountain the wind is nice and cool while the aura is serene and transcendent. What you should most definitely see while on the Seytan Sofrasi Mountain is the absolutely gorgeous sunset. The Turks believe it to be the best view of the setting sun in the whole world. There are also buses available that take you up to the mountain so that you can see this sunset. People wait for the sunset and often hear soft Turkish music playing. One could relax with a nice cool drink from the restaurant close by and watch this romantic and mesmerizing sunset with their loved ones.

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The ‘All Day’ Cruise (Or the Fish Picnic)

This All Day Cruise called “Fish Picnic” takes people around the Ayvalik group of twenty two islands. For about ten Euros for a day they take people to various beaches which would have been otherwise inaccessible by land and you get to have lunch which consists of fish and salad. This local dish is quite mouth-watering and filling. The beautiful scenery is also another bonus of this cruise.

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Swimming and Scuba Diving

Blessed with crystal clear waters and great sandy beaches, you could go for a nice dip in the sea or sun bathe on the lovely shores and enjoy the wonderful scenery around you. The Sarimsakli beach with its 8 kilometres of golden sands is amongst the most popular beaches on the Cunda Island. There are also many wonderful scuba diving opportunities around the island. Or if you prefer it, many of the resorts here also have swimming pools where you can swim if the sea water is too cold.

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A lovely Stroll through the town

The old Greek houses neatly lined up side by side on the island with olive trees and pine forests look like they are straight out of an ancient book or picture. The Cunda Island used to be inhabited by the Greek until the early 1920s when the population exchange between Greece and Turkey took place. In this exchange the Greeks of Cunda Island left for Greece and the Turks from Lesbos and the Cretan Turks returned to the Cunda Island. Hence many of the houses here on the island are still quite well preserved today. If you’re feeling adventurous you can go out exploring these rustic alleys and streets and discover new locations and find interesting photo opportunities.

 

Temple Bar, Dublin



Temple Bar, Dublin

Location

As Dublin is one of the  most popular tourist attractions , Temple Bar has certainly gained its reputation.Temple Bar is located on the south bank of the river Liffey in central Dublin , Ireland. Even The Royal Courts Of Justice is located next  to it .It has been a tradition in London that the monarch stops at Temple Bar before entering the city of London from Westminster , as it is the most importance entrance to London

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History

The stopping of monarch at the Temple Bar and being met by Lord Mayor is the historical ceremony and it has often been featured in art and literature.  In several places, the authority of city of London corporation reached beyond the city’s ancient walls .Most importantly,to ensure the regular trading into the city ,barriers were erected on the major roads whenever the true boundary was a substantial distance from the old gatehouse . Since, Temple Bar was the most famous of these and as a result , the traffic between the London which was England’s prime commercial centre and Westminster which is the political centre passed through it .

Name of the Temple Bar comes from the street  which is named after Sir William Temple who lived in the mansion nearby in the early 17th century .His garden ran down to river banks  from there was the walk-way which was known as the bar Hence , the bar walk-way was called temple , Temple Bar.The term ‘Temple Bar’ is also retained for the gateway designed by Christopher Wren which used to occupy the spot from 17th to late 19th century.Handel’s Messiah performed in Temple Bar on 13th april ,1742.It had become so famous that  annual performance of the Messiah is held on the same date at same location.

But, during the late 19th century, the area started losing its reputation and popularity. In 20th century, it suffered from Urban Decay , with many derelict buildings .The reasons being in 1980, the state owned transport company ” Coras Jompair Eireann” proposed to buy up and demolish property in the area . And that terminus led to the protests by An  Taisce ,residents and traders also led to the cancellation of the bus station project which was responsible for security finding .In 1999, due to drunken behaviour,”stag parties” and “hen nights ” were supposedly banned .

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Present day condition

Many Irish cultural institutions are located in this area. Two squares have been renovated in these recent years– Meeting House Square and Central Temple Bar square.Outdoor film screening takes place in Meeting House Square. The film “Ek The Tiger had a song that was featured in this area.

Highlights

Temple Bar is basically a colourful quarter  of Dublin City. It includes dancing, shopping, drinking, nighlife .Restaurants and Bars are the favourite attractions of tourists. It is the hallmark of the  friendlist watering   in Dublin.With its outdoors cafe terraces , delicious eateries and cobbled streets , this historic area is the place to visit.Every saturday from 10am to 5 pm , over  Irish and Irish based designers show an electric mix of contemporary and vintage crafts,handmade clothing , visual arts,jewellery and arts.

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All city centre buses will bring you to the Temple Bar.The area of Temple Bar is open all round.It is very vibrant and energetic are of Dublin . It is also within a walking distance to Dublin’s top bars , Cafes and restaurants as well as the main tourists attractions and theatres.It also has a big music centre.The gallery of photography and the national Photographic archives enhance the beauty of the Bar In summer months , outdoor activities like concerts and cinema, saturday food market in Meeting House Square , a book market on Saturday and Sunday in Temple Bar Square keep the atmosphere alive . Funky shops , electic cafes,hordes of stylish young europeans have made Temple Bar one of the most popular tourist destination in the city. Temple Bar is known as the “heart” of Dublin city.Excellent booze, live concerts ,delicious food will make your day an unforgettable one. The streets there are to be wandered and watched. You will  get the sensation of entering into a new world from the busy and working streets of Dublin to the cozy,warm atmosphere of Temple Bar.The staff is also very friendly and there are lots of streets across.The people of different places play music in the Temple Bar and around it also.

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Temple Bar is very famous with locals and visitors. The service is always great even in the super busy nights also.The atmosphere there is very relaxing.24 hours live band will make your soul relaxed and alive. The homely feelings always prevails in the Temple bar whether you are alone or with a group of friends . It has amazing whiskey collections , the beer garden and the smoking area.The amenities are also very reasonable in price.The Temple Bar itself is very spacious and has a friendly atmosphere. Temple Bar is not for people who want quiet, secluded surroundings .It is for those who enjoy city life, and who want everything in block.

Thus, it is a great stop in Dublin .The atmosphere is spirited and keep the crowd going .It has a very catchy and enjoyable atmosphere  will will enable you to sit and relax.th As it is very popularly known as the “heart ” of Dublin, hence, this is worth to visit.

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Wonderful and Whimsical: Flic-en-Flac, Mauritius



Wonderful and Whimsical: Flic-en-Flac, Mauritius

As magical and unique as the name sounds, Flic-en-Flec, is quite a paradise with one of the best beaches in Mauritius. Flic en Flec is a seaside village, located in the district of Black River along the west coast of Mauritius. It started as just a small fishing village and now it has rapidly developed into well known tourist area of Mauritius. During the 1960s, the village was known only for its cemetery where people from villages came to bury their dead relatives. But now, Flic en Flac is surely a great place to spend your holidays where you will find excellent beaches, a lot of waterspouts and a nice relaxation setting. Along the 8n km long beach it has enormous hotels, restaurants, shops and centers.

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The weather here is warm all year round. Between November and May, there may be high temperature in high 20s and low 30s. The rest of the year the temperature hovers around 24 C. The months of January to March bring some rain but showers tend to be short, sharp and heavier inland than on the coast. The lagoon is known for it’s under water caves, wreck dives and reefs. The climate here is favorable for diving all year round.

How to get here?

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The drive from Port Louis to Flic en Flac takes about 30 minutes, while drive from the airport takes about 1 hour. The nearest Airport in Flic en Flac is Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport in Madebourg. The downtown is 49 km from the airport and you can get a lot of private taxis, limos and the city bus from outside of the airport. A better way to explore the beauty of Flic en Flac is to rent a taxi for a day as the drivers are friendly and conversant in English and French.

Accommodation and food

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You can find almost every type of accommodation in Flic en Flac, from luxury hotels to apartments and villas. There is a big complex, Le Latanier, which offers self catering villas and apartments and boasts two spectacular swimming pools, tennis courts and a mini gymnasium. There is Hilton Mauritius Resort and Spa, just 15 minutes from the Casela Nature Park, offers modern guest rooms and suites that have been fashionably furnished with an array of in room amenities to ensure a pleasurable stay along with restaurant, Spa and gym. In other options, there is Sands Resort, Sugar beach resort, Aanari Hotel, Klondike hotel, Escale Vacances and many more. There are some affordable hostels like Villa Osumare, Residence Padma and Villa Mauritius.

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If you are looking for variety and taste, then Flic en Flac offers a great cuisine for you. There is a long range of Café, Bars, Restaurants, Hotels and street corners where you can find almost every type of food from Italian and Japanese to Indian and American. There is famous Domain Anna, where you can find Chinese, Indian and Creole food which is quite excellent. Chez Pepe offers great Italian food. If you are an Ice Cream Lover then you can go to Chez Michou Ice Cream Parlor which is located in the Oasis complex in Flic en Flac. It offers 17 different tastes including Chocolate, Rum with raisin, cranberry, Praline and coconut. Just make sure you try this.

Places to Visit

Flic en Flac Beach

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The beach of Flic en Flac extends almost 8km and a large part of it is designated as a purely public beach. The water is clear and offers wonderful and safe bathing in the turquoise sea of its lagoons. The beach gets jam full packed on weekends and most of the people come here to swim in the calm lagoon. Here is a casuarina tree which offers plenty of shade along the whole beach. The sand is quite nice and not too rough which is ideal for building sand castles and kids can give their fullest to this activity. There are lots of food caravans along the beach, where you can find different kinds of food.

Kenzi Bar

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Kenzi bar is little but great bar and takes only a two minute walk from Spar shop in Flic en Flac. The place is beautifully decorated and stays authentic all the time. On weekends, there is a live music performance by local artists and the cocktails by the French Barmen are also very nice.

Ticabo Diving Centre

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It is a small independent diving school in the coastal resort of Flic en Flac. There are three fully fledged divers who create the team of Ticabo and among them there is one dive instructor and two dive masters. During the diving activity you will feel much serviced and well instructed. They offer different types of dives like Sea dive, Discover dive, Night dive, 5 Dive Package and much more. Every package costs differently and gives enjoyment differently.

Italy Tour

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Italy tour provides the visit and swimming in the beautiful natural park of Blue Bay and the trip on the boat which covers 5 natural parks. The boat will take you through island of Aigrettes, island of Faro; waterfalls on island Grand River of South East and then move to Ile Aux Cerf where you will have lunch at a restaurant named Paul and Verginie.

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The boat departs from Flic en Flac at 7:15 in the morning to Le Morne. Then the boat will go in search of dolphins. You can even dive in apnea if you wish to. You will offered an appetizer of freshly caught sea urchins. You are going to enjoy some moments of relaxation before returning to Flic en Flac at 13:30.

Flic en Flac is heaven for those who wish to see variety of sea life. It is a place where you can find everything from beauty of nature to good accommodation and delicious food. So, just come to Flic en Flac and experience the divinity yourself.

Ta Prohm: The Angkor Temple



Ta Prohm: The Angkor Temple

Ta Prohm: The Angkor Temple

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Ta Prohm, the ancient temple at Angkor, is in Cambodia in Siem Reap Province. This beautiful Bacon style temple was built either in the late 12th century or in the early 13th century. Originally the temple was named as “Rajavihara”. People from all over the world can reach this temple very easily. This temple is just one kilometre away on the east of Angkor Thom and is actually situated on the edge of southern East Baray. Ta Prohm was discovered by the King of Khmer named Jayavarman VII. He named the temple under the Mahayana Buddhist University and monastery. In the year 1992, UNESCO added this temple in the World Heritage List. Most of the Angkorian temples were well maintained and restored after they were found but Ta Prohm temple was left as it is in the same condition in which it was founded. But despite of these things the temple is very much photogenic with the branches of trees coming out from the ruins. Thus, the temple is among the popular Angkorian temples. That’s why the temple is the most visited one in the Angkor region.

History behind the Temple:

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As mentioned above King Jayavarman VII founded this temple in 1186 AD and the temple was named “Rajavihara” meaning monastery of the king. Now, the temple is known by the name “Ta Prohm” meaning ancestor Brahma. The king constructed this temple to honour his family. Even each and every part of the temple was dedicated to one of his family members. The main image of the temple was modelled on his mother and represents Prajnaparamita. The third enclosure consists of southern and northern temples. The southern one was dedicated to his elder brother whereas the northern one was devoted to his guru. The temple monastery of Preh Khan and Ta Prohm together form a complementary pair. The main image of them was dedicated to the king’s father and symbolises the compassion Lokesvara. Ta Prohm was abandoned for centuries after the fall of the Kings Empire during the 17th century. From the 21st century works to restore and conserve the temple begun. As per the 2013 records of the Archaeological Survey of India most of the parts of Ta Prohm are restored while the left ones are again constructed from scratch. The newly made platforms, roped railings and the wooden walkways have enhanced the outside look of the temple.

Design of Ta Prohm:

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This biggest temple of Angkor includes 39 pinnacles towers, 260 statues of different gods and even 566 groups of residences. A number of low but long buildings are there in Ta Prohm and they are aligned with a rectangular laterite wall which is 1,959 by 3,281 feet long and is of 600 by 10,000 meters. There are some series of towers which are connected with respective passages which leads you to the centre of the monument. In all there are three galleries which enclose the whole area. Passages don’t exist in some areas of the place; thus one should follow the basic route plan if they don’t want to get lost in this huge temple. People can enter the west entrance of the temple through a forest. A stone terrace which is cross shaped is 350 meters from the west entrance. View from each and every corner of the terrace is no doubt spectacular.

The Central Sanctuary:

The most beautiful sights are offered by the centre of the place where one can clearly witness the beautiful work of the consoler and the destroyer as the temple was strangling on one side and healing on the next. The central sanctuary can be recognised by its undecorated but still stunning interior. The stones used are coated with gilt or paint but still look shiny and perfect. The whole place is holed from floor to walls and even ceilings but the holes are evenly spaced and look attractive.  One must take a walk across the central courtyard and then pass through the dark passageway and the courtyard. There are four courts which are small in size but are equipped with separate galleries and almost 12 pillars. During the ancient time many ritual dancing ceremonies have been done here. The twin towers and the hall with pillars are amazing to look at.

The Popular Trees:

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Whenever one has talked about this place, they must have told you some words about the beautiful ancient trees that are in this temple. These ancient trees have grown out from the ruins. They are regarded as the most distinctive feature of the temple of Ta Prohm. There is a lot of disagreement on the identification of the species of the different trees. But still is being said that the larger one is Ceiba Pentandra- the silk-cotton tree while the smaller one can be Ficus Gibbosa- the strangler fig or Diospyros Decandra- the gold apple tree. Many researchers and even writers have done their research on these trees but the most famous one is that of Maurice Glaize, the Angkor Scholar. He noticed that on each side the silk-cotton tree has its trunks soar skywards under the shadows of the green canopy. He also mentioned that the roots of the tree are endless and described them as coiling like a reptile.

Bounded with the giant roots of the massive trees and stunning precious stones, the temple is a must visit one and is the pride of Angkorian temples. The entire temple is indeed a beautiful one. Enjoy the mesmerizing music and dancing in the halls while visiting!

The Abu Simbel Temples of Egypt



The Abu Simbel Temples of Egypt

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The two massive rock temples built by Pharaoh Ramses in 1257 BCE on the west bank of the Nile in Nubia is today popularly known as Abu Simbel. The site was sacred to Hathor of Absek even long before the time of Ramses. Before Ramses built the temples the site had two grottoes dedicated to the cult of local divinities. The temples were a hidden mystery until 1813 because of their remote location near the Sudanese border in southern Egypt. The place was called Meha in ancient times. Ramses constructed the Abu Simbel in dedication to the sun gods Amon-Re and Re-Horakhte. Legends also say that the structure was constructed by the Pharaoh as a token of appreciation for his victory at the Battle of Kadesh. It was Egyptologist Giovanni Belzoni who was the first to explore this place in 1817. Today Abu Simbel falls under the part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the ‘Nubian Monuments’.

Also known as ‘The Temple of Ramesses, beloved by Amun’ it is one among the seven rock temples built during the reign of Ramses in Nubia. The rock-cut façade of the temple represents the front of a pylon on which is etched four colossal figures of Ramses. Between the legs and on either side of the statues stand sculpted figures representing other members of the royal family. Beneath these giant sculptures are carved images of bound captives.  A row of baboons called Watchers of the Dawn stand above the pylon. They are depicted with raised hands in adoration of the rising sun. The Egyptians believed baboons played an important role in helping the sun god defeat the darkness of night. The temples also have wall paintings depicting the military victories of Ramses. The temples were, however, relocated in 1968 on an artificial mountainside. This was done to prevent their being submerged by the Lake Nasser, an artificial lake created during the time.

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The interior of the larger temple also known as the Sacred Cave is made out of living rock. A series of halls and rooms adorn the cave. The first hall is about 54 feet wide and has two 30 feet high Osirid statues of Ramses. The three doors at the end of the main hall lead into lateral chambers, the middle door opening into a room with four square pillars. A doorway from this room leads into the vestibule beyond which is seated on a small altar the shrines of Ptah, Amun-Ra, the defied Ramses 2 and Re-Horakhte. The smaller temple built to the north of the main temple is dedicated to the goddess of love and fertility Hathor, personified by Nefertari, the most beloved of Ramses’ wives. The temple has a single pillared hall with carved Hathor heads atop the pillars. This was the second time in the history of Egypt a temple was built in memory of a queen.

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The temples were constructed to impress the southern neighbours of Egypt and also to lay stress on the importance of religion in Egypt. Historians also say Abu Simbel is an expression of the ego and pride of Pharaoh Ramses. The most remarkable feature of the temple is the solar phenomena. It so happens that the architects of the period had precisely oriented the temples in a way that on 22nd February and 22nd October every year, the first rays of the morning sun shine down the entire length of the Sacred Cave to illuminate the shrines at the back except Ptah, god of the Underworld. The two dates are supposed to be the king’s birthday and coronation day respectively, though there are no evidences to support the fact. The same technique was also used in the construction of the artificial cave of Newgrange in Ireland. Another notable feature is the fact that this is the only Egyptian art where the statues of the king and his consort have the same size.

Touring Abu Simbel gives one the ultimate Egyptian adventure. History majors, archaeologists and those others interested can learn a lot about the life led by Pharaohs by paying a visit to Abu Simbel. Though the temples were relocated ‘everything looks just as it did before’. The temples at Abu are the finest among the seven structures Ramses built. The representations of Ramses are the best sculpted figures in the temple. On seeing the images, someone has even said that it ‘was the most expressive, youthful countenance, approaching nearer to the Grecian model of beauty than that of any Egyptian figure I have seen.’  They also depict an almost similar image of ancient Egypt perhaps after the Giza pyramids.

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The temples have also featured in a lot of Egyptian and science fiction movies. In the 2001 movie The Mummy Returns, the temple is shown as the way to the Oasis of Ahm-Shere. Thanks to UNESCO and the Egyptian government, today the temples at Abu Simbel are known to the entire world as a living evidence of the cultures and traditions followed by ancient Egyptians. In fact Egyptologist Zahi Hawass has even written a book titled ‘The Mysteries of Abu Simbel’. Abu Simbel is indeed an exploration of sacredness embodied through art and architecture.