Category: Travel Tips and Ideas

Introducing Bodrum, ancient Halicarnasus in Turkey

Introducing Bodrum, ancient Halicarnasus in Turkey

Although more than a million tourists flock to its beaches, boutique hotels, trendy restaurants and clubs each summer, Bodrum (ancient Halicarnassus) never seems to lose its cool. More than any other Turkish seaside getaway, it has an enigmatic elegance that pervades it, from the town’s crowning castle and glittering marina to its flower-filled cafes and white-plastered backstreets. Even in the most hectic days of high summer, you can still find little corners of serenity in the town.

Urban planners have sought to preserve Bodrum’s essential Aegean character, which was influenced by the Cretans who moved here during the population exchange of the 1920s. Today, laws restrict buildings’ heights, and the whitewashed houses with bright-blue trim evoke a lost era. The evocative castle and the ancient ruins around town also help keep Bodrum a discerning step above the rest.

Introducing Gumusluk Bodrum, ancient Halicarnasus in Turkey

Sights in Bodrum

Bodrum Castle

There are splendid views from the battlements of Bodrum’s magnificent castle, built by the Knights Hospitaller in the early 15th century and dedicated to St Peter. Today it houses the Museum of Underwater Archaeology (Sualtı Arkeoloji Müzesi), arguably the most important museum of its type in the world and a veritable lesson in how to bring ancient exhibits to life. Items are creatively displayed and well lit, and information panels, maps, models, drawings, murals, dioramas and videos all help to animate them.

Based on Rhodes, the Knights Hospitaller built the castle during Tamerlane’s Mongol invasion of Anatolia in 1402, which weakened the Ottomans and gave the order an opportunity to establish a foothold here. They used marble and stones from Mausolus’ famed Mausoleum, which had collapsed in an earthquake, and changed the city’s name from Halicarnassus to Petronium, recalling St Peter. By 1437 they had finished building, although they added new defensive features (moats, walls, cisterns etc) right up until 1522, when Süleyman the Magnificent captured Rhodes. The Knights were forced to cede the castle, and the victorious Muslim sultan promptly turned the chapel into a mosque, complete with new minaret. For centuries, the castle was never tested, but French shelling in WWI toppled the minaret (re-erected in 1997).

Spread around the castle, the attractively lit and informative museum has reconstructions and multimedia displays to complement the antiquities, and takes about two hours to see. It gets very busy and claustrophobic in the museum’s small rooms, so try to arrive early. Look to the ground for green/red mosaic arrows indicating a short/long tour route. You’ll see peacocks strolling, strutting and calling to prospective mates throughout the castle grounds.

Introducing Bodrum, ancient Halicarnasus in Turkey

Mausoleum

One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Mausoleum was the greatest achievement of Carian King Mausolus (r 376–353 BC), who moved his capital from Mylasa (today’s Milas) to Halicarnassus. The only ancient elements to survive are the pre-Mausolean stairways and tomb chambers, the narrow entry to Mausolus’ tomb chamber and a huge green stone that blocked it, the Mausolean drainage system, precinct wall bits and some large fluted marble column drums.

Before his death, the king planned his own tomb, to be designed by Pytheos, the architect of Priene’s Temple of Athena. When he died, his wife (and sister), Artemisia, oversaw the completion of the enormous, white-marble colonnaded tomb topped by a 24-step pyramid and a quadriga, a four-horse chariot carrying Mausolus. In the late 15th century the Knights Hospitaller found the Mausoleum in ruins, perhaps destroyed by an earthquake, and between 1494 and 1522, almost all of it was reused as building blocks for the castle or burned for the lime content to strengthen the walls. Luckily, the more impressive ancient friezes were incorporated into the castle walls, while original statues of Mausolus and Artemisia were sent to the British Museum.

The site has relaxing gardens, with excavations to the west and a covered arcade to the east – the latter contains a copy of the famous frieze now in the British Museum. Four original fragments displayed were discovered more recently. Models, drawings and documents indicate the grand dimensions of the original Mausoleum. A scale model of Mausolus’ Halicarnassus is also on display.

Bodrum Maritime Museum

This small but well-formed museum spread over two floors examines Bodrum’s maritime past through finely crafted scale models of boats and an excellent video on traditional ‘Bodrum-type’ boat building. Much is made of Bodrum’s role as a sponge-diving centre and local writer Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı – the much-loved ’Fisherman of Halicarnassus’.

Conchologists of whatever hue will be in seventh heaven here. A private collection of some 6000 shells representing one third of all mollusc families is on shimmering display upstairs.

Ottoman Shipyard

The restored Ottoman shipyard stands just above the marina. In 1770 Russia destroyed the entire Ottoman fleet at Çeşme; rebuilding it took place in boatyards such as this one. It was fortified against pirate attacks in the 18th and 19th centuries with a watchtower; today it occasionally hosts art exhibitions. Old tombstones, dating from the period when the Latin alphabet was replacing Arabic-based eski yazı (old-style writing) are kept above. Excellent views.

Myndos Gate

These are the restored remains of the only surviving gate from what were originally 7km-long walls probably built by King Mausolus in the 4th century BC. In front of the twin-towered gate are the remains of a moat in which many of Alexander the Great’s soldiers drowned in 334 BC.

Ancient Theatre

On the main road to Turgutreis, ancient Halicarnassus’ theatre was built in the hillside rock in the 4th century BC to seat 5000 spectators but that capacity was increased to 13,000 for gladiatorial contests in the 3rd century AD. It hosts concerts and other events in summer.

Tags : , , , , , , , , , , ,

Facts About Chinese Culture

Facts About Chinese Culture

China is an ancient, mysterious land w which extends up to an area of 9,596,960 sq km. This country, with its rich culture and ancient traditions, is abundant in its resources and minerals and has served people for generations. The splendid Chinese culture, with its distinctive customs, is credited with four great inventions viz., gun powder, paper, printing and compass.

This keenness of the Chinese culture can also be seen in the uniqueness displayed in their arts and crafts, calligraphy, embroidery, operas, painting and silk. Martial art, a fairly recent concept in the rest of the world, has been a part of the Chinese culture for centuries.

Chinese literature has also contributed a lot towards shaping the rich heritage of this culture. The delectable and vibrant Chinese cuisine is also amazing and has travelled to most of parts of the globe to turn into a universal cuisine. For more amazing and interesting facts about Chinese culture, scroll further!

— Chinese civilization is considered to be the longest and the most continuous civilization of the world.

— In ancient times, it was believed that China was situated in the center of the world and hence the name ‘China’ or ‘Zhong Guo’, which means ‘Central Nation’ or ‘Middle Kingdom’.

— The first human skull, which is estimated to be about 67,000 years old, was found in Liujiang, southern part of China.

— Considered to be one of the most prominent introductions to the Chinese culture, Buddhism carved a new beginning to religion and philosophy in China, in the second century B.C. During this period, innovative ideas led to new designs, temple layouts, new styles of figure painting, sculptures, furnishings etc.

— Chinese is the most widely spoken language with about 850 million speakers across China.

— In the present day Chinese culture, the Chinese Government has incorporated several elements of Chinese tradition. Various forms of Chinese literature, art, music, fashion, film and architecture have been revived vigorously with the rise of Chinese nationalism.

— Opportunities for social advancement of the Chinese are purely based on their performance in the prominent imperial examinations which have been in place since 605 A.D. This helped the Emperor select skillful bureaucrats and also refined the perception of culture in China.

— Calligraphy, a decorative practice of hand writing, was developed as an art form in China, over 2,000 years ago. Nowadays, this art form is done with special pens and ink rather than the brushes used in the olden days.

— Previously, sculpting and painting weren’t significant in Chinese art forms but with the iconography of Buddhism, they reached a different level altogether during the fifth and the sixth centuries. During the Middle Ages, the art styles which were prominent were the Tibetan, Mughal and Mongolian styles.

— There are about 300 different forms of opera in China with a rich history of more than 800 years. Chinese Opera has been popular for generations and uses string instruments along with high-pitched vocal stylings.

— During the Chinese Spring Festival, about 230 million people go back to their hometowns to welcome the arrival of the Chinese New Year. This is the time of the year when public transports get congested with a sea of people and subsequently, ticket fares skyrocket. China observes a 15 day holiday throughout the nation which is the reason for this mass migration.

— Shanghai, in China, is considered the biggest city of the world with a population of 16 million.

— Being a multi-racial country, China is home to 56 ethnic groups.

— In the Sichuan province of China, the population is more than the total inhabitants of Canada, Australia, Austria, Guatemala, Holland, New Zealand, Malaysia, Portugal, and Greece taken together.

— Unless you have a close relation or association with the person you meet, you should not address a Chinese with the first name. Official or professional titles such as “Mayor Wang” or “Engineer Li” can also be used for the address.

— During ‘Great Leap Forward’, Mao Zedong’s unsuccessful experiment, which was a step towards making China, a modern economy, about 20-30 million people died of starvation.

— Chopsticks, the wooden cutlery items, are a specialty of the Chinese and are used for the longer reach. It is not considered good manners to play unnecessarily with them. Chinese prefer to dine with their families and use the traditional, hygienic and well-designed utensils.

— Ginseng is considered the most important herb of Chinese diet and has special significance in their folklore and tradition as well. For about five thousand years, special herbs were compulsorily included in Chinese diet charts, for a long and problem free life.

— Chinese follow very specific traditions with respect to their outfits. They wear dark colors for special ceremonies whereas light colors for casual outings.

— One of the wider known and followed customs of Chinese culture is giving a hard-boiled egg, dyed red, in order to make birth announcements.

— According to the Chinese culture, dragon is considered to be the most powerful and is the luckiest symbol for them among all the other twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac.

— One of the major attractions of China is ‘Great Wall of China’ that is more than 21000 km long. Another attraction here is the 46-ton of the ‘Great Bell temple’ situated in Haidian District of Beijing.

Tags : , , , , ,

The Maya secrets spotted from the sky

The Maya secrets spotted from the sky

Inaccessible or easily missed on the ground, ancient Maya ruins are increasingly spotted with the help of satellite imagery – but the process isn’t always fool-proof.

Some of the most magnificent Maya murals ever found – dating to 100BC – were discovered deep in the jungle of San Bartolo, Guatemala back in 2001.

It was obvious that San Bartolo had more to offer – but the jungle was thick. “It’s really dangerous walking through the jungle to find sites – it’s really humid, there are snakes,” explains Diane Davies, Honorary Research Associate at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL, who worked in the same area in the mid 2000’s.

“Honestly, you can be literally seven or eight metres away from a pyramid and in the jungle you can’t see it because [the vegetation is] so thick,” says Davies. However, through the analysis of satellite imagery, previously hidden archaeological sites can be found.

Davies recalls the assistance of Nasa scientist Thomas Sever who was later able to identify all sorts of fascinating features – including a lost Maya pyramid – from satellite images. Because many Maya buildings were constructed with limestone, the chemical composition around ruins has been altered over time – this shows up in some imagery.

The Maya secrets spotted from the sky

When scanning areas for archaeological remains, different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum can be used to reveal patterns on the ground, says Geoffrey Braswell, at the University of California San Diego.

Light detection and ranging (Lidar), which uses lasers, may also be deployed to measure the topography.

“If you are flying over a canopy most of those beams going down get reflected off leaves and other things and don’t reach the ground – but some of them do,” says Braswell. “That allows us to see unique features on the ground.”

But Lidar is expensive and, for many years, was an inaccessible technology only used by the military. Braswell would love to use it to scan entire regions of Central America to see what sites archaeologists may have missed, but so far that just hasn’t been feasible.

There are other issues too. Most Maya scholars agree that sites detected by remote sensing should definitely be confirmed by expeditions on the ground.

This is because a lot of apparent discoveries often turn out to be nothing of interest – a field rather than the outline or a building, or something manmade much more recently than an ancient ruin.

“In the northern part of the Maya area in Yucatan [remote sensing] gives about 70% false positives,” says Braswell.

However, most agree that the benefits such technologies have made to archaeology are stunning. Some fabulous sites have been uncovered that could otherwise have gone unnoticed – and in some cases years have potentially been shaved off the effort to explore dense forest regions.

Tags : , , , , , ,

Moscow: The city of millionaires

Moscow: The city of millionaires

Once a small village in the 12th century, Moscow today boasts its position amongst the largest cities of Europe and -of course- its 850-year-long history. Contrary to common belief, it is neither rather misty and foggy nor cold and bleak. Illuminated structures, avenues with luxury stores and buildings reminiscent of dreamlands are the very proof of this.

“If I invaded Kiev, it means I have conquered Russia’s feet. If I invade St. Petersburg, it means I conquered Russia’s head. However, a Moscow invasion means that I have conquered Russia’s heart.” This quote from Napoleon Bonaparte, revels secrets about Moscow.

Ranking amongst the 10 largest cities of the world, NMoscow enjoys its favorable position between Oka and Volga rivers. With the number of millionaries markedly higher than other cities, Moscow has granted the fame: The city of millionaries.

Tags : , , , , , ,

Things to do in Reykjavik, Iceland

Things to do in Reykjavik, Iceland

With a future as bright as its past, Reykjavik should be at the top of your cities-I-must-visit list. Follow Time Out’s tips for the perfect break in the Icelandic capital.

Reykjavik’s origins can be traced back to AD 870, when it is believed to have been Iceland’s first permanent Nordic settlement. There are monuments to its past as a seat of the Vikings all over the city, and also to its role as the birthplace of the Althing, the world’s first parliament.

Despite all its history, modern Reykjavik holds its past and future in even balance. Its modernism is striking – from the clean lines of its buildings to its experimental music scene to its status as one of the cleanest, most environmentally conscious cities in the world. So whatever it is that draws you to Reykjavik, there’s plenty to explore when you get here.

Things to do in Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik’s compact size (it has only 120,000 inhabitants, over a third of Iceland’s entire population) makes it the perfect place to get round on foot. If you want to get your bearings, start by taking a trip in the elevator to the top of Hallgrimskirkja; Iceland’s largest church resembles the vast helm of a Viking ship – or an iceberg – stretching from the ground. From the top, 73 metres up in the air, you’ll get a panoramic view of Reykjavik’s colourful rooftops.

Reykjavik attractions

A trip to the city must take in its incredible cultural centre, Harpa. An architectural stunner, its southern façade was designed by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. It’s free to enter and definitely worth a visit even if just to wonder at the modernist magnificence of the building’s interior – but as home to the Iceland Symphony Orchestra it also puts on an impressive selection of shows in its concert hall.

Things to do in Reykjavik, Iceland

Art and culture lovers are well catered for. Learn about Icelandic history at the National Museum of Iceland, or get a sense of cutting-edge Icelandic contemporary art at the Reykjavik Art Museum’s Hafnarhús location (the museum is split over three venues) a converted warehouse a herring bone’s throw from the harbour. Then there’s the excellent sculpture garden at Einar Jónsson Museum. If you prefer your art a little more transient, the city’s streets are full of vibrant street art, too.

Those looking to get to grips with nature also have a lot of options – from whale watching at the harbour to hiking along the rugged coastline (which is also perfect for navigating by bicycle). Then there are the city’s famous hot pools. A handy by-product of Iceland’s natural volcanic action, you’ll find them all over the city – though the historical Sundhöllin Public Baths (Iceland’s oldest public swimming pool) are a popular bet.

Tags : , , , , , ,

Inside Rome’s Jewish quarter or calm in the chaos

Inside Rome’s Jewish quarter or Calm in the chaos

Take a tour through one of the Italian capital’s oldest and most thriving cultural districts.

The history of Jews in Rome follows all the drastic twists and horrifying turns that have shaped the experience of the Jewish diaspora across the world. There has been a Jewish quarter inside the city ever since the Roman Republic began to engage in trade with the Levant in the couple of centuries before Jesus Christ. The subsequent millennia have seen massacres, apostasies and truces; bouts of intense persecution have been succeeded by periods of tolerance by, and even alliance with, the state. So if the story of the Roman Jews is relatively little told, it’s not for want of incident.

One reason may be their relatively small population – 13,000 Jews live in Rome today, compared with London’s 170,000 or New York’s 1.75 million – and, consequently, Italy’s fairly minor involvement in the defining event of recent Jewish history: the Holocaust. And yet, if nothing on the scale of what happened in Germany or Poland, Rome witnessed some horrors. The Nazis invaded Italy in September 1943 after the capitulation of Mussolini’s regime, and within a month they had smashed inside Rome’s Jewish quarter and started rounding up its inhabitants. By the war’s end, the city’s Jewish community had been literally decimated, having lost one in ten of its members to the concentration camps.

Inside Rome’s Jewish quarter or Calm in the chaos

Calm in the chaos

A smattering of memorial plaques for the dead interrupt the peace in the otherwise placid Jewish quarter of today. Situated just across from the Tiber Island on the east bank of the river, the area is a haven of tranquillity in the traffic maelstrom that is Rome. Residential courtyards branch off from the slender alleys that tie the neighbourhood’s bustling marketplaces to its dainty piazzas. Like other historically Jewish districts in Europe’s capitals, such as London’s East End and Paris’ Marais, it has shed its cramped ghetto layout and gone the way of gentrification – losing many of its Jewish inhabitants in the process.

Inside Kiryat Sefer (‘The City of Books’) [no website], a bookstore specialising in Jewish culture, a tome on display compares the plan of the ghetto circa 1850 with a map of the area as it is today. The difference is striking. After Italy was unified in 1870, the new monarchy annulled the requirement for Jews to live in the ghetto, and set about razing the area.

The wall surrounding the ghetto was torn down and the cramped labyrinth of cul-de-sacs and tenement houses was replaced by four simple blocks of thoroughfares and squares. Where once the city’s poorest lived in abominable conditions, today a one-bedroom apartment sells for half a million euros. Streets that formerly belonged to drapers and fishermen now attract the likes of Jamie Oliver and Mark Zuckerberg (who, after dining at the neighbourhood’s renowned Nonna Betta restaurant, famously left no tip).

Kosher character

Many Jews may have sold up and moved out, but enough locals remain for the area to retain a distinctive character. Strolling down its flagstoned lanes, you’re just as likely to overhear snatches of Giudeo-romanesco, an antiquated local dialect that borrows liberally from Hebrew, as you are a conversation in Italian. A visit to the famous Boccione [no website], self-styled ‘bakery of the ghetto’, yields myriad delights of Hebraic provenance: unleavened tarts, marzipan cakes studded with fruit, and the three wonderfully taciturn sisters who run the place. Even the local sushi joint, Daruma, eschews all fish without spines in accordance with kosher tradition. If you’re pining for prawn, move on.

And then there’s the Great Synagogue of Rome [no website], another product of the late 19th-century government’s regeneration project. The squat domed edifice sits astride the riverbank, its striking appearance boldly proclaiming the Jews’ freedom to build as they see fit. Sadly, its symbolic importance has turned it into a flashpoint for anti-Semitic violence: in 1982, a gang of Palestinian militants marched up to the entrance and sprayed the congregation with grenades and submachine fire, killing one and wounding dozens. One legacy of the attack is a network of security guards who keep watch over the area from their discreet booths. Their presence is a dismaying reminder of the tensions with which the Jews of Rome continue to live, even in their most peaceful time.

Secrets revealed

For an area that abounds in beautiful architecture and tourist hotspots, the Jewish quarter is often neglected by visitors who come to Rome for its classical landmarks. Which is inexcusable, given that you can cover the neighbourhood’s cultural gems in a matter of hours – from the famous (and frankly kitsch) Turtle Fountain to the surreal ruins of the Porticus Octaviae. It’s well worth getting to know this unjustly overlooked patch of Italy.

Tags : , , , , ,

Welcome to Seoul, Asia’s fourth richest city

Welcome to Seoul, Asia’s fourth richest city

So you know your kimchi from your k-pop – time, then, to check out this cool Asian outpost.

‘Even if you have to crawl on your knees,’ states a historical Asian proverb, ‘get yourself to Seoul.’ South Korea’s dynamic capital city is a mash-up of mountains and markets, teahouses and temples. It’s a global hub for technology and fashion, and it’s also one of the world’s most intriguing foodie destinations.

Base yourself in well-positioned Insadong and explore Asia’s fourth richest city on foot. Spoken English is thin on the ground, but remember please (chusayo) and thank you (kamsahamnida), and you’ll receive warm welcomes wherever you go. Because if there’s one thing Koreans love more than shitty pop music, it’s manners.

See

The standout star of Seoul’s museum scene is the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, housing a stellar collection of Korean and contemporary international works (Damien Hirst has a permanent exhibition). For arts more martial, check out Kukkiwon, Taekwondo’s world headquarters, where you can watch a bout or have a lesson. And for those who get their kicks in greener surrounds, cycle round Seoul Forest, south of the river.

Shop

Myeong-dong is the best area for shopping, with Namdaemun Market a major highlight. At the other end of the spectrum, Shinsegae is Seoul’s Harrods equivalent, with local menswear labels like Eastlogue by Dongki Lee and Diafvine for leather jackets. And hit Ohkoos in Sinsa-dong and level five on the Noon Square Mall for next season’s trends.

Welcome to Seoul, Asia’s fourth richest city

Stay

Look no further than ShinShin – a sleek boutique hotel in the heart of downtown. Elsewhere, The Shilla in Dasan Dong – the young, lively district uphill from Itaewon – offers cutting-edge cool and five-star luxury.

Eat

Seoul food is incredible, with infinite options and a massive range of delicacies to sample – from galbi (barbecue ribs) to bulgogi (literally ‘fire meat’). For barbecue cuisine, look no further than Tuppul Deungshim, specialists in the highest quality hanwoo (Korean beef). If you fancy dumplings, eat at Koong. Gwangjang night market has vendors selling street food from stewed pig trotters and snouts to gimbap (veg, rice and ham rolled in sheets of seaweed). And for a treat, head to stylish basement restaurant, Gogung, and order a spicy Korean hotpot.

Drink

South Koreans down the most spirits, per capita, of any nation in the world – fact. Usually this is soju, a rice liquor, or makgeolli – a carbonated, milky rice wine. Intent on an evening out? Don’t miss the quintessential Seoul nightlife experience at any one of the pojenmacha (street tent bars) lining the Han River. For up-market, hit up luxe wine bar Naos Nova, or popular cafe-bar Comfort Zone. Then, there’s the Gangnam area (made famous by PSY), home to Seoul’s best clubs, including Ellui and Eden.

<

h4>Do>/h4>

Make a beeline for N Seoul Tower (236m above sea-level) to get some initial bearings. Go at sunset for the most striking views then have dinner at n.GRILL, atop the tower. If karaoke (noraebang) is more your bag, head to the bar-lined streets of hipster-friendly Hongdae, where upmarket ‘Luxury Su’ should strike the perfect note.

Explore

Feel the chill of the Cold War on a guided tour of the infamous Demilitarised Zone, a 1.5-hour drive from Seoul. You’ll also be able to see the Third Infiltration Tunnel – part of a (failed) attempt by the North to invade in the ’70s

Tags : , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Reasons to visit Greece this summer

7 Reasons to visit Greece this summer

Greece’s tourism product is being reborn, offering a new window of opportunity to travelers of every type.

After featuring prominently in the world news for all the wrong reasons, for a while it seemed that Greece was all washed up. Just when everyone thought it was down and out, the country rose from its own dusty ruins to turn a tarnished reputation to its advantage. In what is nothing short of a success story, post-crisis Greece has enhanced the traditional charm of sugar-cubed houses atop cliff-tops, sun-kissed Aegean beaches, voyages to antiquity and Mediterranean cuisine.

As if Greece couldn’t be more alluring anyway, there are 10 more reasons to visit the country right now.

1. Greece for All Seasons

There’s more to Greece than the sun and sea, which is why the government has unveiled a new tourism policy that pledges to “prolong the tourism season” and make Greece one of the five most popular destinations in the world.

For your average traveler, this means greater access to thematic tourism all year round. Now, families can take advantage of the special family discounts at winter resorts, enjoy off-season rates at the Athens Half Marathon or partake in kick-ass rock-climbing fiestas on the jagged slopes of Kalymnos island.

Greece is now the happening place, with lots to do and see in every season, from the fledgling Tweed Run on picturesque Spetses in the spring to the Red Bull freerunning competition on Santorini in the autumn and then some.

7 Reasons to visit Greece this summer

2. Fly Direct, No Hassle

In the wake of terror attacks and health epidemics, more travelers have chosen Greece. Increased demand means more direct flights to destinations around the country. Euromonitor travel analyst Wouter Gerts explains that as the whole Middle East is “associated with insecurity in the mind of the western tourist,” Greece has emerged as a comparable alternative thanks to its similar weather, cheap prices and security.

German tour operator TUI recently confirmed that tourists are turning to Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy in increasing numbers for their upcoming spring and summer holidays. At the same time, bookings to Turkey dropped by 40 percent.

Greek civil aviation data shows that there was an 11.5 percent-spike in Greek airport traffic in January alone. Some 1.8 million passengers travelled on 19,890 flights, enjoying the advantages of direct flights at budget rates.

3. Disover Virgin Territory

Yes, it looks set to happen in 2016. Obscure backwaters are being opened to the public for the first time thanks to a fast-track law that speeds up procedures for public-private investments. This means that the seaplanes projects at four Greek destinations – Skyros, Alonissos, Paxi and Agia Marina at Grammatiko – can move to the next stage of completion.

“The aim of the ministry is to create a waterways network by next summer, which will bring substantial benefits to the economy, create jobs and contribute to the interconnection of small and isolated islands as well as the development of local communities,” said Energy Minister Panos Skourletis.

With bated breath, the Hellenic Seaplanes company can literally taste the start of operations in 2016 after three years in the planning, with some 50 waterways already mapped out. The goal is to connect the country through seaports to allow for the exploration of virgin territory before it is changed forevermore by the influx of crowds.

7 Reasons to visit Greece this summer

4. More Reasons to Sail the Seas

Greece – a country carved by the sea with a whopping 13,676-km coastline – is, was and will always be a seafarer’s paradise. Though local mariners know as much, National Geographic recently identified the large island of Evia as one of the top ten international sailing destinations. And it comes as little surprise that Athens and the Greek islands ranked among the top ten most-searched cruise destinations on Yahoo in 2015.

Top-ranking three-time Olympic sailor Armando Ortolano, one of the founders of the Greek Isles Yachting company, says that Athens is a unique yachting destination. Its docks are exceptionally close to the Saronic islands and city sights, an advantage that has kept interest stable despite adversity that has kept investments at bay.

“We’re doing our best to keep business afloat with 20 percent cheaper charter rates since before the economic crisis began,” he says. “This means that a yacht with a capacity to carry six people can now be leased for 1,500 euros per week, meaning 200 euros per person for seven days, and with a skipper to boot!” Best yet, 2016 is the year of innovation for his company, which is planning to offer a “lifetime memories in a day” package, offering tailor-made options for day trips such as fishing and scuba diving.

5. All Roads Lead to Athens

Athens moved up a notch to second place in the prestigious European Best Destinations 2016, the Brussels-based electronic pool seeking the best of European culture and tourism. Elpida Rekka, of the City of Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau, points to the iconic Acropolis as just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the beauty of the city. A myriad of other offerings include affordable museums and archaeological sites, a high rate of Michelin-starred restaurants, a brilliant city-sea combination with a 55km of scenic coastal road stretch dubbed the Athens Riviera.

Now just behind Zadar in Croatia in the European Best Destinations rankings, Athens is eyeing gold in 2017.

6. Hospitality is in the Blood

The ancient Greek Stoics regarded hospitality as a gods-given right for foreigners, sanctioned by Zeus himself. Refusing to abide by this was hubris. The notion is so deeply engrained in the Grecian psyche that – despite cash flow problems – there’s usually a local entry near the top of the awards in any hospitality industry ranking.

Accolades keep coming with Achtis Hotel, in Halkidiki in northern Greece, and Canaves Oia Hotel, on Santorini, ranked 5th and 12th, respectively, in TripAdvisor’s top 25 hotels worldwide listing for 2016. Meanwhile, Amathus Beach Hotel in Rhodes and Grace Santorini Hotel rated highly in the 6th European Hospitality Awards. Another four Greek hotels took titles at the coveted Historic Hotels of Europe (HHE) awards in 2016: Allegory Boutique Hotel on Rhodes, Marpessa Smart Luxury Hotel in Agrinio (three awards), Aigialos Hotel in Santorini and Villa Galini in Halkidiki.

7. Less Money, More Innovation

The financial crisis may have made life difficult for the locals, but it has also made them far more inventive when it comes to tourism. Sites like dopios.gr and initiatives such as This is My Athens have paved the way for a new brand of tailor-made tourism that is ripe for the picking. These sites connect travelers with a community of local storytellers offering the real spirit of post-crisis Greece to the world.

Always hospitable, tech-savvy Greeks have now gone digital to showcase their cities to foreign visitors with treks to graffiti-laden anarchist quarter of Exarchia in Athens or a dinner invitation to where else but yiayia’s kitchen, where granny’s home-cooked meal rivals that of any Michelin-starred chef.

Not authentic enough for you? George Arapoglou, head of the Athens Invisible Paths tours organized by Schedia, a magazine sold by homeless street vendors, says that he’s been amazed by the reception. “Our tour guides are homeless or have been homeless people at some point in their lives. Sharing their journey to soup kitchens, sleeping areas, detox centers and other pitstops helps them feel less socially excluded while also breaking down barriers,” he says of the tours, which are available in Greek, English, German, Spanish and Italian.

Tags : , , , , , , , , ,

A brief break in Ibiza: 5 secret beaches

A brief break in Ibiza: 5 secret beaches

is renowned for its world-famous clubs that host the globe’s top DJ’s throughout the summer, but the beautiful Spanish island also makes for a wonderful autumn/winter break out of season.

With a coastline dotted with secluded coves, unspoilt bays, iconic whie sandy beaches and sunset spots, and interiors home to pretty whitewashed towns and villages, the White Isle offers the dolce vita all year round. We take a look at Ibiza’s lesser-known beaches off the beaten track that are perfect for some R&R.

Cala Llentrisca

An old timber jetty sits in the middle of this peaceful, almost deserted strip of coast. The crescent-shaped beach offers crystal blue water and tranquillity that couldn’t be further from the madness of Bora Bora. Although it’s a pretty isolated area, its natural beauty makes it well worth the journey.

Where: From Sant Josep, follow the road south to Es Cubells. From here, wind your way down the road to the coast whilst enjoying the lush views. A footpath will take you to the beach from there.

Before you leave: Stop off for a drink at Es Cubells, a small village nestled among lemon, orange and olive groves. Bar Llumbi is a family-owned bar and restaurant that offers unspoilt views of the coast as well as a traditional Spanish menu.

A brief break in Ibiza: 5 secret beaches

Cala Olivera

The calm, clear waters of this untouched cove mean you won’t be able to resist an immediate dip. Make a day of it and enjoy the beautiful views out to sea; however you may be sharing this hidden gem with locals.

Where: On the east coast of Ibiza, past the gated community of Roca Llisa.x
Before you leave: There isn’t much in the way of bars and restaurants nearby, so bring a little picnic.

Cala Salada

This secluded beach is perfect for snorkelling and cliff jumping (if you’re brave enough). For the explorers among you, hike to Ses Fontanelles to catch a glimpse of the famous Bronze Age cave drawings.

Where: A short drive from San Antonio.
Before you leave: Visit one of the local beach shacks for a fresh lime mojito and head to the secluded sister beach Salada for a dip.

Es Xarcu

Another beach favoured by locals. Feel at one with nature as you breathe in the scent of the pine trees and admire the scenery. Be sure to wear flip flops as the sand is quite rocky, although the seabed itself is beautifully soft.

Where: Situated on the south coast, between Es Torrent and Cala Jondal.
Before you leave: Take a short detour to Es Xarco (one bay away) for a delicious seafood lunch and a bottle of wine.

Benirras Beach

Not exactly a “secret” beach, but it’s well worth checking out. This small but picturesque bay boasts crystal clear water perfect for swimming and snorkelling.

Where: On the island’s north-west coast, just past San Miguel.
Before you leave: Enjoy the gorgeous Ibiza sunset, which is often accompanied by drummers who arrive on the beach to “drum down the sunset”.

Tags : , , , , , , , , ,

The City of Thornton: Welcome to American Dream

The City of Thornton: Welcome to American Dream

The City of Thornton is a Home Rule Municipality in Adams and Weld counties in the U.S. state of Colorado, located in the northeast quadrant of the Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area. Thornton is 10 miles (16 km) north/northeast of downtown Denver. The United States Census Bureau reported the city’s growing population at 118,772 on April 1, 2010, a 44.2% increase from the 2000 Census population of 82,384. Thornton is the sixth most populous city in the state of Colorado and the 213th most populous city in the United States.

Thornton Timeline

Thornton consisted solely of farmland until 1953 when Sam Hoffman purchased a lot off Washington Street about seven miles (11 km) north of Denver. The town he laid out was the first fully planned community in Adams County, and the first to offer full municipal services from a single tax levy, including recreation services and free trash pickup. Thornton was named in honor of Former Colorado Governor Dan Thornton.

The Thornton Community Association (TCA) was formed in 1954 to help guide the new community’s development. By the end of 1955, Thornton had 5,500 residents in over 1,200 homes. The TCA was instrumental in Thornton’s 1956 incorporation as a city. Oyer G. Leary was elected the first mayor.

The City of Thornton: Welcome to American Dream

1950s

On December 24, 1952, F & S Construction announces plans for a $7 million, 5,000 home project outside of Denver.

It was announced in a Denver Post article on Feb. 19, 1953, that Mr. Hoffman had decided that the new community was to be called Thornton in honor of then current governor Dan Thornton.

The three Thornton model homes, located just off Washington Street, opened to the public in April of 1953.

On September 21, 1953 work on the first 30 homes began.

On January 31, 1954, the first 40 families moved into brand new, one-story brick houses constructed from the vision of builder Sam Hoffman

In 1954 the Thornton Women’s Club is started and they print the first city directory for $1.

In April 28, 1954 the Thornton Community Association (TCA) forms.

Thornton’s first shopping center opened on Washington Street in May 1955. It contained stores such as Woolworths and Millers grocery store. Originally called Hoffman Heights Shopping Center, the name soon changed to the Thornton Shopping Center.

The Thornton Community Association was formed to help take care of the community.

Thornton’s first fire department and police department both began as volunteer groups.

The City of Thornton: Welcome to American Dream

On August 18, 1955, voters decided against incorporation with the total tally at 548 for incorporation, 620 votes against it.

The population of Thornton was 6,300, but only 1,168 people cast a vote in the election.

On May 26, 1956, Thornton was incorporated as a Colorado city.

At the time, Thornton had a population of 8,640 and was one square mile in size.

The Colorado legislature passed the bill into law and Thornton legally became the 11th largest city in Colorado.

In August 18, 1956 Thornton elects its first city officials.

In August 30, 1956, the first City Council meeting is held.

Thornton’s first municipal building was constructed in 1958 on Dorothy Boulevard.

In 1959, the Community Building next to City Pool was donated to the city by the Thornton Women’s Club.

1960s

In 1960 the first library opens in Thornton.

In 1960 the population is 11,353.

In 1961, the city moved forward with issues including the running of day-to-day city operations by adopting a city Manager form of government, and securing a city water supply.

In 1962, the Thornton Junior Football League was formed.

In April 1963, Thornton purchases the Northwest Utilities.

In July 1963, the city held the first Thornton Annual Festival Days celebration and an estimated 8,000 people attended.

In 1964, the city annexed approximately 920 acres on both sides of the Valley Highway (I-25) including the Heftler Hillcrest area and land between 88th and 92nd Avenues.

In 1964 Thornton considers a name change, but the idea fizzles.

In 1965, Thornton selected a city seal by holding a City Seal Contest that was open to all Thornton public school children. The winner was a 17-year-old Mapleton High School student. That May, the winning seal with the motto “City of Planned Progress” was adopted.

In 1966, a home-rule committee was formed.

On July 18, 1967, Thornton citizens overwhelmingly approved Home Rule for the city. A Home Rule city has its charter (constitution) written by local citizens and the voters must approve it. Home Rule gives local government more control over running the city.

1970s

In 1970, the population of Thornton was 13,326.

The city annexed property south of 88th Avenue and west of Huron Street in 1970, along with land on Colorado Boulevard from 104th to 108th Avenues and the area south of 84th Avenue and west of Interstate 25.

Also in 1970, Thornton’s 500,000-gallon tower at 102nd Avenue and Tejon Street was built.

In 1971, Thornton sues to condemn Farmers Reservoir and Irrigation Company (FRICO).

In 1973, a Community Center was constructed on Eppinger Boulevard to meet the recreational needs of Thornton citizens.

Also in 1973, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department became a full-time department.

In 1974, the City Council adopted the city’s first Parks & Recreation Open Space Plan, and in that same year Loomis Park was dedicated.

In 1974, Thornton constructed the Columbine Water Treatment Plant located near the South Platte River, which supplied drinking water to citizens.

Growth prompted a move in 1975 to the remodeled North Valley Bank building at 8992 North Washington Street, which now houses the Thornton branch of the Adams County Public Library.

In 1975, the city’s 20-year Comprehensive Plan was approved.

In 1975, Thornton High School opened.

In 1975, Thornton’s first recreation center opened on Eppinger Blvd.

In 1976, the nation celebrated its Bicentennial while Colorado was enjoying its Centennial birthday and Thornton celebrated its owns 20th anniversary. Since Thornton was sharing a significant anniversary with the nation, the city was designated an official Bicentennial by the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration.

The “crossroads” logo was created and introduced to the city council by the Johnston Group in 1978 as part of a new economic development marketing package designed to better identify and promote the city.

In 1979, FRICO water agreement is reached with three cities (including Thornton).

November 1979, Margaret Carpenter is elected as Mayor, and serves for more than 20 years.

1980s

​In 1981, Thornton had a population of 43,000 citizens was 19 square miles in size.

The Police Department now had 91 officers and 47 firemen filled the ranks of the Fire Department.

February 1981, the city’s Charter is reviewed by citizens and Council.

May-June 1981, Thornton celebrates it’s 25th anniversary.

On June 3, 1981, at 2:30 p.m. the worst tornado in the Denver metro area’s history touched down in the city of Thornton, just a few days before the city was to celebrate its silver anniversary.

In 1982, the city joins the Two Forks project.

In 1982, Thornton faced another weather-related problem with the “Blizzard of 1982” hit the metro area. Between five and six feet of snow was dumped on the metro area on Christmas Eve of 1982.

In 1983, the city opened the Thornton Civic Center off I-25 and Thornton Parkway, a site formerly known as 9-Mile Hill, to house its municipal offices, courts, police and fire departments.

In August 1984, the Thornton Senior Center opened at the former Public Safety building on Dorothy Blvd.

In 1985, Thornton created an urban renewal district to raise $3.5 million to build an I-25 interchange at the Thornton Parkway (92nd Avenue), and to assist in a face lift in the city’s original business district mainly along Washington Street between 84th Avenue and 92nd Avenue.

In 1985, the current City Manager Jack Ethredge was hired.

In 1986, the City Council passed a resolution declaring certain undeveloped city land to be public open space.

1990s

In the 90s, Thornton and Northglenn bury the hatchet literally.

In 1991, the Citizens Task Force is created to determine the community’s recreational needs.

Thornton’s own 72 par, championship golf course, Thorncreek, officially opened on June 15, 1992 at 136th Avenue and Washington Street.

By 1994, the population of the city was 60,000.

In October 1994, Thornton opened a state-of-the-art recreation facility. The Thornton Recreation Center is located on 136 acres of city-owned property at 112th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard. The facility is 7,800 square feet and was constructed at an approximate cost of $11 million.

In 1995, the city re-purposes North Valley Mall into a business center.

In 1996 in celebration of the city’s 40th anniversary, a community festival called Thorntonfest was started. The festival encourages Thornton residents to come out for daylong festivities to celebrate the community and get to know their neighbors.

In 1997, the city’s volunteer program was started.

A new annual fall festival called Thornton Harvest Fest was started in 1999 at Community Park in Thornton.

2000s

In July 2001, the Thornton Recreation Center was renamed Margaret Carpenter Recreation Center.

In 2000, the city’s population is just reaching 80,000 and is 27.2 square miles in size.

In August 2002, E-470 was extended from E-470 to Hwy 85.

2002-2003 the community faces a drought.

January 3, 2003, the Northwest Parkway Interchange was completed.

In 2003, Thornton signed a water agreement with the city of Aurora.

December 2003, a additional free community festival called WinterFest was held.

In 2004, the Columbine Treatment Plant was upgraded.

September 2004, the city launches ambulance service.

November 2004, the Thornton Justice Center was completed for the Police Department and Municipal Courts.

July 21, 2004, I-25 & 136th Ave. Interchange opens.

In 2005, Larkridge, the largest northern area retail center at 963,000 square feet officially opened.

April 2005, the North Washington Subarea Plan was adopted as an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan.

February 28, 2006 the City Council passed a resolution renaming the Columbine Water Treatment Plant to the Wes Brown Water Treatment Plant.

February 28, 2011 the legendary actress Jane Russell passed away at 89. Russell helped ‘christen’ the city of Thornton. In 1953, F&S Construction Company opened Thornton’s first model homes for tours. Jane Russell came to Thornton to decorate the model homes and greet people at the new housing development. Thousands of people turned out. Thornton’s Russell Boulevard is named after the actress.

Tags : , , , , , , ,