Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Having a great time at Darling Habour, Sydney, Australia

A few posts back (my post on October 27th 2007 to be exact) I wrote about interesting places to visit in Sydney, Australia. Here's a bit more info on places to visit in Sydney, focusing on one of the city's most popular arts, entertainment, shopping and leisure spot, Darling Harbour.

Darling Harbour is a modern leisure area on the waterfront to the west of the city. It was developed in the 1980's from a previous dockland region. Here you will find the country's largest cinema screen — eight storeys high — at the Imax Theatre. Lying north of it is the Sydney Aquarium and the more recent Sydney Wildlife World. Sydney Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in the world with more than 5000 different Australian fish displayed in their natural habitats. Visitors can "walk on the ocean floor" through 145 metres (480 ft) of acrylic underwater tunnels. The aquarium is open 9.30am-9pm daily, with the last admission at 8pm. Just a short walk south is the Chinese Garden with its serpentine paths and placid pools.

There are plenty of shops within the wonderful Harbourside shopping complex, with restaurants lining the beautiful waters edge. The huge Sydney Entertainment Centre lies at the southeastern edge of Darling Harbour. And of course, not forgetting the all-important Darling Harbour hotels which you'd be spoilt for choices to choose from for places to stay.

Crossing to the west, the Powerhouse Museum offers a look into its current exhibitions which range from fashion to cutting edge technology. At Harbourside's northern end lies the Australian National Maritime Museum. This is sited by the water at Darling Harbour and contains exhibits chronicling Australia's maritime history. Darling Harbour also features the new Sydney Art Gallery housing a magnificent display of Australian artwork, and is open daily between 9.00am - 5.00pm.

There are wide promenades and large swards of green where people can relax, and there are the occasional street performances as well as organised concerts and other activities. For the kids there are always the carnival rides at the eastern end.

Of an evening head to Star City which is home to the large Sydney Casino. It also features 2 theatres, a nightclub, the Star City hotel, a fitness centre and plenty of shopping outlets and restaurants. It is in Pyrmont to the Northwest of Darling Harbour. Opposite the harbourside is a new eating and drinking area called Cockle Bay Wharf which also offers great nightlife. There is a full range of stylish restaurants, al fresco cafes, bars and clubs. Cockle Bay Wharf has life and atmosphere during the day and the evening, and is a great place to simply relax amongst friends.

Darling Harbour also hosts some fabulous Water Screen displays during the evening, which are a magnificent blend of music and laser images projected onto water fountains. These are held from Wednesday to Sunday on the half hour (depending on the season and weather).

The wonderful and colourful Paddy's Markets are also held near Darling Harbour on the corner of Hay and Thomas Streets, every Thursday - Sunday. Nearby is also the Sydney Fish Market where there is definitely plenty to choose from.

Two more places you can consider to stay in are Ibis Hotel and The Four Points by Sheraton, both located within the Darling Harbour area. Ibis Hotel has 256 hotel accommodation rooms together with iBistro restaurant, iBar and overlooks Darling Harbour and the city skyline. The Four Points is Australia's largest hotel, boasting 630 rooms including 45 suites. It is located within Sydney's central business district and just a short walk from the Pitt Street Mall, Queen Victoria Building and Chinatown.

Whatever it is you plan to do at Darling Harbour, make sure it's an enjoyable and memorable one!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Visiting Italy's Interesting Places

One of the places I have always wanted to visit is of course, Italy. We're all familiar with the cities of Rome, Venice, Milan and Florence, just to name a few.

Rome is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the European Union. Visitors come from around the world to see famous landmarks such as the Colosseum, the Forum and the Patheon. You might want to throw three coins into Trevi Fountain, climb the Spanish Steps and later enjoy some latte in Piazza Navona. At Vatican City, you can visit St. Peter's Cathedral and enjoy its fountains, statues and the church dome. At the Vatican Museum, you won't want to miss the masterpieces of Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael or the Sistine Chapel. Rome's two main airports are the Leonardo Da Vinci and Ciampino Airport. For affordable accommodation, you may want to check information on Roma Hotel which would suit your budget and travelling needs.

Florence is famous for its world-class art galleries and museums plus the beautiful setting along the Arno River. You may wish to hike up to Piazzale Michelangelo and enjoy a fabulous view of Florence's skyline. When you visit Florence, be sure to see the Italian paintings at the Uffizi Gallery and sculptures at the Bargello. You also won't want to miss Michelangelo's famous statue of "David" at the Accademia Gallery. Florence is located just two hours north of Rome. Check out Firenze Hotel for the best accommodation to suit your needs.

Milan is Italy's second largest city and is a world centre for banking, high fashion and international conferences. Visitors to Milan will be impressed by its famous landmarks which include the Duomo, the Vittorio Emanuele II shopping plaza and the La Scala Opera House. Many people visit Milan for shopping purposes of course. To find the best place to stay, check out Milano Hotel.

And finally the City of Venice. Visitors to Venice will find that this undeniably beautiful and unusual city has a whole host of things to interest any traveller. Once one of the most powerful cities in the world, the Doge's Palace and St Mark's Cathedral remain as a testament to its naval and religious past. Dominating one end of St Mark's Square, the cathedral is a spectacular building. Romanesque and gothic carvings as well as numerous mosaics contribute to make this one of Europe's most exotic cathedrals. Rising high to the side of the cathedral is the Campanile; at 99 metres the view from the top of the tower provides a spectacular panorama of the city with virtually every building able to be identified.

Although many tourists mistakenly think the Bridge of Sighs is so named due to people sighing at the beauty of the bridge, it is actually named after the sighs of prisoners who were taken across it to the city's prisons. Although gloomy, the prisons provide an insight into Venice's past.

Travelling from place to place in the city is often best on foot, but for those who can afford it, taking a tour on a gondola is one of the most decadent and romantic ways to explore the city's
winding canals. Grouping together with other people can make the ride more affordable, as can haggling with the gondolier for a cheaper price. To choose a place to stay, check out Venezia Hotel for the best choices to pick from.

Make your visit to Italy is a memorable one by ensuring you visit these grand cities!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Greece and its Ancient Civilisation

I have a good American friend, Dr. Paul Taiganides, who simply loves his Greek roots. In fact, he carries the legacy of Greece with him anywhere he goes.

Greece is a country of a rich cultural heritage. Democracy was invented in Athens, Greek culture is the mother of Roman culture and has very much influenced other civilisations. Famous places to visit include the coast of the Aegean Sea, the Peloponnesus with antique Olympia, the host of the 2004 Olympic Games (Athens) with its Parthenon on the Acropolis, or Thessaloniki in the north. The main destinations in Greece include but are not limited to Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, Rhodes, Corfu, Kos, Kefalonia and several others in the Cyclades, Dodecanese, Ionian Islands and Sporades islands. There are plenty of hotels in Greece to choose from to suit your travelling needs and budgets.

Greek nature is extremely varied ranging from snow covered mountains and dense forest inhabited by brown bears, lynx and deer to thousands of sun drenched islands with sandy beaches. Tourism makes a significant contribution to the nation's income and therefore the tourist infrastucture is quite advanced. There are hotels in the Greek islands for every taste and pocket, adventure activities, extended nightlife in all major cities and towns and of course the many museums and archaeological sites this country is world famous for. Greek hotels will simply delight you with their famous exquisite Greek dishes, one of my favourites being the Greek salad with its generous amount of olives.

I would love to visit Greece one day, wouldn't you?

Visiting Germany and Austria

When one mentions Germany, more often than not I would think of football, beer festivals and fast cars. But there is of course more to Germany than all that. With a rich cultural tradition and gorgeous landscapes, it’s easy to imagine why so many find a wealth of attractions in Germany. The country possesses a bustling nightlife, numerous holidays and festivals, and picturesque scenery. Composed of sixteen states, each with their own personality, Germany is a major industrialized nation. But don’t let that fool you—there are miles and miles of natural wonders to behold: from the Black Forest to the Bavarian Alps to the beaches on the Baltic and North Seas. Other interesting places worth visiting would be Cologne Cathedral, Neuschwanstein, Heidelberg Castle, Checkpoint Charlie and Marienplatz.

German travel typically begins in one of the country’s major cities. The capital, Berlin, is always a popular destination, particularly with the renovation it has undertaken to the city center since the fall of the Berlin Wall. There are many Berlin hotels to choose from with price ranges to suit any kind of travelling requirements. Beyond Berlin, there are more cities to experience and many are drawn to jaunty Oktoberfest in Munich, the elegant Baroque architecture of Dresden or Hamburg known as the Green City on the Water due to its plethora of parks and lawns, and of course Frankfurt, the centre for international businesses and technology. Each of the cities offers a different experience to the German tourist.

If you are a German tourist with a passion for the nightlife, you will find no better place in Europe than Berlin. Overall, choosing a place to stay in Berlin hotels or any other German hotels is easy since anywhere in Germany you'd be able to find the type of accommodation that will suit your taste and budget.

Austria. For anyone who's seen the classic movie The Sound of Music, then Austria would be nothing new to you. Located in central Europe, Austria is a landlocked country bordered by the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy and Switzerland. The country was a centre of power in Europe at the time when it was ruled by the mighty Habsburgs. Although today it is relegated to being a minor player in the European Union, Austria offers some of the most impressive destinations on the Continent.

Vienna, the capital, was once the citadel of the Habsburgs who ruled the country for over 600 years. The city is an architectural gem and a centre of music from the medieval times. The Hofburg (Imperial Palace) and the adjoining Augustinian Church are two of the marvels of architecture. Other notable sights in Vienna include the Museum of Fine Arts, Belvedere Palace, and the Sigmund Freud Museum.

The southern city of Graz, the largest in central Europe, has a very relaxed and mediterranean flair. It is situated on the sunny side of the Alps and offers an exciting architectural mix between old - winding lanes and the remains of a castle that has never been taken - and new - Kunsthaus gallery with its blue bubble and an artificial island in the river - both created for Cultural Capital of Europe recently.

Salzburg, the city that gave Mozart to the world, is a picturesque abode surrounded by tall mountains. Your tour of Salzburg is incomplete without a visit to the 11th-century Hohensalzburg Castle, the Museum of Fine Arts, and St. Peter's Abbey. Four kilometres to the south of Salzburg is the interesting Hellbrunn Palace whose grounds contain trick fountains and water-powered figures.

Austria is thronged by tourists round the year. You will always be able to find places to stay in Austria at hotels in Vienna or even Wien hotels.

Enjoy your trip to Germany and Austria!