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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cable Beach, australia

While there are a number of gorgeous beaches in Australia Cable Beach in Broome in Western Australia is a sight to behold. Located about 2200 kms from Perth, it takes 2.5 hours to fly there. Pristine white sand stretching along the turquoise water’s edge is enough to take your breath away and make the extra distance worth the effort it takes to get there.

The year round tropical climate offers opportunities for any number of water sports and even parasailing. For the more adventurous, a sunset camel trek is just the thing.

Cancun Beaches, mexico

Cancun, Mexico, with its vast array of beaches is one of the most romantic of vacation getaways. Accommodations range from standard hotels to beachside villas and private homes. The Caribbean side and Lagoon side provide for an endless array of water sports and sunbathing.

Nightlife includes salsa, cumbia, club mixes and world beats. End your days with a couple of cold cervezas and a quiet cigar and you’ve come as close to perfection as possible.

Miami Beach

Located in the southern part of Florida and known worldwide as SoBe (South Beach) the Miami Beach area is not limited to the normal beach side activities. The unique immigrant Cuba culture is visible in the pastel colors that dominate homes, shops, restaurants and bars.

Made famous by movies like Scarface and Cage au Folles and television shows like CSI Miami the most memorable part of SoBe is the Art Deco National Historic District that is comprised of a few dozen ’20s and ’30s buildings that have characteristic pastel colors and streamlined rectilinear forms. Miami Beach definitely lives up to its lively party town image.

Myrtle Beach, south carolina

Located on the eastern coast of the United States in South Carolina this beach receives up to 14 million visitors every year. A huge draw every year during spring break for college students it also attracts a more sedate crowd. Referred to as “The Golf Capital of the World” the town boasts 120 golf courses most of which are open to the public.

If you’re a baseball fan then a stop at “The Ripken Experience” is a must or you can even book in your entire baseball team to experience a tournament baseball on a professional major league quality field. Restaurants are plenty but no trip would be complete without a stop at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.

Water activities include boating, fishing, surfing, kayaking, scuba diving to name a few. However, crystal blue water and 60 miles of beach means the perfect place to lie around and simply sunbathe.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Vagator Beach, Mapusa- Goa

Vagator Beach Mapusa Goa
When it comes to scenic beauty, Vagator beach is undeniably one of the best beaches in the world. Twenty four kilometers from capital city, Panaji, this beach is the north most beach of Bardej Taluka. Perfect for a romantic holiday destination, a red laterite cliff looks down to soft white sand dotted with black lava rocks. A lush green landscape full of swaying palm trees and water turning aquamarine to emerald treats eyes. There is no beginning and no end to the beauty of Vagator beach. The icing on the cake is the five hundred year old Portuguese fort.

The beach is split into two by seaside headland, to the north is North Vagator Beach and towards the south is Ozrant beach or the mini Vagator beach. And in the center is a tiny beach cut off from Ozrant down the cliff. This is Middle Vagator beach also called the Tel Aviv Beach. All three beaches are popular with tourist particularly British and Israeli tourists.

Inseparable from Vagator is the Chapora village inhibited by a predominantly fishing community. The village gives the beach an old world charm.
What holds and beholds the charm of Vagator is difficult to say. A perfect place to relax and rejuvenate in spite of the hustle bustle of the tourists. Vagator is a relaxed tourist destination and fairly undeveloped or one rather say untouched. Its a perfect getaway if you plan to spend your holidays in calm surroundings reuniting with yourself. A face of Lord Shiva has been carved on a sea side boulder by some unknown sculptor, don't miss to take a snapshot. Swimming is fairly safe in North Vagator Beach.

Palolem Beach Canacona- Goa

Palolem Beach, Canacona  Goa
More than seventy kilometres from the Goan capital, Panjim is Palolem, situated in Goa's southern most taluka of Canacona or Chaudi. If you enter Goa from Karnataka, this is probably the first beach you will come across. Facing a blue bay between two headlands is Palolem. A crescent shaped bay, white sand peacefully merging into the sea, swaying coconut palms - Palolem is picture perfect. It has little wooded islands to the north. The village is located just behind the beach.

At Palolem, life seems to be just like living on the edge of the sea. Since Palolem is a tourist beach there are quite a few shacks selling sea food but the beach doesn't looks crowded. There are also some cafes and souvenir shops in the village. In spite of the commercialization, Palolem retains its charm of a village.

This can be a little exploration trip for you. At the northern end of the beach there is a stream and across the stream lies a small island. Either swim across in low tide or take a ferry. There is a rocky terrain which is fun exploring. At the island, apart from the usual frolicking around, there is option of snorkelling. You can spot some sea urchins, sea missiles, sea cucumbers and some groupers. And if you care for some scenic beauty then wait till sunset, the view from island is beyond expression.

Colva Beach Margao- Goa

Colva Beach  Margao, Goa
Till few years back, before the beach resorts had not made their foray on Colva beach, it was an easy escape for those seeking ultimate solitude. Thankfully, the development in the past few years has been pretty fast paced making Colva southern Goa's main tourist beach. Nevermind the activity, Colva still has miles of virgin territory laced with soft white sand for you to explore.

Colva is forty kilometres from Panaji, the Goan capital and two kilometres from Benaulim. Adjacent to Colva is its secret suburb, Sernbatim beach. Longest among all beaches in Goa, Colva stretches twenty kilometres along the Arabian sea, about six kilometres west of Margao. Lined with coconut palms throughout, Colva has Bogmalo in north and Cabo de Rama in south. In the pre colonial era, Colva had the honour of being the retreat zone of Margao's high society. While speaking of history of Colva, the name of Our lady of Mercy Church invariably comes up. More about the church in the later paragraphs.

While at Colva one can also see the beautiful houses and villas that dot the village. Another interesting thing about Colva is its popularity among the locals. Though the beach is fairly famous with foreign and Indian tourists, it is the locals who can be seen here in large numbers.
Laze, laze and laze. There is no end to that. Grab your favourite books, tie your swinging net between two coconut trees in a peaceful place and treat yourself through the day.

When in season (November to May) seafood restaurants sprout in large numbers on the main beach area. If you have deep pockets, than don't give any second thoughts, just enter and you will have the most romantic evening. With tablecloth, candles, soothing music and large portions to gorge on, you will not complain. And for budget tourists there are plenty of offers in the shacks. You will get excellent pasta and steak, varieties of Goan prawn curry. Swimming in Colva is another passtime.

Colva is fairly safe place to make a splash in water but don't venture in deepwaters unless you are a strong swimmer. Indulge in some trinket shopping or start collecting seashells and make your own collection. Though not in line with established rave party venues like Anjuna, Colva doesn't actually disappoints its visitors. There are few places where you can catch up with the party scene.

Dona Paula Beach Panaji- Goa

Dona Paula Beach Panaji, Gao
With romance is in the air, the beach is bustling with activity throughout the year. Just seven kilometers from the Goan capital, Panjim is Dona Paula, the most happening beach of the state. Dona Paula is nestled on the southern side of the rocky headland dividing Zuari and Mandovi estuaries.

The greenery to the beach is lent by palm trees and casuarina groves and it presents an excellent view to the Mormugao harbour. The beach has the obvious advantage of being in proximity with the capital city. During festivals like Janmashtami and the feast of St. Lawrence, Dona Paula is immersed in the colours of festivity.

What lends the beach romantic angle is the legend behind the name of Dona Paula. The legend has it that Dona Paula was the daughter of the Viceroy in the colonial era and was in love with Gasper Dias, son of a fisherman. As their love could never be realized, they jumped together from the cliff to death. Furthermore it says that she is seen emerging from the sea wearing only a pearl necklace on moonlit nights. Haunted by the romantic tale of Dona Paula, the beach hold dual attraction for the Indian tourists. Its the same beach where film Ek Duje ke liye was shot.

The Dona Paula sports club offer extensive choices in water sports. Waterscooter, cycle, and motor boat rides are most common. Also one can enjoy windsurfing, parasailing, sports fishing, snorkelling, harpoon fishing, kaykaying and yatching. If you happen to be here in November then the colours of water sports festival will not miss your eyes. Not just witness but you can also participate in this event to catch up with some excitement. The excitement is maximum during the water scooter, cycle races and surfing events.

Benaulim Beach Margao- Goa

Benaulim Beach Margao, Goa
Forty one kilometres away from Goan capital, Panaji and two kilometres away from the longest beach Colva is Benaulim beach. Legend has it that this is the place where an arrow shot by Lord Parshuram, sixth incarnation of Vishnu landed. The arrow shifted back the hills hence forming the Konkan. The place was hence named Banavli (ban means arrow) and later got corrupted to Benaulim by Portuguese. The place is also special for Christians as it's the birth place of the venerable Father Joseph Vaz. If you wish to be at some place close to nature and totally untouched, than Benaulim is the place for you. Though it gets fairly crowded in evenings and weekends.
The best thing about Benaulim beach is that it is a rather undiscovered beach. Commercialization unlike other beaches hasn't set its foot here yet. The beach is close to Colva so in case you need to catch up with some nightlife, its just close by. You can also try your hand at fishing since its mainly a fishing beach. Or maybe incase you are one of those friendly kinds, just request some of the village folks and you might accompany them to the sea. Apart from sunbathing and getting yourself a nice tan, as you laze on the beach, go for swimming. Its actually more safe here than Colva
Like Colva, here also, though few in number you can get some great sea food in beach shacks. Apart from the seafood, you can also catch up with some water activity. A main attraction of this beach is the dolphin spotting trips. The trips are reasonably priced and chances of spotting dolphins fairly high. Also Benaulim is a village of gifted craftsmen. Their works adore not just churches but villas also. Carved rosewood furniture is the speciality of Benaulim. Drop by the village for some serious shopping.

Candolim Beach, Mapusa - Goa

Candolim Beach, Mapusa Goa
Fifteen kilometers from Panjim, the Goan capital, is Candolim beach in north Goa. Beginning at Fort Aguada and merging with Calangute beach towards the end, it is one of the longest beaches in the state and is located in the Bardez taluka. The beach in itself is very calm and peaceful, at times tourists come here from Rajneesh Ashram in Pune to take a break. What adds to the scenic beauty of the sand and sea are the scrub covered dunes at the back of the beach quite popular with tourists.

The main road that is the Candolim Calangute road is packed with shops and restaurants, but the beach front is rather free of any commercial activity apart from some water activities. Though the beach is close to bustling Calangute beach, life is rather laid back at Candolim. Even the village isn't very clustered, its quite spread out so there isn't any centre to it as such. The area around the beach can be termed as resort free as there aren't any resorts there. However, the beach has quite a number of inns at reasonable prices with good facilities.
The village of Candolim is a fishing village. If you are one of those who love to sit in the boat with your harpoon, then Candolim might offer you exactly what you want. You can either be humble and request villagers while they go fishing or embark on your own. Since a lot many tourists come from Pune's Rajneesh ashram, yoga and meditation is also a sprouting activity on the beach. Nightlife at Candolim is rather at peace, but in case you need to catch up with some, then head the adjoining Calangute beach. Or just enjoy some sea food on Candolim Calangute main road.
The Candolim Chogm road will take you to Fort Aguada. Built in 1612, this Portuguese fort is a must visit. It was then built to protect Goa from Dutch invaders. It was at that time surrounded by a moat for protection purpose but all that remains today of that moat is a ditch over which Chogm road passes. Aguada fort houses a citadel, a lighthouse, a huge clock and a bell. Situated atop Sinquerim plateau, a climb to this fort will also get you a spectacular view of different shades of life in Goa. You see river Mandovi meeting the sea, the city of Panjim on the southern bank, Cabo Raj Bhavan on the hill top and huge cargo ships heading their way to the Mormugao port.

Baga Beach, Mapusa - Goa

Baga Beach, Mapusa GoaTen kilometers west of Mapusa, Baga beach is an extension of Calangute beach. In fact, it is difficult to mark where one ends and another begins. A rocky wooded headland marks Baga beach. It is less congested in comparison to Calangute beach. The scenery here is unspoiled. The land and sea meet here in a picture perfect manner. White waves rush towards the brown sand to sweep the feet marks. Unlike other beaches, Baga beach is free from any hustle bustle.
Well, there is not much of sightseeings options available on this small beach. Yet it is popular among tourists. Though the beach doesn't boasts of any big time adventures yet whatever little it does offer is quite sought after.
Enjoy the trek up the Baga hill to the Baga Retreat House. The house was established in 1953 and is dedicated to St.Francis Xavier. If you are in mood of some excursion then just follow the path to the other side of the hill and you will come to Anjuna's Flea market.
Baga is a popular destination with the local Goans for the sea cure. Every year around mid-May, thousands of Goans camp on the shores of Baga beach. The cure is said to be a sure shot remedy for arthritis and joint pains. The elderly women sit on the fringe of the sea with their backs to the sea during the high tide and let the waves splash their backs. This circulates blood in the body. The cure has been practiced in Goa since hundreds of years.

Calangute Beach, Mapusa - Goa

In a semicircle, under the shade of palm trees basking golden in the glory of sand is the 'queen of beaches', Calangute. Nine miles from the Goan Capital Panaji, the beach is spread four miles along the Arabian sea. On the north is hamlet of Baga and to the south is Candolim village. Take a break from the parties of Anjuna in the calm solitude here and you will be mesmerized forever.

It was hippies who first discovered Calangute in late 1960's and there on spread word about the beach. 1970's saw tourists from Europe coming in large numbers. The beach was even quite popular among the movie stars back then. Shashi Kapoor rented a house here and Raj Kapoor got inspiration for his blockbuster film 'Bobby' here. Over the decades the hippie culture has vanished but not the popularity of the beach. Round the year there are hoards of tourists coming to Calangute for that perfect escape from their hectic schedule.

The name Calangute according to locals is a distortion of the local vernacular word 'Koli-gutti', which means land of fishermen. Others say it has derived from Kalyangutti meaning the village of art, and still others say it came from the earlier name Konvallo -ghott because the village is full of coconut trees.
At Calangute, its heavens. Just let your hair down and experience the magic spell drown you in the calm serene solitudes. Its another world. While some laze around, others can get adventurous with water sports. And once here you will catch glimpses of the old seaside village vadoos.
You can do what most people do, let the Calangute embrace you. Tan yourself spreading on beach or go swimming. Calangute is a reasonably safe place to swim though one should keep at least three hundred meters away from the mouth of the river. Children can be seen here making castles out of sand. Watch the sun go down as you laze on the beach. Take a fifteen minute walk from the main beach front area and you will come in a hawker free zone. Sights of rows of wooden boats and teams of village fishermen hauling nets in a high tide can be seen here. Together the sun, sand and sea set the mood for that perfect holiday. And while at beach you will not miss hundreds of stalls of sea food. Gorge on the prawns or the lobsters. Sea food is available in abundance. There are options for vegetarians also. The shops on the beach will remind you of a city's market place. There is a Cafe Coffee Day, Malini Ramani's boutique and an Oxford bookstore to name a few.

Nightlife of Calangute is in contrast to that of Anjuna. The bars close around ten pm, though few hippie joints still remain open. There is hardly any night life here, so if you are one of those party animals, Calangute is not the place for you.

Anjuna Beach, Goa

'Life is a party'. If you live by this phrase then Goan beaches are the place you ought to be holidaying at. And even those who don't believe in the merriment of life will start giving second thoughts once they are here. Goa's beaches by nature are most versatile. From the peppy ones which are kept awake all night by trance parties to the long stretches of virgin beach territories, Goa has something to offer to every holiday mood. Being washed twice a day by tides and getting a new look every year courtesy the monsoons, each of the beaches exude a personality of their own.

There are beaches which are fully commercialized, have upmarket stores, massage centres, gym, night clubs and then there are ones which have no signs of habitation. While some are fairly safe for swimming, at others swimming is a complete no. The beaches are packed up with thrill with water sports ranging from parasailing to jet skiing, windsurfing to speed boating. The beach shacks serve all the sea food, the grilled and the roasted. Feni is more then a drink, its the staple drink and at night every second house on the beach will be open for the public offering cheap sea food and drinks.

Most beaches are named after the closest village. The scenic beauty of the beach is complemented with the red brick small houses of the village and white washed churches.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Les Grottes Plage, France

Ile du Levant, Mediterranean

This gem of a beach on the magical island of Levant is reached by an easy coastal footpath 10 mins walk from the quayside. A small natural cove of white sand slides gently into the turquoise sea, providing excellent swimming and snorkelling. The easiest way to get here is by ferry from Le Lavandou, between St Tropez and Toulon.

Seventy years ago Ile du Levant was the birthplace of nude leisure in France. Today, there is a tiny resident community and lots of holiday accommodation. Minimal clothing is normally worn in the village of Heliopolis, but the rest can be enjoyed as nature intended.

Plakias Beach, greece

A fabulous setting of cliffs, mountains and a huge sweep of golden sand make this beach a wonderful place for all-over tanning and fine snorkelling. The sea shelves gently, making it suitable for families, and there are showers available. Refreshments are brought to the beach in season, and umbrellas are available.

The nude area is the last section of the beach, to the left as you face the sea, and unsurprisingly it is often the most popular part of the whole bay.

Playa de Maspalomas, canary islands

Near Playa del Ingles, southern Gran Canaria

Hundreds of acres of sand dunes, looking just like the Sahara, frame the beautiful beach between Maspalomas and the popular resort of Playa del Ingles. It’s 3 kms from one end to the other and over 1 km deep. The bare areas, like the swimsuited ones, have sunbeds and umbrellas for hire. For a quieter spot, walk into the vast expanse of dunes, but be careful not to get lost!

You can walk to the bare beach areas from either end, although the walk from Maspalomas town is slightly shorter.

Banana Beach, Greece

Skiathos, near Koukounaries, on the south-west coast

Banana beach is the collective name for three lovely sandy bays well loved by nude bathers. Before you ask, the name refers to the fact the beaches are yellow and curved

During peak season bare bathers mainly use Little Banana, one of the smaller coves, as clothed holidaymakers descend on the main beach. Little Banana is often called the best bare beach in Greece, although there is plenty of competition for the accolade. There is a bus terminus and car park at the end of the Koukounaries road, coming from Skiathos town. The footpath to Banana takes 15 mins through olive groves.

Vera Playa, SPAIN

This is Spain’s capital of bare bathing. The long wide sandy beach is popular in summer and has a big choice of naturist accommodation. Beach bars, sunbeds, pedalos and yes, if you really want to try the naturist cliché, beach volleyball are all available. Almeria has the hottest and driest climate in the country, so the beach season is almost year-round. Most European nationalities park their bottoms here, giving it a cosmopolitan and friendly atmosphere.

Take the coast road north from Garrucha, through Puerto Rey, and Vera Playa is well signposted after a further 1.5 kms.

Haulover Beach, Florida USA

Sunny Isles, north Miami

Situated in the south of the ‘Sunshine State’, this bare sandy beach has a huge following of visitors from across the globe. With glorious weather for most of the year and the vibrant city of Miami on the doorstep, it’s not difficult to see why. The bare area is more than 800 yards long and has its own lifeguards and unobtrusive police patrols. Refreshments, sunbeds and umbrellas are available.

The beach is at Haulover Beach Miami-Dade county regional park, on Collins Avenue (A1A), just north of fashionable Bal Harbour. There is a large car park ($5) right by the beach.

Playa Es Pregons Gran, Balearic islands

This wonderful little bare bay has a perfect crescent of fine yellow sand, washed by a sea so transparent it looks more like the Caribbean. There are no beach bars so bring your picnic and drinks. It’s the jewel in the crown of the popular Es Trenc beach area.

The route to the beach is a pleasant 15 minute walk along the shore, heading north from the resort town of Colonia Sant Jordi. Start at the Hotel Marques Del Palmer, and it’s the third bay along. The fourth bay, if you walk further, also happens to be a bare beach, part of the much larger Es Trenc beach.

Leucate Plage, France

This superb bare beach has 1 km of fine golden sand, the classic Mediterranean beach. The water is normally calm and the shore shelves gently into the sea making it popular with families. Three naturist resorts share the coastline but the beach is open to all and there’s plenty of space for first-time skinny-dippers and lifelong nudists alike.
Go north from Perpignan on the main N9 and turn right on to the D83, signposted Port Bacares. After 9 kms turn left on to the D627, drive through Port Leucate and the bare beach is on the right. Park on the road - easy public access between Aphrodite Village and Club Oasis, the naturist resorts.

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Metroland & Angel of the North . . .ENGLAND

The New MetroLand is part of the Gateshead Tyne and Wear MetroCentre shopping complex and is Europe's largest indoor funfair, with 12 major attractions on the site. MetroLand first opened its doors to the public in 1988 and has gone on to become one of the region's most popular paying attractions with over 800,000 visitors each year. MetroLand was conceived as a marketing tool that would attract more visitors to the MetroCentre shopping complex and the strategy has been a resounding success; the MetroCentre receives close to 20 million visitors each year. As part of the MetroCentre, visitors are free to walk around the MetroLand complex and rides are paid for on an individual basis or with a wristband giving access to all the rides and attractions. Those travelleing to Tyneside will be greeted by the open arms of Antony Gormley's iconic sculpture, the Angel of the North. Situated high on a hill top along the A1, the sculpture towers 20m (65 ft) into the sky and is seen by over 90,000 drivers each day as well as by all rail passengers arriving in the region. Erected in 1998, the Angel of the North has become the quintessential symbol of the region and is now said to be more recognisable than the Tyne Bridge.
Air: Newcastle International Airport. Rail: Metroland has its own station, Newcastle Metro. Road: Bus: Public services. Car: Well signposted and large car parks.

Contact Addresses

The New MetroLand, 39 Garden Walk, MetroCentre, Gateshead, NE11 9XY
Tel: 0191 493 2048

Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach . . .ENGLAND

Great Yarmouth’s Pleasure Beach is set along a nine-acre seafront site on the picturesque East Anglian coastline. The Pleasure Beach is a traditional seaside resort built around a lively promenade and is a popular attraction for families. The Pleasure Beach’s attractions include traditional fairground rides, arcades, flower gardens, mini golf and candy floss and ice cream stalls. It may have lost some of its grandeur but it nevertheless remains one of the most popular attractions in East Anglia and attracts close to 1.5 million visitors each year.

Contact Addresses

Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach, Pleasure and Corporation Plc, South Beach Parade, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk NR30 3EH Tel: 01493 844 585 Website:


Air: Norwich Airport and Stansted Airport. Rail: Norwich Railway Station with links to Great Yarmouth Station. Road: Bus: Public services.

Poole Harbour & Poole Pottery . . .ENGLAND

Poole Harbour is a vibrant quay on England's southern coast that bustles with an array of bars, cafes and restaurants. Visitors wanting to learn more about the history of the region can follow the newly developed Cockle Traildiscovering myths and legends about Poole's smugglers and ghosts of yesteryear. A series of brass plaques mark the way charting 750 years of Poole's history culminating at theWaterfront Museum. Popular sports in and around the harbour include windsurfing, kitesurfing, water-skiing, wakeboarding, surfing, snorkelling and kayaking. Of course, boat trips are popular and visitors can sail out to the National Trust's Brownsea Island, protected for its wildlife and peaceful woodland walks.
Air: Bournemouth International Airport. Water: Ferry: Daily crossings to France and summer sailings to the Channel Islands. Rail: Poole Station. Road: Bus: Public services.

Contact Addresses

Poole Tourism, Enefco House, Poole Quay, Poole, Dorset BH15 1HJ
Tel: (01202) 253253

Royal Academy of Arts . . .ENGLAND

Located in the historic Piccadilly area in the heart of London, the Royal Academy of Arts is an independent fine arts institution which supports contemporary artists and promotes interest in the arts through a comprehensive exhibition programme. The Academy is completely independent and as such is a self-funded organisation which is governed by the Royal Academicians – eminent practising painters, printmakers, sculptors and architects who are elected to the position. The Academy has a long history and was founded in 1768 with Sir Joshua Reynolds as its first President. The Academy is located in Burlington House which itself has a long a colourful history with parts of the original structure estimated as dating back to 1664. Today, the Academy attracts well over one million visitors each year making it one of London's top 10 attractions for paying visitors.
Air: London's City Airport, Gatwick Airport, Heathrow Airport, Luton Airport and Stansted Airport. Rail: Underground: Piccadilly and Green Park or a short walk from Oxford Circus and Bond Street. Road: Bus: Public services.

Contact Addresses

Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD
Telephone 020 7300 8000

Swaffham I Ecotech Centre . . .ENGLAND

Owned and operated by Ecotricity, Swaffham I is the first multi-megawatt wind turbine in the UK and is one of a new generation of direct drive, variable speed wind turbines. Located in Swaffham in rural Norfolk, the turbine was installed at the Ecotech Centre in 1999 and represents what the future could be like for power generation. A second turbine was built in 2003 and together the two turbines produce enough electricity for approximately 7,000 people – about 75 per cent of the town. The Ecotech Centre is an environmental education centre and Swaffham I includes a viewing platform which is accessed via a 300-step spiral staircase. Since opening, over 50,000 people have visited the site.
Air: Norwich Airport. Rail: Norwich train station. Road: Bus: Public services. Car: A47.

Contact Addresses

Ecotech Centre, Swaffham, Norfolk
Tel: 01760 726100

St Michael's Mount . . .ENGLAND

Perched proudly on a rocky island, St Michael’s Mount rises 70m (230 ft) from sea level and is one of Cornwall’s best-known attractions that dates back to the 12th century. According to legend, it was built by a giant called Cormoran who terrorised local farmers by wading ashore and raiding their flocks for food. A bounty was placed on his head and a local boy named Jack devised a plan to kill the giant. Jack made his way to the island in the dead of night and dug a deep pit, then, waking the giant from his slumber with a blast on his horn, the giant hastily gave chase falling into the pit. Jack became known as Jack the Giant Killer and was the toast of the town. But history tells us that the Abbot of Mont St Michel in Normandy, Bernard of Le Bec, built the Benedictine Priory of St Michael’s Mount in 1135 as a dependency of the Norman Abbey. By the early 15th century, Henry V had declared war on France and in 1424 seized St Michael’s Mount for the crown. Over the years, the Mount has been a priory, a fort, a site of pilgrimage and eventually became a private residence of the St Aubyn family 1659. In 1954, the St Aubyn’s went into partnership with the National Trust opening up the castle and grounds to the public. At low tide it’s possible to walk out across the causeway to St Michael’s Mount (it’s important to check local tide times (tel: 01736 710265 (for tide information only))). During the summer, a ferry service carries people to and from the Mount at high tide.
Air: Newquay Airport, Exeter Airport and Plymouth Airport (domestic services).Rail: Penzance Station. Road: Bus: Public services.

Contact Addresses

St Michael's Mount, Manor Office, Marazion, Cornwall TR17 0EF
Tel: 01736 710507

Tivoli . . .DENMARK

Opened in 1843 as a theme park and public garden, Tivoli Gardens has outlasted the great parks of Europe that were its inspiration – the Tivoli in Paris and Vauxhall Gardens in London. Tivoli Gardens still retains a flavour of that era, seeming more like an open-air garden than it does a theme park. However, there are plenty of rides including the Golden Tower, Valhalla Castle, a Ferris Wheel and a roller coaster. The less daring can enjoy the many concerts, circus acts, and theatrical performances that also find a home at Tivoli. The famousCopenhagen Christmas market is held here in November and December, making this a particularly atmospheric time to visit.
Air: Copenhagen Airport. Rail: Train: Copenhagen Central Station or S-Bahn to København H. Road: Bus: Services to Town Hall Square. Car: Signs to the city centre and the Town Hall.

Contact Addresses

Tivoli, Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 Copenhagen V, Denmark
Tel: 3315 1001

Legoland . . . .DENMARK

The renowned ten-hectare (25-acre) amusement park located north of Billund features attractions and rides built from no less than 40 million plastic LEGO blocks. Shows are performed daily by the Children’s Theatre, and there are also circus acts in high season. Adults and children can marvel at the detailed LEGO reconstructions of famous sights from around the world in Miniland; Duplo Land, with its chunkier bricks, is particularly popular with younger children. Other popular attractions include Pirateland and Castleland. The sophisticated Port of Copenhagen exhibit, featuring electronically controlled trains, cranes and ships, is also popular. The Falck Fire Brigade was a new attraction added in 2005.
Air: Billund International Airport. Rail: Train: Vejle, Kolding or Fredericia stations. Road:Bus: Regular public services. Car: A7/E-45 (exit 63), then route 441 and route 28 (from the south); E-45 (exit 60), then route 28 (from the north); E-20 (exit 61), then route 18 and route 28 (from Copenhagen).

Contact Addresses

Legoland A/S, Nordmarksvej 9, 7190 Billund, Denmark
Tel: 7533 1333

Kronborg Castle . . .DENMARK

Strategically located on a site overlooking the Sound, the stretch of water between Denmark and Sweden, Kronborg Castle at Helsingør (Elsinore) is of great historical importance playing a key role in the history of Northern Europe during the 16th to 18th centuries. Work began on the castle in 1574, with its defences being reinforced in the late 17th century. Kronborg, which is one of the most important Renaissance castles in Northern Europe, is also famous for being the setting for William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet (the Prince of Denmark) and has staged many performances of the play over the centuries. Most of the rooms and fortifications in and around the castle are open to the public, along with the Danish Maritime Museum, which is home to many temporary and permanent exhibitions.
Air: Copenhagen Airport. Rail: Train: Elsinore Station or Grønnehave Station. The castle is approximately 15 minute’s walk from Elsinore Station. Road: Bus: Regular services.

Contact Addresses

Kronborg Castle, Kronborg 2c, 3000 Elsinore, Denmark
Tel: 4921 3078

Dubrovnik . . . .CROATIA

This small fortified city with a population of about 43,000 lies on the Dalmatian coast in southern Croatia and is often referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’. Founded in the seventh century, Dubrovnik reached its heyday as an important sea-trading port in the late Middle Ages, and the proliferation of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings are a legacy of its rich and glorious past. The most famous sights are the Franjevaèkog Samostana Mala Braca (Franciscan Friars Minor Monastery) in the west, which houses one of the three oldest pharmacies in Europe, the 15th-century Dominikanskog Samostana(Dominican monastery), located in the east of the city, and the 17th-century Katedrale(cathedral). The Dubrovaèki Muzej (Dubrovnik Museum) housed in the splendid Kneažev Dvor(Rector’s Palace) is also worth a visit.

Contact Addresses

Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Cvijete Zuzoric 1/ 2, 20000 Dubrovnik, Croatia
Tel: (020) 323 887

Split . . .CROATIA

Located on Croatia’s stunning Dalmatia Coast, Split is the largest city in the area and cultural centre of the region. The city dates back nearly 2,000 years boasting a variety of architectural styles and historical landmarks. Most famous of these is the Palace of Diocletian which is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The palace was built in the third century by the emperor Diocletian in the style of a Roman fort around a rectangular plot with turrets and huge palace gates. At the time, Split itself did not exist and the town sprang up around the palace. Other important attractions in Split include the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments, the Museum of Marine History, the Museum of Natural Science and Split Cathedral’s Treasury containing important sacral works of art dating back to the seventh century. A pleasant 15-minute stroll from the historic city centre is Marjan Forest Park which is home to Split Zoo and numerous walking trails that offer spectacular views of the peninsular and surrounding area.

Contact Addresses

Split Tourist Board, HR-21000 Split, Trg Republike 2
Tel: (+385) (0)21 348 600

Baba Vida Castle . . .BULGARIA

Built on the banks of the River Danube in the town of Vidin in the northwestern tip of the country, Baba Vida Castle occupies a commanding position overlooking the town. The present castle is actually built upon the foundations of a Roman fortress known asBononia which marked the Danubian Frontier of the Roman Empire from the first to the seventh centuries. Baba Vida Castle was actually built during the 10th century and is the only medieval fortress to have survived intact to the present day. The castle is protected by inner and outer walls and is ringed by a moat filled with water from the Danube. Today, the castle is host to a number of theatre productions during the summer and is often used as a historical film set. There’s also an onsite museum with exhibitions about the region’s history.

St Alexander Nevski Cathedral

St Alexander Nevski Cathedral is one of Sofia’s most famous monuments. This neo-Byzantine structure, which is surmounted by copper and golden domes, was built between 1882 and 1912 in honour of the Russian soldiers who died trying to liberate Bulgaria from Ottoman rule during the War of Liberation in 1878. The cathedral, which is also one of the finest buildings in the Balkan States, takes its name from Alexander Nevski, the patron saint of the family of the Russian Tsar at the time, Alexander II. Visitors can also see the Icon Museum, located in the Crypt, which houses around 300 exhibits following the development of Bulgarian icon-painting from the ninth to 19th centuries. Sofia also has many other attractions, including the Rotunda of St George,St Sofia Church, the Church of St Nedely,Vassil Levski Monument and the Dragalevtsiand Boyana churches.

Contact Addresses

For more information on St Alexander Nevski Cathedral, contact the National Information and Advertising Center to the Ministry of Economy

Rila Monastery . . .BULGARIA

Rila Monastery, the largest monastery in Bulgaria, is situated in the spectacular Rhodope Mountains in Rila National Park and is included on the UNESCO list of World Cultural Heritage Sites. Rila was the first Christian monastery to be built in Bulgaria and was founded by followers of John of Rila (the patron saint of Bulgaria) during the 10th century. Rila was damaged by fire several times over the years and was not fully restored to its current state until 1816. The monastery is ornately decorated with murals which were painted by famous artists, including Kosta Valyov and Zahari Zograph, between 1840 and 1848.

Contact Addresses

For more information on Rila Monastery, contact the National Information and Advertising Center to the Ministry of Economy (see Tourist Information above).


Air: Sofia Airport. Road: Car: E79 south of Sofia for 100km (62 miles), then a further 21km (13 miles) to arrive at Rila Monastery.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Flanders Fields . . .BELGIUM

Flanders Fields was the site of around half a million deaths in the horrific trenches of World War I. There are numerous military cemeteries and ‘Missing Memorials’ in the region commemorating those of all nationalities who fell in battle. Most of the soldiers who perished were the victims of poison gas attacks – the deadly gas Yperite was invented in the nearby city of Ypres, which was a renowned trading centre during the Middle Ages but was almost completely destroyed during World War I. At the In Flanders Fields museum in Ypres, visitors can discover what it was like to be a soldier in the trenches and learn about major events and aspects of the war such as the first gas attack, the Christmas Truces of 1914, and No Man’s Land.

Contact Addresses

In Flanders Fields, Lakenhallen – Grote Markt 34, 8900 Ieper, Belgium
Tel: (057) 239 220

Atomium . . .BELGIUM

The Atomium was designed by engineer André Waterkeyn as a celebration of scientific progress for the 1958 World Fair. The structure stands 102 metres (334 feet) high, weighs 2400 metric tonnes (2439 tons), and represents an iron crystalline molecule enlarged 165 billion times. Inside the nine spheres, visitors can see an exhibition showing how the Atomium has been depicted in comic strips through the years and an audiovisual presentation on the construction of the Atomium. There are splendid views across Brussels and the surrounding countryside from the top of the structure.

Contact Addresses

Atomium, Boulevard du Centenaire, 1020 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: (02) 474 8977

Statue of the Pissing Boy . . .BELGIUM

The Manneken-Pis, situated in Rue de l’Etuve, is as funny as it is well known. Crowds of tourists patrol the meandering cobbled streets near Brussels’ Grand’ Place hoping to find this small statuette of a little boy in the midst of a never-ending pee. Sometimes known as ‘Little Julian’, the statue is, in its own way, a typically Belgian symbol of cultural self-mockery. Since its creation by J Duquesnoy in the 17th century, the Manneken-Pis has attracted a great deal of attention, having been stolen (by the English in 1745 and the French in 1747), vandalised and dressed in over 600 costumes, which are on display at the City of Brussels Museum.

Contact Addresses

Office de Tourisme et d’Information de Bruxelles, Hôtel de Ville, Grand-Place, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: (02) 513 8940

Central Square . . . .BELGIUM

The Grand’ Place has been at the heart of Brussels’ life since the 11th century. Almost totally destroyed by the French bombardment ordered by Louis XIV in 1695, it was later rebuilt in its original architectural style by various workers’ guilds. The splendid neo-Gothic and Baroque houses that surround the cobbled square once housed the headquarters of corporations of artists, merchants and tailors; the City of Brussels Museum in the formerMaison du Roi (King’s Residence) allows visitors to explore the city’s illustrious trading history. Other buildings in the Grand’ Place which provide insights into Brussels’ traditions are the Town Hall, the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate and the Museum of Brewing.

Contact Addresses

Office de Tourisme et d’Information de Bruxelles, Hôtel de Ville, Grand-Place, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: (02) 513 8940