Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Uffizi Gallery Florence

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence

The Uffizi Gallery is housed in the Palazzo degli Uffizi, a palazzo in Florence, Italy, housing one of the oldest and most famous art museums in the world. It is located at 43°46′7.1″N, 11°15′18.77″E.
Building of the palace was begun by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de' Medici as the offices for the Florentine magistrates — hence the name "uffizi" ("offices"). Construction was continued to Vasari's design by Alfonso Parigi and Bernardo Buontalenti and ended in 1581. The cortile is so long and narrow, and open to the Arno River at its far end through a Doric screen that articulates the space without blocking it, that architectural historians treat it as the first regularized streetscape of Europe. Vasari, a painter as well as architect, emphasized the perspective length by the matching facades' continuous roof cornices, and unbroken cornices between storeys and the three continuous steps on which the palace-fronts stand.
The Palazzo degli Uffizi brought together under one roof the administrative offices, the Tribunal and the state archive (Archivio di Stato). The project that was planned by Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany to arrange that prime works of art in the Medici collections on the piano nobile was effected by Francesco I, who commissioned from Buontalenti the famous Tribuna degli Uffizi that united a selection of the outstanding masterpieces in the collection in an ensemble that was a star attraction of the Grand Tour.
Over the years, further parts of the palace evolved into a display place for many of the paintings and sculpture collected by the Medici family or commissioned by them. After the house of Medici was extinguished, the art treasures remained in Florence by terms of the famous Patto di famiglia negotiated by Anna Maria Lodovica, the last Medici heiress; it formed one of the first modern museums. The gallery had been open to visitors by request since the sixteenth century, and in 1765 it was officially opened to the public.
Because of its huge collection, some of its works have in the past been transferred to other museums in Florence — for example, some famous statues, to the Bargello. A project is currently underway to expand the museum's exhibition space by 2006 from some 6,000 metres (64,000 feets) to almost 13,000 metres (139,000 feets), allowing public viewing of many artworks that have usually been in storage.
In 1993, a car bomb exploded in Via dei Georgofili and damaged parts of the palace, killing five people. The most severe damage was to the Niobe room, the classical sculptures and neoclassical interior of which have been restored, although its frescoes were beyond repair. The cause has never been cleared up, although some suspect the Mafia.
Today the Uffizi is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Florence. In high season (particularly in July), waiting times can be up to five hours. Visitors who reserve a ticket in advance have a substantially shorter wait.
The museum plays a significant role in the film Hannibal, being the place where Hannibal Lecter has stowed himself after escaping from prison (in The Silence of the Lambs), and where he murders two more of his victims. The Uffizi also may be referenced in the chorus of the song "You Enjoy Myself" by Phish, although the band has famously neither confirmed nor denied the exact lines of the song's chorus.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

How to get in Cairo

Cairo train station

Cairo is the capital of Egypt and, with a total population in excess of 16 million people, one of the largest cities in both Africa and the Middle East (which regions it conveniently straddles) - it is also the 13th largest city in the world. Situated on the River Nile, Cairo is famous for its own history - preserved in the fabulous medieval Islamic city and in Old Cairo - and for the ancient, Pharaonic history of the country it represents. No trip to Cairo would be complete, for example, without a visit to the Giza Pyramids, to nearby Saqqara, or to the Egyptian Museum in the center of town. Though firmly attached to the past, Cairo is also home to a vibrant modern society.
Cairo International Airport (IATA: CAI), is well served by Egyptair, the national carrier, and others such as British Airways, Air France, [KLM], Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa. Egypt Air now lands and departs from the domestic terminal, even for international flights.
Getting to downtown Cairo can be a pain. 40 LE is a good price by taxi, and refuse to pay the "ticket" (ie, airport toll) for the driver. For the adventurous, catch a public bus to Midan Tah Rir or Midan Ramses. Walk 5 minutes out of the terminal to the big undercover bus station, and ask a local, but don't catch the notorious green buses. Rides are just under 2 LE. It takes around 1 - 1.5 hours to reach downtown.
Cairo's main railway station - Ramses Station (Mahattat Ramses) - is located on Midan Ramses. Trains run to Cairo from most other regions and cities within Egypt.

Alexandria are served by a large number of departures throug the day. Among the best trains are the Espani which has a morning service from Cairo at 9am. The Espani and Turbobin are the best services, driving non-stop to Alexandria and taking 2 hours and 40 min. The next best service is al-fransawi, which stops at the major Delta cities on the road. Buy tickets one day in advance to be
Going to Upper Egypt, Luxor and Aswan, the Sleeping Trainleave Cairo 8 pm and arriving in Luxor 5.05 am and Aswan 8.15 am. Check the website for more departures, including one three days a week from Alexandria. It's relatively expensive at 60 USD for a bed in a double-person cabin one way. Tickets are bought at the office to your left as you enter the train station from the Metro and taxi station. The tickets are payable in US dollars only (there are no exchange offices at the train station itself).
Going to Upper Egypt, the alternative to the expensive sleeper (or flying) is the ordinary trains. One of these departs at 00.30 to Luxor and Aswan and is supposed to take 10 hours to Luxor and 13 hours to Aswan.
Trains also depart to the canal cities, but buses are much faster.
For those unfamiliar with Cairo traffic, one shouldn't expect to drive. The traffic is, at the least, overwhelming for the common traveler. Road signs, lanes, right-of-ways, etc. are not adhered to. The driving has a consistency, but not in any official way. Parking houses or official parking spots are rare, but many places people work to look after parked cars. A small tip is expected for this service.
Getting in and out of Cairo, the roads to and from Fayoum and the destert cities in the south-west and Alexandria, Delta and Marsa Matrouh in the north-west are through the Giza and pyramids area, the road to Beni Suueif and Upper Egypt (Aswan, Luxor) is in the south, after Maadi and Helwan. North from Heliopolis are the road to the canal cities (Port Said, Ismailiyya, Suez) and Sinai. Ein al-Sukhn and Hurghada is best reached by the tolled road after New Cairo City.
Buses arrive to Cairo from virtually all over the country. The two main destinations are Midan Ramsis and Turgoman, but vechiles also sometimes stop at other destinations, notably abbasiya. From Midan Ramses and Turgoman it's a quick 5 EP taxi cab ride to downtown, 7-10 EP to Zamalek.
The Turgoman has, from 2007, been renovated into a new, modern indoor station, close to the older one
From Turgoman, hourly services run to the canal cities (2 hrs) and Sharm al-Sheikh. To Sharm, the East Delta is taking approximately 8 hrs. The Superjet is faster, driving non-stop without a break in approximately 6 hrs. Three of the East Delta services continue to Dahab. Fares for the East Delta is approximately 80 EP for foreigners.
Services also go to Taba and Nuweiba, leaving three times daily (including one night services) with prices comparable with the services to Sharm. It takes 6 hrs all the way to Nuweiba.
To the canal cities, Port Said, Ismailiya and Suez, buses go all the time from Turgoman station, costing 20-30 EP. The travel to all destinations takes a little bit more than two hours.
Uncomfortable, but cheap, microbuses leave from Cairo to a large number of destinations. The main garages are Midan Ramsis and al-Marg metro station (for the north-east and Sinai). They are faster and might as such be an option for shorter trips, but have a terrible toll of acccidents. There are also other places these buses leave from depending on your destination, ask locals. Be aware that at least for Sinai, foreigners are prohibted to use the microbus system.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

British Airways London Eye

British Airways London Eye

The British Airways London Eye is the world's tallest observation wheel at 135m high. Located on the banks of the River Thames it offers unrivalled views over London.

Since opening at the turn of the century, the London Eye has become an iconic landmark, with a status that can be compared to Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Eros and the Tower of London. It has been used as a backdrop in countless films and for innumerable TV programmes. A source of pride for the whole country as well as the capital, the London Eye is the most distinctive addition this century to the world's greatest city, loved by Britons and tourists alike.

In fact, in its short life, it has become the most popular paid for UK visitor attraction, visited by over 3.5 million people a year (an average of 10,000 a day). A breathtaking feat of design and engineering, passengers in the London Eye's capsules can see up to 40 kilometres in all directions, in complete comfort and safety.

But there's much, much more to the London Eye than its views and its engineering. It plays an integral role in the community, has become something of a gateway or a symbol for London and offers a unique venue for corporate events and entertainment.
The British Airways London Eye is operated by the London Eye Company Limited, a Merlin Entertainments Group Company.

Intercontinental Hotel in Amsterdam



Property Type: Hotel
Guest Rooms: 83
Directions: In the City Centre, on the Banks of the Amstel River.
From city center:
Direction: It is city center
Distance: 0 - 15 minutes
Area Airport: Amsterdam Schiphol International (AMS) - 20 km
24 Hour Front Desk
Express Check-out
Room Service
Indoor Pool
Business Center Facilities
Laundry/Valet Service
Safe Deposit Box
Tour Desk/Concierge
Mini Bar Rooms Available
Air Conditioned Rooms
Voice Mail in Rooms
Cable Television
Video Tape Player
Barber/Beauty Shop on site
Bar/Lounge on site
Restaurant on site
Shops on site
Hot Tub on site
Fitness Center on site
Other Features: Fax, Tanning Bed & Massage, Secretarial Services

Need A Room?

Monday, July 9, 2007

Hurghada Egypt

Hurghada Egypt

Hurghada was once a fairly small and unimposing fishing village, located next to the Red Sea and boasting a number of superb beaches. Today, the resort of Hurghada is almost unrecognisable from its past life and has grown to become probably the most visited tourist destination in the whole of Egypt, with in excess of 100 different hotels, many of which line the shoreline.
Famous for its superb diving opportunities, Hurghada is especially appealing to those with little experience of scuba diving, who come to marvel at the underwater reefs and awesome marine life. Tourism is now a huge part of Hurghada and each year, many tourists choose to combine their holiday here with visits to other prominent locations along the Nile Valley, including the relatively nearby city of Luxor.
Hurghada's foremost tourist attractions include its beautiful beaches, which have long been a major drawcard in the town and boasting white, fine sand and many spectacular coastal views, with many beaches being located next to hotels. Other top tourist attractions in Hurghada include the vibrant and rather colourful local market of Bazaar in Ed-Dahar, the marine life at the Red Sea Aquarium, and also the many underwater attractions and breathtaking coral reefs at the Giftun Islands. More information on Hurghada Tourist Attractions.
Around the tourist resort of Hurghada you may be surprised to find a number of rather historical landmarks. Amongst the most notable are the monasteries of both St. Anthony and St. Paul, although the Roman site of Mons Claudianus is particularly impressive and was in use for more than 200 years. Also of interest is Hurghada's Anfish Mountain, which provides some of the best views of the Red Sea, the town and beyond. More information on Hurghada Landmarks.
Several good museums and pleasant art galleries exist in the town of Hurghada. The best offerings include the Marine Biology Museum - complete with many underwater sights, biology station and information about local marine life, the National Museum - a new addition to the city's tourist attractions and showcasing many treasures found in the Eastern Desert; and the Café del Mar - where paintings are displayed in restaurant surroundings. More information on Hurghada Museums and Art Galleries.
Close to Hurghada you will find many of Egypt's top tourist attractions and most impressive resorts. A particularly favourite is Sharm el Sheikh, which lies alongside the Gulf of Aqaba and is famous for its scuba diving and sandy beaches, while on the south-western side of Hurghada, the provincial capital of Qena contains a particularly impressive temple complex. Also within reach of Hurghada, the city of Luxor is without equal and full of awe-inspiring monuments, such as the Valley of the Kings. More information on Hurghada Attractions Nearby.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Lepenski Vir

lepenski vir idol

Lepenski vir, a unique prehistoric discovery, was brought to light about twenty years ago.

The most important finds in the well laid-out settlement are a number of monumental stone sculptures made some six to seven thousand years ago.

Nothing comparable has ever been unearthed in relation to such early prehistoric periods in the Balkans and the Danube basin.

Particulary valuable to the study of the history of culture and art in the prehistoric Europe are the worked round boulders and marked slabs also found there.

In last few years in the Iron Gate area a separate prehistoric culture was discovered and researched — the culture of Lepenski Vir — which chronologically and culturally links the culture of the Late Paleolithic of this area with the oldest Neolithic culture of the type Starcevo—Körös—Kris. Beside varied and rich archeological finds — the remains of dwelling places, stone sculptures, stone receptacles and altars, as well as of stone and bone industry — in the find-spots of the culture of Lepenski Vir were also discovered the graves which, by their numerousness and stratigraphical position, enable the insight into the way of burying and burial rites practiced through a long time span from about 8000 B. C. till about 5.500 B. C.

For the present, nine settlements of the Lepenski Vir culture are known, four of them on the right bank of the Danube (Lepenski Vir, Vlasac, Hajducka Vodenica, Padina) and five on the left bank (Veterani, Terrasse, Icoana, Razvrata, Ostrovul Banului, Schela Cladovei). While some of these settlements have been investigated as a whole or for the most part (Lepenski Vir, Vlasac, Padina, Schela Cladovei), in the others were carried out only smaller sounding excavations. However, without regard to the degree of investigation of some settlements, it is of importance to note that the data concerning the graves found in them tune into each other, i.e. that they point to the same ways of burying and the same burial rites. The most abundant data in respect of the way of burying and burial rites give the graves from Vlasac, Lepenski Vir and Schela Cladovei. At Vlasac were found 84 graves (110 dead), at Lepenski Vir 82 and at Schela Cladovei about 20.

On the basis of vertical stratigraphy and archeological material, the culture of Lepenski Vir has been divided into two phases: the earlier, represented by the levels Vlasac Ia, b, Proto-Lepenski Vir and Lepenski Vir Ia, b, and the later phase, which includes the settlements Icoana, Schela Cladovei, Vlasac II—III, Lepenski Vir Ic-e, Lepenski Vir II, Padina and Hajducka Vodenica. In both phases the dead were buried within the settlements. However, by time, the way of burying and of burial rites changed. The graves, deriving from the level which represents the earliest phase of the culture of Lepenski Vir show that from the very beginning of this culture the dead were buried in various ways, i.e. that complicated burial rites were practiced...

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Keltic Lodge Resort and Spa

Keltic Lodge Resort and Spa

Another Nova Scotia beautiful spa. Keltic Lodge Resort and Spa .
Surround yourself with the rugged glory of Cape Breton. High on a cliff, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Keltic Lodge commands a view like no other and beckons you to relax and enjoy the splendor of the Highlands.

A view of majestic Cape Smokey rising out of the sea greets your arrival at Keltic Lodge. Whether you stay at the Main Lodge, the Inn at Keltic or one of our cozy two - or four-bedroom cottages (each with its own fireplace), your comfort is assured.

Now that you've made good your highland escape, there are so many ways to fill the day. Tour the world-famous Cabot Trail. Hike along wilderness trails that wend through centuries-old forests. Take a boat cruise on the ocean and watch for whales. Play a game of tennis or enjoy the sun, sand and surf of nearby Ingonish Beach. Or plunge into our heated, outdoor pool.

Nearby, the Highlands Links golf course - ranked by Golf Magazine as Canada's Top Public Course and 64th in the world, challenges you to 18 championship holes. A course rich in the Scottish tradition, restored to Stanley Thompson's magnificent original design.

A romantic, candlelight dinner in our Purple Thistle Dining Room is the perfect end to the perfect day. Here, seafood delicacies (the Chef's speciality) and other gourmet delights are served, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The Highland Sitting Room features nightly entertainment, and you can try the Atlantic Restaurant for a quick snack or hearty informal meals.

Escape to Keltic Lodge where our natural beauty and gracious ways will lure you here time and again.

Digby Pines Spa - Nova Scotia

Digby Pines Spa

Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa has been welcoming guests to this Norman- Style Chateau overlooking the beautiful Annapolis Basin since 1929. The Chateau features 84 well appointed rooms and suites. For a more intimate, secluded setting choose from among the 30 one, two and three bedroom cottages nestled around the spacious grounds. Each has its own cozy living room with a fireplace and verandah.

Relaxing is easy - especially when you're surrounded by such breathtaking beauty. Spend an afternoon by our heated, outdoor pool. Walk or run the wooded hiking trails. There's tennis, lawn croquet, shuffleboard and a full fitness centre. Or try our par 71, 18 hole picturesque golf course, one of Sir Stanley Thompson's masterpieces.

Nearby, you'll find whale-watching cruises on the Bay of Fundy and some of the country's most historic sites. Visit the Port Royal habitation, the French settlement that gave birth to the New World of Canada. And drop into Canada's first National Historic Park, Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal.

For a true taste of dining luxury, experience the award winning cuisine of our famed Annapolis Room. Casual meals and snacks are served on the Verandah overlooking the basin and at the 19th Hole offering a panaoramic view of our prized golf course. Or relax at the poolside patio and enjoy a cool refreshment or a delicious ice cream treat.

For romance, fun or just a much needed rest, make us your destination. Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa. Old- world elegance. World- class cuisine, In The Classic Manner.