The big surprise in European menu translations

The big surprise in European menu translations

Somehow, there are few words to describe the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach caused by a Barcelona menu that lists “alcachofas, angulas y lletados can acelgas” as the choice you face for supper. Absent a translation of these exotic phrases, dinner becomes The Big Surprise. You stab blindly at the bill of fare, hope for the best, and usually end up with Octopus Soup or some similar delicacy.

Obviously, you’ll need translations of European menus. They follow below, arranged for seven European languages in the same food groupings that you’d find on a menu: soups, meats, vegetables, desserts, and so forth. Pronunciations are omitted; in this area, it usually pays simply to point to what you want.

A preliminary warning: in using these lists, don’t be intimidated by the seemingly large number of menu terms that you won’t find listed in them. Your bewilderment results from the common practice in European restaurants of adorning menus with fanciful, but totally meaningless, adjectives.

Thus, a simple “wienerschnitzel” (breaded veal cutlet) is rarely described as such in a Munich restaurant; it’s called a “wienerschnitzel Münchner Art” (breaded veal cutlet Munich style), but at heart, it’s a simple breaded veal cutlet. The same literary touches are of ten indulged in by American restaurants, whose menus offer “Shenandoah County Tomato Juice” or “Special Prime-Tested Kansas City Steaks.” Just look for the basic root of the menu term, which is all you’re getting, in any event. Bon Appetit!

California: Much more than Hollywood

California: Much more than Hollywood

California is located on the Western Coast of the United States, and is home to hundreds of different attractions for tourists who want to experience a diverse period of leisure. There are twelve main regions of California, but California is mainly divided by North and South.

In Northern California, tourists can find winter and nature oriented activities, while in Southern California, are summer activities, shopping, and entertainment based things to do. The twelve main regions of California, from north to south, are the North Coast, Shasta Cascade, the Bay Area, the Central Valley, Gold Country, High Sierra, the Central Coast, the desert region, Orange County, the Los Angeles region, Inland Empire, and San Diego.

When most people think of vacationing in California, their minds usually take them to the busy streets of the L.A. and San Diego region, Hollywood, and Disneyland. Strolling around the busy streets of Los Angeles, shopping and perhaps catching the rare glimpse of a celebrity, or riding the world famous rides in one of the nation’s top theme parks at Disneyland. However, California has much more to offer.

There’s the wide expanse of beautiful desert in eastern California, stretching out for miles of flat, beautiful terrain, famous for the sunsets that take up the entire sky. For those who loves the beach, but prefer not to wade through heavily populated stretches of sand that are usually notorious in L.A. and San Diego, year round, there’s also the central coast, and the beaches of Santa Cruz, and Santa Monica. The Central Valley region boasts wide expanses of plains, and bountiful stretches of green hills; a perfect destination for those who would prefer a quiet, sunny vacation getaway in a country atmosphere.

California: Much more than Hollywood

In Northern California, the possibilities are even more variable for activities. In the Shasta Cascade region, there are majestic mountains, for skiing and snowboarding, or mountain biking. As well as wildlife preserves, and enormous natural parks, where tourists and vacations can see the beauty of nature preserved, and flourishing before their eyes. On the North Coast of California, vacationers can travel through wine country, and sample some of the finest wines made right there on the coast, from the freshest source available; acres of vineyards, and wineries.

As well as touring wine countries, travelers can also view one of the most famous attractions of that region; the Giant Redwoods found in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, or Del Norte State Park, hiking among some of the largest trees on the face of the Earth, as well as the oldest. Just standing beneath the Giant Redwoods, you can feel their ancient testimony of life, bygones past.

Cuisine in California is the probably the most diverse you’ll find in many places. In the urban areas you can find a melting pot of different foods and traditional dishes, such as a variety of Asian foods, sold from street vendors, as well as South American, Mexican, and Western foods. Because of California’s abundance of fresh fruits, and the perfect climate fruits and vegetables from around the world can grow here, whereas, in any other part of America, they wouldn’t be able to survive the climate. Not to mention other cultural foods such as Greek, Italian, German, and much more, available from all over the cities, as well as being prepared by the finest and most culturally diverse chefs. Eating out in California is a world tour for your mouth.

As far as getting around in California goes, traveling by car is the best way to go, either renting a car when you fly in, or driving there from wherever on the North American content you happen to be coming from. In the urban areas, such as San Francisco, San Diego, or Los Angeles, however, there is heavy traffic, and public transportation is cheaper and more reliable than waiting in traffic for hours. Taxis are also popular in urban areas, as well as renting scooters or motorcycles. Another popular choice for those visiting in California, more for the natural activities, and camping, are the RV rentals. Like a moving hotel, tourists can roam freely in Northern California, experiencing the best of both worlds; the hotel and the campfire.

Accommodations in California are numerous and very diverse as well; it all depends on what kind of visit tourists are planning to have. When it comes time to book and reserve a hotel, the choices are endless. Tourists can reserve campsites near the enchanting state parks, so that they’re close to their favourite activities. Those who prefer quiet vacations can book a reservation in a quiet lodge, or in a privately owned bed and breakfast in the Central Valley.

For those vacationing in the city, or planning to spend their time in California’s various theme and amusement parks, there are luxury hotels, teeming with different options to pamper themselves, and have a relaxing spa experience. Also, are resort hotels, provided by the amusement or theme parks, that can be purchased as part of a vacation package, which takes some of the stress off of finding perfect accommodations.

Uruguay is well worth discovering

Uruguay is well worth discovering

As South America’s smallest Spanish-speaking country, Uruguay is often overlooked by tourists visiting the region. However, with its vibrant nightlife and stunning coastline Uruguay is well worth discovering. Due to its strategic position on the north shore of the Río de la Plata, Uruguay’s territory was hotly contested from the first European settlements, initially by Spain and Portugal, then by the emerging regional powers of Argentina and Brazil.

A delightfully low-key, hospitable place, modern Uruguay enjoys a high standard of living but draws fewer tourists than neighbouring Brazil and Argentina. Visitors here can melt into the background and experience the everyday life of a different culture – whether riding horses under the big sky of Uruguay’s sparsely populated interior or strolling with throngs of mate-drinking locals along Montevideo’s 15km-long (9 miles) beachfront.

The three most popular destinations are the culturally vibrant capital Montevideo, the picturesque 17th-century port of Colonia, and the trendy coastal resort Punta del Este, which lures jetsetters from around the globe to its sandy beaches, fine restaurants and party-till-you-drop nightclubs. Visitors with more time should explore the dunes and lagoons of Uruguay’s long Atlantic coastline, soak in the hot springs near Salto, or spend the night at a tourist estancia amidst the wide-open grandeur of gaucho country.

Uruguay is well worth discovering

All About Uruguay

Uruguay, officially the Eastern Republic of Uruguay (Spanish: República Oriental del Uruguay), is a country in the southeastern region of South America. It is bordered by Argentina to its west and Brazil to its north and east, with the “Río de la Plata” (River of Silver) to the south and with the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast. Uruguay is home to 3.3 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the metropolitan area of its capital and largest city, Montevideo. With an area of approximately 176,000 square kilometres (68,000 sq mi), Uruguay is geographically the second-smallest nation in South America after Suriname.

Uruguay was inhabited by the Charrúa people for approximately 4000 years before the Portuguese established Colonia del Sacramento, one of the oldest European settlements in the country, in 1680. Montevideo was founded as a military stronghold by the Spanish in the early 18th century, signifying the competing claims over the region. Uruguay won its independence between 1811 and 1828, following a four-way struggle between Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Brazil. It remained subject to foreign influence and intervention throughout the 19th century, with the military playing a recurring role in domestic politics until the late 20th century. Modern Uruguay is a democratic constitutional republic, with a president who serves as both head of state and head of government.

Uruguay is ranked first in Latin America in democracy, peace, lack of corruption, e-government, and is first in South America when it comes to press freedom, size of the middle class and prosperity. On a per-capita basis, Uruguay contributes more troops to United Nations peace-keeping missions than any other country. It ranks second in the region on economic freedom, income equality, per-capita income and inflows of FDI.

Uruguay is the third-best country on the continent in terms of HDI, GDP growth, innovation and infrastructure. It is regarded as a high-income country (top group) by the UN. Uruguay is also the third-best ranked in the world in e-Participation. Uruguay is an important global exporter of combed wool, rice, soybeans, frozen beef, malt and milk.

The Economist named Uruguay “country of the year” in 2013 acknowledging the innovative policy of legalizing the production, sale and consumption of cannabis. Same-sex marriage and abortion are also legal, leading Uruguay to be regarded as one of the most liberal nations in the world, and one of the most socially developed, outstanding regionally and ranking highly on global measures of personal rights, tolerance and inclusion issues.

Historical Origins of the Italians

Historical Origins of the Italians

Passing over the uncertain mysteries of the Stone Age and the Age of Bronze, it is no exaggeration to assert that already in the Greek civilization of Southern Italy one can divine the origin of some of the essential characteristics of the Italian of today.

Three or four centuries before Christ the way of life and of thought of the Siciliots and the Italic peoples, descendants of those Greeks who long before them had passed into Sicily and into the south of the peninsula, was entirely analogous to that of Hellas itself. The Polis, the city state, constituted the sole base of every political and social organism. One might say the same of Etruria, where between the Arno and the Tiber there was, until the Roman conquests, just a federation of twelve cities, a federation with extremely strict religious ties, but with a wide autonomy for each city.

When the dominion of Rome was extended over all Italy, things changed but little morally and socially; the civitas continued to be the base and the key to the life of all Italians. There is no other nation whose traditions, legends and popular epic are compelled so constantly to look to the city for their origin. Even in the Middle Ages while in France they sang the deeds of Roland, Italian poetry sang that Rome came from Alba Longa, Alba Longa from Lavinium and Lavinium from Troy through Aeneas. The perennial popular glory of Virgil among the Italians has depended upon this fact, that he sang the origins of their country in the one and only manner that they delighted in, that is, as the genealogy of the city state.

Even today the names of the Italian regions that we think so real, Piedmont, Lombardy, Liguria. . . do not belong to the natural use of the people. The native of a town, for instance, of that Ligurian bow that is bent from the French frontier along the sea to Genoa, and from Genoa to the south as far as the Magra, will never call his region Liguria, he will call it rather Genoa or perhaps Genovesato. It was always thus, contrary to what obtained in Gaul, where most often the name of the city is lost and that of the region has taken its place. Lutetia, the capital of the Parisii, became Paris, Avaricum of the Biturgi, Bourges, and so it is with Amiens, Reims, Rennes, and many other cities of France.

This voluntary binding of the peasant to the city, that exists almost everywhere in Italy, is one of the permanent strands of the Italian social fabric. In no other country is patriotism in its normal, healthy and fruitful form — not in the baseness of racialism and nationalism — so fundamentally bound to the city, to the town, as in Italy. Francesco De Sanctis in a speech to the Neapolitans in 1874 declared: “Italy is not an abstraction. She is the home (casa), the family, the commune, the province, the region. They who feel themselves bound to these, are the best Italians. . . I say to you: If you want to be good Italians begin by being good Neapolitans. Woe to those who only see an Italy of the Academies or Schools.”

Thus, fifty years before the Fascist adventure, De Sanctis condemned one of the most widespread, trumped-up and artful of Fascist devices: the attack on the ancient tradition of local patriotism. That attack ought to have been enough to expose how contrary all Fascist action was to the Italian character.

The secular bonds which bind our Italian generations were created by the city and the town. The history of the Italian cities is so long and tenacious that it often leads us back not only to Rome but to pre-Roman Italy. The small jealousies still alive today between Milan and Pavia, between Crema and Cremona, and the differences in the dialects, go back to traditions beyond the Roman Empire.

When Rome succeeded in imposing her dominion upon all Italy, almost every municipiam from the Alps to Sicily had to cede a part of its territory to a Latin colony which created around itself a circle of influences, imposing its own customs, its own manners, its own language, in such a way that the majority of the natives learned to speak in Latin, although they preserved their native accent. And even today, if you go from Rome to Florence, to Piacenza and on to Milan, you will find, in dialects very different, the notes never obliterated of ancient Gentes differing one from another.

This is not so north of the Alps in the Germanic countries. The frequent immigration of tribes without cities, the absence of precise frontiers between the regions they occupied, did not allow the formation of countrysides with characteristics of their own.

Under Republican Rome, Italy in reality was only an immense federation of cities, each free to administer itself in its own way within its own territory; something which reminds us of the British Empire in its most recent form, when the democratic term Commonwealth has been substituted for the haughty term Empire. The beginning of the decadence of the cities appeared in the Roman Empire in the time of Hadrian. Until then the municipia and coloniae had been governed by that wealthy and active citizen class out of which came the Fabii.

The decemviri elected from among the notables (people with very large incomes) carried out the administration from the Tribunal — the high court of Justice. But with Hadrian the officers of the Imperial administration progressively made themselves masters of all local affairs; and under Diocletian the Totalitarian State (as one might say today) was completely established.

The ancient courts, freely elected by the citizens, became corporations bound by numerous restrictions; they quickly lost all vitality; even the defensor civitatis became no more than a functionary to whom men looked — though it was but a pretence — for a denunciation of the errors of his superiors. And soon, whether by encroachment of the military or by reason of the distrust of the citizens, there remained only prefectures entrusted to comites sent from the Capital.

Under the Emperors of the East these comites, become even more corrupt, were called duces, whence came the title Doge which was for centuries the name of the head of the aristocratic Republics of Venice and Genoa. Thus, already under Diocletian, the Barbarians had invaded Italy; a work of the military anarchy of the third century rather than of certain starving tribes descending from Germany; out of which German vanity, and the desire of the Italians to attribute their ills to a foreign cause, have later made “the invaders” and their uncontrollable onrush.

The old and empty German boast became an official dogma under Nazism, which imposed on the schools of the Reich that to the new generation they should insist on the “fundamental part which the German emigrations had in diffusing the new civilization of the Middle Age, in northern Italy, in France and in England”.One might well ask what the few young Germans who seriously studied history thought, if they thought at all, when they discovered:

1. That the Goths did not know how to make their dominion in Italy last more than sixty years.

2. That in Spain they were defeated by those Semites who were the Arabs, and lost everything in a single day.

3. That the Lombards, although invited into Italy by a part of the population, never succeeded in occupying the coasts, never dared to measure themselves with the young and growing defences of Venice, nor with the ancient walls of Rome, and that their dominion ended in confusion and contempt.

Without the decomposition provoked by the Empire when fallen on the one hand into a military anarchy and on the other into a bureaucratic despotism, the German tribes would never have succeeded in establishing themselves here at all. The Italian cities would have opposed a sufficient resistance if the Empire had not broken their vitality.

Under Constantine, on the eve of the catastrophe, one might believe for a moment that the overflowing barbarism could have been dammed. The cities appeared about to renew themselves with fresh life, since they had acquired under other forms a certain autonomy chiefly through the action of the Bishops, elected, as they were, by the citizens; indeed, the nomination of a Bishop by acclamation was generally the result of an authentic popular movement. But it was too late. With their suffocating taxation and with foreign military chiefs, the Emperors had taken away every possibility of hope from the Italian cities.

They had become indeed Dead Cities, as the great capitals of the East appeared to our fathers of the nineteenth century, those for example of Turkey and of Persia; Istanbul and Teheran were once metropolises not less rich and not less fair than Milan and Naples in the Middle Age. There was a Turkish art and even more surely a Persian art. But the cities were without municipal liberty, without autonomous life and therefore servile. If Byzantium before becoming Istanbul succeeded in conserving a little of its life, it was because under its Basileus the municipal tradition was not utterly destroyed, as was that of the Italian cities by the Caesars.

The demi — comparable to the “contrade” of Siena — remained in Byzantium the focal points of municipal life as corporations, such as they are described to us in the Libro del Prefetto of the tenth century, with their relative freedom. The demi and the autonomous corporations offer us the keys of the real life of Byzantium, of its unexpected resistance and of its revolutions. But Byzantium remains an unique case, in the East; all the other metropolises, notwithstanding their occasional splendours, have been, if not inert masses, over disciplined, without an atom of the vitality that animated the anarchic Athens of Aristophanes even in its worst moments.

A History of Travel in America

A History of Travel in America

The many years of early exploration throughout the whole extent of the continent, carried on by brave individual adventurers and trappers chiefly from Spain and France before the year 1620 had almost no effect in shaping the after-history and development of America’s travel system.

The significance of any discovery in its relation to the subject, whether of route or method of travel, did not lie in the earliest information respecting that route or method, but in the popular impulse which was later — sometimes much later — to recognize its value and demand its use. It was necessity or comprehension, not knowledge; the needs or desires of the people rather than the exploits and achievements of individuals that always influenced the progress of the system and led on, little by little, to what now exists.

Hence it was that definite and visible progress in creating established methods of getting about the country did not begin until several English colonies had found firm foothold along the Atlantic coast. There were three motives that caused the first travel movements among the early population. One was the natural wish of a settlement to get into touch with its neighbors; another was need of betterment and growth; and the third was an occasional impulse, due to differences of one sort or another, which sometimes caused part of a colony to separate from the rest of it and go elsewhere to set up for itself.

The five principal localities from which radiated the first travel movements of the country were the Chesapeake Bay region; eastern Massachusetts; New York Bay and the Great River of the Mountains; the Connecticut River valley and Long Island Sound; and Delaware Bay and the Delaware and Susquehanna Rivers. Three of these, the Chesapeake, New York and Delaware Bays, are important among those gateways already referred to through which the interior of the country is accessible from the Atlantic seaboard.

But the two biggest entrances of all—the Mississippi River with its tributaries and the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes — were destined to play a much smaller part in the story than their importance warranted. For it so happened that the course of wars and politics in Europe produced conditions in America which deprived the Mississippi, the St. Lawrence River and the lakes of much of the influence they might otherwise have had in shaping the development of travel in America.

For generations five mutually jealous and conflicting groups were quarreling and fighting in an effort to get control of the continent. Each of three nations— France, Spain and England — was scheming to extend its own possessions and oust the others; the English colonies were trying to secure the administration of their own affairs; and the Indians were doing what they could to be rid of the lot or restrict their movements.

The continuous control of the St. Lawrence by the French for nearly a hundred and fifty years after the arrival of the first English colonies, and the similar uninterrupted holding of the Mississippi by France and Spain until some time after the Revolution, long prevented the use of those two gateways as factors in any progress in which the English speaking inhabitants were interested. And the impulse which was finally to result in giving the Mississippi a place in the free and unobstructed travel system of the country came, not from its mouth, but from the upper valley of the stream, where a vigorous English speaking population had become established and demanded the use of the river.

By about the year 1636, then, the movement of the population in and from all of the five regions named had already begun and some action had been taken, both by the guiding minds of the colonies and by the people on their own impulse, to make such travel as easy and rapid as was possible under the conditions that surrounded them. On order of the authorities of Plymouth Colony all creeks and rivulets were bridged by felling trees across them, and canoe ferries were established for the passage of the larger streams.

A few of the first canoes used by the people of Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth Colony were doubtless of the birch variety, bought from the Indians, but the prompt and unfortunate results of the unstable equilibrium of those canoes under the unpracticed guidance of the white pioneers quickly decided them to shift to the less graceful, but more calm and sedate type of craft such as was made by hollowing a log.

It is not difficult to picture the inward emotion of an Indian as he sold a birch-bark canoe to a high hatted Pilgrim, and then, standing on the river bank, watched his customer step into the craft, only instantly to leave it from the other side and disappear head first into the water. Having fished out the white interloper the red man would buy back his canoe, enter it, and depart. After the adoption cf log canoes became general, and as population increased, trees especially suitable for canoe making were often marked by the authorities and protected by orders which forbade their use for any other purpose.

All You Ever Wanted to Know About Cyprus

All You Ever Wanted to Know About Cyprus

Cyprus is an island state in the eastern Mediterranean Sea 60 miles west of the coast of Syria and 40 miles south of Turkey. It has an area of 3,572 square miles. The island is 140 miles from east to west and around 60 miles from north to south. It is somewhat of a box shape except a long peninsula going to the northeast.


Cyprus consists of two mountain ranges and a central lowland. The Kyrenia Range lies close to the north coast and consists mainly of limestone. To the south is the Mesaoria Plain, in which the densest population is found. The southern half of the island is occupied by the rugged Troodos Mountains, composed mainly of volcanic and igneous rocks. They have a maximum elevation of 6,407 feet.

Temperatures vary with the elevation, but January averages are about 50 degrees F and those of July about 80 degrees F. Rainfall occurs mainly in winter, and is rarely more than 15 in. in the lowlands but is higher in the mountains. Surface drainage is by short, small streams that are usually dry in summer. The native vegetation is adapted to the climate and consists mainly of drought-resisting scrub and conifers including eucalyptus, pine, acacia, and cypress.

All You Ever Wanted to Know About Cyprus

People and Economy

The island includes both Greek and Turkish peoples. The Greeks make up about 77% of the total population, and 18% of the rest are Turkish. The Turkish people live mainly on the northern part of the island. In addition to the ethnic and linguistic differences, there are religious differences. The Greeks are primarily Orthodox Christians and the Turks are mostly Muslims. Hostility has always existed between the two groups. Much of the population is rural and agricultural. Apart from Nicosia, the capital, Limassol and Famagusta, the towns are very small.

The economy is mainly agricultural, with fruits and vegetables as the chief exports. Farming is highly mechanized, and irrigation is widely used. Since prehistoric times, Cyprus has been known for its minerals. In fact, the word copper is derived from the islands name. Although the island has copper, iron pyrites, chrome, and asbestos mining is no longer as important as it once was.

The construction industry, textile manufacturing and other light industries have expanded rapidly in recent times in the Greek sector. It has also become a banking, telecommunications, and trade center for corporations in dealing with the Middle East. The Turkish region has a shortage of skilled labor, trade, and diplomatic links to the rest of the world.

History and Government

Cyprus, having a good position in the Mediterranean Sea, affected. During the 2nd millennium BC, it supplied copper to the surrounding areas. In 709 BC, Cyprus gave in to the Assyrian king Sargon II. After the Assyrians lost power, there was a time of Persian Domination. When Alexander the Great conquered the

region in the 4th century BC, Cyprus was united politically with the rest of the Greek world. At this time Cyprus consisted mainly of city-states held together under the rule of Alexander’s successors. In 58 BC, the island was annexed by the Roman Empire.

Cyprus was Christianized early on when it was visited by St. Paul. Cyprus went under the control of the Byzantine Empire after the split up of the Roman empire. The Byzantine Empire continued to rule it until 1191 BC when Richard I of England conquered it. In 1192, the island was given to Guy de Lusignan, who founded a French-speaking monarchy. The island came under Venetian control in 1489. The ruined castles and Gothic churches of Cyprus date from this period.

Cyprus was subjected to many attacks by the Turks. In 1570-71 the Turks overran the island. It was under Turkish rule until 1878. During this time, many Turks settled there. In 1879 the British occupied Cyprus to aid Turkey against Russia. In 1914 it was annexed by Great Britain. Soon afterward a movement started with the Greek Cypriots for a union with Greece. This movement became stronger after World War II. At the same time Archbishop Makarios III became the leader of the movement for an independent Cyprus.

In 1959, after a time of guerilla war, Cyprus finally became independent. Despite this, Great Britain kept its military bases. Some people still wanted union with Greece, and other wanted the division of Cyprus along its ethnic borders. Fearing that the Greek government was preparing to annex Cyprus, the Turks invaded in 1974 and forced a partition of the island in 1975.

The Greek sector, known as the Republic of Cyprus, is led by President Glafcos Clerides, who was elected in 1993. The Turkish zone, under the leadership of Rauf Denktash, declared itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in 1983 but is recognized only by Turkey. UN-sponsored talks on reunification were held intermittently in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The Three Golden Rules of Traveling

The Three Golden Rules of Traveling

We’ve investigated the complaint about the pilot who flew to the wrong country. And the one about the two-day car rental that cost $7,000. The cabin that was flooded when the ship’ s swimming pool emptied into it.

The airline that lost the priceless African gray parrots. Not to mention the nonswimmer who fell into the ocean through a hole in the gangplank, the couple wrongly accused of-and arrested for-having sex in the hotel swimming pool, the Hawaii cruisegoer who brought Iava onto the ship, which, because taking Iava from Hawaii is supposed to bring bad luck, meant that the vessel had to be exorcised…

But while the outlandish eomplaints never eease, what we mainly hear is the same old same old. Month after month, travelers tell us about the airline that lo st the suitease with their jewelry in it.

They complain about the resort that they prepaid but which turned out to be a dump and, when they tried to leave, wouldn’t return their deposit. They bemoan the merchandise they bought abroad and had shipped home. . . only to find that what arrived wasn’t what they’d purchased. They lament the cruise they were forced to cancel because, since they didn’t spring for trip-cancellation insurance, they can’t get their money back.

We’ve seen too many travelers land in the same sorry predicaments, so we thought we’d boil our years of Ombudsman guidance down to ten fundamental dos and don’ts. After all, no matter how complicated or outrageous a travel disaster may seem, or how badly a travel company has screwed up, when the ituation is stripped to its bare bones, usually one of these ten golden rules has been broken. To wit:

The Three Golden Rules of Traveling

Don’t Trust the Brochure

Several years ago, Mark Rudnitzky of New York City furiously recounted to me the story of his ill-fated rilla rental on Tortola. The British Virgin.Islands Tourist Board had shown him a photo brochure of paradise House, a brand-new, fully furnished villa with pool and daily maid service. Rudnitzky paid he tourist board a $900 rental fee and booked the property for the week of December 24.

When he and his girlfriend arrived at Paradise -Iouse, what they discovered instead was an uninhabitable construction site. They took photos of he cinder blocks and rubble and spent the week at a hotel. When the tourist board wouldn’t send Rudnitzky a refund, he came to us.

We discovered that the tourist board had alsa ented this supposedly “private” villa to another party for the same time. When the other party arrived, they too took snapshots and left for a hotel.

After getting nowhere with the tourist board, we reported these incidents to the acting governor of Tortola. Alarmed, he reimbursed the full $5,160 cost of Rudnitzky’s entire vacation, as well as the other party’s $3,000 villa payment and $3,998 hotel bill. We have not received any complaints about the BVI Tourist Board since.

The moral of the story: Verify what’s in the brochure by calling the property and asking specific questions about its location and facilities. If a hotel is undergoing construction or renovation, its promotional materials may tout amenities that don’t yet exist. And, of course, glossy photos taken with a wide-angle lens can make a broom closet look like a bedroom.

Use the Right Travel Agent

Another way to navigate the wonderful world of brochures is to use a good travel agent who knows places and properties.

Unfortunately, many agents steer travelers astray-as when Zave Aberman of Montreal was talked into a cruise on the Radisson Diamond. A travel agent assured his family and another family, the Perzows, that the ship would be great for children. But the kids were miserable.

Bad weather prevented the ship from deploying its retractable marina, so they could not do the promised water sports.

Nor were they allowed to play in the pool or ride the elevator without adults. The cruise director even asked the families why they had brought children on such a cruise. They spent a total of $25,000 and were sorely disappointed.

Radisson explained to Ombudsman that the kids were ordered not to ride the elevators alone after they nearly knocked over an elderly guest while doing so, and that it was forced to curtail their pool activities when guests complained about their spIashing and ball-throwing. The Radisson Diamond simply does not offer the children’s facilities and programs that many larger and less elegant cruise ships provide. As a gesture of goodwill, Radisson offered the four parents a weeklong cruise for only $700 per person.

lt’s important to find a travel agent who specializes in the particular type of trip you have in mind. Asking an agent whose specialty is European country inns to book you on a South Pacific cruise is like asking an ophthalmologist to perform an appendectomy.

Get it in Writing

When booking a trip, get written confirmation of all the details (and scrutinize the restrictions and exclusions). If a hotel or cruise line won’t send written acknowledgment of a special request you ‘ve made-say, for a particular room or dinner seating-put it in writing yourself and fax the company a copy. And if your trip goes awry and a front-desk clerk or car-rental agent promises a refund or a waived fee, get it in writing.

This may be easier said than done, as Brett Schlaman of Los Angeles could tell you. He and his wife rented a car in Germany, intending to return it in Paris and paya $95 drop-off fee. In Paris, they called Avis to ask if they could return the car somewhere else later and were told they could drop it off anywhere in France for the same fee. But when they returned it in Nice, they were charged a drop-off fee of $430. They asked if they could drive the car to Paris and pay the original fee, but the agent said she had closed out the contract when she printed their bill; if they wanted the car back, they would have to re-rent it. So they had to pay the $430 charge.

Ombudsman could not persuade Avis to give Schlaman a refund, since he had no documentation to back up what he said the Paris agent had told him. Schlaman should have walked into the Paris office with his rental documents in hand and gotten the amount of the new drop-off fee in writing.

Travelers often complain of misinformation given over the phone, but if they have no proof of what they were told, companies frequently won’t give them the benefit of the doubt.

All About Arizona

All About Arizona

In the southwest of the United States is the state of Arizona. It borders California, Colorado New Mexico, Nevada and Utah, and is among one of the biggest of the 51 states. With a population of close to 6-million it is surprising to know that it has more national parks and monuments than any other state in the US.

The capital city is Phoenix which is located in the Sonoran Desert where the official state wild flower of the Saguaro Cactus Blossom grows. It is a big, pure white flower with an artificial waxy look.

It is famous for being home to the natural wonder of the world – Grand Canyon a most distinguished landmark which stretches across 277 miles and was formed over 2 million years by the Colorado River which still meanders its way through the steep-sided walls. Despite the remoteness of this area and indeed the height – visitors can stay at the various Arizona Resorts which can be found close at the in-park or close by.

But the Grand Canyon isn’t all that Arizona is know for – it houses the largest Native American Indian reservations in the US with 21 recognised tribes occupying about a quarter of the Arizona’s land. These tribes have contributed to the history, diversity and culture of the land.

From the tribal history to something quite British, where at Lake Havasu City is the original London Bridge which was shipped stone by stone from England’s capital city of London with reconstruction starting in 1968.

With a climate that is warm and dry because it experiences very little rainfall, Arizona is a great place to visit year round. It beckons all to the great outdoors where hiking, fishing, camping and boating are encouraged. It also has all the comforts of home offered by a variety of the capital city’s Phoenix Resorts.

Flying into Macau

Flying into Macau

Flying into Macau these days and arriving in its brand-new airport, you see at a glance how small it is: a low, rocky peninsula connected to China by a sandspit three hundred yards wide, and two even smaller islands, Taipa and Coloane, which are linked by a bridge and a causeway.

Macau’s whole area comes to less than seven square miles, one quarter the size of Manhattan. it has no natural resources and no agriculture, apart from some quiet public gardens and lovingly tended flowerpots. Of its half a million people, fifteen thousand are Portuguese, ten thousand are “other,” and the rest, thronging the busy streets, savoring the breezes off the South China Sea, chattering into portable phones, and very occasionally creating small traffic jams, are Chinese.

Collectively, however, they all call themselves Macanese and live together in obvious harmony. The road signs and shop windows are in Portuguese and Chinese, but everyone-or at least everyone employed in gambling, tourism, or religion, Macau’s essential industries-speaks English.

Flying into Macau

From the air, Macau is a small, slow, inviting place. The approach I like better is from the sea, best of all toward dusk, in foggy weather (the ferries and hydrofoils from Hong Kong all carry radar, and often need it). The estuary of the Pearl River, forty miles wide, looks as vast and empty as the open ocean, with the next landfall at Saigon or Singapore.

Suddenly the engines slow, a row of buoys slides alongside, and through the mist looms a bump of land crowned by the fortress and hermitage of Our Lady of Guia, a pair of ancient cannons, and the winking lantern of the first lighthouse ever built on the China coast-a very Portuguese mix of faith, antique firepower, and maritime know-how.

So, too, is the way Macau clings to the outermost edge of China, as Portugal itself does to the far end of Europe, with nowhere to go but to sea. A loose grip on the wheel, you feel, and you might miss Macau altogether. Yet at this hour, when night veils the casinos, the horse- and dog-racing tracks, the bank towers, and the other schemes Macau has had to adopt to stay afloat, the fort and the church beside it remind us what a mighty monument to human perseverance this brave little out-post has been-and still is.

What was New York like during World War II

What was New York like during World War II

Wartime New York City, was, however, to be a far more carefree place than London or Paris, as commentators from areas closer to the war effort neglected no opportunity to show. To be sure, there was for a time a dim-out, ordered not so much through fear of bombs as because the glow of the city’s lights silhouetted shipping for enemy U-boats lurking out at sea. In this halfway measure, the streets were still lighted, a British visitor of 1942 reported; but the “glaring advertisements” which formerly kept Broadway “in perpetual light” were now extinguished, and “all windows above the 10th floor… screened.”

New Yorkers gained some sense of participation in the struggle as air-raid precautions, inaugurated six months before Pearl Harbor, were “practiced and more or less perfected,” sirens were tested, and wardens and plane spotters began to stand watch on tall buildings and rural hilltops. Women took over tasks formerly performed by men–driving cabs, operating elevators, and serving as telegraph messengers–when Selective Service pulled nearly 900,000 New Yorkers into uniform.

The rationing of food and gasoline prompted the most obvious sacrifices, at least for those to whom the black market was not available. But for New Yorkers without close friends or relatives overseas, the sight of servicemen on leave and of the cargo vessels and tankers, “lined up on the Hudson and East River, with their camouflage and artillery, awaiting the formation of convoys,” constituted the closest contact with the shooting war.

What was New York like during World War II

To the casual observer, New York seemed hardly touched by the conflict. The British novelist James L. Hodson saw no sign of a dimout in the winter and spring of 1943-1944; and the naivete of the airraid instructions he found in his hotel bedroom showed him “how far” New York really was “from the war.” At Christmas time the city was gay with holiday decorations.

Cocktail parties preceded dinners boasting menus “astounding to British eyes.” The season was described as “the craziest Christmas for spending” ever known. “There is no war here,” Carlos Romulo contended, in amazement, when he reached New York shortly after the fall of the Philippines. He was horrified at what appeared to be the “holiday air of the people,” rushing madly about–in a “Coney-Island” dim-out–“spending fabulous sums as if they were in the midst of a carnival.”

Only after he had observed the city more closely did the Philippine statesman realize that New York, too, was fighting the war-giving blood, buying bonds, and, above all, moving men and goods in a degree that contributed significantly to victory. The city’s surface frivolity, he ultimately concluded, was in part, at least, a reflection of the way that New York showed its fighting spirit. It was a consequence, too, as other commentators were aware, of the very nature of New York’s most important wartime contribution–the production and movement of goods essential to the war effort.

As production expanded and shipping throve, wages increased, and New Yorkers had more to spend than ever before. At the same time, fewer necessities were available for purchase as a result of wartime restrictions. Hence an unprecedented portion of the worker’s income was at hand for spending at theatres, movie houses, race tracks, restaurants, and bars. It was this, in the opinion of Pierre de Lanux, which caused the erroneous impression that “what was happening overseas had no repercussion on life in the United States” and gave service personnel returning from combat the generally unjustified feeling that New Yorkers were blind to the realities of the conflict.

De Lanux is the authority, too, for New York’s reaction to the victory when it came in 1945. Despite the scarcity of paper, ticker tape rained on Broadway following news of the German armistice in May; and with the defeat of Japan, in August, the sobering implications of Hiroshima did not prevent New Yorkers from staging a real celebration. “From the dignified flag-bedecked residences, uptown, to the gaudily decorated tenements of the East Side and ‘Little Italy,’ the national colors floated amid clouds of confetti, cheering cries, the honking of horns, and the wail of sirens,” the French chronicler reported.

The churches were filled in the morning; then a general rejoicing took possession of the entire city, which reached a climax by evening. At Times Square, the crowds were so dense that the police had difficulty intervening when soldiers and sailors, sharing their joy with the civilians, “embraced and mussed up some of them” in the bargain. “Statisticians will never say exactly how much alcoholic beverage passed from production to consumption that night,” de Lanux asserted, “but the figure would certainly be expressed in tons rather than liters.”

Like the commentators of earlier days, those of the thirties and forties recognized the role of the port in the city’s economy, especially in connection with the nation’s colossal war operation; but increasingly their attention turned to the magnitude of the city’s industrial output, as well. Referring to New York of the mid-forties as “the greatest manufacturing town on earth,” John Gunther pointed out, in his Inside U. S. A., that Manhattan alone employed “more wage earners than Detroit and Cleveland put together,” Brooklyn more than Boston and Baltimore, and Queens more than Washington and Pittsburgh, combined. More persons were engaged in New York’s garment trades than made automobiles in Detroit or steel in Pittsburgh, according to a similar comment in the New York Times.