20111108

Top 10 Harvest Festivals

1.Thanksgiving, Plimoth Plantation, Massachusetts
Thanksgiving, a U.S. holiday on the fourth Thursday of November, originated in the fall of 1621, when Pilgrims celebrated their successful wheat crop and overflowing store cupboards with a three-day feast. The hosts shared their meal of partridge, wild turkey, and fish with the Massasoit and Wampanoag Native American tribes. Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863.

2.Vendimia, Mendoza, Argentina
On the final Sunday of February, the Archbishop of Mendoza sprinkles the season’s first grapes with holy water and offers the new vintage to God, setting off a month of celebrations in Argentina’s Mendoza region. Crowds line the streets to watch a parade of competing beauty queens atop their regional floats, and the festival culminates with a spectacular show at the amphitheater—musicians, entertainers, and dancers take to the stage before a Harvest Queen is chosen amid a backdrop of spectacular fireworks.

3. Rice Harvest, Bali, Indonesia
Bali Rice Field
Dewi Sri, the rice goddess, is venerated as a matter of course in Bali, where rice is the staple crop. During the harvest, villages are festooned with flags, and simple bamboo temples dedicated to the goddess are erected in the upstream, most sacred corners of the rice fields. Small dolls of rice stalks representing Dewi Sri are placed in granaries as offerings.

4. Chanthaburi Fruit Fair, Chanthaburi, Thailand
Chanthaburi is known for gemstones—and for its profusion of beautiful native fruits, as colorful as jewels. During the summer harvest, the annual Fruit Fair exhibits exotic durians, rambutans, longans, and mangosteens in vibrant arrangements as elaborate as Buddhist mandalas. There are produce competitions and art displays, and the opening-day parade features floats made from thousands of tropical fruits and vegetables.

5. Sukkot, Jerusalem, Israel
Sukkot celebrates Israel’s bountiful harvests and recalls the time when the Israelites wandered the desert living in temporary shelters. Families build makeshift huts, or sukkah, with roofs open to the sky. Here they eat, and sometimes sleep, for the next seven days. Wands of willow, myrtle, and palm, together with a citron (a kind of lemon), are shaken every day in all directions to honor the gifts from the land.

6. Blessing of the Sea, Greece
At Epiphany, which recalls the visit of the three Wise Men to the infant Jesus, processions set off from local churches to the ocean, where a priest blesses a gold cross before hurling it into the waves. Men leap in to be first to retrieve it; the victor achieves grace, and banishes old spirits from the new year.

7. Olivagando, Magione, Italy
Italy Olive Field
Magione’s two-day festival in November celebrates both the feast day of St. Clement and the local olive harvest, bringing together everyone involved in the production of olive oil. A priest blesses the new oil at a special Mass, and the town hosts a lavish medieval dinner at its 12th-century castle.

8. Lammas Festival, U.K.

Lammas marks the beginning of the harvest season, when food is abundant and the light begins to wane. Early Britons baked bread from the new crop to leave on church altars, and corn dolls decorated bounteous feast tables.

9. Madeira Flower Festival, Madeira, Portugal
Madeira Flower Field
Funchal’s April flower festival fills the air with fragrance and marks the arrival of spring. Each of the island’s children brings a bloom to create the colorful Muro da Esperança (Wall of Hope), and intricate flower carpets line the streets.

10. Incwala, Swaziland
In late December, men journey to the sea to gather water so Incwala can begin. Branches from the sacred lusekwane tree are woven into a bower for the king, and only when he eats the first fruit can his people partake of the harvest.

10 Islands to See Before You Die

Vieques - Experience the world's clearest bioluminescent bay
Vieques
When the U.S. Navy packed up and left Vieques in 2003, after more than 60 years, it left something behind: unspoiled nature. Land once used for bombing practice is now designated as a national wildlife refuge. So far there are only a few mega-resorts like those found on the Puerto Rican mainland—instead, you'll find homey inns like the aptly named Great Escape B&B, where breakfast is served poolside (from $115). There are only two notable towns (the population is less than 10,000): Isabel Segunda on the northern side of the island, and the far smaller Esperanza on the south. The effect is that when you reach a beach at the end of a dirt road here, your reward is having the sand largely to yourself. Playa de la Chiva (Blue Beach) attracts daytime snorkelers and divers, but the real reason Vieques belongs on your bucket list is Puerto Mosquito. Of the seven bioluminescent bays on the planet, Puerto Mosquito is the most impressive, thanks to the clarity and brightness of its waters.

Easter Island - Ponder the handiwork of one of the most mysterious civilizations in history
With the nearest major landmass, Chile, lying 2,200 miles away, Easter Island is as remote as it is mysterious. No one knows exactly why nearly 900 gargantuan stone monoliths are sprinkled across this isolated, 60-square-mile scrap of land in the middle of the South Pacific—and those long, stone faces aren't talking. For several hundred years, the moai that are unique to this island have maintained their silent sentinel even as the civilization that created them collapsed and a trickle of tourists appeared in its wake. Intended to stand atop cut-stone altars (called ahu), the moai average 13 feet high and weigh nearly 14 tons each; most lie prone, toppled by civil wars in the 17th and 18th centuries. A particularly compelling spot is Rano Raraku, the collapsed volcano where many moai were quarried and where nearly 400 figures remain, all frozen in various states of completion.

Bali - Find your center on an island so spiritual it's become known as "Island of the Gods"
Bali
The warm, spiritual essence that writer Elizabeth Gilbert discovered here and celebrated in Eat, Pray, Love has been native to Bali for centuries. It's one of 17,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago—and the only one on which Hindus form the majority (93 percent). Even more striking is the fact that there is a spiritual celebration here nearly every day. Three Hindu temples at the Besakih (the Mother Temple of Bali) survived a 1963 eruption that destroyed nearby villages while missing by mere yards this terraced complex atop volcanic Mount Agung. The event is still considered a miracle by locals, who arrive in regular procession; they balance offerings on their head and climb the steps to the sound of mantras, jingling bells, and the sharp flutter of umbul-umbuls (ceremonial Balinese flags).

Ischia - Revive with therapeutic hot springs and mud wraps
This volcanic island in the Bay of Naples has hot springs so therapeutic that they have drawn admirers for 2,000 years. Greeks, Romans, and Turks quickly discovered that Ischia's fumaroles, hot springs, and heated mud hold the power to ease sore muscles—or simply provide a degree of self-indulgence. Today's travelers are likewise pampered by massages and mud wraps courtesy of the island's geothermal characteristic, which helps fill the 22 thermo-mineral pools of the beachfront spa Giardini di Poseidon Terme. After your treatment of choice, peel off the sandals for a walk on the beach, a visit to the 15th-century Castello Aragonese, or a glass of biancolella (white) or per 'e palummo (red) wine from local vineyards. You can also get a taste of the glam, jet-setter lifestyle associated with Italy and depicted in the film The Talented Mr. Ripley, shot here on location.

Chiloe - Experience a culture and wildlife developed in isolation
The lush, cloud-covered Chiloé archipelago may lie off the western coast of Chile, but its history, customs, and language bear little resemblance to those of the mainland, or anywhere else in the world, because of its isolation. Local farmers have passed down a mythology of gnome- and witch-filled woodlands and ghost ships. Valdivian temperate rain forests are protected within Parque Nacional Chiloé. In the Pacific, dolphins, penguins, otters, and the largest creatures in history—blue whales—are studied and protected by the Cetacean Conservation Center. In the central city of Castro, order a steaming meal of curanto (shellfish, meat, and potatoes) and peruse handicrafts made of wood and colorful garments created from Chilean wool. Residents still live in traditional palafitos (stilt houses). Jesuit missionaries, who first arrived in small numbers in the 1600s, used local materials and construction techniques to build exquisite chapels. Their work survives in more than 50 wooden churches found in communities such as Castro, Nercón, Chonchi, Dalcahue, and Quinchao; their appearance reflects a hybrid of European and indigenous styles that you won't find anywhere else on earth.

Bora Bora - Settle into your own overwater bungalow on the world's most famous idyllic island
Bora Bora
If you envision yourself on an island in French Polynesia, Bora Bora is the place to hang your hammock. Even novelist James Michener, who penned sweeping epics set in the South Pacific and beyond, dubbed it the world's most beautiful island. Mingled in among the Society Islands northwest of Tahiti, Bora Bora's lowland reefs and islets are lorded over by Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu, twin peaks forming an extinct volcano in the island's interior. Super-expensive upscale resorts along the western edge—and a fair share of inns and vacation rentals—feature overwater thatch-roofed bungalows built on stilts above shallow, clear-as-gin waters.

Key West - Embrace Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville" utopia
Laid-back, beach-y living coupled with a flamboyant arts scene lends a one-of-a-kind appeal to this lowland island (peak elevation: 18 feet). Key West inspired Mississippi-born balladeer Jimmy Buffett, and it remains hallowed ground for his followers—the "parrotheads" that roost here throughout the year and keep the mythical utopia of Margaritaville alive. Tennessee Williams, Harry S. Truman, and Ernest Hemingway were also seduced. Defying easy categorization, Key West is capital of the Conch Republic, the tongue-in-cheek micro-nation created in 1982 by residents proud of their liberal lifestyle. Natural sand beaches are surprisingly rare here, but with the chance to snorkel above North America's only living coral reef and enjoy the company of a Technicolor collection of 400 species of tropical fish, it would be a shame to spend your beach time on land, anyway. When you've dried off, head to Mallory Square to catch street performers during the daily Sunset Celebration.

Penang - Treat yourself to Malaysia's unique fusion of cultures and flavors
Start your food crawl at stalls that crowd the streets of Georgetown, Penang's largest city and Malaysia's food capital. The delectable fare on offer memorably mingles Malaysian, Chinese, Indian, and European flavors. Foodies in search of supreme bliss should head to the marketplace Ayer Itam—adjacent to Kek Lok Si (the Temple of Supreme Bliss)—to dine on a variety of dishes based on rice, noodles, fish, shellfish, chicken, pork, vegetables, eggs, and coconut. Look for lor bak (deep-fried marinated minced pork served with a chili sauce); lok-lok (skewered seafood, meats, and vegetables); and ikan bakar (grilled or barbecued fish marinated in spices and coconut milk, wrapped inside banana leaves, and grilled over hot coals). The same fusion of cultures is evident in the local architecture, which ranges from modern high-rises to buildings built by 19th-century British colonialists. Add to the mix beach resorts, preserved mangroves, small fishing villages, and a share of temples, mosques, and churches. Kek Lok Si best exemplifies this coexistence. At seven stories, it's the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia, and it reflects the shared values of Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism—designed with a Chinese octagonal base, a Thai-accented middle tier, and a Burmese-style peak.

Galapagos Islands - Follow in the (r)evolutionary wake of Charles Darwin
The namesake tortoise is only one reason to explore this archipelago overrun with more than 500 spectacular native species found nowhere else. Charles Darwin's 1835 visit sparked his curiosity, leading to his landmark book and the observation that these islands are the "laboratory of evolution." Much of the biological kaleidoscope noted by Darwin—such as penguins, sea lions, finches, blue-footed boobies—is still visible on the Galápagos, which are scattered more than 600 miles west of Ecuador. Look out for the waved albatross, which has a 7- to 8-foot wingspan, on Española. Tour operators navigate the islands on everything from luxury catamarans to motor yachts, and many employ naturalists to guide you through the archipelago's rocky coasts, lagoons, coral reefs, bays and white sand beaches. Gap Adventures offers small-group itineraries that often include meals, airfare from Quito, and a cabin aboard a 16-passenger ship. Life on the island is only half the equation, so pack your mask, snorkel, and wet suit.

Palm Islands Dubai - Size up the world's largest man-made archipelago

Palm Islands
Nature creates and removes islands every day, but it took a supernatural influx of cash and credit to create what developers hope will be the permanent Palm Island archipelago. Based on a sketch by a sheikh, the world's largest man-made islands are being dredged up and put in place as destination resorts: the Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali, and Palm Deira. Each work-in-progress is designed to attract tourists, who (more than fossil fuels) can provide a renewable source of income. If all goes well, the three islands will be the focal point of Dubai and become a Middle East playground of spas, resorts, upscale residences, villas, and superior shopping malls. Palm Jumeriah is already in place with an Atlantis resort and its wild water park open and a Trump hotel slated to open in 2011.

20111107

Top 10 Destinations in UK

All the visitors to UK will have a clear cut idea regarding the places to visit for making their journey lovely and unforgettable. There are some must see places that all tourists are advised to visit in their tour. Some of these places are discussed in the article.

1. Windsor Castle
Windsor is a place in London that can be easily caught up by train. The Windsor castle that is only a short walk distance from the station dominates from the whole town. The castle building alone covers 13 acres of the area and it is renowned as the largest inhabited castle in the whole of world. This site selection was done by King William and it overlooks the river Thames.

2. Stonehenge
Stonehenge
The architecture of Stonehenge is still unknown to the whole world. This was built more than 5000 years ago and it has gained the attention of visitors for more than tens of centuries. Day time in spring season is the best time to watch the structure.

3. Hadrian’s Wall
This is the northern border of the Roman Empire. When the Roman Empire was about to be destroyed this defensive wall was constructed across the northern region of Britain. The remnants of this wall can be seen at nearly 73 miles away from the wall region which forms stone fences, stone barns and cobbles.

4. York Minster
This is the largest Gothic Church in the northern part of Europe that exists since the medieval period. York Minster was voted by the British visitors to be one of the Seven Wonders of Britain. There is nothing in UK which can be compared to this famous cathedral. Make sure to visit this cathedral in your UK tour.

5. Iron Bridge
Iron Bridge
This is the birthplace of industry. Iron founders and the growing industrialists hurried to see this bridge since it is part of their industry growth. This bridge is built over the River Severn which is near Coalbrookdale in 1779.

6. Edinburgh Castle
This is an ancient fortress located in the heart of the city of UK. This is an avoidable place of tourist attraction that all people wish to see during their Europe tour. This castle can be seen from anywhere in the city of Edinburgh. This castle has dominated the city for more than 1000 years.

7. Caernarvon Castle
This exists as the symbol of kingly power in the country. UK is also called as the country of castles. This was built by King Edward I and he wished the place to be his residence and the official seat of his government.

8. The Royal Pavilion
The Royal Pavilion
This was built by George IV and this is the only building of its kind in the place. This is a pseudo Indian palace that is influenced greatly by Chinese interiors, light, mirrors and expensive fabrics.

9. St. Ives Cornwall
This is nothing but a beach full of palm trees that brings complete shade to the beach and it is also an artists’ studio. This is in the area full of fisherman cottages, craft shops and steep cobbled lanes. The climate of Britain is also very modest.

10. Stratford on Avon
This is the best place in UK to find Americans. This is also the hometown of Shakespeare. Many cottages that are built in really an astonishing way can be seen in the place.

Top 10 Destinations in Switzerland

All those who plan for a Switzerland tour can never miss some of the most important Switzerland attractions like the Glacier Express, Golden Pass Panoramic train, White Turf Events in St. Moritz etc. Description of some of the top tourist places in Switzerland is discussed here.

1. The Gruyere Region
The Gruyere region is a famous weekend destination of Switzerland. The world famous Gruyere cheese is also prepared here. Many tasty dishes like the fondue and raclette are the fantasies of the food lovers who visit Gruyere region. The fantastic artistic work found on the Gruyere castle is also loved tourists.

2. Rhine Falls
Rhine Falls
Rhine River has its magnificent and largest waterfall in Europe. This comes in Neuhausen which is on the border of Germany. A large volume of nearly 700 cubic meters of water rushes each second over the water cliff. A boat ride towards the rock present in the center of the stream is another attraction of all the tourists who love adventure. After a mind blowing boat ride enjoy the fascinating taste of the cappuccino from any of the cafeterias nearby the falls.

3. Chateau de Chillon Castle
This castle is a creation of the 11th century. This stands on the shore of the famous Geneva Lake. This is one of the finest conserved castles of the medieval period that still exists in Europe. This enchanting castle offers more beautiful view through its window sills. One of the flower filled garden and another of the snow filled mountains.

4. Matterhorn
This is the most popular peak which is a part of both the Switzerland and the Alps. It’s a very remarkable mountain peak and flying around Matterhorn at an altitude of 4000 m is an unforgettable experience. Zermatt is a High End ski resort which is always filled up with tourists both in the winter and the summer seasons. Matterhorn is the most photographed mountain of the world.

5. Jungfraujoch
This comes in the second place as compared to Matterhorn in tourist attraction. A new world comes up at the top of Europe. Europe’s largest glacier, Aletsch, can be viewed from Jungfraujoch. Sphinx Observation and the glistening Ice Palace are also important tourist attractions.

6. Mount Rigi
Mount Rigi
Mt. Rigi located in the center of Switzerland is a very famous excursion and vacation paradise. This mount is located near the beautiful city of Lucerne. The first mountain cogwheel rolled up to this mountain top. There is also a cable car operating from Weggis town to Rigi top.

7. Mount Pilatus
This is a mountain ridge in the central part of Switzerland. If Lucerne is a part of your Switzerland holidays then surely you should go for a golden trip to Mt. Pilatus.

8. Swiss Transport Museum

Tourists visiting Lucerne also visit Lucerne which is mainly with the intention to visit Swiss Transport Museum. A wide variety collection of aircrafts, automobiles, ships and communication equipments are exhibited here. Switzerland’s only 3-D IMAX theatre and planetarium is also present in this museum.

9. Bern Historical Museum

This museum is similar to a castle which is located diagonally from the Old City houses on the region of Helvetiaplatz. The Einstein museum is also nearby this Bern museum.

10. Lake Geneva

This is an important tourist location that travelers visit over many decades. Many celebrities chose the bank of Geneva river for building their own houses and staying.

Top 10 Destinations in Sweden

Sweden is an attractive tourist destination that is liked by many. The landscape of the place will seem to be more attractive and welcoming to most of the first time visitors. The city of Sweden is really attractive, stylish and functional. The Swedes are very helpful and attentive people. The best time to visit Sweden is during the early fall and summer. There are a number of attractive and interesting places in Sweden that are widely spread across the country. Some of these tourist places are discussed in this article.

1. Stockholm
Stockholm
This is the capital city of Sweden. The most important thing is the location of the island that covers a number of 14 islands. The city is said to be both beautiful and delightful.

2. The Old Town

This is also called as Gamla Stan. This is a must see location during the Sweden holidays. The streets are all curvy narrow and made of cobblestone. There are many attractive shops in the location which makes the place more attractive. Many of the important tourist sites are seen in this Gamla Stan.

3. The Wasa Museum
The Wasa is a ship that sank in the maiden voyage and it happened in 17th century. This was recently raised up fifty years ago and these remains were preserved in the Wasa Museum.

4. Drottningholm Palace
This is the current residence of the royal family of Sweden. This is a World heritage Site. This stands in an island in Lake Malaren. It is really famous because of the wonderful architecture of the palace. It also has a wonderful park and a well noted Chinese Pavilion.

5. Gothenburg
Many travelers prefer to visit Gothenburg rather than Stockholm because it provides better exposure to the Swedes. This can be used as a base for exploring the coastal towns which is towards the northern direction and also the Varbergs Fortress which is 40 miles towards the southern direction.

6. Uppsala
Uppsala
This is another beautiful entry in the list of famous tourist destinations in Sweden. This place plays a remarkable position in the development of the country’s economy. It is only a 60 minutes journey from Stockholm to Uppsala.

7. Crystal Country
This place is also renowned as the Kingdom of Crystal in Sweden. This place is located in the western region of Kalmar. Crystal production has made the place famous among the tourist destinations.

8. almar
Try to visit the famous Kalmar castle during your Sweden tour. This is a place that should not be missed out in any means. This is one of the best places in Sweden since it includes the Domykyrkan or the Cathedral.

9. Swedish Lapland

This place is most often considered to be the Europe’s last wilderness. The Lapland’s of Finland and Norway is also in the same manner. If interested in seeing the northern lights and midnight sun then surely Kiruna is to be included in the Sweden holidays.

10. Gota Canal

This is a canal that connects Stockholm with the Gothenburg city. A trip through the canal is really interesting. Gives an ultimate chance to view both Stockholm and Gothenburg simultaneously.
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