Volume 1 Issue 1 USA $ 4.99 www.travidition.com
Australia More than kangaroos and great beaches
Top Travel Destinations
In this issue
More than kangaroos and great beaches
Crazy as it sounds, some visitors to Australia do expect to find kangaroos hopping down the main streets. But in fact, Australians in the cities are very urbanized and so have devised ways of getting an adventure rush no matterwhere they are in our great land. Whether in the city, he bush or the outback, the national thirst for extremes results in a wealth of exciting experiences.
Page 70 Getting around - PARIS
Paris is a city teeming with cliches, all of which I skirt around and skip over; Paris of the movies has little appeal for me. Page 10 Arabian Adventures within DUBAI
Arabian Adventures offer a huge variety of Tours within Dubai, as well as touring the outer regions. The tours, as described in this article were outstanding. We could not find fault with this company at all. Easy to book, easy to pay on-line.Emirates airlines are the absolute best way to Fly! Page 18 LONDON Calling
When I planned my European adventure I originally thought I would spend one, maybe two nights in London. I heard it was really expensive over $200 Canadian a night. All I really wanted to see was Buckingham Palace and Big Ben so I figured I would knock them off in one day then be on my way to Paris one of the big highlights of my trip. Page 24 Thailand's city of angels, BANGKONG
I was cramped in a stationary three-seated Tuk-Tuk at midnight, surrounded by hundreds of people. It was hot, sticky, loud and smelt unfamiliar, but I was definitely not disappointed. I had read about the buzz of Bangkok, before I arrived in the city, but nothing seemed to capture exactly how it felt to be sitting at the heart of it. Page 36 4
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SINGAPORE - Three days in an Asian oasis
Fellow travelers advised me to skip Singapore on my recent worldwide jaunt. Boring. Plastic. Too many rules. I'm glad I ignored the advice.
Page 42 NEW YORK - A world class city
Rushing around New York on a two day or two hour furlough is like trying to squeeze a symphony orchestra into a minivan. You'll never get the whole experience; but the amount of stuff that you DO fit in will be well worth it. Page 52 HONG KONG - A city with no season This street that winds down to the harbor on Kowloon island is lined with shops that would make any shopaholic drool. There are bargains everywhere; and in between some shops you'll see some wonderful finds that are a bit exotic but more expensive. Big-name stores are all here in Hong Kong; Prada, LV, Gucci, Ferrari, Maserati...they're all here!
Page 64 Great Canadians know great CANADIAN escapes
Each shares their ultimate “gold medal getaway” on the Canadian Tourism Commission’s (CTC) LOCALSKNOW.ca site to help Canadians find deals and inspire them to explore their country this summer. Page 80 SHANGHAI - Travel experience at a dynamic city
Shanghai is like Manhattan and London combined and on steroids. It is the definition of a mega city. In Shanghai the buildings seem even taller, the crowds seem larger and there are hoards of people everywhere. Page 82 All roads lead to ROME There are many "must sees" when visiting Rome for the first time, but there are also numerous sites and experiences that are missed by most who never had the luxury of spending a year there to hunt for the treasures. Luckily for you, I already did the research and now you can reap its rewards.
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Eco-tourism: Hotels go green
Going green for some branded hotels is the request for guests to use less fresh towels and conserve water. by Belinda Youlten Although deﬁnitely a step towards conservation, it pales to insigniﬁcance when compared to hotels that oﬀer 5-star facilities with little impact on the environment and a concerted eﬀort toward going green. Leading the way are many hotels in Australia, New Zealand and the Paciﬁc Rim which have been speciﬁcally designed to blend into their surrounding environment. Resort structures have been built sitting on stilts above the ground, ocean or lake, to minimize environmental damage. These designs enable guests to watch nature from the comfort of their rooms. While staying in a waterfront lodge at Australia's Couran Cove Island Resort, not only was I able to view the ﬁsh and bird life but I was treated to the beautiful sight of two kangaroos swimming at sunset. Couran Cove Island Resort co-exists with the fragile sand eco-system of South Stradbroke Island in Queensland. It has its own water treatment plant and recycling center. As well as a massive worm farm, housed in a barn any farmer would envy, where food TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
scrapes from all the resort's kitchens are composted. To be later used as mulch in the gardens around the resort. Trash is also separated for recycling. The resort's Nature Lodges, scattered deep in the eucalypt forest, were built around existing trees to maintain the natural beauty of the ﬂora and fauna. The buildings were architecturally designed to take advantage of the sun and wind to minimizes the use of heaters and air-conditioners. Solar heating panels are used for the hot water systems and natural materials such as bamboo ﬂooring and hemp blinds have been used rather than
hardwoods and synthetics. Many new hotels and resorts in the Paciﬁc region are taking up similar practices to Couran Cove in an eﬀort to conserve energy. Some island resorts supply cloth bags to guests in a bid to help with waste management. They request tourists take home any plastic bottles, containers and plastic bags that they bring to the island. Hopefully as tourists and travelers become more environmentally aware and educated there will be a demand for brand name hotels to do more for the environment than just washing less towels.
Roadology is not just about roads Although not found in most major dictionar-
ies, roadology is generally accepted as "the study of roads, as they pertain to the culture of an area".
Roadology is not just about roads, but how
they affect the population and the commerce of the areas that the road in question travels through.
When roads are built, commerce is an instant
winner in the area, as stores and restaurants, motels and hotels are built to accommodate the workers, as well as the people who move into the area under development.
When the United States decided to build a highway connecting Chicago and Los Angeles, in times of economic depression, the birth of the most famous highway ever built was under way, Route 66, and the impact that road had on the towns that it connected was instant and historic. Route 66, as the thoroughfare became to be known, was an instant economic boom for the cities and towns that the highway was built through. However, as the United States became more reliant on automotive travel, super highways were built to take large numbers of vehicles and commercial trucking on faster routes with fewer stops, bypassing the cities and towns that had relied upon the money that was brought in by motorists traveling along the infamous Route 66, and the towns that were once filled with tourists and truckers all summer long were now becoming empty and derelict.Culture plays a major role in allowing mankind to adapt the environment to their own purposes, as opposed to waiting for nature to make the changes itself. What is roadology? by Marc Phillippe Babineau
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A little push in the right direction, and mankind can change the culture of any given area, simply by building a road to that area from a more populous area. As more roads are built, more people convene, and therefore more culture, and a more mixed culture blend becomes evident in that area. The study of roadology is the study of what happens to agricultural and residential areas when a road is built amongst them, or when that road is bypassed by a newer, bigger highway, and how the people within those areas are affected. When a super highway is built to bypass urban sprawl, the smaller, populated areas with one and two lane highways suffer from loss of travellers, and the loss of the money that they would have spent in those bypassed areas. On the other end of the spectrum, roadology also studies the positive impacts that building highways and roads has on economic times for the cities and towns that the roads or highways are built through, and it's effect on culture. Culture does change when a road is built from one city to another, as the two cities would now have a more direct and easily travelled connecting each other, allowing for TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
more people of differing backgrounds and upbringings to interact. Bypassing major detours and long, winding roads that have 35 to 45 mile per hour speed limits, the new super highways allow the drivers to speed along at almost twice the speed as they would have had to drive at using the older roads. This attracts drivers away from the smaller roads, whose towns relied upon the money that these drivers brought along with them. And with people speeding along on the highway, fewer stops are made on the journey, and less money is spent in the areas that were bypassed by the new highways. Using roadology, engineers can figure out the best routes for new highways to follow, and the probable impact on areas that would be bypassed. If roadology had been studied earlier in the 20th Century, many towns that now lie derelict and nearly empty could still be thriving. Unfortunately for the cultures of these towns left behind, roadology and how it relates to culture could have had a major impact on the routing of the newer superhighways and Interstate highways, so that these dead towns may still be alive and prosperous today. 9
Travel experiences: Paris, France by Peggy Tee
Paris is a city teeming with cliches, all of which I skirt around and skip over; Paris of the movies has little appeal for me. We head up to Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart), on Montmartre, a confection of creamy white Byzantine and French architecture. It's a Roman Catholic church, with a huge, glorious mosaiced dome on the inside. The view from the top of the hill is marvellous, stretching across the Parisien skyline. As we leave, a group of buskers sings Aicha, a favourite of mine, but in its original French; we linger on the steps leading up to to the church and listen while the sky turns grey and raindrops gently fall.
Eiffel Tower at twilight
Our next stop is the Arc de Triomphe, and we navigate the Metro, with its rubber wheels and latch-opened doors. It's cheap for a single trip - only EUR1,50, or EUR11,10 for a carnet of 10 tickets. It's twilight when we reemerge aboveground, and set off towards the colossal hulk of Napoleans' homage to his Grande Armee. It is in the middle of the Place Etoile 12 wide, sweeping boulevards radiating from the Arc towards the edges of Paris.
The traffic is horrendously fast and a little chaotic; we cross over by the underpass and ask for "deaux billet tarif reduit" to climb up the Arc. Serendipitously we managed to be in time for the ceremony to restoke the flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the Arc; complete with war vets bedecked in medals and a brass military band. The view, when we finally climb up, is of a windswept Paris, and the outline of the Eiffel Tower at twilight.
Show at the Moulin Rouge e have an engagement with the ladies of the Moulin Rouge, however, and so rush back to the IXe (9th arrondissement) where we're based for the weekend, to eat and change.
Dinner is escargot to start, then duck and salmon mains. There is no time for dessert or coďŹ€ee, and we jump into a cab heading for Pigalle, the red light district, and that famous windmill faade. It takes forever to check our coats in; then a squeeze in the dark and past warm elbows and knees to get to our seats - the lights have just gone down and the performers are already in their places on stage as we walk into the tent. Our show is Faerie, the costumes are so elaborate and bejewelled, speckled with so much glitter it is difficult to notice something as ordinary as a little flesh. There are some moderately good voices,and interesting dance choreography; witty costumes and some good variety acts, a passably energetic can can performed in tricolour costumes, a girl swimming in a tank with some bored looking snakes, shelties and a talking dog; otherwise the show is merely entertaining at best.
Parisians out and about h e next morning we have breakfast at a little bar pain au chocolat and a shared croissant and espressos. It's a beautiful day; blue sky shredded with ﬂuﬀy clouds and sunlight on the back of my neck. We walk through the Tuileries, ﬁlled with manicured lawns and calm pools and white graceful statues.
There are Parisians out and about; jogging, reading in the sun, a boy lamenting his listing toy sailboat and yelling to his papa to save it. The gardens are huge and it beggars the imagination to think that it was once the inner courtyard of the enjoined Palais Louvre and Palais de Tuileries. The gardens lead up towards the Champs, consumerism HQ and witness to military parades, invasions, and city celebrations. The avenue itself is expansive and wide and generous, ﬁlled with shopfronts and tourists. It's lunchtime, and we head back riverwards, exploring the delicate beauty of Le Petit Palais and the artwork inside it (free entry, and a charming garden were the drawcards), passing by Le Grande Palais, which we would have entered, if we had time, as it has 8 of Monet's giant Waterlilies paintings. Lunch is at an overpriced cafe, before crossing Pont Neuf into the islands; we visit St Chapelle ﬁrst. The Lower Chapel is covered in ﬂeur-de-lis, atmospheric and dimly lit; but the Upper Chapel makes me gasp - all the litreature in the world could not have prepared me for the beauty of its stained glass windows. Walls of scintillating colour. There are over 1000 scenes depicted in stained glass, from Genesis to Christs' resurrection. We sit for awhile, and watch the light change as sunlight streams through one side of the chapel and makes butterﬂies of jewelled light on the walls. We head to Notre-Dame next; the queue is ridiculously long, so her bells and rose window will have to wait for my second visit to Paris - it's time for Musee d'Orsay, something I'd been looking forward to since landing in the city. The Museum is housed in an old train station, and the space is lovely; broken up into galleries and broad steps of housing statues in the main hall; some Rodins are on the mezzanine. The Impressionists are on the top ﬂoor, and I wander around in bemused wonder, stopping at every favourite, familiar piece. Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir - they're all here, amorpheous suggestion of form and movement and light captured on canvas in oil and charcoals. We stay until the museum starts to close at about 6:30pm; because we'd arrived so late there were less tourists milling around, though the Impressionist rooms are always full. It's grey outside and cold; we plan to scale the Arc again, and soak in the night view later on. For now though, we trace a path through the metro down to La Tour du Eiﬀel to pay our respects; we have not seen her from close up just yet; and Paris would not be Paris without going to see her. The Eiﬀel tower must be one of the most photographed icons of the world.
O riginally only a temporary exhibition, she has remained a symbol of the city since the late 19th century. She is graceful, and aesthetically severe, all steel rivets and soaring lines, more installation than functional building, and she plays tricks on our perspectives - the tower appears larger the further you move away from her, for some reason. We wander along the parks, under her arches, watch the military men holding big military guns (found at St Chapelle also, and the next day, at the Louvre) watching us, speak Italian back to the gypsies who ask us for money in English (this gets rid of them surprisingly easily) and watch the sliver of sunset behind the clouds. I buy candyﬂoss from a vendor by brightly lit carousel; the crowd is mostly tourists or young families. I had never planned to go up the Eiﬀel - the only viewpoint in Paris where you can't actually see her in the skyline. We stop for a few minutes so I can sketch her, quickly, in the dying light - she lights up like a glitterball as night slides in, and there is a collective gasp from the crowds come to worship at her feet. We go in search of dinner, near the Arc - I order steak tartare (raw beef mince) - done perfectly and deliciously spiced; Jeﬀ has french onion soup and chicken. We're extremely full, but order a creme brulee anyway between us - our waiter winks, laughs, and brings two spoons. At night Paris is surprisingly quiet - the boulevards are rivers of gold and red light from the traﬃc that ﬂow through; the Eiﬀel throws a spotlight into the darkness. The wind rattles the iron barriers, howls around us. The Louvre is our ﬁrst stop; after a breakfast at the caf around the corner from our hotel. We sit at the bar, TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
order deaux petit dejeuner and ask for pain au chocolat instead of croissants - the meal reminds me of Italian breakfasts standing at the bar. It starts to rain as we enter the grounds of Palais du Louvre, the pyramid is stunning and sculptural and jarring against the faade of the Palais. We grab a map and hit the highlights we want to see - Mona Lisa, because its on the list; Da Vinci's sfumato paintings like the Virgin on the Rocks; The Winged Victory; Venus de Milo; the Egyptian antiquities, the Objets d'Art and Napolean III's apartments. There is no time to visit Vermeer, or the other wings of the Louvre, not if we want to also make it to Rodin; so regretfully we leave behind the Grande Galleries pale parqueted halls and elaborately frescoed, trompe de il'd ceilings. Rodin's gardens and the house he stayed in are charming and a quiet respite after the crowds fringing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. All his famous pieces are there - the Cathedral, the Kiss, the Thinker, the Gates of Hell, The Walking Man, the Burghers of Calais, the Shades. His pieces are raw, unﬁnished, seething with movement and passion. The trees are bare and the fountains quiet, but there is a peace about the grey sky and expanse of green lawn, the bronze cast statues scattered about the grounds. Paris, city of light and lovers - gracious and generous and gorgeous in all her moods - is deﬁnitely a return visit. I have yet to visit St Germain, or Ile St Louis, or have a coffee in the Latin Quarter, or visit the food markets, explore the cemetaries and catacombs, wander around Montparnasse, be dazzled by Versailles, return to the Louvre... the list is neverending. For now though, au revoir le Ville Lumiere. 15
The best gadgets for a road trip
by Marc Phillippe Babineau
The great American road trip, is there any better way to become closer with your friends, family or just your own little self?
these days, as high technology keeps us connected to those we leave behind. Tweet tweet. what a road trip is all about.
Driving, on motorbikes, in RVs, in cars or in minivans, or in the quintessential road trip vehicle, the Volkswagen micro bus, and taking the most scenic and out of the way route as possible to your destination is the great American definition of a road trip. With a destination set, the road trip is all but started, and how you get there is . And gadgets. We must have gadgets for our road trips these days. And the most up to date gadgets are essetial for many people for a road trip 16
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Yes, the cell phone is the first technological gadget required for a road trip, with text messaging, Wi-Fi, and built in camera. Any listings of the best gadgets for a road trip must first include the common gadgets; those being a vehicle, a tool box (usually missing the one tool that you will end up really needing), a map, some willing friends with some time on their hands, and gas money. Lots and lots of gas money. Friends and money may not be gadgets, but they are a necessity for a great road trip. For a successful, enjoyable and true to form road trip, there are many gadgets that would help in the mapping out of your road trip's route. You would want to have a Global Positioning Satellite, or GPS, with a mapping system to map out the journey, and to ﬁnd any interesting, out of the way places to drive to, and visit, along the way. You would also use the GPS to ﬁnd any backwoods places to camp, and have campﬁres at night, thus avoiding paying for motels or campground sites. The GPS can also keep a journal of your road trip in real time, overlaid on the map, for downloading on your laptop computer. Before leaving on your road trip, you should make sure that all of the proper and updated maps and applications that will give you more of an idea of what you may be missing along the way, and the ability to record every mile travelled are downloaded and working properly. The best gadgets for a road trip would need to include a digital camera to take pictures of you and your friends at the biggest this and the longest that, in front of all of the natural and man-made landmarks that make for grand and silly pictures. A camera is needed to take pictures of everyone in fun poses, in front of highway signs, empty and derelect factories, and especially any of the remaining HWY 66 route markers that are left on the roads (not in people's basements). In Canada, there is the largest lobster, largest nickel, largest Bison, etc., and they are booms to their town's tourism dollars, and America has her own big silly things. Cell phone cameras are great in a tight spot, but a good digital SLR camera with interchangeable lenses will take spectacular pictures of places like the Grand Canyon, and is the top gadget for road trips. Road trip gadgets must TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
also include gadgets that make camping much more comfortable, as camping is the sleeping mode of choice for most road trippers. A propane camping stove, lantern and bug-zappers are needed for the night time, along with LED ﬂashlights (along with the head-worn cap lights) and electronic ﬁre starters for the stove and campﬁres. While the car is resting for the next day's journey to commence, you will need to sleep as well, and sleeping 4 people in a car is not too comfortable. Amongst the camping gear, as a minimum, you will need a collapsible camping tent, sleeping bags and blankets for sleeping under the stars, beside a campﬁre, or in the tent. Sleeping under the stars is another right of passage for any road trippers, and the camping gear may not technically be gadgets, but they, like your friends and gas money, are still needed. However, dancing naked under the moon isn't a gadget either, but it never hurt. A road trip can only be considered a road trip if there are troubles along the way. What good is a road trip without an overheated engine, a couple of ﬂat tires or possibly running into a murderous family of zombies along the way? Bring a titanium edged hatchet just in case. It's good for cutting ﬁrewood, clearing spots for tents, and using as a hammer, too! Binoculars are another gadget that will come in extremely handy, especially for the navigator, trying to ﬁnd the next exit that the GPS swears is just ahead. And the uturn spot to get back to the exit that was surely missed. An LED ﬂashlight for ﬁnding your way at night, reading the map, or ﬁnding those lost keys.
And a laptop computer for making silly videos and emailing them back to your envious family and friends are gadgets that should be brought along on any road trip. The best road trip gadgets are, basically, those that will make you enjoy your road trip all the more, and if there are any other gadgets that you think may help you in your road trip, like an MP3 player, an XBox 360 with all of the Rock Band accessories, or anything else that would just be fun to have along, bring them. As long as you have the room, that is. 17
Arabian Adventures at DUBAI
Travel destinations: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
by Caz Kilby
AHLAN WA SAHLAN - Welcome to Dubai Arriving in Dubai, we were transported by Arabian Adventures to our accommodation, The Pearl Residence. 18
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What would we do in Dubai? The travel agents says, "You haven't been there before, why not have a stop over on your way to Kenya?" Gee, why not? Internet searching time...ask questions...ﬁnd out where is Dubai and what is there! Time diﬀerence between Dubai and Aussie land is 7 hours. rabian Adventures oﬀer a huge variety of Tours within Dubai, as well as touring the outer regions. The tours, as described in this article were outstanding. We could not ﬁnd fault with this company at all. Easy to book, easy to pay on-line.
Emirates airlines are the absolute best way to Fly! Based in Dubai, the uniforms are unique and the meals on board are splendid. Not the traditional "hospital" type food, but exquisite variety like Tasmanian Hot Smoked Salmon(Entree), Sauteed Chicken with Mushroom Sauce served with seasonal salad(dinner), followed by Strawberry Cheesecake, Cheese & Biscuits, Tea/Coﬀee and a superior choice of wines, spirits and liqueurs. This was economy food! Imagine what was being served in First class!
The breakfast, however, was only satisfactory. For the price we were paying, it would pass. Our ﬁrst thoughts were of how fast people drive here and the continual honking of car horns.
turning right or coming to a halt. What utter confusion for the tourist and novice driver! My advice is...DON'T drive! Take a bus or a taxi! Believe it or not, they know where they are going and the quickest way to get there.
"Quick, get out of the way, I'm coming through!" Apparently this custom of beeping is common in many European countries.
Oh! If you decide to walk anywhere, be sure to stay on the footpath! When you cross at the traﬃc lights, do so QUICKLY, after you have checked every direction. If you think they are beeping at you to hurry up...you are probably right.
It signiﬁes when you are driving forward, turning left, TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
s a passenger, you should focus on buildings, people walking by or whatever else you can. Do not look at traﬃc beside you or coming from side streets,unless of course you are prepared for the fright of your life.
Traveling through the outer regions, we marveled at the incredible buildings and were truly surprised that our guides commentary was so precise and clear. We learned so much about the people, their culture and way they live. Approximately ten Mansions existed in each concrete walled oasis, all built on sand. The housing of the wealthy Emirates people.
Time for a quick shower and change, then run downstairs ready for our ﬁrst Tour. Quick stop at front desk to remind Hotel Staﬀ that we only had hand towels in our room. That was a trick, drying your whole body with a hand towel! All Points East Tour headed out of Dubai towards Sharjah. This is the mosque-shaped International Airport designed by HH Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed ruler of Sharjah. We passed a University and a Discovery centre which had a huge statue of the Koran at the entrance. On to the oasis town of Dhaid and through the spectacular mountain scenery we journeyed.
Stopping at the Friday Markets, just before Masaﬁ, was quite an experience! The poorer people sell all kinds of wonderful things here. Carpets, Fruit, souvenirs! Beware! If you ask "price?" they think you should buy it! Many stalls sell the same goods. After walking up one side of the road,the heat of the day saw us heading for the air conditioning on board the bus. My regret was that I didn't buy the little stuﬀed camel back a ways, as the closer one was twice the price!
Stopping at Fujairah Fort was a wonderful feeling Volcanic action has created an enormous canyon which has now become a Tourist spot. There is an eerie feeling as you walk towards the edge of this canyon. You can view the 'wadis' which show tracks used by the nomads in the early days.
UAE is the Bidiyah Mosque. The dress of the Arabs had me bewildered! Why did the men wear white and the women wear black burqas? We were to notice that many women wear jeans, stilettos, make up and exquisite jewelery under these dark garments.
Traveling on, you are suddenly shocked at the unexpected appearance of the Ocean. Dibba is a picturesque ﬁshing village. In the distance you could see the line up of approximately thirty Oil Tankers, all waiting patiently for their refueling.
Lunch was at the Hilton, Fujairah. The breeze of the Indian Ocean keeping the heat at bay. Don't order potato wedges if you like them with Sour Cream...they don't have the Sour Cream! Stopping at Fujairah Fort was a wonderful feeling. A feeling that was scary, but also knowing we were pretty safe. This Fort is 300 years old.
The oldest and smallest Mosque in the 20
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City of Merchants-Orientation
Tour of Dubai City
he honking of the horns heralded our arrival back in Dubai. This amazing trip had taken up the better part of the day and had ﬁlled us with an incredible feeling. To see such diﬀerent lifestyle was totally awesome! Next day after breakfast, we headed for the closest Mall. Shopping was an experience. Elite brands or copies, whatever your heart desires. Malls everywhere! Bazaars too. The diﬀerence? I'm not sure. "What's in a name?" If, like me, you don't like pushy sales people, hang back and view the goods from a distance. When you see something you are sure you want to purchase, get your partner to barter for you! It worked for me! City of Merchants-Orientation Tour of Dubai City, was our afternoon tour. This is a tour of many historical sites including the Jumeira Mosque, Palaces and the Windtowers of Bastakiya. These wind-towered houses were built by the wealthy merchants. Al Fahidi Fort is 150 years old and houses a museum of immense information. It shows the city's past as an important pearl diving and trading centre. Fantastic lifelike ﬁgures depicting all cultural elements of the Arabian population.
Crossing the Dubai Creek in a water taxi or Abra, is a definite must do! This takes you to the famous Spice and Gold Souks. Gold, Gold and more Gold! Every woman's dream! The aroma of exotic spices fills the air. A tip for travelers is...if the Abra is full, you will be charged less, but if it's empty, you will be charged a lot more!
Burj Al Arab Tour was to be our major highlight! Seven Star Hotel built on a man-made island...you cannot go to Dubai and not visit this! First stop at the Burj Dubai (world's tallest building), showed what the future has in store for Dubai. A simulated elevator ride to the 70th floor for a viewing of the available units. You could choose three different decorating styles if you were rich enough to purchase these units. No wonder there is nil unemployment as there is so much construction going on in this area. Every way you looked you could see cranes atop of buildings.
Dubai Marina Complex (take your credit card), is a tranquil setting with many elite shops, outdoor eateries and water taxis darting about from one end to the other.
eople were being ferried about and enjoying the ultimate relaxation in the Dubai sunshine. The Nakheel oﬃce provided a ﬁrst hand view of "The Palm" and "The World" projects.
it's time to leave. Do you know that for only AED 40000.00 you can stay overnight in The Royal Suite? (That's $13,741 AUD) or ($10,890 USD)
The talk and video was a little boring to me, but the wait gave one a chance to have a little cat nap! Now for the the Magniﬁcent Burj Al Arab! Impressive beyond belief!
Sadly, our tour was over and we headed back to our Motel, but we knew we had to visit the gold souk one more time, so oﬀ we headed toward the water taxi again.
Fountains, Chauﬀeur driven Limousines, Bentleys, Toparies of Roses, Gold and more Gold.Entering this magniﬁcent building, one's breath is almost taken away by the sheer indulgence. Gold ornate decorations adorn the entire Foyer. Walls of Aquariums, ﬁlled with colourful ﬁsh, line the elevator edges. Exquisite. Up to the eighteenth ﬂoor for Hi Tea. Finger food to die for! Salmon ﬁnger sandwiches, cream cheese ﬁngers, tiny cakes, pastries and chocolates like we had never seen before. Delicacies and bottomless pots of Tea or Coﬀee. Elite furnishings and trimmings everywhere you looked. The Ladies Only Toilet contained a swimming pool with total glass walls enabling a fantastic view of the Ocean. A Jacuzzi and splendid lounging area were also contained within these walls. The Famous Sky View Restaurant is situated on the 27th Floor. No entry unless you have booked. This didn't stop our little group from taking a sneak peek! It was suggested that we might like to "GO DOWN NOW" by way of the Panorama Elevator! Wow! The Panorama elevator was spectacular! Down we went, then up again, then down again...again? Better not, TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
What a diﬀerence the night made! A totally romantic view of the city as we made our way across the creek. The Gold Souk at night was a little scary, but also exciting! We took our time to study which shop oﬀered the best deal and where most people seemed to be shopping. Our decision was made and we purchased our items from Al Bahar Jewellers. The whole Dubai experience was not only a culture shock, what with the way the people barter and are "in your face", but also an eye opening adventure that I am so glad I have now experienced ﬁrst hand. I plan to revisit Dubai(one day) and explore more of this fascinating Country! Places like Wild Wadi World and The Indoor Ski Park, which although we drove by them, we did not have time for a stop there. Next trip will be about a week, giving plenty of time to totally discover and rediscover this wonderful place. Oh! I will make sure I take a bigger bag or organize to post my many purchases home, there are just so many bargains to be had here! 23
My 8 day adventure in London by Teresa Cline 24
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Big Ben & Parliament Square When I planned my European adventure I originally thought I would spend one, maybe two nights in London. I heard it was really expensive over $200 Canadian a night. All I really wanted to see was Buckingham Palace and Big Ben so I figured I would knock them off in one day then be on my way to Paris one of the big highlights of my trip. Well I managed to find a reasonably priced hotel near Victoria Station for $70 Canadian a night then I set out my first night to explore the neighborhood. Much to my surprise I saw signs pointing to Buckingham Palace. Could I be that close to the palace? I had to find out. Sure enough, a ten-minute walk led me to the front gates of the Queen's London abode.
In a massive square across from the front gates of the palace sat a beautiful monument. I was in awe. Spotlights gave the monument a warm heavenly glow. My eyes were drawn to the golden angel standing on top with her wings spread and one hand majestically conducting the air. Fountains flowed at the base of the monument providing peaceful sounds of running water to compliment an already perfect evening. As I continued my evening stroll, I saw what appeared to be a huge clock tower in the distance and decided to walk towards it. I followed the beacon through parks, a number of other monuments and some amazing buildings before finally arriving at the foot of what could only be Big Ben. Wow! I couldn't believe it. My first night in London wanting to check the time, I searched for my watch in my bag you dumb ass you're standing under the biggest clock in London...maybe the world and you're looking for your watch? I looked up it was 10pm, and I had already seen Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the Parliament. Unbelievable!
I woke up early my second day to meet my tour bus. I knew I could not visit England without seeing Stonehenge. I heard people were only allowed to walk around the perimeter to view the stones. I was disappointed to hear this since I really wanted to see and touch Stonehenge from the inner circle. Then I read a tour pamphlet I found in the hotel lobby; it seemed my luck had changed. The pamphlet promised a "Private Viewing at Sunset". While "most visitors are not allowed direct access to the stones with Premium tours you get that access".
The cost was about $140 Canadian which included a luxury bus ride, a stop at the Roman Baths in the town of Bath and lunch at Lacock. Sold!
A short five-minute walk from my hotel brought me to the pick up area. Greeted by a friendly English tour guide I boarded the bus headed to our first stop: Bath. I'd never heard of this town and was eager to learn more. Bath is a world heritage site and home to the magnificent Roman Baths. These baths are fed from a natural spring where one million liters of boiling water flow everyday. Built back in the Roman times, these mineral baths were thought to heal as well as relieve the stress of those who soaked in them. Legend has it that if you make a wish and drop a coin into the water your wish will come true.
spent the next hour and a half walking through the bathhouse and checking out the museum. I put my hand in the water and was surprised at how warm it was. If I weren't so afraid of being kicked off the tour and left stranded in Bath I would have jumped in and enjoyed a soak. he museum was very interesting. They displayed some stone caskets, busts and other Roman artifacts found during excavations of the bathhouse. Cameras were allowed in the baths and museum so I took loads of pictures.
Bath is a world heritage site and home to the magnificent Roman Baths. These baths are fed from a natural spring where one million liters of boiling water flow everyday.
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I could feel my excitement start to build as the huge circle of rocks came into view in the midst of a grassy field. I stepped off the bus in utter amazement.
Stonehenge! For real! I felt so privileged. I spent the first few minutes rushing around getting video and pictures; I wanted this experience well documented. I got pictures of myself touching Stonehenge pretending to push Stonehenge over modeling Stonehenge you name it!
The site was empty aside from one guard, twenty people from the tour and myself. We crossed under the highway and stood in the outer circle then we were separated into two groups and each group was allowed to enter the inner circle for twenty-minutes. Unable to contain my excitement I put myself in the first group.
With that need satisfied, I gave myself time to just be in Stonehenge. I lightly touched the stones and walked amongst them allowing myself to feel the energy while I imagined the lives of the people who erected the stones. What it was like to live in these times? I felt wonderful full of energy. It truly is a magical place. When I got back on the bus, I turned to the couple sitting next to me and mentioned I had videotaped them kissing in Stonehenge. Many people have tried conceiving in Stonehenge' much to the frustrations of the guards, believing it will bring the baby good luck. I asked if that was their intention. Laughing, the girl told me her boyfriend proposed to her in the inner circle and she accepted. She continued to tell the story of how earlier in the day she tossed a coin into the Roman Bath wishing her boyfriend would propose. The tour guide caught wind of their romantic story and shared it with the rest of the tour. A loud applause was followed with many congratulations. What a great way to remember my visit to Stonehenge! TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
Stonehenge was built nearly 5000 years ago and is the most popular prehistoric site in the world.
Buckingham Palace started my third day by going to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guards. This elaborate ceremony takes place in the palace gates every second day during the summer months.
The square in front of Buckingham Palace was buzzing with people eager to witness one of Britain's most famous traditions. A policeman pointed out a great place for me to ﬁlm the surge of red jackets marching into the palace behind a horseman. It was quite an impressive sight. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the marching band play while the guards moved in unison to the voice of their commander. After forty-ﬁve minutes, the ceremony was over. The oﬀ-duty guards left the palace marching down the street in front of me. At that point I decided I had to visit the staterooms, which are only open from July 30th to September 27th. A short wait in the ticket line and 13.50 pounds later I held an entrance ticket that was accompanied by the classiest 28
royal visa receipt known to man and woman. I know one thing for sure; the Royals certainly like to do things with ﬂair. After clearing security, I was issued an audio guide and sent on my way but much to my disappointment, pictures and video were not allowed inside the palace. That sucked. Now I couldn't take any pictures of myself on the royal throne They had a special display called the White Wardrobe, which were the dresses the Queen wore on an oﬃcial visit to France during the war. I guess it was important to look pretty while seeking French support against the Germans. She deﬁnitely pulled it oﬀ with this wardrobe. While it was cool to see the palace ﬁrst hand, I found the audio guide rather boring and impersonal. There had to be a better way to see this historical place perhaps a guided tour by the Queen herself. I was more impressed by the palaces backyard than its interior. The gardens were amazing.
With the price of land in central London being as high as it is, I was impressed this green space re mained in tact. This could very well be the most expensive backyard in the world. After spending a royal fortune in the royal souvenir shop I was on my way back to hotel. TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
This is where prisoners were held and tortured while awaiting a boat ride from Traitor's Gate across the river to the Tower of London to be publicly executed. Nice place eh? I was expecting to see an abandoned dungeon but much to my delight it was transformed into a live theater. Actors recreated some of London's darker moments in history.
The London Dungeon
With half a day left, I decided to fill it with a visit to the infamous London Dungeon.
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he next 1.5 hours were filled with entertaining and scary reenactments of such events as the Plague, the Great Fire of London and the mystery of Jack the Ripper. We were also given a lesson in torture methodology followed by an entertaining mock court. It ended with a bone chilling boat ride through Traitor's Gate. I was expecting to see an abandoned dungeon but much to my delight it was transformed into a live theater. Actors recreated some of London's darker moments in history.
Upon leaving the dungeon, I looked at my map and noticed I was just a few blocks from the famous London Bridge. I decided to make it my next destination. On my way I spotted a couple familiar looking characters. The first man introduced himself as Bond James Bond and the other introduced himself as Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery. They were headed to a spy party on the HMS Belfast, Europe's only surviving World War II cruiser turned museum. They invited me along saying it would be "groovy baby" however, I decided to stay on course and find London Bridge before it fell down.
Tower Bridge When I finally found the bridge, it was not quite what I had expected. Apparently the bridge had a history of falling down until the Freemasons were decreed to build a sturdy structure that would pass the test of time. It was rumored that a virgin maiden was embedded in the concrete as a sacrifice hence the words: my fair lady" in the song London Bridge. This bridge was most recently sold to a wealthy American in order to finance the construction of the current London Bridge. The Mason's bridge now rests somewhere in Texas thus it not only passed the test of time but also of distance.
The Tower Bridge was a sight to see; two huge Towers connected together by a drawbridge that lifts to let tall ships pass. The bridge is most beautiful at night when it is lit up. I walked across it to discover the Tower of London and St. Katherine Docks waiting on the other side with their lights reflecting on the water making for many postcard-like pictures. I spent a good hour photographing them before deciding to find a metro station and return to my hotel. As luck would have it, when I went back across the bridge I got to see it rise so a boat full of drunken partiers on a booze cruise could pass under it. 30
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Hyde Park is a massive well-manicured green space right in central London. Famous for its outdoor concerts and speakers corner it's a place for Londoners to jog, rollerblade, bike, walk, watch wildlife or just hang out and enjoy nature. That's where I spent day four. A walk along Rotten Row brought me to a path along the Serpentine, a small lake in the middle of the park. I was curious as to why there were so many Muslim women wearing traditional black dresses and veils strolling along the walkways and sitting on the benches. I later found out that Kensington, one of London's most expensive neighborhoods also acts as a summer retreat to wealthy Arab families. When I reached the end of Hyde Park, I crossed the road into Kensington Gardens to visit the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. It wasn't quite what I was expecting. The fountain was a huge circular structure covering a large grassy area. The idea behind the fountain was to create a space for people of all ages to enjoy. Water flowed through a shallow trough providing a cool place for children to play on a hot summer's day. The intention behind it was honorable, however, this monument has been the cause of much controversy and public embarrassment during and after its construction. Coming in grossly over budget the fountain has been plagued with operational problems such as leaves clogging the drains and the surrounding land being saturated by water.
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Tower Of London
I couldn't very well visit London without visiting the Tower of London now could I?
he Tower was once the residence for the Kings and Queens of England and also a fortress with a prison that held famous prisoners such as Sir Walter Raleigh. Two of King Henry VIII's wives were beheaded at the tower. It is protected by the Yeoman Warders (more commonly known as Beefeaters) who now act as tours guides as well as security guards. Since the 14th century, the Tower of London has also been home to the British Crown Jewels. After purchasing my entrance ticket I waited at the gate for my tour to begin. About twenty-minutes later a man with a gray beard wearing a blue and red uniform with a crown and ER emblazed on his chest appeared. He came hobbling towards us cane in hand; this was my first encounter with a Beefeater. He was a jovial man who captivated his audience with gruesome tales of murders, conspiracies and public executions bringing the history of the Tower of London to life. For the next hour he gave us a guided tour of the property explaining the significance of each area before setting us free to discover the Tower of London on our own. I spent the better part of the day wandering through the many buildings and displays. I enjoyed watching actors dressed in medieval garb act out stories that once took place within the tower walls. The Tower Of London was a great way to complete my sixth day.
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Theatre District The West End is a bustling part of London. Crowds of people filled the streets enjoying the sidewalk cafes, street artists and many vendors. Most of London's theatres are in this area. On day seven I decided to head over to the west end, London's theatre district, to see if I could ﬁnd a cheap theatre ticket. One of my guidebooks said there were a number of discount ticket booths in the West End where one could buy tickets for popular shows for as little as half the box oﬃce price. As soon as I stepped out of the metro station I came across one of these booths and decided to buy a ticket for that nights performance of Stomp; a unique show about eight men and women who use a variety of junkyard items to make music. Ticket in hand, I had a few hours to kill before the performance so I decided to explore the area. I came across quite a few discount ticket booths noticing that prices varied between them. To my dismay I discovered how much the price goes down as curtain time approaches. I could have saved $20! The West End is a bustling part of London. Crowds of people ﬁlled the streets 33
enjoying the sidewalk cafes, street artists and many vendors. Most of London's theatres are in this area. They oﬀer every popular performance imaginable from Phantom of the Opera & Les Miserables to Mary Poppins & Lion King. I was about to walk to the theatre to catch the 8pm curtain when I stumbled across the amazing Trafalgar Square. Fountains and huge lions surrounded a tremendous column, which presided over the square. It was a cloudy night with a full moon poking through the clouds shining down on the monument making a link from heaven to earth. After taking some great pictures, it was time to make my way to the Vaudeville Theatre for Stomp. Stomp was like no other musical I have seen before. A group of dancing street sweepers made music with everything from brooms to hubcaps. I loved it!
In eight days, I really grew to love this amazing city. I am going to miss the red phone booths, mailboxes and double-decker buses along with the London Underground and its recorded voice telling me to "Mind the Gap". Most of all, I will miss the numerous friendly Londoners who all told me Londoners aren't that friendly. Yes you are I'm on to you! TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
Tips for making the airport check-in process go faster Air travel isn't as straightforward as it used to be. Now that the price of flying has gotten more affordable, more people do it, and they are flying on a regular basis. This makes the airports more crowded and the check in process becomes more complicated. There are ways by which a savvy traveler can shorten the amount of time it takes to go through the check-in and that will make their travel experience a smoother and easier one in the process. Here are some tips to help make that check-in process as easy 34
and stress free as possible. *Check-in online Most airlines will allow travelers to check in online beginning 24 hours before their flight is due to depart. When you do this, you can verify that you are sitting in a seat you want to sit in and change your seat if there are any vacant seats from which to choose. You can then print your boarding pass or passes so that you won't have to stand in one of the long lines. TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
*Weigh your luggage before you leave home This is very important because it doesn't matter whether you use the self service check in or go through a line. You will have to weigh your luggage, and if the weight of your bag exceeds 50 pounds, you will be charged a penalty for an over weight bag. Be sure you know how much that penalty will be. *Don't over pack On most airlines, anyone who travels by economy rather than business or ﬁrst class has to pay to check luggage. This means that you pay $15 to check your ﬁrst bag and then an additional $25 per bag. Make sure you can get everything you need in one bag without having it be over the 50 pound weight limit. *Pack liquids in sealed plastic bags You never know what will happen from the time you leave your luggage to be sent through to the plane and when you retrieve it. It's best to assume that your luggage won't be handled with care, and liquids that aren't in sealed bags or unopened and tightly sealed containers can easily spill all over everything in your suitcase. *Use the electronic check-in terminals Once you arrive at the airport, look for the electronic check-in terminals. There, you'll be able to scan the bar code from your e-ticket or boarding pass and that will bring up your reservation information. You can then opt to check your luggage in from there. This will save you from having to go through the long lines where people wait to see an attendant. Once your boarding passes are printed, you go over to an area where a person is waiting to tag your luggage. You then put your luggage on the scale where it is checked to make sure that it doesn't exceed the 50 pound weight limit. Once they determine that your bag is 50 pounds or less, they will put the baggage claim ticket on it, give you the claim receipts and send you to the conveyor where your luggage is sent through to the baggage department. *Have ID and credit card out in advance To expedite the check in process, make sure you have your ID and credit card out before you reach the check-in terminal. You will need the credit card to pay the fee to check your bag. You will need to show the attendant who weighs and tags your luggage your ID. Take the time to ﬁnd out what the airline regulations are regarding advance check-in, how much luggage you can check and how much you'll have to pay to check it. If you take advantage of the early check in, you will make the airport check in much easier and the entire process will go faster. Make sure that you get to the airport in plenty of time. You want to be sure that you get your luggage to the conveyor at least 45 minutes, if not an hour before your plain leaves. This will assure you of getting your luggage on the ﬂight you are on and you won't have to worry about whether or not your luggage will arrive when you do. Be sure that you have proper luggage tags on your luggage so that you can easily retrieve it when you arrive at your destination. TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
Bangkok Thailand's city of angels, Bangkok, is the most popular destination for backpackers travelling in Southeast Asia
Travel experiences Bangkok, Thailand by Trishma Borkhataria
was cramped in a stationary threeseated Tuk-Tuk at midnight, surrounded by hundreds of people.
It was hot, sticky, loud and smelt unfamiliar, but I was definitely not disappointed. I had read about the buzz of Bangkok, before I arrived in the city, but nothing seemed to capture exactly how it felt to be sitting at the heart of it. TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
tween myself and the crowd, if I stretched out my arms I could touch them, but they walked on without even noticing that I was there. Our convoy of two Tuk-Tuk's stood side by side in the jam. My ﬁve friends and I sat quietly, taking it all in. Squashed next to my friends, it was diﬃcult to get comfortable. I wriggled down and slouched in my seat, leaning my head against the metal backframe. I closed my eyes. After a moment, the unusual high-pitched engine kick started. As we slowly began to move, I silently thought about the past few days in Thailand's Krug Thep, the city of angels. Tuk-Tuk was an amazing machine a motorized, open-air vehicle with a noisy engine. This particular vehicle had in-built disco lights and stickers of Liverpool FC all over the ceiling. The city was obsessed with British Football. I was obsessed with the city's night life.
As the voyeur, I watched as people weaved their way through the traﬃc-jam, busy talking in Thai, laughing and joking with each other. There was an invisible window be-
I was the original anti-backpacker. I had been staying in a luxury four-star hotel with familiar treats such as a cooked breakfast, swimming pool and the use of my ghd's. Bangkok has one of the largest concentrations of luxury hotels in the world. I was lucky enough to be staying at The Asia Bangkok hotel on Phayathai Road. It oﬀered everything you could ever want in a hotel - good food and great facilities. In my party of six we each spent just under 10 a night, or 682 Thai Baht. I was living the life of luxury but still kept within budget.
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I awoke every morning to an amazing array of food. Dim Sum, at my hotel's Great Wall of China Restaurant, was my usual choice. When I wasn't eating breakfast or having a massage I spend hours relaxing in the pool and Jacuzzi. Staying in luxury certainly had its perks, but it meant that my experience of Bangkok was fairly limited to the night
Buddhist Wat (temple) and shopping in markets during the day, I had one holiday regret. After a night out with my friends at the fabulously spaceaged club, The Bed' on Sukhamurit Road, we had slept-in and missed our bus to a tourist hot spot, the Emerald Buddha of the Grand Palace. Although I was disappointed at the time, I saw it as yet another reason to re-visit this cultural metropolis.
The Tuk-Tuk came to an abrupt stop. My body jolted forwards. A fight had erupted in the middle of the road. Two men were rolling around on the ground, punching each other. It all seemed strangely familiar. For a moment I thought I was back in the West End, outside a kebab shop watching a drunken brawl. TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
I expected the two Thai fighters to be armed with deadly Muay Thai boxing skills, instead the scuffle, like eighty percent of fights in the night was fuelled by alcohol and required no skill.
As a tourist I stood out like a saw thumb, I had my camera, my video recorder, mobile phone and of course the give-away sun glasses. I was an easy target, a foreigner with a conscience.
Our driver manoeuvred us around the two wrestling men. The harsh night's breeze was uncomfortable on my face, a result of driving at speed in a motorised buggy with no windows - but I could not wipe the smile off my face.
I spent a lot of time shopping in the city. I visited the trendy Suan Lum Night Bazaar and the Emporium Shopping Centre. Both had their own unique charm, the Bazaar had live music performances and the shopping centre had the big western brands that I was used to. Bangkok is renowned for being one of the most thriving commercial centres in Southeast Asia and it was always busy.
I was in love with this feeling, the freedom of this city. The night air filled my lungs; I absorbed the culture through osmosis. I looked down at my beautiful patchwork shirt, bought for 300 Baht from Khaosan Road in Bang Lamphu. I was the world's worst barterer. As I am of Indian origin, haggling should be in my blood, but whenever I was given a price, the guilty feeling in my stomach forced me to utter the word ok'. I knew that most people marked up their prices as soon as they saw me. 40
Sitting in an open-air vehicle, with the wind in my hair and a smile on my face, I thought more about my holiday highlights. I had relaxed, eaten some amazing food, held a 50ft python around my neck, danced with Lady-boys and explored the city via Tuk-Tuk at night. As we made our way back to our hotel rooms, on our last night in Bangkok, I knew that I had caught the bug. I was ready to do some real exploring. The high-pitched engine stopped. We had reached the hotel. I would definitely come back, to experience more of this exotic city. TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
The Land of the Midnight Sun
In Northern Norway, the sun never sets during the summer months. Go on a midnight sun cruise, join a safari or play golf in the middle of the night.
Magical midnight sun The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon which means that the sun does not set during the summer months. In other words, given fair weather, you can see the sun for a continuous 24 hours. The duration of the midnight sun depends on how far north you are. At the Arctic Circle in the county of Norland, you can see the midnight sun from 12 June to 1 July, at the North Cape in Finnmark you can see the sun from 14 May to 29 July, and at the North Pole the sun does not set for six months.
Midnight sun safaris and cruises
There are several cruise lines visiting Norway. An excellent way to experience the Norwegian coast, is to go on a cruise with Hurtigruten (The Norwegian Coastal Voyage) You can sit on deck and just enjoy the midnight sun. You can also choose a midnight cruise in Finnmark or go on a midnight sun cruise in Lofoten. These trips will take you out on the open sea to experience the special light.
Singapore Three days in an Asian oasis
Travel destinations: Singapore by Marilyn De Angelis Pennell
Coming on the heels of a whirlwind visit to India with all its chaos and confusion, Singapore had all the right smells, tastes and sights for a weary traveler.
Fellow travelers advised me to skip Singapore on my recent worldwide jaunt. Boring. Plastic. Too many rules. I'm glad I ignored the advice.
And, as a teacher leading 85 independent minded college students to a foreign country, I welcomed "rules"- especially those enforced by the local government. Government rules meant all the less lecturing about proper behavior for me.
Other than the rules, what first impressed me about Singapore was arriving at the ultramodern and efficient airport, which was worlds away from the sad grime and poverty at the train stations of Delhi and Agra. The memories of what I saw in the streets of India haunt me still. I wished I knew how to help. I went to Singapore, in part, because I needed a break from sadness, as self-centered as that seems.
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Back to my journey. In Singapore, driving down the main highway from the airport to the city was another kind of eye opener. Our guide informed us that all the pretty potted flowering plants in the middle of the road could be taken away in a moment's notice to create a landing field for aircraft-right there on the highway! Ingenious, I thought! These people are prepared for what I didn't exactly know. I needed to chill, as my students say. Maybe that's why Singapore is such a popular stop over destination for travelers to Asia. Singapore does not test travelers the way most other Asian nations do.
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As one of my traveling companions remarked, "A place doesn't have to be filthy to experience culture." Maybe she has a point.
Clean and Green With 85 students and two teachers, we were actually a "bumboat ﬂotilla." The cruise took us past views of Singapore's "mascot" The Merlion, which is a creature that appears to be half ﬁsh and half lion and spouts waterfalls from its mouth. Our ﬂotilla also cruised by the Esplanade,shop houses, colonial-style government buildings, bridges, modern skyscrapers and the pastel open-air restaurants and bars of Clarke Quay that lined the riverbank. It was quite a surprise that we were all allowed to sit on the roof of the boat to take photos. No threats, no caning, no "rules." The view from the boat was spectacular. It was more than refreshing to see a green and clean city after trudging through the grimy and sad streets of Agra and Chennai in India. Whereas in India, when one asked where to dispose of a discarded soft drink can one was shown the street, in Singapore, there is a place for everything and everything in its place. Singapore is clean. Very Clean. But though it is cleaner than many major American cities, it retains an exotic Asian charm. Our next stop was a visit to Sir Raﬄes Hotel and Museum. Raﬄes, of course, is a major tourist attraction. It's also the birthplace of the Singapore Sling. A chocolate dessert and special coﬀee for 87 people was a treat as was wandering around the vast expanse of green lawns and ﬂowers. The quaint little Raﬄes museum showed a Singapore of years past with vintage photos and replicas of rickshaws and other bric a brac. It was also free of charge. 46
Since we barely had three days in Singapore, we had to make the most of it. Our first activity upon arrival was a cruise down the Singapore River on a "Bumboat."
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Sentosa Island Our next stop was Sentosa Island, which was only a cable car ride away across the harbor. Singapore's cable cars aren't your typical cable cars. Besides being the first in the world to span a harbor, these cable cars are also glass bottomed and available for "sky dining" if you book in advance. Though sky dining isn't on my top ten list, I can imagine that those jaded travelers who have "been there and done that" might want to give it a try. Sentosa Island, Singapore's mini Disneyworld, isn't an "authentic" Asian setting. It has a kind of mini Cancun feel, which is odd for Asia. Still, it oďŹ€ers sea breezes, man made sandy beaches, a pink dolphin show and the high tech "Images of Singapore" exhibit. Sentosa is also home to a family friendly aquarium that is a maze of tube tunnels that gives tourists and locals a chance to get up close and personal with exotic sea creatures. The maze is a bit mesmerizing. I found it rather easy to get lost amidst the crowds of families, even on a weekday. Sentosa Island is known for its nightlife, restaurants, resorts and beach bars, too. This is where the locals go to get away from it all and the tourists go to party. I've heard that the zoo and "Night Safari" are also worth a visit. I will have to save them for next time! TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
ood? Head to the night markets and hawker centers located all over the city. But watch out for aggressive salespeople. My travel companions and I took a cab to a nearby night market that was recommended. It was located in an outdoor park, ringed with food stalls filled with every Singaporean delicacy imaginable. As we entered, we were greeted by several "waiters" competing for our business. Being somewhat naive, we ordered through them. As it turned out, the blue crab was delicious and reasonably priced. But the Singaporean lobster, at $80.00 (Singaporean), was not a bargain, though we did manage to negotiate a somewhat lower price when we got the bill. Apparently, we would have gotten better prices had we placed the orders ourselves, directly at the food stalls. The "waiters" were probably salespeople trying to get a commission.
Conventional wisdom says that travelers go to Singapore for two main things:
Shopping and Food
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If you want Fifth Avenue in Asia, then Orchard Road is the place to go. Rows upon rows of high end shops sell everything from shoes to electronics. I was even able to bargain for a new lens for my camera in a photo store, though prices for electronics are not any better than those in the U.S., as far as I could tell.
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Cultural Attractions Cultural attractions? There are many. But with less than three days, one has to be selective. My friends and I went out one night to the Kampong Glam area, the historic seat of Malay royalty in Singapore.
The Sultan Mosque is located here. Its golden dome rises majestically above the nearby shops. This is the largest mosque in Singapore and can accommodate up to 5,000 Muslims in prayers. The evening we visited, the mosque and surrounding streets were busy with worshippers, shoppers, a street festival and outdoor music. In the area surrounding the mosque, there are some restored shop houses that sell traditional clothes, artifacts, handicrafts, furniture and jewelry. Browsing here is an excellent alternative to the "designer" shopping malls on Orchard Road and great for ďŹ nding unique souvenirs. Little India and Chinatown are also worth a visit and oďŹ€er cultural insights, or so I've heard. Two other things for "next time." But what impressed me most about Singapore was the peace and tranquility I found. Even in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of this modern citystate, the people were kind, friendly and the overall pace of life was sane and serene. Singapore, to me, was an oasis amidst the frenetic pace of an around the world trip that tested me on every level. Thank God for Singapore! I'll be back!
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New Zealand: A green place to get around New Zealand has much to offer visitors looking for value-based smart travel options, whether that's about caring for the environment, getting more for your money, or making your holiday experiences count in some other way. When it comes to packing a lot into a little, no other country has such a varied and rich natural environment - coast, mountains, lakes, rivers, virgin forests, fauna and flora that's so easily accessible. About one third of New Zealand's landmass is in wilderness areas set aside as national parks, reserves and special heritage sites. This award-winning eco destination surrounded by ocean offers many activities that come without a price tag: lying on a remote beach, walking tracks and trails through unspoilt wilderness, soaking up the sun, body surfing, swimming in a clean fresh lake, watching abundant wildlife, enjoying an outdoor concert or tumbling down a pristine sand dune. Sustainable tourism development is actively encouraged through tourism industry green ratings (Qualmark Green) and more and more travel and accommodation businesses are adopting sustainable practices - minimising environmental impact, and maximising energy and water efficiency, waste treatment, and recycling. In the current economic climate, a favourable exchange rate is also on New Zealand's side. On-the-ground costs can make or break holiday choices but New Zealand comes up trumps in a number of fields - finding your way around is easy, people are friendly and helpful, local produce is plentiful and reasonably priced and itâ€™s possible to enjoy million dollar scenery for no cost at all. TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
A world class city
A quick guide to New York City by Dugan Mcshain
Rushing around New York on a two day or two hour furlough is like trying to squeeze a symphony orchestra into a minivan. You'll never get the whole experience; but the amount of stuff that you DO fit in will be well worth it. The frenetic pace of New York is possible to taste in any amount of time, and depending on what you do, you'll be hard pressed to come away with a bad experience.
Here are a few attractions that'll blow your mind while you're there, to both see the sights, and get a full-on, action-packed New York experience. Hobnob with celebrities that you meet in the park, tour the sights and sounds of thousands of movies from Breakfast at Tiffany's to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There's a rare person that can't find something worth doing on the streets on New York, and a good time with the people of the world.
The free Staten Island Ferry... Packed with commuters, tourists, businessmen and enough internationals to fill the UN, this free, three hour boat voyage is a heck of a way to see the famous skyline of Manhattan, New Jersey and the Statue of Liberty.
Staten Island Ferry As you set sail from lower Manhattan, you'll see the gorgeous skyline drop away from you. The harbor or New York spread out around you and depending on the time of year that you go, a brisk or light breeze blowing your hair back as the massive ship slowly makes its way across the river. The Staten Island Ferry provides 20 million people a year (60,000 passengers a day not including weekend days) with ferry service between St. George on Staten Island and Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan. The free Staten Island Ferry... Packed with commuters, tourists, businessmen and enough internationals to ďŹ ll the UN, this free, three hour boat voyage is a heck of a way to see the famous skyline of Manhattan, New Jersey and the Statue of Liberty. As you set sail from lower Manhattan, you'll see the gorgeous skyline drop away from you. The harbor or New York spread out around you and de54
pending on the time of year that you go, a brisk or light breeze blowing your hair back as the massive ship slowly makes its way across the river. The Staten Island Ferry provides 20 million people a year (60,000 passengers a day not including weekend days) with ferry service between St. George on Staten Island and Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan. TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
Metropolitan Museum Of Art is one of the greatest collections of human artistic culture ever assembled.
The Metropolitan Museum Of Art to those in the know, is one of the greatest collections of human artistic culture ever assembled. With sections devoted to the PaciďŹ c Islands, Africa, Pre-Colombian and Native America, you'll get a great impression of some of the native cultures from around the world represented in America. Egyptian galleries include the incredible Temple of Dendur. The three ďŹ‚oor American Wing stretches out into Central Park in a glass enclosed garden. Visiting on weekends can lead to a romantic interlude in the main entrance's promenade for cocktails. Admission to the center, located at 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, includes Museum galleries, all special exhibitions, guided tours, gallery talks, family programs, and same-day visit to The Cloisters. To help cover the cost of special exhibitions, for which there is no additional charge or special ticketing, they ask that you please pay the full suggested amount. If you become a member you'll have an even better experience. TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
Central Park 55
Times Square has it all. It's literally the heart of New York City and the eyes that most of the world sees New York through. There are always attractions, people, crazies, young old and the awesome to see and be seen in Times Square. This ﬁve block super center is the pulse that keeps the city that never sleeps from drowsing oﬀ. Here, you'll ﬁnd all kinds of fun, exciting and informative tours to explore other parts of the city. It's the best place to start any tour of New York. Choose from walking, bike, bus, food, limo, TV, landmark, ethnic or water tours. These tours will allow you to visit all major landmarks, sights, and attractions in every part of New York City, showing the diversity, culture, and history of this great metropolis. Or get your tickets for the great Broadway musicals and the wide variety of entertainment in Times Square. Go to a concert at Madison Square Garden or a plethora nearby venues, oﬀering all forms of live music. Enjoy a stand-up comedy performance, or see a movie in the area's many movie theatres. Whatever ﬂoats your boat you can use Times Square as a jumping oﬀ point for any activity. From Times Square, you can feast or famine your way through the culinary delights of New York in luxury at one the world famous ﬁve star restaurants, or just a quick bite to eat on the go from one of the penultimate also world famous hot dog vendors. Foods from all over the world, can be bought and tasted with many diﬀerent options to ﬁt any budget. Shopping in Times Square is a lesson in restraint. 56
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Broadway TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
An incredibly wide variety of shops and stores offer clothing, electronics, toys, and every sort of consumer good imaginable.
An incredibly wide variety of shops and stores oﬀer clothing, electronics, toys, and every sort of consumer good imaginable. From the Italian fashion houses of Milan to the Japanese electronics markets of Shinjuku you'll get what you need and a few more things to boot. Make sure to haggle though, because these guys know a sucker when they see one, and you're job is to cut that price in half. Making oﬀ with something at half price that someone else just paid double for, will put a spring in your step and a gleam in your eye, as you're learning that the Big Apple can be conquered. For the Night owls out there, the vibrant Times Square after hours set rivals Las Vegas, Monte Carlo or the Clubs of Paris. Get your groove on to the hottest club beats from the country's top DJ's, hobnob with the likes of Jessica, Paris, and tons of other Hollywood Do-nothings as they drink their way towards the brink. Snap a photo or two and you may just make a mint selling it to US Magazine or the Sun UK. Or step it back a notch and grab a brew in a small, quiet neighborhood bar, or ﬁnd the love of your life or a night at one of the hundreds of coﬀee shops and bistros that line the streets and neighborhoods of Manhattan. Whatever your fancy you'll ﬁnd it in a short hop, skip, and a cab ride from Times Square. For a change of pace and a bit of history to boot, head on down to the bumpy cobblestone streets of Pier 17. In this historic district you'll ﬁnd restaurants and shops galore, but also a living museum dedicated to the history of the American whaling and shipping industry. Inside, you can see ship models, prints and paintings as well as a slew of memorabilia and artifacts from the long and varied story of America's love aﬀair with the sea.
For a change of pace and a bit of history to boot, head on down to the bumpy cobblestone streets of Pier 17. In this historic district you'll find restaurants and shops galore, but also a living museum dedicated to the history of the American whaling and shipping industry.
Inside, you can see ship models, prints and paintings as well as a slew of memorabilia and artifacts from the long and varied story of America's love aﬀair with the sea. Outside, tour the boat building shop or take a tour of the 4masted, 347-foot cargo vessel Peking, one of 6 historic ships, feel the history come alive as you stare down the gangway of a fully restored 18th century sailing vessal. Shiver your timbers and imagine a life at sea with nary an ipod or cell phone to be seen! The New York City Subway is a fast, aﬀordable way to get around New York City. Riding the New York City Subway is the only way to travel in order to be tromping through the streets of NY City like a native.
One of the greatest places in New York City is the Paley Center Museum of Television and Radio 25 West 52 Street, New York, NY 10019. Here's you'll explore the fast paced nostalgia ﬁlled world of American and international television and the impact it's had on modern culture. You'll explore the various themes they are presently focused on or sit down in their viewing library and watch a few of your favorite episodes of TV series long gone or that favorite episode of MacGyver. To quote the center is best though; "The general public can access the collection and participate in programs that explore and celebrate the creativity, the innovations, the personalities, and the leaders who are shaping media. Through the global programs of its Media Council and International Council, the Paley Center also serves as a neutral setting where media professionals can engage in discussion and debate about the evolving media landscape."
One of the most helpful things about New York City's subway stations is the maps located near the entrances. In addition to having a map of the subway system, there is normally a neighborhood map that shows the streets in the area in detail. It's a good idea to check out the map before you leave the subway, but it's also great to know that if you're lost near a subway station, you can always duck in and check out a map to ﬁnd your way around. Keep track of the stations and which lines intersect for free transfers or paid transfers.
Sadly, the Little Italy of yesteryear has become a two block stretch of restaurant barkers and faux Italian eateries. To get the real experience you need to head on over to the area centered around Arthur Avenue, known as the Little Italy of the Bronx, this is the place to go for old-fashioned Italian charm, food, and ambience.
You can pay cash or get a Metrocard to expedite your jaunts. The subways also go out to the other ﬁve burroughs so don't feel that you have to stay trapped on Manhattan. Subways serve most of Manhattan and surrounding boroughs pretty well, but in those places where the subway service is sparse or nonexistent; there are buses that can get you where you need to go.
A taste of one of the most inﬂuential cultural groups ever to help build America its roots are full of passion, great food and a gravy that'll knock your mama's socks oﬀ. Relive those dramatic twists and turn in the Sopranos by touring the Hoboken Eateries and stretches of stripmalls home to Tony and his gang of merry men. He's no robin hood, but damn could they make a good chicken parm.
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The Roosevelt Island Tram is an awesomer way to impress your family and friends with a little known, but spectacular view of the New York.
During the 4-minute ride you will be treated to a gorgeous view down the East River and the east side skyline with views of the United Nations and four bridges: the Queensboro, Williamsburg, Manhattan, and Brooklyn bridges. On a clear day you might even spot Lady Liberty. The ride is fun and a diﬀerent way to see New York. Most of the tourism boards and oﬃcials don't mention this one, so if you go during the day, there's a good chance that you'll have the car all to yourself. If you've ever seen the eerie movie Dark Water, you'll remember Jennifer Connelly taking this swinging transport home every day. Roosevelt Island isn't a dark and foreboding place though it's a great stop. For the outdoor types, there's also plenty to do. If you are physically ambitious and walking the shores of the Hudson just doesn't cut it. You wanna feel the wind in your face and the spray of the Hudson in your hair. Rent a bike and ride the length of Manhattan via the work in progress, Hudson River Park. You can bike from Battery Park to Fort Tryon Park near the George Washington Bridge. However, there are detours along the way which occasionally take you on and oﬀ the paths. This is also a great way to see Manhattan by cruising along the busy streets and alleys on a rental bike. Several bike tours oﬀer rides through central park, the bowery, hells kitchen and other points of interest. Whatever you choose to do in New York you'll see things you've seen before, walk the paths of super stars and maybe run into that Donald Trump and his bad hairdo. Jump in and go with the ﬂow of New York cause the only thing they can't stand are wall ﬂowers, complainers and slowpokes.
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by Frances Stanford
Guide to understanding China's tea culture 62
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Tea is the national drink of China and is consumed by young and old alike. When you enter a restaurant the first question you will be asked is what type of tea you would like to have. The practice of tea drinking dates back to 2737 B.C. to the days of the Emperor Shenong, who was afraid of getting a disease from the water and wanted all the water used for drinking boiled. One day as the staff was boiling the huge pots of water some of the leaves of the Camellia sinesis tree fell into this water. The Emperor fell in love with the resulting taste and thus the tea culture of China was born. TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
T here is a variety of tea trees grown in China, which results in different regions of the country having their own specialties. These are: - green tea - scented tea - black tea - compressed tea - Wulong - a variety that falls somewhere in between green and black tea. Each type requires different techniques in the production of the tea leaves. During the heat of the summer , tea drinking seems to help the body cool down. In just about every town and village of China there are tea trees growing in abundance. Tea-houses abound and people gather together in these locations to chat over a cup of tea. The drinking of tea in the culture of China serves several important functions. Serving tea is seen as a W7890P Z sign of respect. The younger people serve the elders and in the past the servers were always those of a lower social status. This has changed today, though, and in the homes of the country it is possible to see older people serving tea to the younger members of the family. Then one person needs to apologize to another for whatever reason, the general custom is to pour tea for them. This comes from the subservient nature of the tea servers in the history of the country. It is also a way of expressing thanks to another to serve tea to this person. In a Chinese wedding ceremony, for example, the bride and groom serve tea to their parents. There are many ways in which tea is brewed in China, with the most common one being the simple act of adding tea leaves to a pot of boiling water. Green tea, however, should be brewed in cooler water because of its delicate nature.
a city with no seasons
Travel experiences: Hong Kong by Venerando George Jr. Briones
As soon as we landed at Hong Kong International Airport, you might say we hit the ground running, literally. We had done our assignments the week before; downloaded a map of the city redmarked with our way to the hotel, memorized some important Chinese phrases both in Cantonese and Mandarin, bought a few hundred dollars worth of Hong Kong dollars, and tagged each of the three smaller kids with their own ID's, in case they get lost. We even downloaded a five-day weather forecast of Hong Kong; the number of days we would be staying in this Pearl City of the Orient.
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We bought an "octopus card" for each individual at the airport and a quick hop on the A21 bus brought us to our hotel on Nathan Road. This street that winds down to the harbor on Kowloon island is lined with shops that would make any shopaholic drool. There are bargains everywhere; and in between some shops you'll see some wonderful ﬁnds that are a bit exotic but more expensive. Big-name stores are all here in Hong Kong; Prada, LV, Gucci, Ferrari, Maserati...they're all here!
deter us from exploring the top. Naturally when we got there all you can see from the glass windows was fog and rain. No worries, though. We entered Madame Tussaud's wax museum and had a blast posing with the madame's statues. They are so life-like. There were lots of tourists milling around the ﬁgures, chattering animatedly in diﬀerent languages.
After leaving our bags at the hotel, we grabbed a quick lunch at a corner restaurant and soon we were on the train headed for Victoria Peak, the highest bit of land in the city. There was a slight drizzle while we were walking towards the subway, and now as we were buying tickets for the tram that would take us up the mountain, it started to really pour. Still, we were excited as bees and getting a little wet certainly wouldn't
On the way down, the rain started to let up to a sprinkle, until it ﬁnally stopped altogether. Meanwhile we were getting lost in the maze of shops and buildings. After grabbing some food that we called dinner, we weren't done for the day yet. While on the plane, we had already mapped out where the Ladies' Night market was located, and that's where we headed next. The Ladies' Night Market is a regular
street by day that transforms into a sort of ﬂea market by nightfall. All kinds ofwomen stuﬀ are sold there at a bargain...bags, shoes, blouses and pants and dresses, trinkets and gewgaws. Over at nearby Fa Yuen street all they sell are shoes; shop after shop are shoes, shoes and more shoes. When we've had our ﬁll we herded the kids into a Japanese restaurant for a latenight meal of noodles.Back at the hotel we redeemed our bags from the front desk and proceeded upstairs to ﬁnd a room as big as our bathroom at home. On each side of the room there were two beds that were about six inches apart; one person had to lie on the bed for the other to pass through. Since there were three people sleeping in that room, TWO people had to lie on the bed for one to get through!
Today we were headed for Hong Kong Ocean Park. This amusement park sits astride the mountain beside the ocean. You enter on the ocean side, take a cable car up over the mountain, and exit on the other side. 66
The bathroom was, of course smaller, being no bigger than a closet. The shower area was sooo small that when you soaped your feet, your behind would scrape the glass enclosure; if you stepped forward a bit your nose would grind the tiles in front. It was really hilarious! Somehow we managed to get past these small hiccups and everybody was in bed by 1:00 am. Next day my wife and I were up early for a short walk, leaving the kids at the hotel. There were a dozen old folks practicing tai chi at the park, while some were just lounging around the benches reading the newspapers. Since an old woman was giving it away for free, we got one too; making sure it was in English. The heavens must have rained itself out yesterday because although the forecast said rain for today, the sun was peeping behind some clouds ready to come out anytime. Today we were headed for Hong Kong Ocean Park. This amusement park sits astride the mountain beside the ocean. You enter on the ocean side, take a cable car up over the mountain, and exit on the other side.
The entrance to the park was packed with screaming, laughing six-year-olds with their teachers, mothers tugging kids, kids dragging fathers; pleasurably pure pandemonium! What fun we're going to have! We practically ran all over the place, zigging and zagging between hordes of tourists. At the top of the mountain we went up the Ocean Park Tower and sucked it all in; this magniﬁcent place of merriment. The most exciting part for us was the cable car ride to the other side of the mountain. My wife, who has acrophobia, would gasp and hold her breath whenever we would pass through the towers and the car would bounce a bit. After an 8:00 o'clock dinner, we were headed for Mongkok to do more speedshopping. We've sort of fallen into the groove of doing the shopping after the day's fun activities; usually until midnight. So oﬀ we were again to the subway, losing our way, and then ﬁnding it again with a slice of luck and a lot of questioning and hand signals.
Photo Credit: Hong Kong Tourism Board
While strolling from one shop to another, we got to chatting with one of the locals and we found out that we could actually walk back to our hotel instead of taking the train. We didn't even have to use our pitifully scant knowledge of Chinese phrases, except for xie xie meaning thank you and ni hao for hello.
land in it would never be complete without going through the mecca of amusement parks. There is plainly no argument against it, and parents would do well to heed their children's desires. You cannot ever, ever skip the trip or else you get the silent treatment... from your kids... for a whole year!
Most vendors could speak Pidgin English, and a few could communicate rather well. We haggled over prices with one interesting lady by actually communicating through a calculator.
It's like a ritual really...you look at the travel guides and see if they have Disney, then you block one day for that. Simple. So that was our itinerary for our third day. Hong Kong Disneyland. If you ask me, they all look the same; but don't tell them I said so.
When we asked how much, she punched the price on the gadget. We then punched in our price, and then it was her turn again, back and forth, until we agreed on a middle ground. Not a word was exchanged between us; and she had a wonderful smile all the time. My wife simply adored this city! From a kid's point of view, a trip to a city with a Disney68
Our last day was reserved for just one thing; more shopping. Even if you've gone to several places and you think you have been through all the best spots for bargains, there are still a lot more locations that you can go through. Hong Kong is like a never-ending list of shopping and interesting places. TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
Since there is only so much that you can buy, and carry, you can still spend the whole day just going through stuďŹ€, even if you're not buying. There is so much to see and explore in this city, so much to buy and bargain for and haggle. Harried in Hong Kong? You bet but we enjoyed every moment of it. Photo Credit: Hong Kong Tourism Board
More than kangaroos and great beaches
AUSTRALIA by Gail Kavanaghn
Walkabout by air There are many ways to explore Australia, but one of the most dramatic is by air. Whether it’s in a seaplane, a hot air balloon, a light aircraft, or a helicopter, seeing Australia from the sky gives visitors a new perspective on this amazing continent. Tourism Australia
One of the most dramatic ways to see Sydney is from a seaplane. Both Sydney Seaplanes and Sydney By Seaplane oﬀer scenic ﬂights across Sydney Harbour and further aﬁeld. Imagine buzzing over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and past the Opera House before tracking along the coastline’s magniﬁcent beaches. Seaplane tours can combine with a whale-watching cruise, and also with a gourmet lunch at some of Sydney’s iconic waterside restaurants. These include Jonah’s Restaurant, located next to Sydney’s Palm Beach; Cottage Point Inn on the water’s edge in the heart of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park; and Berowra Waters Inn set in bushland beside the beautiful Hawkesbury River. You can also hover above Sydney Harbour and the city’s golden beaches on a helicopter tour. You can also combine your Sydney sightseeing by zipping away to the Hunter Valley, The Blue Mountains, the Central Coast, or the Southern Highlands. A sunset helicopter tour over Sydney is another option. If you want something a little diﬀerent you can experience the thrill of an aerobatics ﬂight over Sydney in a bi-plane with Red Baron Adventures. Red Baron also oﬀers scenic ﬂights over the harbour and ocean beaches, and trips up to the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains. 72
Scenic trips by light plane are also popular with visitors to Australia. You can go for scenic ﬂights over the Great Barrier Reef for example, over Uluru in the Red Centre, or across the South Australian Outback to see the vast expanse of Lake Eyre. You can also discover Western Australia’s rugged Kimberley region by air. Seaplanes also ﬂy across Melbourne and Port Phillip Bay, and across the strange orange rock formations of the Bungle Bungles in Western Australia. Touch down on water too while exploring the Great Barrier Reef, the Gold Coast, or the tropical Whitsunday Islands in Queensland. Or take a seaplane along the totally wild Gordon and Franklin rivers in Tasmania and see some of Australia’s amazing World Heritage rainforest. Want more? Well, you can ﬂy across the city of Melbourne in an old-fashioned Tiger Moth, and soar high above its streets and churches in a hot air balloon. Travelling by hot air balloon is about the most peaceful way you can travel. Float with the breeze in a hot air balloon in Tasmania, or across the Outback from Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. Drift over the picturesque Avon Valley near Perth, or over mobs of kangaroos in the red dirt country of central New South Wales. Credit: Tourism Australia TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
Crazy as it sounds, some visitors to Australia do expect to find kangaroos hopping down the main streets. But in fact, Australians in the cities are very urbanized and so have devised ways of getting an adventure rush no matterwhere they are in our great land. Whether in the city, he bush or the outback, the national thirst for extremes results in a wealth of exciting experiences. Here are just a few:
What could be extreme about a visit to Sydney Harbour? It is one of the world's most beautiful locations, certainly, with the astonishing vista of the harbor itself, the Sydney Opera House, the skyline, and of course, Sydney Harbour Bridge. Even locals ďŹ nd it a daily wonder. But a place where you can unleash your inner adventurer? Look no further than the bridge itself. TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
Tourism Australia Tourism Australia
Newcomers to Sydney can't fail to be impressed with this soaring wonder that arches over one of the world's most beautiful bays. In the past, bridge workers were often envied for the views they had to themselves as they worked along the upper span. But no more since 1988, the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.
Oh, and those kangaroos and beaches? Sure, we got those too. Tourism Australia
Climbers are guided up catwalks and ladders to the immense upper span, 134 meters above the water below. The 360 degree views of the city and the harbor are breathtaking and leave the climber with a stunning sense of achievement. So popular is this adventure that since the tours started, two million people, including celebrities, have braved the span. The climb takes 3 hours and is open to a surprising number of candidates.
people with disabilities and a one-hundred-yearold woman! Basically you need to be ďŹ t, strong and co-ordinated enough to sustain moderate physical activity for the duration of the climb. You can even tackle the climb if you are less than 24 weeks pregnant. You can't take a camera, but Climb Leaders will capture your moment on top of the world anyway, Some medical conditions may prove a barrier and and the climb includes a complimentary group you must be over 1.2 meters tall, but the bridge photo by the time you ďŹ nish you will all have has been climbed by the hearing impaired, some bonded anyway! 76
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If gazing down on the wonders of Sydney Harbour don't offer enough apeal, head for the outback and meet some of Australia's most unusual immigrants. Camels are among the most successful migrations to Australian shores, brought here by Afghan migrants more than a century ago. The animals have adapted so well to the Australian outback that they have become a tourist attraction. Camel safaris operate in wilderness areas and are a rewarding way to experience the outback. The safaris are led by Australian wildlife, cultural and environmental experts to ensure that tourists learn as they ride.
The camel is called the ship of the desert' and this is usually thought to refer to its capacity to carry water in its hump but in fact there is another good reason. The camel is also one of the world's most tireless pack animals, and on the average four day safari, it carries everything its rider needs, such as water, food and sleeping gear. No back up vehicles follow the tour and despoil the pristine desert wilderness, because none are needed. You don't need to be an expert camel rider but you do need to be reasonably physically ďŹ t, as many ďŹ rst timers prefer to walk occasionally while they are getting used to the saddle!
Ecologically speaking, Australia has some of the most glorious nature destinations in the world. But it's not all sight seeing and hotel hopping. If you ant something really different, does bush walking, spear throwing and living off the land sound like a plan to you? Eco Tourism is a big thing right now, and Australian ecotour leaders like Odyssey Tours and Safaris have the ecotour of a lifetime. It's a non-stop adventure through Australia's `top end' These tours are taken at the best time of the year to explore places like Kakadu, in August and October. This is the Australian Spring, and the `top end' is blooming. These tours also take in the cultural life of Australia's native peoples, the Aborigines, who have lived in this amazing land for 45,000 years. On these tours, you will have the chance to meet the local tribes, an unforgettable experience in itself, and learn ancient arts like spear throwing and basket weaving from the tribal elders. You'll be living off the land, swimming in natural waterholes called `billabongs', viewing ancient Aboriginal rock art and singing songs around a roaring campfire. So what are you waiting for? Australia has a wealth of once-in-a-lifetime experiences waiting for you! Oh, and those kangaroos and beaches? Sure, we got those too. 78
TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
Great Canadians know great Canadian escapes A host of Olympians from Canada’s 2010 Olympic Winter Games including skier Alexandre Bilodeau, ﬁgure skater Joannie Rochette and hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser have banded together with such ﬁgures as vocalist Keshia Chante, Glee’s Cory Monteith and Chef Michael Smith as Canada’s local tourism ambassadors.
Each shares their ultimate “gold medal getaway” on the Canadian Tourism Commission’s (CTC) LOCALSKNOW.ca site to help Canadians ﬁnd deals and inspire them to explore their country this summer. All Canadians are invited to ﬁnd inspiration and vote on their top “gold medal getaway” for a chance to win a ﬂight package and create a winning getaway of their own.
“Tourism is vitally important to our economy and we are pleased by the success of the CTC’s domestic marketing campaign to date," said the Honourable Rob Moore, Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism).
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“The campaign focuses on the unexpected – encouraging Canadians to seek out new and exotic experiences they didn’t know existed,” said Michele McKenzie, the CTC’s president and CEO. “Canada’s Games have offered us the opportunity to identify with our country in a deeper and more meaningful way. Who better to inspire Canadians to get out there and explore than our iconic 2010 Olympic heroes?”
"Through the LOCALS KNOW initiative, the CTC is helping to inspire Canadians to explore new areas of this beautiful country and moreover, helping to boost local economies by keeping our hard-earned dollars at home. We look forward to even greater success during 2010." TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
Here are just a few “gold medal getaways” from our team of inspiring Canadians including their favourite places to stay, places to eat and things to do: Alexandre Bilodeau, 2010 Olympic Gold Medalist, Freestyle Skiing – Men’s Moguls: “My Gold Medal Itinerary would be in Victoria, British Columbia. I visited when I was young and the ocean was amazing. I went there recently for training and went cycling, road biking, surﬁng and played hockey all in the same place, which is great.” Cory Monteith, Actor, Glee (TV series): "Vancouver is my idea of a Gold Medal Experience. Late in the snowboarding season (in April), if the weather is just right, you can snowboard in a T-shirt at Cypress in the morning, only a half hour from downtown. You can then be on Kits Beach by the early afternoon. And ﬁnishing up the day with awesome sushi at The Eatery never hurt anyone!” Clara Hughes, Olympic MedalWinning Speed Skater and Cyclist: “My absolute favourite place in Canada is the north. The most epic and satisfying
trip I’ve ever done was a bike tour of the Dempster Highway through the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, starting close to Dawson City and all the way up to Inuvik. I wish all Canadians could see that part of Canada because it is so beautiful.” Jon Montgomery, 2010 Olympic Gold Medallist, Skeleton: “My Gold Medal Itinerary is to go home to Russell, Manitoba. We love going to Riding Mountain National Park which is about an hour away from Russell and my folks have a cabin there.” To view more “gold medal getaways”, please click here. Create your own “Gold Medal” getaways! The Canadian Tourism Commission is giving Canadians a chance to win big. From April 28 to June 20, 2010, Canadians can visit www.localsknow.ca and vote for their favourite Great Canadian “Gold Medal Getaway” for a chance to win a grand prize of eight round-trip ﬂights to any Canadian destination. travel.canada.com
Shanghai There is plenty to see and experience in this dynamic city!
Travel destinations: Shanghai, China by Aida Garcia-Toledo
Shanghai is like Manhattan and London combined and on steroids. It is the definition of a mega city. In Shanghai the buildings seem even taller, the crowds seem larger and there are hoards of people everywhere.
If you stand at a busy intersection here at rush hour you will literally see a sea of people walking towards or away from you. Look up and you will see huge buildings towering over you. It is exciting, urban, hip, modern and still a bit traditional. Shanghai is where all the cool kids in China choose to live and where they have perfected the art of balancing western and eastern traditions with brilliant results.
Shanghai, of course, was not always the mega city it is today. Westerners first came en masse to Shanghai in 1842 when the British opened their first concession. At that time the area was little more than a small fishing village. Five years later when the French arrived, a growing international community was already also settling in. HISTORY By the end of the 19th Century the area was decreed as a Special Economic Zone and divided into various parcels, sovereign from Chinese law; each governed by its respective country. In those 50 years (mid 19th Century to 1900) the population of Shanghai more than doubled to over one million, with an expanding expat community. The 1930's were legendary in Shanghai.
ners dream with some of the most modern and tallest buildings in the world and a world renowned ﬁnancial and business district was, just 20 years ago, little more than a large marshland! THE VIEW The minimal amount of time you need in Shanghai is 3 full days. There is plenty to see and experience in this dynamic city! Perhaps the most well known area in Shanghai is The Bund. It is Shanghai's famous river side promenade where you can admire some of the city's best views.
The city was rich from trading opium, silk and tea and thus attracted the most powerful ﬁnancial institutions and individuals from around the world. Soon Shanghai had the tallest buildings in the world and was a deemed a city of the future, but with all the excess came numerous brothels, opium dens, and gambling establishments. It was a decadent oasis for rich and/or ambitious Americans, French, British, Italians and Japanese men and women.
The Huangpu River divides Shanghai into 2: Puxi and Pudong. Puxi is where you will probably spend most of your time. It is the oldest side of the city, its' former ﬁnancial and festive district from the 1920's and 30's. Pudong, across the river, is Shanghai's newest ubber modern ﬁnancial hub. There you will ﬁnd, among other things, the famous Oriental Pearl Tower.
Once the Communist Party took over China, Shanghai's bon vivants either toned it down or left town. Just over 50 years later, Shanghai is once again a legendary and vibrant city. It has continued to grow at an astonishing speed; just imagine that the Special Economic Zone of Pudong which today is an urban plan-
You can, and should, visit both sides of the river, although the view from Puxi towards Pudong and the Oriental Pearl Tower is probably THE most spectacular and well known view of modern day Shanghai. It is worth coming during the day as well as the night, as the city's lights and night views are a lovely sight.
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TRADITION Shanghai might be an ultra modern city, however deep inside its maze of streets is an urban oasis called the Yu Yuan Gardens. The area around Yu Yuan Gardens is a touristy shopping district that used to be the Chinese City' in colonial times. Here traditional Chinese architecture creates a huge, although welcomed, contrast with the rest of the city's modern sites. Red balconies are carved in traditional Chinese style, complimenting the white facades and topped off with traditional Chinese 4-point tiled roofs. The streets are cobblestone and red lanterns hang from most of the balconies.
Downstairs diﬀerent stores line the streets; here you can ﬁnd everything from tea sets and kites to exotic herbs and exotic medicinal rarities (for westerners). Be warned: this area is full of tourists, and thus best to visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon. The Yu Yuan Gardens date from the second half of the 16th century and in a way they could serve as an escape away from the busy city, however only if you manage to visit at an oﬀ peak' time (usually just before the gardens close at 5pm or on a cloudy or rainy day!). Your walk will then be a delight for your eyes TRAVIDITION / travidition.com
with beautiful ﬂowers, bamboo, ponds and carvings to admire. At sunrise or sunset you have an opportunity to ﬁnd peace and relaxation in many of Shanghai's city parks. At Fuxing Park (entrance is at Yandang Road near Nanchang Rd just oﬀ Huaihai Rd) members of the older generation take some time to practice tai chi or ﬁght their shadows in slow motion with silver swords. Mesmerizing best describes this sight. 85
THE SHOPPING Shopping in Shanghai must be one of life's most delightful experiences. This is the home to many a mall and many a store, but more importantly it is the home to countless original designers; ﬁnding something unique is not very hard. Taiking Road is literally a hidden jewel for shopping. Neither our guide or our driver had ever hear of it and it took persistence and a lot of asking around to ﬁnd this hidden haven, but it was worth the eﬀort. The area is located down a somewhat plain looking street (almost alley) oﬀ a main avenue. Eventually this community of artists and designers with unveil itself with countless cool stores, galleries and cafes that sell up and coming young designers' creations. Everything from clothes to accessories to home
dcor can be found here. Xintiandi has been called the destination where "yesterday meets tomorrow today in Shangahai". It is a mostly pedestrian district in Shanghai where you can stroll, shop, eat, drink and people watch. The surrounding facades are mostly restored Shikumen (stone) houses, a style of architecture in which at one time 80% of Shanghai residents lived in. Located near the former French concession area, it is an ideal place to spend the afternoon browsing through the stores and galleries and venturing into the side streets and then onto the old French Concession Streets (try the area between Julu Lu to the north and Huai Hai Lu running through the center. At Chang Le Lu and Xin Le Lu you can also ﬁnd small designer clothing shops).
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Under an hour from Shanghai are the Water Towns. Best described as China's Venice these towns are a spectacular way to see what small town life is like in China. Yes they are a bit more worn down than Venice, and yes the narrow streets where food is being sold can smell a bit foul (but even romantic Venice sometimes doesn't smell that great! ), but the experience is unforgettable. Some of the water towns go back more than 2,000 years, and have remarkably preserved their rural Chinese origins.
tached to a small bell that you then hang on the wishing tree.
One of the closest water towns is Zhujiajiao. There is evidence of civilization in this very area dating back 1,700 years. Stroll and allow yourself to get a bit lost through the narrow streets, crisscrossing over the small distinctive stone bridges many of which were built during Ming and Qing Dynasties.
Peek into open windows and see the old men playing Chinese domino and the old ladies preparing their food (you can get a map at the entrance so you won't be lost for very long). North Street is the main street. Here you will see amazing colors, exotic ingredients and unidentiďŹ able foods being sold: try them at your own risk! The Ancestor Pottery Museum and Jade Hall (40 Meizhou Rd) is a nice stop as is the City God Temple where you will see countless worshipers burning large packs of incense and bowing. Make sure to write a wish on a red string atTRAVIDITION / travidition.com
The food in Shanghai is eclectic and scrumptious. There are numerous wonderful restaurants with world renowned chefs working diligently in the kitchens creating world class gastronomical experiences. But you don't necessarily need to visit a Michelin Starred restaurant to experience the Shanghai gastronomical experience. Today, when I think of Shanghai I still have pleasant dreams of dumplings; the best dim sum I have ever had was in Shanghai, at Crystal Jade inside the Xintiandi Shopping Mall. The crowded and noisy restaurant is a favorite of locals and just about anything you order will leave your taste buds begging for more until you overdose on dumplings that is! Enjoy your time in Shanghai, but make sure you plan your meals just as much as your visit. 87
"The Hidden Gem of the Caribbean " by Jennifer Desormes
If it is true adventure that you desire on a Caribbean vacation, then take the trip to the island of Dominica. Dominica has been referred to as "The Nature Island" and "The Hidden Gem of the Caribbean " Although cruise lines have recently started adding this stop in their Caribbean cruises, Dominica remains highly unspoiled and secluded. Very few tourists stay on the Island for more than a day. Dominica's main attraction is the exquisite jungle and nature scenes it provides. One of the Islands proudest claims is that you can drop a seed of any sort in any grass or dirt on the Island and a few days later it will be growing. There are 365 rivers all ﬂowing through the land into the ocean. The water is crystal clear and any local will tell you it is perfectly safe to drink straight from the scene. A good way to spend a day in Dominica is river tubing. It is a relaxing way to get a view of all the colors and plants that cover the land. Now, with all the rivers ﬂowing through the Island one can only expect a waterfall or two. And they would be correct to assume that there are also plenty of these natural beauties ﬂowing from the rocks above us. Sari Sari Falls oﬀers one of the most magniﬁcent views of a waterfall one will ever see. Pictures simply can not do it justice. The hike through the jungle to get to Sari Sari Falls is kind of intense but worth every step. There are two rivers to cross by holding a rope, and rocks to climb, but the prize at the end makes one wish they never had to leave. You will begin to hear Sari Sari Falls far before you reach it, but your ﬁrst glance will take your breath away. 88
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As you make your way closer you will see the blue pool formed at the bottom and watch the mist get lost in the wind. Once you climb the last rock you are able to take a swim in the pool. It will feel refreshing after the hike, and for a quick moment you might forget that this isn't a dream. Of course there are many other waterfalls to check out if you dont think you can make the hike to Sari Sari Falls. The Twin Falls are also grand and amazing. They are hidden so far in the jungle you will once again forget the reality of the world. Trafalgar Falls are easier to reach for those who might not be able to hike as far. Trafalgar Falls are charming and oﬀer the mind a kind of calm and peace one cannot experience without the sound of running water falling into a river. Other points of natural interest include the black lava sand beach, the emerald pool, and the boiling lake. The black lava sand beach hugs the coast line closely and is surrounded by rocks and cliﬀs. It is not safe for swimming as the waves are extremely high and there are jagged pieces of rock formations hidden everywhere, but it is a beautiful stroll along the coast. The emerald pool is in a nature conservatory that oﬀers a lot of scenic views. At one point you are able to look out over the Island and see nothing but trees meeting up with the blue ocean. The emerald pool itself looks like a lagoon in a mermaid or pirate movie. It is kind of small, but swimming is allowed and the water is extremely refreshing.
The boiling Lake is the second largest boiling lake known on earth. The hike to get to the boiling lake is one of the most extreme on the island. It is not recommended for the elderly or those in bad health. It is an extreme hike through the jungle, but when you reach the boiling lake there is a reward ready for you, in the form of hot lava sand face masks and body rubs. There are also pools to refresh in along the way. If you are able to do this hike, it will not be a regret, the end product makes you remember how healthy a moment of silence can be. As far as beaches, Dominica is not known for its white sand beaches with umbrellas and fruity drinks like many other Caribbean destinations. Dominica does have its share of beaches, but is best for scuba diving. The island of Dominica is known throughout the world as a top venue for scuba diving or snorkeling. The beaches are not crowded and there are not people trying to sell you things and braid your hair everywhere you look. If you need a break from nature at this point the Is-
lands capital city Roseau oﬀers a lot of fun activities . There are plenty of restaurants with local food that will leave your mouth wanting more after your meal is done. There is plenty of shopping and stands to buy local art such as jewelery, home made jams and jelly's, and baskets. The streets get kind of crowded and hectic during the middle of the day but you can look around and see that everyone is having a good time. But even in the capital city, where there is shopping and nightlife available they must stay true to the theme of the island; nature. The Botanical Gardens located in Roseaus downtown area oﬀers trail upon trail of breathtaking nature walks. And then there is whale watching and hot springs. The locals are kind and humble, always willing to help. The bus system is a bit tricky at ﬁrst but the prices are fair. Dominica offers a new look at the Caribbean and the gems it holds. For a whole new Caribbean experience, check out Dominica, and give it a chance, as it diﬀers greatly from other Caribbean islands .
All rOAdS lEAd TO
No one can tell you more about Rome's history, art, quirks, tourism, food, fashion, and life than I: I have spent my life being obsessed with the Eternal City and a year living in an unbelievable apartment in Rome's equivalent of SoHo, Trastevere a medieval district overflowing with food, music, and all things beautiful ranging from centuries old frescoes eroding on walls to vines hanging from rooftops and stretching to the narrow, cobblestone streets strutted upon with Prada heels and Ferragamo loafers by model-esque Italians licking cones of exquisite gelato and heading to a coffee bar (not a Starbucks) for the world's best cappuccino.
Travel destinations: Rome, Italy by Brandon Schultz
The Roman citizens take for granted their historical masterpiece of a home; they use the Trevi Fountain as a place for merely meeting up with old friends before heading to lunch; they attend church services at Santa Maria in Trastevere (yes, "in" is an Italian word!), the oldest Catholic church in the world, decked with Cavallini mosaics from the 1300's; and they have concerts outside the Colosseum (please learn this correct, English spelling of the structure and stop butchering it!), using it as a backdrop for laser light shows. Where else in the world are history and art so engrained in the natural customs of life that a citizen does not think twice when walking the famous Via Sacra (The Sacred Way), the same stone walkway traversed by Julius Caesar and Augustus? Such is the life of the Roman. Whether you have two weeks or two days to spend in this unique city, you will ﬁnd yourself indulging in the best the world has to oﬀer at preset day while learning about the most powerful and inﬂuential people the world has ever oﬀered in the past. There are many "must sees" when visiting Rome for the ﬁrst time, but there are also numerous sites and experiences that are missed by most who never had the luxury of spending a year there to hunt for the treasures. Luckily for you, I already did the research and now you can reap its rewards. The Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi) If you want to see a work of masterful beauty, do not miss the Trevi Fountain. Though the Trevi is not a part of ancient history, it is still nearly 400 years old and intact. If you only get to see one of the many fountains of Rome, this is the one to see. Be forewarned, you will encounter dozens of men trying to sell pointless trinkets to you. Do not accept a rose from anyone and do not let anyone take a picture of you with his camera . Feel free to trust other tourists to take a picture of you throwing a coin into the fountain, but do not let a professional take your photohe will charge you enormously for this service. The same is true of the roses: even if he tells you the rose is free, once you accept it, he will harass you for money. Take plenty of time to soak in the joy of the Trevi Fountain, but just do not accept anything from anyone here.
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The Colosseum This imposing structure stands proudly in the center of Centro Storico (the historic disctrict) and you will never need to ask directions to ﬁnd it! Almost 2,000 years old, the Colosseum has been home to exciting games, barbaric ceremonies, impressive theater, and has even served as an apartment building in the medieval years. With such abuse, it is no wonder that the interior is nearly gutted and looks nothing like you would imagine a stadium of such proportion to be. There is not even a ﬂoor in the center, anymore (though this aﬀords you the opportunity to see below into gladiatorial holding cells). In short, the view outside is much more impressive and does not cost you any money. If you cannot resist the urge to go inside and you indeed purchase a ticket, HOLD ON TO IT because you can use it again for free admission to the Palatine Hill, a gem that most tourists miss. The Palatine The Palatine hill is the most exciting of Rome's seven famous hills and is home to many hidden treasures. The Flavian Palace is a remarkable structure that has been excavated and is yours for exploration. In addition, there are several other Imperial homes and artifacts scattered about the hill's beautiful walkways and vegetation. What most people do not realize is that a walk along the Palatine's paths leads to the most stunning view of the Colosseum available: the PERFECT place for the award winning photograph. Also within view of the top of the hill is a fantastic look into the famous Circus Maximus. Be sure not to miss the small museum that is included in your ticket price. Even if you wisely choose not to enter the Colosseum, spring for the ticket and climb the Palatine. Circus Maximus (Circo Massimo) Skip it. It is famous for its races and other games, but it is nothing but a large, grown-in ﬁeld of grass today. It is a place where Romans walk their dogs and kids frolic in the grass that is rare in this ancient city. The view from the top of the Palatine Hill is all you need to experience the Circus Maximus. 92
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Roman Forum (Foro Romano) The Roman Forum is the pinnacle of the historical experience in Rome. Inundated with temples, houses, arches, and business structures, it is perhaps the extraordinary amount of column heads, engraved stones, and millennia-old pathways that create the awe and mystery of this former center of Roman life. I strongly suggest devoting a large amount of time to exploring the ruins of the forum and ABSOLUTELY recommend purchasing a guide book to divulge the vast body of knowledge available. I personally have enjoyed picnics in the Forum, and I strongly suggest you buy some sandwiches and drinks and do the samejust ďŹ nd an ancient column head or stone to sit on and enjoy your meal in the center of history. A special note for you lucky readers: come back to the Forum at night, when the temples and imposing columns are majestically lit from below. To access the most incredible view of this splendor, see the section called "Rome at Night." Monument to Victor Emanuel: This is the largest and most easily located structure in the city. Built to rival the size of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, it encases a military museum, a tomb, an enormous bronze statue that can only be properly appreciate up close, and a completely view of the entire historic district of Rome. Often called the Wedding Cake or Typewriter by Romans, this monument is completely free to access and you deďŹ nitely should undertake the climbing of its many stairs. Once on top, the view from all sides is one that includes numerous other monuments and an overlook of the city that has been bustling for two thousand years. At the top, do not forget to look up at the masterfully painted ceilings of this incredible structure. The museum inside is rather small and not very interesting to those who are not obsessed with military history, so skip it if you are on a limited time-budget. Just hike the monument and be sure to check out the views from both ends!
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Rome at Night I strongly urge you to return to the Roman Forum and the Trevi Fountain as late as you willing to stay up and walk about the city. I have done this many times at 3 AM, but you can do this as early as midnight and still have a similar experience. To the Forum properly, head to the top of the Capitoline hill, go to the right of the central building with the beautiful fountain, and walk under the arch. A very short walk straight ahead will lead you to a stone wall that overlooks the entire Roman Forum and, from here, at night, the view is both humbling and energizing. Spend some time reﬂecting on history and beauty from this amazing, generally hidden spot. Going back to the Trevi at night allows you to enjoy this fountain without other tourists, so you can hear the lulling roar of the rushing water and see the beautiful lights ascending from the water towards the magniﬁcent sculptures. I would often bring some takeout Chinese food and eat it while staring at the Trevi in the middle of the nightmy own personal escape spot. It is amazing how diﬀerent the fountain is at night when no one else is there. Try it. The Janiculum Hill A lesser known hill in Rome, I recommend climbing the Janiculum early in the day and being at the top by noon. Not only does the wall at the top of the hill provide a breathtaking view of the entire city, but here you will ﬁnd the canon that is blasted every day at noon. It is exciting to witness this otherwise trivial part of daily Roman life and the photo-ops from this point are priceless. The Capitoline Hill This is the hill located next to the Monument to Victor Emanuel and characterized by an enormous staircase leading to a medieval church and a beautiful ramp/obscure staircase ﬂanked by Michelangelo's sculptures of the mythical Alexis and Corydon with their horses. At the top of this hill are a beautiful piazza and a museum also designed by Michelangelo during the Renaissance. The museum is of average quality, but the beauty of the piazza is worth the easy trip to the top of this hill. The Pantheon The Pantheon is the world's only ancient building surviving in its entirety today. It has served as a temple to all gods, a court under the emperor Hadrian, and is now the tomb of Rome's ﬁrst modern King and Queen and the artist, Raphael. What is perhaps most remarkable about the Pantheon, though, is that it is an engineering marvel: its enormous dome is entirely made of concrete and is perfectly round. Experts have demonstrated that a tremendous ball would ﬁt perfectly inside of the painstakingly precise dimensions of the Pantheon. Engineers suggest that the Pantheon should have crumbled under its weight over centuries of standing, but it has, nonetheless, withstood the test of time, including two severe earthquakes. The Pantheon is free to enter and will truly give you a sense of Roman grandeur. While you are there, check out the beautiful fountain in the Pantheon's Piazza. Side note: when facing the Pantheon, the gelato shop to the right serves the most extraordinary Rose and Orange Chocolate ﬂavored gelato. Eat it. 94
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The Rest There are HUNDREDS of monuments, museums, and sights (both famous and lesser known) to be seen in Rome. This list is intended to share the most essential spots that must be visited with a view hidden treasures that will allow you to appreciate Rome in a way that most tourists do not. Try to visit the Mouth of Truth, Tiber Island, the magniďŹ cent churches, and, of course, the Vatican City. Check out the Spanish Steps if you have time to spare, but do not go out of your way to trek there if you are pressed for time or energy: nearly all visitors ďŹ nd them to be a great letdown. Spend some time shopping at Valentino (or strolling and window shopping!) on Via Dei Condoti, and eat as much gelato as you possibly can. Drink wine outside as you walk the streets, because this is legal in Italy and a very enjoyable experience. Most importantly, DRESS UP and just wander the streets at night: Romans live to dress beautifully and walk amongst each other every night, enjoying La Dolce Vita (the sweet life). Be part of it. Oh, and any chance you get, eat outdoors. And if you go to McDonald's while you are in Rome, smack yourself. Buon Viaggio!
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