Aug
16

Some of the world’s best places to see outside the USA are listed below.
First Australia is the global tourist’s favorite for its beautiful beaches, cosmopolitan cities, Great Barrier Reef, vast outback countryside, adventure sports and unique wildlife. Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth are Australia’s largest cities, where most holiday makers arrive. In Australia, you can go scuba diving in the Indian or Pacific Oceans, watch cricket, play beach volleyball or go bungee jumping. Experience the wildlife of Australia like koalas and the ubiquitous kangaroo. On a trip to Australia you can learn about the native Aborigine people.

China is not be missed. Sights worth seeing are the historic palaces of the Forbidden City in Beijing, modern cities of Shanghai and Hong Kong, the sandy expanses of the Gobi Desert, the Terracotta Warriors of Xian and the Great Wall of China. Don’t miss the rare Giant Pandas in the forest, try delicious Chinese cuisine, and bargain for traditional Chinese silks, which were transported by camel caravan along the famous Silk Route from ancient India. Travel to Tibet, the rooftop of the world. [URL="http://www.etravelforum.com"]Travel Forum[/URL]

Thailand is one of the most visited tourist destinations in South Asia. Famous for its tropical beaches, pleasant climate, Buddhist pagodas, and friendly people, Thailand is a popular destination for honeymooners, surfers, and backpackers in search of an exotic holiday. The vibrant city of Bangkok, the beaches at Phuket, Pattaya and Ko Samui and the temples at Ayuthaya and Chiang Mai, are popular tourist destinations in Thailand. Thai Cuisine is another delicious attraction that draws tourists to this beach country.

Italy is famous for its art and architecture, its museums and historic cities, sunny Mediterranean climate and Italian food and wine. Italy has many attractions these include Vatican City; the Forum, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, churches, museums, cafes and restaurants in Rome; the canals and Piazza San Marco in Venice; the Renaissance art and architecture of Florence and Naples; the historic cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum; the fashion capital of Milan, and the scenic Amalfi coastline. Rome is a destination with many attractions for lovers of art, culture and beauty.

Argentina is a beautiful country in South America, with graceful colonial buildings, the rolling pampas grasslands, pleasant climate and warm people. Attractions of Argentina include the cobbled streets, restaurants and café’s of Buenos Aires, the colonial architecture of Cordoba, the beaches at Mar del Plata, the expansive pampas grasslands and the stunning Iguazu Waterfall surrounded by tropical rainforest.

The spectacular scenery of New Zealand includes lovely beaches, thick forest, rolling hills, steep fiords, bubbling geysers and volcanic mountain peaks. New Zealand’s unique wildlife such as the Kiwi, the native Maori culture and the opportunities for adventure sports makes New Zealand one of the world’s best travel destinations.

Kenya is located in East Africa, at the base of the horn of Africa. Its capital is Nairobi. It is known as the birthplace of humanity, Kenya is famous for its magnificent wildlife sanctuaries, ancient Swahili culture, beaches and coral reefs. Amboseli, Masai Mara, Tsavo and Mt Kenya National Parks are worth seeing on your trip to Kenya. The busy city of Nairobi, the Rift Valley landscape and Lake Magadi are a must on your travel itinerary. http://www.etravelforum.com

Aug
15

It is very difficult to name the top ten cities that a person should visit because there are many beautiful cities to choose from and everyone’s tastes can vary. But here is my list:

1)Paris

2)London

3)Prague

4)Vienna

5)Florence

6)Venice

7)Rome

8)Rio de Janeiro

9)New York

10)San Francisco

Paris is a city of amazing architecture, culture and cuisine.

London is a city with outstanding museums and parks.

Prague offers beautiful churches, bridges and palaces.

Vienna can be called the music capital of the world.

Florence is a city of art and history.

Venice is a city of canals, beautiful churches and museums.

Rome is a city of incredible art and history and the gateway to the Vatican.

Rio de Janeiro is the city of the world’s most famous carnival.

New York is one of the financial capitals of the world and an international city.

San Francisco is a city with beautiful nature and excellent examples of modern architecture.

Aug
15

Murder at Venice Beach

Early Morning.

“Why don’t you take a morning off? ” Brad sighed. “And come back here, my love.” Kelly smiled as she pulled running shorts over her long tanned legs. “You know I can’t miss a day; Not, if I’m going to win that marathon. Keep me company.” She tied her sneakers. “Not today babe. I’m real tired.” Brad replied with one eye closed. “Besides, I can’t keep up with you at my best.” Kelly blew him a kiss. “Keep the bed warm. I’ll be back real soon.” She locked the apartment door behind her.

It was a damp, overcast morning at Venice Beach. The sea mist quickly enveloped Kelly, as she went through her leg stretches. “Maybe I should forget it this morning?” She thought and suddenly yearned to be safe in her lover’s arms. The mist felt like icy fingers that pinched her skin. “But I must train every day.” Reluctantly, she slowly began to run along the sidewalk. A drunk was passed out next to a trash dumpster, empty bottle by his side. He had been using it as his sleeping place for the last three nights; probably his diner as well, she suspected. Kelly wondered how old he was? It was impossible to tell with his long mattered hair and beard.

She encountered the homeless almost every day and it always depressed her, but when she turned onto Wave View street her spirits were raised as she passed by the quaint houses. Wave View is one of the many pedestrian alley ways that criss cross the city of Venice. The houses are an eclectic community of brightly painted wood bungalows and modern multi-level dwellings. The mist began to clear as Kelly ran passed her favorite house. It was shaped similar to a light house, with a stained glass dome of a roof. The front yard was open and she noticed the young man as he arranged fold-up tables. “He’s having another garage sale.” She thought. “Every Saturday, like clockwork.” The man caught her gaze for an instant and then shyly turned away to set up his wares. “He’s cute,” she smiled and joined the cycle path that winds along the beach from Santa Monica through Venice and beyond. Kelly kicked her pace up a notch and began to pass most of the others already on the pathway; joggers, dog walkers and skate boarders.

These days the Venice beach community is a diverse group of the rich, poor, street performers, vendors and many vagrants. It is in some ways still a throwback from the sixties, with the ever present legacy of Jim Morrison on billboards, posters, and a even a tribute band that performs

Aug
12

Top Ten Cities to Visit – Here is my list, and why! This is no particular order, and I’ll try to explain what’s amazing about each city.

1 – Sydney – The Weather, The Water, The City, The Culture, the Perfect Balance! I admit, I’m a little biased as this is my home town, but Sydney has a little bit of everything for anyone. Beaches, Bars, Music, Art, Food… You’re going to love it!

2 – Prague – A medieval city that still looks medieval! Prague has spent much of the last couple of centuries being occupied by various empires, and this mighty medieval city never got the chance to sacrifice it’s history for progress.

3 – San Francisco – History, Culture and THAT Bridge. I really loved how connected to it’s amazing history SanFran was, and how visible it all was. As for it’s recent history and place in the counter-culture, it’s got a cool vibe to soak up.

4 – Berlin – Progress and History! Berlin has gone the opposite way to Prague, because when the wall fell, development went wild, and there are some amazing new buildings flying up everywhere. Nazis, Soviets, Bismarck… being in the centre of Europe has meant that so much has revolved around this city.

5 – Paris – Crowning Jewel of Europe. Iconic of modern Europe, with it’s royal and revolutionary history, this funny old town seems to draw all the greatest human achievers into itself and honour and incorporate them into itself. Maybe you could call it a giant museum of humanity… Maybe I’m getting carried away.

6 – Venice – If you have an imagination, Venice is the city for you. Completely different to anywhere else in the world, this city could enthral and amaze me if I lived there for a decade.

7 – Edinburgh – Something about the Scottish capital keeps springing to my mind. It’s like a mini city, from the top of Edinburgh Castle you can see the city limits, and the city centre is so small, but just the right size to be intimate.

8 – New York – Sadly, this is one I have never been to [yet!] but so many artists, writers and musicians that I love have come from there, and they’ve conveyed a sense of the city to me, and I have an overpowering urge to see it.

9 – Tokyo – Technology Extreme! The lights, the gizmos, the isolation, something about the culture of the iconic asian mega-city really appeals to me…

10 – Constantinople – The History! This city was a hinge of Western civilisation for 1,000 years, and it’s all there. So many different cultures are represented here, it’s a city to just soak up!

Aug
12

Southern California is home to some of the most gorgeous beaches in the country, with nearly half the state’s boundaries surrounded by water. Every area has its own luxury resorts offering golfing and beaches, but weeding through the pack to find the best ones can seem daunting. To save time, here’s a list of some of the best resorts for beaches and golfing in Southern California.

Some might argue that the best golfing in the country is in Palm Springs, but for those looking to also the enjoy the beach, Palm Springs is too far removed from the ocean. Instead look to San Diego. The Pala Mesa Golf Resort offers proximity to Carlsbad Beach, and Oceanside Beach, and an 18 hole par-72 golf course on site. The Pala Messa Golf Course was named one of the top 10 golf courses in the county in 2006. Located near the resort are a variety of other opportunities including wine tasting and hot air balloon rides. For the golfers, the resort also offers a special “Unlimited Golf Package” that includes two days of golf and a room at the resort, starting at only $99 a night.

Orange County is another option in Southern California, and the best resort with both great beaches and golfing is Laguna Rivera Resort on the Beach in Laguna Beach. For the beach enthusiast, the resort provides free rentals of water equipment including surfboards. The resort also has a close proximity to some of California’s biggest attractions such as Disney Land, Crystal Cove State Park, and is less than an hour from Hollywood. Hotel rates begin at $99 a night.

The nearest golf course to Laguna Rivera is the Aliso Creek Golf Course. Vacationers might prefer the Aliso Creek Golf Inn on the property, though it depends on what they prefer; golfing or the beach. Laguna Rivera offers beach proximity, but a short drive to the golf course, with the opposite at Aliso Creek; a short drive to the beach, but onsite golfing. Room prices at Aliso Creek began at $134 a night, and they also offer executive suites and penthouses. Aliso Creek is also home to the Canyon Lodge American Grill steakhouse. Other than their 9 hole, par-32 golf course, vacationers can take lessons from a pro, spend time in their spa, or take a trip to the Aliso State Beach.

Many visitors to Southern California immediately think of Los Angeles and in LA, the top choice for a golf and beach resort is The Tower Beverly Hills. Amenities at the resort include laundry service, a fitness room, and an outdoor pool. Venice Beach and several golf courses are located within a ten minute drive. Prices range from $150-300 a night. Visitors can check out the sites and sounds of Hollywood when they need a break from the beaches and golfing.

The Avalon Hotel is the best option for those vacationing on Catalina Island. This gorgeous hotel has free internet, in-room refrigerators, and is just minutes from the historic Casino Building. After enjoying a dip in the ocean, play a round of golf at the Catalina Golf Course with its two 18-hole courses. Prices begin at $195 per night, and they have a special deal running now; book a stay online in September or October, start on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, and get a night’s stay free.

The best resorts in Southern California must have beach access and a quality golf course within a short distance. The resorts listed above offer both, and a whole lot more.

Aug
11

While Rome, affectionately referred to as la Città Eterna (“the Eternal City”), is often visited due to its rich history, its stunning architecture or renowned cuisine, later this month from the 18th to the 27th of October, visitors can experience the Rome Film Festival. Although it is only in its second year, it has attracted a high number of private sponsors, and the City Council of Rome, in the name of the Mayor and film-buff Walter Veltroni, the Province of Rome and the Lazio Region all strongly support it both in terms of institutional communication and economic investment.

The actual title of the festival in Italian is Festa, which could be translated as feast, not festival, and is apt, since it is more a celebration of the joy of cinema than a regular film festival. Indeed, though the Rome Film Festival’s jury includes a renowned director as its president, last year Ettore Scola, the rest of the 50 jurors are not film professionals but are, in fact, regular moviegoers selected both in Italy and Europe.

Although it enjoys fierce rivalry with the Venice Film Festival, The Rome Film Festival has attracted its own audience and this year will host the world premiere of 11 new films. Among the most exciting is ‘Youth Without Youth’ – Francis Ford Coppola’s first feature film in a decade. The film is about a timid Romanian professor who becomes young again after being hit by lightning. The five-time Oscar-winning director wrote the film based on a novella by Romanian philosopher-author Mircea Eliade and has been described as his “third renaissance” after ‘Apocalypse Now’ and ‘The Godfather’.

Coppola’s film appears out of competition, along with a number of American films exploring the political climate post 9/11. These include Robert Redford’s ‘Lions for Lambs’ and Gavin Hood’s ‘Rendition’. ‘Lions for Lambs’ stars Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep and tells the story of two soldiers wounded behind enemy lines in Afghanistan and the repercussions back home. ‘Rendition’ is about an American woman trying to track down her Egyptian-born husband, who is held at a secret CIA detention centre. It also stars Meryl Streep, as well as Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon.

The 14 movies in competition for the top Marcus Aurelius award for Best Film include ‘El Pasado’ (The Past), with Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal, ‘Li Chun’ (translated as ‘And the Spring Comes’) from China’s Chang Wei Gu, ‘Barcelona (un mapa)’ (translated as ‘Barcelona, a Map’) by Spain’s Ventura Pons and Alain Corneau’s ‘La Deuxieme Souffle’ (translated as ‘Second Wind’), starring Monica Bellucci and Daniel Auteuil. Separate awards for Best Actress and Best Actor, as well as a special jury prize, will also be handed out.

In addition to the more mainstream fare, the festival also boasts dedicated sections for alternative productions and documentaries, children films, first films by new directors and the craft of acting.

Visitors wishing to experience the Rome Film Festival can take advantage of cheap flights to Rome’s two main international airports, Leonardo da Vinci International Airport, more commonly known as “Fiumicino airport”, and Ciampino International Airport. From either airport travellers can catch a train or bus or arrange private transfer to get to their final destination with ease. Hotels in Rome can be booked online in advance, which is recommended, especially due to the popularity of the festival. Last year’s inaugural edition attracted half-a-million visitors and this year is looking to top that.

Aug
11

What is a Cuttlefish?

My wife and I returned from our two week trip to Italy not too long ago. We had an amazing time. We visited Rome, Tuscany, Florence and Venice. The art was stunning, as I stood in awe before a Michelangelo sculpture and asked myself how he could create such life and movement out of marble. The views from the Tuscan hill towns of the vineyards and rolling hills were amazing. And then there was the food. The freshest mozzarella, perfectly ripe, red tomatoes, and gelato in every flavor including grapefruit, pistachio and stracciatella (chocolate chip). And then there was the cuttlefish.

One evening in Venice, I felt like a change of pace from pasta and I wanted fish. I saw an item on the menu listed as cuttlefish. So I said to the waitress, whose English was not very good: “What is cuttlefish?” She said: “It’s cuttlefish.” And I said: “What is cuttlefish?” And she said: “It’s just cuttlefish.” Not getting anywhere, I decided to be adventurous and I went ahead and ordered it. A few minutes later a plate arrived with many black pieces of squid on it.

Now this was a big problem because I follow the Jewish dietary rule which prohibits eating shellfish of any kind. I tried to explain to the waitress that I am Jewish and do not eat shellfish. She had no idea what I was talking about. So I sent it back, ordered the sea bass, which was terrific, and I ended up paying for two meals.

What did I learn from my culinary adventure in Venice? I realized that not everything labeled as a fish has fins and scales. But I also learned another lesson about mishaps and mistakes. When I think back on our Italy trip, I will remember the times when everything went well. But I will also think of my cuttlefish story and others stories that I do not have time to share, like how we got lost in Tuscany and almost had to sleep in the car.

I suspect that we all have these kind of travel stories. Times when we reserved the dirtiest hotel room ever that looked great on the internet. Or when the rental car broke down in the middle of nowhere. At the time, we might say to ourselves: This is terrible, what a disaster. But then something funny happens. We get back from the trip. We look at each other and we smile and laugh about the problem. And we tell the story for years to come.

So I asked myself: Why is it that the best travel stories are not about the perfect view or the amazing piece of art, but the time when you

Aug
11

It all began for the Piazza as early as the 9th century when it was a much smaller space than it is today. In 1177, changes and additions were made to the square before the meeting of Pope Alexander III and Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Additional buildings were added in 1640 and the newest buildings in 1810 were specially made at the request of Napoleon. Although named as a square, according to its shape this square is actually a trapezoid and the length of the Piazza is 175 meters.

There is no shortage of archaeological delights in Venice and there is plenty to see at Piazza San Marco. From this unique plaza, one may tour the St. Mark’s basilica that is a famous cathedral adorned with domes and attractive mosaics. One may visit the Palazzo Ducale di Venezia which is a gothic palace that was the place of residence of the Doge of Venice. Among other special features and attractions, one may also view the Torre dell’Orologico, the Clock Tower that has become a part of Venetian culture as it has been striking the hour for over 500 years.

The Piazza San Marco has always been known as a place of central importance to the people of Venice. This is rather like an extraordinary museum out in the open air, filled with enchantment and architectural masterpieces. It is reported that Napoleon referred to the Piazza San Marco as the “finest drawing room in Europe”. Today, the Piazza continues to attract guests and has proved to be a very popular venue for tourists.

The Piazza hosts cafes and souvenir shops even bags of food for the pigeons can be purchased. It is probably true that a majority if not all of the tourists visiting Venice have their photographs taken with pigeons in the background at the Piazza San Marco.

Hotel accommodation can be found within walking distance of the Piazza San Marco. It probably should be noted that the price of vacation rooms close to the Pizza itself will be higher than accommodation that is situated a bit further away in a quieter area. Various levels of holiday accommodation may be found west of the Piazza, east of the Piazza, north of the Piazza and along the waterfront.

Many people would recommend that the best time to visit the Piazza San Marco is during the early evening. At this time, the square is lit up and [takes on] a lively, unique and even romantic atmosphere. Musicians begin to play and sometimes people begin to dance. This special square seems to have a character and personality all of its own.

Today the Piazza San Marco continues to be a very popular gathering place in Italy. This site hosts historical buildings steeped in tradition and culture, indoor and outdoor cafes, buildings of architectural interest, stones, monuments, artistic structures, traders, pigeons, people, bustle and perhaps best of all no cars.

Aug
11

The Grand Canal Shoppes in Macau is an exact replica of its sister property in the gambling city of Las Vegas. It is a shopping mall inspired by the Italian port city of Venice and has exquisite baroque themed architecture which gives it an authentic Venetian feel. However, at 968,000 square feet of shopping space the mall is twice as large as its sister property in Vegas.

The Grand Canal Shoppes in Macau is the epitome of luxury shopping malls with its elaborately themed decorations, architecture and appropriate street entertainment, the mall feel as if a part of Venice were transported to Asia and leased out to designer stores. The mall has three large indoor canals through which visitors can take a relaxing ride on a Gondola- an open air boat that is unique to Venice and to add a bit of Asian flavour, visitors can opt to also have a Dragon boat ride.

The shopping mall features more than 350 outlets by luxury and designer brands, an 86,000 square foot Spa, twenty high end restaurants, a thousand seat food court and a hip and happening night club. Even live theatrical performances are available on evenings with crowds usually in excess of 1800 in attendance. Some of Venice’s landmarks have been replicated at Grand Canal Shoppes, places like St. Mark’s square hosts carnival like events and also features a bevy of street performers.

There is absolutely no shortage of hotels in Macau, as it has become the most popular vacation spot in Asia. A number of international hotels and resorts have ventured here to capitalize on the booming tourist arrivals to the area. Luxury Macau hotels are some of the best in the world with many internationally renowned brands involved in the sector.

Aug
10

For a millennium, Venice has provided inspiration for artists and writers. This coveted city is made up of 118 islands linked by 453 bridges. Each corner of town exhibits individual architectural magnificence, the city combining as one to form a spectacular theatrical stage set.

Beautiful churches adorn the banks of the Grand Canal as she snakes her way through the city. This main artery is at the centre of a myriad of canals running throughout the town.

The lifeblood of Venice is its tourism, a magnet for over 12 million visitors a year. Catering for this influx of visitors, the cities population of 70,000 people continue their daily lives, working the bars, cafes and restaurants.

Despite all this however, it seems that Venice is slowly sinking at the rate of approximately 2 inches every century. Terrible floods in 1966 caused much doom mongering and many people feared that Venice was about to be taken off the map.

The threat to remove funding for vital restoration projects gave serious cause for concern and prompted an urgent response to save the city. It was feared imminent flooding could completely destroy the city; preventative measures were high priority.

The efforts of the past two decades have had considerable success. Reduced pollution, shipping and the restoration of natural sandbanks have all contributed to the cause.

The first settlers of Venice were those fleeing the Barbarians around 400 AD. To create solid foundations for their buildings they drove timber into the mud and began creating a community for their people.

The city’s emblem, the winged lion, derived from Saint Mark the Evangelist. The first significant church of Venice was built in the ninth century to house the relics of Saint Mark, and his emblem was soon adopted.

Venice’s trade brought great wealth and prosperity to the city and for many centuries it continued to grow. The city thrived on its colonies and invested its riches wisely. Churches and palaces became commonplace, as were museums to house many newly acquired works of art.

For the past couple of centuries however, the obvious lack of development space meant the city found it difficult to advance further. Wars with Turkey were a drain on the resources and so Venice was content to consolidate.

Despite this, Venice does not rest on its laurels. Every visit offers something new, a fresh experience to take home. Each region of the city has an individual charm, giving the sense there is always something special around each corner.