Florence: The symbol of the Renaissance

Florence: The symbol of the Renaissance

180 miles north of Rome, Florence is one of the great cities of the world. Everywhere you turn in this incomparable town you will see exquisite masterpieces of architecture and art which recall the days when Florence was the undistuped leader of the Renaissance world, under the rule of the powerful Medici family.

Magnificent palaces like the Galleria degli Uffizi, built to house the State Judiciary in 1565 and now one of the largest and most important mseums in the world; Palazzo Pitti, in the Boboli Gardens, which has a modern art gallery and a silver museum as well as Raphael works, Titian and Giorgione. Donatello’s famous statue of St George is in the Bargello Museum (a prison of the 16th century).

The second pair of bronze doors which Ghiberti designed for the Baptistry of the Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiori, were described by Michelangelo as ‘the gates of paradise’ and the cathedral itself, with its celebrated bell tower is a glowing masterpiece of colored marble. Every square and every ancient building is a work of art – the 13th century church of Santa Croce, where Machiavelli and Michelangelo are buried; the Dominican monastery of San Marco, with its beautiful Fra Angelico frescoes; the Accademia di Belle Arti, where you can see Michelangelo’s superb statue, David. A copy is in the Piazza della Signoria, which is a busy square in the city and one of the most beautiful open air galleries in Europe.

Florence is also one of the top gourmet cities in Europe. Try bistecca alla Fiorentina, the Fiorentine way with a big juicy steak, or tortino di carciofi (eggs with artichokes), or triglie o baccala alla Livornesei which is a fish and tomato sauce concontion.

Places to enjoy these masterpieces – the roof gardens of the Baglione Palace hotel, where you can dine and dance in the evenings. The Open Gate (Viale Michelangelo); Ristorante Ponte Vecchio, near the famous 14th century bridge; Sabatani (via Panzani); Villa San Domenico (via della Piazzola); Otello (via Orti Oricellari); and if you want to eat American now and then, Doney’s (via de Tornabuoni) does a good line in snacks as well as specials, like scampi alla Medici. Harry’s Bar is a favorite meeting place and Jolly Club is a lively discotheque.

World’s Most Unique Travel Destinations

World's Most Unique Travel Destinations

A big part of travel is that feeling you get when experiencing something completely new, something you haven’t seen or done before. Many travel destinations offer an amenity or two that other places don’t–but there are only a few locations in the world that offer a truly unique experience.

Some of these places are wonders of nature–a spot where the flora or fauna can’t be found elsewhere, or where the mountains stretch the landscape to impressive formations. Other destinations are unique because of man-made features–entire islands created out of sand, underwater museums designed to decay, or hotels shaved from ice.

Hot or cold, undeveloped or overly elaborate, these locations offer something you can’t get anywhere else, which is as good a reason as any to plan a trip.

The Azores

Explore the dramatic natural beauty and bounty of crater lakes in this collection of nine volcanic islands in the middle of the North Atlantic. Portuguese by language, it has a culture and cuisine all its own. Feast on the geothermally heated hotpots called cozido das furnas, which consist of mixtures of meats and stews and are a feature of the area near Sao Miguel.

Bhutan

High up in the Himalayan Mountains sits the world’s newest democracy, whose 30-year-old king has been instrumental in developing the country’s parliament, and injecting a democratic voice into Bhutanese affairs. The term “gross national happiness” was coined by the country’s former king, who began the Buddhist country’s path to modernization. It now straddles both the old world and the new, and has earned the nickname, “the last Shangri-La.”

Grindavik, Iceland – The Blue Lagoon

Anne Banas, executive editor of SmarterTravel.com, recommends the stark beauty of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. “They call it ‘The Land of Fire and Ice’ for a reason,” says Banas. “It’s one of those things that you have to do in a lifetime. You’re swimming in these silica mud waters, but then it’s snowing outside.” Stay at the Blue Lagoon Spa, where you can take a geothermal steam bath, or have drinks while you soak in the lagoon.

Cancun Underwater Museum – Cancun, Mexico

The brainchild of the artist Jason de Caires Taylor, the world’s largest underwater museum features 400 statues by the artist, in a dizzying array of poses and features. The just-opened sculpture park sits in shallow waters in Cancun, allowing snorkellers, swimmers, and scuba divers alike to witness the sculptures grow seaweed and barnacles, and begin to form a supplementary reef for area fish.

Madagascar

Madagascar, sitting approximately 225 miles off the eastern coast of Africa, in the Indian Ocean, is so remote, it’s been host to many one-of-a-kind evolutionary developments. Ninety percent of its native plant life is found nowhere else in the world. “It still feels like a lost wonderland, with unique and diverse plant and animal life,” says Tom Hall, a U.K.-based writer for Lonely Planet.

Brasil: Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro

Brasil: Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro

Copacabana is a bairro (neighbourhood) located in the South Zone of the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is known for its 4 km balneario beach or 2.5 miles , which is one of the most famous in the world.

The district was originally called Sacopenapã (translated from the Tupi language, it means “the way of the socós (a kind of bird)”) until the mid-18th century. It was renamed after the construction of a chapel holding a replica of the Virgen de Copacabana, the patron saint of Bolivia.

Characteristics

Copacabana begins at Princesa Isabel Avenue and ends at Posto Seis (lifeguard watchtower Six). Beyond Copacabana, there are two small beaches: one, inside Fort Copacabana and the other, right after it: Diabo (“Devil”) Beach. Arpoador beach, where surfers go after its perfect waves, comes next, followed by the famous borough of Ipanema. The area will be one of the four “Olympic Zones” during the 2016 Summer Olympics. According to Riotur, the Tourism Secretariat of Rio de Janeiro, there are 63 hotels and 10 hostels in Copacabana.

Brasil: Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro

Copacabana Beach

Copacabana beach, located at the Atlantic shore, stretches from Posto Dois (lifeguard watchtower Two) to Posto Seis (lifeguard watchtower Six). Leme is at Posto Um (lifeguard watchtower One). There are historic forts at both ends of Copacabana beach; Fort Copacabana, built in 1914, is at the south end by Posto Seis and Fort Duque de Caxias, built in 1779, at the north end. One curiosity is that the lifeguard watchtower of Posto Seis never existed.[4] Hotels, restaurants, bars, night clubs and residential buildings dot the promenade facing Avenida Atlantica.

Copacabana Beach plays host to millions of revellers during the annual New Year’s Eve celebrations and, in most years, has been the official venue of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.

Places to Visit in Fiji Islands

Places to Visit in Fiji Islands

Fiji, officially the Republic of Fiji, is an island country in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,100 nautical miles (2,000 km; 1,300 mi) northeast of New Zealand’s North Island. Its closest neighbours are Vanuatu to the west, New Caledonia to the southwest, New Zealand’s Kermadec Islands to the southeast, Tonga to the east, the Samoas and France’s Wallis and Futuna to the northeast, and Tuvalu to the north.

Fiji is an archipelago of more than 330 islands, of which 110 are permanently inhabited, and more than 500 islets, amounting to a total land area of about 18,300 square kilometres (7,100 sq mi). The farthest island is Ono-i-Lau. The two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, account for 87% of the population of almost 860,000. The capital, Suva on Viti Levu, serves as Fiji’s principal port. About three-quarters of Fijians live on Viti Levu’s coasts, either in Suva or in smaller urban centres like Nadi (tourism) or Lautoka (sugar cane industry). Viti Levu’s interior is sparsely inhabited due to its terrain.

Sun-drenched beaches, turquoise lagoons, swaying palm trees – Fiji supplies all the classic images of paradise. No wonder, then, that every year thousands of travellers come to this South Pacific archipelago for the ultimate island escape. With over three hundred islands to choose from, Fiji is an amazingly versatile destination. Whether you’re after a luxury honeymoon retreat, a lively backpacker island or a family-friendly resort you won’t be disappointed. You’ll also find a warm, hospitable people, an intriguing blend of Melanesians, Polynesians and Indians.

Places to Visit in Fiji Islands

With a reliable tropical climate, a good tourist infrastructure, English as its main language and no jabs or pills to worry about, travelling in Fiji is as easy as it gets. As the hub of South Pacific tourism, the country attracts over half a million visitors a year, mostly from Australia and New Zealand, its largest “neighbours” lying over 2000km southeast. Of the northern hemisphere travellers who arrive, many are backpackers from Europe or surfers and scuba divers from North America.

While it can be tempting to spend your whole time in Fiji sunbathing and sipping cocktails from coconuts, there are plenty of activities to lure you away from the beach. Within a ten-minute boat ride of most resorts you can find yourself snorkelling with dolphins and manta rays or scuba diving at pristine coral reefs. In addition, at the exposed edges of the reefs are some of the world’s finest and most consistent surfing breaks. Nature lovers are also spoilt for choice, both underwater and on dry land, and wildlife-spotting opportunities are plentiful, whether you’re seeking turtles, exotic birds or 3m-long tiger sharks.

Away from the resorts is another Fiji waiting to be discovered: a land of stunning mountains, rainforests and remote villages. Here you’ll find fantastically hospitable Fijians living a similar lifestyle to their tribal ancestors. Staying a night or two at a village homestay will give you an authentic insight into ethnic Fijian culture as well as the chance to sample yaqona or kava, the national drink.

Fiji is also home to a large Indian community and their influence is seen in the delicious Indian food served in almost every town, Bollywood films showing in the cinema and vibrant Hindu festivals celebrated throughout the year. While Fiji is not renowned for its towns or cities, three are definitely worth taking the time to explore: quaint, colonial-era Levuka, yachting hotspot Savusavu, and Suva, the lively capital city and the best place to party in the South Pacific.

However long you spend in the country you’ll notice an unhurried, good-humoured lifestyle. This is the essence of Fiji Time – an attitude that can be both inspiring and infuriating. Away from the highly organized upmarket resorts, life runs at a different pace; bus and ferry timetables serve more as guidelines and a simple meeting in a village can last for days. It’s best to leave your inner control freak at home – you never know, you may come back a calmer person.

Amsterdam: A Quick Orientation

Amsterdam: A Quick Orientation

Amsterdam, in its physical aspect, is almost entirely a product of the so-called “Golden Age” of the Netherlands-that period in the 17th century when Holland surged to the near-pinnacle of world power, after its victory over Spain in the brutal Eighty Years War. It was during this period that the merchants of Amsterdam-then the dominant element in the city-laid out a pattern of gently-curving, concentric canals that occupy the central section of Amsterdam and constitute the city’s particular glory today. Amsterdam performs an essentially capital city service function for the rest of the Dutch economy.

The canals run in a fairly regular pattern that makes it quite easy to orient yourself. Starting at the Central Station, the first of the canals is the Singel. Then comes the Herengracht (“Gentlemen’s Canal”), then the Keizersgracht (“Emperor’s Canal”), and finally the Prinsengracht (“Prince’s Canal”). Along these canals the merchants of 17th-century Amsterdam then constructed what seem today like endless lines of gilded, patrician mansions and homes. These have, in recent years, been occupied by business firms, but their façades are absolutely untouched-and it is in this most beautiful centuries-old setting that you’ll want to spend most of your time in Amsterdam.

Crossing through this pattern of parallel, concentric canals, like the spokes of a wheel, are avenues, the most important of which is the Damrak, which starts at the Central Station and heads straight to the Dam Square, site of the Royal Palace, the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), and National Monument. From the Dam Square, this street becomes the Rokin, and veers a bit as it heads to the Mint Square (Muntplein), where the famous old Mint Tower Amsterdam stands, and where the Amstel River begins.

Near the Mint Square is the Rembrandtsplein (Rembrandt’s Square), one of the two major entertainment areas of Amsterdam; a bit further out, and to the west, is the Leidseplein (Leidse Square), the other entertainment section of Amsterdam, and the site of the Stadsschouw-burg (Municipal Theatre). And beyond this central area is a slightly more modern section where you’ll find the two great art museums of Amsterdam-the renowned Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum- as well as the famous home of its much-acclaimed orchestra, the Concertgebouw.

Why Americans travel to Europe for what?

Why Americans travel to Europe for what?

Americans go to London for social triumph, to Rome for art’s sake, and to Berlin to study music and to economize; but they go to Paris to enjoy themselves. And there are no young men of any nation who enter into the accomplishment of this so heartily and so completely as does the young American.

Paris determined to see all that any one else has ever seen, and to outdo all that any one else has ever done, and to stir that city to its suburbs. He saves his time, his money, and his superfluous energy for this visit, and the most amusing part of it is that he always leaves Paris fully assured that he has enjoyed himself while there more thoroughly than any one else has ever done, and that the city will require two or three months’ rest before it can read just itself after the shock and wonder due to his meteoric flight through its limits. Paris, he tells you, ecstatically, when he meets you on the boulevards is “the greatest place on earth,” and he adds, as evidence of the truth of this, that he has not slept in three weeks. He is unsurpassed in his omnivorous capacity for sight-seeing, and in his ability to make himself immediately and contentedly at home.

The American visitor is not only undaunted by the strange language, but unimpressed by the signs of years of vivid history about him. He sandwiches a glimpse at the tomb of Napoleon, and a trip on a penny steamer up the Seine, and back again to the Morgue, with a rush through the Cathedral of Notre Dame, between the hours of his breakfast and the race-meeting at Longchamps the same afternoon. Nothing of present interest escapes him, and nothing bores him. He assimilates and grasps the method of Parisian existence with a rapidity that leaves you wondering in the rear, and at the end of a week can tell you that you should go to one side of the Grand Hôtel for cigars, and to the other to have your hat blocked. He knows at what hour Yvette Guilbert comes on at the Ambassadeurs’, and on which mornings of the week the flower-market is held around the Madeleine.

While you are still hunting for apartments he has visited the sewers under the earth, and the Eiffel Tower over the earth, and eaten his dinner in a tree at Robinson’s, and driven a coach to Versailles over the same road upon which the mob tramped to bring Marie Antoinette back to Paris, without being the least impressed by the contrast which this offers to his own progress. He develops also a daring and reckless spirit of adventure, which would never have found vent in his native city or town, or in any other foreign city or town. It is in the air, and he enters into the childish goodnature of the place and of the people after the same mariner that the head of a family grows young again at his class reunion.

The Château Rouge was originally the house of some stately family in the time of Louis XIV. They will tell you there that it was one of the mistresses of this monarch who occupied it, and will point to the frescos of one room to show how magnificent her abode then was. This tradition may or may not be true, but it adds an interest to the house, and furnishes the dramatic contrast to its present wretchedness.

Why and when to travel to Jamaica

Why and when to travel to Jamaica

An insider’s guide to Jamaica, featuring the island’s best hotels, restaurants, bars, attractions and things to do, including how to travel there and around. By James Henderson, Telegraph Travel’s Jamaica expert. Click on the tabs below for the best beaches, including the top spots to stay stay, eat and drink.

Why go?

Jamaica is the liveliest, most captivating and most compelling island in the English-speaking Caribbean – and among the most beautiful too. It has the beaches and the hotels, but Jamaica also has more depth, with culture in its history, art and of course its music. The Caribbean experience is stronger here – Jamaica takes familiar strains from around the Caribbean and amplifies them.

When to go

The best time to visit is when the weather is at its worst and coldest in the UK, between mid-December and mid-April (the official winter season). In Jamaica this is also the driest part of the year. However, prices are at their highest then, so you may want to consider the shoulder season, up until July, when hotel prices reduce by as much as a third and the weather is not that different. The summer months are hot and sometimes muggy. You may want to avoid September and October because of the risk of hurricanes and November because it is the rainy season.

Why and when to travel to Jamaica

Know before you go

Flight time

London to Jamaica takes between nine and 10 hours.

Currency

The currency of Jamaica is the Jamaican Dollar, or ‘J’, which floats on the international exchange (currently £1 = J$175 approx). However, many people use the US dollar (hotel bills are quoted in this currency). You should check the rate and make the calculations to see what exchange rate you are being offered.

Local laws and etiquette

Personal safety is an issue in several islands around the Caribbean. Do not leave valuables unattended on the beach nor in a car. Do not walk in remote areas in the main towns nor on remote beaches, certainly not at night. If in doubt ask your hotel reception what they do. Largely speaking the Jamaicans are charming and if you stop to ask them advice or directions they are delighted to help. Be careful when you are approached, however – consider what you would do at home if approached by someone you didn’t know – and act in a similar manner.

Climate of the Pacific Islands

Climate of the Pacific Islands

One feature of oceanic islands which distinguishes them from continents and from many of the continental islands is the climate. The great body of water which surrounds oceanic islands never becomes so warm and never so cold as the land on and near continents.

Therefore the temperature of the air over the open ocean and around and over the oceanic islands does not rise so high or fall so low. For the same reason the winter and summer temperatures are not very far apart, and the climate does not differ much from month to month. Places in Mexico in the same latitude as Hawaii and places in Australia in the same latitude as Rapa have cold winters and hot summers.

Temperature

The average annual temperature of nearly all the Pacific oceanic islands is 70 degrees. Only in a region extending west from Fiji does the average reach 80 degrees, and only in the Aleutian Islands and in the islands lying south of New Zealand are the winters uncomfortably cold.

Winds

Because of the vast stretches of water over which they may blow without interruption, the winds of the Pacific are more regular and uniform than are the winds in any other part of the world. These winds blow in different directions in different parts of the Pacific. In the belt of ocean lying approximately between the parallel of latitude 3 degrees north, which runs through Midway Island, and the parallel of latitude 60 degrees north, near the Bering Sea, the winds come generally from the west and are known as ” westerly winds.”

From latitude 30 degrees north to near the equator the winds come from the northeast. For more than three hundred days in the year they blow so regularly and evenly that they have been called northeast trade winds (trade is the English form of an old word trod, which means path). Along the equator the winds blow feebly, generally from the east. From near the equator to latitude 30 degrees south are the southeast trade winds, and still farther south is the belt of strong westerly winds known to sailors as the “roaring forties.”

In the two trade-wind belts, the winds sometimes blow from a direction opposite to their usual course, bringing with them the kind of weather known in Hawaii as “Kona storms.” Sometimes the winds become hurricanes or typhoons. Most of these hurricanes occur in the region between the Marshall Islands and China and west and southwest of Samoa — in Micronesia, Melanesia-and farther west in the Indian Ocean.

But they sometimes occur in the winter months in Polynesia and are then very destructive. The houses may be torn down and. the trees broken and uprooted. The hurricane winds and the high waves which come with them have swept some low coral islands bare of trees, buildings, and men and have sunk the canoes along the shores. These winds and the ocean currents made by the winds have aided boats in sailing in some direoctions and hindered them in sailing in other directions.

Cyprus: The Divided Touristic Paradise

Cyprus: The Divided Touristic Paradise

Cyprus is a divided country, which is now split into two halves. On the south is where the Greek Cypriots live and on the north is the Turkish Cypriots. Turkey now owns the north of Cyprus.

In July 1974, the Turks invaded Famagusta situated on the north. The Greek Cypriots were given thirty minutes to leave their homes and all their belongings behind, whilst they quickly had to move to the south side.

Anyone left behind were put into prison camps by the Turks. Today, Famagusta has been left how it was since that day. Many tourists visit Famagusta by taking excursions. They go there to witness the state it has been left in. Cars are seen abandoned and left open, washing still left hanging on lines and hotels still not built. They call this area the ghost town.

The Turks invaded Nicosia and battled their way into Cyprus. Many people were killed. Greek Cypriots had to flea their homes and move into the south of Cyprus. Today, there is a divided line through Cyprus. This is known as the Green Line. After many years, tourists are now able to visit the north of Cyprus. They can go there on excursions or if they visit Nicosia, they can walk across by walking down Ledra street. T his is an area of many shops.

Cyprus: The Divided Touristic Paradise

In the north, there is unspoilt areas of beauty, such as Kyrenia. Everything on this side of the Island is far cheaper than it is in the south and there are no copyright laws, which means there are many clothe shops that sell designer copies, such as nike, addidas and many other expensive labels. There are, also, bargain markets over there and many people that live on the south visit them regularly.

There are a few excursions by Thomas Cook, Thomsons and First Choice that take tourists over to the north of Cyprus. One of them takes you to Nicosia, where you can walk over to the other side providing you have your passport with you. There is, also, in Nicosia, an eleven floor Debenhams. On the eleventh floor you can see the whole of Cyprus and into the north. This floor has been made into an observatory, where binoculars. It’s an experience to go there and see the magnificent views all around.

Passion, energy and mystery all in Hawaii

Passion, energy and mystery all in Hawaii

Hawaii is incredibly romantic destination. Perfect for a wedding, honeymoon or dream away. The fabulous beaches and luxury resorts, combined with the tropical climate means that you’ll fall in love with the island almost as soon as you land. You’ll be forgiven if you stay in comfort and luxury of your resort, with all your needed. Although if you never leave the station, you’ll miss the inspiring fear Marvels Hawaii has to offer.

Whatever your stay on this island is worth jumping through the Big Island to visit the Parc National des Volcans. Hawaii has many active volcanoes and there are five on the Big Island. Only three of the five are active and Kilauea is most active. He is the youngest volcano on Big Island and appears to go through a growth spurt in adolescents. Kilauea has been erupting since 1983. Every day he vomited enough lava resurfacing of 20 mile long road. This enormous quantity of lava has added about 500 acres of the Big Island area. The volcano gives with one hand he takes the other. Big Island has lost more than 181 houses, a church and a number of other buildings in the lava flow.

You may wonder why on earth we suggest you visit the active volcano. The Volcano National Park is perfectly safe if you pay attention to the park rangers. So it’s an incredible opportunity to see firsthand one of the most powerful displays of natural materials and the planet. The eruption of Kilauea is not about quick violent, is a persistent rise of the lava. Forms lava tubes that directs much of the flow toward the sea of lava tubes are a fascinating formation created by the lava of contact with the air much colder island. As the lava flow increases the size of the tube forms a unique ecosystem. We suggest you take a tour of the tubes. As you’re standing inside a natural element created by a lava flow active, please pay attention to the Rangers!

Hawaii Volcanoes are an integral part of the mythology and legends of the islands. Pele is the goddess of Kilauea volcano and its domain is. If you want a spiritual protection of the raw power of the earth, it would be wise to take some pork and gin with you. This is not to strengthen you, but should be wrapped in ti leaves and left as an offering to Pele. This goddess of fire is tempered celebrated in local art and tearing down forms of lava are called “Pele’s tears”.

It is not wise to take one of the tears of Pele as a souvenir of your visit. Many of those who have had to mail the stone back to Hawaii in an attempt to appease the deity who has the misfortune visited upon them. A local superstition, perhaps, but it is wise to respect the landscape of national park in the same way you respect a coral reef. As for the offerings of pork and gin, while in the presence of an erupting volcano that has been for 26 years there is no harm in keeping the local goddess happy.