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Here are some of the destinations you could visit.

The local Tourist Office is usually full of interesting local events and attractions as well as hotels.

 

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Innsbruck Tirolean capital - Twice Winter Olympics hostInnsbruck is the only major city in the European Alps.
Twice host to the Winter Olympics, Innsbruck is a curtural center that has taken over 800 years to evolve. With its 25 nearby Village Resorts, Innsbruck is at one with nature and its mountain environment. Innsbruck offers winter guests a tempting choice of great skiing and snowboarding in the Olympic SkiWorld. However, as famous as Innsbruck is for winter sports, it�s a great summer destination and shines as a hiking center, too.
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Klagenfurt Austria's Event CapitalAustria's Event Capital - Beach volleyball Grand Slam, Ironman Austria (Europe�s biggest!) - the best sporting events!

The season�s highlights include: Carnival in Klagenfurt, dancing through the ball season (January, February), "rainbow skies" at the international hot-air balloon meeting, the Ingeborg Bachmann literary competition (June), musical hits on the Woerthersee stage (July, August), music & magic in Klagenfurt�s enchanting old town with its city-centre flea market (August), Oktoberfest with entertainment park, open air New Year�s Eve party....

The old city reflects 800 years of history. Thanks to the work of Italian architects throughout the 16th and 17th centuries the city centre has an almost southern atmosphere. Over 50 romantic courtyards were built and most of them have been renovated with great effort and are open to the public. Nevertheless the city is not a museum, but a living town. Courtyards and shopping arcades house cafes, shops and restaurants which make a stroll a pleasant way to pass your time. Klagenfurt is also well worth a visit because of its many parks and the lake.

From old grocery stores to designer boutiques, from delicatessens to fashion department stores � that's shopping in Klagenfurt. There's something for every taste. Surrounded by beautiful historical facades, shopping is relaxation and excitement in one. Hundreds of shops in the streets and generous traffic-free zones create a special flair. Depending on the season, the shopping town Klagenfurt attracts shoppers with various "treats". From spring to autumn you can sit outside the restaurants in nice gardens or in advent you can drink punch at one of the numerous punch stands � shopping breaks between are worth the time. Apart from that, it's comfortable as well. Although Klagenfurt has a large traffic-free zone, there are enough car parks for shoppers. Every ten minutes the city bus goes from all big car parks to the city centre for free.

Farmers Markets: Waidmannsdorf, Baumbachplatz, Wednesday and Saturday morning Viktring, community centre, Friday morning Benediktinerplatz: market party, every first Saturday of the month (May to October) Feschnig, Friday 2 - 5 pm
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Salzburg one of Austria's leading trade centresSalzburg has developed into one of Austria's leading trade centres, and at the same time the city has became one of the most popular tourist venues in the Austria.
The Sound of Music was filmed here and visitors wanting to see the film locations for themselves flock to the city.The baroque majesty of the old city's many carefully restored buildings.

Salzburg's Cathedral is probably the city's most significant piece of church architecture and its ecclesiastical center. With its magnificent fa�ade and mighty dome it represents the most impressive early Baroque edifice north of the Alps. Christmas shoppers will enjoy the "Christkindlmarkt" (Christmas Market) held near the Catherdral

Saltzburg is also a city of music. The Salzburg Festival brings new creative energy to the city. There are other musical events throughout the year. Music lovers may also enjoy a visit to Mozart Square which dominated by the status of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Salzburg's greatest son.

Salzburg's old city is famed as beeing Austria's most attractive shopping centre. And as far as specialist trade-fairs in Austria are concerned, the city of Mozart also enjoys pride of place.

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Ibiza beautiful little jewel of a Mediterranean islandThe Mediterranean island of Ibizi has many forms of intertainment from nightclubs to art exhibitions.

This beautiful little jewel of a Mediterranean island is home to film stars and fishermen, farmers and fashion models, ex-pats and tourists. Known as 'Isla Blanca', the White Island. Ibiza's beauty was first discoverred by writers and artists. It has numerous beautiful beaches and coves, traditional villages and olive and lemon groves. If you want to live it up in Ibiza�s nightclubs, you�ll find some of the wildest places around - but if you�re after a peaceful family holiday, you can leave all that behind and simply enjoy this island�s beautiful beaches. Whatever sort of holiday you�re looking for, you can be sure of a warm welcome in Ibiza.

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Mahon relaxing by day and buzzing by night.Mahon has been the capital of Menorca, since the British moved it from Ciutadella in 1721.

In Menorca, the accent is on the unhurried and scenic. The roads are rarely busy, and the landscape is one of rolling farmland, magnificent cliffs and exquisite golden sands. A sunfilled day on a deserted beach in the north of the island, however, can easily be topped off by an evening in a pleasant harbour restaurant in Mahon before a visit to one of the many stylish bars in the port. Menorca is steeped in a wealth of cultural and architectural heritage. The island was under British rule for many years and you won't fail to notice the many oddities inherited from that time. The criss-cross of dry stone walls, fields of freisian cattle and the occasional Georgian house peering over the olive and lemon groves have a distinctly familiar look to them. With gin distilled in Mahon to an English recipe, and roasts with 'grevi' not uncommon, we are sure you will find this heady mix under warm Mediterranean skies enchanting.

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Palma Mediaeval monasteries and castles perch 'quixotically'The fact that the islands benefit from an average of three hundred days of sunshine, make the Balearics one of the most pleasant regions with regard to climate in the whole of Europe

Away from the island's bustling capital Palma and the frenetic atmosphere of its nearby 'high rise' resorts, a startling change of pace and scenery takes over. Fertile fields dotted with windmills turning lazily in the breeze, give way to rolling countryside covered in olive and almond groves punctuated by vineyards and small, sun-bleached villages. Mediaeval monasteries and castles perch 'quixotically' atop pine clad mountains and look out over the azure sea that encircles the island's 400 km of beautiful coastline, most of which is surprisingly untouched by signs of mass tourism and remains virtually unknown to all but a few of Mallorca's many visitors.

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Bourgas Awaken your sensesBourgas,the fourth largest city in Bulgaria, has a climate which is temperately continental with a distinct impact from the Black Sea.

Bulgaria has been dealt a generous hand by nature. There is the impressive 230-mile long Black Sea coast with some of the finest sandy beaches in Europe, the magnificent mountain ranges bursting with flora and fauna, and an amazing cultural heritage worth exploring. be entertained in a modern seaside reort, relax on secluded beaches, awaken your senses on the mountain slopes or take a journey through a land of tradition and contrasts.

Arrival airport: Bourgas

Sunny Beach " The name says it all..." Sunny Beach is a large purpose-built family resort with beautiful and safe beaches. Great sports, excursions, excellent restaurants, discos and nightclubs.

Nessebur & Elenite:"Two magical holiday places on the Black Sea coast. " Close to Sunny Beach is the 7th-century fishing village of Old Nessebur with its wooden fishermen's houses and its famed four dozen Byzantine churches, it's history dates back some 2500 years. The old quarter is under a preservation order as a living museum town. Superb opportunities exist for the budding artist or photographer.Don't be mislead though, there is no "museum" feeling here as both the old and the new town are full of life with music and entertainment. Elenite with it's attracitve beach and excellent range of sports makes it an ideal and popular resort with families.

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Plovdiv Cultural Capital of Europer for 1999Plovdiv, in the Southern/Central part of Bulgaria, is always unique and fascinating with each season distinctly different.

In the winter it is fabuously white; in the spring it is covered with green and flowers, in the summer it is almost unreal in the ghastly heat of Thracia, in the autumn it is calm and placid, with ripe figs and sweet grapes dropping into soft foliage.

Bulgaria has been dealt a generous hand by nature. There is the impressive 230-mile long Black Sea coast with some of the finest sandy beaches in Europe, the magnificent mountain ranges bursting with flora and fauna, and an amazing cultural heritage worth exploring. be entertained in a modern seaside reort, relax on secluded beaches, awaken your senses on the mountain slopes or take a journey through a land of tradition and contrasts.

Pamporovo: " winning the hearts of many" Pamporovo is a pleasant purpose-built centre set in spectacular pine forests high among the Rhodope Mountains in southern Bulgaria. There may be something in the air here as many of the locals live to be 100+, or it may be just because this claims to be Europe's sunniest ski resort, averaging 270 sunshine days annually. Pamporovo lies 260 km away from Sofia and 83km from Plovdiv. It's altitude is 1,620 metres and nearby are the Snezanka peak (1,973m) with it's TV tower and Mourgavets peak (1,858m) The total length of the resort's ski runs exceeds 17,000 meters with facilities for up to 7,500 persons/hour.

Arrival Airport: Plovdiv

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Sofia Ever Growing, Never Ageing"Ever Growing, Never Ageing" this motto is written on Sofia's coat of arms. Sofia, Bulgaria's capital, is one of the oldest settlements in Europe. For over 7,000 years Sofia has been a meeting place of the four directions of the world.

Tribes and peoples came and went, civilisations flourished and declined but the city stayed forever. Historically it has been recorded as Serdica, Triaditsa, Sredets and Sofia. Old Sofia is literally buried beneath a modern facade.

There are many archaeological sites in Sofia that display the city's diverse history - the town gates and towers of Serdica, public buildings and streets thousands of years old. A large part of the ancient city of Serdica is underneath important modern buildings. The ancient city council is hidden under the "Sheraton" hotel, a number of basilicas are below the Palace of Justice, and a Roman residence with elaborate mosaics is below the "Rila" hotel. Over 250 archaeological, historical and cultural monuments are part of the cityscape of the capital. Today Sofia is a modern and busy capital, centre of Bulgaria's political, economic and cultural life. The harmony between the past and the present day lends the city its unique charm. Sofia has the tumult of a capital city and the convenience of a compact centre, where all the main sights can be visited on foot.


Territory: 110,993,6 km2
Population: 7,973,671
Capital:Sofia
Official language: Bulgarian
Religion:Orthodox
Political system:Parliamentary Republic
National currency: Lev
Measures and scales: the metric system
Time zone:GMT +2
Climate:The predominant climate in Bulgaria is moderate and transitional continental. (2,000 to 2,400 hours of sunlight per year). Four seasons. Dry and hot summer. Average temperature (April - September): + 23 C. Cold winter with snowfalls, average temperature: 0 C. The average yearly temperature is 10.5 C. A Mediterranean climate, with dry summers and mild, humid winters, prevails in the valley of the southwestern Rhodope Mountains. The northern limits of the climatic zone is the Balkan Range.

Bulgaria offers pleasures for each ones taste - swimming, skiing, riding, climbing, hunting, fishing,amazing nature, sunny beaches, healing spas, monasteries and churches, hospitable towns and villages... Choose Bulgaria for a holiday to remember!

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Varna Bulgaria has its own little secret

Varna and Bourgas are used for domestic flights and only during the summer months handle international charter flights.

A world of unspoilt, natural beauty, steeped in history and culture, Bulgaria has its own little secret; some of the best sandy beaches in Europe. The crystal clear waters are perfect for swimming and diving, with many watersports on offer. Although better known in Britain for its skiing, Bulgaria is an ideal summer destination with hours of glorious sunshine in the high season. Its natural beauty and history allows you to combine sightseeing with days spent on endless sandy beaches.

Food:
The main meal is eaten in the middle of the day. Dinner is a social occasion, with dancing in many restaurants. Food is spicy, hearty and good. National dishes include cold yoghurt soup with cucumbers, peppers or aubergines stuffed with meat, kebapcheta (small, strongly spiced, minced meat rolls). Fruit is particularly good and cheap throughout the year. Banitsa is a pastry stuffed with fruit or cheese. There is a wide variety of national dishes, as well as West European standard dishes, which can be chosen on the spot at any restaurant. All good hotels have restaurants and there are many attractive folk-style restaurants and caf�s throughout the country.

Drink:
Coffee, heavily sweetened, is particularly popular. Drinks are also made from infusions of mountain herbs and dried leaves, particularly lime. White wines include Karlouski Misket, Tamianka and Evksinograde. Heavy red wines include Trakia and Mavroud.

Nightlife:
Some restaurants have folk dancing and music. Opera is performed at the State Opera House in Sofia; other classical concerts include the National Folk Ensemble. There are nightclubs with floor shows and dancing in Sofia, as well as in most major towns and all the resorts.

Shopping:
The main shopping area of Sofia is the Vitosha Boulevard. Bulgarian products, handicrafts, wines, spirits and confectionery can all be purchased. Shopping hours: Shops and stores are generally open 1000-2000 Monday to Friday; 1000-1400 Saturday.

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Halifax capital of Nova ScotiaFrom Halifax, drive, bike or hike the Cabot Trail, Canada�s great ocean highway.

Halifax, being the capital of Nova Scotia boasts many provincial and government offices as well as a dense population with profusion of attractions, entertainment and cultural activities. Highland Games, Multicultural Festivals, strawberry socials, Neptune Theatre as well as many International and National Shows take place throughout the year. The Nova Scotia International Tattoo attracts a diverse population to enjoy the skirl of the pipes and precision military drills. Craft shows, Farmers Markets, Natal Day celebrations, fireworks, Picnics, Concert Series, Shakespeare in the Park, and Kitchen Parties and the Universities are a few of the attractions this sea bound city has to offer.

Saunter throughout Historic properties and leisurely enjoy the shops, atmosphere, music and excitement as the Ferry from Dartmouth arrives to disembark and load passenger for the shuttle across the harbor. Halifax evokes old world charm and a graceful connection to the historic past. Halifax is alive with many eateries that cater to every taste and culture, bars, taverns, and a vibrant nightlife. Ongoing artists show their works in video, paintings, television and sculpture in the galleries that are spread throughout Halifax. Halifax welcomes local, national and international leaders to the city with a warm Haligonian style for Royalty, Presidents and Prime Ministers. The skyline of Halifax has an eclectic skyline with 18th and 19th century buildings as well as the modern glass and steel modern skyline. Halifax comprises a Regional Municipality that includes its sister city of Dartmouth, Bedford and Sackville.

Enjoy the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia that has a large exhibit of folk art and maritime artwork to view.The Nova Scotia Museum, Archives of Nova Scotia, Maritime Museum as well as The Black Cultural Center for Nova Scotia must be on your agenda while visiting the cities. Halifax was settled mainly to counteract the influence of the French in North America and held a very strategic location in defense of the colonies. During the summer months you can view and experience the Citadel re-enactments of early 19th century Halifax. Halifax abounds with nightlife, theatres, pubs, shopping, taverns and great cuisine, from street vendors to elegant dining.

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Ottawa Ontario has sights for all kinds of visitorsOntario boasts the provincial and federal capitals Toronto and Ottawa. But there's more to this area than just politics.

Farming communities, Great Lake beaches and the natural splendor of the northern part of the province provides for a diverse vacation. Whether you're flying into a major airport or taking a scenic drive across the province, you'll find Ontario has sights for all kinds of visitors

Ottawa offers history, nightlife and family entertainment all in one. First time visitors to Canada will want to see the Parliament Buildings located in the bustling downtown core. Through winter or summer, people can enjoy a skate or a stroll along the Rideau Canal. Take an architecture tour or wander through the historic Byward Market or Sparks Street Mall. This city is over flowing with museums such as Canada's War Museum and the Canadian Museum of Civilization. With over 70 shopping centres, a wide variety of restaurants, pubs and bars and a casino, Ottawa has everything you need if you're looking for excitement on the town.

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Toronto The city of lights

Toronto: The city of lights, camera, action! Ontario's capital provides entertainment for the whole family. Experience the diverse culture in the city with different foods and customs from around the world.

Toronto possesses the best features of the world in one clean, safe, friendly place. Consider this:

  • A theatre scene rivaled only by London and New York
  • More than 80 cultures from around the globe
  • Attractions that range from high art to lively family fun
  • Polished services for business travelers
  • A shopping mecca with international flair
  • A friendly, open and welcoming attitude
  • Some of the best dining the world has to offer
  • Year-round international festivals of film, culture, music and more
  • Miles of waterfront, beaches, boardwalks and trails
One of the safest cities in the world for residents and visitors alike What could possibly make this any better? How about packing many of our most popular attractions within walking distance of each other! In downtown Toronto, a leisurely walk is all it takes to travel between thousands of hotel rooms, great sporting venues, the CN Tower, major convention centres, endless shopping, top theatre, the waterfront, and inspired cuisine. And beyond the vibrant and quirky neighbourhoods of the city are more fabulous attractions, plus breathtaking countryside, Niagara Falls, a world-class wine region and dozens of outdoor adventures � all just a short drive away.

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Vancouver one of the most remarkable cities you'll ever visitVancouver is located in the southwest corner of Canada in the province of British Columbia. It's one of the most remarkable cities you'll ever visit.

Vancouver sits at the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Nestled snugly in and around the slopes of the snow-capped Coast Mountains. Where your need for the city is satisfied. Your yearning for nature is indulged. Spring ski one of three local mountains in the morning. Or walk on one of 16 beaches. Sail in the afternoon. Or explore part of the 1000-acre Stanley Park downtown. In the evening, shop on Robson Street or visit the bistros on Granville Island. Tour the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, Maritime Museum, or Vancouver Art Gallery. Spring is the perfect time to catch a show at one of many live theatres, a symphony at the Orpheum, or the opera at Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Treat your taste buds in our fabulous cafes, European-style bistros and four-star restaurants. While you won't run out of things to do, Vancouver's also the ideal retreat to do absolutely nothing at all. Truly the best of both worlds.

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Arrecife the capital of LanzaroteFine golden sand and calm waters can be found in the beaches of downtown Arricife.

Arrecife, formerly having been just the port of Teguise, has grown to be the island of Lanzarote's actual capital. Above its port, there are two great fortresses, San Gabriel and San Jos�. Another fortress, the Castillo de San Gabriel of 15th century, is located at a small island in front of the port and connected with Arrecife by a draw-bridge.Among Arrecife's major attractions is the town's Museum of Contemporary Art, inside another castle, the Castillo de San Juan, showing several outstanding works of Cesar Manrique.

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Fuerteventura three thousand hours of sunshine a yearFuerteventura is the second largest (after Tenerife) of all the Canary Islands.

With only 100km separating the 'Punta de la Entallada' from Cape Juby in Morroco is the closest Canary Island to the African coast.

It is easy to get away from it all on Fuerteventura, whether you venture into its famous dunes or head off for the volcanic landscapes of the interior. It is worth renting a car for a few days, or you can join an organised excursion. A more novel way of discovering Fuerteventura is to take part in a camel safari. These set off according to demand from La Lajita in the south of the island for guests in Costa Calma and Jandia and near to Lajares for those staying in Corralejo and Caletta de Fuste.

Another popular outing is a boat trip to the uninhabited island of Isla de Lobos, whose beaches are even more secluded than those on Fuerteventura. There are no roads and no cars here - any exploration you do will be on foot. You can also take a ferry to Lanzarote, only 35 minutes away from Corralejo. Founded in 1485, Antigua is another pretty little village with a handsome church. Set around a large black and white windmill, once used to grind corn for the local speciality gofio, the Molino de Antigua cultural centre nearby contains a fine cactus garden, a craft shop and changing exhibitions of art.

A more strenuous way of exploring the island is to go on a walking tour. You might visit a volcanic crater, walk along the dry riverbed of a barranco (valley) or climb up Witch Mountain at Tindaya. Stout shoes essential! As you wander round the island, pause for a while in some of its attractive villages like Betancuria, named after the Norman baron B�thencourt who discovered the island. An appealing collection of whitewashed houses, some with doorways and facades dating back hundreds of years, it was the capital of Fuerteventura until 1834. Situated near the church, the Casa Santa Maria complex contains a small museum, a bodega selling local produce and craft workshops. The village also boasts a museum of archaeology containing relics of the island�s original inhabitants - the Guanches.

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La Palma one of the Canary Islands hidden treasuresLa Palma is one of the Canary Islands hidden treasures.

Often referred to as La Isla Bonita (The Beautiful Island), it has lush pine forests, banana plantations and rugged volcanic landscape. Located 85 kilometres from Tenerife, La Palma has been sculptured by nature to provide an island of breathtaking contrast that has enticed visitors ever since the Phoenician explorers first arrived in the 6th Century BC.

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Las Palmas beautiful Gran CanariaLas Palmas on beautiful Gran Canaria promises you a sun-filled holiday whatever the season.

There is something here for everyone, whether you relish long lazy days by the sea or more active pursuits. The large resorts have facilities to keep you occupied all round the clock, or you can get away from it all in tranquil villages, which still retain a traditional Canarian feel. The diversity of landscapes is staggering, and if you feel the urge to explore, all sorts of delights await you - from flourishing banana plantations and lush green valleys to lofty volcanoes and desolate lava fields.

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Tenerife largest of the Canary Islands

Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands and also dominates the other islands by the number of visitors it attracts each year.

The two main tourist areas in the south of the island are Los Christianos and Playa De Las Americas which seamlessly join onto each other. Los Christianos is the quieter of the two attracting mainly families and couples looking for a relaxing holiday. Playa De Las Americas is full of life and is certainly where you will find the party people congregating thanks to its countless restaurants, party bars and clubs. �Playa�, as it is commonly known, is a custom built tourist resort designed specifically to attract more people to the island and increase its revenue. Because of this, Playa de Las Americas is the most famous tourist area in Tenerife, and so this is where you will find plenty of small beaches, protected by long breakwaters to stop the made up sand banks being washed away. Being an area with a large number of tourists, always count on meeting a considerable crowd on the beaches. The great thing about this area is that all beaches are just a footstep away from each other. This is the place to practice all kinds of water sports and enjoy some lovely scenery.It�s at night when this resort comes to life with countless bars restaurants and clubs serving into the early hours. Later in this guide we will cover the best bars and clubs advising you on where is hot and where is not! There are 3 main areas for nightlife within Playa. These places are Veronicas, Starco Commercial Centre and the patch. Veronicas has a reputation of being dirty, brash and boisterous but the recent redevelopment of all the Veronicas buildings is slowly starting to quash the reputation. Bars on Veronicas include O'Neils, Jumpin' Jacks and Busbies. Starco Commercial Centre is a block of bars that is situated just off the Veronicas buildings. It hosts loads of bars in a very small space. You could spend an entire night in this area simply because you have so much choice! The Patch is lower profile than the other two areas. This is home to a lot of cabaret bars and karaoke bars which stay open to varying times. Although these bars are still lively, they cater for a more mature cliental.
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Antigua a small island of rolling hills and flowering trees

Antigua, largest of the British Leeward Islands, has warm, steady winds and a complex coastline of safe harbours.

Although the interior of Antigua, a small island of rolling hills and flowering trees, has tons of charm, what really attracts visitors here is its spectacular coastline of perfect coves and graceful harbours. In fact the island has no less than 365 beaches, and, as each one is dusted with light-coloured sand, it�s not difficult to understand why sun-worshippers from near and far find this irresistible part of the Caribbean so enticing. Consequently Antigua� has become the most developed of the Leeward Islands. Antigua�s colourful political history may or may not have anything to do with the character of its people. Nevertheless, it certainly is a lively place.

The Antigua Sailing Week starts on the last weekend in April and is one of the most famous sporting events in the whole of the Caribbean. Visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to watersports, diving and snorkelling and, of course, there�s the cricket. This sport is an Antiguan passion verging on obsession and it�s no coincidence that the island has spawned some of the game�s finest players. Its splendid climate and party atmosphere. During the last week of July and first week of August the island explodes into life as the carnival comes to town attracting a fair number of foreign millionaires to Antigua. Their presence has brought a touch of glamour which is maybe less obvious in other quieter Caribbean islands. That�s not to say that Antiguans aren�t proud of their past and their traditions - many cherished old buildings are testament to that - it�s just that they�ve always got an eye on what may be around the corner!

.St. John�s, the capital, is an excellent place to shop for clothes in vivid colours, handicrafts and luxury items. . On Antigua there are Italian restaurants, French, Indian and English-style dining, as well as traditional Caribbean fare. Seafood is popular here, and chefs make good use of locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, breadfruit and the sweet, black pineapple. The best value alcoholic tipples are the punches and daiquiris laced with rum. Antigua�s blissful serenity and laid-back lifestyle are as hypnotic as the turquoise seas that gently embrace it.

Time:
Atlantic Standard Time, one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time and the same as Eastern Daylight Time. GMT -4.

Open for Business/Shopping:
Hours of business are 8am-12pm and 1pm-4pm Monday to Saturday. Most non-tourist shops operate half day closing on Thursdays. Saturday is market day in the capital, St John�s. A wonderful array of local fruit, vegetables and fish is available. At the other end of the spectrum there are a couple of very exclusive complexes selling all manner of duty free goods. Somewhere in the middle, local shops sell batik, clothing, carvings and shells.

Money Matters:
The local currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$). Banks are open for business 8am-2pm Monday to Thursday, 8am-1pm and 3pm-5pm on Fridays. Bank of Antigua is also open on Saturdays, 8am-12pm. All foreign exchange transactions attract a 1% charge, but travellers� cheques might cost you more. Most banks will give you cash with Mastercard or Visa.

Getting Around:
Antigua offers reasonably priced car hire and is one of the best ways to see the island. Taxis have �H� registration plates and operate from a couple of ranks. They don�t have meters so agree fares before getting in. Buses don�t operate in tourist areas and the mini-van services are rather erratic, if cheap.

Electricity:
Antigua generally uses 220v, with some areas using 110v.

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Aruba unique for a Caribbean Island

Lying about 12 degrees north of the equator, the island of Aruba is part of the West Indies in the Caribbean Sea.

Aruba's natural attractions are unique for a caribbean island. You'll find historic gold mills, unusual megalithic rock formations, bird sanctuaries, and much more. In the 1400's and 1500's, adventurers traveled throughout the Caribbean in search of wealth and treasures. According to legend, one of these treasure islands was named "Oro Ruba," which means "red gold." Now known as Aruba, a colorful history of gold prospectors has shaped the island's history. Today, remnants of this history can still be visited. In a jeep or on a scooter enjoy driving around spectacles such as the massive sand dunes at Boca Prins on the north east coast. But the best way to enjoy them is to don some hardy clothing and do a little dune sliding. Aruba's beaches consist of white sand and calm waters, each with it's own flavour to suit your taste. Eagle Beach, Just one of Aruba's beaches, is a well-visited public beach for locals, replete with shaded picnic areas and plenty of parking right off the main road. Several low-rise hotels are nearby, just off the street from the beach. View a Live Cam from Bucuti Beach
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Bridgetown possibly the best climate in all the West Indies

Fanned by trade winds, the island paradise of Barbados has possibly the best climate in all of the West Indies.

A small pear-shaped island just 21 miles long and 14 miles across,home to over 250,000 people, it's welcoming atmosphere is as warm as the weather.

Along with its relaxed atmosphere and tropical beauty, one of the most striking things about Barbados is its Britishness. There are churches and government buildings which would sit happily in any British town.

Barbados really is a place of discovery - a maze of little roads ,rolling hills of sugar cane, luxuriant dales, sandy beaches and beautiful rocky bays. To gain an even more spectacular view of Barbados there are a number of ways to take in its splendour: helicopter rides, submarine trips and a choice of boat excursions.

The island differs from many other Caribbean islands in that it isn�t volcanic and mountainous. It�s the result rather of huge slabs of limestone and coral that have risen slowly out of the sea. Consequently, much of the east coast is made up of rugged cliffs that emerge straight from the Atlantic breakers. The land then rises in a series of small steps before sloping gently down to the calmer, sandy beaches on the west coast. It�s on this side that you encounter some of the most incredible blue and aquamarine water imaginable.

As well as providing a wonderful opportunity for you to spend leisurely hours exploring and sight-seeing, Barbados hosts an array of exciting activities such as riding, championship golf and watersports.

The cuisine in the Caribbean has improved immeasurably in recent years and Barbados is no exception. Local and international dishes are available in the hotels and restaurants, and you�ll find a delicious selection of exotic fruits, chicken and fresh fish high on the list of any menu throughout Barbados. Living up to its reputation for elegance, Barbados houses some of the most sophisticated shops in the Caribbean. You can purchase duty-free goods in Bridgetown, and stroll around boutiques selling a wide range of smart casual wear in the resorts and capital. Barbados - the holiday island where paradise awaits your arrival.

Open for Business/Shopping:
Business and shopping hours are generally 8am-4pm or 5pm on weekdays and 8am-12pm on Saturdays. Banks are open Monday to Friday, 8am-3pm and generally shut on Saturdays. These days there is an increasing number of ATMs from which you can draw cash with Visa, Cirrus, Plus and MasterCards. Many shoppers in Barbados, as elsewhere in the region, are in search of tax free bargains. Although the shops and malls aren�t exactly giving things away, foreign visitors (bearing passports and tickets) are likely to come across some good deals on expensive items like jewellery, gems, cameras, watches and cosmetics. There�s also a surprisingly vibrant local rag trade on the island, so you�ll find no shortage of brightly coloured clothes and painted tee-shirts. Mount Gay is perhaps the world�s best known rum which is available everywhere.

Money Matters:
Major credit cards are welcome in most decent sized outlets. In many shops, bars and restaurants you can also pay with US dollars.

Getting Around:
Barbados is a small island and easy to get around. Some people choose to be totally independent and hire cars. Although the roads are reasonable and the driving generally level-headed, caution is still recommended. Rental prices however can be relatively high. You will also need to purchase a local driving license which is very cheap and just required as a formality.

Electricity:
Barbados uses 110v, but British-style three prong plugs are becoming more common.

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Grenada The Spice of the CaribbeanGrenada is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled of the Caribbean islands.

The interior of this volcanic island has cascading rivers and waterfalls, lush rain forests, and one of the most breathtakingly beautiful mountain lakes imaginable. The capital, St. George's, is widely held to be the most picturesque city in the Caribbean. Its horseshoe shaped harbour is surrounded by a pastel rainbow of dockside warehouses and the red tiled roofs of traditional shops and homes. Christopher Columbus discovered Grenada in 1498.The island was already inhabited by the Carib Indians. Columbus named the island Concepcion. However,passing Spanish sailors found its lush green hills so evocative of Andalusia that they rejected this name in favor of Granada. The French then called it La Grenade, and the British followed suit, changing Grenade to Grenada (pronounced Gre-nay-da).

Time:
Grenada, Carriacou & Petit Martinique are in the Atlantic Standard Time Zone, one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time and four hours behind GMT.

Location:
The three islands of Grenada are located in the Eastern Caribbean at the southern extremity of the Windward islands, only 100 miles north of Venezuala. To the north lie St. Vincent and the Grenadines; to the south Trinidad and Tobago.

Currency:
The East Caribbean dollar is the currency used locally. It is linked to the US dollar.

Electricity:
Voltage is 220 volts - 50 cycles. Appliances rated at 110 volts (US standard) normally work satisfactorily with a transformer. Most hotels have standard British three prong plugs, and provide dual voltage shaver units. Bring an adapter plug for small appliances.

Climate:
Average temperatures range from 24C/75F to 30C/87F, tempered by the steady and cooling trade winds. The lowest temperatures occur between November and February. Because of Grenada's remarkable topography, the island also experiences climate changes according to altitude. The driest season is between January and May. Even during the rainy season, from June to December, it rarely rains for more than an hour at a time and generally not every day.

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La Romana one of the world's most fabulous resortsLa Romana is located in the Southeastern region of Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Sea.

Once a sleepy cattle and sugarcane settlement, La Romana is now home to one of the world's most fabulous resorts. Although La Romana can be visited on a day trip from the capital, a few days are necessary to really do it justice.

Casa de Campo is La Romana's most impressive sight--its hotel and villa accommodations and endless leisure facilities are spread over 7,000 acres of lush terrain on the Caribbean coast. The resort boasts ultra-chic interiors and beautifully landscaped gardens and grounds.

Minutes away from the resort buildings but still part of the Casa de Campo complex is Altos de Chavn, an exact replica of a 16th-century Mediterranean village, perched on the cliffs above the Chavn River. The village, hand-constructed in 1978 by local artisans under the direction of Italian set designer Roberto Copa, serves as both a living museum and an artists' colony, providing a picturesque setting in which artists live, study and work. The Church of St. Stanislaus is at the center of the village; it was named after the patron saint of Poland in tribute to Pope John Paul II, who visited the island in 1979 and left some of the saint's ashes behind. Nearby is the Regional Museum of Archaeology, which houses a collection of Tano artifacts.

There are three major art galleries in the village, showcasing the works of Dominican, European and American artists. Throughout the winding cobblestone streets are smaller galleries where visitors can learn macram, jewelry making, print making and other crafts or buy the finished products.

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Montego Bay enter Jamaica through the Donald Sangster airportShop till you drop!, you can shop around town for souvenirs and gift items, or find those special Jamaican items to bring back home.

Montego Bay defies description: posh resort, package tour playground, market town, commercial centre, seaport, slum, second city, capital of the west - its disparate elements co-exist without blending.The result is an atmosphere of schizophrenic energy. Almost all tourists enter Jamaica through the Donald Sangster airport but Montego Bay has long outgrown the label "tourist town". It is sometimes referred to as "the Republic" a nickname dating back to the last century when independent local landowners criticized the government for neglecting the western parishes. That situation still exists and true Montegonians, born in the bay and known as "Bawn a bays" sometimes still threaten, only half in jest, to secede from the rest of the island.

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Puerto Plata one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Dominican RepublicOn the northern coast of the Caribbean island of Hispanola, the province of Puerto Plata is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Dominican Republic.

Blessed with beautiful stretches of pristine beaches, lush green valleys, and cradled by a chain of majestic coastal mountains, Puerto Plata was described as "the fairest land under heaven" by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Over 500 years later, the province of Puerto Plata has continued to captivate visitors from around the world with an intoxicating potion of Latin American culture, incredible natural beauty, and the extraordinary kindness of its people.

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St. Lucia one of the prettiest islands in the CaribbeanSt. Lucia is one of the prettiest islands in the Caribbean with vegetation-covered mountains reaching over 3000 feet high, glossy rainforest and acres upon acres of banana plantations.

Discover unspoilt beaches, some with dark volcanic sand, sheltered by coral reefs. Within its 20 mile length there are 3000ft mountain peaks, dormant volcanoes and the spectacular Pitons - two volcanic mountains which soar at impossibly steep angles straight from the sea. The south of the island is highly mountainous, while the north levels out slightly and is where youll find most of the hotels and resorts. These often nestle around curved bays draped in lush tropical greenery. Many people particularly love St Lucia because of its strong French flavour and many of the place names are French. This isnt really surprising when you learn that control of the island passed between the British and the French 14 times!

If you fancy a change from basking on one of the stunning beaches; if floating on a lilo in the clear, blue sea gets a little too much for you, why not saunter around shops or stalls selling hand-screen prints and batiks designed on the island, or marvel at the wood-carving and basket-making.

Caribbean fever hits St. Lucia every May when the Jazz Festival comes to town for four days of non-stop music - concerts are held on Pigeon Island, which is a national landmark. Villages, such as Canaries, balance on the hillsides around big white churches, or like Anse La Raye, cluster at the waters edge. Chickens have the run of the streets and men push wheelbarrows heaped with coconuts past fishing nets spread out on racks. Every Friday night, in an area called Gros Islet, this tranquil scene is shattered as the streets erupt with activity for the weekly Jump-up - a street party for tourists and locals.

All in all, St. Lucia is a country of many exciting flavours and colours; an enchanting corner of the Caribbean. Nowhere on earth is so breathtaking, so perfect; St. Lucia surpasses all expectations.

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Jersey the most southerly island of the British IslesJersey � located some 100 miles (160 km) south of mainland Britain and only 14 miles from the coast of France.

Jersey provides the visitor with a kaleidoscope of sensory stimuli. Despite its small size � Jersey measures just nine miles by five -- all your senses are made to work overtime in this tiny island.

It might be thought that an area of forty-five square miles with a permanent population of something over 85,000 would have little but buildings to explore. But approach the island by air and you see lush valleys, well-kept fields and an unspoilt coastline. Arrive by sea and the rocky grandeur of La Corbiere, the sweep of St. Aubin�s Bay and picturesque Elizabeth Castle set the scene for a grand encounter with a small but delightful island whose variety of scenery, wealth of history and sheer beauty compete with much larger and, perhaps, better-known destinations.

Some 450 miles of roadway (comprising a mix of fast roads and small country lanes) create endless opportunities to explore and discover the unexpected and impressive. Jersey also has a network of over 46 miles of Green Lanes where a speed limit of 15 mph is imposed and priority to given to walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

The sea dominates the landscape with views of the surrounding Atlantic Ocean accessible from virtually every point on the island. The coastline also offers infinite variety � majestic cliffs, exposed bays, sandy beaches and rocky coves are all immediately accessible by road or on foot and just a few minutes� drive from any community. Due to Jersey�s unique position in the Bay of St. Malo the island grows and shrinks twice a day as the tide ebbs and flows in excess of 40 feet - one of the highest tidal ranges in the world.

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Ajaccio A beguiling mix of cultures and pleasuresAjaccio on the lush island of Corsica was once the home town of Napoleon Bonapart.

The approach into cosmopolitan Ajaccio is truly dramatic. As you fly low past the �Iles Sanguinaires�, the ochre-coloured houses of the capital�s old town can be seen across a vast bay, fringed by palm-lined avenues and elegant Italianate streets shaded by plane trees. Wandering along the harbour-front or just sampling local fare at one of the town�s many restaurants, it is easy to fall for Ajaccio�s manifold charms. With beautiful beaches just south at Porticcio, Ajaccio is a truly beguiling mix of culture and sophisticated pleasures.

While Corsica was living drama after another, falling under the blows of the invaders and rising to tear itself, Ajaccio led an almost quiet life. Until its conquest by Sampiero Corso in 1553, it was reserved to the Genoese. Finally in 1592, Corsican set there. Ajaccio considerably grew in the 18th century and inherited the title of capital of Corsica. Then the city grew. Men shaped it according to his needs and not only to his desires anymore.

Nevertheless, this city which fathered one of the big conquerators of history is not agressive tempered. It does not dominate the visitor but seduces him with its charms with, in the same time a smiling nonchalance.

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Bastia in the northeast of Corsica

The Greeks call Corsica 'Kallyste' - the most beautiful.

With its rugged mountains dropping down crescent coves of silver sand and turquoise sea, it really does boast some of the most spectacular landscapes in Europe.

Bastia, the old Genoese capital in the northeast of the island, is a city of contrasts. Encircled by the new town, the ancient heart is a treasure-trove of baroque monuments, including the sumptuously decorated Chapel of Ste-Croix. It is a delight to wander through the narrow streets around the old harbour where the crumbling fa�ades of ancient homes seem to whisper history.

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Calvi second most popular Corsican resortIf Calvi is the second popular Corsican resort, it is because the people of Calvi workk to make tourist welcome.

In Calvi you will find Jazz concerts, rambles, Polyphonic Recitals, sea trips, painting exhibitions, a pony treks and many other attractions.

The medieval hilltop citadel of Calvi takes centre stage in a marvellous natural arena - a circle of craggy mountains encompassing six kilometres of fine, pearly-white sand, hemmed by the fragrant shade of a forest of that most evocative of Mediterranean trees, the umbrella pine. With such physical splendours: a superb beach, a beautiful old town, an exhilarating ring of peaks and a sheltered harbour, it is no surprise that Calvi has long been a popular destination for travellers.

The beaches on this stretch of coast from Calvi to beyond Ile Rousse, where those of Corbara, Lozari and Ostriconi are particularly striking, are some of the most fabulously beautiful on the island, combining clear turquoise water with dazzling sand. Many visitors to the Balagne coast do not realise that something equally stunning and much more peaceful lies just inland; postcard-pretty villages set in a landscape of olive groves, orchards and vineyards with the sea below and craggy peaks above.

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Figari Southern Corsican AirportCorsican waters are some of the cleanest in the Mediterranean so swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving are a delight.

Away from the water there are plenty of other activities in the region. Walking is a particular pleasure, especially in spring and autumn and one of the loveliest walks is from the Genoese Tower on the headland of Campo Moro along the wild and beautiful coast. The beautiful valleys of the Rizzanese and Baracci rivers just inland from Propriano offer craggy peaks, hot springs, gorges, rock pools and vineyards.

The region is beginning to attract many well-known people from the TV, music and film industries, many of whom have chosen this area over the C�te d�Azur to spend their holidays or make their permanent homes. Consequently, this area has become synonymous with stardom, chicness, sophistication as well as amazing beaches and spectacular natural beauty. It is not surprising therefore that it tends to be very busy and lively in the height of the summer period.

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Dubrovnik a highlight of the Adriatic The city of Dubrovnik is situated in the very south of the Republic of Croatia.

Dubrovnik is work of human inspiration.It is mystery of the aesthetic and the material, coalesced in harmony and form. Dubrovnik is light, white walls, chiming bells and sea gulls that slowly flap their wings. It is a city that fills the heart. For centuries now it has explored freedom with verses sung to liberty, the greatest of all treasures cherished by the human heart. Centuries of insight and accord, a simple, charming urban entity, whose integral spirit and concordance are worthy of our deepest admiration. The city at the foot of hill Srd is a highlight of the Adriatic and the whole Croatia.

It's an absorbing city of constant activities and visits to make. Things to see include the city walls, built between the 8th and 16th centuries, a Franciscan monastery with Europe's oldest pharmacy (still working), a 12th-century cathedral; an arsenal built in the 13th century, and a corn depot house (looking like a fortress) that dates back to the 16th century. But the greatest fascination of the town simply lies in its street life and street appearance, its medieval character, all combined with the rich and colorful vegetation of the Mediterranean region. Here, history, culture, and nature all melt into one harmonic unity. Apart from its historic atmosphere, Dubrovnik offers a remarkable number of cultural programs (all of them again in operation following the cessation of hostilities involving Croatia) and a full range of sea sports.

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Pula at the southest end of the Istrian peninsulaCroatia is the Mediterranean as it once was and with 5,835 km of coeastline has a pleasant Mediterranean climate.

Situated at the southest end of the Istrian peninsula Pula has been in existence for 3 thousand years. It represents a very fine combination of the old and modern city where many famous writers and composers have found inspiration for their masterpieces. Many cultural and historical monuments dominate its panorama and represents today the unique setting of various cultural and artistic events. Tourist facilities are located outside the town in woods close to the sea. Beaches stretch along, 100 km of beautifull and indented coast.

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Split in the central part of the Eastern Adriatic CoastThe city area of Split is situated in the central part of the Eastern Adriatic Coast.

The Split peninsula is bordered by the mouth of the small River Zrnovnica near the townlet of Stobrec in the southeast, and the River Jadro in the north. The peninsula on which Cape Marjan is situated, points towards the west. It faces the western cape of the Island Ciovo. Between Marjan Hill and Ciovo is the entrance to the large Bay of Kastela, which extends from Trogir on the extreme west, to Solin on the east. From Trogir to Omis, situated on the very mouth of the River Cetina, lies the wider city area of Split; a markedly elongated and relatively narrow belt, about 60 km along, and only about 5 km wide.

This area is separated from the continental hinterlands by the Dinaric mountain ranges of Kozjak and Mosor, which makes it climatically closed area. The narrow Pass of Klis cuts between these two mountains. The Mosor mountain lies in a large bend of the river Cetina, and it is situated east of the peninsula of Split. Many heights of stand; 1000m are the highest peak is Mosor at 1330 m. Of among twenty caves, the largest and most picturesque is the Vranjaca. As the most beautiful spelological area of Central Dalmatia, it is given a status of a natural monument of Croatia.

The most important green surfaces of the entire city area is on the Marjan Hill in the western part of peninsula. Of the original climatic vegetation, there are old native holm - oak shurbs and oak trees.

The area of Split therefore is characterised by a rich and varying natural heritage and favourable conditions for life. It is therefore understandable that on it�s soil life uncreasingly develops from prehistoric times til today, and according to migration tendencies, is even today one of the most appealing areas of the Croatian Adriatic Coast.

Split offers you it�s many charms: the pines of the Marjan forest, the murmur of the sea and the sound of a dalmatian song on the stone streets of the city.

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Havana The largest city in the CaribbeanThe City of Havana is the destination par excellence in Cuba.

Havana is a fascinating city, with a history and character that you can�t begin to describe. Founded in November 1519, Havana (La Habana) was originally named San Cristobel de La Habana. The site of the city was moved three times before finally settling in its current position on the northern coast of Cuba. The largest city in the Caribbean, Havana is home to more than 3 million Habaneros. Despite the countries turbulent and sometimes-violent history, Havana stands today much as it was built.

While bursting at the seams with Spanish colonial architecture and 50s and 60s nostalgia, the city looks as if its about to fall down around you. Yet despite the decay the city is far from neglected and its charm and mystique just add to the experience.

Places to see:
  • Once the finest city in the Americas, Havana�s grandeur is clear to see. Habana Viejo (Old Havana) is the area of the early colonial city. A maze of narrow one-way streets, Old Havana is rich in architecture, history and myth.
  • Throughout the 16th Century, Old Havana was a key stop for Spanish ships, laden with gold, on their way back to Spain. These ships also attracted pirates keen to plunder them for their prize cargo. Prompted by the success of these buccaneers, the city was extensively fortified with a string of forts that were designed to act like a chain across the harbour mouth. Many of the original fortifications have survived including El Morro Castle, Cabana Fort, El Castillo de la Real Fuerza, the second oldest fortress in the Americas and Castillo de San Salvador de la Punta.
  • The last and finest square to be built in Old Havana, the Plaza De La Catedral is dominated by the Catedral de la Habana an exquisite 18th century baroque masterpiece. Finished in 1777, the Cathedral was for more than a century the final resting-place of Christopher Columbus. The casket containing his ashes was finally returned to Spain in 1899.
  • Marble benches and second hand bookstalls ring Plaza De Armas, the oldest square in Havana. A massive ceiba tree marks the importance of the Plaza in the history of the city. It is said that the tree covers the spot where the mass founding the city took place, the original tree feel victim to the hurricane of 1828.
  • The west side of the Plaza is dominated by the imposing Palacio de Los Capitanos Generales. Built between 1775 and 1791 the palace is now home to the Municipal Museum. Inside you�ll find the throne room especially prepared for the Spanish monarchs who never visited Havana. The wooden pavement outside the Palace is the only surviving one in the New World.
  • Linking Plaza De Armas with the Parque Central (Central Park) is the Calle Obispo. This bustling street is best experienced on foot. Each door and side street has its own unique and fascinating story to tell. There�s also an abundance of shops and street vendors.
  • Both Ernest Hemingway and Graham Greene fell in love with the city to such an extent that Greene used the Hotel Sevilla and Hotel Nacional de Cuba as backdrops for his novel �Our man in Havana�. While for Hemingway enthusiasts a visit to the Hotel Ambos Mundos is a must. Room 511 was were in the 1930s he penned most of one of his best-known works "For whom the Bells Toll". The room contains many original artefacts from when the writer stayed there including the typewriter on which he wrote the novel.
  • Other Hemingway haunts included his two favourite watering holes; La Bodeguita del Medio and El Floridita immortalised in �Islands in the Stream�.
  • Built in 1927, the Hotel Nacional de Cuba was in the 1940�s and 50s the preserve of the Mafia. Its glittering casinos and opulent surrounding attracted the rich and famous including Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando and Ginger Rogers. This all came to an end after the Revolution when gambling was outlawed and the Mafia were politely asked to leave.
  • Modelled on the Prado in Madrid, the kilometre long Paseo was constructed in 1772. This beautiful avenue was in the 19th century the most fashionable part of town. Wealthy Habaneros would promenade along the avenue, a tradition that has continued to this day. Beware though prostitutes also frequent it.
  • Cuba�s more recent past is retold in the spectacular neo-classical Museum of the Revolution. Once the presidential palace, the building�s interior was beautifully decorated by Tiffany & Co. The museum charts the countries struggle for independence. Artefacts include none other then Che Guevara�s trademark black beret.
  • No trip to Cuba, or Havana would be complete without visiting one of the cities six cigar factories. Located near to the Prado is the factory of La Corona where the world famous Romeo and Juliet, Montecristo and Cohiba Cigars are manufactured.
  • Made from what is often called the best tobacco in the world these famous cigars are not as myth would have it, rolled on the thighs of beautiful mulatto girls but on specially made wooden blocks.
  • To the west of Havana don�t miss the chance to experience another slice of Cuban life - the rich tobacco lands of the Vi�ales Valley where thatched barns house drying tobacco leaves and lumbering oxen are still used to work the fields.

    Eating out:
  • El Floridita was immortalised by Hemingway. The bar offers a mix of western and local dishes and is also famous for Daiquiri drinks including one named after its most famous patron. The �Papa Hemingway� is not for the feint hearted as it comes with double rum and no sugar.
  • La Bodequita del Medio has played host to various visitors down the years including, Hemingway, Fidel Castro, Nat King Cole and Errol Flynn. Opened in 1942 the restaurant also has a vast array of graffiti and signatures of actors, presidents and singers decorating the walls.
  • If your looking for something a little bit more traditional Cuban then La 1647 Torre de La Chorrera on Maleon is worth a visit. The restaurant also has the added attraction of early weapons and artefacts adorning the walls.

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Holguin Cuban rums are the finest that may be hadThe city and the province of Holguin in Cuba have practically an eternal summer.

Average temperatures range between 26 and 30 degrees Celsius all year round and there are two seasons: the rainy season, from May to October; and the dry season, between November and April. Sugar cane and its derivatives are the mainstay of the economy, increasingly complemented by nickel and a line of traditional export products like Havana cigars, citrus fruit and the products of the fishing industry. Food is a kaleidoscope of flavours thanks to the influence of the Spanish, African, French, Chinese and Arab cultures in the country's culinary history. If any one dish had to be chosen to typify Cuban cuisine it would be pork roasted on a spit over an open fire, garnished with congri rice and boiled mandioc with garlic dressing, but fish and seafood are also very popular. The world knows that Cuban rums are the finest that may be had. Brands such as Havana Club, Varadero, Santiago de Cuba, Bucanero and many others are very much in demand on the world market. The most typical drinks are the Daiquiri and the Mojito, both made with lime juice and pure cane rum.

Shopping Bank:
0830-1200 and 1330-1500 Monday to Friday; 0830-1030 Saturday. Shopping hours: 0900-1900 Monday to Friday.

Money Matters Currency:
Cuban Peso (peso) = 100 centavos. Notes are in denominations of peso50, 20, 10, 5 and 3. Coins are in denominations of peso1, and 40, 20, 5, 2 and 1 centavos.Hard currency must be used in most transactions. Currency exchange: Money should be exchanged at official foreign exchange bureaux, banks or international air and sea ports, who issue receipts for transactions. At official tourist shops, purchases are made only in US Dollars; it is therefore advisable not to change too much hard currency into pesos. Black marketeers may offer as much as 20 times the official rate for US Dollars, but tourists are advised to avoid them as severe penalties for black marketeering are imposed.

Credit cards:
Visa and MasterCard are accepted. American Express is not accepted. Travellers cheques: US Dollar, Sterling and other major currencies are accepted, but US Dollar cheques issued by American banks are not acceptable. Do not enter the place and date details on any travellers cheque or it will be refused. The white exchange paper received upon encashment must be retained and shown when money is spent.

Getting Around Rail:
The principal rail route is from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, with two daily trains. Some trains on this route have air conditioning and refreshments. There are also through trains from Havana to other towns.

Road:
Most sightseeing is pre-arranged, though internal travel arrangements may be made through any of the several ground handlers. Traffic drives on the right.

Bus:
Most tours will include travel by air-conditioned buses. The Cubans themselves use the long-distance buses that link most towns; fares are low and services are reliable, but the buses can be very crowded especially during the rush hour.

Taxi:
Taxis and chauffeur-driven cars are cheap but can be scarce and are in general very old. It is usual to order them through the hotel. All official taxis have meters but in private taxis fares should be pre-arranged. Car hire: There are several car hire companies. Bicycles can be hired.

Electricity:
110/120 volts AC, 60Hz. American-style flat 2-pin plugs are generally used, except in certain large hotels where the European round 2-pin plug is standard.

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Varadero the pride of Cuba

Varadero beach�some call it the world�s greatest beach�has long been the pride of Cuba, and a magnet for the rich and famous.

Today, a broad range of hotels and resorts on this wide, sandy beach offer affordable vacations to please any pocketbook. Considered by many as the world's most beautiful beach, Varadero is part of a peninsula that stretches far out into the calm waters of the Atlantic. Its 21-kilometre strip of fine white sand is an ideal vacation spot for sun-lovers, water babies and golfers. Its location on a narrow peninsula ensures that it is constantly cooled by tropical breezes. But this white beach set against a backdrop of astonishing turquoise water and azure sky is not the only attraction in Matanzas province. The nearby cities of C�rdenas and Matanzas (the provincial capital) are known for their art, history and culture. Southwest of Varadero, on the province's Caribbean coast, is the Zapata Peninsula, famous for its ecotourism and history.

Things to see and do:
In and around this buzzing resort there are more things to do than you could fit into several holidays. Here are just some of them:

  • A stroll through Josone Park is in the �not to be missed� category � an oasis of green against the dazzling blue backdrop of the Bay of Cardenas. Entrance is just $1 with attractions inside including relaxing bars, restaurants and caf�s. Find it on 1st Ave at 51st St.
  • Swimming with dolphins is another popular Varadero activity � at the dolphinarium at the far end of the resort. Book in advance through your JMC representative as space for this unique experience is strictly limited.
  • For a taste of local Cuban life take a stroll along First Avenue � the people, the 1950�s American automobiles and the sound of music in the air make for quite an atmosphere.
  • Cocktails at sunset at the Dupont Mansion is always a big hit with visitors. Relax over a mojito or a fruity daiquiri as the tropical sun dips into the ocean to the accompaniment of free live music.
  • The Ambrosia caves are another popular excursion � discovered in 1961 and the location of some 50 ancient cave drawings and pictorals. The guided tour costs just $3 � the resident bats come for free! They are open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 12pm and 2pm to 4pm.
  • On the beach:

  • On arrival in Varadero it�s not too hard to see what�s made the place so popular � more than 20km of fabulous, white sand beaches that rank among the top ten cleanest in the world.
  • Remember that once away from the beach it is customary for men not to wear shorts and for women to �cover up� with light summer dresses.
  • In the shops:

  • Shopping in Varadero is better than at some other resorts on the island. At the Copey and El Caiman centres opposite the Cuatro Palmas Hotel on Ist Ave/64th St you�ll find antique jewellery, Cuban arts and crafts, books, electrical equipment and clothes etc. A similar range of goods is to be found at Plaza Americas Commercial Centre, beside the Melia Varadero hotel and open until 9pm on weekdays.
  • The Habano speciality cigar shop and Arte Latina, which stocks souvenirs from all over Latin America, are also worth a visit.
  • The craft market on the corner of Ist Ave and 10th St is a good choice for locally made craft items and is open daily.

    Restaurants and bars:

  • Varadero has the best selection of restaurants outside Havana with seafood (including lobster), steaks and criollo dishes all popular options. A number of Chinese and Italian eateries are also open for business. Don�t be put off though by the fact that many don�t display a menu outside � simply go in and ask to find out what�s on offer. Prices in tourist restaurants tend to be quite similar with main courses anything from $7 to $30. Tipping at around 10%-15% is the norm although there are no hard and fast rules.
  • La Casa de Al (�Al�s Place� - as in notorious gangster and frequent former visitor Al Capone!) serves excellent specials at this romantic spot by the sea. Try the �Blood Stained Spaghetti� and �Shotgun Steak� � even �Mafiosa Soup�. Find it adjacent to the Villas Punta Blanca complex at the start of the peninsula.
  • Lobster at the Marina Chapelin is generally considered the best in town. It�s located near the Brisas del Caribe hotel at the far end of the peninsula.
  • Kiki�s offers some of the cheapest and best pasta and pizza dishes around. It�s near 1st Ave and 5th St.
  • El Bodeg�n Criollo - sister restaurant to the famous Bodeg�n del Medio in Havana � is a good place for typical Cuban fare. Find it on the beach road off 40th St.
  • Arrecife on Camino del Mar and 13th St is a must for seafood fans.
  • When it comes to bars, the best outside the hotels are to be found around Camino del Mar and 1st Ave - between 1st and 17th St.

    After dark:
    There �s certainly no shortage of entertainment both in and around Varadero�s hotels.

  • Cabaret Continental is reckoned to offer the best evening entertainment in Varadero with optional dinner at 8pm followed by a sizzling show at 10pm. There�s even a disco afterwards by which time those tricky Cuban rhythms will have really got you in the mood!
  • The Pirates� Cave Cabaret is good value at just $10 including transport to and from the show - when tickets are bought from the Playa Azul Travel Agency.
  • Recommended discos include:

  • La Rumba - beside the Hotel Bella Costa, $10 entrance, free drinks.
  • La Bamba - in the Tuxpan hotel, $10 entrance ($8 for hotel guests), free drinks.
  • Internacional - in the hotel of the same name from midnight.
  • Havana Club - in the Copey Centre, very busy, very loud.
  • Eclipse - on Bellamar Hotel�s top floor at 16th St.
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    Larnaca the ideal base for exploring the rest of Cyprus.Larnaca is large enough to give everything one may need but still is not overcrowded especially at its beautiful beaches which extend for 25 kilometers.

    The advantages of Larnaca as a tourist resort are numerous. Larnaca is the home of interesting Museums which hold great displays of local and historical artefacts. The ruins of Ancient Kition are further evidences of Larnaca's past and St. Lazarus Church (first built in the 9th century) ranks as the town's most prominent old structure. No visitor ought to miss a trip to the vast Salt Lake, fascinating in all seasons and housing on its west bank the impressive Moslem shrine: Hala Sultan Tekke. Larnaca also places you with easy driving distances to other areas of Cyprus which you can get to know by joining an excursion or by hiring a car. Whatever you choose to do during your stay, Larnaca will not disappoint you.

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    Paphos a UNESCO World Heritage siteCyprus tucked away in the top right hand corner of the Mediterranean is so close to Europe, Asia and Africa that it rightly, claims to be a stepping stone to three continents .

    Situated on the south west coast of Cyprus, Paphos holds great appeal to visitors of all ages. Steeped in history, with a wealth of ancient sites, some dating back to the 4th Century BC, Paphos is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

    The islands' capital in Roman times, and the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty, Paphos retains its charm despite its popularity as a tourist resort.

    The main tourist area, and many archaeological sites, is to be found in Kato, or lower, Paphos, whilst the old town known as Ktima sits further inland, high up on a rocky plateau. The surrounding countryside, rich in vegetation with banana plantations, citrus groves and vineyards which lead on inland to the gentle foothills of the Western Troodos Mountains.

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    Hurghada the foremost tourist resort of the Red Sea coastHurghada has become the foremost tourist resort of the Red Sea coast and an international center for aquatic sports.

    It was founded in the early 20th century, and until a few years ago, remained a small fishing village. If it takes place in or on the water you can do it here: windsurfing, sailing, deep-sea fishing, swimming, but, above all, snorkeling and diving. The unique underwater gardens offshore are some of the finest in the world, justifiably famous amongst divers. The warm waters here are ideal for many varieties of rare fish and coral reefs, which may also be observed through glass bottom boats. This area has many fine accommodations, usually offering warm and efficient service. Restaurants are mostly along the main road. While in Hurghada, don't miss the museum and aquarium, with their complete collections of flora and fauna of the Red Sea. Today, Hurghada is known as a party town, particularly among Europeans. Locals and others will tell you that life begins at night in Hurghada, with the many, many clubs. They are particularly frequented by the young, but certainly many others of all ages. One may often find a rousing party centered around the visitors from a tour group taking over the action of a particular bar. They are easy to find along the main street, along with loads of inexpensive and expensive hotels.

    It is also a beach resort, where thousands of older Europeans and others come with their families to enjoy the sun and fun of private resort beaches, some all inclusive. Many of these hotels offer so many activities and facilities that one may never need to leave the resort. Often, the larger resorts have zoos, playgrounds, discos, bars, a number of pools and even small theaters.

    Hurghada is also a city under development. Many new hotels and construction are taking place, and we can expect to see some great new hotels, restaurants and other facilities in the near future. Actually this is a busy section of the Red Sea in general. Safaga is just south of Hurghada, and Soma Bay with its beautiful Sheraton is even closer to the South. To the North is El Gouna, a highly organized resort community. Together, these communities and resort areas offer just about everything a visitor might wish for, from raucous parties to isolated scuba diving, with golf, bowling and fishing in between.

    Islands near Hurghada offer all kinds of fun and excitement. Take a day trip to Giftun Island for snorkeling and a fish barbecue, or view the Red Sea from a submarine! When you're not in the sea you can shop in the boutiques, relax in the luxury holiday villages or visit the Roman Mons Porphyrites (mountain of porphyry) remains at nearby Gebel Abu Dukhan (Father of Smoke). Day-trips or safaris to explore the Red Sea Mountains by camel or jeep are also available.

    Food:
    Egyptian cuisine is excellent, combining many of the best traditions of Middle Eastern cooking, and there are both large hotel restaurants and smaller specialist ones throughout the main towns. Some of the larger hotels in Cairo and its environs have excellent kitchens serving the best cosmopolitan dishes. In the centre of Cairo, American-style snack bars are also spreading. Local specialities include foul (bean dishes), stuffed vine leaves, roast pigeon, grilled aubergines, kebabs and humus (chickpeas). Restaurants have waiter service, with table service for bars.

    Drink:
    Although Egypt is a Muslim country, alcohol is available in caf�-style bars and good restaurants. Nightlife: Sophisticated nightclubs, discotheques and good restaurants can be found in Cairo and Alexandria. There is nightlife in Luxor and Aswan, including barbecues along the Nile.

    Shopping:
    The most interesting shopping area for tourists in Cairo is the old bazaar, Khan-el-Khalili, specialising in reproductions of antiquities. Jewellery, spices, copper utensils and Coptic cloth are some of the special items. There are also modern shopping centres available, particularly near Tehrir Square.

    Shopping hours:
    Winter: 0900-1900 every day except Monday and Thursday when shops close at 2000. During Ramadan, hours vary, with shops often closing on Sunday as well. Summer: 0900-1230 and 1600-2000 Saturday to Thursday (closed Sunday).

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    Luxor The worlds greatest open air museumLuxor is an essential part of any visit to Egypt.

    Luxor has often been called the worlds greatest open air museum, as indeed it is and much more. The number and preservation of the monuments in the Luxor area are unparalleled anywhere else in the world that know of. Actually, what most people think of as Luxor is really three different areas, consisting of the City of Luxor on the East side of the Nile, the town of Karnak just north of Luxor and Thebes, which the ancient Egyptians called Waset, which is on the west side of the Nile across from Luxor.

    To say that the Luxor area is a major attraction for tourists in Egypt would be an understatement. It has been a tourist destination since the beginning of tourism. Even in ancient times, during the late Dynasties of the Greek and Roman periods, the area drew tourists, and has been doing so ever since. Today Luxor is well equipped to accommodate tourists with many hotels and in general a tourist industry ready and willing to serve the people from many countries that descend on this area of the Nile Valley every year.

    Within Luxor, there are only three main streets consisting of Sharia al-Mahatta, Sharia al-Karnak and the Corniched, next to the Nile. The street in front of the train station is Sharia al-Mahatta and runs away from the Nile where it meets the gardens of Luxor Temple. Sharia al-Karnak, or Maabad al-Karnak which means Karnak Temple Street runs along the Nile from Luxor Temple to Karnak Temple. However, Sharia al-Karnak is known as Sharia al-Markaz where it meets Sharia al-Mahatta street, and to the south around the temple it is known as Sharia al-Lokanda. Along this street one will find the colorful signs of restaurants and cafes, as well as bazaars where the usual variety of Egyptian souvenirs can be found. Of interest is the alabaster, which is plentiful along the west bank and miled not far from here. Also look for the clay pots used by the locals for cooking, which are more unusual.

    Food:
    Egyptian cuisine is excellent, combining many of the best traditions of Middle Eastern cooking, and there are both large hotel restaurants and smaller specialist ones throughout the main towns. Some of the larger hotels in Cairo and its environs have excellent kitchens serving the best cosmopolitan dishes. In the centre of Cairo, American-style snack bars are also spreading. Local specialities include foul (bean dishes), stuffed vine leaves, roast pigeon, grilled aubergines, kebabs and humus (chickpeas). Restaurants have waiter service, with table service for bars.

    Drink:
    Although Egypt is a Muslim country, alcohol is available in caf�-style bars and good restaurants. Nightlife: Sophisticated nightclubs, discotheques and good restaurants can be found in Cairo and Alexandria. There is nightlife in Luxor and Aswan, including barbecues along the Nile.

    Shopping:
    The most interesting shopping area for tourists in Cairo is the old bazaar, Khan-el-Khalili, specialising in reproductions of antiquities. Jewellery, spices, copper utensils and Coptic cloth are some of the special items. There are also modern shopping centres available, particularly near Tehrir Square.

    Shopping hours:
    Winter: 0900-1900 every day except Monday and Thursday when shops close at 2000. During Ramadan, hours vary, with shops often closing on Sunday as well. Summer: 0900-1230 and 1600-2000 Saturday to Thursday (closed Sunday).

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    Sharm el Sheikh magical sea and mystical desert mountainsSharm El-Sheikh has become famous throughout the world for its magical sea and mystical desert mountains. The rich coral reefs provide some of the most exquisite diving sites on the planet, much of the marine life is unique only to these waters.

    Sharm el Sheikh is a stylish and cosmopolitan resort located on the southernmost tip of the Sinai Peninsula. Once a fishing village, Sharm el Sheikh is an ideal location for relaxing, diving and enjoying the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains, stunning desert and spectacular coral.

    The simplicity of sun, sea and sand. The luxury of five-star hotels, water sports, shopping and entertainment makes Sharm el-Sheikh one of the most accessible and developed tourist resort communities on the Sinai peninsula. All around are Bedouins, colorful tents, mountains and sea.

    There are small, intimate hotels with modern designs, as well as larger hotel complexes belonging to International chains, plus about all the amenities one could expect of a tourist center, including casinos, discos and nightclubs, golf courses and health facilities. In fact, with diving and snorkeling, windsurfing and other water sports, horses and camel riding, desert safaris, and great nearby antiquities attractions, it is almost impossible for a visitor to ever suffer from boredom.

    Four miles south the southern section of the town stands on a cliff overlooking the port. and is a great view. Na'ama Beach is one of the center of the tourist activities. Located just north of Sharm, this area is developing into a resort town of its own. Most hotels at Na'ama Bay have their own, private beaches with comfortable amenities such as chairs, shades and even bars. Shark's Bay is also nearby, and again is a growing resort community with more and more to offer, along with several diving centers.

    The small harbor known as Sharm el-Moiya is located next to the civil harbor, has accommodations for boats, and includes a Yacht Club with rooms. For those who live to shop, the Sharm El-Sheikh mall provides shops with both foreign and local products, including jewelry, leather goods, clothing, pottery and books. It has been said that this is a must visit for all diving enthusiasts. There are many diving sites along the 10 mile beach between Sharm el-Sheikh and Ras Nusrani.

    Food:
    Egyptian cuisine is excellent, combining many of the best traditions of Middle Eastern cooking, and there are both large hotel restaurants and smaller specialist ones throughout the main towns. Some of the larger hotels in Cairo and its environs have excellent kitchens serving the best cosmopolitan dishes. In the centre of Cairo, American-style snack bars are also spreading. Local specialities include foul (bean dishes), stuffed vine leaves, roast pigeon, grilled aubergines, kebabs and humus (chickpeas). Restaurants have waiter service, with table service for bars.

    Drink:
    Although Egypt is a Muslim country, alcohol is available in caf-style bars and good restaurants.

    Shopping:
    The most interesting shopping area for tourists in Cairo is the old bazaar, Khan-el-Khalili, specialising in reproductions of antiquities. Jewellery, spices, copper utensils and Coptic cloth are some of the special items. There are also modern shopping centres available, particularly near Tehrir Square.

    Shopping hours:
    Winter: 0900-1900 every day except Monday and Thursday when shops close at 2000. During Ramadan, hours vary, with shops often closing on Sunday as well. Summer: 0900-1230 and 1600-2000 Saturday to Thursday (closed Sunday).

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    Taba nestling between desert, cinnamon mountains and coral seasTaba, located between Africa and Asia at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba facing Arabia was once stopover on the caravan route from the fourteenth century onwards. In 1989 this part of Sinai was handed back to Egypt by Israel and is now a frontier post and a favourite destination for Israelis and tourists from around the world. Especially since the opening of the international airport 45 km away.

    Visitors can make the most of what the Red Sea has to offer � windsurfing, water skiing, sailing, sea trips, fishing and sea kayaking. The essential to thing to do is see the wealth of things on the seabed. So go equipped with a mask. The shallow depth at which the reefs lie and the absence of drop-offs make it possible to enjoy the beauty of life on the coral reef with the minimum of equipment. The variety of creatures and the chance to observe endemic species, such as the toadfish, as well as the well-preserved state of the reefs are some of the great advantages of this area.

    There are Numerous diving clubs which offer courses and daily outings. The dive sites feature a sandy seabed dotted with coral outcrops and contain a rich selection of marine life from seahorses to dolphins. The absence of currents makes these sites perfect for beginners, as well as fulfilling the highest expectations of photographers and divers of all levels.

    Among the best-known sites are the Fjord with its well-like topography, the Aquarium and its variety of species, and Mersa el-Muqabila where there is the chance to spot an eagle ray. For those who find boats a nuisance, lovely dive sites teeming with marine life are accessible from shore, such as the House Reef and Marina Bay, just two minutes away in a 4x4.

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    Chambery Town of Art and HistoryAt the crossroads of the Alps, Chambery is a town of Art and History, in the heart of Savoy.

    Chambery offers to its visitors a very important conservation area vividly highlighted by the houses in the old streets and by its listed historical buildings.

    Dominated by the castle of the Dukes of Savoy, the old town of Chambery is one of the most remarkable old neighbourhoods in France. A town of culture, Chamb�ry has prestigious buildings such as the Charles Dullin theatre, four museums, Sciences and Techniques Gallery, one of the biggest chimes in Europe, and in contemporary architecture the andre Malraux cultural centre, the Jean Jacques Rousseau M�diath�que and the Man�ge Congress Centre.

    All this heritage is enhanced by a floodlighting programme which was awarded a first national prize of the Cities of Light by the Academy of Streets Performance.

    As far as nature is concerned, Chambery is located nearby the most important ski resorts in Europe, the largest natural lakes in France, the Bourget Lake and the Aiguebelette Lake - the jewel of the Savoyard foothills.

    Chambery is the gateway to the regional natural parks of Chartreuse and of the Bauges and to the Vanoise National Park.

    Shopping:
    Department stores are open 0900-1830 Monday to Saturday. Most shops are closed between 1200-1430. Food shops are open 0700-1830/1930. Some food shops (particularly bakers) are open Sunday mornings, in which case they will probably close Monday. Many shops close all day or half-day Monday. Hypermarkets are normally open until 2100 or 2200.

    Post office:
    Opening hours: 0800-1900 Monday to Friday; 0800-1200 Saturday.

    Banks:
    0900-1200 and 1400-1600 Monday to Friday. Some banks close Monday and some are open Saturday. Banks close early (1200) on the day before a bank holiday; in rare cases, they may also close for all or part of the day after.

    Currency exchange:
    Some first-class hotels are authorised to exchange foreign currency. Also look for the French equivalent of the Trustee Savings Bank, 'Cr�dit Mutuel' or 'Cr�dit Agricole', which have longer opening hours. Shops and hotels are prohibited from accepting foreign currency by law. Many UK banks offer differing exchange rates depending on the denominations of French currency being bought or sold. Travellers should check with their banks for details and current rates. Credit cards: American Express, Diners Club, Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted. Travellers cheques:Travellers cheques are accepted almost everywhere. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take travellers cheques in French Francs.

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    Grenoble one of the most dynamic towns in FranceGrenoble, the flattest city in France, is also a true Alpine metropolis.

    Grenoble stands out today as one of the most dynamic towns in France. At the gateway to the French Alps, it lies at the confluence of the Drac and Isere and is surrounded by three mountain ranges, the Vercors, Chartreuse and the Belledonne. It may be remembered for hosting the Winter Olympics in 1968. On arriving in the city by coach from Lyon airport or TGV from Paris the outstanding natural beauty grips you.

    Rh�ne-Alpes is one of Europe's most prosperous and dynamic regions. It rates as the second most prosperous region in France, after Paris-Ile-de-France, with a gross interior product per inhabitant 6% higher than the average for the European Union. The land surface of Rh�ne-Alpes is equivalent to that of Belgium, Switzerland or the Netherlands, with a population of nearly 6 million, comparable to Denmark or Finland.

    Shopping:
    Department stores are open 0900-1830 Monday to Saturday. Most shops are closed between 1200-1430. Food shops are open 0700-1830/1930. Some food shops (particularly bakers) are open Sunday mornings, in which case they will probably close Monday. Many shops close all day or half-day Monday. Hypermarkets are normally open until 2100 or 2200.

    Post office:
    Opening hours: 0800-1900 Monday to Friday; 0800-1200 Saturday.

    Banks:
    0900-1200 and 1400-1600 Monday to Friday. Some banks close Monday and some are open Saturday. Banks close early (1200) on the day before a bank holiday; in rare cases, they may also close for all or part of the day after.

    Currency exchange:
    Some first-class hotels are authorised to exchange foreign currency. Also look for the French equivalent of the Trustee Savings Bank, 'Cr�dit Mutuel' or 'Cr�dit Agricole', which have longer opening hours. Shops and hotels are prohibited from accepting foreign currency by law. Many UK banks offer differing exchange rates depending on the denominations of French currency being bought or sold. Travellers should check with their banks for details and current rates. Credit cards: American Express, Diners Club,Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted. Travellers cheques:Travellers cheques are accepted almost everywhere. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take travellers cheques in French Francs.

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    Lourdes Our Blessed Lady appearedIn 1858 Our Blessed Lady appeared to a young peasent girl, Bernadette Soubirous at the Grotto of Massabielle in Lourdes.

    Lourdes is a small town in the Hautes - Pyrenees region of South West France.

    Visit the original Spring inside the Grotto discovered by Bernadette as she dug with her hands into the ground at Our Lady's request. This spring is now channelled into baths where many people have been miraculously cured and where you are invited to bathe, to drink from special taps and to bottle the water to bring home.

    Take part in the Blessed Sacrament Procession where the sick are Blessed and remembered in your prayers. Also the spectacular Torchlight Procession from where the Lourdes "Ave" is echoed all over the town. Follow the Stations of the Cross on the mountainside Calvary.

    You may join in a walking tour of the Sanctuary and to the places connected with the life of St Bernadette: the Boly Mill, Cachot, Maison Paternelle, Parish Church and the Hospice. Optional excursions are available to the childhood home of St Bernadette in Bartres, then on to the beautiful Lake of Lourdes; the scenic Pyrenean mountain villages of Gavarnie, Bareges or Pont D'Espagne; or why not enjoy a full day in Biarritz or Spain or spend a quiet hour or two at the Lourdes Lake or Lac Vert?

    Shopping:
    Department stores are open 0900-1830 Monday to Saturday. Most shops are closed between 1200-1430. Food shops are open 0700-1830/1930. Some food shops (particularly bakers) are open Sunday mornings, in which case they will probably close Monday. Many shops close all day or half-day Monday. Hypermarkets are normally open until 2100 or 2200.

    Post office:
    Opening hours: 0800-1900 Monday to Friday; 0800-1200 Saturday.

    Banks:
    0900-1200 and 1400-1600 Monday to Friday. Some banks close Monday and some are open Saturday. Banks close early (1200) on the day before a bank holiday; in rare cases, they may also close for all or part of the day after.

    Currency exchange:
    Some first-class hotels are authorised to exchange foreign currency. Also look for the French equivalent of the Trustee Savings Bank, 'Cr�dit Mutuel' or 'Cr�dit Agricole', which have longer opening hours. Shops and hotels are prohibited from accepting foreign currency by law. Many UK banks offer differing exchange rates depending on the denominations of French currency being bought or sold. Travellers should check with their banks for details and current rates. Credit cards: American Express, Diners Club,Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted. Travellers cheques:Travellers cheques are accepted almost everywhere. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take travellers cheques in French Francs.

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    Lyon A funicular leads to Roman ruinsAt nightfall, Lyon is illuminated with a 100 000 projectors to illuminate 300 sites, truly highlighting the city�s heritage and create an enchanting backdrop for night-birds.

    Lyon - built on the silk industry but now a commercial centre, this is France's second largest city. A funicular leads to Roman ruins and incredible views of the city are also available from the Basilique de Fouviere. It has a Musee des Beaux Arts as well as museums of contemporary art, textiles and puppets. As you would expect of such a large city, there is a lively nightlife and many restaurants to savour the local gastronomy. It is also near the Monts du Lyonnais, a quieter, forested region dotted with small villages.

    Aquarium, urban parks for all the family, zoos, leisure centres and amusement parks: whatever your style � sporty, dynamic, laidback or just plain curious � you'll find what you�re looking for.

    Shopping:
    Department stores are open 0900-1830 Monday to Saturday. Most shops are closed between 1200-1430. Food shops are open 0700-1830/1930. Some food shops (particularly bakers) are open Sunday mornings, in which case they will probably close Monday. Many shops close all day or half-day Monday. Hypermarkets are normally open until 2100 or 2200.

    Post office:
    Opening hours: 0800-1900 Monday to Friday; 0800-1200 Saturday.

    Banks:
    0900-1200 and 1400-1600 Monday to Friday. Some banks close Monday and some are open Saturday. Banks close early (1200) on the day before a bank holiday; in rare cases, they may also close for all or part of the day after. Also look for the French equivalent of the Trustee Savings Bank, 'Cr�dit Mutuel' or 'Cr�dit Agricole', which have longer opening hours. Shops and hotels are prohibited from accepting foreign currency by law. Credit cards: American Express, Diners Club,Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted. Travellers cheques:Travellers cheques are accepted almost everywhere. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take travellers cheques in Euros.

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    Toulouse the Pink City

    Known as the Pink City due to the rosy brick used to build the houses, Toulouse is one of the liveliest towns in the south with an extensive street and cultural life and a varied architectural heritage.

    The tourist area of Languedoc takes in some of the region of the Midi-Pyrenees and most of Languedoc-Rousillon, and is still largely undiscovered by the British. It is one of France's most diverse regions. Inland, spectacular mountains are cut by deep gorges and beautiful wild valleys offering opportunities for every type of outdoor activity. The lively cities, historic towns and fortified villages provide more than enough sightseeing. The coastline is mostly flat with mile upon mile of safe sandy beaches perfect for families. Behind the coast are plains and marshes home to a huge variety of birds and wildlife. The region borders the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean to the south and east and the massif central to the north. It is crossed by the Canal du Midi, a man-made canal from Toulouse to the Mediterranean. Inhabited by the Romans and the Cathars the area is rich in history. Vineyards covering the slopes and plains mean wine tasting is high on the agenda.

    Shopping:
    Department stores are open 0900-1830 Monday to Saturday. Most shops are closed between 1200-1430. Food shops are open 0700-1830/1930. Some food shops (particularly bakers) are open Sunday mornings, in which case they will probably close Monday. Many shops close all day or half-day Monday. Hypermarkets are normally open until 2100 or 2200.

    Post office:
    Opening hours: 0800-1900 Monday to Friday; 0800-1200 Saturday.

    Banks:
    0900-1200 and 1400-1600 Monday to Friday. Some banks close Monday and some are open Saturday. Banks close early (1200) on the day before a bank holiday; in rare cases, they may also close for all or part of the day after.

    Currency exchange:
    Some first-class hotels are authorised to exchange foreign currency. Also look for the French equivalent of the Trustee Savings Bank, 'Cr�dit Mutuel' or 'Cr�dit Agricole', which have longer opening hours. Shops and hotels are prohibited from accepting foreign currency by law. Credit cards: American Express, Diners Club,Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted. Travellers cheques:Travellers cheques are accepted almost everywhere. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take travellers cheques in Euros.

     

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    Banjul a typical African experience

    Although it's Africa's smallest independent country, The Gambia's appeal is as big as any on the continent.

    Situated on the beautiful West African coast, this 4,000-square-mile country has it miles of palm-fringed beaches, tropical gardens and nature reserves. Banjul, its capital city, is a typically African experience, but for a view of an even more 'traditional' way of life take a boat trip up the River Gambia and into the country's heartland, where you can sample colourful markets and visit mud-hut villages. Despite The Gambia's beautiful natural features and golden beaches, the country's greatest magnet is its people and you're sure to leave with as warm a feeling for Gambians as they show to their visitors.

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    Gibraltar only link between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean SeaGibraltar entered the EC at the same time as the United Kingdom.

    When you first see the Rock of Gibraltar, whether it is from the air, from the sea or from either the Costa del Sol or the western end of the Bay, it is its impressive stature, towering isolated above the surrounding countryside, that causes the greatest impact. It has had this effect on people for many thousands of years. Gibraltar is a beacon which signals the position of the Strait of Gibraltar, the narrow neck which separates Europe from Africa and provides the only link between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. This beacon which attracted the early inhabitants had many advantages as a home. Being limestone, the Rock which is geologically very different from the surrounding landscape, is riddled with caves. Over 140 have been discovered so far. Those which had openings to the outside world made perfect shelters. The climate was also colder than today which meant that the sea level was lower: off the eastern cliffs of the Rock a large, flat, sandy plain stretched out towards the distant Mediterranean. It was full of good hunting. There were many rabbits, red deer, wild cattle and horse along with now extinct species of elephant and rhinoceros; on the cliffs there were ibexes, wild mountain goats. The scene was close to paradise for the early inhabitants of Gibraltar.

    Food:
    There are bars and bistros throughout the town and at the Marina, operating under Mediterranean licensing hours and selling British beer. Restaurants cover the whole price range. Gibraltar's geographical location and its history as a British colony means that it can offer a large selection of British dishes as well as French, Spanish, American, Moroccan, Italian, Chinese and Indian cuisine.

    Drink:
    Spirits and tobacco are substantially cheaper than in the UK for identical brands. All types of alcoholic drinks are served, including draught beer.

    Nightlife:
    Gibraltar has a number of discos and nightspots open until the early hours of the morning. The casino complex includes a restaurant, nightclub, roof restaurant (summer) and gaming rooms, and is open from 0900 to the early hours.

    Shopping:
    All goods are sold in Gibraltar at reduced-tax prices, and free of VAT. The majority of shops are in or near Main Street. Silk, linen, cashmere, jewellery, glassware, porcelain, perfumes, carvings, radios, leatherwork, electronic and photographic equipment and watches can be bought.

    Shopping hours:
    1000-1900 Monday to Friday and 1000-1300 Saturday. Some shops open Sunday.

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    Athens offering exquisite shopping opportunitiesWith the Acropolis and the Parthenon, and the shops, there is a lot to do in Athens, capital of Greece.

    A holiday in Athens can be anything you want it to be. Cultural interest evidently ranks high on every visitor's list of things to do and not surprisingly, the first sight many want to explore is the Acropolis majestically crowning the city. At the foot of this most important hill, the ancient district of Plaka is a real treasure trove with traditional tavernas, picturesque churches and shops cramming the twisting narrow streets. In contrast, the wide avenues of the modern part of Athens offer exquisite shopping opportunities and elegant cafes with inviting terraces.

    A short drive away from this cosmopolitan city is a superb stretch of coastline, known as the 'Athenian Riviera'. Glyfada, the closest holiday resort to town and to the airport is a lively centre complete with good beaches, excellent nightlife and an international golf course. A few minutes drive along the coast, Vouliagmeni with its magnificent yacht marina is another charming seaside resort, quieter than its neighbour and a superb choice for beaches, watersports and fine restaurants.

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    Chania the most poetic city of CreteChania, built on the ruins of ancient Kidonia, is perhaps the most poetic city of Crete.

    Crete is the biggest, the most southerly, most mountainous and rugged of all the Greek Islands, and home to a proud, independent and truly hospitable people.

    The Cretans have always taken refuge in their wild and beautiful mountain regions. In spring, the peaks are snow-capped even when the lowlands are carpeted with tiny multi-coloured wild flowers, whilst in high summer, birds of prey hover the thermal updrafts above the baked brown rocks.

    Tourism is centred around numerous beach resorts, mostly along the north coastline, linked by a fast highway. Here you will find all the essentials for a great holiday, with a choice of lively resorts in the east, and more originally Greek flavour in the west around Chania.

    The south coast offers less developed resorts, like sleepy Paleochora with its magnificent beach and mountainous backdrop, and friendly, easy-going Makriyalos, again with a superb beach.

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    Corfu among the most beautiful of all the Greek islandsThe city of Corfu is located at the center of the eastern side of the island of Corfu.

    Corfu is among the most beautiful of all the Greek islands, with rolling green hills covered in pines and olive groves, and a coastline surrounded by several fine beaches of golden sand shelving gently into clear turquoise waters.

    The island was a British Crown Protectorate in the 19th Century, and is still very popular with UK holidaymakers. Corfu Town itself is a lively and attractive capital, with delightful Venetian architecture, lots of interesting shopping and even a cricket pitch.

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    Heraklion Crete was the cradle of Mediterranean civilisation Heraklion, one of the largest cities of Greece, is both the capital of Crete and its primary port.

    Largest and most Southern of the Greek islands, Crete's location makes for a hot sunny climate. About 250kms long and 56kms wide, Crete was the cradle of Mediterranean civilisation, so rich with history and impressive archeological sites. Legends say it was the birthplace of Zeus and the lair of the Minotaure lies beneath the Palace of Knossos.

    Crete has a stunning and natural beauty ranging from steep and narrow gorges to majestic snow-topped mountains, fertile plains and green plateaux, wonderful beaches and untamed coastlines with secluded coves. The landscape is also wonderfully rich in wildlife, plants and flowers, all complementing the magnetic appeal of an island full of history and traditions, an island which undeniably displays great charm and character.

    Major towns and resorts are dotted along the north coastal road all within easy driving distance from each other, with the capital Heraklion in the centre offering plenty of local flavour and a superb Archeological Museum well worth the visit.

    From bustling cosmopolitan resorts to sleepy picture postcard villages, stylish nightlife or traditional fish tavernas, whatever your age, whatever your taste, there's a perfect corner of Crete for you.

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    Kalamata in the heart of this magical corner of Greece There is nowhere in the southern Peleponese that has more transportation options than Kalamata with its airport, railway terminus, major sea port, and bus station.

    South, on a splendidly curving beach of gently shelving sand, rests the charming village of Stoupa. Deep in the heart of this magical corner of Greece, known as "The Mani" breathtaking landscapes with soaring mountains form a dramatic backdrop for this peaceful low-key village. Stoupa is great for children, a rocky pool promises old-fashioned shrimping, with two other beaches to explore, including Kalogria, a golden sandy beach with beach bars playing music as the sun sets. In the village nightlife concentrates on beachfront tavernas, with restaurants and bars sprinkled around to explore at your leisure. About 3 kilometers form Stoupa is the even tinier hamlet of Aghios Nikolaos. Charming and tranquil with a few fishing boats in the quayside, and a handful of cafes and tavernas. About 15 minutes walk from the harbour is lovely Pantazis beach fringed by pine trees. Heaven!

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    Kefalonia has the most sunny days in Greece, after MitiliniKefalonia, together with Lefkada and Ithaki form the center group of the Eptanese.

    Kefalonia has the most sunny days in Greece, after Mitilini. Besides mountains, Kefalonia has small lakes with beautiful scenery.

    Kefalonia is formed of jagged hilly limestone. It is 50km 31 miles long and the largest (735km - 284sq miles) of the lonian Islands. The landscape is varied; smiling terraces by the sea contrast with the more arid mountain slopes which nonetheless support clumps of cypresses among the olives. Mount Ainos (Enos), the highest point (alt 1 628m - 5 941ft), is covered by a particular kind of spruce peculiar to the island.

    Local specialities include the delicious Robola wine, dishes composed of meat and rice and thyme-flavoured honey. The Cephallonians are reputed to be a spirited people whose patriotism was praised by Byron. The island has not only produced soldiers, sailors and enterprising emigrants, but has also fostered an aristocratic and cultivated society which produced scholars and politicians such as Metaxas (1871-1941) who rejected the Italian ultimatum on 28 October 1940.

    Some of the wonderful beaches on the island can be found in Vinares, Agio Theodoro, Paliostafida, Plati Gialo, Argostoli, Avitho, Ammes, Agia Pelagia, Mirtos, Pessada. and Agios Thomas. Katelios and Scala are the right places to enjoy sitting by the sea and having fresh fish with ouzo at the local taverns.

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    Kos lies at the south eastern point of the Aegean SeaKos is one of the most beautiful and sunniest islands of the Aegean Sea.

    It lies at the south eastern point of the Aegean Sea and is the third in extent island of the Dodecanese (meaning twelve in greek) Islands. Its richness in historic monuments, its beautiful weather virtually all year round, its sanded beaches accompanied by its crystal clear water are some of the facts responsible for attracting so many tourists each year.

    Kos town is the capital of the island. It combines historic monuments with a modern planning of broad streets bordered with trees, big squares, and houses with gardens. Throughout the town you will find an abundance of trees, bushes and flowers: fir, pine tree, cypress, eucalyptus, oak, jarmine, lilac, acacia and hibiscus. Take a stroll on the rock paved streets of the old town where you will find numerous tourist shops or maybe lie on the sandy beaches under the sun. When it gets dark, there is a rich variety of restaurants and taverns with Greek and international cousine. At night there are a number of places to go to, depending how quiet or ... wild you want to spend you night: Greek bouzoukia, dance bars, discos.

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    Lemnos still a well kept secret Lemnos is a small island lying in the archipelago called North-Eastern Aegean.

    The island was used for a long time as a military base. This is why it has been open only recently to tourism and offers an authentic atmosphere and unspoiled landscapes. The island of Lemnos is still a well kept secret.

    It is island of peacefulness beauty: indented golden coastlines, placid landscapes, and very simple warm friendly people. Lemnos fascinates with its simplicity and calmness, tempts with its beauty. The island that emerged from flames and clouds of smoke, the island of Vulcan welcomes you and invites you to go to know it. Lemnos is situated in the northeastern part of the Aegean, westwards from the mouth of Dardanelles (ancient Hellespont). It is about 52 kilometers from Asia Minor. The island displays hills and lots of valleys. The highest hills are Skopia, Agios Elias, Agios Athanasios and Agios Pavlos. There are no rivers at all, but there are two lakes Alyki and Chortarolimni. The most important headlands of the island are Plaka, Mourtzaouflo and Tigani. In the southern part there is the natural port of Moudhros, the most secure natural bay in the Mediterranean. The capital of the island is Mirina, a town whose history and culture are very ancient. The island of Lemnos belongs to the Prefecture of Lesbos. The products of Lemnos have been famous since antiquity. Lemnos has a great tradition in the production of wine, which is exported all over the world. Products such as cheese, honey and fish of course can also be found.

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    Mykonos shimmering pearl in the CycladesMykonos, the most famous of the islands in Greece and one of the world's most popular holiday resorts has been welcoming visitors for over half a century

    Exciting, vibrant, sophisticated. There are many such adjectives to describe this shimmering pearl in the Cyclades. Mykonos town has something for everybody within its 85 square kms amid the lovely sandy beaches combine to offer an unforgettable holiday in idyllic surroundings. The unusual Mykonos cubist architecture makes the town quite unique amongst Greek islands. It is spotlessly clean and dazzling white, a perfect backdrop for the bougainvillea and geraniums cascading down the walls. Mykonos at night is like a theatre. The curtain goes up, the lights go on, and the stage is set for the evening show. A large choice of restaurants from the most sophisticated to the simple await you, and there are many bars and night clubs to ensure that you don�t get home until the wee hours � unless you absolutely have to! Around every corner is an interesting boutique or jewellery shop, but you are never far from the waterfront overlooked by the famous Mykonos windmills.

    There is a town beach but most visitors go out to the beach at Platis Yalos or take the caiques from there to Paradise and Super Paradise where beachwear is often noticeable by its absence. There is a frequent bus service to and from Mykonos town, 3 miles away. Platis Yalos has tavernas and bars overlooking the beach and is an alternative resort for those visitors not wishing to stay in the town. Good watersports facilities are available. Buses from Mykonos town also go to the beaches of Aghios Stephanos (13 minutes), Ornos (10 minutes) and Tourlos (10 minutes). They all have pleasant tavernas and Aghios Stephanos and Ornos both offer watersports. Taxis are always available and jeeps and motorbikes may be hired. In complete contrast to Mykonos, yet only 30 minutes away by boat, is the sacred island of Delos, at the centre of the Cyclades, and one of the most important centres of the ancient world. Its magnificent ruins go back to the 7th Century B.C. and should not be missed.

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    Mytilene Lesvos is the third largest island in Greece

    Lesvos in the North Aegean is the third largest island in Greece, but until recently relatively unknown to foreign tourists.

    It's a prosperous and fertile island, rich in oil from countless olive trees, and famous for its ouzo distilleries, which has never needed to entice visitors to boost the economy.

    The only real holiday resort lies up in the north-west corner, a couple of hours drive from the capital Mytilene, centred upon the picture postcard village of Molyvos. The ruins of a Genoese castle crown the top of a hill, with stunning views across to the Turkish mainland, watching over the village houses built of natural local stone with red-tiled roofs, as they tumble down the narrow cobbled streets to a tiny fishing harbour with waterside restaurants and caf�s. In the evening the castle is often illuminated, and the lights of the village bars and tavernas are reflected in the calm waters. It's easy to see why Greek poets, artists and film stars love the place!

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    Rhodes one of Greece's most beautiful islandsRhodes is roughly halfway between Athens and Cyprus and only eleven miles from the Turkish coast.

    If you think that all Greek Islands - wonderful as they are - feature sun, sand & tavernas without much else; please get ready to think again. Rhodes has plenty of these features all over the island but Rhodes Town, where we base our activities is simply Spectacular! The island, the fourth largest in Greece and the largest of the Dodecanese islands, sits roughly halfway between Athens and Cyprus and only eleven miles from the Turkish coast. This relative distance from the Greek capital, or indeed any national capital over the centuries, has meant that Rhodes has been a crossing point between east and west and of course an envied prize for marauding territory-hungry invaders since the beginning of civilisation. Rhodes Town displays the influence of successive centuries of conquest in its architecture, its layout, its defences & its culture. There are Roman columns, mosques, synagogues and Byzantine churches. There are grand harbour-front Italian buildings, narrow medieval alleyways & stylish Greek buildings all jostling together, although generally delineated between Old Town and New Town - as the locals would have it

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    Samos one of the lesser -known Greek islandsSamos is one of the lesser-known Greek islands but every schoolchild knows its two most famous sons -Aesop the fable teller, and mathematician Pythagoras, the man with the square on his hypotenuse!

    Less than two kilometres from the Turkish mainland, this green and fertile island has a mountainous western region where wild orchids and aromatic medicinal herbs grow among the pines. The fertile lowlands are covered in olive groves, and vineyards producing the famous sweet Samos muscat wine (and plenty of quaffable dry whites and reds too).

    The island capital, Samos Town, is beautifully situated on a deep inlet, the pastel facades of its old mansions ascending the hillside to the narrow alleys and timbered houses of the sleepy Old Town, known as Vathy. The port has a delightful harbourside caf�s and canopied tavernas, with lively atmosphere after dark. A good bus service runs around the island and there is a fine sandy beach at Psili Ammos, 7kms to the south, with tavernas, watersports and safe swimming.

    The island's formar capital Tigani is its most popular resort, a picturesque circular port full of coloured fishing-boats and expensive yachts, with a small town beach.Tables from the harbourside caf�s and tavernas spill out onto the cobbles beneath the whitewashed trees, and the red-roofed village behind is overlooked by a ruined 19th Century castle. regular boats run to Psili Ammos beach and the offshore islet Samiopoula, while to the west of the town, a long coarse sand beach offers plentiful watersports.

    Lesser- known it may be, but this beautiful island's many fans will be quite happy if it stays that way!

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    Santorini Kalliste - the most beautifulThe old name for Santorini is Kalliste -"�the most beautiful". To watch the sun set from the sheer clifftops looking across the caldera is a sight never to be forgotten.

    A severe volcanic eruption around 1500 BC resulted in a large portion of the island sinking under the sea. The crater (caldera) of the volcano also sank below the surface leaving an expanse of water of 32 square miles 300-400metres deep. Santorini has an area of 96 square km and its main resort areas are either in the main town of Fira and in the pretty village of Oia, both overlooking the caldera, or on the east coast at Perissa or Kamari where there are excellent black sandy beaches offering waterski-ing and windsurfing. There is a good bus service linking these areas.

    Oia is one of the prettiest villages on the island perched on the clifftop with superb views of the sunset across the caldera and to Fira 12 km away. It is quieter than Fira but still has a varied nightlife and many tavernas. There are two beaches near to Oia. The archaeological sites of Akrotiri and Ancient Thira offer an insight into the past. There is also a thriving wine industry and many of the best vineyards are centred around the area of Messaria. Santorini wines are famous throughout Greece and wine tastings are offered at various vineyards.

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    Skiathos the Greek island for everyoneSkiathos is the Greek island for everyone. It lies in the Sporades chain in the north-western Aegean, measuring five miles long by nine miles wide.

    It has a wonderfully sheltered harbour for yachts and larger craft, and dozens of protected bays and coves all with gently sloping sandy beaches including the famous Koukounaries beach on the southwest corner which is said to be the finest in Greece. Nearly as well-known is Banana beach which is especially popular with those who have left all their clothes at home. Someone once counted sixty-six beaches, so even at the height of the season you can find your own "private" beach.

    The arrival by air provides beautiful views across the island. The houses climb up two hills overlooking the pretty harbour with its many tavernas and open-air cafes. Skiathos caters for all tastes nightlife is varied and lively and there is also a fine selection of boutiques and jewellery shops which reflect the sophisticated side of Skiathos.

    Visitors to Skiathos are always struck by the lushness of the island which is completely clothed in olive groves and pine woods, with every type of fruit growing in the valleys. Most of the population live in Skiathos town or along the south coast (where most of our villas and apartments are located) but there are now unmade roads going up to the north coast with its spectacular and rugged terrain. The ruins of the old capital of Kastro, lovely Evangelistra monastery, Kechria and simple taverna, Aselimnos beach with its popular taverna and bouzouki evenings, are all on the north coast, offering great contrast to the beautiful but more gentle south coast with its glorious sandy beaches and bays.

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    Volos at the foot of Mount Pelion

    Volos built at the innermost point of the Pagasetic Gulf and at the foot of Mount Pelion

    The city of Volos is situated at the centre of the Greek mainland, at an approximately equal distance from the country's two main urban centres, Athens and Salonica. It is the only outlet towards the sea from Thessaly, the country's largest agricultural region.

    A combination of the knowledge and skills of the craftsmen of Mt. Pelion, the labour force of Thessaly and investment from the major centres of the Greek diaspora has enabled the city to develop into an important industrial centre with the third largest port in the country.

    The economy of the city is based on manufacturing, trade, services and tourism. Volos is developing into a dynamic European city with a new and modern university, an active cultural life, and varied opportunities for leisure and entertainment.

    As an established trading and industrial centre and port, Volos has always had an intensely active night life. Generations of revellers have passed through the "dives" of the Old Harbour, Alykes and Nea Ionia, the "family" tavernas of Volos and the renowned "Scala of Milano", each leaving its mark. Today over twenty night clubs offer live music by local and foreign groups whilst the young people prefer the discos and bars with loud foreign music which are growing up rapidly all over the city. Modern restaurants, many of which specialise in one particular type of cuisine, coexist beside the traditional tavernas where the customers themselves may bring along their instruments and play and sing the old songs spontaneously with the participation of the other regulars who happen to be present. From spring to autumn the evening outing to seaside beerhouses, restaurants, tavernas and "tsipouradika" is an everyday habit. Some romantics still favour the old established promenade along the famed seafront of Volos, which remains an institution in all sea-side towns.

    As the sun rises at dawn and the trawlers unload the fresh fish still alive in crates of chipped ice, so the flowers awaken in the yards and the trains in the station whistle reveille. This is a city where every action is leisurely. However hurriedly one goes about ones' work or appointments, there is always time to pause, to greet a friend, to engage in conversation standing on the pavement in the market, in the shops or offices, and to enquire after those thousand and one important and irrelevant details which govern our lives. In spite of the buildings rising around us and hiding the sun, in Volos smallness of scale still predominates. Distances are all short, to be travelled easily on foot or by bicycle, which remains the typical, traditional vehicle of the city. The people of Volos always find the ways and means to walk from their homes to the beach, to search the horizon over the sea, to take a fishing rod and fish on the wharf or some nearby beach, to go swimming, to get away to Mt. Pelion, to wonder at the colourful sunset over the summit of Mt. Othrys. And to appreciate the sounds of the calm and eventful night.

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    Zakynthos the third largest of the Ionian Islands

    Zakynthos, the third largest of the Ionian Islands, covers an area of 410 square kilometres and its coastline is roughly 123 kilometres in length.

    zakynthosThis green and fertile island, also known as Zante, is the southernmost in the Ionian chain, enjoying a contrasting landscape of dramatic mountains in the Northwest and gentle hills and plains to the South. Visitors to this island can enjoy some of the finest beaches to be found in Greece and inland the rural lifestyle has remained unchanged for years with the majority of the land under cultivation.

    The capital of the island called Zakynthos Town was rebuilt in 1953 after being destroyed following an earthquake, and despite the somewhat uninspiring new architecture, there are several churches and monuments worth visiting and a pleasant town square where one can relax with a cool drink. The town also provides a regular ferry link with the mainland, opening up opportunities to venture further afield and explore many historical sites on the Peloponese.

    There are extensive sand beaches on the southern end of the island, Gerakas, Porto Roma and Mavrantzis to name just a few, and even in the height of the summer they are relatively peaceful.

    A quite different visitor invades some of these beaches at night, the loggerhead sea turtles come ashore to nest during early summer, these creatures have adopted this stretch of Zakynthos coastline as their major nesting area.

    Zakynthos is an island where nature and tourism happily co-exist and it is easy to understand the old Venetian description of this land as the 'Flower of the Levant'.

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    Goa coconut groves caressing hotels of great charmThis tiny, gentle Indian state is a far cry from the usual notion of what India is all about.

    Goa BeachWhy spend the winter in the UK when just eleven hours away there is a paradise? A stretch of coastline where, between October and April, the skies are unbelievably blue and the days long, warm and sunny. Where dolphins leap out of the sea in the early morning, and where, beyond the long sandy beaches, lie tropical gardens of flowers and coconut groves caressing hotels of great charm. This paradise is Goa.

    Many first-time visitors believe Goa to be an island. An understandable mistake, as this small state is encircled by mountains, rivers and estuaries which effectively separate it from the rest of India. And it isn't just the geography that makes Goa different. Life for the animals is different too. Water buffaloes and cows wander around freely on a never-ending eating mission and most Goan village households have their own pigs, chickens and goats scratching around in their yard. The wild bird life is unbelievable. The ocean in this part of the world is still fished the traditional way, resulting in prolific fish-stocks. Plump lobsters, giant tiger prawns, pomfret and kingfisher, generally barbecued in tandoori ovens only hours after leaving the sea, are just a small sample of what arrives at your table. The local wines may be nothing special, but the Kingfisher beer served ice-cold hits the spot. Wherever you dine, from a poolside hotel restaurant to a humble beachshack, the bill is another nice surprise. The capital of Goa. Panjim, is still very much a working capital with the daily hustle and bustle of commercial life. It's fascinating to walk along the streets just looking at the wares. But if there is room in your suitcase the bric-a-brac, cashew nuts, clothing, silver jewellery and sports equipment are all excellent buys from the local markets - travel before Christmas and buy the most unusual presents at a fraction of the price you'd pay in the UK. Fantastic sandy beaches, wonderful cuisine, friendly locals, low, low prices and direct flights from the UK are all part of Goa's attraction today as a holiday destination. Goa has little crime and there aren't any 'no-go' areas for tourists. It's the ideal winter holiday destination - a place, a way of life, and an atmosphere that is addictive!

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    Trivandrum Venice of the East!

    Thiruvananthapuram ( Trivandrum) , the southern most district of Kerala state is situated between north latitudes 8� 17' and 8� 54' and east longitudes 76� 41' and 77� 17'. The southern most extremity, 'Parasala' is 56 kms away from Kanyakumari, the "land's end of India". The district stretches along the shores of the Arabian sea for a distance of 78 kms.

    Climate:
    The city has a tropical climate and therefore does not experience distinct seasons. The mean maximum temperature 34 �C and the mean minimum temperature is 21 �C. The humidity is high and rises to about 90% during the monsoon season. Thiruvananthapuram is the first city along the path of the south-west monsoons and gets its first showers in early June. The city gets heavy rainfall of around 1700 mm per year. The city also gets rain from the receding north-east monsoons which hit the city by October. The dry season sets in by December. December, January and February are the coldest months while March, April and May are the hottest. The winter temperature comes down to about 20 �C and summer temperatures can sometimes go as high as 35 �C.
    Geography:
    Thiruvananthapuram is built on hills by the sea shore and is located at 8.5� N 76.9� E on the west coast, near the southern tip of mainland India. The city and the suburbs covers an area of about 250 square kilometers, sandwiched between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. The average elevation is 16 ft from the sea level. Trivandrum tourism.
    The area can be divided into two geographical regions, the midlands and the lowlands. The midland region comprises low hills and valleys adjoining the Ghats. The lowland is a narrow stretch comprising shorelines, rivers and deltas, dotted with coconut palms. Vellayani lake, biggest fresh water lake in the district is in the suburbs of the city. The major rivers that flow through the city are the Karamana river, and the Killi river. Trivandrum tourism.
    There are highlands, which form the eastern suburbs of the city. The highest point in the district is the Agasthyarkoodam which rises 1890 m above sea level. Ponmudi and Mukkunimala are hill-resorts near the city. Trivandrum tourism.
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    Tel Aviv The cultural heart of Israel

    The cultural heart of Israel. An exciting blend of past and present, with lively beaches, cafes and night-life. In contrast you'll find narrow cobbled streets in the suburb of Jaffa, and time has seemingly stood still in Tel Aviv's Camel Market.

    Gleaming modern buildings and tree lined streets border the fine sandy beaches which run the length of Tel Aviv. Green parks are dotted along the waterfront, ideal places to feel the evening breeze, and the setting sun.

    After sunning yourself on the beach or a busy day's sightseeing, your choice of night life ranges from lively cafes along the fashionable Dizengoff Street, and various discotheques, through to concerts given by the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra.

    Tel Aviv also offers the fascination of Jaffa, a short taxi ride away, the biblical port associated with Jonah and the Whale. In its maze of cobbled streets, there are galleries and studios, as well as bars and restaurants.

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    Bergamo close to Lake Como

    Bergamo is a pleasant weekend break destination in Lombardy, northern Italy close to Lake Como.

    Situated on the edge of the outlying Orobic hills between the mouths of the Brembana and Seriana valleys, the town has two distinct urban centres:

    Bergamo Alta, the oldest and upper part of the town with a wealth of history and art, stands on a hill (365 m.) a hundred metres or so above the plain, where Bergamo Bassa (249 m.) lies, a busy modern industrial and commercial centre.

    First a Gallic settlement, then Roman, after the Barbarian invasions, it became a free municipality in the Lombard League (12th century) before submitting to the Visconti Signoria, and from 1428 to 1796 formed part of the Venetian Republic. In this period the town, surrounded by walls, underwent coinsiderable economic expansion. After the brief Napoleonic Cisalpine Republic (1797-1814), it became part of Lombard-Venetia until freed by Garibaldi's soldiers in 1859.

    Monuments: The Colleoni chapel, masterpiece of the Lombard Renaissance (housing frescoes by Tiepolo), Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (12th century), Palazzo della Ragione (12th century, altered in the 16th century), Duomo, Torre del Comune (tower). Though gravitating towards nearby Milan, Bergamo's economy is characterized by the presence of a well-defined industrial sector, active in engineering, textiles, chemicals, food and building materials.

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    Brindisi Situated on the Adriatic CoastBrindisi is ituated on the Adriatic coast of the Itialian Salentino peninsula.

    The oldest part of the Brindisi stands on the promontory jutting into a sheltered bay, while the new town, characterized by its regular layout, has spread inland.

    Once a Messapico centre, its importance increased under Roman influence (3rd century BC.), when it was known as Brundisium, and it became the principal Roman seaport for the east, linked to the capital by the Via Appia. After the end of the Western Empire, it was dominated by the Goths, Byzantines, Lombards (duchy of Benevento) and again by the Byzantines, and frequently raided by the Saracens. Robert Guiscard captured it for the Normans in 1071, and from that date it shared the vicissitudes of the Kindgom of Sicily, without diminishing in importance as a port. It became part of Italy in 1860.

    The principal monuments are: the church of S. Giovanni al Sepolcro (Romanesque, 12th century), the Castello Svevo (of 13th century origins), the church of S. Lucia or the SS. Trinit� (of Romanesque origins, with a 8th-9th century frescoed crypt), the church of S. Benedetto (11th century with later additions) and its fine 16th century cloisters, the Duomo (originally Romanesque, reconstructed in the 18th century, mosaic floors), the Roman columns (1st-2nd century BC.), Palazzo Montenegro (17th century). Two kilometres away stands the church of S. Maria del Casale (Romanesque-Gothic, 13th century), with Byzantine-style frescoes.

    The economy of the city is based on the traditional port traffic, especially shipping to Greece and the importation of oil-related products, the raw materials for the large chemical works, the city's principal industrial enterprise and one of the most important in the region. Other developed industries include engineering, textiles, construction materials and the transformation of agricultural products (wine, pasta and oil), allied to the high output of the inland areas. Events: Sagra del melone (August), Festa di S. Teodoro (August).

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    Naples The largest city of CampaniaThe splendid Amalfi coast; the marvelous islands; the Imperial Villa in Capri; the Royal Palace of Caserta with its splendid Italian gardens; Herculaneum and Pompeii.

    The largest city of Campania, capital of the province and the region, Naples is the third most populated city in Italy (after Rome and Milan), with over a million inhabitants, and is the most important industrial center and trading port for the South.

    In Naples is the National Museum, which houses one of the most important archaeologic collections in the world (statues by the great Greek masters Policleto, Lisippo and Prassitele); mosaics and wall paintings from Pompeii; the collection of jewels, small bronzes, household goods and utensils.

    A point of embarkation for emigrants in the past, Naples now has a large traffic of merchandise (petroleum, carbon, cereals) and passengers. It is the largest Italian port, with a noteworthy nexus of railway and highways and a large international airport. In the vast urban area one can distinguish many different neighborhoods: the old center, characterized by buildings closely crowded together, is bordered on the west by the new administrative district and on the east by the business district, into which flows almost all the road and rail traffic. Other neighborhoods, with narrow climbing streets, rise around the base of the San Martino and Capodimonte hills. These neighborhoods have experienced intense development, typically of the simpler kind, in contrast to that of the residential neighborhoods that stretch out comfortably along the Vomero and Posillipo hills.

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    Pisa with its Leaning TowerPisa is a historic town in Tuscany, now most famous for one of its architectural masterpieces, the Leaning Tower.

    A centre of ancient origin, Pisa was already an important port in Roman times, definitively asserting itself as a seagoing power in the 12th century when it became a Republic after participating in the First Crusade. It extended its influence over the whole Tuscan coast and Sardinia, succeeding in defeating its rival Amalfi and the Saracens. This period was the start of the town's phase of greatest economic prosperity and artistic splendour.

    Rising 4 m. above sea level on the banks of the Arno river, on a fertile alluvial plain, this town is approximately 10 km. from the Tyrrhenian Sea.

    In the 13th century, the antagonism of Genoa, Lucca and Florence soon had a negative effect on the power of Pisa, which to after defeat by the Genoese at Meloria, was radically reduced.

    After a period of domination by the Signorie, the town's decline culminated with its defeat by Florence in 1406.

    Monuments: First and foremost is, without doubt, the Campo dei Miracoli (Piazza Duomo), one of the most famous sights in Italy and the world. Here lies the Duomo (11th-12th century), one of the major examples of Romanesque-Pisan art, with five aisles and housing important works of art such as the pulpit by G. Pisano (early 14th century) and the tomb of Arrigo VII (14th century); close by stands the world-famous Leaning Tower (bell tower, started in 1173), an elegant round construction; the Romanesque Baptistry, to a circular plan and the Camposanto (13th century), unfortunately damaged during the last war, housing extremely fine frescoes (14th and 15th century).

    An active centre of culture favoured also by excellent road and rail links, Pisa has an active industrial sector: engineering, textiles, pharmaceuticals, glassandpottery, foodstuffs and building. There is also lively cultural activity linked to the University and Scuola Normale. At all times, Pisa is thronged with tourists.

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    Rimini one of the longest beaches in EuropeIn the Italian territory of Emilia Romagna, Rimini is a favourite holiday resort.

    Rimini comprises one of the longest beaches in Europe with mile after mile of golden sand. This part of central Italy is bordered on one side by the warm Adriatic sea and on the other by several lively resorts. With many characteristic towns, villages and hills, this area understandably retains an irresistible appeal for thousands of holidaymakers.

    Favored by a year-round mild climate, Rimini enjoys a proud history, dating back to Roman times and beyond. Immerse yourself in Italian language and culture amid bustling street markets, cafes, fascinating craft workshops, and the famous harbour. The city has a lengthy expanse of beach which can boast as being one of Europe's best. There is a wide variety of entertainment and superb amenities available for the holidaymaker - open-air dancing, restaurants offering regional dishes, a host of Pizzerias, a variety of shops and well-stocked bars open till early hours in the morning

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    Rome built on seven hills In the center of Rome, we can admire the Roman Forum, the imposing arid universally known Colosseum and the Cathedral of St. Peter.

    The ancient capital of the Roman Empire was built on seven hills. Much of its ancient construction survives, you could easily spend a week just visiting the ruins. The city centre is full of baroque churches and convents of great magnificence, and countless palaces. Some of them are now museums or galleries, and then there is the Vatican City. The Vatican museums give access to Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. Visitors will also find that Rome is a noisy, busy city.

    A wonderful city!

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    Turin situated on the banks of the Po RiverSituated on the banks of the Po River, near the foot of the Alps in northwestern Italy. Turin is the capital of the Piemonte region.

    Of all the great cities in Italy, only Turin shows almost no sign of the Middle Ages or the Renaissance, and barely a tip of the hat to ancient Rome. History seems to have begun here in the late eighteenth century, at a time when three great architects practically rebuilt this provincial capital from the ground up. Their work is visible all over, but nowhere more dramatically than in Piazza Castello, flanked by Amedeo di Castellamonte's Palazzo Reale, Guarino Guarini's church of San Lorenzo, and Filippo Juvarra's Palazzo Madama. These three men, especially Juvarra, made Turin an architecturally homogenous showpiece of the baroque and rococo.

    From Piazza Castello, walk down Via Roma, the city's most elegant shopping street, until you come to lovely Piazza Carignano. Be here by 9 a.m., because you can easily spend the entire morning in the Palazzo dell'Accademia delle Scienze, home of the Museo Egizio, which for Egyptian artifacts is second only to the Archeological Museum in Cairo. On the floors above is the Galleria Sabauda, the excellent private collection of the Savoy Dukes, who became Italy's only royal family. Here you'll see a good number of fine Italian paintings, as well as Italy's best collection of Dutch and Flemish works. Even Turin's world-class museums are uniquely unItalian.

    Nearby is Piazza San Carlo, one of Europe's finest squares. Stop for drinks or a sandwich in one of the cafes. Next, if you're interested in 19th- and 20th-century Italian art, particularly the Macchiaioli, fascinating precursors to the Impressionists, continue along Via Roma to the Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna at Via Magenta 31. Or you can retrace your steps to Piazza Castello and turn right, down Via Giuseppe Verdi. You'll immediately spot your destination, the Mole Antonelliana, a 500-foot-tall architectural pastiche built as a synagogue in 1863. From the viewing platform halfway up its fa�ade (don't worry, an elevator whisks you there), you'll have a marvelous view of the city, starting from the Royal Gardens just below. If period furniture interests you, don't miss the rooms of the Savoy residence, the adjacent Royal Palace.

    More treasures are within walking distance. A reproduction of the much disputed Holy Shroud is on view in the cathedral of San Giovanni, around the corner from Piazza Castello in Via XX Settembre. Even if you don't believe this was actually the cloth Jesus was wrapped in after He was removed from the cross, you'll probably enjoy the extraordinary baroque chapel Guarino Guarini designed to house it. Perhaps a more interesting church to visit is the Cappella dei Banchieri e Mercanti in Via Garibaldi (which also starts at Piazza Castello). This is a theme chapel, a baroque representation of the Christmas story as told by 17th-century artists on canvas and in marble. Once again in Piazza Castello, lovers of antique weapons should visit the Armeria Reale, one of Europe's best arms museums. Car aficionados will want to see the Museo dell'Automobile in Corso d'Unit� d'Italia.

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    Venice one of the most beautiful cities in the world

    With its 150 canals, 400 bridges and magnificent 16th- and 17th-century palaces and piazzas, it is no surprise that Venice is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

    Venice is one of the great open air 'Art Cities' of the world. To see the city's many treasures, you must take to the water - the vaporetto (water bus) along the Grand Canal is a fantastic experience. Gloriously romantic in spring, triumphant in summer, noble in autumn and seductive in winter, it is a popular city break destination year round.

    In St Mark's Square is the Basilica di San Marco, the chief glory of Venice. Mosaics, coloured marbles, ancient columns and the famed bronze horses of St Mark are its main attraction. Next door is Doge's Palace. Behind the palace is the Bridge of Sighs ''the last look at the world'', leading to the prison. Also a must is to walk over the Rialto Bridge and watch the gondolas go by.

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    Verona one of Italy's most charming and beautiful cities

    Rich in art and architecture, Verona is one of Italy's most charming and beautiful cities and lies on the banks of the River Adige

    Lying on the banks of the River Adige with its historic centre and many monuments fashioned from exquisite pink marble. It is here that youill find the best preserved Roman amphitheatre in the whole of Italy where a night at the opera is a memorable experience

    Central to Veronese life is the Piazza Bra with its broad caf�-filled pavements. Stop for a coffee and watch the world go by or wander through cobbled streets, past ancient churches such as the magnificent San Zeno in Maggiore and elegant boutiques in Via Mazzini. Discover the charming square of Piazza delle Erbe with its daily market or the ancient Piazza Dante with its tower affording stunning views. Veronais history has been fairly turbulent, indeed the petty family feuding of the 13th century was to be immortalised in the plot of Romeo and Juliet and many Shakespearean shrines are to be found here including "Julietis balcony".

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    Mombasa The coral island of MombasaThe town of Mombasa is a major sea gateway for eastern Africa and is Kenya's oldest and second largest metropolis. A spectacular coral reef, uninterrupted for 480 km, runs along the palm fringed coastline.

    The waters below team with marine life while up above a huge diversity of birdlike occupies the mangrove forests or overhanging cliffs. The beaches of Kenya have become one of the world's great playgrounds, with plenty of opportunities for water sports or simply sunbathing. The coral island of Mombasa, which measures just over 14 sq km -less than five square miles -is a busy, frenetic place, packed with a variety of things to see and do, with many of the sights clustered around Mwembe Tayari, Mombasa's old market place, now a bus station. Here is the war memorial built to honour the Kenyans who died in the First World War. Nearby is a mosque and further on along Mwembe Tayari Road is a Hindu Temple. Continue along this road and you come to Mombasa's central railway station, built in 1932. It is from here you can catch the overnight train to Nairobi. This railway was nick-named 'The Lunatic Line' at the time of its inception. Dinner and breakfast is provided on the train and a bar service is available. Tourists, however, usually make the journey between the coast and the Kenyan capital by plane.

    Mombasa's biggest market is the Makupa Market off Mwembe Tayari, a colourful place featuring a wide range of produce that is well worth a visit. Mombasa Island is a good place pick up souvenirs, especially cheap fabrics, like 'kanga' wraparounds. Also it's well worth calling in at the Akamba Handicraft Industry Centre. For a novel shopping expedition why not board a dhow for a cruise down Tudor Creek to visit a floating market? Dhow trips also cruise past Fort Jesus and the Old Town, with visitors welcomed on board with cocktails. A visit to the -16th century; Fort Jesus in the Old Town is a "must". The Portuguese bastion, the oldest European fortification in Africa, was built as a huge pentagon so that assailants came under crossfire from all sides. It is surrounded by; a 40 foot deep moat. It contains a national museum that houses well- preserved artifacts and relics, some of which date back more than 300 years, including relics of the 17th century Portuguese ship, Santa Antonio de Tanna. A 'Son et Lumiere' presentation (Sound and Light), portrays the history of the East African coast and the Fort itself. At the end of their excursion, visitors can enjoy; a chilled glass of lime juice on the battlements.

    The ramparts slope down to the old slave harbour, from which spices as well as slaves were shipped. From the fort you can enter the Old Town, where the narrow lanes are lined with traditional Arab wooden-balconied houses. Here are more than 20 mosques, the oldest of which is the Mandhry Mosque, founded in 1570. Other impressive religious buildings are the Jain Temple, with dome topped by a spire of gold and doors of solid silver, and the Shiva Temple, guarded by statues of lions and the Hindu God Ganesh, with its elephant head.

    There is also an Anglican Cathedral, while Mombasa Golf Club, with its nine hole course, provides further evidence of the British occupation. Mombasa Island is linked to the mainland in the west by the Makupa Causeway, to the north coast by the Nyali Bridge and to the south coast by the Likoni Ferry.

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    Funchal the delights of Maderia wineMadeira, 621 miles southwest of Lisbon and 497 miles from Africa, offers the delights of a subtropical climate.

    Maderia is slightly removed from the nearby Canary Islands but has a far longer pedigree as an island where discerning travellers can find sunshine all year round. Victorians were among the first to take to the delights of Maderia wine and the cake that traditionally accompanied it. The capital, Funchal probably got its name because of the abundance of fennel (funcho) that was growing there almost five centuries ago when the city was founded and it's fauna is impressive today. It's almost unique 'amphitheatre' formation, beginning on the beach and rising gently to 1200 metres, provides the natural shelter which first attracted settlers to the site. Now a busy cosmopolitan town, the centre can suffer from traffic congestion but there are several beautiful parks and gardens to visit. Not to be missed are the glorious Botanical Gardens which boast a superb array of the island's flora.

    Take the memorable trip by cable car up to the breathtaking beauty of the village of Monte. It takes about 15 minutes and is an excellent way to see Maderia's hidden beauty without causing any harm to the environment. Why not add an element of excitement to your descent by taking the spectacular toboggan ride back to town!

    There are few sandy beaches in Maderia but Prainha is a very popular one for both tourists and Maderians alike.

    The island of Porto Santo lies just off Maderia and has 5 miles of golden sand beach, which makes it perfect for sunbathers. It has to be said that apart from a few bars there is little else to do there but the sands are famous for the therapeutic properties said to alleviate the pain of rheumatism. What better excuse to lie back and do nothing!

    There is no need to worry about the lack of beaches however as the Lido swimming pools are superb. Funchal's has large and small salt-water pools, it is spacious with great facilities and services such as banks, bars and restaurants.

    At most resorts you will find salt water pools, with some complexes having access to the sea. The main attraction of Porto Moniz for example is undoubtedly the natural lava rock bathing pools that are filled with crystal clear water every day by the tide. Of course, on most occasions there is no need to leave your hotel to enjoy superb swimming and sunbathing facilities as most provide imaginative pool complexes.

    For the more energetic there is plenty to keep you busy. You can choose from the guided Lavada walking tours, big game fishing, diving or a leisurely round of golf. Or for those who like to live dangerously, why not try the casino.

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    Male The Flower of the IndiesAlmost all visitors to the Maldives arrive at Male' international Airport, situated in Hulhule island, is just over a kilometre or about ten minutes by boat from Male', the capital.

    Marco polo referred to the Maldives as '(the) Flower of the Indies', while Ibn Batuta, the famous 14th century Arab traveller, called it in his chronicles 'one of the wonders of the world'.

    Scattered across the equator in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the necklace of islands that form the Maldives offer a rare vision of a tropical paradise. Palm fringed islands with sparkling white beaches, turquoise lagoons, clear warm waters and coral reefs teeming with abundant marine flora and fauna, continue to fascinate visitors.

    The only capital in the world that is an island, as opposed to being on an island, Mal� is the commercial and social hub of the Maldives. Mal� is just a 10-minute boat ride from the International Airport. Only about 2 sq km, it nevertheless holds roughly 25% of the nation�s population, not including the many foreign workers. Since it is the major �city� of the Maldives, with a population of about 80,000, it has a busy, thriving workforce, and is active throughout the day and late into the night. While many visitors prefer to follow their official tour guides, some like to walk around this small island on their own, just following their noses, as it were. Either of these ways is quite recommended, and the people don�t make any fuss at the sight of our visitors.

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    Malta at the heart of the MediterraneanIf youre in Malta in early spring, try to coincide with carnival week, as boisterous an excuse for revelry as it has been for centuries

    Renowned for their sunshine and history, the Maltese Island of Malta, lies at the heart of the Mediterranean, and boast one of the oldest civilisations in the area, as well as year-round sunshine, miles of sandy beaches and warm, crystal clear waters. The largest of the Maltese islands is Malta, with medieval dungeons and Calypso's cave - Malta isn't just old, it's positively mythic.

    The narrow cobblestone streets of its towns are crowded with Norman cathedrals and baroque palaces. The countryside is littered with the oldest known human structures in the world. Malta is very good at selling its romantic past of Copper Age temple builders and crusading celibate knights, and it has used this image to crank up a formidable tourism industry. Not that the islands are overrun with highrise resorts - yet. In the face of modernisation, the archipelago's staunchly Roman Catholic culture has helped the Maltese maintain a tight-knit community and keep a lid on runaway development. The upshot of this is that travellers can enjoy a refreshing balance of convenience and unvarnished local charm, and can get comfort for considerably less than at many comparable Mediterranean destinations. Despite their relaxed disposition, the Maltese spend much of the year throwing confetti while carrying statues of their patron saints through the streets and drinking toasts to the Knights of St John. The religious festival season is six months long - ending just in time for the holidays.

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    Cancn Paradise on the tip of the Yucatan peninsula Cancn is paradise on the tip of the Yucatan peninsula.

    From ruins to riches, Cancn has it all. In fact it's hard to imagine a site better endowed with natural, archaeological, and man-made attractions. Technically an island. Cancn's resort zone is a 14 mile long slender ribbon of sand, shaped like the number "seven". Its stunning beaches must be seen to be believed: silky smooth sugar-white sand, lapped by the turquoise and emerald waters of the Caribbean.

    Cancn is comprised of three distinct but integrated areas: the City of Cancn, the ecological reserve and the resort zone.

    The area's history is rich with Mayan influence. It has been periodically occupied for hundreds of years. Stone temples uncovered during the resort's construction date back to the 12th century. Further inland are magnificent ancient cities and ceremonial centers. Over 200 archaeological sites, some wonderfully restored, others still shrouded with tangled jungle vegetation are scattered within a few hours drive from Cancn. The region's fascinating and friendly Mayan culture has survived despite tourism's rapid encroachment.

    As for visitor facilities, Cancn offers a exotic, tropical island setting buoyed by modern comforts and conveniences. A well-planned layout and infrastructure give the destination a polished appearance. There are over 18,000 hotel rooms and some 200 restaurants. Shopping is top notch, with over a dozen American-style shopping malls. Dining options include every imaginable fast food chain along with gourmet seafood, Asian, Caribbean, American and Mexican specialties. And of course, outdoor recreation is first rate. Cancn succeeds in combining the best of Mexico and the Caribbean into one tidy package.

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    Marrakech Marrakech Holidays in Morocco Nestled on the northwest corner of Africa, Morocco is a land of diverse landscapes featuring the golden shores of the Mediterranean, the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, the Western Sahara Desert and extensive river systems. Holidays in Morocco offer a wealth of possibilities, from bronzing on Mediterranean beaches to skiing in the Atlas Mountains, embarking on desert safaris and camel treks to taking historical tours of ancient cities.
    Holidays in Marrakech Marrakech is situated in the south west and is Moroccos second largest city. It lies in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Marrakech is a picture of narrow streets, busy markets in bustling squares and mosques. The city is full of activity with local craftsmen making and selling their wares, stalls selling a huge variety of goods and entertainers singing and dancing. The small area of the old town with its narrow, traffic-free cobbled streets is the tourist centre of Marrakech. In the labyrinth of alleys are the suuqs where the craftsmen make and sell their wares. The Djemaa el Fna is a huge square with the largest and busiest market in Morocco. It is a place of frenzied activity with stall holders attracting the customers attention. In addition there are entertainers such as acrobats, storytellers and snake charmers. Traditional music fills the air to accompany the folk dancers in their brightly coloured costumes. In the evening the food sellers come out and the square becomes a huge outdoor caf. Who Goes There? Marrakech appeals to those who like the experience of a completely different culture. Shopping Marrakech is a great place to shop with a huge variety of gift and craft shops, bazaars and markets. Nightlife The nightlife in Marrakech is lively and the square becomes the main focus for evening entertainment. Lined with bars and restaurants it is the perfect place to view the entertainment. Bars are usually open until midnight while nightclubs, often with open air dance floors, are open until dawn. Many hotels have their own clubs which are open to the public. Restaurants /Cuisine There are various restaurants offering a wide range of cuisine. Hotels also serve food. Weather Morocco is a year round holiday destination with hot summers and mild winters. Marrakech is cooler in the winter with snow on the mountain peaks. Transfer Time The transfer time is approximately 40 minutes, however can vary depending on the location of your accommodation.
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    Marrakech famed for its markets and festivalsAn oasis set upon the fertile Haouz Plain at the foot of the High Atlas Mountains, Marrakech is the fourth of Morocco's Imperial Cities.

    One of Morocco's most important cultural centres, Marrakech is a lively former capital famed for its markets and festivals. Its wildly beating heart is the Place Djemaa el-Fna, a huge square in the old city. Rows of open-air food stalls are set up here and mouth-watering aromas fill the air. Jugglers, storytellers, snake charmers, magicians, acrobats and assorted benign lunatics take over the rest of the space. The souqs (markets) here are among the best in Morocco and a large budget hotel strip makes exploring the old city area cheap and easy. Rose-coloured buildings in this enchanting city are set within lush green gardens, olive groves and palmeries. Among the many attractions of the ancient quarter is the rare Almoravid-style Koubba Ba'adiyn mosque annex, the magnificent Koutoubia mosque and the Palais Dar Si Said (Museum of Moroccan Arts). Trains and buses to this inland city run regularly from Casablanca and Rabat.

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    Faro The Algarve is also an ideal destination for sports enthusiastsFaro, the capital of Algarve, is sited on Portugal's most southerly headland

    The Algarve, which is the southernmost province of Portugal is a 150 kilometre long coastal region of outstanding natural beauty. The area stretches from the Spanish border to the towering cliffs of St. Vincent on the west coast peninsular. Dramatic sandstone cliffs overlook long golden beaches and the clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Inland among the mountains and rolling hills you will find pine forests, orchards of almonds, olives and figs and peaceful, picturesque villages. Many of the larger towns are steeped in history and the Arabic influence can be seen in their architecture. Sports - The Algarve is also an ideal destination for sports enthusiasts, especially golfers who come from far and wide to enjoy the many beautiful and worldfamous golf courses in the region. Water sports such as sailing, surfing and windsurfing are also popular and well catered for. Eating out - Algarvian cuisine is centered around fish which can be enjoyed fresh at restaurants of all types, classic favourites include charcoal grilled sardines, and cod fishcakes. Other dishes to look out for are 'clado verde' (a soup of potato and cabbage with slices of pork sausage) and hare and partridge can also be found on the menu further inland. Some good local wines come from Lagos - look for 'Vinho Lagoa' on the label. Places to visit - The capital city, Faro offers a wide range of attractions to visitors. The cathedral in the old part of the town with its cobbled streets and peaceful square is well worth a visit as is the large shopping centre. The city also boasts many beautiful churches and paved pedestrianised areas with shops, cafes and restaurants.

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    Porto the Costa Verde, literally �the green coast�Porto or Oporto, Portugal's second largest city, was selected the 2001 European Capital of Culture which bestows upon the city money for lots of cultual improvements.

    Things to see and do:
    Oporto, the country�s second city and the focal point of the north, is a city of contrasts. Ancient neighbourhoods that date back centuries sit alongside a thriving contemporary arts scene. There�s also a dance theatre and numerous fashionable clothes shops. The riverside area and bustling downtown provide plenty of distractions. Alternatively visit the cellars of some of the best known port producers and try your hand at tasting.

    If you head up the Douro valley you�ll find some of the finest vineyards in Portugal. Whether your trip is by boat or road you won�t fail to be impressed by the beautiful scenery. Slightly further afield but definitely worth the journey is the Peneda-Ger�s National Park. Some of the peaks in this spectacular park soar to over 7000ft above sea level. Day walks and horse riding are all up for grabs here, as are longer treks.

    A visit to Braga is an absolute must if you are staying in the north. This town has been inhabited since before 300 BC. As well as some ruins dating back to ancient times, there�s an abundance of magnificent buildings still fully intact. If the coast is more your scene, make for P�voa de Varzim. When you�ve spent enough time on the beach head into town and enjoy the restaurants and shops. The combination of traditional fishing town and popular beachside resort makes for a great combination.

    On the beach:
    The Costa Verde has a number of beautiful secluded beaches stretching to the Spanish border. Do remember, however, that here you are swimming in the Atlantic Ocean and the water can be cold and the beaches windswept. The best beaches in the area are at Esposende and Vila Praia da Ancora. Watersports are available in all the main resorts.

    In the shops:
    Northern Portugal is renowned for holding the best local craft markets in Portugal and folk art is available in most towns and villages. Gumara~es, approximately 50km Northwest of Oporto, is the place to find embroidered and woven items, for lace visit Vila do Condo and Minho is known for its fabulous handicrafts. If you fancy a traditional embroidred Portugeese festival costume try Viana do Castelo, north of Oporto.

    Eating out:
    For the best choice of restaurants head for the capital where the food is traditionally rich and heavy, produced using local ingredients and may have a French influence. Every town along the coast will have its own recipe for cooking fresh fish and the towns close to rivers in the mountains serve fabulous trout dishes. Generally restaurants in Northern Portugal are good value and reservations usually aren�t necessary.

    After dark:
    The best nightlife in the region is in Oporto where you can relax over an evening drink in one of the old style cafes. There are 2 casinos within reach of the city and the best discos can be found to the west of the city centre in the new commercial developments. Outside the capital Braga is surprisingly lively in the evening � the caf� bars are busy day and night and there are 2 discos on Av, da Liberdade. Viana do Castelo also has a handfull of bars and caf�s, the most lively can be found on the town beach.

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    Alghero the tourism capital of northern Sardinia

    Alghero, the tourism capital of northern Sardinia, has ten gorgeous beaches

    In the 11th century the tiny fishing village was fortified and became an important trading port. It remained under Genoese rule until the 1350's, when they finally relinquished control to the combined Catalan and Aragonese forces. Alghero become known as "Little Barcelona" and remained under Catalan, and later, Spanish domination for some 400 years, until title to the town was eventually transferred back to the Sardinians. Today, many influences of its former Catalan masters remain, clearly reflected in both its magnificent architecure and by its elder residents, many whom still regularly speak the Catalan dialect. In numerous restaurants around the old town this strong Spanish influence is still evident in there tempting menus.

    Alghero's ancient monuments are a focal point of life today, and are a constant reminder of the earliest influences. The Piazzas which proliferate within the old town area are linked by narrow cobbled lanes with their quaint dwellings, and are splendid examples of Alghero's architectural heritage. Below the old town's fortifications, a cosmopolitan range of modern yachts, pleasure craft and traditional fishing vessels jostle for position in the harbour. Beyond the immediate vicinity of the old town there is still more to explore.

    Sardinia's most beautiful, most famous grottoes can be reached by boat (3hrs) from Alghero.

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    Cagliari City of the SunCagliari, capital of Sardinia and "City of the Sun", spreading out along its spectacular gulf, sums up the history and traditions of Sardinia.

    Its origins date back to the Phoenician-Punic period, and today it still preserves impressive Roman ruins, such as the majestic amphitheater and the unique Grotta della Vipera. The Pisan towers of the 14th century along with the powerful Spanish castle, in their dominating positions, distinguish the town's landscape. The historic quarters, around the ancient Aragoneses fortress, maintain their original medieval appearance and offer panoramic glimpses of rare beauty of the city and its lively port. The numerous folklore, sport and cultural events; museums, among the most important those of archeological nature; the great beach in Poetto, one of the most beautiful in Sardinia; the tourist port, known as one of the best places for sailing; its extraordinary mild climate throughout the entire year; make Cagliari one of the most interesting and attractive places in Italy.

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    Olbia The Destination Airport for SardiniaSardinia - the second largest island in the Mediterranean, a name familiar to many but relatively unknown as a holiday destination.

    The little you hear about Sardinia is all true, over 1,800 km of coastline, much of it utterly unspoilt and fringed by white sand beaches lapped by crystal clear waters of every shade from deep aquamarine to shimmering turquoise and emerald green. Probably its' only claim to fame apart from giving its' name to tins of small fish, is the Costa Smerelda, built by the Aga Khan as a playground for the rich and without doubt, pristinely beautiful, but perhaps slightly too perfect and a touch synthetic and out of context with the real Sardinia beyond its' confines. The Destination Airport for Sardinia is Olbia

    The Gulf of Orosei on the east coast and just over an hour's drive south from Olbia Airport covers an area of some 80 square kilometres from Cape Comino in the north to Cape Di Monte Santu further south. Noted for its craggy white cliffs and powder white coves backed by wild and uninhabited mountainous regions, it's wonderful country for hikers and nature lovers. Here too, the coastal waters are so clean and clear that colonies of beautiful coral grow on the seabed and the myriad's of fish and other marine fauna attract Scuba divers from around the world, as well as the local fisherman of course! The medieval market town of Orosei, from which the area takes its name, stands on the banks of the River Cedrino and boasts a number of lovely old churches and a warren of narrow cobbled streets leading to numerous small piazzas where the handsome old villas of the town's former nobility, lie hidden behind high stone walls.

    The town is surrounded by lush green farmland bursting with orange and olive plantations and edged with a spectacular stretch of coastline and many, many kilometres of powder white sand beaches fringed by fragrant pinewoods. Inland, the Tutta Vista mountain range rises imposingly above the town to a height of more than 800 metres. The higher you go the more magnificent the scenery becomes with some incredible rock formations and wonderful birds-eye views of the coast and the vast fertile plain to the west, surrounded by hills and further rugged mountains. South of Orosei lies the lively village of Cala Gonone with a good selection of shops, restaurants and a colourful fishing harbour, where you can hire your own inflatable speedboat to explore the coastline, or take one of the regular boat trips to the many fabulous beaches to the south of the village, which are virtually inaccessible by land. Cala Luna, the nearest, is recognised as one of the most beautiful beaches in Sardinia, whilst further south are numerous smaller coves such as Cala Sisine and the evocatively named Ispuligidenie, all with the same remarkable crystal clear, turquoise waters for which Sardinia is renowned.

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    Catania a city with a strong personality, dominated by the looming bulk of Mount EtnaCatania, in Scily, is dramatically situated between the Ionian Sea and Mount Etna, Europe's greatest active volcano.

    Sicily is a fascinating melting-pot of various civilisations which have dominated and cultivated it over many centuries. As the largest island in the Mediterranean, this enchanting place is steeped in culture, and with contrasting maritime and mountaineous landscapes.

    The island's splendour and diversity is unashamedly stunning. The wonders of its ancient Greek temples and theatres, the tranquility of its seaside resorts and the charm of its towns and cities, the scenic beauty of its more mountaineous terrain and luxuriant hillsides all pay ultimate homage to the dominance of snow capped Mount Etna, Europe's tallest, active volcano.

    Hospitality comes naturally to Sicilians, who are surprisingly both proud and reserved.

    There are villages perched precariously on hillsides offering pottery and ceramics, and parades in natural costume whilst the locals implore you to try their culinary delicacies and native wines and liqueurs. Even in more popular areas you'll be gratified by the friendliness of the people.

    The island enjoys superb climate the equivalent of almost seven hours of sunshine every day of the year. Even winters can bring clear, crisp days when topcoats and rainwear are rarely needed.

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    Palermo chaotic but with many sights of interestPalermo is the city which most encapsulates Sicily, and it is the home to some of the region's most important tourist attractions.

    Sicily is a fascinating melting-pot of various civilisations which have dominated and cultivated it over many centuries. As the largest island in the Mediterranean, this enchanting place is steeped in culture, and with contrasting maritime and mountaineous landscapes.

    The island's splendour and diversity is unashamedly stunning. The wonders of its ancient Greek temples and theatres, the tranquility of its seaside resorts and the charm of its towns and cities, the scenic beauty of its more mountaineous terrain and luxuriant hillsides all pay ultimate homage to the dominance of snow capped

    Hospitality comes naturally to Sicilians, who are surprisingly both proud and reserved.

    There are villages perched precariously on hillsides offering pottery and ceramics, and parades in natural costume whilst the locals implore you to try their culinary delicacies and native wines and liqueurs. Even in more popular areas you'll be gratified by the friendliness of the people.

    The island enjoys superb climate the equivalent of almost seven hours of sunshine every day of the year. Even winters can bring clear, crisp days when topcoats and rainwear are rarely needed.

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    Ljubljana Ranks among the smaller European capitalsLjubljana is considered a city which suits everyone from its inhabitants to its numerous visitors as well.

    With its 280,000 inhabitants, Ljubljana most certainly ranks among the smaller European capitals, but we are convinced that many bigger cities could be envious of all that it has, and many who would not. Ljubljana did not become a capital overnight, it prepared for this for centuries. When it was still "only" a provincial capital of Carniola, it became the capital for all Slovenians in 1918, when the Austro-Hungarian monarchy collapsed. A year later, in 1919, it acquired a university, in 1938 the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, a radio station as early as 1926 and TV in 1957. It had its own Philharmonic in 1701 and its opera exactly one hundred years ago, not to speak of its theaters. In short, if smallness is its only deficiency, let it be so, as long as it can!

    Even a good thirty years ago the trade mark of Ljubljana was its skyscraper and castle. The castle, which is about a thousand years old, has been under reconstruction for quite a few years now, so that apart from seeing its renovated chapel of St. George, with its coats-of-arms, the pentagonal tower and wedding Hall, we most strongly recommend a visit to its high tower. The points is, there is a fantastic view from there (as you can see below), not only of the city (the rooftops of Old Ljubljana) and its surroundings (like the moody marsh Barje, the green park Tivoli) but also to the Kamnik Alps in the north and the Julian Alps with Triglav and the Karavanke Alps to the north-west.

    In Slovenia, the sun shines approximately 2000 hours per year. And yes, there is plenty of snow in winter.

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    Alicante the original Spanish holiday destinationAlicante on Spain's Costa Blanca is a paradise of blue skies, superb beaches and sunshine all year.

    The Costa Blanca - the 'White Coast' - was christened 2,500 years ago by Greek traders who founded the colony of Akra Leuka ('White Headland') near today's Alicante. Amidst the rocky, sunbaked landscape are fertile river valleys and lush groves of lemons, oranges, almonds and olives, and vineyards producing sweet muscatel grapes. On the Costa Blanca you can certainly brush up on the three 'Rs' - rest, relaxation and recreation. The prettiest stroll on the Costa Blanca must be along Alicante's Esplanada de Espa'a. Alternative name: Alacant (Catalan).

    Alicante is the southernmost of the three provinces which make up the Valencia region. Many tourist attractions can be found along the coastline, including sport of all kinds, mountains, castles, forests, etc. There are clearly defined areas in the province, such as, Upper Marina, with the towns of J�vea, Teulada, Benitachell and Calpe. Lower Marina, which is made up on the zone which centres around Benidorm, includes Altea and Villajoyosa and also the foothills of the Aitana Sierra (1,580m). The central area of Alicante extends inland towards the industrial area with the towns of Elche, Aspe, Movelda and Elda. The southern area with the maritime towns of Guardamar, Torrevieja and Orihuela with extensive plains of market gardens which extend inland. The mountain area which includes the foothills of Aitana, Mariola and Carrasqueta Sierras. Especially important is the route of the castles, made up of the fortresses of Villena, Ba�eres, Biar, Castalla, Sax and Benejama. The city of Alicante offers the visitor numerous beaches including San Juan, and also tourists should visit Santa Barbara Castle, Monastery of Santa Faz, the Cathedral, the Archaeeological Museum, Church of Santa Maria and the Modern Art Museum. Access to the city is linked to the Mediterranean Highway which stretches to the French border and runs through the main Spanish coastal cities. Regular flights are available from El Altet airport to the world's main cities and the port offers regular runs to Barcelona, the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, France and North Africa.

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    Almeria dominated by the silhouette of its Moorish citadel

    Almeria in Andalucia, is one of the Spanish cities that has preserved its moorish heritage.

    The province of Almeria is situated in the south east of the Spanish peninsula and borders with the provinces of Granada and Murcia. In all, this province covers 8774 square kilometres with a population of 425,000 inhabitants, of which 145,000 live in the capital city, also named Almeria. Inland, Almeria has an almost lunar landscape of desert, sandstone and dried up river beds and has long been a popular choice for filming American style spaghetti westerns, (The all time Peter O'Toole classic, Lawrence of Arabia was also shot here). You can visit mini Hollywood or Yucca City, just outside Tabernas which was the set of A Fistful of Dollars and various other films and is open daily to visitors.

    Almeria, has a very distinguished past, though not much of its former glory survives today. Its Alcazabar was the largest fortress ever built by the Moors in Spain, which gives some idea of what an important place it was. Under the Caliphate of C�rdoba, it was a major trading port, but sieges and economic decline gradually took their toll. Today Almeria is a dusty little city, extremely poor in places. Its main landmarks, though, are worth a visit, and it has some atmospheric, inexpensive tapas bars and nightlife.

    Gastronomic specialities include Gurullos (stew with pasta), Trigo (stew with grains of wheat, pork, beans and herbs), Gachas (hot and spicy clam stew) and Escabeche e Sardines (fresh sardines in hot sauce). As well as cultivating tourism over the past decade, Almeria has also cultivated innumerable plastic covered greenhouses and now produces the bulk of the province's fruit and vegetables, much of it for export.

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    Barcelona busy, rich and gaudy

    The Costa Brava is one of the most bpopular holiday destinations in Europe

    A stunningly beautiful stretch of coastline with steep rocky cliffs and hidden sandy coves. Although it is a thriving and popular destination with many attractions including funfairs and watersports there are places to find peace and isolation within a very short distance.

    Busy, rich, historic, artistic, gaudy: Barcelona may be the Med�s most multi-faceted jewel. You�ll find Roman columns, Visigothic palaces, massive walls built in the Dark Ages, and architecture of every period from Romanesque to modern.

    FACTS AND FIGURES
    Population:
    1.5 million (4.5 million in metropolitan area)
    Spain's second largest city Barcelona is located on Mediterranean Sea and extends from coastal plain into foothills of neighboring mountains. Capital of Catalonia autonomous community, Barcelona is Spain's most important Mediterranean port, its leading industrial region, and is a major center of banking and finance. Center of Catalan culture and language, Site of 1992 Summer Olympic Games, Barcelona flourished economically, politically, and artistically in 12th century.

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    Gerona Costa Brava with its sandy beaches and rocky covesGirona is in the Spanish region Catalonia, bordering France in the north, and the Mediterranean sea in the east.

    Costa Brava with its sandy beaches and rocky coves set between dramatic cliffs, with pine forests almost reaching the water, make this a beautiful stretch of coastline. You can see how it got its name - �Brava� means rugged, bold and wild. Painters such as Salvador Dali, Picasso and Chagall have all fallen under the spell of this extraordinary region, with its clear sea, brilliant sky and picturesque fishing ports. There�s loads of history, art and architecture, alongside excellent watersports, fine food and hospitable people. If you explore the region, you�ll discover lots of pretty old fishing villages as well as dramatic mountain ranges and unspoiled beaches. Gerona Alternative name: Girona 13th-century Gothic and Baroque cathedral (wide, single nave, museum); old Jewish quarter

    Location:
    It is a walled city of Roman origin, located at a strategic point on the route between the Pyrenees and Barcelona. It boasts a medieval ensemble of great importance and interest, where narrow streets and spectacular monuments harmoniously combine. The cathedral and its treasures symbolize the dominant role of the church in the Middle Ages. The museums exhibit valuable collections of art and archaeology. The ancient Jewish quarter or Call recalls the power once held by Girona's Jewish community. Climate Most of Spain is hot and sunny in summer but there are differences in temperature during winter depending on the climatic region. There are three regions: the north and north-west, the central region and the Mediterranean coast including the Balearic Islands. The north and north-west is the wettest region cooler and wetter summers although there is still an ample mount of warm weather. The central region has low rainfall although during winter there may sometimes be quite heavy snow the mountains. Summers are hot with spring and early summer being the wettest seasons. The Mediterranean coast has milder winters with hot and sometimes humid summers.

    Complusory Vaccinations:
    None.

    Recommended Vaccinations:
    None, however check you have an up to date tetanus & polio immunisations, long-term visitors should consider hepatitis A immunisation.

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    Colombo Sri Lanka's capital up to recent timesSri Lanka's capital up to recent times, Colombo has been a flourishing seaport for centuries.

    Colombo, is a fascinating city, not only for a comfortable blend of east and west, but also for a cosy mixture of the past and present. It is still the commercial centre of the country and is situated 34 km. from the International Airport, Today the bustle of its harbour mingles with the activity of its busy commercial, banking and shopping areas. The original trading settlers - the Portuguese, Dutch and the British have all left in their wake churches and monuments, names and religions, costumes and food and smatterings of their languages which have been absorbed into the speech of the Sri Lankans. Colombo, with its population of over half a million is divided into fifteen zones. While in Colombo attractions worth seeing are:- Buddhists temples, Hindu temples, Mosques, Christian churches, Parliament building, Parks, Zoo, Museums and Art Galleries. A half day tour covering 40 km. and including visits to a Buddhist Temple, Hindu Temple, the Zoo and the residential areas will cost around US $ 18 for a car with a chauffeur guide.

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    Berne capital of Switzerland

    Capital of Switzerland - the Old Town of Bern has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983.

    There are so many museums, theatres, landmarks, caf�s, restaurants and shops - not to mention the weekly market (and the lovely Christmas market) - all of which can be easily reached on foot. But this is also the Capital of Switzerland so there you will find the Parliament Building from where Switzerland is governed. The imposing building is right at the heart of the Old Town. Berne is built on a peninsular formed by a meander of the River Aar and it is centrally located and easy to reach. This makes it an ideal starting point from which you can discover the whole of Switzerland by taking day trips.

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    Geneva Switzerland's most cosmopolitan cityGeneva has long been Switzerland's most cosmopolitan city.

    Situated at the south-western end of Lac L�man, the country's largest lake, and astride the Rh�ne, Geneva is the departure point for lake steamers, and only an arrival by water can convey just how well sited the city is, with foreground hills rising to a backdrop of mountains. The river bisects the city, and some refer to the north side as the right bank (rive droit) and the south as the left bank (rive gauche). The city centre is sited on the shore, with the main railway station to the north of the river and the Old Town (vieille ville) to the south.

    Food & Drink:
    Swiss cuisine is varied. The great speciality is fondue, the delicious concoction of Gruy�re and Vacherin cheese, melted and mixed with white wine, flour, Kirsch and a little garlic. Other cheese specialities are Emmental and T�te de Moine. Regional specialities include viande sech�e (dried beef or pork) from Valais and the Grisons where it is called B�ndnerfleisch. The meat is cut wafer thin, with pickled spring onions and gherkins. Papet vaudoir is a delicious dish made from leeks and potatoes. Geneva's great speciality is pieds de porc (pigs feet). Pork sausages or salami come in a variety of local recipes including Landj�ger, Beinwurst, Engadinerwurst, Leberwurst (p�t�), Kalbsleberwurst (calf's liver p�t�), and Knackerli. Try R�sti (shredded fried potatoes) and Fondue Bourguignonne (cubed meat with various sauces). Cakes and pastries are also varied: Leckerli are Basel specialities (spiced honey cakes topped with icing sugar); in Bern they are decorated with a white sugar bear; Gugelhopf (a type of sponge cake with a hollow centre), Fasnachtk�chli (sugar-dusted pastries eaten during Carnival) and Schaffhausen (cream-filled cakes) are also popular. Although there are many self-service snack bars, table service is normal. Drink: A great variety of Swiss wines are available throughout the country. There are also spirits made from fruit, the most popular being Kirsch, Marc, Pfl�mli and Williams. Swiss beer of a lager type is also available. Bottled mineral water is an accepted beverage, local brands including Henniez and Passuger. Bars/cocktail lounges have table and/or counter service.

    Nightlife:
    Most major towns and resorts have nightclubs or discotheques with music and dancing, sometimes serving food. There are also cinemas and theatres, and some bars and restaurants have local folk entertainment.

    Shopping:
    Special purchases include embroidery and linen, Bernse woodcarving, chocolate, cheese, Swiss army knives and luxury handmade clocks and watches. Shopping hours: 0800-1200 and 1330-1830 Monday to Friday; 0800-1200 and 1330-1600 Saturday. Most shops are closed on Monday mornings.

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    Zurich just a stone's throw from the Alps

    Z�rich is top for leisure and pleasure. Gentle hills, peaceful woods, the unpolluted lakes and rivers, picturesque villages - and all just a stone's throw from the Alps. Z�rich is the ideal starting point for all kinds of varied excursions.

    The city is situated some 400m above sea level, straddling the Limmat River as it leaves the northern end of Lake Z�rich. The pedestrian streets of the old town contain most of the major sights, including winding alleyways, 16th- and 17th-century houses, guildhalls and courtyards, and rather a lot of fountains (1030 if you're taking notes). The elegant Bahnhofstrasse was built on the site of the city walls, which were torn down 150 years ago. Underfoot are bank vaults crammed with gold and silver and other booty - unfortunately these are not open to the public (we can't figure out why). For the clock-watchers, the 13th-century tower of St Peter's Church has the largest clock face in Europe. The Fraum�nster Church nearby is noted for the distinctive stained-glass windows in the choir, which were created by Marc Chagall in 1970 at the ripe old age of 83. The Museum of Fine Arts has a large permanent collection ranging from 15th-century religious art to the 'modern' art of Monet, Manet and Man Ray. The Swiss National Museum, housed in a pseudo-castle north of the city centre, provides the ultimate rundown on the life and times of the Swiss nation and, just in case you forgot you were in Switzerland, has an interesting section on book-inscribing in the Middle Ages. When the culture vulture in you can't take any more, there are pleasant pathways along the shores of Lake Z�rich that pass picnic, sunbathing and swimming spots.

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    Djerba rising from the sea like a mirageThe Isle of Djerba is situated in the south-east of Tunisia on the Gulf of Gabes.

    An island of ten thousand palm trees rising from the sea like a mirage. This Polynesia of the Mediterranean is ringed by miles of fine sandy beaches and luxury hotels, ultra modern or built in the fashion of the traditional Djerbian "menzel", stand ready to welcome the traveller. Splendid in its diversity Djerba offers a variety of sea sports, Roman sites and a pirates castle, the ancient synagogue of the Griba , and the fortress like mosques , potters and silversmiths still faithful to the art of their craft, the bustle of the open air markets. Discover the shady gardens of the interior, orchards of fig, apple and pomegranate, wander through groves of olive trees, gnarled trunks bearing witness to the centuries past.

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    Monastir that blend of the traditional and modern that characterizes TunisiaTunisia has miles of sparkling beaches, cool Mediterranean breezes, and ancient cities like Monastir.

    Monastir, 9th century walls and an imposing Ribat tower over a modern resort complex and the result is amazingly harmonious. Monastir captures that blend of the traditional and modern that characterizes Tunisia. A marina nestled in the shade of the walls provides a enjoyable promenade as does the long avenue that offers the bluest of Mediterranean seas on one side and open air terraces of Hotels, restaurants and coffee houses from where you can enjoy the view. The "monastery" after which the town was named, was built by an Islamic religious order in 797 to defend the town from roaming nomadic tribes and Byzantine warships. The fortress houses a lovely museum of Islamic art and artifacts.

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    Antalya on Turkey's central Mediterranean coast

    Antalya is the chief city on Turkey's central Mediterranean coast.

    As well as several km of pebble beaches and a historic Roman-Ottoman core, Antalya is a good base from which to explore the quieter beach towns and more spectacular ancient cities of the region. Side, 75km (47mi) east of Antalya, is the increasingly popular beach town once chosen by Mark Antony and Cleopatra for a romantic tryst. Alanya, 115km (71mi) east of Antalya, is another sea-sun-n-sand joint with a mini-Miami feel. Patara is a party town a few hundred km south-west of Antalya. The beach here is a simply splendid 20km (12mi) long and there are Roman ruins in amongst the dunes. You'll have to do your sunset-watching elsewhere, however, as the beach closes at dusk to give sea turtles access to their nests. The towns along the Mediterranean coast are all linked by bus and dolmus services (especially frequent in summer).

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    Bodrum the South Aegean's prettiest resortThe heart of the Bodrum, the South Aegean's prettiest resort, is around the harbor on the Turkish coast.

    Bodrum is located at the southwest tip of Turkey and, with the peninsula, covers an area of 649 km�. The population of the peninsula according to the 2000 census, is 106.168 total, with 35.180 in Bodrum town. Bodrum is the South Aegean's prettiest resort, with a yacht harbour and a port for ferries to the Greek island of Kos. Palm-lined streets ring the bays, and white sugar-cube houses, now joined by ranks of villas, crowd the hillside. Boating, swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving are prime Bodrum activities. At night Bodrum's famous discos throb, boom and blare, keeping much of the town awake until dawn. Both Turkish and foreign visitors complain about the ear-splitting cacophany, but the local attitude seems to be, 'If you wanted peace and quiet, why did you come to Bodrum?'. If this sounds like your kind of town, you can grab a bus to Bodrum from just about anywhere - it's 4 hours to Izmir by road. There are frequent ferries to Kos in summer, and a hydrofoil to Rhodes between May and September.

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    Izmir a lively cosmopolitan all year roundIzmir is the third largest city in Turkey, and its port is second only to Istanbul's.

    Izmir is a lively cosmopolitan all year round but espically during the International Arts Festival (June/July) and the International Fair (August/Sept).

    The city lies at the head of a long and narrow gulf populated by passing ships and yachts and in the summer the sea breezes are refreshing. Following the shoreline are palm-lined promenades and avenues , and the city, in horizontal terraces, gently ascends the slopes of the surrounding mountains. Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey, and its port is second only to Istanbul's.

    The city, originally established 3000BC, has many historically interesting sites. A castle, built by Lysimachus in the reign of Alexander the Great, still dominates Izmir today and is an excellent vantage point to enjoy the magnificent view over the Gulf of Izmir.

    The poet Homer is believed to have lived in this "Beautiful City".

    The Agora, or marketplace, in the Namazgah Quarter dates from its rebuilding after a devastating earthquake in 178 A.D.


    Shoping In the Kemeralti Market area, one can find fascinating antiques, clothes to suit all tastes, jewellery (genuine and costume) , and the dried figs and sultanas for which Izmir is famous.

    The best shops line the Kordon Promenades.

    The fish restaurants in the market area serve up local specialities.

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    Las Vegas miles of neon tubing bathe the Gulch in perpetual daylightThe blocks around the intersection of Fremont and Main Streets in downtown Las Vegas are known as Glitter Gulch.

    The first neon sign in the city went up here in 1929; now millions of lightbulbs and miles of neon tubing bathe the Gulch in perpetual daylight. This is where you'll find Vegas Vic and his pal Sassy Sal - two of the best-known neon icons in the country. Some of the city's most famous casinos are in the Gulch, including the Golden Nugget and the Gold Spike, as are most of its strip clubs. Aside from slowly cruising down Fremont Street and basking in the multicolored glow, there's little to do apart from gamble, drink or watch naked people slither around poles. Shopping consists mainly of souvenirs.

    The remains of Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park may pale in comparison to nearby Glitter Gulch, but this is where it all started. Beginning in the 1850s, this adobe quadrangle provided refuge for travelers along the Mormon Trail between Salt Lake City, Utah, and San Bernardino, in southern California. Some of the original walls are still standing, and displays of artifacts and photographs illustrate mid-19th century life on the frontier. There's an ongoing archaeological dig outside. The fort is a mile north of downtown.

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    Orlando Sanford Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando is one of the world's premier travel destinations. More than 50-million people visit our area every year, enjoying the many attractions, beaches, and events.

    The city has also established itself as part of Florida's high-tech corridor, boasting not only the space technology industries focused on the Florida Space Coast (also keen on 'booms'), but a healthy dose of bits and bytes makers as well. Population: 176,500 Area: 67 sq mi (174 sq km) Elevation: 120ft (36m) State: Florida Time: Atlantic Time (GMT/UTC minus 5 hours) The biggest city in central Florida, Orlando is dominated by Lake Eola in its northeastern downtown quadrant. The most famous downtown icon is Church Street Station, a collection of restaurants, bars and shops located between I-4 and the railroad tracks. Orlando is 4 miles (6km) from Universal Studios; 10 miles (16km) from Sea World; and 20 miles (32km) from Walt Disney World, all located southwest of downtown along International Drive (I-Drive) in an area appropriately known as the Tourist Quarter.

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