Saturday, November 2, 2013

Maramures - A Travel Guide To Romania 's Region Of Wooden Churches

There are many regions in this world that are worth a visit, and very often we Europeans tend to travel overseas to see something exotic, or visit people who still lead a life that perhaps our grandfathers knew. Rarely it occurs to us that it is not always necessary to travel far to be able to experience "time travel".

Maramures in northern Romania is one such little known corner of Europe. Amid beautiful rolling hills and lush river valleys live people who for the most part still follow the traditional agrarian way of life. Their life might seem hard and simple and it is a millenarian fight against the weather, to grow the crops, to raise the animals, to work from dawn until sunset without the many mechanized and electronic comforts we think are essential. But, that life can be rewarding in all its simplicity, as each day shows the results of work, and family and friends guarantee that there are often reasons for celebration. The seasonal festivities, like Christmas and Easter or local festivals and weddings, have retained their real value of breaking the everyday routine, and feasting lasts several days and is done with gusto.

Why is the region considered unique and those who have been there want to return? The answer is a mixture of three things: amazing landscapes, genuine people and the simple civilization of wood, with the famous wooden churches whose towers can be seen from far. The nature, people, houses and churches are spiritually connected and have maintained this link to the present.

But most of all is the uniqueness of the architecture is the inclusion of eight wooden churches in UNESCO's World Cultural and Natural Heritage List. These churches are the church of the Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple in Barsana, the church of Saint Nicholas in Budesti, the church of Saint Parasceva in Desesti, the church of the Birth of the Holy Virgin in Ieud Deal, the church of the Holy Archangels in Plopis, the church of Saint Parasceva in Poienile Izei, the church of the Holy Archangels in Rogoz, and the church of the Holy Archangels in Surdesti.

Our guidebook: Maramures - A Travel Guide to Romania 's Region of Wooden Churches is an excellent full-color book on a wide variety of cultural heritage subjects from mural paintings and archaeology to architecture and local traditions. It also gives practical information and tips on travel to and in Romania, what to see, where to stay, what to buy and to eat, to get the most of Maramures.

Why a guidebook and not another type of book? Because we consider that a cultural guidebook addresses those who, while enjoying a memorable holiday, can also help such a special region develop and maintain its specificity and character. To assure the preservation regions like Maramures, it is necessary that they do not fall into total oblivion. It is necessary that the young people can remain, find work and live there with their families, while being at the same time aware of the importance of their inheritance. Cultural tourism can be a mutual investment that can bear fruit for everyone. The visitor's joy and the host's joy are both real experiences.

We hope that you will enjoy your travel to Maramures!

Japanese travel guide

Getaways are meant to take a person away from all the hurly and burly of life to perfect peace and tranquility. An ideal getaway vacation can thus be at a place where you embrace the beauty of nature in complete serenity. The paradigm example of this is Japan where visitors themselves have discovered countless beautiful getaways. So lets take a look at some of the popular and ideal getaways in the land of rising sun.
Some frequently visited getaways in the Japan are as follows:

·    Hagi- it is a nice historic archaic Samurai and castle town in the rural Japan. It is located near the western tip of the Honshu Island. Hagi has some of the wonderful museums and beaches. The Joka- Machi old samurai quarter is worth visitng in Hagi. Besides this the Kumaya Art Mueseum, the Kasuga Shrine near Joka Machi and the Sho-in Shrine are the must visit sites in Hagi.

·    Idzumo is one amongst the four most important Shinto shrines of Japan. It is also called the home of gods. The shrine has tremendous historical significance.

·    Sekigane is also an amazing Japanese getaway. It is a small village that has hot water springs and coastal mountains. At the end of this small but calm and amazing village is a walk up through bamboo groves to Kamei Park.

·    The Kyoto Fu peninsula is a small peninsula that makes a great getaway. In order to reach this peninsula you need to drive from Kumihama to Mineyama, Omiya and Miyazu. On the south of Omiya there is a small shrine that too is religiously and historically quite significant.

·    The Wakasa Wan (Bay) is another brilliant getaway. The Wakasa Wan National Park is quite popular here.

·    The Obama Bay that stretches to the Oshima Peninsula is also a brilliant getaway. Similarly the Tsunegami Hanto Peninsula that has Rocky Mountains is also worth visiting.

·    You can also go to see the Tojimbo Cliffs. These are located on a point of the Echi-zen Kaigan (coast) National Park. It is a popular tourist attraction because of its exotic beauty. If you visit here don’t forget to go to the small fishing village, Anto nearby.

·    The Central Mountains of Honshu Island are a big lure to visitors. This island has a collection of various mountains known as Central Alps. It is a great delight and lifetime opportunity to see these world famous ice-capped mountains.
·    The Shiwaku Shoto Islands are a group of islands near Oakayama that has many small collections of islands in the Inland Sea. Hon-Jima and Mukkuchi-Jima islands make desirous getaways.

·    Apart from these the place of Hokkaido in Japan is recognized as a top romantic getaway. Similarly there are other passionate getaways such as Ikspiari, Vinus Fort, Lover’s Cape and Kobe Portpia. 

But this is just the tip of an iceberg for there are many other known and waiting to be discovered getaways in Japan.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Italian travel guide

Italy as one of the most ancient European civilizations is unknown to none. Italy had been the land of Roman Empire for long. Today the country has a rich history and tradition that speaks for itself and gathers tourists from all round the world. Italy is a place known for its wonderful cities and their archaic art and architecture. There are great Roman structures like Roman Colosseum and Pantheon; the Sistine Chapel, sculptures by maestros Leonardo, Michelangelo etc. and many more attractions that can make your vacation a dream come true.

A Walk through the Italian Cities-

The cities of Italy are quite popular across the globe. For instance the land of Julius Caesar i.e. the city of Rome also known as the УEternal CityФ has an aura of exotic Roman art and architecture. Rome is famous for its architectural masterpiece of the Colosseum, the National Gallery of Ancient Art which in itself is a magnum opus and displays the work of Bernini, Raphael and Titan. The Capitoline Museums houses the complete history of Rome, the Gallery of Modern Art presents the 19th and 20th century at work by eminent artists and the Galleria Borghese museum in Rome has the largest art collection in the world. 

The city of Venice seeks no introduction. It is the city where tranquility prevails and the beguiling art and architecture makes everyoneТs day. The visitors are attracted by pulls like the Grand Canal, the museums such as the Museum of Modern Art and Museum of Oriental Art in the Santa Croce region of Venice, which put at parade the art work from countries like Japan, Indonesia and China. Also worth visiting are the Academy of Fine Art and the Correr Museum known for its Renaissance art.

The fashion city of Milan has always been inviting visitors. It is a primary economic and cultural center of Italy. Milan is popular for the Romanesque architecture in the Lombardy region of which Milan is a part; The Cathedral of Milan that is a paradigm example of Gothic architecture. The Milan museums include some of the fascinating museums in the world. For instance the Brera Gallery that presents the tour de force of geniuses like Raphael and Giovanni Bellini. You can also gaze at the awesome УThe Last SupperФ, Jesus and his disciples at the Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie church.

Since the entire Italy is swarming with museums and art, the city of Florence too grounds few wonderful ones. The Uffizi Gallery which is best known for the art work of Sandro Botticelli Ц УBirth of VenusФ, Leonardo da VinciТs strokes, and apart from these the Dutch, French and Spanish work of art it displays.

Besides this, Florence is thronged for its delectable cuisine, hill slopes and the oldest archaeologically significant region of this place i.e. the Tuscany region. One among the wonders of the world, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is nestled in the Italian town of Pisa in the Tuscany region.

The Vatican City is a center of attraction in Italy particularly for magnificent Sistine Chapel, designed by the architect Baccio Pontelli and feathers added to it by Bernini. The galleries of this Chapel present some of the exclusive art works-paintings and sculptures like Уrun-of-the-millФ, the archaic bronze statue of Apoxyomenos, MichelangeloТs sculpture СThe PietaТ and so forth.

After these Italy has many other cities that have always been welcoming visitors with their pleasant surroundings and amazing art work.

So one should, in oneТs life time definitely bask in the glory of the skill of distinguished artists, painters and architects, no where else but Italy.

Individual Travel Or Travel Guide: Which One To Choose?

What according to you is the best way to travel, would it be by guided travel or individual travel? We recently took a trip to Washington.  Taking a bus tour that would take us around the capital showing us the highlights, this turned out to be a good decision.  We were allowed to travel by foot the next day to see those sights we wanted to from up close. Giving us an opportunity to plan our three days in the city and select what we wanted to see. 

The San Francisco Bay Area which happens to be a favorite holiday spot for me and my family holds many pleasant and cherished memories of our holidays in those places.  There are few places, which are so much haunted by tourists that you could visit them on your own.  As a result you can decide on your own time and pace to visit.  Good examples of the same are Fisherman's Wharf and Pier39.  By walking a couple of blocks you can see the Aquarium of the Bay, or cruise around San Francisco Bay, take some time at the Riptide Arcade on Pier 39 and go around  the famous  Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum. 

Those traveling without a guide might like to buy a San Francisco City Pass.  Buying this would give you tickets to five hot spots, apart from free rides on the Cable Cars and an optional ticket which could be used at select optional places like the Steinhart Aquarium or Legion of Honor & Academy of Science. 

There are some attractions again where you would enjoy more with a tour guide.  While on Alcatraz Island, you could go solo, but having a lively tour guide or listening to earphones could make you aware of the interesting points when you go through them.

The Walking Tours of Chinatown are a must see.  This adds to the behind the scenes colorful picture of the place.  This tour takes you through the history and traditions of the local people and familiarizes you with the culture you would never understand on your own. 

San Francisco has almost 30 fun and free walking tours of the city. For information on these free tours, visit

It is the same for Napa valley tours.  You could drive up to the place yourself while looking around, but a guided tour to some of the vineyards and wine tasting rooms would make it more interesting. 

A 17-mile drive to the coast is also a favorite driving tour.  The winding roads give you fantastic views of beautiful mansions and the country side. You would be traveling through Carmel and Pebble Beach Golf Club.

Whether you chose to visit alone or take a guided tour, should depend on your place of visit and what you want to see. Mixing a bit of both could make your travel tour worthwhile.

Guided Tours Vs. Luxury Travel Vacation Packages

So, you have decided to book a luxury vacation. It is time to call your travel agent. The first question most travel agents will ask you is УAre you interested in a cruise, a tour, or a travel package?Ф You know that cruises are not for you, but what about a tour? And what exactly is the difference between a tour and a travel package anyways? With different definitions and inclusions, it is important for any traveler to be informed enough to make the best decision for their unique needs.


When you are considering booking a tour for your luxury travel vacation, keep in mind that УtourФ implies several things. First of all, a tour is usually guided, and consists of a group of other tourists. A vacation package is usually considered a combination of flights, transfers, hotels and car rentals. If you so desire, you may add on minor excursions that are usually with a group or guided.


A tour is usually a really good deal. You get to stay in the nicer hotels of the areas, and in most situations, it is usually more than one hotel. All your transportation is included, such as to and from the airport and transportation to all the local sites and tours. All the attraction tickets are calculated into the price, so you will not have to pay entry fees to art museums or shows. There are additional tours and excursions that can be purchased, but usually at a reasonable price. Most tour packages will also include some meals. With your luxury travel vacation package, all that is included is the cost, fees and taxes of your air, hotel and car rental. Sometimes there are special availability of free breakfasts of a city tour, but this is not the norm.

Destination Studies and Personal Preference

So when does it benefit you to book a tour verses a vacation package? That really depends on the destination and your personal preferences. If you are planning to vacation in a place like Rome or Paris, there is so much to see and do that travelers are better off being escorted to the sites and having most of the entry fees included in your price. But if you wish to visit these cities to simply bask in the incredible ambience, and you donТt have an interest in touring the Уbig attractionsФ, then a luxury travel vacation package is for you. You would not want a guided tour of Jamaica or Hawaii. Chances are you just want to bask in the sun and relax. Consider where you are going and what you want to do on your vacation. For more information on luxury travel vacations visit

Now that you know the facts, the time has come to make a decision. Looking at the definitions, a tour and a luxury travel vacation package each offer something different. They are each priced a bit differently, and have different inclusions. So it comes down to you and where you are going. Chances are your travel agent can steer towards the best choice for your travel needs, but now you know why and you can make the decision for yourself.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Guide to Southwest travel

Southwest region of United States is an exhibition of myriad cultures, traditions, activities, events and ambience. This is because the region is composed of globally recognized states- Arizona, New Mexico, California, Nevada, Texas and Utah. Colorado too is often deemed to a part of this insignificantly harsh or water deficient region. According to many people visiting Southwest is akin to confronting the past. For pioneers, cowboys and mountain men traveled around and settled in this area. Also the southwest festivals and fairs are a complete reflection of tradition and culture. For instance if you want to taste the typical southwest region flavor, take part in the fairs like Texas State Fair or the 49ers festival in Utah.

Southwest region is an area where cultural diversity can be delighted in, where variety has become the specialty. So while Mexico has its own Mexican culture to greet you with, the Old World Spanish culture still echoes in California. The imprints of the tribes such as the Navajo, Apache, Hopi and Zuni are visible on the land of Southwest. One amongst the wonderful features of this area is that age, caste and sex are no bars to enjoy. In other words people of all ages can have a gala time here.

The place has everything to lure its visitors. From beguiling scenic splendor to thrilling and adventurous activities, it has all. Kids can have an amazing time visiting sites like Jellystone Parks, dinosaur digs, National Parks like Guadalupe Mountains national park etc. Perceiving Grand Canyon, one amongst the wonders of the world is definitely a lifetime experience for every visitor. Death Valley is another awesome place to hit. It is one of the geological wonderlands. Apart from this the geological formations in Zion National Park, desert terrain running alongside the lush mountains are a toast to eyes. Magnificent and colorful volcanic deposits can be seen at the Artist’s Palette. The oasis, warm springs, palm trees and cottonwoods make the Furnace Creek a place worth going. You can even board a flight and soon be a member of the rocking nightlife of Las Vegas, the place that never sleeps.

In Southwest you can relish rock climbing, mountain hiking and even skating. The Zion National Park and a few other national parks offer many hiking trails. Hiking Zion Canyons is also a breathtaking experience but meant only for skilled hikers. Ruby Mountains situated in northern Nevada are ideal for rock climbing. There are overhanging rocks and 800 feet tall rock towers that make rock climbing most adventurous sport so far. The Lamoille Canyon, located in Ruby Mountains is also a place swarming with visitors.  Little Florida Mounatins are also associated with hiking. Here you will find trails for hiker of every level and the most bewitching aspect is the incredible view one gets to see after climbing on the top.

The Rockhound state Park in New Mexico is largely recognized as a picnic spot for entire family. Rockhound offers excellent camping opportunities. There are hot showers, bathrooms and a Visitor’s Center too. People love to do camping here because of the fascinating aura and to grab 15 pounds of agates, geodes and quartz that anyone can gather and take to home.

Since the southwest region is rich in dinosaur fossils and has countless rocks, treasure hunting is a popular activity here. Here you can hunt for treasures of all types. Dinosaur bones are found littering sand dunes and dry lakebeds. Gold can be discovered in California and Arizona.

Guide to northwest travel

One of the most beautiful regions in North America is the Northwest. With breathtaking scenery and never ending coasts it has fast gained the reputation of being one of the best travel destinations in Americas. The mountain ranges are apt for the thriving wilderness and for the adventure lovers too. Mount Saint Helens with its historical past and Mt. Rainer with the natures bounty stand tall in the northwest as embodiments of the claim the place makes about its grandeur. The metropolitan scene of this side of America is abuzz with cities like Washington and Oregon making it the political corner of the country. The ocean too is gracious enough to offer all its beauty to the northwestern coast. The northern pacific flushes the coast and some of the most fantastic beaches are found on the coastal cities like Washington. The waters are also home to whales, which has made whale-watching a favorite activity in this part of North America.

The adventure seekers find it very intriguing and challenging to come and challenge their limits in the mountains of northwest America. The undulating topography on the mountainsides is apt for the mountain bikers. The mountaineering sport has also got a lot of stronghold in the region because of the challenging mountain ranges. The sports scene is fully supported by the mountainous landform. The local tourism too is fully supported by this fact and the tourist industry too is a flourishing one. The major adventure sports events are organized in this region and this has brought the northwest frontier of America on the global scene. So much on the adventure sports in the mountains of this part.

The vast expanse of the sea has also become a very popular playground for the adventure hungry. The surfers always prefer to ride the more challenging waves around. Water comes in abundance in this part of USA. The kayaking and rafting in the gushing waters of the Wenatchee river of the Washington region attracts many tourists fro m all over. It is considered one of the most challenging raft routes in America. The rafting scene in this region never dies off.

If there is one place where you can enjoy exquisite coffee sitting in the verandah of a rain drenched house, it has to be Seattle. The place is known equally for its coffee and rains. The city is world famous for being home to some of the greatest rock bands. The music never dies in Seattle. Shopping and looking around the town, the tourist opine, is one enjoyable way to pass a day while in Seattle.  The pacific North West has other important cities such as Oregon famous for its beaches.

The northwest holiday is incomplete without a visit to the famous Islands of San Juan. The beauty of nature can be felt by strolling through the wilderness of the islands. There is a mystic aura about the island that attracts thousands of tourists from America and abroad. The 3-4 hour cruise on an ancient ship gives a nostalgic feeling of the days of past and the lives of the seafaring men.

Whale watching, mountain biking, cascading rafting the adventure never stops in this part of America. The place has so much to offer that you can’t help but come. So come vacations pack your bags and head northwest because its here that the party begins.