Daily Archives: 10.07.2014

Venezuela-Beauty Along the Carribean



Venezuela-Beauty Along the Carribean

Officially referred to as the Bolivian Republic of Venezuela, Venezuela is a country on the northern coast of South America. The biosphere of Venezuela is extremely diverse with wide varieties of flora and fauna and habitats including the Andes Mountains, Amazon Rainforest, plains of Illinois, Orinoco River delta and the Caribbean Coast.

The country was first colonized by Spain in 1522 and was also the first Spanish American colony to declare independence. The country was dominated by dictatorships in the 19th centuries like other countries of South America. The country has had democratic governments since 1958.

Venezuela is the most urbanized countries in South America and a leading exporter of oil. The country also exports coffee and cocoa.

Regarding tourism Venezuela is home to the most beautiful tourist attractions of the world. It is a perfect potpourri of scenic beauty, art, culture and food. Some of the best tourist attractions of the country are:

Angel Falls

Angel falls

Let us begin with the largest waterfall in the world. It is unarguably the most popular tourist destination in Venezuela. Angel falls has a free falling drop of 979 metres. Think Niagara Falls and then think fifteen times of it and you will be able to picture Angel Falls.

Angel Falls is located in Canaima National Park in Bolivar state, an approximate 3000km from Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. The place gets its name from James Angel who tried to land a plane near it which actually sunk into the marshy ground. They had to travel through the jungle for eleven days to find civilization. The forest around is rich in flora and fauna. One can expect to see the poison arrow frog, pumas, jaguars, three toed sloths, otters and various species of orchids.

La Isla Margarita

Margarita

It is situated north of the Venezuelan coastline. The pure clear water and a picturesque view of the coastline is what La Isla Margarita has to offer. It is a perfect example of natural beauty. La Isla Margarita is called “Pearl of the Caribbean.” There are beautiful white sandy beaches which offer a perfect opportunity to get a tan. Windsurfing, diving and snorkelling are popular activities in the area.

Pico Bolivar

Picobolivar

Pico Bolivar is considered to be the most beautiful and serene places in the world. It is a perfect setting in the lap of nature. It is 4,765 metres high and is located in the north-eastern part of The Greater Andes.

Mochima National Park

Mochima

It is in the state of Sucre and Anzoategui. It occupies a huge area of coastal and marine habitat in the Mochima Bay. It is mainly made up of mangroves, mountainous coastlines and sandy coves. Dense shrubs, trees and grasses are scattered all over this dry terrain. It also houses 28 species of reptiles and 78 species of mammals.

Roraima

mount roraima

Roraima is the place that inspired Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lost World. However the place is not inhabited by dinosaurs as mentioned in the book but a wide variety of flora and fauna have made it their habitat. You’ll also be able to explore some of the world’s oldest geological formations.

Los Llanos

Lllansos

As mentioned before the Venezuela isn’t all hills and beaches but also has plains. You can witness cowboys riding the plains of Los Llanos. The plains are home to the green anaconda and 50 other species of mammals and reptiles.

Let’s talk about food now. Venezuela has the same diversity in its cuisine as it has in its culture and geography. The cuisine has both indigenous and European influences. The staple food includes corn, rice, plantain, yams, beans and meat.  Potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, onions, squashes and zucchini work as delicious sides.

In the eastern, south-eastern and northern states there is a dominance of seafood such as fishes and crustaceans.   The use of tubers such as potato and yam is also abundant. Pasta is extremely popular making Venezuela the second highest Pasta consumers in the world after Italy. Corn and rice is also commonly consumed. Fruits such as lettuce, tomatoes and plantain are also widely consumed. In the west goat and rabbit meat are widely consumed. Cheese and plantain is commonly used. The cuisine in the west is influenced by Columbian and indigenous styles.  In the plains of Llanos beef, deer, lapa and morrocoy meat is consumed. They are mainly grilled or roasted. Other foods that are commonly consumed are corn and white cheese. In the Andes there is a remarkable use of tubers such as potato and yam. Wheat, beef, chicken and lamb is also commonly consumed. There is not much seafood as it is not along any coast, however trout is commonly consumed which is raised in the fish farms in the region.

Some of the delicious dishes to savour include:

  • Cachapa-Maize Pancakes
  • Caraotas Negras-Black Beans
  • Pasticho-Venezuelan style of lasagna
  • Tostones

Some other things that you can do in Venezuela are:

Caribbean Horseback Riding

On the La Isla Margarita, you can discover the whole island on the back of a horse. You can ride through the beaches and the mountains.

Cave Hiking

Cueva Del Guacharo was the first national Venezuelan monument. The limestone cave is located at the centre of the park and hiking it offers the opportunities to explore various rock formations and you can see oilbirds during the night.

Venezuela is a perfect blend of beauty, culture and aesthetics. One must visit Venezuela atleast once during a lifetime.

 

Neuschwanstein Castle, The Fairy tale Land



Neuschwanstein Castle, The Fairy tale Land

My sister always said that as a girl, you should love sleeping beauty, I used to laugh and i always said, why would you love sleeping beauty when you could be alladin? Well, I stand corrected. Neuschwanstein Castle, that served as the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle(Magic Kingdom) has left me in awe. This architectural marvel is situated in the state of Bavaria in Germany. This fairy tale palace attracts a large number of visitors every year. It was built by the Bavarian King, Ludwig II as a retreat and as a homage to Richard Wagner.

“It is my intention to rebuild the old castle ruin of Hohenschwangau near the Pöllat Gorge in the authentic style of the old German knights’ castles, and I must confess to you that I am looking forward very much to living there one day […]; you know the revered guest I would like to accommodate there; the location is one of the most beautiful to be found, holy and unapproachable, a worthy temple for the divine friend who has brought salvation and true blessing to the world. It will also remind you of “Tannhäuser” (Singers’ Hall with a view of the castle in the background), “Lohengrin’” (castle courtyard, open corridor, path to the chapel) […].”
— Ludwig II, Letter to Richard Wagner, May 1868[

It is also said that the king built paid for the palace from his own pocket and by extensive borrowing, he never used the Bavarian Public Fund. The location is one of its kind and due to that, the palace needs constant monitoring. It is the most visited castle in Germany.The Neuschwanstein castle is known all over the world as a symbol of romantic architecture and the tragedy associated with the owner. This castle is one of the most photographed sights in Germany.

neuschwanstein-castle

ABOUT THE PALACE

The Neuschwanstein Castle is know as the castle of paradox. The palace was built in one of the most beautiful locations in the Alps in Bavaria, Germany on the top of a hill. This It was built when castles were no longer built for strategical or defensive purposes. The construction of this castle had begun in the summer of 1868, almost 8 metres of stone outcrop had to be removed to lay the foundation stone. The foundation was laid with cement and light-coloured limestone bricks were used as cladding. The architectural style is very unique and relates to the romanesque style. Towers of almost 150 metres high were built over a cliff. The castle is also furnished with numerous ornamental turrets, gables, balconies, pinnacles and sculptures. The place of construction was unique and this palace remains to be an architectural milestone. This palace was actually like a dream land for the King. He built this not for royal representation but was built for retreat. Hence, the walls of the palace told stories of love, guilt,repentance and salvation. The palace was a walk through the poetic world of the middle ages. The extravagant decorations are glaring in gold and blue and are very attractive.

the castle
The castle might look medieval but the techniques and ideas used were modern and complete comfort was ensured.It is very beautifully constructed, has a garden and an artificial cave. royal palace had all the comforts. Running water used to be available on all the floors, the rooms of the royal residence had provisions of central heating, the kitchen was supplied with both hot and cold water, the toilets had automatic flushing systems, in order to prevent the servants from walking upstairs to get the food to the king, a lift was made too. The king also used an electric bell system to call his servants and there were about 11 telephones situated in the top floor. Not only were the modern techniques used for the interiors but also were used in the construction itself. Cranes were used for construction of the exterior and the courtroom was assimilated by means of a steel construction. The most striking feature is the windows. Such huge windows were made that it was unusual even during the king, Ludwig II’s time.

throne room the interior
The throne room was a two storey with pillars and was completed in the year 1886 when the King died. The fourth floor which was the singer’s hall was beautifully made and is similar to the Minstrel’s Hall of the Wartburg Castle. In contrast to the other rooms, the bedroom was built in the neo-gothic style, It is said the 14 wood-carvers worked for for and half years to complete this room.

inside the castle

The king’s bed is covered with the most intricate woodwork and exquisitely embroidered drapes. The main attraction is the kitchen, it is supported by two massive pillar

How to reach this place?

castle in winter

The Neuschwanstein Castle is situated to the east of the city of Fussen in Bavaria. There are many connections between Munich and Fussen. A train to Fussen leaves every two hours from Munich. There are many bus tours too to Fussen which also include a tour of the fairy tale land of Neuschwanstein. Excellent hotels are also available in and around Fussen which offer excellent hospitality and facilities. Hotel Sonne, Hotel Fantasia, Hotel ruchti. All of these hotels are within a 5-10 minute distance from the castle. Not just the Castle, there is a lot more to see in the beautiful city of Fussen.

Neuschwanstein landscape

This is one place which everyone must visit at least once in their lifetime to experience the ultimate scenic beauty and a fantastic piece of architecture.

Heaven on Earth: Lviv, Ukraine



Heaven on Earth: Lviv, Ukraine

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Ukraine is known for its vivid and beautiful places and unforgettable experiences. There is a city, which is known as the centre of Ukrainian art and culture and boasts many of the country’s  brightest and best museums, art galleries and theatres. Yes, you guessed it right. It’s Lviv, the city of unique old charm, located in western Ukraine. It is also known as Mecca of Ukraine as there are many inspiring churches and cathedrals on just about every corner. The people here are church goers but they haven’t forgotten partying. There are a lot of pubs, clubs and restaurants too. Lviv has had quite an enthralling and violent history. The city has had many rulers including Poland, Sweden, The Austrian Hungarian Empire, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. With the fall of Soviet Union in 1991, freedom was finally seized Lviv continues to be shining example of independence.

How to get here?

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Direct flights to Lviv are available from many cities including Warsaw, Munich, Vienna Rome and Istanbul.  In April, 2012, Lviv got its newly renovated terminal. Danyalo Halytskyi Lviv International Airport is situated just 14km west of the city centre. You can get to town by taking a taxi from the stands outside the main entrance of the airport. It is about 20 minutes by taxi and 40 minutes by trolleybus. There is own train station of Lviv named Lviv Holovnyi Train Station, and getting from the station to centre is relatively easy. Taxis are more than enough near the exit.

Accommodation

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Lviv’s hotel industry is on boom. Throughout its history, the city’s stunning architecture, rich history and exciting dining and entertainment options have drawn travelers in bulk. All hotels and hostels here offer a full range of comfort, style and service. If you don’t want to stay in a hotel then there are a number of agencies that offer renovated apartments that can be rented on nightly bases and are considerably cheaper than many hotel rooms. In the high rated hotels, there are Astoria, Citadel Inn, Grand Hotel, Leopolis, and Panorama Lviv Hotel etc. In slightly mid range, there are Edem, George, Nota Bene and Wien Hotel etc. The old city hostel and the Kosmonaut also offer affordably priced accommodation.

Food

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There is a long list of Restaurants, Cafes, Bars which offer American, Asian, Brewery and any kind of food you like. If you like American food then there is Tex Mex BBQ, with their famous tacos, burritos, frijoles refritos, guacamole etc. At Aroma Café near Potocki Palace where you can get famous Tom Yan Thai soup with veal. You can also enjoy a Black Burger- an exclusive in Lviv, made with cuttlefish ink. At Bagrationi, the Georgian food is at its finest and a great wine selection featuring Italian, French, Austrian and Spanish Labels. Surely, Lviv is the last place in the world where you would die starving.

Places to visit

Arena Lviv

 arena

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Arena Lviv is a king size football stadium which was one of the eight UEFA Euro 2012 venues. With a seating capacity just under 33,000 seats, this stadium provides fans with an intimate, up close viewing angles for all the action on the football pitch. Arena Lviv is located on Styiks’ka Street, about 9-10 km from the city center and about 20 minutes by taxi except during major events.

Rynok Square

Lvov__Market_Square_2_by_Blatio 

Rynok Square, also known as Market Square is the center of Lviv’s social, economic and cultural life. It is located in the city center and just some minutes walk from the Opera House. You will find 45 buildings here in diverse architectural styles that are listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. It is a hub of activity buzzing with tourists and locals and often the stage for festivals and major events. You will also find plenty of options for dining, entertainment and souvenir shopping right on Rynok Square.

Dominican Church

 DominicanChurchAuthorRobinSchuil

Dominican Church was built in 18th century and it is a remarkable example of Baroque architecture. It is just a short walk off Lviv’s Rynok Square at the end of Stavropihiys’ka Street. Inside the Dominican Church, you will find ornate fretworks and the cathedral’s façade which is beautifully illuminated at night. Photography is allowed too for a small fee.

Chapel of the Boim Family

 lviv-boyims-chapel

It is a small shrine which was built in the first half of the 17th century and served as a tomb for the Boim, a merchant family. It is located on Katedral’na Street just off Rynok Square and a short walk from main avenue Prospect Scobody. There are many Dark Ornate stone sculptures covering the entire façade of the chapel’s western wall. It is a popular backdrop for wedding photography.

Lviv Arsenal

Lviv_-_Arsenal_-_12 Lviv_-_Arsenal_-_13 

Arsenal contains a museum of arms and weapons of the 13th to 20th centuries from nearly 40 countries. You can find an antique reproductions store with Souvenirs and examples of ancient weapons. You can get a chance to be photographed wearing knight’s armour. The Museum is just short walk from Rynok Square.

Korniakt Palace

konhitck palce

The palace features exhibit of Rococo furniture and clocks, a collection of Medallions and precious silverware. It is located on Rynok Square in Lviv’s center. Next to the Palace you can find the Italian Courtyard, a beautiful patio and café that evokes Italian Renaissance.

night-lviv-top-view

The Ukrainian art and Culture is worth visiting at least once in a lifetime and it’s not just a city, it is a life style which probably no other cities in Ukraine can match.

The State of Leisure – GOA



The State of Leisure – GOA

“The finest workers in stone are not copper or steel tools, but the gentle touches of air and water working at their leisure with a liberal allowance of time” Indeed, the more we do, the more we can do; the more busy we are, the more leisure we have and this beauteous mother earth has bestowed the mankind with enthralling and extravagant places to enjoy this freedom of leisure, after all life is a one-revolution cycle.

Goa-Beach-Tour
Goa, is one such munificent kingdoms which beholds the extreme beauty in every sense and has contemplated the huge area of leisure intertwined with pleasure at the fullest. Vowed as India’s smallest state in terms of area and the richest state with respect to GDP of per capita two and a half times that of the country as a whole. Formerly, being a Portuguese province, it still exhibits the great historic cultural Portuguese influence. This alluring state is highly profound for its beaches, places of worship and world heritage architecture which brings about abound number of tourists, both domestic and international every year thus inhibiting the diverse ethnicity the state beholds. It also has rich flora and fauna, owing to its location on the Western Ghats range, which is classified as a biodiversity hotspot. Goa has inculcated within itself a huge mixture and an essence of both Indian and Portuguese culture, arts, literature, music and lots more. Reviewed as the coolest place in India by our trustees of prosperity, the youths of the nation, when it comes to visiting the place and spending time and enjoying life to the fullest. The state is also entitled as the state of beaches with beaches like Colva, Calangute, Baga and Anjuna, thus bringing out the maximum tourists attraction centers to this area of the globe. With . Major tourist attractions include: Bom Jesus Basilica, Fort Aguada, a wax museum on Indian culture and a heritage museum. The Churches and Convents of Goa have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Goa presents a somewhat different representation of the country to foreign visitors with an architecture of a combination of Indian, Islamic and Portuguese styles.

goa_6

Not only the beaches and other tourist places, the state also exhibits exuberant wildlife adventures such as Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary and Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary thus depicting Goa’s rich biodiversity with ancient and highly cultural museums like Goa State Museum , Naval Aviation Museum and some others where one can experience the great intellectuality of the state. The landscape of Goa is dotted with several forts. To name a few, Fort Tiracol, the seventeenth-century Portuguese Fort Aguada, and Chapora Fort are some of the ancient forts in Goa. The tableau of Goa showcases religious harmony by focusing on the Deepastambha, the Cross, Ghode Modni followed by a chariot. Western royal attire of kings and regional dances being performed depict the unique blend of different religions and cultures of the State. The festival of music and dance, Shigmo Mel or the Holi and Spring celebrations, signify unity in diversity. Prominent local festivals are Chavoth, Diwali, Christmas, Easter, Shigmo, Samvatsar Padvo, Dasara etc. The Goan Carnival and New Year celebrations like Sun-Burn is known to attract a large number of tourists where people have a lot of amusement and lark.

Goa is famous for its beaches, ancient temples and churches, and the Goan carnival.Anjuna Beach – Close to the Chapora Fort, its key attraction is a magnificent Albuquerque Mansionbuilt in 1920, flanked by octagonal towers and an attractive Mangalore tile-roof.It is still the venue of a (vastly-changed and more mainstream) flea market held each Wednesday. In the nearby village of Arpora, two colourful Saturday night bazaars are held in the non-monsoon seasons.

Arambol Beach – a quiet beach in North Goa near Pernem. Not too many facilities in terms of hotels or eateries. The water is shallow and good for swimming.

Palolem Beach-a scenic beach in extreme south Goa with scenic rocks and islands off its shores. Good eating options. It is becoming pricey (by local standards) and getting a bit crowded, but still less crowded compared to other popular beaches.

Calangute Beach – aka Queen of all Beaches in Goa. Once highly rated. Now crowded. Expect traffic jams along the main crowded street. Beach is full of Indian tourists, a lot of noise, a lot of souvenirs and water sports beggar. You won’t get peace here. Many famous clubs are located here. Nice eating options.

Baga Beach A family-beach and charter tourist destination just outside Calangute.

The state also imbibes various profound churches which are the major tourist attractions.

Bom Jesus Basilica:Basilica has the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, one of the patron Saints of Goa. It is known for its distinctive baroque architecture that has a display of architectural pieces in wood, stone, gold and granite

Se Cathedral:Being one of the largest churches in Asia, which took around 80 years to get constructed, Se Cathedral is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria. It was built to remember the victory of the Portuguese over the Muslim rulers in the city. The building has a Golden bell that can be heard in the whole of Goa

Church of St Francis of Assisi: located on the back of the Se Cathedral, this church is a beautiful piece of ancient workmanship. The structure has striking painted panels showcasing the life of St. Francis of Assisi on the walls.
The state also enshrines with its lavish and modern culture when it accounts to Dance and Music, Theatre and Cinema and Food. Traditional Goan art forms are Dekhnni, Fugdi, Corridinho, Mando, Dulpod and Fado. Many famous Indian Classical singers hail from Goa, including Kishori Amonkar, Kesarbai Kerkar, Jitendra Abhisheki and Pandit Prabhakar Karekar.
Natak, Tiatr and Zagor are the chief forms of Goa’s traditional performance arts. Other forms are Ranmale, Dashavatari, Kalo, Goulankala, Lalit, Kala and Rathkala. Konkani cinema is an Indian film industry, where films are made in the Konkani language, which is spoken mainly in the Indian states of Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka and to a smaller extent in Kerala.

Goa has always been very famous in terms of the food and the eating lifestyle of people. Rice with fish curry is the staple diet in Goa. Goan cuisine is famous for its rich variety of fish dishes cooked with elaborate recipes. Coconut and coconut oil are widely used in Goan cooking along with chili peppers, spices and vinegar giving the food a unique flavor. Every year, Goa brings out a lot of tourists and on such intrinsic factor that comes into view is the magnificent and blissful churches in Goa such as Se Cathedral which is the largest church in India, Basilica of Bom Jesus, Church of Our Lady of Miracles, Church of St Cajetan and many more which connects the whole community into a single well-being and links everyone to the God.

Although this state is a mere three-letter word state but what brings in that X-factor in Goa is a trillion times longer. Goa has always been a multifaceted jewel in the crown of India which is a place with unfading memories, joy and nirvana. Though, Goa is India’s smallest State but indeed ,it is the one with the largest heart. Goa is Forever cherished and will thus be cherished long and for long.

 

 

The Paris of Middle East: Beirut, Lebanon



The Paris of Middle East: Beirut, Lebanon

Often called ‘Paris of the Middle East’, Beirut is a hot spot for shopping, socializing and sightseeing. Beirut is located in and is capital of a small country in the Middle East called Lebanon. It is a seaport city located on the Mediterranean Sea between Israel and Syria. Also known as Bayrut, is home to the world’s first law school that dates back to the Phoenician Era. Once a famous port, and as recently as the 1970s a banking and cultural center for the Middle East, Beirut was devastated by civil and successive occupation by Syria and Israel between 1975 and 1991.

lebanese_civil_war01

There was a time when the Lebanese Civil war, which erupted in 1975, completely divided Beirut. Beyond division into East and West Beirut, the city was dominated by factionalism, with Sunnis, Shias, Druze and other groups all controlling territory within the city. Beirut has been the target of numerous terrorist attacks in 1982-1990. After 1990s, the situation became more stable and ambitious plans for the reconstruction of the city were undertaken.

Weather

 weather

The climate here ranges from extremely hot to moderately chilly. During the summer months, the temperature can get up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit but it usually just hovers around 85 to 95 degrees. It is a great time for enjoying swimming in the sea and going to beach resorts. In the winter and spring months the temperature is generally a bit cooler but there are a lot of rains and rare snow storms.

How to get here?

 Rafik+Hariri+International+Airport

The Beirut International Airport is 5km away from the city’s centre. Lebanon’s national carrier connects most European capitals, various parts of Middle East, some capitals of the African countries and Singapore and Australia to Beirut. You can rent a car at Beirut airport or take a service taxi. You can travel overland from Syria by bus. If you have you car then to bring it into Lebanon you must have your International Driving Permit.

Accommodation

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You can say that it is a little weirdly expensive for a country still recovering from war in case of accommodation. Still it is more than possible to enjoy yourself without bankrupting yourself. There are some blocks of furnished apartments with dining rooms, kitchen, living room and ensuite shower for around $64 per night. You can easily get some hostels here. Talai’s new Hotel and Pension Al-Nazih is a pair of clean options within two minutes walk of each other near Gemmayze’s lively high street.

Food

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It is not hard to pay $16 just for a light lunch in Beirut and dinner run significantly higher. However, for a delicious, creative and authentic Lebanese dinner under $20, Laziz, a Lebanese cuisine, ranks near the top of the list. They make killer hummus Beiruti, tabouleh, fattoush salad, Kibbeh in Yogurt. Corner bakeries sell small pastry parcels of spinach for very little price.

Places to visit

Jeita Grotto

 Jeita_Grotto_Lebanon (2)

Jeita Grotto is the longest cave in the Middle East approx. 11 miles north of Beirut. It consists of two separate but interconnected limestone caves and boasts a length of 5.6 miles. Jeita Grotto is widely considered to be the pride of Lebanon and featured as a finalist in the New 7 wonders of Nature competition.

Faraya Mzaar

 mzaar

Faraya Mzaar is a ski resort located at only 1 hour from Beirut and is widely regarded as one of the most scenic and entertaining mountain resorts in Lebanon. With high elevation of up to 2465m, Mzaar usually has incredible natural snow blanketing its 80 km of groomed runs. Skiing here is obviously fun but the natural beauty with the mountains surrounding the area and Mount Lebanon scenery will make you fall in love with them.

Beirut Art Center

 art center

Beirut Art Center is a large non profit art gallery dedicated to contemporary art with some time to time premier exhibitions. The center provides a collaborative environment for art museums commercial galleries and cultural festivals. It also offers its venue and services to other Lebanese and regional cultural associations and practitioners creating partnerships that serve to strengthen the existing network for local and regional art.

Beirut National Museum

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The National Museum of Beirut exhibits a wide variety of artifacts like mosaics, jewelry, coins, ceramics, woodwork, weapons excavated from different archaeological sites all over the county. The museum’s three floor building also offers to the public an audiovisual room and a gift shop as well.

Sanayeh Garden

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Rene Mouawad Park, better known as Sanayeh Garden, is 100 years old and one of the largest public parks in Beirut. It covers area of approx. 22,000 square metres. It contains two play areas, smoothly paved paths filled with children on tricycles and power walkers. Sanayeh also attracts families and young People looking for a bit of relief from the concrete city streets.

BIEL

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Beirut International Exhibition and Leisure Center (BIEL) is located at the heart of downtown Beirut and on the waterfront of the Mediterranean Sea. It consists of 82000 square metres of multi functional area of International standards. BIEL hosts and caters a wide array of events, from professional trade exhibitions, public consumer shows, concerts, conferences, congresses, seminars, weddings and even Gala dinners. In short, BIEL is the key to almost all events in Beirut. It also offers a wide range of value added services and incentives including its own specialty food and beverage outlets, indoor and outdoor catering, easy access from all direction and a world class professional service.

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Overall, Beirut is a place where the honking of cars competes with the clang of church bells and the chants from minarets. It is still recovering from the bad phase of Lebanon War but you will be left craving the city’s warm hearted hospitality, hygienic atmosphere and sheer beauty. After all, Beirut is the wild child of the Middle East.

Sacred Hallgrimskirkja church, Iceland



Sacred Hallgrimskirkja church, Iceland

iceland reykjavik_hallgrimskirkjaHallgrimskirkja popularly known as the church of Hallgrimur is a Lutheran parish church in the city of Reykjavik in Iceland. This church is also known as the church of Iceland and very much sacred. It is the largest church in the history of Iceland and the sixth tallest architectural construction in Iceland. The church is named after the Icelandic poet and Clergyman Hallgrimur Petursson who is the renowned author of the passion Hymns. He influenced the nation’s spiritual development. This church was built in the time span of 38 long years and it was designed to resemble the Basalt lava flows of Iceland’s landscape. As this structure constructed in the center of Reykjavik due to which it is one of the best known landmark of the city and is also visible by the naked eye throughout the city.

HallgrimskirkjaThe church is a magnificent art work in itself. It consists of mechanical actions which includes four manual sand pedal, 102 ranks, 72 stops and 5274 pipes into it. The church due to its height of 15 meters it is also used as an observation tower in Iceland. The surrounding mountains are clearly visible from this gigantic church. In 2008, the church had undergone a major restoration problem of the main tower and was covered by scaffolding but lately in 2009 it was removed as soon as the restoration process was accomplished.

The marvelous construction was designed and constructed by late Gudjon Samuel in 1937 who was often and generally inspired by the fascinating shapes and forms created usually when the lava used cools down into the basalt rock in his endeavors. There is a fine statue of Leifur Firiksson in front of the church which is predated by 15 years by now. Leifur was the first ever European to discover America and records show that he found it even before Christopher Columbus found America.

Iceland Reykjavik Hallgrimskirkja The Hallgrimskirkja has a stylish concrete exterior whereas the interior of this beautiful church is more of on the traditional front thought its modern yet Gothic style lines are reminiscent of ice formations and there is a resemblance to ice caves which are similar to smooth vaults. There is tiny little decoration in line with the Lutheran tradition. The most remarkable feature of interior of this church is the huge organ built in Germany in 1992. The bell tower which is an accessible escape via the elevator provides the best views in the city where the three bells in the town represents Hallgrimur, his wife and his daughter who die in a very young age.

seatingsThe church of Hallgrimur has a capacity of 1200 people in the nave which was ideally situated in Skolavorduholt which was overlooking the Center of old Reykjavik. This church sets itself aside from others in the century because of the building and had the capability of serving the eastern part of the rapidly growing town. Iceland adopted Christianity in the thousand and was a part of the Roman Catholic Church. After the reformation in 16th century the Icelandic church became Lutheran and now 95% of the population of Icelandic land belongs to the Lutheran church.

Hallgrimskirkja-ChurchNot only the exteriors and interiors, the church has some exciting features too. The main door into the sanctuary was designed by the artist named Leifur Breidfjord who is widely known for his glass windows which includes the Robert Burns memorial window in St. Giles Church in Edinburgh. The cost for installation of the organ called for a huge amount of funding and fund raising effort with the pipe sponsorship as the central feature of the campaign for the raising. The amount of donation was dedicated to the size of the pipe in the church and the person would receive a certificate in return of their actually donation made for the pipe. The other innovative way of raising funds was through selling CD of the inauguration concert and various Icelandic organic works played by the organist Hordur Askelsson. There are other CDs which are recorded for sale in church. Due to this innovation, there was a large number of audience gathering to watch the concert time to time and they used to take the opportunity to put in place a new seating arrangement in the nave.

 pipe organThe main objective of this church is to keep the precious artwork, the art which is owned by the church and the same work of the artists is to be exhibited who used to work with sacred art many non-cultural events and activities such as meeting and conferences used to take place all around the year in the church. The Icelandic Bible society also found its headquarters inside the church in 1815.The steeple by far is the best known and most visible of Reykjavik’s landmarks. It provides an unremarkable signpost to the visitors of the city. The steeple is open to the public by charging them a small amount of money if they are going to use the elevator which would proceed towards the maintenance of the church. As mentioned earlier the church has three main bells in the steeple and addition to it there is a carillon of 29 bells. The carillon is the first one and the church is the one out of the three churches in Reykjavik which chimes on the hour. The big bell of all carries the name of the father, Hallgrimur. Other two are named after the wife and the daughter named Gudrun and Steinunn. All the bells present in the church are gifts from individuals and groups and they are inscribed with the names of the donors denoted on it in the memory of the name of the person.

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Glamour, Gambling and Las Vegas



Glamour, Gambling and Las Vegas

Las Vegas

A place packed with extravagant events and renowned as the Entertainment capital of the World, Las Vegas is the place to be when you want to party hard. Let me warn you, if you are a peace loving animal, then this place is a definite disaster for you in many aspects. The city blooms up in the night and gives its tourists the amazing show with all the buildings brightly lighted up. Sleeping is almost a sin during the nights when you visit this place. A city in Nevada, this place tickles you in the right places if you are an outgoing and party person. Las Vegas has always been fabled for its entertainment attribute; but actually is quiet busy when it comes to business and meetings as well. The name Las Vegas was given to this place by the people from Mexico, who were the first non-native Americans to visit the city. The name ‘Vegas’ (meaning meadows) has Spanish origins and was named so as it was the water source for these southerners and had humungous lands covered in greens. Ironically, the city sticks to the name and is an evergreen location when it comes to entertainment.

The Gaming Zone

casino

 

If it was not for the casinos and the luxurious life in these hotels, Las Vegas wouldn’t have been what it is now. The casinos, where one can make oneself lose all the sense and money or on the other hand can get lucky, are the prime attractions of the city. You gamble or you don’t. It doesn’t matter; because you haven’t visited Las Vegas if you haven’t been to a casino. With all that you have dreamt of and ever wanted in your life, the casinos provide you absolutely everything.  Concentrated in the Las Vegas strip (southern outskirts of Las Vegas), the casinos are mainly located on Freemont street which is an outdoor pedestrian zone. Famous as the ‘Downtown Casino Area’, the place is a cluster of casinos which makes you go bonkers. The Golden Nuggets is the largest casino that Las Vegas has seen till today. Most common gambling games played are slots, blackjack, crap, roulette, bingo, poker, keno and betting on races and sports.

hotel in Las Vegas1     hotel in Las Vegas

 

After the play, when you want to go back and relax for a while, these casinos cum hotels await with magnificent rooms and suites for you. The lavish and lush rooms are enough to make you fall in love with the place. Not to mention the scenic beauty that your eyes are greeted with when you take a peek through the windows. Adorned in a soothing light and providing you with king size comfort, the rooms are perfectly arranged according to your need. The management in these hotels is superb and really is a value for money package. And yes, for all the lazy kittens out there, you don’t need to go anywhere for anything; here everything comes to you!  Another place to further pamper yourself is the spa and the indoor pools. These two amenities serve as the peace providers in the entire chaos that you see outside. The quick and polite service and the lip smacking food just put a cherry on the cake. No wonder Las Vegas is one of the prestigious places when it comes to luxury and gaming.

Glitz and Glam

Fashion Show mall    Crystals Las Vegas

 

Not only is this place famous as the gaming zone, but is also a popular shopping arena. Be it budget shopping, one-of-a-kind shopping, or the selective one; you have it here in Las Vegas. The number of shopping complexes that Las Vegas holds is as high as the number of casinos. There is an entire strip of road that has both its sides packed with shopping centers. Good enough to make any girl a shopaholic, these shops bring out the kid inside you who wants everything that he sees. Even the casinos here house some really good stores to please their customers. An absolutely splendid variety of things from designer wears and shoes to mind boggling chocolates, to classy bags and leather items and the list goes on. The options that you will be offered here is really amazing. And if you are looking for something branded which is not available in your hometown, there are chances that you find the same thing on sale here! Isn’t that a reason more than enough to make you like this place from the bottom of your heart? People interested in antiques also find an array of shops specially intended only for the sale of these masterpieces. A list of shopping centers which cannot go without a mention include Crystals at City Center, Forum shops at Caesars Palace, Miracle Miles shops at Planet Hollywood and the Fashion Show Mall. For the antique lovers, Charleston Antique mall, Antiques at the Market and Northwest Curio Corner are a must visits; because even if you don’t land up buying things you definitely treat your eyes with the mesmerizing arts displayed there.

To sum it up, Las Vegas seems to be a place where guys get to enjoy their games and girls get to satiate their thirst of shopping; both at the same time and same place! And to top it all, at the end of the day, when you are back to the room you get to enjoy in a nice jacuzzi, relax and look forward to some more fun piled up for the next day! They say ‘Life is a gamble’. Undoubtedly true but I say ‘Life is a glamorous gamble’; especially when you visit Las Vegas.

A city with two cities: Bergamo, Italy



A city with two cities: Bergamo, Italy

Citta_Bassa

One of the richest and most elegant cities in Italy, Bergamo, is situated in the Alpine foothills just 50 km from Milan. The city is has its own two cities in it as it is structured in two levels, The Lower city and The Upper city. The Lower city is more modern and dynamic whereas the famous Upper city his a stunning historic place full of monuments and works of art. The area of the city is quite large thanks to the domination of Venice, who ruled the city from the beginning of the 15th century  until the end of the 18th century. The Venetians also constructed the city walls around the centre.

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The upper city is easy to reach with railway and its main square, the Piazza Vecchia which hosts the most important religious and civic buildings as well as forming the focus for most of the main commercial and historic streets. The Lower City which is the heart of the town, has some 18th and 19th century buildings grouped in a semi circle around the city’s hill.

Weather

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Bergamo has a warm humid temperate climate with hot summers and no dry season. Over the course of a year, the temperature typically varies from -1 degrees to 29 degree Celsius and is rarely below -5 degree or above 32 degree. The warm season lasts from June to September with an average daily high temperature above 24 degree. The cold season lasts from November to March with average daily temperature below 11 degree.

How to get here?

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Airport bus connects Caravaggio Orio al Serio Airport with Bergamo City every 20 minutes during weekdays and every 30 minutes during public holidays and on Sundays. All buses leaving from airport reach Bergamo station and Citta Alta directly. Trains run every hour from Milano Centrale to Bergamo which takes you to Bergamo station, from where you can reach upper town hotels just by a short taxi ride.

Accommodation and food

 GombitHotel-Bergamo-Italy

You would like to choose the right place in the lower town that will give you easy access to transport links to take you to the lakes and other towns and villages nearby. You can be handy too for the funicular or bus route to take you up to the upper town. Close to the funicular, there is Hotel Excelsior San Marco in the Piazza Repubblica with 155 rooms, deluxe or suites and free internet. There are many good hotels near Porta Nuova with modern comforts like bars, sauna and gym.

 bergamo-pizza-girl    tasting1

You will find the food extremely rich and with a high calorific value in Bergamo. Many dishes are meat based and you should at the very least try the ‘Casoncelli alla bergamasca’, which is homemade pasta parcels filled with beef meat, salami, amaretto biscuits and peers in butter sauce and Polenta e Brasato. Typical cake, Polenta e Osei is based on maize flour as well. There is a long list of restaurants, café, and bars like LIo Pellergrini in lower city, Roof Garden with panoramic view, II Gourmet with modern dishes, Café Balzer which is considered as the lounge of the city.

Places to visit

Teatro Donizetti

 DONIZETTI

The Teatro Donizetti is a theatre owned by the Town Council of Bergamo which supervises its management. It always has been numbered among the best traditional opera theatres. Donizetti hosts, besides opera sessions, a remarkable Drama session and a number of shows which comprise an Operetta and Ballet season, the Festival Bergamo jazz, concerts of modern singers and symphonic concerts.

Accademia Carrara

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The Accademia Carrara is a jewel among Italian museums and a heaven for art lovers. It contains a range of masterpieces dating from the 14th to 19th century. At its core is a group of outstanding pictures from the Renaissance. It is a must visit place in Bergamo.

Santa Maria Maggiore

 santa maria

Located in the center of the Upper Town of Bergamo, is a roman catholic church. The decoration of the ceilings is simply phenomenal, may not be as remarkable as Sistine Chapel but still its worth visiting.

San Vigilio

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This hill overlooking old Bergamo can be reached by foot, car or by funicular train. The ruins of a medieval castle, which Venice transformed at the time of the construction of the walls, can be found at the top. You can also climb up to the Monasteries, which is filled with vegetable plots. Bergamo was provided with fruits and vegetables from these hills once.

Malpaga Castle

 Malpaga_castle_from_the_sky

The Malpaga Castle is in the communal territory of Cavernago, a village in the province. Its main features are the Renaissance frescoes by II Romanino in the interiors. You can come here and get some good photos with beautiful backgrounds.

Bergamo Cathedral

 duomo-ceiling

If you are a fan of Baroque architecture then you should go and see the interior of this 18c Cathedral which accommodates extremely beautiful stalls sculpted by the Sanzi. It is dedicated to Saint Alexander of Bergamo and one of the most beautiful Churches in the whole city.

Iseo and Endline Lakes

 lake-como

These are two quite unknown lakes where nature and history have created an amazing variety of natural beauties. They offer of chances for fan of water sports. There are also interesting villages that are worth a visit like Lovere and Sarnico. You will also find the Val Calepio where the famous ValCapio wine is produced.

Bergamo1

This eastern Lombard city offers a wealth of art and medieval Renaissance and baroque architecture, some breathtaking views and some fine dining. Just plan a trip and visit this amazing city.

Rangiroa, French Polynesia



Rangiroa, French Polynesia

A place where lucidity and drama breath simultaneously. Endless scintillating turquoise encircled by stings of corals, Rangiroa. This beautiful place is one of the best places in the world for scuba diving. Its considered to be one of the most beautiful places in the world that provides a connection between man and nature very closely. The endless blue and exquisite corals offer a great treat for scuba diving enthusiasts.

lagoon

Rangiroa is the second largest atoll in the world that is a part of the French Polynesia and is located in the Pacific ocean. One other famous island here is the Bora Bora( Social Islands) which attract huge number of visitors of every year. An Atoll is a coral reef that is shaped like a ring which either partially or completely encircle a lagoon. Rangiroa means ” Vast Sky ” in Tuamotuan or it can also called Te Kokota. The official language s french and Tahiti is also spoken here. The chief town of this atoll is avatoru. This atoll consists of 415 motus. Islets are known as motus. It is spread over an area of approximately 170.sq.km. This place does not have a very high population. It has about 2500 people in all. Only three islands are inhabited in this place. They are, avatoru, tiputa and Ohutu. This one f the most exciting diving destinations in the world due to it blue lagoons and beautiful underwater flora and fauna. The major Diving spots are Avatoru Pass, Tiputa Pass, Les Sables Roses or the Pink Sands.

clear waters

Initially the economy of Rangiroa was powered by fishing and the production of Copra, the dried meat or the kernel of the coconut. Later when, the Airport of Rangiroa was constructed, the economy also improved due to Tourism. Being one of the most sought after place in the world for Diving, Rangiroa has never failed to attract tourists from the world over. Rangiroa is also known for its unique vineyards which grow alongside the coconuts and give harvest twice a year. These vines were grown here are testing them for acclimatization. Since there is an absence of pests that kill Vineyards here, they were planted here which turned out to be successful. Just as all the other islets, there is not any running water in this place too. Hence people have to collect and store rainwater.

diving

Tourism is the backbone of Rangiroa’s economy. This magnificent place offers many adventures and treats to its visitors with its lagoons, beaches, pearls and life style. There are many things that one can do when in Rangiroa. Scuba Diving and Lagoon Excursion are a must. Apart from that, deep sea fishing, kayaking, visiting the pearl farms, para sailing and snorkeling are major attractions.

sharks

Rangiroa also boasts of its diversity of underwater flora and fauna. There are many kinds of fish and sharks that are visible here. Large manta rays, sting rays and bottle nose dolphins are also visible. The hammer head sharks that feed on the Sting rays are also extensively visible. Tiger sharks, green sea turtles, hump head Wrasses are also major attractions here. You should be safe while staying here. The sharks are always close to the shore, most of them are harmless though. The coral reefs visible here are home to a variety of plants. To make it a better experience, the boats have a glass bottom through which you can see the beauty of mother nature and have an enriching company of the nature’s exceptionally wonderful creations.

pearls

French Polynesia is very famous for its Tahitian pearls. The pearl farms which produce one of the best of Tahitian pearls are produced in the Rangiroan Lagoons. A visit to the harvesting of this mysterious gem would excite you.
There is air transportation available at Rangiroa Airport which i located n Avatoru. It is connected to many other islands of French Polynesia and Tahiti. Air Tahiti is the aircraft that operates throughout. For travelling in and around the place, there are bikes, mopeds and top-open cars which are available for rent at the resorts. You can also use, motorboats, charters too. There are two large Hotels here. Otherwise there are many family-run pensions. The night life in Rangiroa is not much just as the other atolls and islands. The people here rise before sunrise and retire for the day when the sun goes down.

bungalow hotel

The Pension Bounty in Sands of Ohutu Bay offers some of the most fantastic views in the world. Away from all the buzz, this place is surely going to win you over. It also provides excellent hospitality and is know very well for its setting and the sun rise and sun set views. The restaurants of Rangiroa are known for their Polynesian meals and the other cuisines of the world. Generally, every entree has a romantic touch in here due to the setting and the seclusive nature of the place. One of the other striking places to stay here is the Kia Ora Sauvage. This luxury resort is located on the outside of the Area, secluded from everything else. It is situated on a private Motu. Its a fun place to be in with your family where you get to live in a bungalow that’s over water and at the same time enjoy the luxury provided.

snorkelling shores

Annually, in the first week of may, 6- paddler canoe races take place in the Rangiroa Lagoon. Its a major event in these islands. The two races that are held here are known as Arrimatatini Race and Rangiroa Channel race. This place is filled with lots of fun and excitement.

motu