Southern Unknown Land

Australia is the biggest island and the smallest continent on the Earth. It received its name due to the Latin “Terra Australis Incognita” – “Southern unknown land”. Australia is the only country occupying the whole continent. Here you can see the super modern metropolises, the driest deserts, the best beaches, coral reefs and much more.

Australian cities differ much from the cities in Europe. They look more like the American ones, but still have their own appearance. There are no ancient attractions; it’s a kingdom of glass, steel, modern buildings and comfortable roads.Sydney is the largest city in Australia and the administrative centre of the New South Wales province. It is the most developed Australian city, the financial and industrial capital. The original Sydney Opera is not only an architectural sightseeing but the leading country’s stage too. Another Sydney symbol is The Harbour Bridge. The tourist centre in Sydney is Darling Harbour with exhibition centers, shops, restaurants and cafes.

Melbourne is the second biggest city and the centre of Victoria province. It has been always struggling with Sydney for the name of Australian cultural capital. Sydney is famous for its Opera, Melbourne – for its ballet. As one of the sport leading cities in the county Melbourne houses the Australian open (tennis) and one of the stages of Formula-1 Grand Prix. Melbourne is a green city with cozy streets and houses. One of the things Melbourne is associated with is tram. It is a very popular man of transport and on of the city symbols.The capital of Australia, Canberra is a relatively small city. It’s the city of politicians and bureaucrats, but there is a lot more in Canberra. Historic attractions include Captain Cook Memorial Water Jet; New Parliament House; Old Parliament House; Telstra Tower; St. Christopher’s Cathedral; the National Archives of Australia; the National Library of Australia; and Canberra’s Royal Australian Mint.

Another significant city in Australia is Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. It is an elegant city beside the Torrens River, between the Adelaide Hills and the Gulf of St Vincent. It is very green city with a lot of gardens and parks.The main city of the Queensland state, Brisbane, is the perfect place to relax and have a rest. It lies on the coast and has very good beaches.

All the Australian coasts are famous for its beautiful beaches, but the Gold Coast is the most famous one. It is an ideal choice for those who like sun, sand, relaxed lifestyle and surfing. It’s a very comfortable place with good hotels and other accommodation.

This paradise strongly differs from the rough deserts in the middle of the country. This part of the Australia is mainly inhabited by the aborigines. There are no good roads, big cities or any comfort at all. There are farms, sands and mines. This territory has its own charm too, but you should know what to be prepared to.Australia is separated from the other parts of the world, thus its nature is really unique. The best-known Australian animal is kangaroo. There are also duck-bills and other species you can’t meet anywhere else.

Italian Travel Guide

Italy as one of the most ancient European civilizations is unknown to none. Italy had been the land of Roman Empire for long. Today the country has a rich history and tradition that speaks for itself and gathers tourists from all round the world. Italy is a place known for its wonderful cities and their archaic art and architecture. There are great Roman structures like Roman Colosseum and Pantheon; the Sistine Chapel, sculptures by maestros Leonardo, Michelangelo etc. and many more attractions that can make your vacation a dream come true.A Walk through the Italian Cities-The cities of Italy are quite popular across the globe. For instance the land of Julius Caesar i.e. the city of Rome also known as the “Eternal City” has an aura of exotic Roman art and architecture. Rome is famous for its architectural masterpiece of the Colosseum, the National Gallery of Ancient Art which in itself is a magnum opus and displays the work of Bernini, Raphael and Titan. The Capitoline Museums houses the complete history of Rome, the Gallery of Modern Art presents the 19th and 20th century at work by eminent artists and the Galleria Borghese museum in Rome has the largest art collection in the world.The city of Venice seeks no introduction. It is the city where tranquility prevails and the beguiling art and architecture makes everyone’s day. The visitors are attracted by pulls like the Grand Canal, the museums such as the Museum of Modern Art and Museum of Oriental Art in the Santa Croce region of Venice, which put at parade the art work from countries like Japan, Indonesia and China. Also worth visiting are the Academy of Fine Art and the Correr Museum known for its Renaissance art.The fashion city of Milan has always been inviting visitors. It is a primary economic and cultural center of Italy. Milan is popular for the Romanesque architecture in the Lombardy region of which Milan is a part; The Cathedral of Milan that is a paradigm example of Gothic architecture. The Milan museums include some of the fascinating museums in the world. For instance the Brera Gallery that presents the tour de force of geniuses like Raphael and Giovanni Bellini. You can also gaze at the awesome “The Last Supper”, Jesus and his disciples at the Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie church.Since the entire Italy is swarming with museums and art, the city of Florence too grounds few wonderful ones. The Uffizi Gallery which is best known for the art work of Sandro Botticelli – “Birth of Venus”, Leonardo da Vinci’s strokes, and apart from these the Dutch, French and Spanish work of art it displays.Besides this, Florence is thronged for its delectable cuisine, hill slopes and the oldest archaeologically significant region of this place i.e. the Tuscany region. One among the wonders of the world, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is nestled in the Italian town of Pisa in the Tuscany region.The Vatican City is a center of attraction in Italy particularly for magnificent Sistine Chapel, designed by the architect Baccio Pontelli and feathers added to it by Bernini. The galleries of this Chapel present some of the exclusive art works-paintings and sculptures like “run-of-the-mill”, the archaic bronze statue of Apoxyomenos, Michelangelo’s sculpture ‘The Pieta’ and so forth.After these Italy has many other cities that have always been welcoming visitors with their pleasant surroundings and amazing art work.So one should, in one’s life time definitely bask in the glory of the skill of distinguished artists, painters and architects, no where else but Italy.

Cloud Catcher in the Chilean Desert

Chungungo is a fishing village on the Chilean coast, in most respects it is very similar to the many other small communities, strung out along thousands of miles of Pacific coastline, that depend on small scale fishing for their survival.But Chungungo is the site of an ingenious invention, the “atrapanieblas” or “mist-catcher”, that has been copied around the world as a means of obtaining fresh water in areas where there is next to no rain and no ground water.It is a place that I have visited many times and enjoy stopping at if I am passing through the region of Coquimbo, more commonly known by its unimaginative administrative name, the 4th Region. As you travel up the Pan-American Highway, that runs the length of South America, the mist-catcher is visible on top of the coastal hills that surround and isolate Chungungo.It is this isolation that spawned the ingenious system. The village had no source of fresh water, so before the mist-catcher was implemented water had to be brought to the remote village by road.The road to the top of the hills winds up a gravel road past an abandoned Iron mine to the mist-catchers. The system comprises a line of large Rashell nets, each about 100m2 that look like giant tennis nets. Although the area has very little rain fall, the hill tops are frequently cloaked in a sea fog called “camanchaca”. As the mist passes through the nets it condenses and runs down the nets into collecting trays and into a pipe that supplies Chungungo with drinking water. The system provides approximately 13,000 litres of water per day.From high above the Pacific by the mist-catcher the only sound is that of water trickling off to the lonely village of Chungungo below – a reminder of how ingenuity can provide inexpensive life improving solutions.

Glimpses of History

Traveling to the Washington D.C. area and the northwestern part of Virginia becomes a trip into history. The eye and mind not only view the scenery, but also ghosts of the country’s past.Whorls of fog, like mists of memory, wind over paths swathed through forests of ever vigilant green. Trees choke off the view of the horizon as sleek horses graze on ground christened by a nation’s two fights: one a battle for independence, one a battle within. Everywhere the eye wanders, glimpses of history, memories of the past mingle with scenes of the present.Battle fields forever scarred with the scattered litter of the dead are surrounded with masses of hardwoods fertilized with the blood of men who wore the Union blue or the Confederate gray. Cannons, forever guarding ghosts of those who fought and died, left wheel ruts unfilled by the passing of time. In hollow mockery of troops long gone, towering trees stand attention around a painting of a grand house which burned leaving but scraps of a foundation and graves and monuments, lasting reminders of the price of a war which turned brother against brother and friend into enemy.In Fredricksberg, colonial buildings march side by side in their restored grandeur, quaint, narrow, and deep with pocks caused by shelling in revolutionary or civil war time. Stark, plain yet with silent dignity, a battle-scarred church, built of brick and mortar, stands separated from rushing traffic by a line of swaying trees. Aged pine floors creak echoes of the past in the building where heroic medicine had been found, while young girls, older ones too, shudder at the tales of treatment of long ago. A tavern and inn sits in memory where the rich entered by the front door, and the common folk by the back. A deck of cards lies on a table, the ace of spades missing to avoid more of the King’s tax, the start of “not playing with a full deck.” White and proud stands the home of the first president’s mother, a mother’s home where a son came to ask her blessing and where a boy ghost lurks.Monticello brings many to visit its splendor and its view. Gentle mountains softened by graduated shades of green touch the low, lazy haze curling about the rounded peaks. Deep valleys spread below, filled with close ranks of pines, oaks, and elms divided by lush meadows or fields of fragrant grasses and hay. On a hill-top sits the ancient, in New World time, house with multiple chimneys pointing to the bright blue sky where wisps of friendly clouds play hide-and-seek. Around the mansion lie carpets of velvet grass shaded by weeping willows and towering oaks while flowers peek through hedges. Vistas of wooded hills and valleys hide old houses in armies of trees with roofs and chimneys briefly spotted behind the sentries. Trails of history meander through today’s sunlight, bringing back memories of yesterdays gone by. A stone monument marks the grave now empty while immortality lives in brick and wood for all to see, but not touch.A flood of traffic rushes into the nation’s capital, greeted by a towering white spear and a columned reminder of those who led through the two historic wars most grim. The spires of a red-brick American castle reach toward the drizzling sky on one side of a mall of grass and paths. Mobs of citizens from here and there play tourist, staring in awe or simply gawking at the mixture of history now surrounded by crass commercialism. The long reach of grass is framed by a domed capitol blurred by mist, buildings old and new housing memories and dreams, the towering column reaching upward unsoftened by any influence. Around and through rages a river of people flowing, ebbing, creating rapids that cannot be navigated. Apparently healthy men accost walkers, begging for money for food; all look amazingly well-fed. Here lies history drowning in today as a nation’s mansion hides behind bars and barricades, unapproachable.Standing tall and proud at the top of a hill like an elderly lady fallen on hard times, Chatham, a mansion from colonial times used in the Civil War as a Union headquarters to subdue Fredricksberg, brings feelings of dread and of anticipation. The mansion gathers her tattered gown around her with dignity, staring haughtily across the river, overlooking the shadows of destruction left in her lap. One is overwhelmed with the need to escape from the oppressive darkness by fleeing around the circle of her skirt. Like hiding behind his mother in safety, he finds her garden holds peace and contentment, full of flowering, blooming life.Memories of the past, real and imagined, spin and mix with views of the present creating a new, more intimate portrait of a slice of history.

Guam:Island Paradise

Guam sits like a jewel in the tropical Pacific, a paradise of beauty and contrasts. Roughly shaped like a boot thirty miles long and ten miles wide, the island contains high cliffs, white beaches, and swaying palm trees. Jets spew vapor trails in the bright blue sky as waves topped with white foam break away from the sea, washing ridges in the sand of the beaches. The Pacific lies beyond, a deep blue, untinged by gray or green.Sometime every day, some part of the island receives rain. One resident may find rain pouring in his backyard while the sun shines in the front. One neighbor may work in his yard while another watches a shower from his window. A short time later, skies clear over all the isle.Across the road from the outer edges of the housing projects stand the boondocks, a tightly woven mass of vegetation, the island jungle. At night the mating call of the wild bucks can be heard, followed by the pounding of hoofs and antlers as two amorous males fight over one doe. The snort and bellow of the wild boar echoes in the late dark hours of the tropical night.The beach glistens under the warm winter sun as bodies of different shades of brown, black, white, and sunburn parade in and out of the water. Native Guamanians swim side by side with military and civilian personnel from the military bases. A coral reef nearly one mile toward the ocean separates large waves from the beach. At each end of moon-shaped Tumon Beach, a towering cliff stands guard. Away from the sunny area of the sand, palm trees stir in the gentle breeze. If one looks closely, native huts can be seen far back in the trees.With little warning, the serene blue skies and calm sea can turn into an inferno of wicked winds, pounding rain, and black skies when a typhoon hits. The rain seems forced through the walls by the fierce winds that whip, that drive the storm. The typhoon, the enemy of the islands, sweeps over and through with extreme destruction, laying waste all that does not yield before its fury.Guam portrays calm seas and whipping waves; jet trails and wild boar; native huts and housing projects; white sands and military bands. The paradise, a place of beauty, a place of contrast, lies like a jewel in the Pacific.

Morocco: Marriage of Old and New

Anyone desiring an adventure in a foreign land should consider Morocco in northwest Africa. The marriage of old and new gives depth and interest to a visit.The vista from the water appears as if from the Arabian Nights with sand dunes casting shadows in the moonlight as the ocean laps on the white beaches. Ancient towns drowse in the African sun as robed men and women travel by foot, by donkey, or by car. Europeans and Americans pass by in late model vehicles. Morocco’s combination of the most modern life with the most ancient of entities fascinates, interests, and excites me as I travel.The sun causes the city to shine like a pearl nestled by the Atlantic. Casablanca (which means white house), the gateway to Morocco, meets the eyes first in this place of adventure and beauty. From the contemporary, busy harbor to the center of the city, swarm multicolored, diversely dressed people. A flock of bright-hued, short-skirted girls with long hair flying clack by in their chunky heels. Behind glides a somber group of burnoosed Fatima faces veiled and mysterious. A young Frenchman, in the latest style, saunters by a beggar in robe and dirt. A half-naked toddler, all dark eyes and watery sores, stares at another child dressed in clean clothes riding in a stroller.In the midst of the metropolis, I visit moderately tall high-rise buildings and many of the latest stores. Then after a short walk or ride in any direction, I discover lovely old villas arrayed in yellows, reds, blues, greens — all flowers and plants. Tucked in here and pushed in there, dirty and cramped stores attract my attention. A little farther away stand shacks of straw, cardboard, mud, or tin, where misery, filth, and poverty of unbelievable depth live. The contrast between the rich being so rich and the poor being so poor shocks me.When I leave the city, a modern ribbon of asphalt runs into fog-wrapped foothills. Along the roadside, a native man upon his donkey rides before the less-than-animal woman trudging behind. A dark-faced man with a smile-flash of white tries to take all the road with one small bicycle. A European whizzes by in a bug-like car; a limousine, chauffeur driven, majestically rolls past bearing a powerful sheik.In towns or cities, such as Marrakech, easily accessed commercial areas provide for business needs. Behind low walls, villas or modest homes line wide boulevards. Along narrow winding streets that cars cannot maneuver, doors from windowless houses open directly onto the roadway. The dwellings abut each other, closely packed side by side. Children run chasing and kicking a ball, as veiled women return from market carrying the day’s needs in net bags or in bundles upon their heads.Beyond the town boundaries, a donkey and a camel yoked together plow a field. The camel will not cooperate; the donkey has to turn him. In the field next door, an American-made tractor does the work in much less time.Here and there small settlements break the skyline with most of the huts made of wood, mud, or tin; the out-buildings, of straw. Occasionally a more affluent home of stone, built around an open courtyard, appears. Little beauty such as flowers or trees brighten the outside of the drab humble “home.”In Morocco exist the wealthy and the indigent; but even more evident are the modern and the ancient ways. The rich, the poor, the old, and the new bring a flavor of enchantment to a country of Arabian Night mystery.

Maine in Winter

For anyone who likes snow and winter weather, the state of Maine provides a perfect vacation spot, especially northern areas like Aroostook County with towns like Caribou, Limestone, and Presque Isle hidden beyond large cities and heavily populated areas. A visit in winter results in a different perspective than one during summer.Of the four seasons, winter most evokes extreme emotions. Some people hate winter, the whole season: the wind and the cold, the coats and the boots, the gray skies and the snow. Others come alive in winter: the brisk air and fresh breezes, the bright snow and warm fires, the skiing and the skating. Winter attacks some places with more anger than others. Some places have sunshine glittering on a snow-covered landscape; others have harsh winds and blowing dirt. A Maine winter brings harsh wind, bitter cold, gray threatening skies, bright sunny days, and a Christmas card beauty of ice and snow.Bundled in woolen clothes, coats, caps, mittens, and mufflers, school children stand huddled in doorways as they await the school bus. The wind hurls the biting cold through the strongest of materials. People rush from warm buildings into vehicles and back into warm buildings as quickly as possible. Eyes water; noses turn red; toes become numb. Misery runs rampant as the temperature drops lower and lower; the wind, strong and vicious, makes the cold penetrate into the innermost core of a person.Low, gray skies depress and press upon spirits as people attempt their business of living, many wishing to hibernate the winter away. Yet, many days glitter and glisten as the sun’s rays upon the snow shoots sparks of light into eyes, causing an illusion of heat on faces.However harsh a Maine winter may be, no one can deny the beauty once snow covers any barrenness and ugliness. Tall majestic fir and pine stand under their mantles. Crystallized birches appear at attention. Hill, vale, and garbage heap sleep under a blanket of white which softens and hides defects.Thus a Maine winter reveals a great beauty to rest the eyes, cold and wind to battle, dark skies and bright sun to play havoc with spirits. Yet, harsh cold and biting winds, sunshine and depressing gray days create the whole, making the beauty all the more unique.

How To Find Vacation Rentals For Your Next Vacation

When you are going to an area that you are not familiar with, you might not know how to find vacation rentals there. In reality, it’s quite simple to find vacation rentals in just about any area of the world if you know where to look and when to employ help. The Internet proves to be a great resource in finding vacation rentals for your trips because you can really see what you are getting for your money, and it also helps you feel more confident about where you’ll be staying for the duration of your trip.As stated above, the Internet is one of the best resources when looking for vacation rentals. There are web sites out there that make it their business to hook up those who have vacation properties to rent and those who are looking for vacation rentals. Nearly all the sites are free for vacationers; others have a membership cost that may be worth the expense if you are looking for a luxury rental or rentals in a very remote area. The Internet can put you in touch with many people who have vacation rentals available all year round, so you know that there is a beautiful place for you to stay when you are on your trip. These web sites are a great way to do some searching for rentals on your own, and can even allow you to figure out how to save money if you are traveling on a budget.Speaking of saving money, booking your vacation rental direct from the owner can save you money since there isn’t a management company acting as a middleman. This is in addition to savings that vacation rentals present since they are usually larger than hotel rooms, and include kitchens so you can prepare your meals and reduce dining out expense.Realtors are often a great source for finding vacation rentals. Call your local realtor, if you have one, and ask them to see if they can’t help to find you a vacation rental in the area of your travels. You’ll be surprised how many realtors actually handle vacation rentals, or know someone who does. Dealing with a realtor will often give you a large variety of rentals to choose from in any given area, to get ready to choose the one that is best for your family or vacation needs.Finding vacation rentals does not have to be hard or stressful. But remember to check into vacation rental availability before you make travel arrangements just to be sure you’ll have somewhere to stay when you get to your destination. Once you are sure there are plenty of quality vacation rentals in the area you plan to stay that also fit into your budget, it’s time to make all of your travel arrangements and get ready to enjoy yourself as much as possible! A great vacation rental can make any vacation one to remember, so find yours today!

Guide to Himalayan Trek

Have you ever marveled that how fascinating it would be to explore and experience mesmerizing gifts of nature in the manner you had always desired? For instance many of us have a latent craving to feel the rude and unsympathetic rocks by trekking over them, conquer the snow capped peaks by brushing against the abandoned boisterous winds and swing in the lap of gushing ice cold water… A terrific idea to turn such smoldering dreams to reality is a trip to the remarkable Himalayan region. Himalayas are perhaps the most beautiful, mysterious, complacent and intrepid well-wishers of the countries they border. Standing firm at their place, these immobile yet gallant warriors are recognized globally for more than one reason. It is not just their scenic splendor that drives people crazy but the exotic activities in this region also magnetize people from all over the world.The Himalayan region is thus a hub for incredible divinely aura and multitude of adventures. The foremost and most popular activity in the province of sky-scraping mountains is trekking. Trekking is an expression of human nature to attain heights despite of numerous odds. For many people it is a form of walking done to relish and survey the majestic beauty of hills and their surroundings.The Himalayan region that invites trekkers from every corner of the world is a host to numerous ideal trekking spots. The Annapuma Trek in Nepal, Langtang Valley Trek in the Himalayan National Park and the Everest trek are the most admired ones. People opt for these sites according to their taste. All the treks have their own bewitching features that instigate you to move ahead while knowing them. Trekking is done in various styles. The Nepal Camping Trek and Nepal Tea House Style are quite dominant styles. The humble and cooperative sherpas (male residents in Himalayan region) are available to guide way and techniques to climbers.The second thrilling activity in the Himalayan region after trekking, rock climbing and the like is white water rafting. Rafting is a wonderful way to play with water and swim across all the ups and downs in life with courage. The Himalayan county is endowed with perennial rivers such as Ganges, the sacred Indian river, the Alaknanda, Bhagirathi, Zanskar, Kali and the Tons.The Ganges, particularly offers an enthralling rafting opportunity. The GIO’s Camp Rapid Descent is the rocking area for rafters. Its perfect location on sandy beaches acts as a vent to the traveler’s sporting spirit because games such as volleyball, rock climbing, swimming and kayaking can be enjoyed here. Fun and excitement never bids goodbye even on the shores of Alaknanda, Bhagirathi and the rest. The crystal clear water of these rivers is also a host to numerous swimmers.Camping is even akin to an exciting and thrilling sport in the Himalayan expanse. It is a perfect style to experience the serenity enclosed by this region and also to fathom the district of bountiful mysteries with your family. Chail, Sangla Valley and Tabo are three ideal sites for camping. While Chail is known for attractions like Choor Chandni peak, apple orchards and deodar trees, Sangla Valley is popular as a luxury camping site and Tabo is frequently visited for the great Tabo Monastery therein.Wild camping taken up here is also a form of camping that is basically a step towards an amicable relationship between human beings, wild animals and their habitats. This camping is quite informative and is an excellent way to teach love and respect for all living beings and environment.All in all the world’s youngest and highest mountain ranges have something to contribute to each of its visitor’s lifetime memories.

Paternoster, Heart of the West Coast

Barely and hour’s drive from Cape Town on the rugged West Coast, in a tranquil bay embroidered with scattered rocks, is the beautiful fishing village of Paternoster.With it’s picturesque white washed houses, green-grey veld and turquoise water, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve ended up in a remote hamlet somewhere on the Mediterranean coast. Then again, you won’t get anything more authentically South African than the local delicacy of bokkoms (salted, dried fish) – the seafood version of that other very South African treat, biltong.Being close to Cape Town, this predominantly Afrikaans-speaking village is a popular weekend getaway destination for affluent Capetonians who prefer the unspoilt West Coast to the tourist friendlier South Coast. In summer the nearby camping site at Tietiesbaai in the Cape Columbine nature reserve, is frequented by hardy fisherman and snorkel divers.Although the water is generally too cold for bathing, colourful boats baking in the sun is a typical sight on the town’s unspoilt stretch of beach. On a good day up to thirty boats can be seen across the bay – almost all of Paternoster’s humble permanent inhabitants are still solely at mercy of the sea to provide them with food and a means of income.Legend has it that the town’s name, which is Latin for “Our Father’s prayer”, was given by Portuguese seafarers who had trouble in rough seas. Grateful for having safely reached shore, they vowed to build a church and christened the village Paternoster.A visit to the Paternoster hotel will give you a bit of insight into the town’s colourful culture. The hotel’s infamous “panty bar” – with it’s walls and ceiling covered in women’s underwear and dirty jokes – is where you’ll find sturdy fishermen watching sport on television while consuming copious amounts of Brandy and coke. Across the road from the hotel’s terrace, locals sell their catch of the day – whether Snoek legally or Crayfish underhandedly (it is illegal to buy or sell Crayfish or West Coast Rock Lobster with a recreational Crayfish permit).Down the road is the Paternoster farm stall, where merchandise includes a delicious variety of homemade seafood pickles like mussels with coriander and chili or curried calamari. Diagonally opposite is the charming Oep ve Koep (the name directly translates from an Afrikaans expression in typical West Coast slang as “open for buying”) where typical kitschy tourist memorabilia sit between a large collection of antique enamelware, glass containers and vintage signage.At the beach front market indulge in the freshest fish and chips from the Seemeeu Kiosk or brave the pungent smell and buy a bunch of bokkoms – truly a delectable substitute for anchovy.For the perfect ending to a typical West-Coast visit, make dinner reservations at the quaint Die Voorstrandt restaurant. Situated right on the beach in one of the oldest buildings in the village, Die Voorstrandt offers a taste of the freshest local seafood and unsurpassed views of the most beautiful West Coast sunset.