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Italy has many well-known travel destinations such as Rome. Less publicized destinations such as Siena are even better.

Siena, Italy Medieval Life and Horse Racing

Siena, Italy  Medieval Life and Horse RacingItaly has many well-known travel destinations such as Rome. Less publicized destinations such as Siena are even better. SiennaLocated roughly an hour outside of Florence, Siena is one of my favorite places in Italy. When you think gothic architecture and medieval town, you think of Siena. Built as a fortified city behind large, thick walls on a small mountain, Siena oozes history. Cars are barred from much of the city, so you can meander down ancient brick alleyways below towering wall-to-wall residences. In Siena, youll find a relaxed way of life, two music schools and just a general feel of what Italy must have been like in the past. Head to the Piazza del Campo in the heart of the city and grab a seat in a caf. As you gaze across the city, you can view the Duomo Cathedral that towers over the city. Unlike other cities, the cathedral does not contrast with the buildings around it. All of Siena retains the gothic medieval architectural style and youll be hard pressed to find a better gothic example in Europe. The best way to experience Siena is to simply stay there. Like wine, Siena improves the longer you stay. Daily explorations lead to surprising little shops, incredibly friendly people and a general feeling of peace. Il PalioIf you prefer a little action on your trip, Siena has an event that rivals any in Europe. The Il Palio bareback horse race around the Piazza del Campo is a sight to be seen. The fun starts well before the race when various neighborhoods challenge each other. The challenge comes in the form of bands walking through enemy neighborhoods in the middle of the night and making an unholy racket. Eventually, each neighborhood produces a horse and rider for the day of the race. Bareback, the riders race for neighborhood pride among an absolutely screaming crowd of people. The running of the bulls has nothing on this event. If you visit Florence while in Italy, take the time to spend a couple days in Siena. In fact, blow past Florence and go immediately to Siena.

Siberia, Russia Part 1 - Here I Come!

Siberia, Russia Part 1 - Here I Come!

You must really hate this job. Thats what my boss said when I told him I was moving from San Diego to Siberia for a year. In reality, I was bored and looking for something that would be completely and utterly new. Whether it was sunstroke or a developing tolerance to margaritas, San Diego just wasnt cutting it anymore. Heck, I hadnt even gone to the beach in nine months and it was only a few blocks away. Time to rediscover a zest for life.As you are doing now, I trolled the Internet looking for that rare opportunity that would renew my vigor and let me brag to my domesticated friends. Pick coffee in the South Pacific? No, I already drink too much of it. Sail around the world on a container ship? No, I wasnt ready for involuntary self-reflection. Before I knew it, I had agreed to move to a city in Siberia known as Chita. Yes, I was going to be a professor at Chita State Technical University through a program put together by Siberian Intercultural Bridges. Donate - they need the money: http://www.siberian-bridges.org.So, what does one take for a one-year stay in Siberia? Why, Ill just go buy a guidebook on Siberia and read the what to take section. My search of the local mega bookstore was disappointing. Shockingly, there were no guidebooks for Siberia. I was tempted to write a nasty letter to Lonely Planet and others until the bookstore clerk said, Youre going WHERE? When she started giving me the you must be a criminal on the run look, it was time to go.Fortunately, I was able to find experienced travelers that could provide me with the details and items that were absolutely necessary. My girlfriend gave me the all-important electric blanket, a power converter and intimate details about what would happen to me if I should dare share it with another women. Grandpa gave me a World War II down coat that was about three sizes to big and made me look like a walking gopher. Family, friends and random strangers contributed further items and advice that would be critical to my survival.Apparently rating my chances of survival at 50-50, friends and family put together a going away/never see him again party the day before I left. Of course, everyone brought Vodka as a humorous going away gift. The tide quickly turned, however, as all were asked/forced to try a taste of Russia. Many of the events of that night will remain forever sealed in antiquity, but it should suffice to say that the wife of one friend went into labor which made it a very fun night and subsequent day for him at the hospital. Few got off so easily.Gigantic backpack, electric blanket, hangover and I headed to the airport the next morning. But thats a story for part 2 of this nomad adventure travel series

Breaking In Your Hiking Boots In San Diego

Breaking In Your Hiking Boots In San Diego

Having grown up in San Diego, I am amazed at how packed and hectic it has become. Hiking for few hours gives you a chance to enjoy the area without the rat race element. Breaking In Your Hiking Boots In San DiegoIt is Friday afternoon and you are sitting in rush hour traffic on I-5 going north, I-8 going east or one of the other lovely commutes. You have time on your hands, so you start day dreaming. You start wondering if it was always this busy in San Diego? Perhaps it is even time to think of relocating? Easy my friend, a few hours in your hiking boots will renew your faith in our politically corrupt, expensive slice of paradise.The first of the treks worth your time is the beach hike. It is relaxing, easy and will remind you why it is great to live in San Diego. You can start and stop just about anywhere. A personal favorite is to head north starting at the beach in front of restaurant row in Cardiff. Depending on how far you want to go, you can just cruise up past Swamis through Encinitas and up into relaxing Leucadia. The really great thing is you can just pop up off the beach and take in lunch on a patio whenever you feel like it. If you are looking more for a hikers hike, there are plenty to fit the bill. A trip up the San Diego River, particularly in spring, is candy for the eyes. No, I am not talking about the section of the river down in the city. Instead, we are looking at the area out by Ramona. This is a 10 mile hike that takes 10 hours or so. It begins at the Inaja Picnic Area or Ramona Oaks Road on the other end. The hike is 10 miles one way, so you either need to have two cars or turn around at some point. Regardless, you will see waterfalls, hike through canyons, groves of oaks, granite grottos and do some boulder hopping. You will have to exert yourself on this trail, so be warned. To the east of Poway is one of the more popular hikes in San Diego - Mount Woodson Trail. There is a short version that goes up the mountain, but I am talking about the 4.5 mile version that goes beyond it. Regardless, the hike is picturesque, close to much of north country and a favorite of hikers that like to do a little rock climbing given the boulders on the mountain. The best place to start is at the southwest edge of parking and picnic area at Lake Poway. There is a trail head that will take you to a junction just beyond Warren Canyon. The trail starts here and is marked with a sign. If you cant find it, just ask as it is very well known. It can get brutally hot in the summer, so make sure you have water.San Diego is a great place to live even thought it is crowded and expensive. Take a few hours to explore the beauty and you will be ready to handle the "rush hour" on Monday morning.

Disney Vacation Rentals and Holiday Homes in Florida, Davenport, Kissimee and Orlando

Disney Vacation Rentals and Holiday Homes in Florida, Davenport, Kissimee and Orlando

If you are looking forward to visiting Disney World or other attractions in Orlando, planning the trick with a little information could help save you money. Instead of opting for the first package that comes your way, its best to get some more knowledge of hotels and other kinds of lodgings available might be a good idea. Even if you are from Florida, some tips form this article may help you in getting your required and budgeted accommodation.A popular misconception is that the resort exists in Orlando. In fact, the entire Walt Disney World property is outside Orlando city limits; the majority sits within southwestern Orange County, with the remainder in adjacent Osceola County to the south.Most of Walt Disney World's Central Florida land and all of the public areas are located in the cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, located southwest of Orlando and a few miles northwest of Kissimmee. The land within Walt Disney World Resort is part of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which allows the Disney corporation to exercise quasi-governmental powers over the area.Hotels always come across to be trifle expensive on the agenda whenever you travel irrespective of the destination. The alternative is vacation rentals that offer far cheaper rates than most hotels. Vacation rentals may come to include various kinds of lodging like privately owned cottages, condos or large and luxurious villas that can be directly rented or leased from their owners, their agents or through vacation rental agencies. A lot of variety is available to choose from and they are ideal for families looking forward to make use of Disney "vacation rentals" .Florida Disney vacation rental lodgings offer cheaper prices resulting in huge savings in costs compared to staying at a hotel. Most of these privately owned accommodations are listed directly by their owners, resulting in saving more money by avoiding middle men. Orlando being one of the most popular vacation destination in the USA because it has something for everyone - Disney with its four theme parks MGM Studios, Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom in addition to the 3 water parks and more than eight golf courses, not to mention many other attractions.The Walt Disney World resort also includes six world-class golf courses. The five 18-hole golf courses are the Magnolia, the Palm, Lake Buena Vista, Eagle Pines, and Osprey Ridge (the last two are part of the Bonnet Creek Golf Club). There is also a nine-hole walking course called Oak Trail, designed for young golfers. Together, they are known as Disney's "99 holes of golf." There are two miniature golf courses, Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland.Walt Disney World paved the way for many other theme parks and attractions in the area, including SeaWorld and Universal Studios, and helped make Orlando a popular tourist destination for people from all over the world.Since the best time to visit Florida and its attractions is from October to April, it is best to get reservations at least 2 months in advance. If you are a regular Disney buff, you may even consider owning a vacation home there which can be rented out as and when not required by you. Investment, return and appreciation along with the pleasure of a Disney holiday is a reality.

Tour Central Australia

Few regions of the world offer the range of stunning desert landscapes and unique flora and fauna that can be found in Central Australia. On top of these natural riches, Central Australia is also home to several rich and vibrant indigenous cultures producing some of the most interesting art in the world today. Whether you are seeking lavish luxury or an authentic safari adventure, Central Australia has something for everyone.Alice Springs has a population of around 28,000 and lies at 700 metres above sea level almost in the geographical centre of Australia, about 1500 kilometres from the nearest major city in any direction. As is typical of a desert environment, Alice Springs and Central Australia are predominantly dry, with blue skies from April to September. During the hot summer months (October to March), temperatures in the low 40 degrees C (104-108 F) are not uncommon, while throughout the winter months (May to September) overnight minimums can fall as low as minus 7 degrees C (19 F). Alice Springs has an average annual rainfall of only 275 mm, with rainfall typically occuring during the hotter months from October to March.Alice Springs is the unofficial capital of Central Australia, and makes a great base from which to explore the region. Accommodation of every kind for every budget is available in this medium-sized desert town, and the town is also home to many quality indigenous art retailers. Alice Springs is accessible by air via Australia's national carrier Qantas, by rail via the Ghan (one of Australia's great train journeys) and by road from Darwin or Adelaide.Many spectacular natural locations including rock pools, gorges, mountains and dry river valleys can be found within an hour's drive of Alice Springs. Particularly popular with travellers are Simpsons Gap, Standley Chasm, Ormiston Gorge, Glen Helen and Palm Valley, all found in the West MacDonnell Ranges area. Several excellent destinations can also be found in the opposite direction in the East MacDonnell Ranges, including Trephina Gorge, Ruby Gap, and the remains of the historic gold-mining town of Arltunga.From Alice Springs, a range of stunning locations can be accessed. The best known and most popular destinations are Kings Canyon, Uluru, Kata Tjuta.Kings Canyon (also known as Watarrka) is among Central Australia's most stunning natural features, and is located about 400 km southwest of Alice Springs. The road to Kings Canyon follows the southern side of the Gill Ranges which gradually rise over a distance of 50 kms to over 100 metres by the time they reach the canyon. Watarrka National Park contains Kings Canyon and the western end of the George Gill Range. The scenic landscape of the area contains rocky ranges, rockpools and gorges, and is a refuge for many plants and animals. The canyon walls rise above the valley of Kings Creek and are spectacular at sunrise and sunset.Uluru (also Ayers Rock or The Rock) is located in the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park about 450 km southwest of Alice Springs. This Central Australian icon is a monolith more than 318 metres (986 ft) high and 8 km (5 miles) around, and extends 2.5 km (1.5 miles) into the ground. It is about 21km from Uluru to the tourist town of Yulara, which has a population of 3000 and is situated just outside the park. Uluru is noted for appearing to change colour as the light strikes it in different ways at different times of the day and year, and is a particularly remarkable sight at sunset.Kata Tjuta, also known as The Olgas, is a group of 36 rounded rock formations located about 30km from Uluru within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The tallest dome of the Kata Tjuta group, Mt Olga, is higher than Uluru and stands at 457 m in height. The name Kata Tjuta means 'many heads' in Pitjantjatjara, the local indigenous Australian language, and is as sacred to the indigenous people as Uluru. Many ceremonies were, and are still carried out at Kata Tjuta, particularly at night, and many Pitjantjatjara legends are associated with both Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

Take a Romantic Getaway on Exclusive Catalina Island

Vacations are for getting away; getting away from work, stress, and for you over-worked parents: the kids. So this next vacation, leave the kids at home and take an inexpensive romantic getaway on the island known as The Island of Romance: Catalina Island. This exclusive island off the coast of California is offering visitors packages and discount rates from April 1 to June 15, 2006. Romance Getaway packages include round trip boat transportation, accommodations, and include other bonus gifts such as free champagne and chocolates, spa treatments, sightseeing tours and complimentary breakfast. The room rates start as low as $154 per person. Catalina Island is located just 22 miles off of the coast of Los Angeles. It has been inhabited for nearly 7,000 years beginning with the Gabrielio Indians. The Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo became the first European to visit the island in 1542, and since then the tiny island has changed ownership several times and is now owned privatelyIn the late 1880s, George Shatto, the owner at the time decided to turn Catalina Island into a notable tourist destination. It was he who had the idea to build the town of Avalon, which remains the islands only city and main hub of activity. To bring in the tourists, Shatto constructed golf courses, and hotels galore. He also encouraged people to go hunting, and to pursue other outdoor activities. Today, the island still maintains its historic beauty. Though it contains all essential utilities such as electricity, water and phones, it obtains its drinking water by collecting rainwater in specified areas throughout the island. The water is then purified and piped to the towns of Avalon and Two Harbors.The island, which is the closest island to the mainland, is easy to get to and offers an appetizing array of activities and special events throughout the spring, including:* Jewels of Avalon Tile Walking Tours* Earth Day Celebration* 12th Annual Catalina Island Rugby Festival* 1st Annual Catalina Island Hoe-Down* 19th Annual Silent Film Benefit* Conservancy Summer Naturalist Programs Avalon, the islands only city, offers a unique romantic setting that is part of Catalinas Mediterranean charm. Many of the hotels on the island have in-room fireplaces, whirlpool Jacuzzi tubs, private balconies, and ocean views. For more information about Catalina Island, including transportation, hotel availability, activities, and special events, visit http://www.CatalinaChamber.com. For more information about the history of the beautiful island of Catalina visit http://www.colapublib.org/history/catalina/, http://www.catalina.com/history.html

Summary

Italy has many well-known travel destinations such as Rome. Less publicized destinations such as Siena are even better.