A Quick Tour of Spain

A Quick Tour of Spain

With over fifty million tourists visiting Spain each year, this popular West European country must have something special which attracts the visitor. What exactly is it…?

The main beauty of this lovely land can be summed up in just one word – variety – and, as you all well know, variety is the spice of life!

Whether you are referring to its climate, geography, history, culture or cuisine… there is something to appeal to all tastes, ages and pockets.

The tourist explosion which took place in the 60s was originally due to its marvellous beaches. And, with good reason, for the Foundation for Environmental Education states that “Spanish beaches are the most environmentally healthy in Europe” and has awarded the much-coveted Blue Flag to 450 of the country´s beaches – more than any other participating country.

But maybe lolling about on the beach all day is not your thing and you prefer more action… a touch of sophistication?

Should this be the case then Spain´s major cities are ideal for you… jam-packed full of history, and an art-lover´s dream. Yet, with their abundance of parks and wide open spaces, good shops and pulsating night-life, they are a joy for everyone – children included.

So … mooch around the truly marvellous museums and monuments of Madrid. Enjoy the bustle of stylish Barcelona bursting with vibrant Gaudí influence. Savor the delights of romantic Mediterranean cities such as Valencia and Alicante. Or journey further south to the exotic cities of Granada, Seville and Málaga. Immerse yourself in their haunting Islamic palaces, the brilliant colors and sounds of flamenco, and in the birth-place and works of Picasso.

Maybe you hunger for the peace and quiet of a hideaway hotel in an unspoiled village? Then rural Spain is for you: full of forgotten villages, bursting at the seams with medieval castles, and offering prolific flora and fauna, it is ideal for walking holidays, painting, photography or just plain “get away from it all” holidays. Not to mention ski-ing opportunities for the more active amongst Spain´s snow-capped peaks.

Should you fancy a mix of all three – beach, city and rural – then that is also easy to arrange. Although Spain is the largest country in Western Europe after France, it is certainly no problem to get around. Littered with airports – both national and international – it also offers a good train service, though the cheapest and most convenient method of internal travel is by using the national bus / coach system.

For those who are a little tired of the stereo-typed hotel chains, Spain has a unique alternative on offer in its state-established “paradores”. In these, you will find accommodation in converted castles, palaces, fortresses, monasteries, convents…

The aim of the “paradores” is to offer high standards at reasonable prices in a noteworthy building or location and to help preserve the traditions of regional cooking by serving the best of local cuisine in the “parador” restaurants.

Which brings us on to yet another delight that Spain has to offer – its rich and varied cuisine. Whichever region of Spain you decide to visit, you will surely encounter scrumptious Spanish food!

What´s more, the traditional Spanish diet, with the liquid gold of its olive oil, its rich supply of wine (in moderation!), its wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, plus an abundance of seafood, all mean that it is extremely good for the heart. On top of that, it is affordable!

Even their “caviar” of cured hams – “jamón Ibérico” – has fat unusually high in oleic acid which is known to lower cholesterol levels! Now I ask you, where else can you get something pleasurable, that is cheap, and also good for you?!

Even if you fancy picking between meals you can opt for their tempting “tapas” – much healthier for you than a packet of crisps or a donut!

Tapas originate from the large, southerly region of Andalucia and it is this region that we also have to thank for flamenco and the Spanish guitar. Which holiday would be complete without visiting an authentic flamenco show or dancing the night away to the beat of romantic Spanish music?

So… come visit this land where the warmth of its climate is only surpassed by the warmth of its people. You are bound to have a great time!

Greece and the Meditarrenean Sea

Greece and the Meditarrenean Sea

In Athens maps and informtion brochures are available from the National Tourist Organization. Bus tours can be arranged through hotels or travel agencies, and What’s On in Athens gives details of current events. Admission to the Acropolis and all other ancient monuments and museums is free on Thursdays and Sundays. Museum hours vary according to the season.

The most famous archeological site in the Parthenon, the sacred temple of Athena, and one of the most skilfully contrived pieces of architecture in existence. From here there is an excellent view of Athens, Piraeus and the sea. On the hill around the Parthenon stands the Erechtheion – famous for its porch of graceful Caryatids (maidens); the imposing Propylaea, the entrance gate to the Acropolis, built in 482 BC and the exquisite little temple of Athena Nike, also called Wingless Victory.

On the south eastern slopes of the Acropolis is the Theater of Dionysus built in the 5th century BC, where the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles were first performed and on the south western slope the theater of Herod Atticus, built in 16 AD and now the site of summer events in the Athens Festival. See the soaring Arch of Hadrian and just behind it the temple of Olympian Zeus – one of the greatest temples of the Hellenistic world. The Temple of Hephaestos (Theseum) is marvelously preserved.

Directly north of the Acropolis is the Agora, the market place and civic center. See the remains of Hadrian’s Library and the Tower of Winds built to house a hydraulic clock and sun dial in the 1st century. Look at the Doric Gate, presented to the Athenians by Emperor Augustus in 27 BC and note the beautiful monument of Lysicrates – 334 BC. Relics of the Roman era are also to be found among the present day houses of the Plaka (old town) district. Visit the stadium, built into a hillside and restored for the celebration of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.

Arizona: Hot climate, desserts and very mild winters

Arizona: Hot climate, desserts and very mild winters

Arizona is the 48th state of United States of America. It is located in the southwestern region of United States. The capital of Arizona is Phoenix which is the largest city of Arizona. It was the last state declared by the government of United States in the United States of America. Arizona does not have a very moderate climate and therefore it is liked by the people who are interested in spending their vacation in hot summers.

Arizona is known for its hot climate, desserts and very mild winters. It was also termed as the fastest growing state of United States of America in terms of population. It consists of about 4 million people. Phoenix is the most popular part of Arizona and also its capital. The other important cities in Arizona are Mesa, Glendale, Peoria, Chandler, Sun City, Sun City West, Fountain Hills, Gilbert, Avondale, Tempe Tolleson and Scottsdale.

Arizona is a state which solely follows American culture. However, the weather affects its culture. The food pattern is the same as that of the rest of United States of America. Arizona is very famous for its cooking patterns. The tourists here can also enjoy desserts. Arizona is one of safest places in United States of America. The infrastructure is developed in a very good and secure manner. Arizona is also very famous for its sports. It has its own teams for different sports, just like the other States of United States of America. Arizona is a very wealthy state in terms of education and sports. People who like educational and sports activities come to Arizona to study and learn.

The top attractions in Arizona are Bisbee, Canyon de Chelly, Jerome, Lake Powell and Monument Valley. These are the most beautiful places to visit in Arizona. The most famous hotels in Arizona are Anthem, Bellemont, Page, Paradise Valley, Parker, Oak Creek Canyon and Oro Valley. These hotels are the best and most luxurious hotels in Arizona. They are very well developed and have the best and the latest amenities.

These hotels serve various types of cuisines to their guests. The hotel management takes care of maintaining different types of cuisines according to the type of the guests from different countries. The music is also very diverse in Arizona. It is based on the native English music which is followed all over America. However, it also contains some French and Spanish words in it.

As far as sport is concerned, there are many popular players who are now playing as professionals in the American teams. These teams play at the world level championships and leagues. Arizona is also famous for having the maximum number of female governors, than any other state in the country. It follows a very rich education pattern. The universities and schools are very sensitive about their education level and student management. The state government is also very active in maintaining law and order in the state to make the natives as well as the tourists feel safe and secure.

All About Famous Tahitian Dances

One of the most widely recognized images of the islands is the world famous Tahitian dance. The ‘ote’a (sometimes written as otea) is a traditional dance from Tahiti, where the dancers, standing in several rows, execute figures. This dance, easily recognized by its fast hip-shaking and grass skirts, is often confused with the Hawaiian hula, a generally slower more graceful dance which focuses more on the hands and storytelling than the hips.

The ʻōteʻa is one of the few dances which existed in pre-European times as a male dance. On the other hand, the hura (Tahitian vernacular for hula), a dance for women, has disappeared, and the couple’s dance ‘upa’upa is likewise gone but may have reemerged as the tamure. Nowadays, the ʻōteʻa can be danced by men (ʻōteʻa tāne), by women (ʻōteʻa vahine), or by both genders (ʻōteʻa ʻāmui = united ʻō.).

All About Famous Tahitian Dances

The dance is with music only, drums, but no singing. The drum can be one of the types of the tōʻere, a laying log of wood with a longitudinal slit, which is struck by one or two sticks. Or it can be the pahu, the ancient Tahitian standing drum covered with a shark skin and struck by the hands or with sticks. The rhythm from the tōʻere is fast, from the pahu it is slower. A smaller drum, the faʻatete, can be used.

The dancers make gestures, reenacting daily occupations of life. For the men the themes can be chosen from warfare or sailing, and then they may use spears or paddles.

For women the themes are closer to home or from nature: combing their hair or the flight of a butterfly, for example. More elaborate themes can be chosen, for example, one where the dancers end up in a map of Tahiti, highlighting important places. In a proper ʻōteʻa the story of the theme should pervade the whole dance.

The group dance called ‘Aparima is often performed with the dancers dressed in pareo and maro. There are two types of ʻaparima: the ʻaparima hīmene (sung handdance) and the ʻaparima vāvā (silent handdance), the latter being performed with music only and no singing. Newer dances include the hivinau and the pa’o’a.

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.

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 About Capri in Italy

All About Capri in Italy

The small Italian island of Capri is situated 5 km from the mainland in the Bay of Naples, a celebrated beauty spot and coastal resort since the days of the Roman Republic until now. It is also part of Campania.

Capri, known in Greek mythology as the isle of the sirens, was a favored resort of the Roman emperors. Most notoriously, the emperor Tiberius had his villa on the island, the location (supposedly) of debauched orgies. Those who displeased the emperor were flung to their deaths from the cliffs. The island is world famous and is very touristy, especially when swamped with tourists in July & August, but other times of year it is calmer and more relaxing.

Get in

By boat

Capri is reached in about 40 minutes by hydrofoil from the port of Ischia or Forio, docking at Marina Grande on the north side of the island. There are also daily ferries from Naples (20/day, €16, 40 minutes), Amalfi, Positano and from Sorrento (15/day, €14, 20 minutes). Boats are operated by Caremar and SNAV. [2]. Capri Online offers information on schedule and prices for all ferry / hydrofoil to Capri.

For arriving in style, Capritime Boats specialises in water taxi direct transfers from Naples, Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast and Ischia to Capri. They also provide luxury full-day and half-day boat tours to the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento Coast from Capri, tailor itineraries for cruise ship passengers docked in Sorrento, Capri, Naples and Amalfi and also offer special Capri and Ischia island boat excursions.

From Marina Grande, a funicular goes up to Capri Town, and boats leave for the Blue Grotto. The fourth store to the right of the funicular provides baggage storage for €2.50/day per bag, from 8:30-6:00. Tickets for buses, funicular, and return boats are for sale at kiosks, along with public toilets. The Tourist Information office offers €1 maps, open daily April to October 8:30-8:30PM, November to March Monday to Sunday 9:00-1:00 & 3:30-6:30. The Bar Augusto has internet access from 6:00AM-8:00PM

Get around

By foot: from the main harbour to the town up the hill leads a range of stairs. Stairs and walkways, mostly signposted, crisscross the island.

By funicolare: this mountain tram (same stuff as in Naples, Heidelberg, Barcelona and San Francisco) connects the harbour with the town up the hill. Read also about the unified public transport ticket Campania Unico.

By taxi: The open top taxis are expensive but, if there are a group of you worth considering. Haggle to get a price to ferry you around the island for the day (it won’t be cheap – but very little on Capri is!).

By bus: Island buses are readily available to take you to the various areas of the island. They run on a schedule and cost 1,30 € per ride, €2,80 for 60 minutes unlimited use, or €6,70 plus €1 deposit for unlimited day use (deposit is refunded to you at end of day). Buses run from: Marina Grande to Capri town (4/hour) and then take bus to Anacapri (4/hour) but the Capri to Anacapri bus gets crowded, so you could take a bus direct from Marina to Anacapri (2/hour)

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.

Paris: City of lights, hotels and attractions

Paris: City of lights, hotels and attractions

The dramatic increase of French hotel prices over the past few years, especially in Paris, have led many tourists to shorten their holiday or simply pick other European destinations to spend their vacation.

However, some wise travellers have already pitched on a far more money-saving accommodation system which, it appears, may well become as popular as the traditional hotel business in the years to come.

Indeed, weekly apartment rental has become for many the best way to experience the city of lights without putting further strain on their holiday budget.

If the advantageous financial aspect of vacation rentals is a well-known fact, it is also the best way to live in the city just like one of its native inhabitants and forget about all the hassle of “not being at home”. Don’t want to go to the restaurant? You can have a romantic dinner at home! Don’t want to go to the bar? You can have a bottle of wine in your own private living room with your guests! It goes without saying that renting an apartment in the very heart of a city is certainly the closest way to experience Paris just like a true Parisian would.

Choosing your pied-à-terre in the city is now as simple as booking a hotel room and can be done in a few clicks. And with such a large choice of apartments or studios, travellers can now find an accommodation that will match their expectations in terms of size, budget or location, be it for adventurous backpackers or luxury travel addicts.

Matadors and Bullfighting in Spain

Matadors and Bullfighting in Spain

Spanish-style bullfighting is called a corrida de toros (literally a “running of bulls”), tauromaquia or fiesta and is practiced in Spain, where it originates, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, as well as in parts of Southern France and Portugal.

In traditional corrida, three toreros, also called matadores or, in French, toréadors, each fight two out of a total of six fighting bulls, each of which is at least four years old and weighs up to about 600 kg or 1,300 lb (with a minimum weight limit of 460 kg or 1,010 lb for the bullrings of the first degree). Bullfighting season in Spain runs from March to October.

Each matador has six assistants — two picadores (“lancers”) mounted on horseback, three banderilleros (“flagmen”), and a mozo de espada (“sword servant”). Collectively they comprise a cuadrilla or team of bullfighters. The crew also includes an ayuda (aide to sword servant) and subalternos (subordinates) including at least two peones (pages, singular peón).

Anti-Bullfighting Movement

Activisim against Bullfighting has existed in Spain since the beginning of the Early nineteenth century, when a group of intellectuals, pertaining to the Generation of 98, embarked on a dual crusade against the popularity of Bullfighting and Flamenco music, dismissing them as “non-european” elements of Spanish culture which were to blame for the country’s social and economic backwardness. More recently, bullfighting has come under increasing attack from the far-left citing concern for animal welfare.

Perhaps more significantly, separatist and nationalist sentiment in Catalonia has played a key role in the region wide ban of a practice which is strongly associated to Spanish national identity. Animal welfare concerns are perhaps the prime driver of anti-bullfighting outside Spain although rejection of traditionalism and criollo elitism may also play a role in Latin America, explaining why such activism is so closely associated to leftist or far-leftist positions in Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia.

Animal rights activists claim bullfighting is a cruel or barbarous blood sport, in which the bull suffers severe stress and a slow, torturous death. A number of animal rights or animal welfare activist groups such as Antitauromaquia and StopOurShame undertake anti-bullfighting actions in Spain and other countries.

Others, such as author Alexander Fiske-Harrison who trained as a bullfighter to research for a book on the subject, have argued that there are mitigating circumstances to this: “In terms of animal welfare, the fighting bull lives four to six years whereas the meat cow lives one to two. What is more, it doesn’t just live in the sense of existing, it lives a full and natural life. Those years are spent free, roaming in the dehesa, the lightly wooded natural pastureland which is the residue of the ancient forests of Spain.

It is a rural idyll, although with the modern additions of full veterinary care and an absence of predators big enough to threaten evolution’s answer to a main battle tank.” Other arguments include those to the effect that the death of animals in slaughterhouses is often much worse than the death in the ring, and that both types of animal die for entertainment since humans do not need to consume meat, eating it instead for taste (bulls enter the food chain after the bullfight).