Mar 22, 2013 09:33 - rhoyal | 220 views
The Kingdom of Norway is a spectacular and awe-inspiring country with some of the most majestic sub arctic geographic features anywhere in the world. By far the most striking of Norway’s natural features is the series of fjords that cut their way from the ocean deep into the mountains. As the majority of Norway is of higher altitudes, the gashes left by the receding glaciers of the ice age are of such beauty that they form some of the most stunning sights in the natural world.
The Geiranger Fjord is an offshoot of the larger Storfjord, or Great Fjord, and stretches along a 15-kilometer path until reaching the picturesque village of Geiranger at the end of the Geirangelva River. Geirangerfjord has the honorable distinction of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the largest tourist attractions in the country. The length of the fjord is bordered by mountains rising directly from the water with almost no shore; the slope plunging at a steep angle deep under the water. The high mountains are covered in lush green forests and waterfalls cascade from the heights above, into the fjord below.
The Norwegian Sea comes deep inland at Trondheimsfjord, the nation’s third longest fjord. Stretching an incredible 130 kilometers, the fjord can be found in the west central of the country as it passes by the cities of Ørland, Steinkjer and Trondheim. Numerous islands dot the length of the fjord with the largest being Ytterøy and Tautra. The Fjord is accessible all year long with only a small portion near the north that sometimes freezes during the height of winter.
While its northern neighbors beauty highlights the stark contrast between the green forests, black rocks and deep blue waters, Lysefjord has a particular aesthetic all its own. Named “light fjord” for the light grey granite that buffets its sides along its 42-kilometer run, Lysefjord is an isolated but breathtaking location. The mountains that stretch out of the fjord are so steep that the sparsely populated residents can only travel about by boat, making this a wonderful retreat from modern life. Despite its relative isolation, the area is surprisingly affordable and easy to reach with plenty of cheap direct holidays always available. Cruise ships travel from Stavanger daily, and there are a few safe places to disembark and hike through the dramatic mountains.
People say that size doesn’t matter, but sometimes bigger is better, as is the case with Norway’s largest fjord. Sognefjord carves its way 205 kilometers through high snow-capped mountains before reaching the village of Skjolden at its end. The fjord averages about 4.5 kilometers in width through the main branch and reaches a depth of 1,308 meters, while its surrounding mountain range shoots up to heights of 1,000 meters. Tourists come from far and wide to take in the amazing views and visit such sites as the medieval stave churches still located along its length.
Though slightly smaller than its sibling, Hardangerfjord is the second largest in Norway and carries the waters of the Atlantic Ocean 179 kilometers into the southwest of the country. With its easy accessibility for both Scandinavians and Europe at large, Hardangerfjord was a major tourist destination as far back as 1875, with weekly cruises from London.
When planning your next vacation destination, take the time to consider the mind-blowing natural beauty of Norway’s most prominent natural treasures. Enjoy a leisurely trip through the inlets and you will have the perfect chance to reflect on life as the striking contrast puts your place in the world into sharper focus.
Mar 21, 2013 09:30 - Regina Falkowski | 1,314 views
You’ve heard practically everything there is to hear about The Lone Star State including that everything is big, from the hats to the belt buckles. Well, so is the baseball.
Buckle Up Folks. It’s Time for a Road Trip!
The best way to experience Texas baseball is actually to get out and enjoy the stadiums and watch some games. Think that won’t take too long? You’re wrong. In fact, you can make a pretty solid trip out of it.
There was a gentleman last year who visited 30 ballparks in just over 20 days. He set an unbroken Guinness record with this feat of fandom. He did this with a combination of trains, planes, and automobiles.
We feel to experience this road trip through; you have to do it in a car.
Start Your Trip in Dallas/Fort Worth
Well, you’re in luck! The Dallas/Fort Worth area has some amazing used car dealers. This is where you’re going to want to start your trip. Texas is the heart of American baseball. When you arrive at Ranger Ballpark, you’ll instantly know you’re in baseball heaven. It’s a towering structure that’s still fairly new having been constructed in 1994. We’ll talk about a stadium that’s 20 years older than that in a minute. After you buy your ticket(s) and head into the park, your jaw will drop. The stadium has the capacity to hold close to 590,000 fans. Like getting right into the action? You’ll be able to feel the whiff of the bat since at most points in the stadium you’re no more than 52 feet away from the field of play.
It’s Not Over
Don’t think for an instant that this road trip is over after visiting Ranger Ballpark. Hop back in the vehicle you picked up from that used car dealer back in Dallas because you’re about to put a good 200 miles on your car as you head down to Austin. What’s in Austin, you ask? Disch-Falk Field. This stadium, located at the University of Texas, is home to the Texas Longhorns.
The longhorns have the best win-loss record of any Title 1 NCAA Division. Disch-Falk Field is a testament to this. Back in 2009, a nearly $30 million renovation to the stadium was completed. Additional box seats at field level were installed. There are close to 20 business “skyboxes”, along with an upgraded sound system and a lighting rig that shows up great on TV.
Parking is a cinch at Disch-Falk Field. There are plenty of areas to park with close access to the stadium, so you don’t have to walk across campus. Keep an eye on the Longhorns this year. If they have another winning season as usual, then you’ll want to get to the stadium early. Sell outs and standing room only crowds of 8 to 10 thousand people are common.
Mar 20, 2013 09:30 - phyllis | 1,304 views
There is so much to see and do in Charleston that it’s hard to squeeze so much fun into a four day weekend, but this baby-boomer decided to try!
The four of us girls flew to Charleston on an early Thursday morning flight and took the last departure out on Sunday evening packing in as many delightful activities as possible while still leaving down time to enjoy each other’s company and share stories of previous travels.
This was my third visit to Charleston, so I had a fairly good idea of what I wanted to enjoy during my brief stay. My baby-boomer friends also were return visitors to the city and had their list of must-dos as well.
We stayed at the luxurious Charleston Place Hotel, our unanimous choice, because it is in the center of the city and has a fabulous spa, which we spent one of our days luxuriating with massages and facials, lounging in the Jacuzzi and swimming laps in the salt water indoor/outdoor pool.
We also took a carriage ride around the city admiring the historic homes which have been lovingly restored from the 1700 and 1800’s, stopping along the way to visit area landmarks.
The Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Reform Jewish Congregation of Charleston, founded in 1749 is one of the oldest Jewish congregations in the nation. It is a block from the Charleston Place Hotel and is a United States National Historic Landmark. There is a museum in the synagogue with a framed letter from President George Washington and other interesting artifacts from the early settlers in Charleston.
The carriage ride was just one way to see the sights. We also hired a pedicab, a bicycle with a back seat for two and powered by a driver, who was a college student in the area. Our pedicab driver told us that he works several hours a day and keeps his strength up by eating plenty of protein and working out on his days off.
Boat rides are another means of transportation in this lovely city. We took a boat ride out to Fort Sumter National Monument where the civil war began. The ferry boat ride provided awesome views of the city and we enjoyed the tour at the Fort which gave us a glimpse of the struggles of soldiers as they fought to preserve our country.
We spent hours at the Charleston city market across the street from the Charleston Place Hotel. The market place has everything from handmade baskets made by the natives of the city to jams, jellies, jewelry, clothing, books, hats and unusual gift items at reasonable prices. I bought a beautiful Pashmina scarf for less than twelve dollars.
Middleton Place, America’s oldest landscaped gardens was also on our list of must see attractions. The gardens were first carved out in the colonial wilderness in 1741 by Henry Middleton, a president of the First Continental Congress. We toured the Low Country Plantation and talked to the skilled craftspeople and observed the animals who work and live on the plantation. The Middleton Place Home built in 1755 also was an interesting tour with its antique furniture, silver, china and historic documents including a copy of the Declaration of Independence.
Part of the charm of Charleston is their lovely gardens and we took a Charleston Tea Party private tour which takes you to some of the beautiful gardens at the homes of Charleston residents and concludes with tea at a home. I highly recommend this lovely tour.
When we concluded the tour we enjoyed lunch at Middleton Place featuring local foods. The shrimp and grits were delicious.
Our last day in Charleston was Sunday, and we were fortunate because it was the second Sunday of the month and just outside our hotel were the festivities. The Shops, Charleston Place on King Street arranged tables and sale racks on the street which is closed to traffic allowing shoppers to browse the sale racks inside and out of the stores. Restaurants also did the same. Residents and tourists enjoyed shopping and enjoying lunch at outside tables.
King Street has a variety of stores from designer top labels like Gucci and St. John to bargain stores like Affordables. I enjoyed browsing in Handpicked, a store with all sorts of items that are hand monogrammed for shoppers.
Our exciting weekend came to a close, all too soon, but we are already planning our next trip with so many things to see in Charleston that we just didn’t have time to visit in our short four-day visit.
For more information:
Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue, www.kkbe.org
Mar 19, 2013 09:30 - erexkiss | 616 views
Europe is home to a huge number of castles. The castles are a connection between modern and medieval/pre-modern times. Lets take a look at some of the lesser known but really spectacular castles worth visiting.
“Cabra Castle” refers to two castles in Ireland. One of these castles is a regal hotel, while the other is in ruins. The castles are located in south-east County Cavan, near the hamlet of Cabra, close to Kingscourt. The castle is a mixture of Gothic style and neo-Norman style. The interior is mostly Gothic while the exterior is neo-Norman. It was originally called the Cormy castle.
Building this castle sent the Foster family into bankruptcy. That is why they sold the castle to the Pratt dynasty who were much wealthier. The Cabra Castle was sold to the Corscadden family in 1991. This family converted the castle into a luxury four star hotel. The surrounding park of Cabra castle is about 100 acres of land.
Bran Castle situated in Romania is rich with legend. It is better known as Dracula’s castle so if you get the jitters easily, avoid it! The Knights of the Teutonic Order built it as a stronghold. The Kronstadt Saxons were given the rights to build the castle in 1337. It served as a defense from the Turks. It was used as a royal residence from 1920 to 1948 – when the royal family lost rights to this palace. Today it is a beautiful museum of arts of the medieval era.
Chateau De Vitré
The Chateau De Vitré is a castle in France that was built in the medieval era. The castle was initially built of wood and was burnt down several times. It was built with stone for the first time in the 11th century by the Baron Robert 1 of Vitré. The building still has a doorway in the Romanesque style. The castle was rebuilt in the early 13th century.
After the death of Baron Andre 3, the Counts of Laval came to own the palace. The castle was enlarged in the 15th century and in 1872 this castle was the first one in France to be classified as a historic monument. The castle was made available to the public as a miniature museum for tourists.
This castle is the northernmost castle of medieval times that still exists. Olavinlinna means St. Olafs Castle. It stands on the Kyronsalmi strait in Savonlinna, Finland. The castle was incepted in 1475 and was then called Sankt Olofsborg. It was built to withstand cannon fire from a possible Russian attack. In 1743, the castle was overtaken by the Russians and Empress Elizabeth of Russia came to rule the region.
Today the castle is a great place for tourists – several small exhibitions are hosted here. It hosts the Savonlinna Opera Festival every year.
Francis Ford Coppola shot scenes from “Youth Without Youth” for 11 days here. It is located in a town of the Black Sea region of Bulgaria called Balchik. The palace is officially called the Quiet Nest Palace. It was built when Romania controlled the land between 1926 and 1937. It houses a chapel, holy spring, monastery, power station, wine cellar, a smoking hall, several residential villas and a botanical garden that is run by the state.
Europe is rich with palatial castles that are a treat to the eye and mind. The five castles featured above are only a small eye opener to the rich cultural heritage of hundreds upon hundreds of castles housed in the beautiful land of Europe.
This is as Guest Post by Endre RK, a part-time blogger and travel enthusiast. Endre currently represents Worldmarket.com, a great source for world market furniture, home decoration items and gifts.
Mar 18, 2013 14:34 - rhoyal | 5,807 views
From architecture to man-made islands and structures, to the beginnings of civilization, in Dubai there is so much to do. Explore the world’s tallest building, the Palm Islands with no palm trees, the seat of civilization and sleep in the lap of luxury. You might just need a vacation to recover from your holiday. Here are some of Dubai’s sights you cannot afford to miss.
Burj Al Arab
Burj Al Arab is the hotel that you must stay at once in your life if you travel to Dubai. Whilst cheap direct holidays are always available, you will need to save up for this hotel, as one night’s stay will cost you over $2,000. This beautiful unique hotel is one of the most luxurious in the world offering the best in superior guest services. You will find a reception desk and concierge on every floor and rooms with rain showers and jacuzzis The hotel and guests are services by a fleet of Rolls-Royces to meet the travel needs of all. Butlers are on call at all hours with unique dining and local cuisine. The Burj Al Arab is the fourth tallest hotel in the world that mimics the shape of the sail of a ship standing on a man-made island. Of all the places to stay in Dubai, this one might well be the most magical.
From the air you can see why they call them the Palm Islands. This unique archipelagic creation is often called the 8th wonder of the world. The man-made islands are designed to look like a palm tree, but there are no actual palm trees there. The Palm Islands are a collection of three island groups known as the Palm Jumeirah, the Palm Jebel Ali and the Palm Deira. Dubai commissioned the development of the Palm Islands to move the country towards tourism. The islands are the brainchild of Sheik Mohammed Rashid al Maktoum and the design of developer Nakheel Properties. Jumeirah houses the seven-star Burj Al-Arab luxury hotel. On the island there are hotels, shopping, tourism, private beaches and more. This stunning structure is a must see, even if it is only from space.
Once it was the Sear’s tower and the World Trade Centers, then the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur but now the world’s tallest building resides in Dubai. The Burj Khalifa dwarfs them all and now holds the title of tallest man-made structure at 829.8 meters (2722 feet). This stunning skyscraper reaches into the heavens from downtown Dubai surrounded by shops, hotels, and the notorious Dubai fountain. The outdoor observation deck opened on January 5, 2010 on the 124th floor making it the 3rd highest observation deck in the world. To avoid the rush for the observation deck, purchase your tickets ahead of time and save as much as 75% over tickets purchased at time of arrival. The towers have been a Mecca for climbers and base jumpers since its opening.
The Dubai Creek, a saltwater creek is also known as Khor Dubai and the heart of Dubai. The historical waterway once split the city into two parts and is believed that the Ancient Greeks called it the River Zara. The creek is the reason Dubai exists, as this is the hearth stone of the first settlement and home to the original pearl trade with the outside world. This is where you want to stop and slow down your day. Take the time out to explore the culture, the architecture, and the sea breeze. You can board an abra (water taxi) for a tour of the historical and modern sites in Dubai. The old trading ports and the wharf show a scenic glimpse of the trading heritage that built this beautiful country. After you taxi through the creek, take a walk along the banks into the old spice and gold souks on and around Naif Road. This is one part of Dubai you will not want to miss. Skip the car though, walk or travel by water taxi, as parking is impossible.
Let me introduce you to the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East. This amazing indoor playground is covered in real snow all year round, filling the equivalent of 3 football fields. The temperatures inside are maintained at a comfortable -1° C (30.2° F) with 5 different runs, a freestyle zone, chairlifts, tow lifts and flying carpets. There is gear rental available, in case you are one of many who tend to forget your ski equipment when packing for Dubai. This is a full service ski resort with restaurants, ski school, changing areas and so much more. Take a break from the heat and Ski Dubai during the middle of your trip. You really can’t beat this surreal experience.