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My three week language learning adventure in Sicily had officially come to an end: my last full day on this island had arrived. My explorations in the Milazzo area were over and early in the morning I started packing my suitcase and organizing myself. Around 10 am I went straight downstairs to the offices of Laboratorio Linguistico, the language school where I had spent the last 10 days, which included a once-in-a-lifetime experience of sailing around the Eolian Islands off t...

Hello From Sicily: My Last Day In Catania

Hello From Sicily: My Last Day In CataniaMy three week language learning adventure in Sicily had officially come to an end: my last full day on this island had arrived. My explorations in the Milazzo area were over and early in the morning I started packing my suitcase and organizing myself. Around 10 am I went straight downstairs to the offices of Laboratorio Linguistico, the language school where I had spent the last 10 days, which included a once-in-a-lifetime experience of sailing around the Eolian Islands off the coast of Sicily. I thanked and said goodbye to Francesca, Sonia and Franco, a few of the team members who had made my stay here so pleasant.Then I was already late for my bus to Messina from where I would need to catch another bus or a train to Catania, the second largest city in Sicily. The bus ride was comfortable and let me catch another glimpse of the verdant north coast of the island. We drove down the hills towards the downtown of Messina, the third largest urban area of Sicily and one of the islands main port cities. Ferries run from here across the Straight of Messina to Villa San Giovanni and Reggio di Calabria on the Italian mainland. At the narrowest point the Straight of Messina is only 3 km wide.Like most places in Sicily, Messina looks back on thousands of years of history. It was founded by Greek colonists as a city called Messene in the 8th century B.C. Many civilizations followed suit: the Mamertines, Carthaginians, Romans, Goths, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Spanish and the French. Messina is said to have been the port of entry of the Black Death when a Genoese ship arrived on a journey from Palestine in 1347.Messinas biggest chapter in history arrived on December 28, 1908 when an earthquake leveled the city almost completely. About 60,000 people were killed and most of the ancient architecture was destroyed. During World War II Messina experienced massive bombardments by the American Air Force. Today the citys main economic driving force is the port and surrounding areas feature extensive cultivations of citrus fruits, vegetables and wine.I unfortunately did not have time to explore Messina. Upon arrival I decided that I would take a train instead of a bus to Catania and walked a few hundred meters to the train station. I generally prefer trains over buses since you have a lot more space and can get up and walk around. A few minutes later I had my ticket (which had cost just a few Euros) and was ready for my two-hour train trip to Catania. I settled in comfortably and rolled past some of the places I had gotten to know so well: Mazzaro, Taormina, Isola Bella and Giardini Naxos came into view. Mount Etna made an appearance and provided a solid cone-shaped anchor in a fertile spring landscape.Around mid-afternoon I arrived at Catania and found directions to my abode for the last day: Holland International is a very simple hotel located about 10 minutes from the train station, an affordable budget accommodation which was going to be good enough for the night. From the Train Station at Piazza Papa Giovanni XXIII I pulled my suitcase to Via Vittorio Emanuele where I found an imposing baroque building with an interior courtyard. Holland International is located at the back of the courtyard up the stairs. I briefly talked to the owner, who is originally from Holland, and he gave me the keys to my simple 35 Euro room. Basically furnished with a shared bathroom down the hallway, this room would do the trick for tonight. He also provided me with instructions of how to get to the bus stop for the airport bus tomorrow morning.Located at the foot of Mount Etna, Catania has been buried seven times throughout history and the remains of the Ancient Greek and Roman Cities can still be found in layers underneath todays city. Many of the buildings are baroque and Catania has many imposing churches and palaces.I dumped my luggage and started on my exploration of Catania. I started walking the along the major thoroughfare and cut into some side streets where I found the famous Teatro Massimo Bellini. The composer Vincenzo Bellini was born in this city, and this theatre, inaugurated in 1890 and highly renowned, was named after him.My stroll continued and I had a peek into some of the hidden courtyards. The streets were fairly narrow and people were congregating in the streets to chat and do various chores. On this rather hot day I was looking to cool off and desperately wanted to find some green space to sit down and relax in. The houses in Catania are built very closely together and there are hardly any trees or small parks to be found. I was fortunate though and located Giardino Bellini, the citys largest park. Its elevated terraces feature beautiful city views and a central Art Nouveau band stand anchors a public place that features refreshment booths and benches along the edge. Looking north I caught a great glimpse at the imposing silhouette of Mount Etna.After a brief rest I walked down some stairs, past the Teatro Metropolitano, to Via Etnea, Catanias largest shopping street. On this rather expansive thoroughfare, designer store after designer store are located next to one another and the locals are busy shopping. On the Piazza Stesicoro, an extensive public space with many vending booths, I walked eastwards past a row of modern buildings back to the train station. There I decided to just hop into a local bus and see where it might take me.I love to use public transport in any foreign city because you get a real flavour of the people and you cover more ground than walking. Its a great and affordable sightseeing tool. Seniors were returning from shopping, office workers were on their way home and teenagers were enjoying their freedom and playing rambunctious games on the bus. The ride took me through downtown, on Via Etnea into the residential areas in the foothills of Mount Etna, where there was a bit more space between the houses. Trees and shrubs were starting to make an appearance and it felt that there was more breathing room compared to the narrow grid of streets downtown. About an hour and a half later I hopped off the bus and found a nice little table in a caf right opposite the Teatro Bellini. I had a light snack and enjoyed watching the passers-by from my little perch in front of this historic theatre.Rather exhausted from my many days of adventures I decided to retreat back to my hotel room and get organized for my 6:20 am departure tomorrow morning. I downloaded my pictures and went through the photos that I had shot over the last three weeks and thought that Sicily is a true feast for the senses. This extended Italian language study trip was definitely worth it: from my first 8 days in beautiful Taormina and my excursions to Siracusa and my drive around Mount Etna to my 7 days on a sailboat, cruising through the Eolian Islands, to my local discoveries around Milazzo, Cefalu and the Nebrodi Mountains, I concluded that Sicily is definitely one of the most diverse and beautiful places I have ever visited. Ill be back for sure

Tourism Season In Full Bloom On Prince Edward Island

Tourism Season In Full Bloom On Prince Edward Island

Tourism is in full bloom on Prince Edward Island so it only makes sense that along with it youll discover the Lady Slipper, the provinces official but delicate flower that blooms in late May and early June.Flora and fauna abound, not the least of which includes the closely cropped fairways and greens of the world renowned golf courses that populate this gentle island. Over26 on an land surface just over 2100 square miles. With a course for every golfer, from world class to recreational, Prince Edward Island has all the makings of a golf vacation dream.While certainly a mainstay of the tourism season, golf is not the only reason to visit the pretty island. A summer vacation on Prince Edward Island offers an abundance of sun, surf and sand. So much sand, in fact, that it comes in your choice of white, champagne, pink or red. And the waves rolling onto the shore are some of the warmest waters youll find north of the Carolinas. From those waters comes an abundance of ocean life vast and varied. For the foodie, Prince Edward Island offers up a smorgasbord of culinary delights to tempt any palate. Though there are only two lobster seasons on the island; one in the spring and the other in the fall, Island speciality. Island lobster suppers server fresh lobster from their salt water storage all summer long.And then there are the clams. For the perfect bowl of clam chowder, potatoes serve as a natural thickening agent and Prince Edward Island potatoes are the worlds finest. Add to the mix any number of farm fresh products, including your choice of vegetables and dairy products, and the flavour of your vacation will linger on the palate almost as long as it stays in your memory.On any PEI menu you will find fish. Haddock, halibut and sole are most common. But on this gentle island, youre hardly limited to only fish from the sea. Brook and rainbow trout are also available.Once on this island, it is not only the food and the golf that will capture your attention during this high tourism season, it is also its rustic nature. A rich maritime and farming history come together to provide a sensibility that is at once sage and weathered, yet eternally optimistic. It is perhaps for that reason the Prince Edward Island is the birthplace of Confederation in Canada. No small feat for this island, the smallest of Canadas provinces.Its rich heritage and island location naturally lend itself to a unique shopping experience. Antiques abound and so too do arts and crafts related products. From quilts to pottery, woodworking and woven tapestries, traditional artisans offer up a shopping experience as simple, or as sophisticated as you desire.These are the treasures of Prince Edward Island. These and so much more. Whether you find yourself on this gentle island at the height of the tourism season, for an extended stay or for a romantic getaway, Prince Edward Island offers riches for the spirit and the soul.

Maui Vacation Villas: The Importance Of Proper Research

Maui Vacation Villas: The Importance Of Proper Research

Are you in the process of planning your next Maui vacation? If you are and if you are interested in staying in luxury, you may want to book a stay at a Maui villa. "Maui villa" s are known for their privacy, beauty, elegance, and luxury.When it comes to finding a Maui vacation villa to rent, you will find that you have a number of different options. In addition to coming in a number of different sizes, "Maui villas" are located all across the island of Maui and they often have different features. Choosing the Maui villa of your dreams should be relatively easy task, but it will or at least it should require a little bit of research on your part.In addition to helping you book the Maui vacation rental of your dreams, proper research will also help you know what to expect. For instance, research will allow you to determine if you will gain access to a swimming pool or a hot tub and it will also let you know if you will have an ocean view, before you actually arrive at your Maui villa. This is nice, as you will not be disappointed in your rental if you already know what you are getting. That is why it is advised that you do the proper research before making any Maui vacation villa reservations.Speaking of research, you may want to know how you can do so and what you should look for. For starters, you will want to thoroughly read all Mau villa descriptions. This is extremely important, especially when it comes to villa features. In descriptions, you will find out which Maui villas have swimming pools, hot tubs, onsite staff members, and so forth. This is where you are truly able to find the Maui villa of your dreams. When examining all Maui vacation villa descriptions, namely the rental features, be sure to keep your wants and needs in mind.You will also find that most Maui vacation villa descriptions outline any rules and restrictions that may exist. For instance, this is where you may find information on security deposits, additional fees, smoking, and maximum allowed guests. Reading all Maui villa descriptions will any to prevent any surprises come vacation day. Not only will you know what you can expect, but you should be able to get an accurate grand, total for the cost of renting a Maui villa, including all applicable fees and security deposits.In addition to reading all descriptions, concerning Maui vacation villass, you will also want to examine all pictures. Most vacation villa owners and travel websites will provide you with a minimum of two or three pictures. You will want to closely examine these pictures, as they can help you find the "Maui vacation villas" of your dreams. If you are looking to take a romantic getaway, appearance and the ability to create a romantic environment may be of great importance to you. Pictures will also help to prevent disappointment, as you should know what to expect.Returning to the benefits of doing the proper research, when it comes to examining Maui vacation villass, you should know that it is easy to do. In fact, you dont have to do much work at all. If you visit online travel websites, especially those that focus on Hawaii vacation rentals, you should find everything that you need. Most websites allow you to browse through or search for Maui vacation rentals, including Maui vacation villass. You should see a listing page, which should detail each Maui vacation villas available for rental. There, you will find a host of information, including rental costs, security deposits, additional fees, rental descriptions, features, as well as any information on rules and restrictions. If you still have any unanswered questions, you should be able to contact a customer service representative for assistance.As outlined above, it is important that you thoroughly research all Maui vacation villass, especially before you make your reservations. By properly researching and examining all of your options, you are more likely to choose the Maui vacation villa that is best for you and your vacation needs. In fact, you may, literally, end up with the villa of your dreams.

Mom's Ideal Vacation: A Dude Ranch

Mom

Where can a mom go on vacation, spend quality time with her kids and her spouse -- and still indulge in unique activities she enjoys? A Colorado dude ranch. That may seem odd, especially if you think ranches are only about roping cattle, riding horses and campfire cooking. But most guest ranches today have more in common with world-class resorts than working cattle ranches. Today's Colorado dude and guest ranches offer moms and their families comfortable accommodations, gourmet meals that feature special children's menus and well-trained wranglers who organize exciting programs for everyone."Colorado ranch owners say that moms consistently rank dude ranches as the best vacations they've ever had," said Charles Henry, executive director of the Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association in Granby, Colo. "The big draw for moms is being able to spend time with their families and pursue their own interests, too, while ranch staff handle all the details. All of this adds up to a real break for them." Opportunities for quality family time abound at dude ranches, whether a mom wants to do something special with each child or keep the whole clan together. For example, the 34 ranches certified by the Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association offer everything from horseback riding, river rafting, swimming, fishing, hiking, tennis and mountain biking to crafts, photo workshops and hay rides.Most also offer massages and hot tubs to soothe sore muscles. And when moms spot an activity they'd like to do on their own, wranglers are on hand to entertain the kids. Ranch staff members plan all of the meals and organize activities.In addition, guest ranches provide personal touches that big hotels and resorts can't match. Ranch owners and staff quickly get to know their guests' preferences because they interact closely with them every day. "Ranch owners take real pride in making sure their guests have a spectacular vacation," Henry said. Even with all the services and personal attention at dude ranches, moms can relax about the budget. Most guest ranches are all-inclusive, so lodging, meals and activities are covered in the weekly rates.The only worry a mom will have on a Colorado guest ranch is how to take advantage of everything it has to offer. Now that's a vacation!

A Brief History Of Chesterfield

Chesterfield started out as a Roman fort and was built approximately 70 AD. The Romans probably settled here because the area was extremely rich in natural minerals like tin, lead and coal. The Roman fort later was discovered to have also been built on an old iron-age fort. It is believed that by the early 2nd century the Romans had no longer a need for the fort and moved on leaving it abandoned.The town was later named by the Saxons. Their name for a Roman fort was caester and they called the wide open fields where cattle grazed a Feld. So when the Saxons arrived and settled they called the area Caester Feld which by the 10th Century was changed to Chesterfield. By now though, the small settlement had swiftly grown into a thriving village. It took two centuries for Chesterfield to become a thriving town. A Charter granted by King John in 1204 gave the Lord of The Manor the right to hold regular markets and even a fair, which lasted for 8 days during September, once a year.In 2004 Chesterfields Open Air Market celebrated its 800th Anniversary of its official opening.As time went on life was not always perfect in Chesterfield. Its main industry in the middle ages was the making of wool although leather was prominent too with plenty of Skinners, Tanners, Glovers and Saddlers. The wool industry thrived until the 17th Century before dying out but the leather work continued to prosper until the 18th Century.None of this was to help with the many diseases that were around though. Leprosy hit the area so bad that a Leper hostel dedicated to St Leonard had to be built. Then just like everywhere else in the sixteenth century the Black Death struck. There was a severe outbreak in 1586-1587and unluckily, Chesterfield was hit again in 1608.Chesterfield was slightly oblivious to the industrial revolution of the 18th Century but slowly continued to grow with the help of better communications helped by the building of TurnPike roads, the chesterfield canal and the arrival of rail, courtesy of George Stephenson, who lived at Tapton House from 1838 1848 and is now buried in the Holy Trinity Church.In 1892 the boundary of the borough was changed and the nearby settlement of Brampton became part of Chesterfield. This was the first of many changes and a sign that Chesterfield was a thriving and growing town. By this time it had its own independent police force and fire brigade.Many more changes were soon to come along starting with the introduction of Electric street lights and trams, which were soon ditched, as Chesterfield finally caught up with its neighbouring towns and joined in with the industrial revolution. The 20th Century had arrived.With the introduction of Council houses in the 20s and 30s, the further boundary changes bringing Hasland and Newbold into the folds of Chesterfield and the building of the new Town Hall(1938),Pomegranate Theatre ( 1949) and The Nth Derbyshire Royal Hospital (1984), Chesterfield started to look much the same as it does today.To date Chesterfield boasts, as well as its traditional markets, a Shopping centre opened in 1981 as well as an even newer Shopping centre opened in 2000 as tourism of the peak district and the retail industry have taken precedent over the failing manufacturing industry.So there you have it a brief history of Chesterfield.One now wonders what will the current hi tech world of computers and the internet have in store for this Historic Market Town.

About San Diego

If you're planning on visiting San Diego, Pacific Beach is the place to be. Of course, there's sun & surf (as you'd get anywhere in San Diego) but during your visit make sure to visit some of the local hangouts that are sure to make it a memorable experience. Here are a few suggestions:The Pacific Beach Farmers MarketEvery Saturday morning from 8AM to 12:00 noon, Check out the fantastic fresh produce and flowers at The Promenade Mall. 4190 Mission Blvd Pacific Beach 92109Places to eatEnjoy wonderful Italian quisine in Pacific Beach at Caffe Bella Italia. Most locals claime it to be "THE BEST" they've ever had. There are always great specials, and the wine selection is immense. It will surely make for a memorable date. Located at 1525 Garnet. Walk-ins OK. Phone: 858-273-1224The newest addition to Garnet Avenue is Lomonz Rostizado -- which has crossed the border to bring authentic Mexican flair, rotisserie-style. It is known as the "healthy alternative to the status quo" Check them out at 978 Garnet Ave. or at www.rostizados.comPlaces to stayIf you're looking for a place to stay, the Hyatt Regency Islandia is a unique find among San Diego hotels. Picture a landscaped resort setting in the heart of Mission Bay Park, offering panoramic views of the marina and the Pacific Ocean. Of Mission Bay hotels, ours is closest to Sea World, where you can have fun in the sun with your ocean-dwelling friends. The Hyatt Regency Islandia is pleased to announce its $60 million transformation, which is planned to be completed by September of 2007. The renovation includes newly appointed guestrooms, a full service spa, multiple swimming pools with waterslides, a new waterfront signature restaurant and a redesigned dynamic lobby.Visiting Sea World? When looking for a San Diego hotel near Sea World for your vacation, location is everything. The Holiday Inn San Diego Sea World is a premier hotel that has always been known for its ideal location near Sea World San Diego. We are just one mile from Sea World and only three miles from the World Famous San Diego Zoo. Their convenient location is just the beginning! We have affordable San Diego vacation packages for both Sea World and the Zoo, and kids always stay and eat free! So if you're looking for a great hotel, look no further than Holiday Inn San Diego Sea World!

Summary

My three week language learning adventure in Sicily had officially come to an end: my last full day on this island had arrived. My explorations in the Milazzo area were over and early in the morning I started packing my suitcase and organizing myself. Around 10 am I went straight downstairs to the offices of Laboratorio Linguistico, the language school where I had spent the last 10 days, which included a once-in-a-lifetime experience of sailing around the Eolian Islands off t...