Cyprus, An Island With Something For Everyone

If one were looking at a world map, they would see an island in the Mediterranean Sea, surrounded by Syria, Greece, Egypt, Lebanon and Israel. This is the island of Cyprus. In 1974, Turkey invaded the northern part of Cyprus, which resulted in the division of the island that one sees today, with a Turkish northern section of the island, and a Greek southern section. As a result, a visitor to the island will find a variety of sites, both Greek and Turkish, along with activities to take part in no matter what their interests.

As one might expect, Cyprus has a Mediterranean climate. The summers are hot and dry, while the winters are cool and wet. The peak of the summer tourist season in Cyprus is August. The autumn and spring months go by quickly, and result in a quick change from summer to winter as well as winter to summer. The rainy months are usually the autumn and winter months and Cyprus is mainly dry during the rest of the year. The island has two mountain ranges, the Troodos Mountains and the Kyrenia Range. At times, there is snow on the Troodos Massif, allowing the visitor to ski on Mount Olympus during the winter if they wish.

Cyprus has a long history, with the first human settlements taking place almost eight thousand years ago. There are many well-preserved archeological sites on the island such as the village of Khirokitia, which UNESCO has named a World Heritage Site. Because of the many times other countries invaded Cyprus during its history, there are remnants of the cultures of many of the invaders, including the Persians, Egyptians and Romans.

Many of the cities in Cyprus combine both the old and the new when it comes to their culture. With the island split into two sections, it is common to find remnants of more than one culture there. For instance, in regards to religion, the Greek Cypriots follow the Christian Orthodox beliefs while the Turkish Cypriots follow the Sunni Muslim beliefs.

Those who visit Cyprus will find a wealth of sites to visit. For example, anyone interested in Greek mythology can get a car hire Cyprus and travel to the town of Paphos, which, according to legend, is the birthplace of the Greek goddess Aphrodite.

Those who feel at home with art and architecture will enjoy visiting the Painted Churches in the Troodos region. These churches, along with their icons and frescoes, are excellent examples of Byzantine architecture.

A unique site all should visit is Choirkoitia. It is the home of the earliest culture in Cyprus and is still being excavated. According to the archeologists, humans first came to this area about 7000 BC. There were about 300 inhabitants with a short 35-year life span. They mainly farmed, hunted and picked fruit from the numerous fruit trees.

For those who enjoy shipwrecks, Cyprus is the perfect place for diving. One of the most popular is the Zenobia shipwreck, a sunken cargo ship that went down in 1980. Another shipwreck is the Vera K, in Pafos, which sank in the 1970s. Those who enjoy diving to see ancient objects should visit The Amphorae Reef in Pafos. There they will be able to find numerous examples of ancient pottery.

Divers who appreciate natural sites will find that the Mediterranean has many to offer. There are underwater caves where one can hand feed fish and eels. If one is partial to octopus, they have their own home, the Octopus Reef in Larnaka, where many octopuses go to relax.

This is only a small introduction to Cyprus. There are many other places to see including pristine beaches, bike and walking trails, wineries, and many ancient treasures. Cyprus is truly a mix of the old and new, the ancient and modern. No matter who visits this unique island, each visitor will find something that makes this destination one they will remember for the rest of their lives.


Washington (State) United States

The State of Washington offers much more than its 6.7 million people, 68,192 square miles, capital city of Olympia, mostly mountain terrain, 21st-place ranking in United States coal production or 27.66 inches of annual rainfall.

It also has many natural and man-made wonders.

Take its national parks and recreation areas. At 14,410 feet, Mount Rainier is Washington’s highest peak. Its 26 glaciers contain 35 square miles of snow and ice (the most extensive single-peak glacial system in the contiguous United States) that are ideal for snowshoeing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing.

This national park also boasts abundant wildflowers on rolling foothills. Its lowland forests command Douglas fir and Western hemlock trees over 200 years-old that stand 30 stories high. Wildlife includes Cope’s giant salamanders and the endangered Northern spotted owl.

The Northern Cascades National Park, including the Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas, hosts two million acres of federally-designated wilderness and a mountain range so grandiose it’s called the “American Alps.”

Olympic National Park sustains three ecosystems and the largest unmanaged Roosevelt elk herd (Teddy Roosevelt) in the world. Hurricane Ridge provides exciting high winds. The amazing 93-mile Wonderland Trail encircles the mountain, though its steepness confines hiking to only the highly-skilled.

Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area (FDR) is a 154 mile reservoir behind Grand Coulee Dam, and haven for house-boating, fishing, sailing and swimming.

And who can overlook the irrepressible Mount St. Helens, forever famous for its 5.1 Richter scale volcanic eruption on May 18, 1980? Its spewed sediment carved out a “Little Grand Canyon.” There are helicopter tours available along with the Forest Learning Center, which highlights Forest Exhibits and Eruption Theater.

Prefer man-made wonders? Then Seattle fascinates with its world-famous 607 foot high Space Needle atop the revolving SkyCity Restaurant that presents a breathtakingly panoramic view of the city. The Seattle Aquarium has a 400,000 gallon Underwater Dome Tank, where sharks, salmon and rockfish reside. Marvel at the Ocean Oddities’ potpourri exhibit of potbellied seahorses, pinecone fish, flying gurnards, short dragonfish and cowfish.

Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market draws 10 million visitors annually and teems with small family owned restaurants, antique dealers, comic book vendors, etc.

About 35 miles South of Seattle is the Puyallup Fair, which attracts 1 million visitors a year and annually ranks among the country’s top-ten largest fairs.

All of these attractions make Washington a State of Wonders and a must-see tourist extravaganza. Travelers will find many natural as well as manmade sites available that will make a visit to Washington one of their cheaper holidays. Parks, hiking, water activates and museums will make everyone’s pocket book go  long way.


Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany, Italy represents 8,900 square miles of pure cultural phenomenon. It is considered to be the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and home to some of the most influential artistic icons such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. It is also home to Galileo, an Italian mathematician, physicist, philosopher and astronomer who was a huge influence in the Scientific Revolution and is thought by some to be responsible for the beginning of modern science. Very well known for its arts, culinary delights and exemplary Tuscan wine forte, Tuscany is history personified, and the ability to be able to sample even a small part of its architecture, landscapes and overall beauty truly makes it worthy of consideration.

This region of Italy is filled with many stunning attractions and educational sites. These tourist jewels are located in some very popular cities in Tuscany. The city of Pisa is a university town and is known for its Leaning Tower. Visitors can visit the Piazza dei Miracoli which means “Square of Miracle” where the tower, the Cathedral and the Baptistery make up the city’s main lure. You can also visit the Opera del Duomo museum as well as the Camposanto and the Museum of the Sinopie.

The city of Florence, which is the regional Capital of Tuscany, houses some of the most well known works of art in the world. The Accademia museum houses Michelangelo’s David. The Uffizi Gallery is one of the world’s greatest museums housing some of the most famous works of the Renaissance. The Bargello is mainly a sculpture museum. It displays Giambologna’s bronzes, famous works by Donatello, considered to be the “greatest sculpture since antiquity”, and Michelangelo’s marbles.

Siena is referred to as the medieval city. Its famed central piazza called Il Campo is world renowned for the Palio, which is a festival and horse race that occurs twice a year during the summer months. The Island of Elba is the third largest island in Italy, the biggest island of the Tuscan Archipelago and when grouped with eight other islands, it is part of the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago. This is the largest marine park in Europe. From a historical standpoint, the Island of Elba is famous for its role in harboring the French Emperor Napoleon in the year 1814 during his exile. It is also frequented for its azure seas and striking beaches as well as its outdoor water activities such as snorkeling and diving.

As for other things to do in the breath-taking region of Italy, hiking to the Monte Forato located in the Garfagnana area of Tuscany is definitely an option. Bike riding is encouraged and wine tasting of the great Tuscan wines is available to pleasure your palette. For culinary lovers, cooking classes are accessible to learn to make that fabulous pasta from scratch, and for those who just want to relax, check out the thermal baths. The sulphurous waters have healing properties and massages and spa treatments are usually a part of that overall package of rejuvenation.

Thinking of spending some time is this part of Italy? Travelers will find a wide range of hotels, Bed and Breakfast Inns and even Tuscany Villas that will fit all budgets. Sit back, sip a glass of one of Italy’s many fine wines and enjoy the scenery of the Tuscany region.


Dubai, United Arab Emirates Attractions

Dubai, located on the south shore of the Arabian Peninsula, is the second largest of seven emirates known as the United Arab Emirates. Archaeological expeditions have discovered that approximately 4,000 years ago, the area was scattered with small fishing communities along the Arabian Gulf coast, the current site of modern Dubai. Hundreds of artifacts, including pottery and weapons have been unearthed that date civilization to the third millennium B.C. Modern Dubai origins have been traced to the 1830s when the area was settled by a branch of the Bani Yas tribe led by the powerful Maktoum family, descendants of whom continue to rule the emirate today. Its geographical location established Dubai as a vital trading center, from which it grew into a popular international port, attracting international oil interests.

Dubai has developed into a global city, an international business center, and a hub of tourism. With its tropical climate, pristine white sandy beaches, low crime rate and rich cultural history, Holidays to Dubai have become one of the most popular vacation destination sites in the world. The culture of the United Arab Emirates is centered on the traditions of the Islamic religion. Muslims are called to prayer five times each day from the minarets on mosques throughout the country. Conservative clothing is required for tourists visiting public and religious areas. Improper or indecent attire, even on the beaches, is not tolerated.

The city of Dubai is divided into districts, the most popular being the Jumeirah District, close to the beach. Luxurious villas and opulent resort properties grace the area. The Jumeriah Mosque, the largest mosque in Dubai, built in the medieval Fatimia tradition, is open for limited tours and is a spectacular sight at night.

The Burj Khalifa, the world’s largest skyscraper at 2,716 feet, dominates the Dubai skyline. The largest observation deck in the world, located on the 124th floor, offers expansive city and beach views. The Burj Khalifa contains nine luxury hotels and several world-class restaurants. The Burj Al Arab (Tower of the Arabs), one of the most luxurious hotels in the world, is situated on an artificial island 900 feet from the cities most famous beach, connected to land by a private bridge. As the most expensive luxury hotel in the world, room rates vary from $1,000 to $28,000 per night. The innovative architectural design features an expansive boat shape and is visible from anywhere in Dubai. The hotel interior, containing the largest atrium in the world, is home to the Al Muntah and Al Mahara restaurants. The Al Mahara is accessed via a simulated submarine journey, complete with its own seawater aquarium.

The Dubai Marina and Palm Islands should not be missed. Often referred to as the “shopping capital of the Middle East,” Dubai is home to over 70 shopping malls, including the famous Dubai Mall. Shopping prices are best in local souks, where bargaining is expected. Rich in culture and history, Dubai is a delight for all with its water sports, golf courses, indoor ski slopes, museums, fine dining and shopping.


North Carolina, United States

North Carolina is located on the Eastern coast of the United States and has a little bit of everything. Those who want history can find it in cities like Boone and Kitty Hawk, while the adventurers can visit Cherokee and Charlotte. Others can find relaxation in Asheville and sunbathers can revel in Emerald Isle. There is virtually something for everyone.

Boone, North Carolina will appeal to the historians and the adventurers alike. Visitors can mine for gems at the Foggy Mountain Gem Mine. They will also be able to learn about history of this North Carolina town. If hiking is desired, Boone is located right at the base of the mountains so hikes and tours are frequently available.

Kitty Hawk is the home of the first flight. The Wright Brothers Museum brings in many tourists every year to learn about flight. Depending upon the time of the year, there are also festivals and air shows for the whole family to enjoy. This town isn’t just about flight, however. They have quite a nightlife scene and those who like to shop can do so through the many boutique stores.

One of the largest draws to North Carolina is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is the most visited of all of the state parks. It offers hiking, nature trails and even white water rafting. There are many drivable paths, waterfalls and ranger stations with educational workshops. The Park is nestled right between the borders of Cherokee, North Carolina on one side and Gatlinburg, Tennessee on the other.

Asheville is located deep in the mountains where a university town turns into a prime skiing location in the winter. Many relaxing spas are located here, too, making it a great city for romance or relaxation.

NASCAR fans may already know that there is a racetrack in Charlotte, North Carolina as well. There are several races that take place here every year, drawing in thousands of fans. When there isn’t a race, people can go to the Nascar Hall of Fame, something that has opened over the past few years and is constantly evolving. Other visitors to Charlotte enjoy the Southern charm in fine dining restaurants throughout the impressive downtown area. Others will enjoy the botanical gardens and the Museum of History.

North Carolina features beaches, mountains and everything in between so that it will appeal to any traveler. There are few states that offer so much of everything, which is why North Carolina is host to so many festivals and visitors each and every year.


Michigan, United States

Michigan is located in the Northern part of the United States and home to some fairly large landmarks. With over 60,000 lakes and ponds inside of the state, it is also very popular for boating. Michigan is primarily known for being home to four of the five Great lakes as well as home to most of the American car manufacturers. Detroit and Grand Rapids are both key cities to visit when traveling to Michigan, as well as a few key landmarks that would make a trip to the state complete.

Pistons, Red Wings, Tigers, and Lions, Oh My! Sports fans will be in heaven as they head into Detroit because there is a little bit of sports for everyone. Whether it’s baseball, football, basketball or hockey, Detroit has a team. Depending upon the time of year, there is nothing better than seeing live action sports, whether it’s on vacation or a way to pass the weekend along.

For those in Detroit who don’t want to enjoy sports, there are still plenty of other things. Quick access to water will provide plenty of boat tours. There is also the Detroit Zoo, the Walter P. Chrysler Museum and other activities to keep the entire family having fun.

Heading to the other side of the state is Grand Rapids, which can be enjoyed year round, though comes to life during the winter. Resorts come out of the woodwork to offer skiing, snowmobiling and many other ways to enjoy the tons of the snow the Western city receives each year. When snow isn’t on the ground, visitors to the city can enjoy dune buggy rides, museums, golf, fishing and of course – boating.

Virtually any city in Michigan will allow for some time on one of their many lakes. Visitors can participate in various water sports from canoeing and kayaking to water skiing. There are many bed and breakfasts and resorts that feature lakeside views and a way of simply taking in nature and relaxing.

Michigan features a little of both climates – the hot and the cold, so it offers many different sports and things to do year-round. Depending upon how many clothes that are going in the suitcase will help visitors decide what time of year is best for traveling.

Whether it’s to take the entire family on a summer vacation or a romantic getaway, somewhere in Michigan will be calling. It’s a state full of history, sports and everything in between.


Pennsylvania, United States

The state of Pennsylvania is rich in history, culture, and excitement. You can step back in time to the Revolutionary or Civil Wars, visit one of the largest art museums in the country, or ride roller coasters over two hundred feet high. From Philadelphia’s historic district to Gettysburg’s battlefields to the Pittsburgh steel mills, visiting the Keystone State brings the American past to life.

Strolling through Philadelphia’s historic district, you can view the Liberty Bell, visit Independence Hall, or just enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride through cobbled streets. For a taste of culture, visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which houses the second largest collection of arms and armor in the United States. After perusing the exhibits, reenact Rocky Balboa’s famous run up the museum’s seventy-two stone “Rocky Steps”. A little off the beaten track, you can find the Mutter Museum, chock full of medical oddities, including the “Soap Woman”, whose body actually turned to soap after burial.

Gettysburg brings the Civil War to life. Stopping at the Visitors’ center, you can view an interactive full-scale replica of the battlefields. For a fascinating perspective on the battles, from Little Round Top to Pickett’s Charge, hire one of the center’s licensed guides. A full-scale battle reenactment is held each year on the first weekend in July.

Lancaster County, with its rolling green fields, is home to the Amish. Hop aboard a horse-drawn buggy and ride across covered bridges back to simpler times. The scenery of the Amish farmland is dotted with windmills, one-room school houses, and mule teams working the fields.

For those who prefer their vacations spiced with a few thrills, Pennsylvania boasts many amusement parks, including Cedar Point, known as the Roller Coaster Capital of the World. The town of Hershey is a delicious and fun-filled family destination. Splash around in Hersheypark’s new water park, the Boardwalk; then head over to Chocolate World for a free tour, complete with samples.
Winter or summer, recreational activities abound in Pennsylvania, particularly in the scenic Pocono Mountains, 2,400 square miles packed with lakes, rivers, and waterfalls. Skiing, fishing, white water rafting, and hiking are only a few of the outdoor activities available.

So, whether you want to step into the pages of a history book, relax in the back of a horse-drawn buggy, or scream on a roller coaster high above Lake Erie, you can experience your dream vacation in Pennsylvania.


Minnesota, United States

Believe it or not, Minnesota has over 12,000 lakes within its boundaries, not the oft quoted 10,000. That’s not the only surprising thing about the state – Minnesota has so many things to see and do, you may wonder why you didn’t go sooner! In addition to all of the outdoor activities that are offered, Minnesota also boasts the largest shopping mall in the United States. The Mall of America is so large that it contains roller coasters, an aquarium and a miniature golf course; all located indoors. This state has it all.

Whatever your pleasure, you can find it in Minnesota. There are wineries to tour, golf courses to conquer, amusement parks and zoos to enjoy, and all of the outdoor activities you can handle. The scenery and nature scapes in Minnesota are simply breathtaking, and you can experience them all. The mighty Mississippi River even begins it long, snaking journey through the country here. You can hike on wooded trails, ski or snowboard, go snowmobiling, boat on the many rivers and lakes, and see the many caves that abound throughout.

In addition to the fun to be had outside and in, Minnesota offers a unique cultural experience as well. Minneapolis and its twin city, St. Paul, are known far and wide for their fantastic theater. There are a large number of summer theaters that perform all over the state as well. Looking to see some museums while you visit? Minnesota has many of them as well, from the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul to the Drugstore Museum in Saint Peter.

Still not enough things for you to do and see in the state? Here are a few more things that may draw you in. Austin, Minnesota has the free SPAM museum, with over 16,000 square feet dedicated to the caned meat. You can take a horse drawn carriage ride through downtown Minneapolis or visit the America Swedish Institute. The Stone Arch Bridge is a must see as it is the only known bridge of its kind, extending 2,100 feet and made of limestone and granite.

The official state tourism motto is “There’s more to explore in Minnesota”. That statement couldn’t be closer to the truth. Take it from someone who has been several times and will keep going back for more; Minnesota has it all.


New Jersey, United States

No matter where Point “A” is located from the traveler’s view, in New Jersey, it’s always a great starting place to see one of the friendliest states on the eastern seaboard. New Jersey, known as the “Garden State” has over 130 miles of beaches and the world’s best boardwalks. From Sandy Hook to Victorian Cape May, few beaches in the United States compare to those in New Jersey. Stay a week or two in Barnegat, Long Beach Island, Belmar or the now famous “Jersey Shore” town of Seaside Heights and visitors find enough sun, sand, boardwalk restaurants and entertainment spots to delight their fancy. For day trippers, there are beach town museums full of oddities of the earliest days of New Jersey’s great shipping ports. Atlantic City has its casinos and famous boardwalk where salt water taffy, waffle ice cream sandwiches and a wax museum are famous features.

The “Other” New Jersey
New Jerseyans treasure their state parks for good reason. Many have pristine hiking trails along the northern and western borders of the state. Other state parks offer swimming in lakes or camp grounds for camping aficionados. Many of these state parks include an information center with a full calendar of programs the year round. This is where native Leni Lenape artifacts can be found among other treasures like precious prehistoric amber and bounty from shipwrecks off the coast.

Along the Raritan River, there are boat and sailing rentals available as well as several pleasure cruise ships that offer a full day aboard with meals and a cruise along the Raritan and New York Harbor. The other New Jersey is also the place where the inventor Thomas Edison spent his days working on the first light bulb among other inventions. In Camden, you can visit the state aquarium or visit the home of poet Walt Whitman. Another famous poet, Philip Freneau, is honored in the town of Matawan where he spent his days.

New Jersey and The Revolutionary War
Wherever you go in New Jersey, there are Revolutionary War sites. Cities like New Jersey’s capital, Trenton and Monmouth are virtual icons of Washington’s battles across this state. For an upscale view of New Jersey, Princeton is a “must-see” with its quaint shops and haute cuisine restaurants. There’s also the famous Englishtown Auction and Raceway Park not to be missed.


New York, United States

When travelers think about coming to New York they usually imagine Manhattan– Times Square, the Met, and shopping on Fifth Avenue. But the state of New York has so much more to offer visitors, from great shorelines to the Catskill Mountains, to the wine country in the Southern Tier. When you explore the state beyond Central Park, you may fall in love with a New York you never imagined.

Long Island’s Hampton’s offer beaches welcoming in spring and summer and beautiful in fall and winter as well when the crowds have left. It’s an easy drive from the center of the city (avoid rush hours) or take the train or a ferry.

If farmland, orchards, wine country and breathtaking hillsides are your passion, head to upstate New York. In the Catskills nature offers lovely panoramas– especially with fall foliage. At the Canadian border Niagara Falls beckon.

Nearby, the Finger Lakes wine country rolls toward the Pennsylvania border. Local wineries provide tours of their vineyards, and tastings of award-winning wines. If you get as far as Corning, visit the Steuben Museum for glass art treasured around the globe.

The New York State Thruway takes you to Albany, the state capital. Plan a short visit there and take a tour of the statehouse. Leaving the capital you may want to wander the winding back roads to explore picturesque villages tucked away in New York’s gateway to the Berkshire Mountains. Antique shops and country stands sit next to rambling farms set against rolling hills with the mountains rising behind them.

Head east again and follow the edge of the Hudson River Valley leading back to Manhattan. This area has long been the refuge of New York’s elite who built fabulous estates along the river within an hour or so of their midtown offices.

Back in the city, climb to the top of the Empire State Building to take in the fabulous view one last time before you say good-bye to the Empire State. From your perch you may be able to see beyond the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island almost as far as your entire New York itinerary took you– from the Hudson Valley to the upstate highway, and Long Island sound glistening in the sunset.

Close your eyes, and make a promise to return to New York again soon, because there is even more New York for you to explore next time