Monday, March 26, 2012

Vatican City State: A Unique Country

The Vatican is a truly unique state within a city, a city-museum which is inextricably linked to the history of the Roman Empire. Here, unique works of the best artists of all ages can be seen literally everywhere. Temples, palaces, museum collections of ancient art, masterpieces of Italian painting and sculpture are noteworthy and attract the guests' attention. Despite the small area of the Vatican, it is widely known throughout the world. The sights of this city make it very attractive for tourists. One of the most beautiful architectural monuments of the Vatican City is the St. Peter's Cathedral. It is located on St. Peter's Square, designed by the famous Bernini. It has an oval shape and is surrounded by a row of pillars, which includes four rows of Doric pillars crowned by a balustrade with the statues of saints. In the center of the square, there is the Egyptian Obelisk, which was brought to the Vatican by Caligula, and two fountains built in the 17th century.
The old cathedral was built by Emperor Constantine in 349 on the spot where, according to the legend, Peter the Apostle had been martyred. The construction of the new building began in 1506 and was later completed by the well-known masters of the Renaissance period Raphael, Michelangelo, and Sangallo. The building of the new St. Peter's was to take the form of a Greek cross, crowned with a huge dome. Continuing the work begun by Bramante, Michelangelo redesigned the project and built the dome of the cathedral.
Another remarkable architectural monument of the Vatican is the residence of the Pope, which was built during the rule of Pope Symmachus in the 6th century. During the Middle Ages, the papal residence was in the Lateran Palace, but at the end of the 14th century it was moved to the Vatican. In 1473, Pope Sixtus IV ordered the construction of the chapel, which was named Sistine Chapel in his honor. His successor, Pope Innocent VIII, began the construction of the second papal palace in the northern part of the city.
St. Paul's Chapel was built in the first half of the 16th century and later became the place, where the magnificent paintings of Michelangelo, 'Conversion of Saint Paul' and 'The Martyrdom of Saint Paul', are stored.
In the Vatican, one can go to a number of different museums. The most interesting ones are the Museum of Egyptian Art, the Pio-Clementino Museum, the Museum of Etruscan art, the Chiaramonti Museum. Here one can find unique exhibits of art, collections of antique statues and mosaic works, including the famous statue of Apollo Belvedere. The Museums of Egyptian and Etruscan art contain a rich collection of paintings. The Chiaramonti Museum displays a collection of archaeological artifacts, Roman statues and busts, including the famous bust of Cicero.
Michelangelo's frescoes, painted on the walls of the Sistine Chapel, are a true masterpiece of the Vatican City. In the Sistine Chapel, there are also works of other great masters of the Renaissance: Perugino, Rosselli, Botticelli, and Signorelli. In the Art Gallery of the Vatican, there is a collection of paintings created during the Renaissance period. Particular attention is paid to the works by Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci.
The major attraction of the city is the Vatican Library, which holds about 65 thousand ancient manuscripts, 400 thousand ancient books, as well as many maps and unique copies of books - the handwritten poetry of Virgil and Cicero. A rich collection of the library also includes manuscripts and letters of art and culture of the Middle Ages, and many different editions of biblical texts.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Travel Trips For Kenya

For many a trip to Kenya is a dream of a lifetime. Just thinking about the amazing sights is enough to make you want to hop on the next plane for Nairobi. But there are many considerations to ensure your trip is safe and enjoyable. Here is a list to keep in mind.
Passport &Visas
A passport is required for any international travel and Kenya requires most foreigners to obtain a visa before officially entering the country (Commonwealth country citizens do not need a visa, however). Visas are available at Kenya's international airports and main border crossings; one can also obtain a visa beforehand in one's home country.
Tourist visa are good for up to 30 days and if you'll be leaving the country and then returning (many people cross over to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro or trek the Serengeti) be sure to get a multiple-entry visa so you can return to Kenya without problems.
There are no required immunizations to enter Kenya except from countries where Yellow Fever is present in which case you will need to bring your immunization card showing an inoculation. From Europe or the United States nothing is required.
That being said, medical professionals highly recommend:
1. Diphtheria 
2. Hepatitis A 
3. Typhoid 
4. Yellow Fever 
5. Polio (update) 
6. Tetanus (update)

Malaria is a risk and Kenya is the home of a strain resistant to chloroquine. When receiving anti-malarial drugs, be sure to specify that you are visiting Kenya to get the right treatment.
Kenya is a tourist friendly country and for the most part one will find the people friendly and welcoming. That being said, many areas in Africa are poverty stricken and Kenya is no different. Most foreigners attract locals selling goods and those looking for a handout. Simply stay calm and one can oblige or politely decline and be on your way. One should not be out alone at night whether in the city or the country.
In terms of good rules for traveling to any foreign country, one should keep a copy of one's passport and keep it in a safe place. Also as a precaution, one should not carry a large amount of cash nor wear jewelry that would attract any attention. If carrying a camera or video equipment, be discreet and be aware of surroundings at all times. If it is necessary to carry a large sum of cash, invest in a money belt of other hidden wallet system.
If renting a car keep windows and doors closed and locked while driving, especially in the cities. Driving at night is treacherous as many cars and trucks are missing headlights and the roads are extremely rutted and filled with potholes.
Travel Seasons
For a trip to Kenya you want to plan the dates carefully. To get the most out of a trip and to get the best chance at seeing wildlife, try and visit during the dry season. During this time the animals cluster around key waterholes so viewing is easier. If interested in seeing the great migration of wildebeest in the Rift Valley, the best time is late-July through September.
So with some careful preparation and planning, one can truly get the most out of a trip to Kenya. From the Massai Mara to the island of Lamu, Kenya has a lot to offer the adventurous traveler.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How to Make the Most of Whale Watching

With the killing of whales now condemned by most countries, and more interest paid to them, whale watching has become a most popular pastime worldwide.
From about 1971, commercial whale watching began in North America, with most interest paid to Fin and Beluga whales and as time went on, the Humpback whales and Southern Right aroused people's interest. Since the middle of the eighties, with worldwide surveys taking place, whale watching gained a large amount of interest. It began raking in revenue, as it became the latest novelty of the time for tourism, in 119 countries.
The viewing of whales in the countries that attract them to their shores for the spring season, encourages visitors in droves. The best and closest ways for observing them close up is by taking whale watching trips. The boat operators know the best areas for sighting whales and promise you an interesting day on the ocean.
Take along a windproof waterproof jacket, as the sea spray can make you quite wet. A sweater is recommended; if the wind blows, it can be quite chilly. Rather have it and not need it than not have it and freeze. Sunscreen and a hat for the sun are must-haves.
A pair of sunglasses protect against the glare and reflection on the sea surface of curious whales and dolphins that are nosy. Cameras and binoculars are also useful to have with you on a whale watching cruise.
The possibility of the boat standing idly on rolling swells may make you feel a little queasy if you are a person prone to seasickness, so be prepared accordingly. The best areas to sit when on a whale watching cruise is either at the bow or the raised areas, as it is not good to disturb the whales by motoring up too close to them. Whales do not like disturbance on their domain of sea.
The experience of watching whales accompanied by an expert relating information about their behavioural habits is certainly educational, and adds to the enjoyment of whale watching trips. Whale antics are a sheer delight to watch as they cavort among the rolling small waves, turning turtle, flapping fins or sending up high sprouts of water resembling those of a fountain. Furthermore, they really like to perform and splash about the waves. When they decide that they have had enough, they simply dive down below sea level, out of sight to their waiting whale fans!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Top Things To See In Kenya

A trip to the African country of Kenya is a dream for many. One cannot help think of the vast Savannahs and incredible wildlife. If you are planning to go, here is what the experts recommend you do not miss.
The Massai Mara: This is what one thinks of when they dream of a trip to Africa. The great migration of wildebeest during the dry season is one of the most amazing spectacles to be seen. The wildlife here includes what is known as the "big five" for animal spotting: buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion, and rhinoceros. One will also see various antelope species, zebra, giraffe and hyenas. No trip to Kenya should be without a visit.
Lamu: The island of Lamu has become a backpacker and hikers paradise, but there is plenty to experience in the town of Lamu as well. First settled by the Swahili over 700 year ago, this is one of the older towns in all of Kenya. The town has no motor vehicles so donkeys are the choice for travel, or venture into the sea and take a dhow to explore the island and enjoy the view.
Lake Nakuru National Park: When you see films of the great pink flamingos gliding over the water, you're probably looking at Lake Nakuru. The flamingo population took a dip due to pollution, but is expanding thanks to renewed environmental conscientiousness. One can also catch a look at white rhino, hippo, ostrich, and lion too.
Mount Kenya: This is the second highest peak in Africa and can be climbed and trekked by everyday folk. There is lodging in and around many of the trekking paths as well as huts and campsites. If one is more adventurous a multi-day climb to Point Lenana can be arranged.
Amboseli National Park: This area is also wonderful for spotting animals like elephant, cheetah and leopard. The views of Mount Kilimanjaro are also stunning (Mt. Kilimanjaro is in Tanzania). The park is near the homeland of the Massai and often their cattle can be spotted on the plains.
Lake Turkana: Part of the Kenya lake system, Lake Turkana is also known for its abundance of pink flamingos. It is also home to gigantic Nile crocodile which prowls its shores in search of a meal. It is an alkaline lake in the desert area so the landscape is truly unique. From Baboon Point, one has a breathtaking view of the lake.
Lewa Downs: This is a wildlife conservancy where black rhino and other endangered species like Grevvy's zebra and sitatunga (a type of antelope) are protected. It is a birdwatcher paradise too with over 200 species having been observed. It is here that England's Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton.
Tsavo National Park: This is one of the last wild landscapes tourists can enjoy in Africa. Animal safari here is more adventurous and the habitat makes it more challenging to spot game. The park is actually two parks: Tsavo West and Tsavo East, with the West Park having more tourist-oriented areas, such as an underwater viewing location where you can see elephants take their baths and safely observe hippopotamus and crocodiles.
Watamu: This natural park on the coast features two lagoons which are its main attraction: Turtle Bay and Blue Lagoon. There are many water-oriented activities such as dolphin watching, snorkeling and scuba diving. Another popular thing to do is sale around on Africa's traditional sailboat, the Dhow. The town of Malindi is just north and has wonderful beaches.
North Central Kenya Reserves: The EwasoNgiro River runs through three reserves in the area: Buffalo Springs, Sambura and Shaba which all border each other. The river is the congregation point for the wide variety of animals that live in the parks. Camels are used for safaris and can provide a different view versus that of a traditional safari truck.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

How to Secure Your Kids While Travelling: Top 5 Useful Tips That Will Help

It's a fact that your child's safety should be the single most important thing. But do you know that if you constantly look at them while riding, you are putting everyone into great danger?
So, what could be the possible solutions here? You will need focus to keep your driving safe and want to make sure that your child is protected from potential danger at the same time. And to achieve those goals, I have some useful tips to share with you.
Tip #1: Consider asking a friend to take the ride with you
This is one of the best idea you can implement to make sure you can shoot down two birds with only one shot. Your friend will make the ride less boring with social chats. And I believe you will feel much more relaxed with her presence.
Moreover, she can keep an eye on your kid while you focus on riding as well. If she is a good mother, it's even better as she would know what to do to make your kid smile.
Tip #2: Always make sure that you're free of alcohol
Alcohol and caffeine could be detrimental to drivers. They could make you feel sleepy and unfocused. And you know it, it's your duty to make sure that both you and your kid are safe from unwanted car crashes.
That's the reason why you shouldn't take in any alcoholic drinks before driving. They are not good in general not just while driving.
Tip #3: Have some toys for your kids to play
Kids love toys. And it would be better if you let them play with their favorites. So, the very first thing you should do to implement this tip is to identify exactly what kind of toys your kids love to play with. After that, you can give them what they want and focus on your job.
One special note here, you should never give them something small or edgy as they could unintentionally swallow them. It's very dangerous!
Tip #4: Drive slower than normal
Unless you want to increase the risk, you should always take the slower route especially when you have small children going with you.
Driving slowly will help you handle unexpected situations better thus decreasing the potential risk of confronting car crashes. And even if you were about to hit, thanks to slow driving, the damage would be much less significant.
Tip #5: Always equip the best car seat for your kids
It's highly recommended that you equip the best protection system for your smaller children. Although your car might have safety system in place such as seat-belts and locks, you should go one step further to protect your kids with specialized car seats.
There are many brands on the market to choose from and one might be good at this aspect but bad at others. So, it's really important for you to identify the best deals possible. They might be costly at time, but I believe that they are necessary in keeping your child away from danger.