When I think of vacation the first thing that comes into my mind are beaches. I could imagine myself walking along white, fine-powdered sand; the heat of the sand as it tickles my feat.
And not far away is a crystal clear ocean with gentle waves; a perfect place to go for a swim or some surfing. Oh, let us not forget about taking a swim with fishes.
These are my dream and ideal vacation place. Luckily this dream can be a reality at GALAPAGOS ISLAND.
Baltra Island (right) and Santa Cruz Island (left) (1)
Galapagos Islands are archipelago islands at the eastern Pacific Ocean. It occupies a total of 50, 000 square kilometers with 18 islands. It is located 906 kilometers east of Ecuador, which it is part of.
It became famous because of Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution by natural selection. Aside from this, the group of islands is well-known as the home of various endemic species and wildlife. Within its territory is a national park and biological marine reserve.
Galapagos Islands with the name of its islands
Below is a list of the notable things on Galapagos Islands.
• Baltra (South Seymour) Island
Baltra Island is located at the center of the group of islands. Because of its strategic geographic location, an airport (Baltra Airport) was built. This is one of the two airports serving the area.
• Bartolome (Bartholomew) Island
Bartolome Island is considered to be one of the younger islands in the area. It is currently home to the Galapagos Penguin and green turtle.
Bortolome Island with Pinnacle Rock on the right (2)
• Darwin (Culpepper) Isalnd
The island has a total area of 1.1 square kilometers and is the home to fur seals, frigates, marine iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, sea lions, whales, marine turtles, and Nazca boobies.
Darwin’s Arch at Darwin Island (3)
• Espanola (Hood) Island
Espanola Island could be found at the southernmost area. It also dates back to 3.5 million years, making it the oldest island in the area. The total land area of the island is 60 square kilometers. One could find lava lizard, mockingbird, and tortoise in the island.
Tourists can stay at Gardner Bay or Punta Suarez. Gardner Bay is famous for its beach which is ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Punta Suarez on the other hand is great for encountering animals and wildlife.
• Fernandina (Narborough) Island
Fernandina occupies a total land area of 642 square kilometers on the westernmost section of the archipelago. The island is considered to be the youngest among the 18 islands.
On the said island one could find Punta Espinosa, a perfect place to sight marine iguanas. Other species that one could find include the flightless cormorants, Galapagos penguins, pelicans, Galapagos sea lions, and Galapagos fur seals.
• Floreana (Charles or Santa Maria) Island.
The island has an area of 173 square kilometers. The island has a rich and colorful history. Furthermore, tourists would love the sight of flamingos and green sea turtles. A species that is uniquely found on the island is the Galapagos petrel.
Floreana Island (4)
• Genovesa (Tower) Island
Genovesa Island is also known as the “bird island.” This is because of the numerous avian species living on the island. A few of the species that you could find are frigate birds, swallow-tailed gulls, red-footed boobies, noddy terns, lava gulls, tropic birds, doves, storm petrels, and Darwin finches. You should not also miss the Palo Santo forest on the island.
Frigate bird (5)
• Isabela (Albemarle) Island
The largest island on the archipelago is Isabela Island with a total land area 4,640 square kilometers. The island is a merger of six large volcanoes forming a seahorse shaped island. Just like the other islands there are numerous animal species living on the island.
• Marchena (Bindloe) Island
The island has a total land area of 130 square kilometers and is the home to Galapagos hawks, sea lions, and the endemic Marchena lava lizard.
• North Seymour Island
This is one of the smallest island in the archipelago. One could find animals such as the blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, and frigate birds.
The beach at North Seymour Island in the Galapagos (6)
Some pictures of Blue-footed Bobby
• Pinzon (Duncan) Island
This is one of the smallest island with a total land area of 18 square kilometers.
• Pinta (Abingdon) Island
The island has an area of 60 square kilometers. Like neighboring islands, this is the home to sea lions, Galapagos hawks, giant tortoises, marine iguanas, dolphins, and Pinta tortoise also known as Lonesome George.
• Rabida (Jervis) Island
Rabida Island is distinct from neighboring islands due to high amounts of iron in the lava making it color red. Animals on the island include white-cheeked pintail ducks, brown pelicans, and finches.
Rabida Island (7)
• San Cristobal (Chatham) Island
San Cristobal Island was the first island Charles Darwin visited. The island is home to frigate birds, sea lions, giant tortoises, blue- and red- footed boobies, tropicbirds, marine iguanas, dolphins, and swallow-tailed gulls.
Aside from interacting with a wide variety of species, one can see and admire the beauty of the largest freshwater lake in the archipelago: Laguna EL Junco.
San Cristobal Island (8)
Tourists at the Mann Beach with sealions (9)
• Santa Cruz (Indefatigable) Island
On the island of Santa Cruz one can find the town of Puerto Ayora – has the largest population in the whole archipelago. Furthermore, the Charles Darwin Research Station and Galapagos National Park Service are located here; these two places are a breeding center for tortoise.
Other famous offerings of the island are the Black Turtle Cove – wherein sea turtles, rays and small sharks live, Cerro Dragon – the flamingo lagoon, and Tortuga Bay.
Puerto Ayora (10)
Tortuga Bay (11)
Galapagos tortoise on San Cristobal Island
• Santa Fe (Barrington) Island
• Santiago (San Salvador, James) Islands
The island is home to a number of species including marine iguanas, sea lions, fur seals, turtles, flamingos, dolphins, and sharks.
• Wolf (Wenman) Island
Similar to other islands, it is home to numerous species such as fur seals, frigate birds, Nazca and red-footed boobies, marine iguanas, sharks, whales, dolphins, swallow-tailed gulls, and vampire finch.
School of Hammerhead Sharks at Wolf Island (13)
Other islands are Daphne Major, South Plaza (Plaza Sur) Island, Nameless Island, and Roca Redonda.
In 1978 the whole Galapagos Islands were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In 1985 it was then declared as a biosphere reserve; and in 1986 and 2001 a marine reserve. In 1990, it became a whale sanctuary.
“Galapagos Islands.” Travel Guide. Web. 2 Feb. 2015. <http://wikitravel.org/en/Galapagos_Islands>.
“Galápagos Islands.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 2 Feb. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galápagos_Islands>.
1. David Adam Kess. Baltra Island (right) and Santa Cruz Island (left). December 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
2. Pete. Bartolome Island view, Galapagos Islands. Pinnacle Rock on the right. May 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
3. Movera. Darwin’s Arch. November 2008. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
4. Muggmag. View of Floreana Island, Galapagos Islands. N.d. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
5. Andreas Bjärlestam. Frigate Bird. 2005. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
6. David Adam Kess. The beach at North Seymour Island in the Galapagos. December 2012. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
7. Stephen Montgomery. Rabida Island. January 2010. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
8. Benjamint444. Panorama of the Island San Cristobal. January 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
9. Iris Diensthuber. Tourists at the Mann Beach with sealions. 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
10. David Adam Kess. Puerto Ayora. December 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
11. Alvaro Sevilla Design. Tortuga Bay. December 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
12. Prickly pear cactus and Swallow-tailed Gulls on Santa Fe Island. June 2008. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
13. Clark Anderson. School of Hammerhead Sharks, Wolf Island. October 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. February 2, 2015.
In a previous article here titled “Exploring Exotic Thailand” we had mention about Chiang Mai. Now we get a closer look at this rich historical city at Northern Thailand.
A street in Chiang Mai
OVERVIEW OF CHIANG MAI
Chang Mai had gained popularity through the years. In 2014, TripAdvisor, an online travel guide, ranked the city as one of the “25 Best Destinations in the World.” Some have also dubbed the city as “Rose of the North” because of its size, location and surroundings.
With a total land area of just over 40 square kilometers, it is the country’s fifth largest city. At an elevation of 316 meters, it stands a top of a peaceful village with abundance of greenery and vegetation.
The city of Chiang Mai dates back to the year 1296. Since those years, Chang Mai could only be reached via Ping River or an elephant trek.
Due to this difficulty in reaching the city, it had preserved its charm and uniqueness. And in the year 1920’s things changed. The city became more accessible and tourists were able to see this unique and charming city.
WHAT IS EXPECTED FROM THE CITY?
One could expect nothing but the best from this charming northern city. Tourists will get to see the walled ruins and temples dating back to the city’s establishment.
Here are just a few things that should not be missed.
The first thing could see are remaining walls. Although portions of the wall had been destroyed it still remains a vital part of the city in terms of tourism.
Ancient City Wall and Moat (1)
After seeing the ruined walls, one must see the temples. There at least 30 temples within the city, each having a distinguishing style such as Burmese, Sri Lankan, and Lanna Thai styles.
Each temple is adorned with beautiful wood carvings, Naga staircases, leonine and angelic guardians, gilded umbrellas and pagodas.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
The most sought after temple is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep also known as Doi Suthep. This Theravada Buddhist temple could be found on the slopes of Doi Suthep Mountain and overlooks the city of Chiang Mai. A few pf the things that could be seen include the Golden Buddha Statue and Green glass Buddha Statue.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (2)
Wat Chiang Man
On the other hand, Wat Chiang Man is a Buddhist temple complex built also in the city. The first temple was built in 1383 making it the oldest standing temple in the city.
Wat Chiang Man (3)
Baan Haw Mosque
Another religious place in the city is Hadaytul Islam (Baan Haw) Mosque. This is located at the Night Bazaar (which could be read more in a while). The façade is a mixture of Chinese and Arabic styles. Aside from being a mosque, the place also serves as a school every Saturday and Sunday. There is an average of 20 students enrolled here every year.
Baan Haw Mosque (4)
Chiang Mai Night Market
On the eastern side of the city one can spot Chiang Mai Night Market. Here one could purchase handicrafts, paintings, jewelry, toys, clothing, CDs, and DVDs. This is the place to buy souvenir items for yourself, family and friends.
Night Market (5)
But Chiang Mai is not all about temples, mosques, and shopping. No. It is more than that. There are a number of festivals celebrated here. Listed below are some of the well-known festivals:
Loi Krathong or Yi Peng
The festival of Loi Krathong is celebrated every November. It is tradition that decorated krathong (floating banana-leaf containers) is drifted along waterways. This tradition is done as worship to the Goddess of Water. At the same time sky lanterns are launched in the air in belief that it would drive away troubles.
Sky lanterns during Loi Krathong Festival (6)
Songkran is a celebration of Thai New Year during mid-April. During this festival there are other activities like citywide water fight, parades, and a beauty competition.
Water fight during Songkran Festival (7)
Chiang Mai Flower Festival
Every first weekend of February, a three-day festival is done called Chiang Mai Flower Festival. This is the time of year wherein flowers are in full bloom.
These are just some of the things to visit and experience at the charming city of Chiang Mai.
“Chiang Mai.” Travel Guide. Web. 16 Jan. 2015. <http://wikitravel.org/en/Chiang_Mai>.
“Chiang Mai.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 16 Jan. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiang_Mai>.
“Chiang Mai, Thailand – Lonely Planet.” Lonely Planet. Web. 16 Jan. 2015. <http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thailand/chiang-mai-province/chiang-mai>.
1. Aubrey, Jonathan. Ancient City Wall and Moat, Chiang Mai, Thailand. September 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 16, 2015.
2. Kovacheva, Alex. Golden mount in Thailang Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple. November 2013. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 16, 2015.
3. Damm, Heinrich. Wat Chiang Man, Chiang Mai, northern Thailand. October 1986. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 16, 2015.
4. Iceway12. Baan Haw Mosque, Chiang Mai Province, Thailand. June 2009. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 16, 2015.
5. Adbar. Night Market on Wua Lai Road in Chiang Mai. April 2003. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 16, 2015.
6. Takeaway. Sky lanterns during Loi Krathong Festival. November 2008. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 16, 2015.
7. Takeaway. Water fight during Songkran Festival. April 2009. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 16, 2015.
“It is more fun in the Philippines!”
This is the tourism slogan of the country that had attracted thousands of tourists to the country. Some of the top tourist destinations include Boracay, Palawan, Ilocos, Surigao, Davao, Cebu, Bohol, and many more.
And there is a good reason why foreigners are attracted to these islands. The hospitality of the Filipino people, good food, beaches, blend of culture, and history have contributed to the increase number of foreigners to the country.
One of the most famous tours and vacation itineraries is a trip to Cebu and Bohol.
Cebu Province consists of more than a hundred islands and islets. On the largest and main island, one could find Cebu City – the oldest city in the country.
On an adjacent island, Mactan Island, one can find Mactan-Cebu International Airport – second busiest airport in the country.Other popular islands in Cebu include Bantayan, Camotes, Malapascua, and Olango.
The province has been dubbed as the queen city of central Philippines wherein all commerce, trade, education and industry occurs.
But aside from being a business center, Cebu had been dubbed as the 7th best island destination in the Indian Ocean-Asia region in 2007 by Condé Nast Traveler Magazine.
It was also awarded the best Asian-Pacific island destination in 2004 (ranked number 7), 2005 (ranked number 8) and 2009 (ranked number 7).
Tourists have a chance to immerse in a rich cultural history, get a chance to stay at world class hotels, interact with whales, and many more.
A neighboring province is Bohol that consists of 75 islands and islets. The post popular island, aside from the main island is Panglao Island. Panglao is linked to the main island by a bridge.
Visiting the province one could see century old churches, pristine beaches, diving and snorkeling spots, resorts, the famous Chocolate Hills, and of course the endangered tarsier.
Location of Cebu and Bohol
Map showing proximity of Cebu and Bohol (1)
The two provinces, Cebu and Bohol are separated by the Cebu Strait. Cebu could be found on the west and Bohol on the east.
One could travel between the two provinces via ferry. There are several ferry companies operating within the two provinces.
What to see and do
Both provinces offer a lot. There are important landmarks, historical sites, and exciting activities that one could enjoy. Definitely boredom could not be felt when touring these places.
And to fully enjoy these provinces different tour packages are offered. Of course one could also create their own itinerary. Here are some things that could be done in both cities.
Basilica Minore del Santo Nino
Basilica Minore del Santo Nino (2)
Basilica Minore del Santo Nino or Minor Basilica of the Holy Child or simply Santo Nino Church could be found at the heart of Cebu City.
This church is known to be the oldest Roman Catholic Church in 1565 when Spanish explorers brought the image of Santo Nino de Cebu.
The church was inaugurated as a basilica in 1965 by Pope Paul VI stating it was “the symbol of the birth and growth of Christianity in the Philippines.”
Magellan’s Cross (3)
In 1521 when Spanish explorers led by Ferdinand Magellan reached the islands they brought a Christian cross and erected it in what we call Magellan’s Cross.
Years later, a chapel was built to protect the said cross. Currently it stands adjacent to the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino.
Cebu Taoist Temple
Cebu Taoist Temple
Another attraction in Cebu City is Cebu Taoist Temple which was built by the Chinese community. The most distinguishing feature of the temple is the entrance which mimics the Great Wall of China.
Because the temple is located on elevated ground, one gets a splendid view of downtown Cebu. The temple is open to public.
A ritual is performed including washing hands, walking barefoot inside the temple, and dropping two blocks of wood.
The orientation of the block of wood would determine if the prater is granted; if the two blocks of wood are facing up then the prayer is granted, else it is not.
Fort San Pedro
Fort San Pedro
Fureza de San Pedro or Fort San Pedro was built as a military defense structure against Muslims in 1738. However, it also became the fortress of Filipino revolutionaries in the 19th century.
Currently it serves as a landmark along Plaza Independencia near the pier.
Lapu Lapu Shrine
Lapu Lapu Shrine (4)
The Lapu Lapu Shrine at Lapu Lapau City was erected in honor of the Philippines first hero. It is a 22 meter statue made of bronze.
Magellan Shrine (5)
Another memorial place which is located at Mactan is Magellan Shrine. This shrine was built in 1866 to pay tribute to Ferdinand Magellan, a Portugese explorer who rediscovered the country. The shrine is the same place where he died.
Sinulog Festival 2009 (6)
The whole country in general has various festivities and one of the most famous is the Sinulog festival celebrated every third Sunday of January.
It is done in honor of the Holy Child Jesus of Cebu. The whole festival lasts for nine days and on the ninth day there is a Mardi-Gras like grand parade.
Aside from the Sinulog there are other festivals being celebrated at other citieslike Pintos Festival in Bogo, Karansa Festival in Danao, Panagtagboo Festival in Mandaue, and many more.
Chocolate Hills (7)
Bohol is famed for the Chocolate Hills. No, it is not a mountain of chocolate rather it is a natural wonder made of corals and limestone.
Corals and limestone have been covered with grass that during summer it becomes dry turning to a brown color, hence the name Chocolate Hills.
For years it had attracted thousands of tourists. There is a viewing deck and souvenir shop at one of the hills.
Phillipine Tarsier (8)
The tarsier is the world’s second smallest primate and could be found within the forests. In Bohol there is a conservatory (Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary) dedicated in protecting and taking care of them.
Guests are prohibited from taking flash photography and making any noise within the conservatory because these can cause disturbances to the tarsiers.
Loboc River Cruise
River cruise on Loboc River (9)
Another famous activity in Bohol is the Loboc River Cruise. Passengers get the chance to dine and be serenaded while cruising the river.
There are several stations in which children sing, while adults sell different native products. The whole cruise takes around an hour.
Blood Compact Shrine
Blood Compact Statue (10)
The Blood Compact Site was the venue of Sandugo which was a historic moment in Philippine history. It was the first treaty of friendship between Spain and the Philippines.
While in Bohol do not miss staying at Panglao Island. The island only occupies 80.5 kilometers and is connected to the main island by a road. It is divided into two parts: Dauis and Panglao.
On Panglao side one could find all the best beaches. One should not worry because there are numerous world-class hotels, budget accommodations, restaurants, and activities.
Loboc Ecotourism Adventure Park and EAT Danao
These two adventure parks are the newest attraction in Bohol. It features extreme activities for adventure seekers.
Century old catholic churches
Bohol in general has hundreds of century old churches. Since the colonization of Spaniards churches were built that stand until this day.
The most famed church in Bohol is Baclayon Church. In 1995 the said church was proclaimed a national historical treasure.
Baclayon Church (11)
Another historic church is Daius. It had gone renovations but still maintained the unique Spanish architecture. The most unique feature of the church is the well situated at the center of the altar.
Dauis Church (12)
Along Loboc River one could find Loboc Church with the unfinished bridge. It is declared as a National Historical Landmark and a National Cultural Treasure.
Aproniana Gift Shop
Before leaving the province do not forget to buy some souvenirs. And the best place to shop is at Aproniana Gift Shop at the town of Baclayon. The store offers shirts, plush toys, food, keychains and magnets.
However, in 2013 a strong earthquake with magnitude 7.2 devastated Cebu and Bohol causing massive destruction of infrastructure including old churches and buildings.
Two weeks after a typhoon battered the same regions causing more destruction and loss of lives.Currently, more than 1 year after the natural disasters, the people are coping up and returning to their lives. Business and tourism are also back.
Beaches, hotels, and parks are renovated to make a comfortable stay for their guests. Although historic buildings are still in rumbles, tourists are still visiting the provinces to see what was once the grandeur of central regions of the Philippines.
“2013 Bohol Earthquake.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 4 Jan. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Bohol_earthquake>.
“Bohol.” … Web. 4 Jan. 2015. <http://itsmorefuninthephilippines.com/bohol/>.
“Bohol.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 4 Jan. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohol>.
“Cebu.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 4 Jan. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cebu>.
“Cebu, Philippines – Lonely Planet.” Lonely Planet. Web. 4 Jan. 2015. <http://www.lonelyplanet.com/philippines/the-visayas/cebu>.
“Province of Bohol, Official Website!” Province of Bohol, Official Website!Web. 4 Jan. 2015. <http://www.bohol.gov.ph/>.
“Typhoon Haiyan.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 4 Jan. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typhoon_Haiyan>.
“Welcome to Bohol, Philippines.” Bohol.ph. Web. 4 Jan. 2015. <http://www.bohol.ph/>.
Welcome to Province of Cebu – Cebu Provincial Government.” Cebu Provincial Government. Web. 4 Jan. 2015. <http://www.cebu.gov.ph/>.
1. Magalhães. Locator map of Cebu Island, Philippines. October 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
2. Gonzalez, Mike. English: Basilica Minore del Santo Nino in Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines. February 2008. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
3. Editor999999. English: Magellan’s cross in Cebu City. April 2012. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
4. Alpapito. English: The statue of Lapu-Lapu. April 2012. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
5. Quebrado, Jayps. English: The Magellan Shrine. July 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
6. Rapayla, Marcelino Jr. Sr. Sto Nino Annual Fiesta Sinulog Festival 2009. January 2009. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
7. P199. Chocolate Hills, Bohol, Philippines. April 2009. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
8. Kok Leng Yeo. English: Philippine Tarsier. November 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
9. Ericlucky290. English: River cruise on the Loboc River. February 2008. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
10. P199. English: Blood Compact Statue. April 2009. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
11. Pinay06. Baclayon Church. November 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
12. Pinay 06. Dauis Church. November 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 4, 2015.
There are different types of travelers. There are those seeking parties, nightlife, and beaches. But there are also those looking for a sense of nature and spiritual growth. For those wanting the later, they could try travelling to Bhutan.
Bhutan offers a panoramic view of the Himalayas. This famous mountain range is known to be one of the hardest mountains to climb but the climb is worth it. Portions of the mountains are used as a retreat.
It is a perfect haven for those seeking spiritual growth. Aside from the magnificent backdrop of the Himalayas, the country has various festivities, temples, monasteries, and palaces.
Come let us explore a land bounded by other nations and yet stands out.
GEOGRAPHY and CLIMATE
Bhutan belongs to South Asia. It is surrounded by other countries such as Tibet on the north, India on the south, east and west and Nepal on the west. A part of the Himalayas is located on the within the borders of the country.
The whole country is generally mountainous. Peaks could rise up to 7000 meters; the highest is Gangkhar Puensum at a height of 7570 meters. In between the mountains are valleys with rivers following the contours of the mountains. The country’s geography makes it a nice habitat for animals and vegetation.
There are five seasons in Bhutan: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring.
The main mode of getting to Bhutan is by plane. There is only one international airport in the country, Paro Airport. There are also three domestic airports namely Yongphulla Airport in Trashigang which would be ready for use in 2015, Bathpalathang Airport in Bumthang District, and Gelephu Airport in Sarpang District.
Paro Airport (1)
Travelling between cities and towns is by road. The roads are interconnected allowing one to reach their destination. It is also very common to see people walking and riding their bikes. There are no trains linking the cities to each other.
People residing in Bhutan are Called Bhutanese and they are divided into groups: Ngalops or the Western Bhutanese, Sarchops or Eastern Bhutanese, Lhotshampa or Southerners that make up 45% of the whole population.
Vajrayana Buddhism is the country’s state religion. Approximately 75 percent of the whole population are Buddhist. The second largest religion is Hinduism.
The citizens speak Bhutanese or Dzongkha. Although some could speak and understand English.
Bhutanese people (2)
PLACES TO SEE
When we talk about Bhutan, we can easily associate it with mountain ranges, one is Jomolhari or Chomolhari which is part of the Himalayas. It could be found between the borders of Tibet, China and Bhutan.
It has a height of more than 2700 meters which had been climbed by a number of experienced mountaineers. Tibetan Buddhists consider the mountain sacred. On the slope facing Bhutan is the sacred Jomolhari Temple at a height of 4150 meters. These temple serves as a retreat for those looking for spiritual growth.
The topography of Bhutan consists of mountains with heights as high as 7000 meters high. The highest mountain is Gangkhar Puensum at a height of 7570 meters. The name of the mountain means “White Peak of the Three Spiritual Brothers.” It is said that no one had been able to reach the summit of the mountain. Climbing beyond 6000 meters is prohibited because of their spiritual beliefs.
Gangkhar Puensum (3)
Tucked on the slopes of the Himalayas is Paro Taktsang also known as Taktsang Palphug Monastery or Tiger’s Nest. This is a sacred Buddhist temple within the jurisdiction of Paro. The temple was built in 1692 against the steep slopes of the mountain at a height of 3120 meters.
It surrounds the Taktsand Senge Samdup, a cave where Guru Padmasambhaya prayed for three years, three months, three weeks, three days, and three hours during the 8th century. Within the complex are four main temples, residential shelters, eight caves (four of which serves as access to the temples), and images of Bodhisattvas.
Taltshang Monastery (4)
Another Bhutanese monastery worth visiting is Kyichu Lhakhang, which is famously known as Kyerchu Temple or Lho Kyerchu. This Himalayan Buddhist temple, located in Paro has deep history and spiritual connection dating back to the 7th century.
Kyichu Lhakhang (5)
Tashichhoedzong located at Thimpu, Bhutan is worth exploring. It is a two-storied whitewashed building. There are also four three-storied towers with triple-tired golden roofs on each corner of the building.
At the center is a large tower called utse. It was once used by the head of Bhutan’s civil government, the Dharma Raja as office in 1952. Currently is used as a throne room, and offices of the king, secretariat and ministries of home affairs and finance.
Approximately 7 kilometers to the north of Tashichhoedzong one could find Dechencholing Palace. The three-story palace is surrounded by willow trees, lawns and ponds. Architectural design was inspired by traditional Bhutanese style.
The palace was built in 1953 by the third King of Bhutan, Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuk as royal residency. Currently the palace is used to host international delegates, luncheons and banquets. It is also the home to the king’s family expect the present king himself. The present king resides in Samteling Palace or Royal Cottage.
The most magnificent infrastructure in Bhutan is Punakha Dzong or Pungtang Dechen Photrang Dzong which means “the palace of great happiness or bliss.” The building was constructed in between the years 1937 to 1938 in Panukha District as an administrative center.
This is the second oldest and second largest fortress in Bhutan. Until the year 1955 it was the administrative center and seat of government in Bhutan. Currently there are sacred relics on display here.
Punakha Dzong (7)
Aside from mountains, temples, monasteries, and palaces, one should also visit the National Museum of Bhutan. This cultural museum was built in 1968 in Paro and is home to the best of Bhutanese art. There are at least 3000 Bhutanese art on display here, all of which is a reflection of Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage.
National Museum of Bhutan (8)
“Bhutan.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 1 Jan. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhutan>.
“Eastern Bhutan.” Tourism Council of Bhutan (Official Website). Web. 1 Jan. 2015. <http://www.tourism.gov.bt/>.
“Kingdom of Bhutan | Bhutan Travel | Bhutan History, Culture | Bhutan Tourism.” Kingdom of Bhutan | Bhutan Travel | Bhutan History, Culture | Bhutan Tourism. Web. 1 Jan. 2015. <http://www.kingdomofbhutan.com/>.
“TOP 10 PLACES TO VISIT IN BHUTAN – Traveller’s Tales.” Travellers Tales. 12 June 2013. Web. 1 Jan. 2015. <http://www.panoramicjourneys.com/wp/index.php/top-10-places-to-visit-in-bhutan/>.
1. Shoestring. English: Paro Airport, the only airport in Bhutan. May 2009. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 1, 2015.
2. Reeve, Michael. English: Bhutanese people at the Wangdi Phodrang festival. September 2004. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 1, 2015.
3. Dhaag23. Gangkar Puensum. March 2010. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 1, 2015.
4. McLaughlin, Douglas J. Taktshang Monastery, Bhutan. September 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 1, 2015.
5. Fynn, Christopher J. Kyichu Lhakhang, Paro, Bhutan. July 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 1, 2015.
6. Fynn, Christopher J. English: Tashichho Dzong, Thimphu, Bhutan. 2001. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 1, 2015.
7. Hullot, Jean-Marie. Puntang Dechen Phodrang Dzong in Punakha, or “Punakha Dzong” , Bhutan. April 2005. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 1, 2015.
8. Davidow, Emily. National Museum of Bhutan, Paro. October 2005. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. January 1, 2015.
Through the years, Poland had gone through a lot. There was constant struggle to maintain independence. And after the Second World War, much of the country was destroyed. Luckily, with the help of the people, Poland was able to regain and build itself to what it is today.
Poland has a lot of interesting places worth exploring. There are natural wonders such mountain ranges, lake, and rainforests. Aside from these there are also man-made architectures that have a large cultural impact to the world. These combined creates a place like no other. Because of these uniqueness travelers all across the globe visit the country.
The humble country of Poland lies in Central Europe. It is bounded on the west by Germany, on the south by Czech Republic and Slovakia, on the east by Ukraine and Belarus, and on the north by the Baltic Sea, Kaliningrad Oblast, and Lithuania. With a total land area of 312,679 square kilometers, Poland ranks as the 9th largest country in Europe.
There are almost 40 million people residing in Poland. Out of this, majority (94 percent) are Polish. The remaining 6 percent are a mixture of Silesian, Belarusian, German, Ukrainian, and Kashubian. The most spoken and official language is Polish; other languages use include English and German. The country respects religious freedom
Before entering the beautiful country of Poland here are a few reminders:
• Prepare your passport. Poland is one of the countries who have agreed to the Schengen Agreement. This means, a Schengen Visa is required prior to entry.
• Always prepare cash. The currency used in Poland is Zloty.
• Learn their language. Although citizens could understand English and German, it is nice to know and have knowledge of basic Polish words. This gives you an advantage when haggling prices and talking to locals.
• Know the climate. Poland is generally a temperate country. But temperatures vary on the month and location. Southern and eastern regions are warmer compared to those on the northern and western section.
Once you have all those prepared, you are ready to travel to Poland.
There are different modes of transportation to get to the country. The most popular way is via plane. There are twelve (12) major airports: Warsaw-Modlin, Krakow, Katowice, Gdansk, Poznan, Wroclaw, Szczecin, Rzeszow, Bydgoszcz, Lodz, and Lublin.
These airports are served by the following flights: LOT Polish Airlines – the country’s official carrier, WizzAir, EasyJey, Germanwings, Norwegian, and Ryanair.
If you have time to spare, another alternative to reach the country is by train. There are railroads connecting Poland to countries like Berlin, Amsterdam, Kiev, Vienna, Prague, and Moscow.
Other ways to travel include bus, boat, and car. The benefit of travelling by car would allow tourists to have their own vehicle throughout their stay.
Once you are there are different ways to get around. The best and fastest way to travel between cities that are far away is by plane. Affordable means of travelling include the train, buses, and trams.
Be cautious when travelling on trains, some may offer cheaper prices but travelling conditions are poor. A better option would be the bus. Buses are more comfortable. Getting around using a private car is also possible just be wary on road signs.
Taxis are also widely used. But if you are athletic and wish to have a more pleasant and relaxing view of the surroundings would be by bicycle.
A highway in Krakow Poland (1)
PLACES TO SEE
After knowing the basics on Poland: geography, visa, currency, and transportation, it is time to know what one could do. Architectures were inspired by Renaissance, Baroque, and Art Nouveau.
top the hills are medieval castles and ruins. There are also fortresses and wooden churches.
Here are a few of those impressive infrastructures:
1. Wawel Castle at Krakow
The most historically and culturally important area in Poland is Wawel Castle. Architectural deisgn was inspired by the Goths. It was once the home to the great kings of the country and now a premier art museum.
Included in the collection of artworks are Italian Renaissance paintings, sculptures, textiles, tapestry collection, goldsmith’s work, armor, ceramics, and furniture.
Wawel Castle (2)
2. Chojnik Castle
Chojnik Castle could be found at a hill in southwestern Poland. The place of the castle gives it a scenic view of the valley below. Part of the castle had deteriorated but is still a tourist destination. As a matter of fact, some areas of the castle (areas that have not been damaged) are used as a hotel and restaurant.
3. Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa
This monastery is a well-known Polish shrine in dedication to the Virgin Mary; it is a common pilgrimage site for most devotees. The image of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa (Our Lady of Czestochowa) is the distinguishing feature of the monastery.
In 1994 the place is considered as one of the national Historic Monuments.
Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa (3)
Aside from these castles there are 14 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are widely visited by tourists. These sites include unique infrastructures and parks.
1. Malbork Castle
The Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork, or commonly referred to as Malbork Castle is the brick largest castle in the world. Teutonic Knights (German Roman Catholic religious order of crusaders) commissioned the castle to be built as an Ordensburg fortress. In 1994 the castle was declared as a Historic Monument.
The nearby museum with the same name was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1997.
2. Wooden Churches of Southern Lesser Poland
Wooden Churches of Southern Lesser Poland is a collection of churches that used horizontal log technique during its construction in the medieval times.
Old church in Sekowa
15 century St. Dorothy Church in Trzcinica
1672 St. Catherine Church in Gogolow
3. Kalwaria Zebrzydowska Park
In the year 1999, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska Park was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is also one of the Historic Monuments in Poland.
The park was built during the 17th century as a Counter Reformation and was a very popular pilgrimage park. Included in the park is the Basilica of St. Mary, Ecce Homo Chapel, Chapel of the Crucifixion, and Heart of Mary Chapel.
Church of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska (4)
4. Muskau Park in Leknica
Just between the borders of Poland and Germany is the famed Musau Park. 3.5 square kilometers of the total park area is under the jurisdiction of Poland and the other 2.1 square kilometers is under Germany.
The park was declared a World Heritage Site in 2004 by UNESCO. According to the organization, the park is “an exemplary example of cross-border cultural collaboration between Poland and Germany.” The same year, the park was included in Poland’s Historic Monuments.
Muskau Park (5)
Muskau Park, Germany in the foreground and Poland in the background (6)
5. Bialowieza National Park
Bialowieza National Park is another national park in Poland known as the “last untouched wilderness of Europe.” It measures a total of 152.2 square kilometers. It is famed for preserving the Bialowieza Forest which is the home to the European bison.
Białowieski Park Narodowy (7)
European bison in the natural habitat
Nature lovers would be glad at the solitude of the mountains. One could always go on a hike through the luscious forests and take a tip at rivers and lakes. There are a total of 23 national parks across the country. Here we have listed a few of the parks worth visiting.
1. Eagle’s Path in the Tatra Mountains
Orla Perc or Eagle’s Path is located at the southern region of Poland. This park is considered to be one of the most difficult and dangerous parks. Only experienced trekkers and mountaineers are allowed to walk these paths. It takes approximately 6 to 8 hours to complete the trek.
Eagle’s Park (8)
2. Masurian Landscape Park
A protected area in northern Poland is Masurian Landscape Park. It was built in 1977 and covers a total land area of 536.55 square kilometers, including Lake Sciardwy, the biggest lake in Poland.
Seksty Lake viewed from Kaczor Peninsula (9)
3. Bory Tucholskie National Park
Bory Tucholskie National Park was established in 1996 with a total area of 46.13 square kilometers. The park includes forests, at least 20 lakes, meadows, and peatlands. Within the park one can spot different species of fishes and birds. One can enjoy a yacht ride, use a bike, or simply stroll along the path.
Bory Tucholskie National Park (10)
4. Wolin National Park
Wollin National Park could be found on the island of Wolin, northwest of the main island. It covers a total land area of 109.37 square kilometers. Tourists visiting the place could get to see various species of animals, plants and vegetation.
5. Slowinski National Park
Slowinski National Park could be found at the northern regions of Poland, just along Baltic coast. It consists of lakes, forests, and a dessert. This is the only dessert place in Poland with sand dunes as high as 30 meters. Sand dunes were due to the waves and wind carrying the sand inwards. The place was declared as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1977.
Dune in Słowiński National Park (11)
Signpost in Słowiński National Park (12)
FOODS TO TASTE
Aside from the spectacular sites, one has got to taste the food. Their dishes involve the use pork, cabbages, mushrooms, beetroot and onion. And their desserts and pastries are simply delectable.
They serve various meals such as soups, stew, stuffed dumplings, and many more. Popular Polish dishes include Pierogi – similar to stuff dumplings, and Bigos – hunter’s stew.
They also added a twist to famous international food like baguette -they call it zapiekanka. The added Polish twist is the baguette being opened and covered with toppings of choice.
A traditional alcoholic drink is called mead. This is made from brewed honey. The most popular drink would be tea and coffee. Each cup of coffee is made to perfection.
Traditional foods from Poland (13)
“5 Awesome Places to Visit in Poland (besides the Obvious).” Snarky Nomad. 8 Sept. 2013. Web. 27 Dec. 2014. <http://snarkynomad.com/places-to-visit-in-poland/>.
“Poland.” Travel Guide. Web. 27 Dec. 2014. <http://wikitravel.org/en/Poland>.
“Poland.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 27 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poland>.
“Poland – Lonely Planet.” Lonely Planet. Web. 27 Dec. 2014. <http://www.lonelyplanet.com/poland>.
“Welcome to Poland! – Poland’s Official Travel Website – Poland’s Official Travel Website.” Welcome to Poland! – Poland’s Official Travel Website – Poland’s Official Travel Website. Web. 27 Dec. 2014. <http://www.poland.travel/en/>.
1. Halun, Jakub. English: A4 Highway in Krakow, Poland. August 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
2. Olszewski, Lukasz. Polski: Wawrl, widokz mostu Debnickiego. May 2009. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
3. Aw58. Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa. June 2010. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
4. Piwowarski, Cezary. Church of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, Poland.N.d. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
5. 32X. Park von Muskau, seen from the border bridge in south direction: Leknica and Bad Muskau are separated by the Lusatian Neisse. September 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
6. SchiDD. Deutsch: Englische Brücke im Muskauer-Pückler-Park. October 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
7. Karczmarz, Jacek. Białowieski Park Narodowy. 2010. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
8. Hochlik. Polski: Orla Perc. August 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
9. Ghalas. English: Seksty Lake viewed from Kaczor Peninsula. July 2008. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
10. Merlin. Bory Tucholskie National Park. N.d. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
11. Jones, Tony. English: Dune in Słowiński National Park. August 2014. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
12. Jones, Tony. English: Signpost in Słowiński National Park. August 2014. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
13. Silar. Deutsch: Die Ikonen der zeitgenössischen Volkskunst in Sanok. July 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 27, 2014.
Beaches – these are the most popular vacation destination. There are a lot of things to do here: sun bathe, swim, play beach volleyball, participate in different water activities, and so many more. It is a perfect place for the family and group of friends aka ‘barkada.’
Every continent, every country has its own beach destination they could be proud off. Here in the Philippines, the most popular beach destination is Boracay. Both locals and foreigners travel here not just during summer, but all year round.
It had been dubbed as the summer tourist destination. For years, it had received praises, recognitions, and awards from various travel publications and agencies both locally and internationally. A few awards received by the island include recognition from Travel + Leisure magazine as the best island in the world in 2012.
Sand sculpture on the shores of Boracay (1)
Boracay is located northwest the shores of Panay Island; it is about 315 kilometers south of Manila, the capital. It is a narrow island measuring seven kilometers in length, and the narrowest width of less than a kilometer. It has a total land area of 10.32 square kilometers.
Boracay Island (highlighted in red) located on the northwestern shores of Panay Island
To get to the island one would need to fly to either Kalibo International Airport or to Godofredo P. Ramos Airport also known as Caticlan Airport. The former airport, located at Kalibo, is approximately 68 kilometers from Caticlan jetty port.
One would need to ride a bus or van for two to three hours before arriving at the jetty port. However, it is the larger airport compared to Caticlan Airport. It also serves international flights to Taipei, Seoul-Incheon, Busan, Shanghai, Chengdu, Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur.
From the airport, tourists would go to Caticlan Jetty Port to ride a boat and cross the straight dividing Panay Island and Boracay. This is boat ride would take approximately 10 to 20 minutes.
The boat shall land on Cagban Beach when weather conditions are favorable. Otherwise, the boat shall land on Tambisaan Beach which would take an added few minutes on the boat.
Once on the island, there are three modes of transportation: motor-tricycles along the major roads, walking along the white powdery beach, or ride pedicabs or sikads that are available along the beach. There are several stalls renting mountain bikes, quad bikes and motorbikes.
Boracay is an island, thus, one expects to see endless beaches. And the island does deliver this and many more.
Tourists are amazed on the dazzling beauty and crystal waters of the beaches. The most famous beach on the island is the four kilometer long White Beach on the west side. This has been highly developed with hotels, resorts, lodging houses, bars, restaurants, and other establishments.
It is very common to see locals offering massages on the beach to tourists. At night, there are fire dancers, drummers and parties. The nightlife here runs until dawn. The beach could be divided into three stations: Station 1, Station 2, and Station 3.
From the three, Station 1 has the most beautiful beaches. It is the quietest due to less people residing at the area. Prominent and expensive hotels are located here.
Beach scene at Boracay (2)
An attraction that is hard not to notice is Willy’s Rock.
Willy’s Rock (3)
At Station 3 one could find the famous souvenir shop called Talipapa. It is a wet market where tourists could find all their basic needs, food, and souvenirs at a very affordable price.
D Talipapa at Station 3 (4)
Opposite White Beach is Bulabog Beach. This area is recognized for windsurfing, kiteboarding. cliff diving, and parasailing.
Parasailing in Boracay, Philippines (5)
Aside from these two beaches there are others that are equally beautiful and relaxing. Some beaches worth mentioning include Puka Shell Beach or Yapak Beach, Diniwid Beach, Manoc Manoc Beach, Balinghai Beach, and many more.
A good activity to do while at Boracay is island hoping. A lot of locals offer tourists and guests reasonable prices to visit different islands. They also include activities like snorkeling, helmet diving and scuba diving.
On one island, locals would offer to cook fresh fish for you. This may be more expensive, but it is definitely worth it. Some islands to be visited and seen are Crocodile Island, Crystal Cove Island, and Bat Caves. Island hopping activity could last at least a half day.
Island tour at Boracay (6)
Spending a night at Boracay is not enough to enjoy everything that the island has to offer. The place is best enjoyed with family and friends. So book your tickets, plan your trip, start packing your bags, and prepare your swimwear.
“Boracay.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 15 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boracay>.
“Boracay, Philippines – Lonely Planet.” Lonely Planet. Web. 15 Dec. 2014. <http://www.lonelyplanet.com/philippines/the-visayas/boracay>.
“Boracay, Philippines Tourism.” Boracay Tourism and Vacations: 100 Things to Do in Boracay, Philippines. Web. 15 Dec. 2014. <http://www.tripadvisor.com.ph/Tourism-g294260-Boracay_Aklan_Province_Panay_Island_Visayas-Vacations.html>.
“I Love Boracay Beach.” I Love Boracay Beach Site Wide Activity RSS. Web. 15 Dec. 2014. <http://boracay.com/>.
“Kalibo International Airport.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 15 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalibo_International_Airport>.
1. Capanzana, Kristine. Sand sculpture on the shores of Boracay. June 2013. Photograph. December 15, 2014.
2. Ramos, Angelo Juan. Beach scene, the Philippines. August 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 15, 2014.
3. Capanzana, Kristine. Willy’s Rock of Boracay. June 2013. Photograph. December 15, 2014.
4. Capanzana, Kristine. D’ Talipapaat Station 3. June 2013. Photograph. December 15, 2014.
5. Venezuela, Vilson. Parasailing in Boracay, Philippines. May 2014. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 15, 2014.
6. Capanzana, Kristine. Island Tour at Boracay. June 2013. Photograph. December 15, 2014.
When people travel, whether for work, business or leisure it is hard not to taste and have a bite of their local cuisine. Each and every country would have their own signature dish and taste. Their food is a reflection of who they are and their rich cultural pass as well as traditions. The food becomes part of a country’s identity.
When we ask people which would be their favorite cuisine some would answer Thai, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, French, Mexican, Spanish, and even English food to be the best. According to an article by CNN Travel entitled “Which Country has the Best Food?” (1) the best food would be from Italy.
According to a fan of Italian dishes, “Italy has been a foundation on which the worlds cuisine has been built, it has also been adopted by countless cultures across the globe. With rich aromas, robust flavours and a knack for utilizing everything in cooking Italy comes to the forefront in the world of cuisine.”
For years, Italian chefs have improved and perfected their cuisine like no other. They have mastered the perfect blend of sauces, art of desserts, and texture of pastries. Their dishes are not complicated, but still exquisite. Truly, Italian dishes are perfect comfort foods.
Let us get started on a gastronomic adventure on different must try dishes of Italy.
Wine is the perfect partner of any Italian food. Do not be surprised when you see tourists and locals drinking wine while having lunch since that is very common. As a matter of fact Italy is one of the largest wine producing countries in the world. Aside from supplying their own wine, they export it different parts of the world.
The most famous Italian bread would be piadina or piada. This is a traditional flatbread made from flour, lard or olive oil, salt, and water. It had been a staple Italian food. Other breads include michetta, pane sciocco, rosetta, and taralli.
Wine plus bread plus cheese equals the perfect relaxing afternoon. Whip these three foods together for a friend or even for yourself and for sure you will enjoy yourself.
One could never go wrong with pizzas. There are different variations of pizzas throughout the country. It could be as simple as mozzarella and tomato called pizza margherita. It could also have toppings like rosemary and olive oil also known as a prosciutto, tomato based with oregano and garlic called a marinara pizza, or to more complicated pizzas with mushrooms, artichokes and olives called pizza capricciosa. A unique variation of pizza is the calzone which is folded pizza filled with ricotta and other ingredients.
Pizza margherita (2)
And how could one forget the famous Italian pastas? Their pasta comes in all shapes, sizes and colors: flat, round, elbow and bow shaped. To start it off they have ragu alla Bolognese or simply spaghetti bolognaise, carbonara, fettuccine alfredo, lasagna, ziti, ravioli, and Tagliatelle.
An added twist to their pasta is gnocchi – soft dough dumplings consisting of wheat, egg, cheese, potato, and breadcrumbs. One could always add an ingredient or two for uniqueness.
Fettuccine Alfredo topped with shrimp
Tagliatelle al ragù alla Bolognese (4)
Gnocchi with ricotta (5)
Aside from pizza and pastas, Italians also serve rice. Their most famous rice dish is the risotto – rice cooked in broth until it reaches a creamy consistency. More often than not it is served first during dining. Each region it Italy has its own way of preparing and cooking the risotto.
Italian restaurants also serve fish, meat, and vegetable dishes. The most popular Italian pork dish is Ragu which is commonly turned into a thick tomato sauce. Bistecca alla Fiorentina is a native dish from Florence using cattle meat. Veal is also popular in Milan; the best veal meal would be Osso Buco. For vegetable dishes try Caponata.
Always leave room for desserts. One would drool at the site of their desserts. It is esthetically appealing and scrumptious to the eyes. The best Italian desserts are cannoli. These are pastry tubes filled with a sweet and creamy filling. Semifreddo on the other hand are Italian ice cream cakes. Another Italian dessert would be the panna cotta which means cooked cream. And of course, Italian dessert would never be complete without the famous gelato or ice cream.
Panna cotta (8)
Without doubt, Italian dishes have captured the hearts, stomachs and taste buds of everyone. At every corner of Italy, one could taste an extraordinary dish that will make you crave for more.
1. “Which Country Has the Best Food?” CNN Travel. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. <http://travel.cnn.com/explorations/eat/worlds-best-food-cultures-453528>.
“Countries with the Best Food – Top Ten List – TheTopTens.com.” Countries with the Best Food – Top Ten List – TheTopTens.com. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. <http://www.thetoptens.com/countries-with-the-best-food/>.
“Italian Cuisine.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_cuisine>.
“Italian Food Recipes And Cuisine Ideas – Italian.Food.com.” Italian Food Recipes And Cuisine Ideas – Italian.Food.com. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. <http://italian.food.com/>.
“The Best Cuisine in the World – as Voted by You | Photo Gallery.” The Best Cuisine in the World – as Voted by You. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. <http://www.roughguides.com/gallery/the-best-cuisine-in-the-world-as-voted-by-you/#/15>.
“To 10 Italian Cuisinea – Ranked by Food Author Howard Hillman.” To 10 Italian Cuisinea – Ranked by Food Author Howard Hillman. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. <http://www.hillmanwonders.com/cuisines/italian_cuisine.htm>.
1. Kobako. Piadina Riminese (Italian filled flatbread). January 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 17, 2014.
2. Capello, Valerio. English: Picture of an authentic Neapolitan Pizza Margherita. September 2005
3. Mario 56. Pizza-braises. October 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 17, 2014.
4. Vighetto, Ivan. Tagliatelle al ragù alla Bolognese. April 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 17, 2014.
5. Paoletta S. Gnocchi with ricotta. June 2008. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 17, 2014.
6. Piscolla, Paolo. Cannolo siciliano with chocolate squares. November 2008. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 17, 2014.
7. Hiro. Panna Cotta with cream and garnish. February 2010. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 17, 2014.
We have been in search of famous tourist destinations around the world. To name a few of those recognized worldwide: Singapore, Hongkong, Malaysia, Sydney, New York, and London. There are also cities that are developed, have great architectural influence, and a unique natural beauty that are less common. One city that is worth mentioning is Tel Aviv in Israel.
The city of Tel Aviv ranks as the fifth most visited city in the Middle East. It had been dubbed as “the City that Never Sleeps” and a “party capital” due to its nightlife.
Tel Aviv, also known as Tel Aviv-Yafo could be found along the Mediterranean coast of central-west Israel. It is about 60 kilometers northwest of Jerusalem. The city consists mainly of flattened sand dunes, cliffs, and the Yarkon River.
Generally the climate at Tel Aviv is Mediterranean.
People experience the coldest during the months of December to February. Temperatures could drop from 9 to 17 degrees Celsius. August is the warmest month with temperatures ranging from 24 to 30 degrees Celsius. Despite these temperature ranges, people could experience at least 300 days of sunshine. Rainy season starts from September to May.
Tel Aviv comprises mostly of Jews (about 91.8 percent of the total population) coming from Europe, North America, South America, Australia, Africa, India, and Arabian Peninsula. Other groups include Muslims and Arab Christians. The predominant language of the city is Hebrew. Although there are some who could speak other languages.
Just like any other developed city, Tel Aviv has developed a systematic and organized transportation system.
To get to the city, one could travel by plane and arrive at Greater Tel Aviv’s Ben Guiron Airport which is 15 kilometers southeast of the city. It is an international airport serving to more than 14 million passengers. Airline companies operating here include El Al, Arkia Israel Airlines, Israir Airlines, and Sun D’Or International Airlines. Another airport option would be Sde Dov which is within the city. But this airport only caters to domestic flights.
Once inside the city, the main mode of transportation would be by train. There are a total of four train stations located within the city: Tel Aviv Central, Tel Aviv University, HaShalom, and HaHagana. These trains do not operate on Saturdays and holidays.
The major highway of the city is Ayalon Highway or Highway 20. From here there are exits to other highways.
There are three bus companies operating in the city: Dan Bus Company, Metropoline and Kavim. These buses serve the city and neighboring areas.
Taxis are also available. What is unique to their taxi system is their guidelines. A group of taxis would share the same route number and route that they could operate. Taxi fares could either be standardized or metered.
Tel Aviv is also a bicycle friendly city. The municipality encourages its citizens to use bicycles. As a matter of fact, Tel-O-Fun was lunch in 2011. There were 150 bicycle stations built which provided bicycle rental within the city.
Places to see
1. White City
A place that should not be missed is Tel Aviv’s White City. It became popular due to the unique Bauhaus buildings. These buildings were inspired by German Jewish architects who migrated to the city in the year 1930’s. Tel Aviv had been recognized as the largest (more than 4000 buildings) collection of Bauhaus buildings.
In 2003 the area was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The international organization said Tel Aviv is “an outstanding example of new town planning and architecture in the early 20th century.”
Modernist building on Ben Yehuda Street, in White City (1)
2. Great Synagogue
Because of their religion, there are a lot of synagogues (approximately 544). The most popular is the Great Synagogue built in 1930’s. It was once a popular place of prayer and worship. But now, few people visit the synagogue including public figures who celebrate their Jewish wedding here.
3. Shalom Tower
Adjacent to the Great Synagogue is the Shalom Tower. It was built during the years 1963 to 1965 as an office tower. It was the first skyscraper of the country. There are a total of 34 floors with height of 120 to 130 meters.
Shalom Meir Tower (2)
4. Azrieli Center
After establishing Shalom Meir Tower, many skyscrapers were built. One of which is Azrieli Center.
Azrieli Center consists of a single base, a large shopping mall with three towers. The first tower, the Circular Tower, stands at a height of 187 meters or 49 floors which is the tallest. The topmost floor was an observation deck which gives a perfect view of Tel Aviv. The second tower, Triangular Tower, stands at 169 meters and has 46 floors. The third and last tower, the Square Tower stands at 154 meters and was the last to be built.
It occupies a total land area of 34,500 square meters.
Azrieli Center (3)
5. Rabin Square and Tel Aviv City Hall
There is also a city square open to public at Tel Aviv called Rabin Square. It was established in the year 1964. Just like other public squares, it had been the venue for rallies, demonstrations, parades and public events such as Independence Day.
To the north of the square one could find Tel Aviv City Hall. The city hall followed a Brutalist architectural design and was establish in 1966.
Recently there were criticisms on the aesthetic appearance of the square and city hall. Many planned to renovate the area to complement surrounding modern day skyscrapers. These plans were rejected in preservation of Tel Aviv’s history. To compensate an ecological water pool and a recreational area were built.
Rabin Square and City Hall (4)
6. Parks and beaches
Aside from the famous Rabin Square there are other developed parks (Hayarkon Park, Charles Clore Park, Independence Park, Meir Park and Dubnow Park) within the city. About 19% of the land is used as urban parks.
Hayarkon Park (5)
Aside from the parks, Tel Aviv is also famous for its beaches. Year after year it had ranks as one of the best beaches worldwide.
Beach at Tel Aviv (6)
7. Jaffa Clock Tower
The Jaffa Clock Tower dates back to 1900 to celebrate the 25th anniversary as ruler of Ottoman Sultan Abd al-Hamid II. This is just one of the many clock towers built for the same reason. It is a three story tower build using limestone. At the top, two clocks and a plaque were placed. The plaque gives recognition to Israelis who died during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
Jaffa Clock Tower (7)
“Azrieli Center.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azrieli_Center>.
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“Tel Aviv.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tel_Aviv>.
“Tel Aviv City Hall.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Nov. 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tel_Aviv_City_Hall>.
“White City (Tel Aviv).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_City_(Tel_Aviv)>.
1. Sambach. English: Modernist building on Ben Yehuda Street, in White City heritage district, Tel Aviv. 2008. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 12, 2014.
2. Shalom Meir Tower from the corner of Rothschild Blvd. and Herzl St. March 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 12, 2014.
3. Rastaman3000. English: Azriely Center, view from “Mifdal-Ha-Yovel,” Tel Aviv, Israel. May 2010. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 12, 2014.
4. Henzel, Ron. English: Rabin Square ecologic pool and Holocaust Memorial after renovation. In the back: Tel Aviv-Yafo City Hall. May 2011. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 12, 2014.
5. Utrecht1. English: Hayarkon Park with Hayarkon river flowing through it. November 2014. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 12, 2014.
6. Sambach. IDF soldiers cleaning a beach in Tel Aviv. 2007. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 12, 2014.
7. Jouan, Remi. Tour de l’horlage a Jaffa. October 2006. Commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. December 12, 2014.
We have already mentioned about Sydney’s central business district in a previous article. One could not underestimate the uniqueness of the City because of the different famous tourist attractions such as Darling Harbor, Port of Jackson, and Hyde Park. But there are more places to visit, see, and explore outside the City.
The country has been known to be the home of wombats, wallabies, koalas, and kangaroos. One could visit the zoo at Sydney to see and interact with these animals and many more. In addition to this, there are different water sport activities that could be done at the beach or inside a sport complex. Do not forget about a trip to the mountains. All of these are definitely breathtaking and worthwhile.
So what are we waiting for? Let us not waste any minute; it is time to explore other places in Sydney.
Our first stop would be the zoo. There are three prominent zoos in Sydney Taronga Zoo, Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, and Koala Park Sanctuary.
The most famous zoo in Sydney is Taronga Zoo.
Taronga Zoo (1)
Taronga came from the aboriginal word meaning “beautiful view.” This zoo has a spectacular view of eight zoogeographic regions and 2600 different animals and wildlife. It occupies 21 hectares. Included in the park is a “Rustic Bridge” – a popular landscape, platypus and nocturnal houses, waterfowl ponds and walkthrough rainforest aviary, veterinary quarantine center, friendship farm and seal theatre. As of this day continual improvements are being done to attract more and more tourists and students.
Another popular place to visit to see animals, particularly marine animals is Sea Life Sydney Aquarium. Sea Life Sydney Aquarium is the home to at least 700 species of fishes and other marine life. These animals are divided into 14 zones including Bay of Rays, Discovery Rockpool, Shark Valley, and a replica of the Great Barrier Reef.
If you want to see koalas then visit the Koala Park Sanctuary. As the name implies, the park is the home to numerous koalas. Aside from koalas, the park is the home of peacocks, penguins, cockatoos, dingos, emus, kangaroos, wombats and echidnas.
Koala Bear at Koala Park Sanctuary (2)
Another popular activity is visiting the beaches. Both foreigners and Australians love the beaches; it is ideal for surfing and sunbathing.
The most popular beach would be Bondi Beach. In 2008, the beach was added to the Australian National Heritage List. The beach is approximately 7 kilometers east of the City. The shores extend up to 1 kilometer. The beach had been divided into several sections depending on the current and strength of the waves. A section is allocated for surfers and the southern section. Other activities include beach volleyball, sunbathing, and simple wadding in the water. There are nearby cafes, restaurants, and hotels.
Bondi Beach (3)
Another popular beach on the northern areas of Sydney is Manly. Just like the former beach, Manly has several shops, restaurants and bars surrounding the area. One mode of transportation to the beach is via ferry from Circular Quay.
Another beautiful beach at northern Sydney is Palm Beach. It is approximately 41 kilometers away from the City. The most prominent landmark of this beach is the Barrenjoey Lighthouse, water reservoirs and lodges. There are also parks, sporting areas, golf club, sailing club, surf school, and life-saving classes. The best way to reach this place is by plane or ferry. One could also travel by bus and pass by all the scenic routes.
Barrenjoey Lighthouse (4)
Aside from beaches, another popular activity is the swimming complex. One popular swimming complex is Sydney Olympic Park. This sporting, cultural and leisure complex is situated 16 kilometers west of the City. In the year 2000 this was used during the Olympic Games. Currently, it is used to host the Sydney Royal Easter Shoe, Sydney Festival, Stereosonic, Big Day Out and other sporting events.
For adventurous people, try the Wet’n’Wild. This water park was recently opened in late 2013. Included in the park are water slides, wave pool, food and beverage stalls as well as retail outlets. The five slide towers surround a man-made beach.
A breathtaking site is Blue Mountains which is located 50 kilometers west of the City. This famous mountain forms a part of the Greater Blue Mountains Area, a World Heritage Site. The site was enlisted in the year 2000. Aside from admiring the beautiful mountain ranges, one would love the different vegetation and animals residing in the area. Tourist attractions in the area include the Edge Cinema, Giant Stairway, Three Sisters, Jenolan Caves, museums, and many more. One could either take a simple walk along the guided path or try rock climbing, biking, hiking and canyoning.
View of Jamison Valley. From left to right: Three Sisters, Mt. Solitary, and Narrowneck Plateau (5)
Three Sisters (6)
One of the columns inside Jenolan Caves
“Blue Mountains (New South Wales).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Mountains_(New_South_Wales)>.
“Bondi Beach, New South Wales.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bondi_Beach,_New_South_Wales>.
“Manly Beach.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manly_Beach>.
“Official Sydney Website – Things to Do, Accommodation, Events and Deals.” Official Sydney Website – Things to Do, Accommodation, Events and Deals. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://www.sydney.com/>.
“Palm Beach, New South Wales.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_Beach,_New_South_Wales>.
“Sea Life Sydney Aquarium.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Life_Sydney_Aquarium>.
“Sydney.” Australia, Attractions. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://www.australia.com/explore/cities/sydney.aspx>.
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“Wild Life Sydney.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Life_Sydney>.
1. Dawson, Alex. English: Taronga Zoo. September 2008. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 29, 2014.
2. Jerrye & Roy Klotz MD. English: Koala Bear. October 1970. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 29, 2014.
3. Lao, Athena. Bondi Beach. January 2011. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 29, 2014.
4. Horsnell, Mark. Barrenjoey Lighthouse. January 2007. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 29, 2014.
5. Blah12233. English: Panorama of the Blue Mountains. August 2010. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 29, 2014.
6. JJ Harrison. English: The Three Sisters, Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia. January 2010. commons.wikimedia.org. Photograph. November 29, 2014.
Planning to go to the city of dreams? One of the most famous city and over populated place in the world, New York City. Thinking of the best time to pay that city a visit? NYC is a great place to visit all year round! But each season does have its boon and bane.
If you don’t mind the cold weather, New York is best visited in Winter for tourists who want to see the glamour of this city during the holidays. You can go there in Spring too and enjoy NYC outdoors without the heat of summer or you can go there in Summer to attend free events under the heat of the sun. Fall is the most favorite season to be visited in New York but it can be the most expensive time to go there.
New York is the 27th biggest state in the United States. It’s located in the northeastern part of the United States of America.
The state shares its northwestern and northern border with Quebec and Ontario of Cana-da, eastern border with Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut, southern border with New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the Atlantic Ocean and western border with Ontario and Pennsylvania. The length of the boundary of New York is 2,301 km.
How to get there
Flying into New York City
New York has 3 major airports:
1. John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) for domestic and international flights.
2. LaGuardia Airport (LGA) for predominantly domestic flights & Canadian flights.
3. Newark Airport (EWR) for domestic and international flights.
If you are frugal, you might want to try Priceline or Hotwire to get the best fares,but they don’t always offer the best deals.
Where to stay in New York:
If you are planning to have a luxurious stay, here’s a small list of the most expensive ho-tels in NYC:
1. Four Seasons Hotel New York
The luxurious Four Seasons Hotel New York is located at 57 East 57th Street, Midtown East. Subway routes are N/R/W to 59th Street/Fifth Avenue. Prices range from $450 to $2100 per night.
2. New York Palace
The New York Palace is located at 455 Madison Ave, Midtown East. Subway routes areF/B/D/Q at 47th/50th Streets/Rockefeller Center. Price ranges from $225 – $1600 per night. You can visit their website and check their rates at http://www.newyorkpalace.com/.
3. The Peninsula-New York
Peninsula New York is located at 700 5th Avenue, Midtown. Subway routes are E/V at 53rd Street/5th Avenue; N/R/W at 59th Street/5th Avenue. Price ranges from $425 – $2450 per night. You can visit their website and check their rates at http://www.peninsula.com/New_York/en/default.aspx.
4. The Waldorf=Astoria
Waldorf=Astoria is located at 301 Park Avenue, Midtown East. Subway routes are E to 51st Street/Lexington. Price ranges from $219 – $899. You can visit their website and check their rates at http://www.waldorfnewyork.com/.
If you are looking for cheap hotels to stay in NYC, here’s a small list of their cheapest hotels:
1. Chelsea Savoy Hotel
Chelsea Savoy Hotel is located at 204 W. 23rd St.. Subway routes are 1 to 23rd Street. Price ranges from $99-425. You can visit their website and check their rates at http://www.chelseasavoynyc.com/.
2. Colonial House Inn
Colonial House Inn is located at 318 W. 22nd St.. Subway routes are C/E to 23rd Street. Price ranges from $130-375. You can visit their website and check their rates at http://www.colonialhouseinn.com.
3. Cosmopolitan Hotel-Tribeca
Cosmopolitan Hotel-Tribeca is located at 95 West Broadway. Subway routes are 1/2/3 to Chambers St. Price ranges from $159-259. You can visit their website and check their rates at http://www.cosmohotel.com.
Where to go?
Times Square is a major commercial intersection in Manhattan, New York City. It’s where some iconic scenes from iconic movies are being filmed at and you don’t want to miss the glamour of the famous Times Square. It is one of the most visited tourist attractions with over 39 million visitors annually.
National landscapers and architects, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, won a design competition in 1858 to improve and expand the park with a plan they named the “Greensward Plan”. Construction began the same year, continued during the American Civil War further south and was finally done in 1873.
Empire State Building
Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (colloquially The Met), located in New York City, is the largest art museum in the United States and one of the ten largest in the world. You can find it on the eastern edge of Central Park along Manhattan’s Museum Mile. There is a second smaller location at “The Cloisters” in Upper Manhattan that showcases medieval art.