Sabtu, 07 Maret 2009

vacation to paris

Sabtu, 07 Maret 2009 0

Eiffel Tower from Trocadéro
1. Eiffel Tower. A true Paris icon, like nothing anywhere else in the world – 7th arrondissement. Access by metro line 6 to Trocadero (Bir-Hakeim is closed until 10/03/2008) then it’s just a short walk before you find yourself at the foot of this magnificent monument. Or, a little longer by foot but certainly more impressive is if you take Paris metro line 10 to La Motte-Picquet Grenelle and stroll up the Champ de Mars park for plenty of opportunities to photograph the tower as you approach ever closer. Line 8 Ecole Militaire will bring you even closer to the Champ de Mars parc.

Paris icons - Eiffel Tower Tip:
An interesting photo series you can try from the Eiffel tower is to choose a point (eg. The Champ de Mars, or, on the other side, the Palais de Chaillot in the Jardin du Trocadéro), take a photo and repeat from each level.

Paris icons - Eiffel Tower Tip: To avoid the long lift queues, join the "Tower by Stairs" (escaliers) queue. This way you walk up the stairs to the 1st level and then can take the lifts to the top. It's not too hard and you can go at your own pace. It's cheaper too!

Paris icons - Eiffel Tower Tip: Best time to go? On a Sunday when pollution levels are lowest so views are better and also first thing in morning or later in the evening. Peak tour bus times are 10am – 2pm. Avoid these if possible. Check out Eiffel Tower live webcam.

Notre Dame

2. Notre Dame Cathedral– 4th arrondissement. Access by metro line 4 to Cité which takes you directly onto Île de la Cité (the historical origins of Paris) and brings you to the front of the church. Or, if you prefer, metro line 10 Maubert Mutualité where your first impressions of the church will be its famous buttresses at the rear, viewed from the quaint Pont de L’Archevêché. When you enter the church, please remember and respect that it is a house of worship used daily by locals and visitors... keep your voices down and please do not use flash photography inside the cathedral.

Gargoyles of Notre Dame

Gargoyles – Taking the Notre Dame Tower (Tour) tour is the best way to view these intriguing water spouts and protectors from evil and also enjoy an unique view over the city. If you want to view the gargoyles, entry is from the street Cloître du Notre Dame which runs along side the church. Be prepared, you may have to stand in a queue. Paris Museum Pass is accepted here but you still need to queue. It really is worth the wait. There are many steps and some narrow spots. Take your time and you’ll notice where years of use have worn out the stone. For more info on the tour

Paris Icons - Notre Dame Tower Tour Tip: The Tower Tour is fun for kids! Get them to see if they can spot the elephant and pelican gargoyles.

Notre Dame Bell

Notre Dame Cathedral Bell
The tour also allows you to view the enormous bell in the belfry - housed in timber to absorb the sound waves which would otherwise crack the stone structure! Needless to say that when the bell tolls, to prevent possible deafness, access into the belfry will be denied.

Sacré Cœur
3. Sacré Cœur – 18th Arrondissement. The Basilique du Sacré Cœur is a beautiful white Byzantine-influenced stone basilica, built atop the highest point in the city. This makes the Paris icon stand out day and night. Access is via Paris metro line 2 to Anvers and walking uphill through the colorful, though somewhat touristy, streets of Montmartre. Be prepared to be approached by enterprising individuals trying to sell you goods on your way up the hill. Some are quite persistent. Be firm but polite, keep walking, avoid eye contact, just smile and say “no thank you” (“non merci”) and don't hesitate! Watch out for pickpockets!

Paris Icons - Sacré Cœur Basilica Tip: You can catch the funicular inclinator (covered by metro ticket) situated near the bottom of the hill on the left side (when facing up toward the basilica). This short ride takes you to just below the basilica.

After the hussle and bussle outside, the basilica is a wonderful place for contemplation and peace. Please respect this place of worship by keeping voices down and not using flash photography inside. For a relatively small price, about €5, you can access the basilica dome from the left side of the church for a great view over the city. Be sure to stop and take in the view over Paris on your way out through the main entrance too.

Montmartre-Place du Tetre4. Montmartre District– 18th Arrondissement. Accessible by taking metro line 12 to Abbesses (take note as you exit onto the street, of the Art Nouveau entrance). You can also access by strolling around the side of the Sacré Cœur. With it's colourful history and art at it's heart, this is one of the most vibrant areas of Paris With quaint streets, souvenir shops and many bistros, this definately should be included in Paris' top 10. There’s Place du Tertre, where artists gather to exhibit their artistic talents and sell their fair. Beyond, there is the Dali art gallery/museum (be prepared for an expensive entry fee: €10/A & €6/child). Sure there are a huge number of tacky tourist souvenir shops and people pushing you to buy stuff, but there are also nice galleries & boutique shops.

Go for the atmosphere, experience and exercise!

Paris Icons - Montmartre Portraits TIP:
Caricature Artist-Place du TetreIf you want your portrait drawn as a souvenir, save time and money and opt for a caricature. They're a lot cheaper and more fun – popular with kids! If however, you have the time and prefer a realistic portrait, stroll around and view the work in progress of all the artists before deciding. Be prepared… some take 15mins some take 40mins. Results can be mixed!

5. Louvre– 1st arrondissement. Metro access: line 1 Palais-Royal. Follow the signs to Musée du Louvre, where you will find yourself under the Louvre at the entrance with the shortest queue. The main entrance (with the longest queue) is above, via the pyramid.

The history of the Louvre dates back to the middle ages when it was built as a fortress to defend Paris against raids by the Normans and also the Vikings, who tried to access the city via the Seine. The Louvre Museum now houses an impressive collection of ancient Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan, Roman, Islamic art: sculptures, paintings, prints, furniture and decorative items up to the early 1850's.

The glass pyramid was added in 1989 and drew critism from purists who's arguments revolved around the conflict of architecture between the historic classical style of the museum and modern glass geometry of the pyramid. Some stated that the strking contrast was a successful solution to combine old with new. Either way, the resulting focus was good publicity. The Paris icon recieved even more attention recently by being chosen as the focus in the intrigue of Dan Brown's DaVinci Code...

It's well worth viewing the Mona Lisa -
Louvre Pyramidafterall, it is the world's most famous painting, although most people are unaware of its small size and the fact that it is under glass (to protect it from the moist breaths of the viewing crowds). If you have limited time don’t expect to take in much of this enormous museum and its 35,000 works of art. It would take about a week visiting all day, every day, to see all the contents.
The layout can be somewhat confusing too.

Paris Icons - Louvre TIP 1: This Paris icon is hard on little kids, even if they do get in free (up to 18 years), simply due to the vastness of the collection. After a while even adults can get Louvre overload. The Louvre is better visited if you have a specific subject or two in mind, for example, Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, then a browse around the ancient Egyptian wing.

Paris Icons - Louvre Tip 2: CLOSED Tuesdays! Best times? Monday morning from 9am or every day late evening (shuts 6pm except Wednesdays and Fridays when you’ll have access until 9:30pm). Weekends are busiest. Use your Paris Museum Pass! If you need to buy a ticket just for the Louvre, ask for the permanent exhibitions, which include the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, unless you know exactly what exhibition halls you want to see. Cost depends on time of day and exhibitions viewed. The disabled and families with small children in prams have priority entry. Once you have a ticket you can leave and re-enter for free on the same day until closing. For more info on the Louvre go to Louvre website.

Museé Rodin-The Kiss

6. Museé Rodin – 7th arrondissement. Metro access: line 13 Varenne. The Musée Rodin gives the impression that you are in a personal sanctuary. The building - Hôtel Biron, housing Rodin’s sculptures and also paintings of great French artists from his personal collection, has a real homely feel to it… Rodin actually lived within this establishment. The two levels of rooms are filled with some beautiful, some grotesque, but all vividly real and emotional works.

Rodin's-Pierre de Wissant
The leafy gardens outside are a wonderful backdrop to his emotive sculptures. There are 25 in all, including “The Thinker”, “The Burghers of Calais”, "The Gates of Hell". It’s a place where you will feel more like a visitor than a tourist. A real treat and a must to visit. Take your time here and enjoy!

CLOSED MONDAYS. Admission is free on the first Sunday of every month and always free for children and teenagers up to 18 years. Opens from 9:30am closing hours vary with season, ie. 5:45 spring and summer and one hour earlier in autumn and winter. There is more information on the Musée Rodin website.

Museé d'Orsay Interior

7. Museé d'Orsay – 7th arrondissement. Metro access: line 12 Solférino. The elegant Paris icon and a personal favourite, not only because I love Impressionist art but also because it is one of the most child-friendly and best laid-out art gallery/museums in Paris. There is a sense of real value for money when you enter and view many of the worlds most famous French paintings and sculptures from 1848 to 1914, all in a space that is easily negotiated. Grab a guide, see it all, don't miss a thing!! Got to be part of your Paris top 10!

Four Parts of the World Holding the Selestial Sphere

The beautiful building – originally a train station, Gare d’Orsay, was built on the site of the Palais d’Orsay in time for the 1900 World Fair. It was destined for demolition in the early 70s but saved when the significant architectural design (by Victor Laloux) was recognised and included in the listing of historical monuments. It was opened to the public as a new museum in December 1986 to house artworks from the period where the Louvre museum stops…1850. you can find more historical information, detailed floorplan and exhibit search at the Musée d'Orsay site

Museé d'Orsay entrance
The floor plan is simple; the collected works superb, the interior is spacious, light and elegant. The colours of the impressionist paintings are uplifting and a delight to the senses. As a bonus to your visit, outside on the steps leading to the gallery, there is usually some entertaining street theatre being performed.

Paris Icons - Musée d'Orsay Tip: Kids love the sunken plan of the south bank of Paris lit up under a transparent floor at the back of the museum behind the staircases.

Arc de Triomphe

8. Arc de Triomphe – 8th arrondissement. Metro access: lines 1, 2 and 6 Charles de Gaulle Etoile, or by foot down the leafy Avenue des Champs Elysées. Well worth a visit not only for the historical significance but also because there are not nearly as many flights of stairs as the Eiffel Tower and you can appreciate the surrounding boulevards and architecture because you are not too high up. You can find more info on the Arc de Triomphe site

Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe was authorised for construction by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1806 as a monument to his victories. It was not completed until 1835, long after his death in 1821. Today it serves as the national war memorial with the light of the eternal flame at its base and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath.

Arc de Triomphe

There is a sub-street pedestrian tunnel which allows you to emerge out onto the “island” refuge unaffected by the surrounding traffic chaos. It’s amazing to stand and just take a moment to watch drivers negotiate this roundabout with its 12 point entry/exit – which explains the name Place de l’Etoile, or affectionately: l'Etoile ("the star")!

Ave des Champs Elysées

9. Avenue des Champs Elysées – 8th arrondissement. North-west access from Metro station Charles de Gaulle Etoile or south-east access from metro station Concord. This leafy, broad avenue is a great for a stroll either returning to the centre of Paris from the Arc de Triomphe or heading towards the Arc de Triomphe from the Jardin des Tuileries. Over the years fast food and other global establishments have taken some of the charm out of the avenue but it’s still pleasant to walk down one of the worlds most expensive stretches of real-estate and do some window shopping.

Flanked for the most part by plane trees (thanks to the foresight of Marie de Medicis in the early 1600s), the length of the avenue is just under 2kms. It can be considered very much a Paris icon, as it plays centre stage for many important dates in the French calendar: events such as the last leg of the Tour de France, the Bastille Day military marches and New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Paris Flower Market

10. Paris Markets – Not exactly a Paris icon, but certainly a "must do" when in France. A Paris market can be found in every arrondissement. Paris markets are a must to experience, whether it’s the food market, flea market or flower market, it’s a quintessential Parisian experience, full of atmosphere and colourful characters.

Paris Food MarketThe food markets are worth a visit just to see the beautiful displays of the finest and freshest produce. Don’t hesitate to complete the experience and buy like a local. If the language is a concern just gesticulate, for instance, if you would like to sample some cherries just mime a handful and point at the cherries, but NEVER forget to say “bonjour monsieur/madame” first and “merci, au revoir” after paying.

Germany - Vacation Destination

Enlarge image
(© dpa)
Germany is becoming an increasingly attractive holiday destination for guests from overseas. In 2007 a total of 55 million overnight stays by foreign guests were recorded, even more than in 2006 when the country hosted the Football World Cup. It’s interesting to note that most of the guests hailed from the Netherlands, followed by the United States and Britain. Although most visitors from abroad head for the German cities and above all, the capital Berlin, interest in the classic German holiday destinations grows apace. Here is a brief – by no means exhaustive - overview.

Bavaria tops the table as far as the popularity of German federal states is concerned. Munich and the Royal Court brewery, the Bavarian alps and lakes, the castles of King Ludwig II, Nuremberg and its Christmas market along with Bayreuth and its Wagner Festival pull in the crowds every year. The local tourist industry nevertheless tries to come up with something innovative every year. “Hiking on the Maximilian way” is among the new attractions. For 360 kilometres the route follows in the footsteps of Bavarian monarch Maximilian II. who is believed to have traversed the path in the summer of 1858. It takes walkers along the edge of the Alps from Lindau to Sonthofen and Fuessen to Berchtesgaden. A little farther to the north hikers can follow the Limes long distance footpath on a route taken by the Romans. The route is flanked by Roman baths which have been excavated along with reconstructed towers and forts. (Internet:,,

North Sea and Baltic: Three federal states share the North German coastline: Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The last mentioned contains Germany’s largest island of Ruegen which can boast the most rapid growth of recent years. One of the current trends is towards “holidays up North” and guests from overseas are fascinated by the typical canopied beach chairs which holidaymakers use to protect them from wind, rain and too much sun . The area is also home to Germany’s oldest seaside resort of Heiligendamm which made world headlines in 2007 when it was the venue for the G8 Summit. By the way, Germany’s most famous island is still Sylt on the North Sea which has managed to absorb a growing number of visitors while retaining its reputation as a haunt of the rich and famous. Cyclists in the region can now enjoy the “Viking-Friesian-Way” which guides them for more than 180 kilometres from Maasholm on the Baltic to St.Peter-Ording on the North Sea. (Internet:

Black Forest and Lake Constance: Mainau, the island of flowers, is visited by a million guests a year, making it one of the most popular holiday destinations in the land. The climate around Lake Constance is so mild that millions of bulbs start to come out in early Spring. In summer visitors relax under palm trees and sequoias while the season of roses and dahlias lasts until late autumn. The landscape was created by Swedish baron Graf Lennart Bernadotte who arrived on the island in 1932. He died in 2004 aged 95 years. Not far away from Germany’s largest freshwater lake lies the Black Forest with its picturesque stretches of water and woodlands. Mountain bikers can conquer an overall altitude difference of 15,000 metres on a new route through the region. For those who prefer to take things a little easier, some of Germany’s best wines grow in the hills of the Kaiserstuhl, literally the emperor’s chair, along the Upper Rhine. (Internet:,,

The Rhine Valley: The Rhine river has been an important waterway from North to South for thousands of years, as evidenced by the towns, ruined fortifications and castles along its banks. Since 2002 the stretch between Bingen and Koblenz, which is often known as the Rhine Gorge, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For hikers a network of paths known literally as “dream paths” has been created. The most popular visitor sites in these parts are the steep banks at St. Goarshausen, the Loreley rock with its breathtaking views which was immortalised by the poet Heinrich Heine: “I don't know what it may signify ...“ In the summer months the region attracts visitors to its historic markets, castle festivals and jousting re-enactments to take a step back in time to the Middle Ages. (Internet:,

Dresden and the Elbe Valley: The Church of Our Lady, The Semperoper opera house, the Green Vault – following extensive restoration of its most famous landmarks, Dresden is enjoying more visitors than ever before. But the city also has much more to offer. Film nights along banks of the Elbe, picnics to the sound of classical music, the 10th Dresdner City Festival from August 15 to 17, a rally for children retracing the steps of writer Erich Kaestner - and the chance to sample some marvellous excursions into the surrounding countryside. As a wine producing region Saxony is enjoying a revival. The around 55-kilometre-long Saxony Wine Route between Pirna and Dießbar-Seußlitz takes visitors past celebrated wineries and magnificent castles. In Pirna, where the River Elbe takes its leave of the Sandstone mountains, the sights include the historic marketplace, St. Mary’s Church and the Canaletto House. Close by is the town of Meissen, where the federal state-owned porcelain factory is among the area’s top attractions. (Internet:,,



In the last few decades, after strife in the country has settled, Malaysia tourism has kicked off. Many are now booking a Malaysia vacation to enjoy the many appealing natural wonders, historical monuments, big city delights and modern conveniences that can be found all over the country. Extreme contrasts come together in a unique blend of ethnic backgrounds which contribute to all things excellent about Malaysia and make up this gastronomical paradise with each unique cultural aspect forming one national identity.

When visiting Malaysia travel often starts in the capital of Kuala Lumpur. The biggest attraction here is the Petronas Twin Towers, one of the tallest buildings in the world. A short trip away is the mysterious Batu Caves which is lit up by colorful parades during Hindu festivals and events. Public transportation is fast, efficient and inexpensive. The city is replete with eclectic shopping, magnificent temples, welcoming locals, excellent restaurants, a huge array of Kuala Lumpur hotels and animated streets and avenues.

The island of Borneo sees thousands of tourists each year wanting to experience the incredible natural wonders of the island during Malaysia travel experiences. The Borneo rainforest is one of the biggest attractions in Malaysia tourism drawing many to Sabah who have long-dreamt of exploring the vast rainforest and experiencing the sights and sounds of magnificent flora and fauna blanketing the area. Tourists normally head to the charming city of Kota Kinabalu to kick off their Malaysia vacation.

With a solid infrastructure in the form of many fantastic Kota Kinabalu hotels, restaurants and attractions the city is a pleasant one for a Malaysia tour and offers a host of things to do during a Malaysia tour. Another major attraction during Malaysia travel in Borneo is climbing Mount Kinabalu which is a rigorous journey ascending thousands of feet. Stunning views of the area can be experienced at the summit. Sarawak, with Kuching as the capital, is the lesser known of the two states yet rivals Sabah’s beauty. Networks of intricate rivers, ancient rainforests, stunning beaches and a diversity of indigenous people define the state.

In the province of Kedah, Pulau Paya Marine Park flaunts natural wonders as far as the eye can see. Penang boasts the epitome of island life for a relaxing Malaysia tour among some of the most spectacular beaches in Malaysia. Malaysia spas, beaches, water sports, world class hotels, excellent dining, plenty of outdoor activities and more await on this idyllic slice of paradise.

With a graceful mix of old fishing settlements and Malaysia resorts, Pangkor Island is acclaimed to be one of the best island getaways for Malaysia travel on the western peninsula. The state of Perak is home to Ipoh and is where the Main Range mountains stand in dramatic contrast to the flat plains. The Genting Highlands border Selangor and Pahang. On the southwest side of the country lies Malacca, one of the country’s smallest yet most important states. Rich with history and heritage, it remains a top destination for Malaysia tourism for its numerous museums and fantastic food.

Charming fishing villages, huge national parks and beautiful plantations characterize the state of Johor Bahru which acts as the gateway to Singapore. The central state of Pahang is the largest in the nation and is replete with lush, green rainforest covering two-thirds of the area. The beautiful Cameron Highlands is one of the most popular spots in Pahang next to Taman Negara National Park which is one of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world. Terengganu is situated on the east coast where some of the most beautiful, pristine beaches can be found for a tranquil Malaysia vacation experience. North west of Terengganu lies the heart of Malay religion, culture and crafts. At the very northern tip, to the east of Langkawi, lies the tiny yet quaint state of Perli exuding a charm and quaint beauty unlike anywhere else in the country.


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Australia and New Zealand Cruise Vacation

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If you've ever dreamed of an exotic cruise then your dreams can come true! Take an Australia and New Zealand cruise to the most exciting and enchanting destinations in the South Pacific. Australia and New Zealand are an incredibly diverse lands inhabited by extraordinary flora and fauna – bastions of rainforest, immense mangrove communities and irreplaceable plant species of countless genera, birds of every imaginable color, intriguing marsupials and bizarre amphibians, monster fish with renown fighting ability and even more celebrated eating quality, and, not forgetting the infamous crocodile! Australia and New Zealand are the home of kangaroos, koalas and kiwis - and the islands. Cuddle a koala and meet some of Australia's other native animals, including kangaroos, kiwis and cockatoos, wouldn’t it be fun? Sydney is Australia's oldest city. It's blessed with sun-drenched natural attractions, dizzy skyscrapers, delicious and daring restaurants, superb shopping and friendly folk. You can take a tour of one of Australia's most famous architectural icons, the spectacular Sydney Opera House one night and then meet Crocodile Dundee the next. You will have to re-think your grasp of geography in this huge country. Australia's biggest attraction is its natural beauty. The landscape varies from endless sun baked horizons to dense tropical rainforest to chilly southern beaches. Australia remains as one of the world’s truly unique wilderness areas - a wild and beautiful panorama of rugged mountain ranges, spectacular gorges and majestic waterfalls. New Zealand is a spectacularly beautiful country which possesses vast mountain chains, steaming volcanoes, sweeping coastlines and lush rainforests. New Zealand cities are safe and friendly places, yet the night life, restaurants, theater and art are lively and varied. Wellington is a capital of New Zealand, the best place to start exploring is north of the country. It's a great city and offers everything one desires. The land is not only proud of the unique flora and fauna it possesses, but is also a great landscape that is full of unrivalled variety of landforms. While exploring the beautiful confines of New Zealand one can view everything from mountain ranges to sandy beaches, lush rainforests, glaciers and active volcanoes. Visiting Australia and New Zealand without taking an Australia and New Zealand cruise is missing an important part of the Australia and New Zealand experience. More our clients than ever before are discovering how much Australia and New Zealand have to offer cruise.
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