Atacama Desert Ghost Town

The Atacama Desert is an amazing place – renowned as the driest place on earth it conjures up images of a desolate barren wilderness. Which, of course much of it is, but it is also a land of great natural beauty and fascinating human history. One such period of its colourful history was the nitrates boom, which resulted in the British ghost towns, that still stand, arrogantly Victorian in uninhabited parts of the desert where it never rains.Nitrates first began to be commercially exploited in the 1860 when the Atacama Desert belonged to Peru and Bolivia. However, in 1878 a dispute between Chile and Bolivia over export licences resulted in Chile sending troops to the region to protect her interests. War broke out with Peru joining in on the side of Bolivia. The result of the ensuing five year war was that Chile remained in possession of the Atacama and its nitrates.Nitrates were in much demand in Europe and North America as the raw material for fertilisers and the production of explosives. After the war British companies poured capital in to the Chilean nitrates industry and took control of nearly all nitrate production. During this boom period towns sprang up around the nitrate plants.The best preserved of these towns is Humberstone, built in 1862 and named after a later owner, James Humberstone. It is located inland from the city of Iquique in an area known as the Pampa – a plateau between the costal mountains and the Andes. Humberstone, like the other nitrate towns, is a ghost town.The invention of a synthetic method for producing ammonium nitrate killed the booming business off as quickly as it had sprung up. Walking through the deserted streets of Humberstone you get the sense that its inhabitants fled a great natural disaster. Everything is as it was then, just aged by the harsh sun and cold nights. There is a church, a theatre, the humble dwellings of the workers, the grand houses of the managers and the processing plant. The only sound is the dry Atacama Desert wind blowing through the long since empty streets relentlessly returning this Victorian relic to desert.

Zlata Praha

The capital city of Czech Republic, Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and very popular tourist destination. Tour to Prague includes excursions to unique historical monuments, delicious Czech meal a lot of cultural entertainments – theatre, opera, museums and others.Prague has received several nicknames during its long history.

“The city of 100 spires” – this name was given in the beginning of the XIX century. The mathematician and philosopher Bernardo Bolsano counted 103 spires in the city. Now their amount has grown up to 500.The most renowned Prague nickname is Zlata Praha. Its origins date back to the time of the Charles IV, Czech king and the German Emperor. He ordered to golden all the towers in the city. The other theory says that it was during the reign of Rudolf II who supported gold production experiments.

Prague Castle is the most popular and visited castle and attraction in Prague. Its history began in the XIX century. The castle has always been a residence of the Czech rulers and now it’s the residence of the president of Czech Republic. The must-sees are Saint Vitas Castle, beautiful gardens «Na valech» and «Rajska zahrada» and the Golden lane. The castle is open from 5.00 till 23.00 everyday (from April till September up to midnight).

The Lesser Quarter (Mala Strana) is situated on the hill between Castle and Vltava. Narrow streets, buildings and palaces in Renaissance style, baroque churches and cathedrals create the special atmosphere of Mala Strana. One of the most picturesque places in the district is the Letna Park on the west side of the Vltava River.One of the Prague symbols – Charles Bridge (Karluv most) was built in the XIV century and now is considered to be the most photographed place in the city. It always overcrowded, so if you like to visit the bridge you’d better go there as yearly as possible.The old city has been the heart of Prague since X century. The unique architecture, the fusion of Gothic and Roman styles were later contributed by the baroque decoration after the great fire in XVII-XVIII centuries.

Wenceslas Square (Vaclavske namesti) has always been the centre of city’s cultural life. The square is surrounded by the theaters, cinemas, restaurants, shops and banks.The twelfth century Old Town Square was the main marketplace and now is a popular tourist destination with numerous stunning buildings. At the centre of the square stands the memorial to Jan Hus. There are also the Old Town Hall with the Astronomical Clock and the Church of Our Lady before Tyn.

Petrin hill is the net of 8 parks ad other attractions. The best place for walks, it attracts a lot of visitors every day. On the hill you can see the tower, the observatory and the labyrinth.Anyway, this beautiful city in the middle of Europe is really worth visiting!

Late Nights and Lazy Lounging in Cosmopolitan Cape Town

The inhabitants of the beautiful seaside city of Cape Town, South Africa, are notoriously easygoing. And even though the Mexican idea of siesta has not been instituted here, the concept is certainly not foreign to any deserving Capetonian. No wonder the Mother City’s social scene is bursting at the seams with an exciting mix of laid back lounges , serious clubs and trendy bars with a decidedly African twist.Ironically, one of the coolest hangouts in Cape Town, is called Joburg. Even though most South Africans travel long distances without blinking twice, an invitation to party in Joburg doesn’t necessarily mean booking a flight to Johannesburg. This legendary bar-club is situated in the bustling, cosmopolitan Long Street, and attracts an extremely varied crowd – from trendy locals, grungy art students and international models to part-of-the-furniture regulars and weathered backpackers. You might even find the occasional businessman enjoying an after work drink, seamlessly blending in with the relaxed atmosphere of the place.The quirky, predominantly red interior is enhanced by a mirror ball shaped like the Johannesburg skyline as well as an impressive permanent collection of work by famous local artists including such respected South African icons as Conrad Botes, Doreen Southwood and Brett Murray.Adjacent to the bar, is the relatively tiny dance area – jokingly referred to as Pretoria – where some of Cape Town’s best DJ’s do their thing. The eclectic sounds they produce are synonymous with Joburg and include anything from serious Hip-Hop, to Electro Eighties Pop and Live Jazz. From the wall of the raised DJ-box a neon sign declaring the sentence “Know thy worth”, casts a sexy glow on the good looking crowd getting down with it, below.For late night winding down, head a block further up the road to the equally fashionable Marvel, where you’ll most definitely find the religious Joburg crowd getting their late night fix of vinyl scratching, while lounging in the bistro-style seating till the early hours of the morning.Further down the street, the choice of venue is as diverse as the many cultures housed in this city. At Orchard Bank sip on fishbowl-sized cocktails in the minimalist lounge, or head to the huge dance floor in the basement, where a mixed crowd dances to anything from House, to Pop and Reggae.Diagonally opposite, down a hidden, narrow alley, is the sleek Miam-Miam where early night drinks can easily turn into late night dancing. But if you’re not in the mood for a squeaky clean crowd, head upstairs to Zula where Cape Town’s Goth crowd headbang to the dark sounds of serious Metal, Goth-Funk and the occasional live band.On the other side of town, in the slightly more commercial clubbing hot spot of Somerset road in Greenpoint, devoted clubbers rub shoulders with students on mid-week booze binges and trendy suburbanites looking for their fix of serious dancing. Here, designer hangouts like Opium – a winning combination of stylish cocktail lounge and serious dance floor – and the more definitive clubbing hub, Confessions, draw polished crowds who are as serious about their fashionable attire as they are about their dance moves.On a prominent street corner in this district, Cape Town’s oldest and most famous gay club, Bronx, is situated. Here predominantly gay men and a rather strong following of straight women come to enjoy good music and incredibly good-looking barmen. The varied crowd inevitably includes some straight-guys-in-the-know, hoping to find a beautiful girl with her guard down.If any or all of the above sound like too much of a commitment, head over the mountain to the breathtakingly beautiful Camps Bay, where you can have a quiet drink in a sophisticated cocktail lounge while soaking up the sun and enjoying some of the most spectacular sunsets on the African continent.With a happening social scene and such a wide range of incredibly cool venue’s, Cape Town is any holiday maker’s paradise. No matter what your preference or mood – if you plan to visit Cape Town with the intention of winding-down, you’re most certainly on your way to the perfect destination.

Destinations in Southern Germany: Wurzburg

The city of Würzburg, located on the Main river about an hour’s drive (at Autobahn speeds) southeast of Frankfurt, is a relatively unknown destination that offers sight-seers great architecture and wonderful wines.While much of the downtown area was destroyed in a bombing raid in 1945, the numerous churches and other historical buildings have been lovingly restored. Even if you just stay for a few hours, you should make sure to see the Bishop’s Palace (“Residenz”). This 18th-century edifice contains the world’s largest unsupported ceiling fresco, created by the Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, as well as numerous incredibly ornate rooms. According to legend, Napoleon called the palace “the nicest vicarage in Europe”.Among other places to see would be the Marienberg fortress overlooking the city (which hosts a museum that has several of the works of the famous wood carver Tilman Riemenschneider) and the Haus zum Falken with its ornate facade, which nowadays contains the municipal library.If you are in science or medicine, you might want to visit the house where Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovered the X-ray in 1895. It now contains an exhibit about Röntgen’s achievements.After all this sight-seeing you probably will be hungry and thirsty, and you should try out the local cuisine and particularly the dry white wines of Franconia, served in a squat, roundish bottle called Bocksbeutel.If you want further information, you can e-mail the local tourist office: tourismus@wuerzburg.de

Traveling with Kids

Vacation time is meant to be a relaxing experience, a time to rejuvenate. Taking a few simple steps with careful planning ahead of time can truly make your travel adventure an effortless trip for the whole family. For cheap airline tickets, cheap hotels, and cheap car rental book early. Organizing your flight plans, car rental arrangements and hotel reservations in advance will help to make a smooth vacation.Flying Tips:

Chicago – More Than Just Windy

Chicago is the third largest city in population in the USA. Located along the shore of Lake Michigan, the metropolitan area – called Chicagoland – counts a population about 10 million people. According to Globalization and World Cities Study Group & Network, Chicago is one of the 10 “Alpha” cities, which means that this is city is responsible for influencing the world economics basis.The ethnic diversity is a mark of Chicago. Downtown, the suburbs and the regions around it counts on a population formed by people from the most different ethnic groups, which is revealed in the traditions and cultural aspects seen all over the town.Statistics show that: about one-third of Chicagoans (that is what they call people who live in Chicago) living in the central city is caucasian, another third is African-American and the rest, Hispanic or Asian.A little bit of GeographyChicago is a city of climate extremes. Winters are extremely cold and summer can have maddening heat waves. In general, temperatures in summer are about 72ºF up to 84ºF (23ºC to 28ºC). Temperatures in winter can vary widely and periods of temperatures below 32ºF (0ºC) are not uncommon. On average, the temperatures during the afternoons are about 25ºF (-4ºC) and 10ºF (-12ºC) at night.Different culturesThe population of Chicago consists of several ethnic groups, but mainly: Irish, Germans, Italians and Polish. Besides, Chicago has the largest population of Swedish-Americans. Chicago is also the third largest Greek city. In addition to that, the metropolitan area has becoming the major center of Indian-Americans and South Asians. And this without mentioning the Anfrican-American population.These ethnic groups leave their marks on the social structure of the city and the cultural aspects of this important center. It is more than just an economic city, Chicago offers several options for cultural visits, such as museums, theaters and musical performances. Besides, the cuisine offers hundreds of option for its visitors, since people will not have trouble in finding restaurants of most different nationalities. EconomyChicago is the second financial center of the United States and it has been a center of commerce for most of its modern history. According to specialists in the area, if Chicago was a nation-state, its gross metropolitan product would rank the 18th position in the world, at about 380 billion dollars.Chicago has the second largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the United States at 63. It also hosts 12 Fortune Global 500 companies and 17 Financial Times 500 companies.The number of workers? About 4.25 million! Chicago is one of the best cities to do business.

3 Ways the France Riots Still Affect Foreigners in France

The France riots in the suburbs of Paris, France spread throughout France and caused a curfew to be enforced for over two months from October 2005.There were images of cars burning in the international newspapers and newscasts everyday for weeks.It was an interesting and sometimes unnerving time to be living in France. My car wasn’t burned, but I was very aware of the mounting frustrations and distrust between the French haves and have-nots.As a foreigner in France, you need to know that for so many French people you will be resented as a presumed rich foreigner. This seems to be the okay for French people of all backgrounds (not just the angry poor people) to charge you a “special” higher price for goods (including houses) or services, cheat you, and pretend not to notice when others are cheating you.So, what are the 3 ways the France riots still affect foreigners in France? You need to know that

1. France is a land of equality for all French men. Read: If you are not French, then it is not equal for you. This goes for rich foreigners and poor people who are not originally of French descent.2. Cars are burned routinely everyday all over France – riots or none. Park accordingly.3. Expect French people to treat you differently and for lots of them (more than you would like to think) to cheat you whenever possible.What can you do about this inequality that triggered the France riots and accounts for these problems?Again, 3 things:1. Do your homework so that you know the going rate and true market value for goods and services.2. Take full advantage of available resources, such as http://www.FrenchPropertyReport.com3. Network with other expats by using the many forums, such as [http://www.SouthernFrenchAccents.com/forums], and attending meetings of expat groups in France.

Destinations in Southern Germany: The Romantic Road

The Romantic Road follows an old trade route and leads from the city of Würzburg (see a previous article of mine for a description) to the foothills of the Alps. Driving along the Romantic Raod, or part of it, gives you a chance to experience medieval towns, baroque palaces and King Ludwig’s castle.You can see a map of the Romantic Road at http://www.romanticroad.com/.After driving south from Würzburg, your first stop should be the palace in the town of Weikersheim, with its marvelous baroque gardens. Further along the road, the town of Creglingen offers the Herrgottskirche, a church famous for its altar carved by Tilman Riemenschneider in the early 16th century.The road then follows the Tauber river to Rothenburg (which I have described in an other ezinearticle). Take your time to walk around this charming town enclosed by a wall and towers. Among the main tourist attractions are the Crime Museum, St. Jacob’s Church (with another altar by Riemenschneider), Käthe Wohlfart’s Christmas Village, where you can buy Christmas-related items all year long, and the Doll and Toy Museum.The town of Dinkelsbühl is similar to Rothenburg, as it has preserved its medieval character, though its is much less overrun by tourists. Further south, you reach Nördlingen, a walled town dominated by the 270-foot steeple of St. George’s Church. Nördlingen is famous for a geological feature, as it is situated in the center of a 15-mile wide meteor crater. You can learn about it in the Rieskratermuseum.The city of Augsburg, which was founded by the Romans 2,000 years ago, is the largest city on the Romantic Road, so be prepared for some heavier traffic here. Among the highlights are the town hall, the cathedral and the Fuggerei, a settlement that the rich merchant family Fugger created for poor citizens in the 16th century.Further south, as you begin approaching the foothills of the Alps, you should visit the Wies Church, a perfect example of the Rococo style. And finally, near the town of Füssen, the is Castle Neuschwanstein, built by Bavarian King Ludwig II in the late 19th century.

How To Avoid A Time Share Resort Resale Scam

What are the problems you should be aware of when you try to put together a time share resort resale? After I had my time share for a while I decided it was time to move on and get rid of it. Reselling it was not easy, but the process taught me a lot and what to watch out for. You see, a time share resort resale is something that many shady companies will try to take advantage of to get your money without helping you. Be aware because your frustration if you have trouble finding a buyer may make you susceptible to companies that will offer, for a fee, to help you make your time share resort resale quickly and with little effort on your part. Here is an explanation and some tips on avoiding this scam.Shady companies usually get in touch with you by phone, mail or via the Internet requesting that you call a phone number about your time share resort resale. The person you speak with will likely claim that the market is “hot” for time share resort resale, when the truth is that the market changes based on location and what the prime season for that particular unit is. For a fee you pay in advance of somewhere around $300 to $700, some of these people will promise to sell your timeshare for a profitable or at least break even price. They might even claim that they have a list of sales agents and potential buyers that would be interested in your time share resort resale. While this person may very well possess these lists, it is not likely that the parties are interested in a time share resort resale. To further convince you, they may even offer you a money-back guarantee or a government bond if they fail sell your timeshare within a certain time frame.The result is usually that your time share resort resale never happens. Then, in many cases, your fee is not returned and while you might get a bond as they told you, it is often for a as little as 10% of the fee you paid in advance. If you want to avoid this scam and are approached by a company offering to help you with your time share resort resale, there are some tips you should follow.Never agree to anything over the phone before you have had time to do some research on the company with which you are dealing. Always request written information so that you can prove exactly what was promised regarding your time share resort resale. Ask questions about licensing and location of the company so you can more easily confirm their legitimacy. Get in touch with the Better Business Bureau in the state where the company is based to find out if any complaints have been filed against them.No matter how frustrating it may be, you do have options when it comes to your time share resort resale. You can try to sell it yourself, put an ad in the paper or a magazine, or get in touch with a real estate agent you know in your home area. If it is just the location you are worried about, you can always look into timeshare trades that can help you vary your vacations and avoid having to put together a time share resort resale at all.