Venice is an old and somewhat eccentric city in Italy. Built long ago on marshlands, I was surprised to find myself spending my first night in the city with the bird lady. Rent a RoomAs is common with many cities in Europe, one can rent a room in a private home at the train station. The advantage of renting a room is you get to live with a family and the costs tend to be a lot cheaper than a hotel room. If youre lucky, the family will take a liking to you and haul you around to see the real city you are in. I had just arrived in Venice on a train from Paris. It was late, I was tired and in no mood to be picky about lodging. As I walked up to the "rent a room" desk, I had two priorities: sleep and a shower. The elderly lady at the desk smiled at me and we got down to business. Apparently, arriving in Venice around midnight in the middle of August wasnt a wise move. I was told most everything was sold out, but there were two rooms still open. The first was 45 minutes outside of the city while the second was just off Piazza San Marco, the central square you see in all the movies. I booked the San Marco room, given a map and off I went. As it was late and I was tired, it never occurred to me to ask why a room so close to Piazza San Marco was open when everything else was taken. As I walked through the very narrow streets of Venice, I was too tired to really care. Following the map, I walked into the square and started heading toward the glass shops at the far end. The walk through the otherwise delightful square was a killer on my headache as the mini-orchestras dueled the night away. Reaching the end, I found the little alley indicated on the map and through I went into more winding little streets. Eventually, I found the door and gave it a knock. Like a bad Monty Python movie, a little viewing slot opened, eyes looked at me and my backpack, the door opened and I was literally pulled inside. Before me stood a little older lady with wild hair. At this point, I started to understand why the room was available. Turns out I was wrong, as Michelle turned out to be very sane and nice. Michelle gave me the run down on the house and her basic rules. She went into a long diatribe about keeping the doors closed because of something she didnt know the English word for. I kept nodding and we proceed to the door that would let us into the house proper. Inside the door, the house took on an entirely new atmosphere. Michelle was a big fan of birds. She had little yellow birds, red birds, black birds and I swear a few humming birds. None of them were in cages. I had booked a room in an informal Aviary!Fortunately, my room had been bird-proofed by keeping the door closed. As I lay in bed, however, I could hear chirping and wings flapping as the other guests flew around the rooms. Over the next two days, I never got use to opening the door and seeing birds whipping by or perched and staring at me. I imagine this is where Alfred Hitchcock picked up some of his ideas. As far as I know, Michelle is still in Venice and still renting out rooms. If youre a bird enthusiast, just ask for the bird hotel at the "train station" in Venice.
Sharm El Sheikh is heady mix of sun, sand and mountains located on a promontory at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula along the Red Sea in Egypt at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba.Owing to the many peace conferences held there it is also called The City of PeaceBeing located at a strategic location sharm as it is popularly known was used by the Egyptian navy as a port and naval base until it was captured by Israeli forces in 1956 but restored to Egypt subsequently in 1967.In the past it was a small fishing village until it became a naval base and today it is a commercial hub and a stunning and magnificent landscaped beach resort. It is also home to a number of sulphur springs, which have therapeutic value.The virgin fossilized coral reefs in the red sea put the small fishing village and naval base of Sharm El Sheikh on the world map. Sharm El Sheikh has three protected areas- the Ras Muhammad Natural Protected Park, St. Katherine National Park and Nabq Protected area. To gain access to these areas you have to take permission from the tourism department and respective authorities.If you are interested in taking a diving course while in sharm el sheikh, there are a number of private companies offering the course along with a PADI- Professional Diving Instructors Certificate at a very cheap price!Like Nuweiba, sharm is also roughly divided into three parts- Naama Bay, Ras Um Sid Cliff and Sharm al Maya.Naama BayThis is long sandy bay home to one of the first hotels of the area built in the eighties. Today it is fully developed bay with a beautiful paved walkway lined with bougainvillea and oleander along the entire stretch of the bay.Ras Um Sid CliffThe cliff links the Naama Bay and Sharm El Maya centrally located from both the bay and Sharm El Maya. It has magnificent view from atop overlooking the sea. A lot of hotels, restaurants and resorts dot the cliff.Sharm El MayaThis is the bay area of the old town of Sharm El Sheikh, developed recently for tourism. The magnificent bay is a natural harbor and home to many boats local and tourist. Palm trees line the lovely endearing sandy beaches making it a perfect place to laze around and sun bathe!Go scuba diving and snorkeling: There are a number of reliable diving and snorkeling operators in the area. The Tiran strait and the "Red Sea" have a diverse marine life, and its turquoise clear waters make it even more enchanting for diving. Some famous dive centers are Anemone Diving Center at Naama Bay, African Divers at Sharm el Maya; Aqua active Dive center at Nabq Bay, Aquamarine and Aquanaute are other dive centers. Some virgin untouched diving sites are the Ras Mamla and Ras Abu Gallum; to go there you have to take permission from the Tourist Police and Protect the Reefs Office because these sites are under the Ras Muhammad National Park.Colored canyon excursion: This is in the middle of the desert. It is a gorge formed by water passing through the mountain for hundreds of years revealing the different colored layers of rock. The sheer size of the canyon leaves awed. There are no facilities at all here. You have to take all that you need with you and as for natures call you will have to make do with going behind the rocks! Tour operators arrange tours in four-wheel drives to the canyon.Go back into the past:You can also visit the famous St. Catherine monastery between Nuweiba and Taba. The route via Nuweiba is a picturesque one along the flat plains. St. Catherine's monastery was built around the 4th century, which is believed to be the site of the burning bush. The fortress that surrounds it was built around the 6th century and is still an operating monastery.Have a Bedouin dinner: If you are a foodie and love to try different cuisine you can go for a special Bedouin dinner at one of the Bedouin villages. The Night Life: Being a "beach resort" Sharm El Sheikh has an active nightlife. Most hotels have a pub, disco, and arrange beach parties. As for drinks, you can opt for the local brand-Stella, which is cheaper, or an imported one such as Heineken obviously more expensive.
More used to Grand Prix cars than dog sleighs, Monacos Prince Alberts forthcoming trek to the North Pole has been greeted with surprise by many.But the Prince is fairly accustomed to the cold, in contrast to the Mediterranean warmth of Monaco where he became ruler last July following the passing of his father Prince Rainier, who had ruled the tax haven for over 50 years.Albert represented Monaco at the last five Winter Olympic Games in their Bobsleigh team. And he is going to face some cold and hostile conditions on his seven day trip to bring to the attention of fellow world leaders the environmental damage to the arctic regions that global warming is having.Speaking at a recent news conference in Monaco, Albert explained his thinking behind the trip to assembled journalists.If in our modest way, by this action we are able to bring environmental problems to the forefront and force some leaders to take stronger actions, this expedition will have achieved its objectives.Environmentalists have welcomed Alberts expedition, and his image in the worlds media is changing from that of a playboy millionaire to a responsible leader.In 2002 47 year old Prince Albert agreed to a DNA test to show whether he was the father to a boy born to a former air hostess he had had a relationship with, and more recently has been linked by the press with 28 year old South African swimming champion Charlene Wittstock.But one of the first actions he took after succeeding to the throne was to sign the Kyoto Protocol, taking Monaco outside of the small group of countries that had failed to ratify the treaty, designed to reduce the worlds emissions of greenhouses gases.Monaco Grand PrixThe Monaco Prince Albert inherited from his father is now the worlds best known tax haven, and the ultimate European destination for luxury hotels, including the Hotel de Paris, frequently quoted in guides as among the top ten in the world.one local on-line travel guide comment that Prince Alberts interest in the worlds environment sets a different agenda than that of his father, who transformed the principality in his reign into an economically safe country for the worlds wealthy to live and invest.Residents of the principality enjoy a zero rated income tax.As well as being a tax haven, Monaco hosts the best known Formula 1 Grand Prix of the year around the streets of Monte Carlo and Fontveille in May. Over recent years Monaco has also become a destination of choice for the super-rich in September, when it hosts the Monaco Yacht Show.And while the Grand Prix and Yacht Show fill the hotels in "Monte Carlo" and Monaco each year, and on an everyday basis every second car seems to be an Aston Martin or Ferrari, locals hope that Prince Albert doesnt look too close to home when it comes to his concern for the environment. Cancelling the "Monaco Grand Prix" in 2007 to show his concern for the environment would certainly grab world headlines, but might not be a popular decision among his subjects.But locals feel that there is little danger of this though Albert is after all the son of Hollywood star Grace Kelly, and future media appearances could just as well be in celebrity magazines as environment campaign ones.
If you want to experience Europe, you need to travel to Italy. No other country on earth offers the depth, breadth, and scope of Italy. For lovers of art, history, architecture, or music Italy is unsurpassable. From the Ancient Roman Empire to the Medieval Tuscan fortress towns and the Venetian Republic, Italy's incredible historical diversity has come together to produce a country so incredible, so remarkable, so beautiful as to leave the visitor with an unquenchable desire to return again and again. The legacy of the Renaissance and its masterpieces of art, music, and architecture have left such a tangible mark on the Italian soul one can barely help being swept along in the tide of culture. If you're a lover of nature, there are majestic mountains, crystal seas, rolling hills, fertile plains, sweeping cliffs, and magical lagoons, you need to "travel to Italy" .Travel to Italy The Cities to SeeMilan is rivaled only by Paris as the fashion capital of the world and is shopping at its best. Rome has been the heart of Italy from the time of the Romans through today; to walk its streets is to walk in the footsteps of Emperors and Popes. Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance and its presence reverberates through the old cobbled streets and beautiful churches. Venice - the most unique and romantic city in the world, stands timeless and beautiful in the midst of the Adriatic, a magnificent creation highlighting man at his most artistic. Finally the majestic and striking natural beauty of the Amalfi Coast, a place to relax, soak in the tremendous natural beauty, dine on the world's favorite cuisine at its finest, and experience that special joy of being that is uniquely Italian. No matter what you're seeking, it awaits you when you travel Italy and visit its cities.The WeatherWhen you travel to Italy, it's important to know that despite its geographical position at the center of the temperate zone, Italy has rather variable climatic characteristics. This is due to the presence of the Mediterranean, whose warm waters mitigate thermal extremes, and the Alpine arc, which forms a barrier against the cold north winds. Furthermore, when you "travel Italy" , remember that Italy is subject to both wet and moderate atmospheric currents from the Atlantic Ocean and dry and cold ones from Eastern Europe.The Apennine chain too, confronting the wet winds from the Tyrrhenian, causes considerable climatic differences between the opposite sides of the peninsula. The differences in temperature between the winter and summer months are more marked in the northern regions than in the south and along the coasts. The mean temperatures for the month of January in the Po Plain fluctuate around zero, while in the Alpine valleys the thermometer can drop to -20 and snow can remain on the ground for many weeks.In the southern regions, instead, the mean temperatures for January remain around 10, with the exception of the inland mountainous zones. Mean summer temperatures throughout all Italy rise to 24-25 for July, only being lower in the highest zones. Rainfall distribution also varies considerably, due to the influence of both mountains and prevailing winds. The highest quantities are registered in the Alpine arc (over 3,000 mm pa in the Lepontine and Julian Alps) and on the Apennines (over 3,000 mm pa in the Apuan Alps). The plains, however, including that of the Po, receive scarce precipitation. Generally it is less than 800-900 mm pa but in the southern regions (Tavoliere and southern Sicily) it falls below 600 mm pa. The great internal Alpine valleys and the coastal plains of the Tyrrhenian (Maremma) and Sardinia also receive little rain. Altogether, six large climatic regions can be distinguished, mainly characterized by mountain influence.So as you can see, when you travel to Italy, there is much to experience. The culture, history, and beauty of Italy make Italy a top European travel destination.
Australia, The Commonwealth of Australia, is a country located in the Southern Hemisphere. Australia comprises the world's smallest continent as well as a number of islands in the Southern, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Neighboring Countries to Australia include: Indonesia, The Solomon Islands, East Timor, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu and New Zealand.Australia the continent has been inhabited for an estimated 500 years by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. After several random visitations by European expeditionists and merchants from the 17th century onwards, the British claimed the eastern half of the country in 1770. Britain officially settled as the penal colony of New South Wales in January of 1788. Population grew quickly in Australia as new areas were explored. As a result another five self-governing Crown Colonies were established in succession during the 19th century.In January of 1901 the six colonies federated to form the Commonwealth of Australia. Currently Australia has a population of around 20 million, concentrated heavily in the Eastern coastal cities of Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth.Feel free to reprint this article as long as you keep the following caption and author biography in tact with all hyperlinks.