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In my teens, I traveled to France with my mother, father and grandmother for a month of sightseeing with a rental car. Michael Schumacher and Formula 1 have nothing on my father and our Opel rental car.

France at 200 kph - of Grandmothers, Lyon and Rain

France at 200 kph - of Grandmothers, Lyon and RainIn my teens, I traveled to France with my mother, father and grandmother for a month of sightseeing with a rental car. Michael Schumacher and Formula 1 have nothing on my father and our Opel rental car.American fathers have an interesting if somewhat aggravating habit on trips. Yes, I am talking about the desire to see everything there is to see. This was particularly problematic in France, which has a gazillion things to see. For some reason, my memory is a blur! Ill have to refer back to my Nomad Travel Journal, but here we goChurches. Big churches. Small churches. Church ruins. New churches. For three days, my grandmother had insisted we stop at every church we passed. She is just about the greatest grandmother a kid could hope for, but she had been a grade school teacher for forty years and there was just no disobeying. Did I mention we looked at churches?We pulled into Lyon as the third day turned to evening. It was raining. We were tired and grumpy. After a minor argument, we pulled up in front of an older hotel with vacancies and checked in. Family arrangements being what they were, my parents had one room while my grandmother and I shared a second. We all agreed to take a nap and meet a little later.As I lay on my bed, I watched the rain come down hard on the windows. I also admired the old, intricate wood structure that was our hotel. I dozed off and was awaken a few hours later by my grandmother.The door is stuck! she told me.Grumbling, I walked over to the door and gave it a yank. Then I gave it another yank. Like a bad comedy, I put one leg up on the wall and yanked again. Alas, the wood seemed to have swollen and jammed the door shut. I couldnt budge it.At this point, my grandmother made a passing comment about the two years of French I had taking in high school and pointed to the phone. Dutifully, I called down to the lobby and chaos ensued. Somehow, we had lost the key, so I couldnt tell them what room we were in. It just got worse.What is the French word for door? Dont know? Neither did I nor do I now. All I could say to the person at the front desk is, We are stuck!To top matters off, I also started yelling my last name, Chapo, thinking they would at least come investigate. After being hung up on twice, it occurred to me that the pronunciation of my last name means hat in French. Yes, I was yelling,We are stuck! Hat!We are stuck! Hat!Intensely cussing up a storm, I walked over to the door and banged it with my fist. It bounced open. My grandmother and I stared at each other and burst out laughing.I hoofed it to my parents room to tell them the story. Half way through the tale, my mother plugged in her hair dryer, flipped it on and blew out the electricity for the entire floor.We left very early the next morning.

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Ever since the Romans built a fort here, at the mouth of the Duoro, Porto has prospered from commerce. Today it is Portugal`s second city and a thriving industrial center.The commercial center of the city and the Baixa (lower) district attract fashionable shoppers. Also in the Baixa is the colorful Bolhao market. Most of the tourist sights, however, are to be found in the older riverside quarters.High above the river, on Penaventosa Hill, stands Porto`s cathedral, or Se, originally a fortress church. A noteworthy 13th-century feature is the rose window, while the upper level of the beautiful 14th-century cloister affords splendid views.Nearby are the Renaissance church of Santa Clara, and Sao Bento Station, completed in 1916, decorated with spectacular azulejo panels.Below the Se is the hillside Barredo quarter, seemingly unchanged since medieval days. This leads down to the riverside quarter, the Ribeira, its houses decorated with tiled or pastel-painted facades. The district is being restored, attracting restaurants and clubs.Sights close to the river include the Palacio da Bolsa, the city`s stock exchange, built in 1842. Its highlight is the Arabian Room decorated in the style of the Alhambra. Close by is the 14th-century Sao Francisco church. Its interior is richly covered in carved and gilded wood. In the Cordoaria district, west of the Se, stands the 18th-century Igreja dos Clerigos. The church tower, at 75 m offers superb views.Situated in the lovely Serralves park, the Fundacao de Serralves, is dedicated to contemporary art. It presents temporary exhibitions in the Art Deco Casa de Serralves, and its art collection, from the 1960s to the present, in the Modernist Museu de Arte Contemporanea, designed by Alvaro Siza Vieira.

Dubai Holidays

Dubai Holidays

Dubai is the largest of the seven United Arab Emirates, among Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain. Dubai has become a magnificent tourist hub over the past few years. It is located only few hours flight from UK. There are many travel agents in UK offering cheap flights to Dubai from London with discounted rates. The mounting list of things to do and attractions in Dubai take account of an exciting nightlife, water sports, golf, desert safaris, shopping, sightseeing, sunbathing, and fantastic dining experiences.Shopping In DubaiDubai fairly ought to have its title as the Shopping Capital of the Middle East. An open port with low import duties and no taxation, the city present the good deal seeker invincible value. Major brand-name goods are effortlessly available and are much less pricey in Dubai than their source country.Beach Attraction of DubaiDubai has beautiful, unspoiled, white sand beaches with Arabian sunshine and the warm turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf to calm and please your sanity. Dubai's foremost beaches run beside Jumeira Road.Historical Attractions of DubaiThe main historical attractions in Dubai are: - Dubai Creek, Hatta, Sheikh Saeed House, Dubai Museum in Al Fahidi Fort, Heritage and Diving Villages, Bastakiya, Al Ahmadiya School, Bait Al Wakeel, Bin Muzaina House, Burj Nahar, Majlis Ghorfat Um-Al Sheif.As one of the fastest rising tourist destinations in the world, Dubai holidays and flights to Dubai are becoming intensely competitive among travel agents. Amongst the widely available flights to Dubai from London Heathrow airport, http://etihadairways.myavacations.co.uk, the UK based appointed travel agent of Etihad Airways is offering cheap flights to Dubai with an additional discount of 10 per person.

Italian travel guide

Italian travel guide

Italy as one of the most ancient European civilizations is unknown to none. Italy had been the land of Roman Empire for long. Today the country has a rich history and tradition that speaks for itself and gathers tourists from all round the world. Italy is a place known for its wonderful cities and their archaic art and architecture. There are great Roman structures like Roman Colosseum and Pantheon; the Sistine Chapel, sculptures by maestros Leonardo, Michelangelo etc. and many more attractions that can make your vacation a dream come true. A Walk through the Italian Cities-The cities of Italy are quite popular across the globe. For instance the land of Julius Caesar i.e. the city of Rome also known as the Eternal City has an aura of exotic Roman art and architecture. Rome is famous for its architectural masterpiece of the Colosseum, the National Gallery of Ancient Art which in itself is a magnum opus and displays the work of Bernini, Raphael and Titan. The Capitoline Museums houses the complete history of Rome, the Gallery of Modern Art presents the 19th and 20th century at work by eminent artists and the Galleria Borghese museum in Rome has the largest art collection in the world. The city of Venice seeks no introduction. It is the city where tranquility prevails and the beguiling art and architecture makes everyones day. The visitors are attracted by pulls like the Grand Canal, the museums such as the Museum of Modern Art and Museum of Oriental Art in the Santa Croce region of Venice, which put at parade the art work from countries like Japan, Indonesia and China. Also worth visiting are the Academy of Fine Art and the Correr Museum known for its Renaissance art.The fashion city of Milan has always been inviting visitors. It is a primary economic and cultural center of Italy. Milan is popular for the Romanesque architecture in the Lombardy region of which Milan is a part; The Cathedral of Milan that is a paradigm example of Gothic architecture. The Milan museums include some of the fascinating museums in the world. For instance the Brera Gallery that presents the tour de force of geniuses like Raphael and Giovanni Bellini. You can also gaze at the awesome The Last Supper, Jesus and his disciples at the Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie church. Since the entire Italy is swarming with museums and art, the city of Florence too grounds few wonderful ones. The Uffizi Gallery which is best known for the art work of Sandro Botticelli Birth of Venus, Leonardo da Vincis strokes, and apart from these the Dutch, French and Spanish work of art it displays. Besides this, Florence is thronged for its delectable cuisine, hill slopes and the oldest archaeologically significant region of this place i.e. the Tuscany region. One among the wonders of the world, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is nestled in the Italian town of Pisa in the Tuscany region. The Vatican City is a center of attraction in Italy particularly for magnificent Sistine Chapel, designed by the architect Baccio Pontelli and feathers added to it by Bernini. The galleries of this Chapel present some of the exclusive art works-paintings and sculptures like run-of-the-mill, the archaic bronze statue of Apoxyomenos, Michelangelos sculpture The Pieta and so forth. After these Italy has many other cities that have always been welcoming visitors with their pleasant surroundings and amazing art work.So one should, in ones life time definitely bask in the glory of the skill of distinguished artists, painters and architects, no where else but Italy.

Traveling Central America - The Panama Canal

The country of Panama holds a unique strategic geographic location, and it has tried its best throughout the ages to exploit this to the full. From the time of the Portobello fairs to the first transisthmian railroad to the present waterway, often considered to be the eighth wonder of the world.A canal linking the Atlantic with the Pacific oceans had been a dream since the first Spanish colonizations. In fact it was Charles V of Spain who first envisaged a shortcut through the Panamanian jungle to ease the difficult crossing. So in 1524 he ordered a survey of the land. However what inspired the king initially was not so much the possibilities for trade, so much as how to bring back to Spain with least difficulty the hoards of treasure recently discovered in Peru. Unfortunately for him, earth-moving techniques were to need major improvement before his idea could be undertaken.It was not until 1826 when the United States started investigating a treaty with South American countries to "protect the companies intending to open a communication system between both oceans", that the building of a canal attracted worldwide interest, with France, England and the United States looking for locations and means to avoid the long, difficult and dangerous voyage around Cape Horn. The first attempt at this was the construction of the Transisthmian Railroad in 1855, which eliminated about 8,000 miles from the journey.The first attempt at a canal was in 1854 by a multinational expedition comprising the United States, France, England and New Granada. But the impenetrability of the jungle was to take its toll and the attempt failed with many resultant deaths. But not to be daunted in this most crucial endeavor, in 1878 the French obtained a concession from Colombia to build a waterway. Yet again, after seven years of fighting disease and other jungle problems, the attempt was to fail with yellow fever, malaria and various plagues holding sway. This project, with the idea of building a level canal, was ultimately abandoned at the turn of the century.Eventually the creation of a canal was to become a military imperative for the United States who commenced (fruitless) negotiations with Colombia in 1902. Finally, Panama declared its independence from Colombia in 1903 and the project went ahead. The monumental construction took 10 years to complete at a cost of $387 million.The Panama Canal is 50 miles in length running from northwest to southeast. About 8 hours is needed for a typical vessel to transit the canal, whilst being lifted gradually to a height of 85 feet through three sets of locks the Gatun, Pedro Miguel and Miraflores.Operating the gigantic locks consumes vast amounts of fresh water. For every ship passing along the waterway, around 52 million gallons of water flows into the locks then out to sea. This comes from the Gatun and Madden lakes. The lock gates, themselves engineering wonders, consist of pairs of towering leaves from 47 to 82 feet high, 65 feet wide and 7 feet thick. Their weight is from 400 to 700 tons, yet each can be opened or closed in 2 minutes, powered by electric motors.To navigate the canal, a ships captain must relinquish responsibility for his vessel to a Panama Canal Pilot. Currently over 250 pilots steer over 14,000 ships through the canal each year. The total time spent in the canal is around a full day. Navigating through the canal is not cheap for vessels, averaging several 10s of thousands of dollars, depending upon the size of vessel and its contents. However, whatever the toll, it is typically ten times what it would have cost to navigate around Cape Horn.The Panama Canal Commission welcomes visitors at the Miraflores Locks on the Pacific side of the Isthmus seven days a week, from 9am to 5pm. Ships passing through the locks can be viewed from a pavilion where commentators provide an English and Spanish-language commentary, giving all the details of the canal including the amazing statistics. From yachts and small crafts through to container vessels, huge cruise liners and even small submarines, the Panama Canal is truly an international crossing point.

India The Country From Another Planet

I am firmly convinced the country of India was transplanted from another planet. You will find no other place like it on this world.India India is a country where you will see everything you can imagine. More importantly, everything you will see will be intense. You will not see a beggar, you will see millions of them. You will not see a beautiful beach, you will see the most beautiful beaches in the world. Places of wealth are so over the top youll be stunned. The shanty towns of the poor, on the other hand, will set you back on your heals. India is the one place you can visit and come away completely enthralled and disgusted at the same time. If your idea of traveling is sitting in a posh hotel, India has such resorts but youll be unable to avoid the less attractive areas. If you prefer to get out and take in a culture that is completely alien to your own, you will never find a better place than India. India is really a number of countries within a political boundary. The south of India is entirely different than the north. The same goes for the east and west. If you dont like the place youre in, just get on a train for a day or two and youll be in a completely different world. One of the biggest traveler complaints about India is the poverty. In truth, it is bad. There is simply no way around the fact. Whatever you have previously seen, wherever you have previously gone, nothing matches the poverty in India. The shanty towns are large cities and the conditions are less than ideal. To get a first hand account, I suggest you read the excellent book, Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts. Roberts lived in one of the shanty towns for years while on the run from the law. The book is tremendous and gives you a different perspective on the poverty situation. Regardless, you will have problems dealing with the poverty in India. It can ruin your trip if youre not careful. If youre considering visiting India, you need to accept the fact that life is different there and you need to come to grips with this before you go. In truth, India is an incredibly captivating country of beauty, stunning sites and incredibly funny people.

Summary

In my teens, I traveled to France with my mother, father and grandmother for a month of sightseeing with a rental car. Michael Schumacher and Formula 1 have nothing on my father and our Opel rental car.