Hot Spot Bora-Bora Filipinas

In southeastern part of Asia, there is one traveling destination for wind and wave enthusiasts- Boracay. It is the underwater adventure found in the visayas region of the Philippines. What Boracay is diverse same as the diverse of people who came to visit area will not believe the different activities it can offer aside from swimming and aquatic experience. The following ideas can be your itinerary when you tour and relax in the most visited place in the Philippines.

In boat sailing, you can choose from so many options. Captain Joey the Red Pirate offers snorkeling equipment, even food preparation, sailing boat and the cruise. Dine in the Red Pirates chill out bar with an exotic concept of the bar itself. Relax with little bar can offer, music and purely the perfect scenery of nature. Another sailing vessel to be booked in Nigi nigi’s Bar that provides 40-foot yacht Tamarind that has 3 different packages varying in time whose food inclusive to the fee. Sail from one island to another and discover underwater cave in Balinghai.

Souvenirs and one-stop shopping is also a hit in the island, wherein you can find Tiangge, an outdoor commercial stalls and vendors that will assist you. Almost everywhere, you will find souvenir shops from the local handmade to branded items that are affordable, hip and trendy. Find the bikini suit, underwater garments and sarong.

Site seeing of the flying bats at sunset is the main attraction when you get the boat ride into the north side of the island. Bats are part of the ecosystem that exist in Boracay including other endangered species that lives in the mountains and these are monkeys, turtles, birds and these fruit bats. Fruits bats totaled a thousand that slowly lessened due to commercialization and loss preservation. However, stunning sights of these undomesticated exotic bats are still breathtaking.

Afterwards, a boat ride going to Bolabog beach will untangled your love for butterflies for they offer a little garden. A little lesson on how the life cycle of the butterflies with the assistance of the accommodating couple that are pleased to tour you around. In addition, Bolabog beach is famous for its Kite boarding where the Ocean Republic provides equipment for kiting. Friendly people will assist you on getting started with kite boarding. It is a fun way to take outdoor activities and sweat under the sun or get the even gold tan. What is amazing with kite boarding is it releases that good energy and playfulness in you.

Another outdoor activity wherein you can watch or participate is the horse back riding at Boracay Horse riding stables. You can take horse riding in solo or with accompanied expert to help you all the way which opens from 6 in the morning till 6 pm. Only you will get to pay in dollars approximately 10$ for an hour ride, having it is quite an experience especially if you have not done this activity.

At the end of the day, after a tiring outdoor and heat of the sun a standby massage parlor will cater to rejuvenate your body. A spa is the most convenient for you. Many Filipino blind people get these jobs and a lot are satisfied to their service. Choose different services such as Swedish massage, shiatsu, and acupressure for a very reasonable price. It is most convenient if you get the massage in the evening since it can be very relaxing and the air is refreshing.

At night, chill out with the best bars in town, disco bars, and excellent food service. Boracay is always a place to be when you want to have fun either with group or with loved one. Bars are just around to give soulful, rnb, rap music and even comedy bars where you can have a good laugh. Summer place, Red pirate bar, Bombom bar and Bubble bar are bars you can choose from a long list of bars you can find in Boracay all giving the right night groove in whatever you want it; dancing, singing or just chilling out.

Boracay is also rich in terms of culture and tradition. They celebrate fiesta during the third week of January for Santo Nino- a feast for the holy infant Jesus. Almost all regions in visayas consider this feast and Cebu as an island close to Boracay also celebrate this feast. A spectacle of road parade showing musicians and beautiful muses of Boracay. A perfect time for picture taking to with the parade of street dancing commemorating the different tribes existing in the region.

Unlimited options and packages you can always choose from the hotels and inns where you can stay with very friendly people to assist you. Boracay is always alive with parties whether in nighttime or in daytime. Tourists take both sides of the world, partying and even experiencing water, sun and nature all in one.

Rio de Janeiro: A Beautiful Brazilian Paradise

Are you looking for somewhere special to relax and get that tan you’ve always dreamed of? Check out tropical Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s most famous city, for a trip you won’t soon forget. If you’re familiar with Portuguese, the language of Rio’s founding fathers, you’ll know that Rio de Janeiro translates to “January River.” The settlement began in the mid-1560s, after Portuguese mariners chased earlier French colonists from the land. Much has happened since then.

If you’re the outdoors type who thrives on adventure and perspiration, Sugar Loaf Mountain will probably be your first stop in the city. The view of the mountain from a distance will be enough to inspire you; as the modern city curls around the water, Sugar Loaf juts out seemingly to the sky, one huge pillar standing alone. There are picturesque trails and places to see the view as you walk below the peak. Don’t forget to look for the little boats you will invariably see sprawled around the marina.

Anyone who has looked at pictures of Rio de Janeiro or visited personally has most likely seen the famous statue known as Cristo Redentor, or, in English, Christ the Redeemer. It is one of Rio’s main attractions, attesting to the centuries-old presence of the Christian faith in the city. You should never visit without taking time to get up close and personal with Cristo Redentor. It rests on Corcovado Mountain and makes an awesome sight and a great photo opportunity. If you choose to journey to the top of the mountain, you will be awarded with the view of nearly everything Rio has to offer.

You’ve most likely heard of Copacabana, but did you know it’s located in Rio de Janeiro? This is only one of many area beaches, but it is one of the most well-known. If you want a place to relax and enjoy terrific scenery, watersports, and the warmth of Brazil, Rio is the place to go. Some other beaches in or near the city include Ipanema, Prainha, and Barra da Tijuca. The beaches are not all the same; some will have amenities you are looking for, and others may not. Some will be crowded on the particular day you plan to visit, and others will have very few people. Choose carefully.

Is the museum scene more to your liking? Rio de Janeiro won’t disappoint you. If you’re interested in Brazil in general, try the National Museum and the National History Museum, known in the native tongue as Museu Historico Nacional. For art-lovers, you might want to consider Museu Internacional de Arte Naif, the Museum of Modern Art, and Chacara do Ceu Museum.

Children may not appreciate the museum scene so it’s good to know that you can send them off to plenty of kid-friendly activities in the area while you get your fill of history and culture. Rio’s beautiful Botanical Gardens are also of interest, and the local zoo is certainly one suggestion that might excite younger members of your family a little more.

Religious history is also a big part of Rio de Janeiro’s past. To get a glimpse into a historical monastic community, consider Convento do Santo Antonio and Sao Bento Monastery. You will have to check websites to see if these places are currently open to the public and if so, what time visitors are allowed. Some churches you should visit include Church of Our Lady of the Glory of the Outeiro and Church of Our Lady of the Candelaria. The Chapel of Sao Jose is a beautiful colonial church constructed in the 17th century and seemingly out of place underneath modern skyscrapers.

There are also historical structures that are not connected to religion, such as the Palacio do Catete, which became the home of the presidency in the late 19th century. Its origins date back further, however; it was once a palace, and the rich, lavish interior attests to this fact. You can come inside and explore the grand rooms and artifacts. The building is tall and flat, with minimum ornamentation on the outside. Here and there you will find a little decorating whimsy, like wrought-iron accents and the eagle statue that perches above the front entrance.

Even with all the terrific beaches, historical spots, and places to eat and relax, Rio’s best attraction is probably its natural beauty. From the regal, mysterious grandeur of Sugar Loaf Mountain to the stunning city views, Rio’s scenery will stay in your mind forever. If you only have a little time in Rio de Janeiro, make sure to see the views quicker than anything else; attractions are fun, but the sights are truly amazing.

By Lacie R. Schaeffer

Rome: a Week in the Capital of the Ancient World

My journey to Rome was not planned into my trip. As time wore down during stay on the Cote D’Azur I began thinking over my original plans. It was my original intention to take the train to Genoa and stay for a few days before heading north to Milan and then on to Switzerland. As I did research on these cities, however, I found that they were going to be very expensive and I was consistently going over budget. I also felt zero enthusiasm when I thought about my destinations. I also felt strongly that I could not, in good conscience, travel through Italy with visiting Rome. The morning of my departure I decided to take the train across the Italian border and find out how much a ticket to Rome would cost.

The first town across the Italian border in the Mediterranean is called Ventimiglia. I walked into a train station that was baking hot from the sun and looked like an outpost from the American Old West. After navigating, in my extremely limited Italian, the ticket machine, I soon discovered that the ticket to Rome would cost fifty euro. The train would leave in six hours for Genoa and then after a two hour lay over I would arrive in Rome at about five o’clock in the morning. I paid the money, waited as the machine printed out the tickets and then left the train station with six hours to kill.

Even though I was just one town across the French border, I was excited to be in Italy. I come from mixed ancestry, but since my father is 100 % Italian, I have always identified myself most with Italy. I was excited to see the native land of half of my ancestors and the birthplace of the modern world. Ventimiglia looked like a nice town. The town is surrounded by high hills that lead to the sea. Since Ventimiglia would be the last town I would be visiting on the Mediterranean I decided to head straight for the beach.

The sun shone down brightly and it was a hot day, especially with the full pack on my back. Still, I managed to lumber down to the beach. Once I made it to the shore I called my girlfriend to let her know where I would be for the next day or so. I was less than a mile from the French border and it was interesting to see my cell phone flash back and forth between Italian and French networks. The beach was sandy with large boulders. It was by and large deserted with no lifeguards and view visitors. I didn’t care. I stripped down to my suit and dove head-first into the water and reveled in the warmth of the Mediterranean one last time. I was excited by the fact I was completely improvising my trip. I did not know how long I would be spending in Rome, where I would be staying or where I would head afterward. I didn’t care. I was having fun.

After hanging out on the beach for a few hours, eating some fantastic home made Italian ice and reading for a few hours at the train station, I found myself on a train pulling out for Genoa. It was dusk and at every stop the train would linger long enough for many of the passengers to step outside and smoke cigarettes. I had very little cash on me but I managed to buy a sandwich from the lady with the snack trolley for a few euro. We arrived at the Genoa train station in the middle of the night. I wandered around the station, which was filled with drunks and the mentally ill. I stepped out into the night to have a look at Genoa. I didn’t see much except for a few white apartment buildings. The air was redolent with the smells of a port city-fish, salt water and garbage. That was all I could discern of Genoa before I was back on another train heading for Rome.

The night was an inky black and I could make out nothing of the countryside passing by my window so I got some sleep. The compartment was rather cramped but I had it all to my self so I stretched out as much as I could to get some sleep. After a few hours the sun began to rise. It was early morning when I arrived in Rome. Again, I was completely winging this so I had no idea where I would be staying. I knew the address of the YHA building in Rome and after a few rambling subway and bus rides I arrived on their front door. I had to wait several hours for a room but there would be one available for two days, after that I needed to make other arrangements. That was fine with me, I just wanted to get in and get some sleep.

I stayed in Rome for eight days at the beginning of July 2005. I knew this much about the city when I got there. Rome was once the capital on the ancient world, commanding the land from Persia through North Africa in the South and from Great Britain across northern Europe into Germany and some of modern Eastern Europe. I read Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire as a teenager (1000 pages-a gift from my grandfather). I knew that the empire fell due, more or less, to its own prosperity. Peace time dulled the discipline of the formerly war like Romans and centuries of Empire crippled the sense of civic propriety which had been the pride of the old republic. Rome decayed for many centuries from corruption and neglect until the ever hostile nations of the north and east encroached on Roman territory and finally swept in and burnt the proud city.

I was also aware that Rome remained the heart and capital of the Italian people in principle until the unification movement made it a fact during the 19th century. Rome was the home of the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican, which actually exists as the world’s smallest sovereign nation with the pope as head of state thanks to an agreement between the church and Mussolini in 1929. I knew the major monuments that remained, places that I had to see: the Forum, the Vatican, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the arch of Constantine. I also knew that in Rome some of the best cuisine, fashion and nightlife awaited me. The ancient capital is alive and well indeed, blending the timeless with contemporary and chic.

My first day in Rome I wandered the city with my jaw hanging wide open. It was early Sunday morning and church bells tolled constantly in this, the mother of all catholic cities. Everywhere, it seemed, the city was painted in pastel colors. The buildings are predominantly pale yellow, pink or off white. Although the architecture in the city literally spans millennia, the main style seems to be from the Renaissance. The climate is very hot and dry with an unbroken bright blue sky overhead as you would expect in the desert. Similarly the plants are all short narrow pines and shrubs. Contrasting the desert climate, however, are the fountains. Rome has more artesian fountains than any place on earth. It seems around every corner there is a lion’s head with natural, fresh and cold water flowing out of its mouth. I know that I saved many euros in Rome just filling my water bottle up with the delicious and free spring water. Most of the streets were cobble stone worn shiny from constant use. Although I would divide my stay in Rome into many different aspects of the city to explore, everywhere I went I felt like I was immersed in Rome. The city is a neverending deluge of sensation.

On my first day I wandered into St. Peter’s Square just as Pope Benedict was finished giving a morning mass. The square was filled with thousands of people. The enormous basilica, the square with its arcades and obelisk in the center were all very familiar to me from the proceedings of only a few months earlier when Pope John Paul II died and Pope Benedict XVI was elected. I had no idea then, when I watched those events unfold in New Jersey, that I would, in a matter of months, stand in that square. There were so many people drawn together by a common faith. The throng was a little scary at first but it took only a moment to see that these people were so happy to be worshipping together in Rome. There were many flags in the crowd from countries in Europe, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere in the world. Some people wore the garb of priests, nuns and monks. I was so impressed by what I saw that I called my catholic father in New York just to tell him where I was. I knew that I wanted to see the Vatican museums and the basilica itself, but I was tired from my journey and I decided to take it easy that day.

The next day, after a good night’s sleep and a full breakfast, I was off to my first destination. I could not put it off a minute longer; I had to see the ancient Roman ruins in the Roman forum. I took the metro to the Colosseum metro station. It was early in the morning but there was already quite a crowd and I got in line to enter the ancient arena. The line moved swiftly and it was in the shade, away from the blistering heat so I did not mind. Soon I paid the admission charge and entered the Roman Colosseum. Up to that point in my travels I had been in buildings that dated back to the medieval era and I had seen the remains of Roman walls and the bases of houses. But never before had I entered an actual Roman building that was still intact, and a colossal one at that. After passing through the tunnels into the arena-just like one might at Giant’s Stadium, I stood in the open light of the Colosseum. It is smaller than I had imagined it would be but the walls rose high around me and the places where formerly there were seats stood intact. I was amazed at the ancient craft that could have built this place. The Colosseum is, at its heart, made of a flat red brick held together with common mortar. It was originally covered with a finish of white stone which can still be seen on one side. As I walked around through the ruins I noticed names carved into the stone: millennia of graffiti. I was struck by how many millions of people over two thousand years had passed through these passage ways.

The Colosseum is named for the Colossus of Nero that originally stood on the grounds where the arena now stands. The emperor Vespasian commanded its erection in honor of his victories in Dacia. He chose the site because it was a region that had been confiscated by Nero for his private use. The Colosseum was continued through the reign of Titus until it was completed by Domitian. The Colosseum was the home to many different public spectacles throughout the long decline of the empire. Gladiators battled in the arena or fought large animals from through the world. The Colosseum could be waterproofed to have large sea battles. Contrary to popular belief, however, the Colosseum was not home to chariot races-it is much too small for that. After leaving the Colosseum I checked out the nearby triumphal Arch of Constantine.

The creation of triumphal arches was initiated by the Romans as a means of honoring their military victories throughout the ages. The arch of Constantine is in fantastic shape. It is covered with relief depictions of Constantine’s great military triumphs during the 3rd and 4th centuries and his subsequent conversion to Christianity. Not far away I could see more arches and columns which served as the entrance to the Roman Forum.
The Forum is located between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills. The Forum was the unofficial heart of the city. The streets of the forum were always filled with people transacting business, petitioning politicians or celebrating triumphal celebrations. The forum was filled with enormous temples, theatres and meeting houses. Now the forum is a shadow of what it once was. Single columns stand where there were once majestic marble temples. There are many triumphal arches, the porticoes of some ancient buildings. The Curia, the ancient senate house, still stands in the forum, as does the temple of Julius Caesar. Brooding over the Forum stands the Imperial Palace on the Palatine Hill.

The Imperial Palace was built during the time of the Caesars. It sat overlooking the forum as a reminder of imperial power to a city that had been founded as a republic. The palace is in ruins like much of the forum but some of its walls still stand. Leaves of grass waving in the breeze spring up among the remaining mosaics of tile from the palace floors. The emperors enjoyed their own gladiator arenas and chariot race courses. In addition the walls of the palace overlooked the Circus Maximus. The Circus Maximus is not an impressive sight. The race course is now little more than a dirt oval track with a stand of trees in the middle. The night before I arrived in Rome the Live 8 festival was held in Rome in the Circus Maximus and crews of roadies were still dismantling the stages. Having wandered through the intense heat of the city for hours I decided to take it easy for the rest of the day.
After enjoying myself for a few days and finding accommodations in town near the enormous Termini train station I made my way back to the Vatican. The Vatican Museums are extremely popular with tourists. The lines form fast and go on for blocks so I made a point of being there very early. At eight o’clock precisely the door opened and I filed inside the world’s smallest country.

The Vatican Museums house one of the most extensive collections of religious artwork. Some of the most famous Renaissance artworks ever made are housed on the grounds of the Vatican. After paying the admission fee I decided to beat the crowd and go straight to the Sistine Chapel. Conveniently the museum offers a route straight to the Chapel so that I would not have to see any of the other precious artworks until I was ready. After winding my way through a series of paths I found myself in the most famous chapel in the world.

The figures painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel are alive. They look down from the ceiling and seem as if they contemplated jumping to the floor to stretch their well formed sinews. Each figure bore the fierceness of the old testaments pages. The fresco was stunning. My neck literally hurt as I stood there for I don’t know how long looking up. I made a point of looking around the room as well. This is the place where they elect popes and burn the ballots with their famous white or black smoke. After a long while in that ethereal place, I moved on to the rest of the museum.

The Vatican Museum is divided into different historical eras. The Renaissance artworks of Michelangelo and Raphael grace the walls in the elegant palace rooms. I gazed for a long time at the School of Athens, Raphael’s stylized depiction of great minds of the ancient world in an ancient villa debating the nature of the universe. My favorite galleries were the modern religious artwork. There were so many sculptures and paintings celebrating Christ. I enjoyed this section because I have seen many religious artworks and many modern artworks but I had never seen the colors and figures of modern art express the passionate emotions of religious artwork.

After leaving the museum I sat in a courtyard of the Vatican. I had a very interesting conversation with one of the guards about the Vatican. He told me all about the comings and goings of the city. The Vatican is really a sovereign nation. Its boundaries begin at the base of the stairs leading into the basilica and are bounded elsewhere by the high walls of the city. The Vatican has its own police force. The Swiss guards, while colorful, are mainly for show, the city actually has a much better equipped and more professional force. The Vatican also has its own shopping center and post office. The stores sell their own cigarettes with a Vatican City customs stamp. They are actually of higher quality than the cigarettes sold in the rest of the city. What a strange little world.

After my conversation with the guard I made my way through from the courtyard to St. Peter’s Basilica. I found, to my surprise, many thousands of people gathered for a papal audience. I got to see his holiness sitting on his chair speaking to the people. I snapped some pictures for the folks back home and waited until the audience was over so that I could see the Basilica. My first stop was the series of papal crypts under the church. I saw the relics of St. Peter and the tombs of many popes. I lingered for a moment, as did most other people, before the tomb of John Paul II to pay my respects. While I have never been much of a religious person, I had enormous respect for the previous pope. He was an icon throughout my life so it felt right to pay my respects.

After leaving the crypts I entered the basilica. I have never seen a church of this magnitude anywhere in the world. It is simply enormous. The main nave towers hundreds of feet overhead while the dome-which you can see from almost anywhere in Rome-rises hundreds of feet beyond that. St. Peter’s cavernous halls are filled with exquisite artwork. Frescoes, mosaics, paintings and sculpture abound in this titanic church. No piece of art in St. Peter’s is more famous than Michelangelo’s master work-The Pieta. Michelangelo’s depiction of Mary’s lament for the slain Christ is smaller than I had imagined it would be. It is disappointingly behind glass, making it very hard to photograph. The Pieta is the only artwork that the Renaissance master ever signed.

After leaving St. Peter’s I sat at the base of a column in the square reflecting on all I had seen and writing in my journal. I tried to cherish every image and store it in my mind for a life time. Having seen the ancient Roman ruins and the Vatican, I felt at leisure to see the rest of the ancient city at a slow pace. I spent the 4th of July in Rome-my only holiday abroad. It was a melancholy feeling to be away from the states on one of the classically American holidays but I and many other tourists made the best of it by enjoying it together. I joined a pub crawl-the only one I would experience in Europe. The vast majority of my fellow crawlers were American and we went from bar to bar dancing and celebrating Independence Day until the small hours of the morning.

The rest of my week in Rome I spent taking my ease. My favorite place to hang out in Rome is the Pantheon. The Pantheon is by far the best preserved building in Rome. The temple was originally built by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all the gods of Rome. The building was destroyed in the Great Fire of Rome during the 1st century A.D. but rebuilt under the emperor Hadrian. It has stood ever since and is the oldest building on earth with its original roof. The Pantheon’s entrance portico is a popular place of gathering. The tall columns and high roof provide an airy and shady relief to the ubiquitous Roman sun. The interior of the temple is a dark and solemn place contrasted by one crucial detail. The circular hole at the apex of the domed ceiling allows some natural light into temple. During midday the sun enters the Pantheon as a solid column of light. The light is a pale gold that looks as though you could touch it. The effect is absolutely sublime.

From the Pantheon a dark stone path leads through a narrow corridor of shops and cafes leads to Trevi Fountain. The fountain was built during the 18th Century at the behest of Pope Clement XII on the spot on an historic fountain. The new Trevi fountain is one of the most breath taking baroque artworks ever made. Everyone gathers to throw coins over their shoulder into the fountain in hopes of returning to Rome. The fountain is a sprawling series of sculptures and boulders built into the side of a palace. The waters flow and spill in every direction. It is an extremely popular tourist destination so it is very important to watch out for the thieves that abound in Rome.

Later in the week I boarded a bus that took me to the outskirts of the city and dropped me off on the Appian Way. The Appian Way was the most important of Rome’s ancient roads traversing Italy north to south. The road is still paved in cobble stones; the narrow road is lined with high walls and villas. There is no sidewalk, and considering the speeds at which a typical Italian drives, it is an adventurous walk. After a short walk down the most famous road of the ancient world, I soon arrived at the Church of San Sebastian. For a modest fee, a tour guide led me and a group of visitors into the Catacombs of San Sebastian. The Catacombs resemble a network of caves, though they were dug by human beings into the soft loam. The earthen walls are covered with symbols of the ancient Christians, who buried their dead in the network of tunnels. Saints Peter, Paul and Sebastian at one time or another were all buried in the earth of San Sebastian. There are also many ancient Roman family crypts with walls carved in marble and devotional statues that have remained in perfect preservation for over two thousand years.

The rest of my stay in Rome was spent relaxing, checking out museums and eating great meals. I read for much of the time that I was in Rome. I walked down the banks of Tiber and sat against the high walls of the river bank, which are decorated with murals depicting the she-wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus. The river is a sluggish, algae filled affair that has seeped through the city since time began. Another fantastic place to relax is the Villa Borghese, the enormous municipal park to the north of town. The park is filled with fountains, gazebos and gorgeous trees and flowers. The park borders the Piazza del Popolo, a huge circular plaza at the confluence of a few major Roman roads. In the center stands an obelisk from ancient Egypt, one of the many carried from the desert as a trophy celebrating Augustus’ victory over Marc Antony and Cleopatra. There are countless such places in Rome-enough that you could spend months exploring it all.

Rivaling Paris, London, Madrid and New York, Rome is one of the most vibrant cities on earth. It is father of all western European cities and gave rise to modern Europe. The city is awash with ancient architecture, artwork and culture but still is the beating heart of modern Italy. The sun never seems to stop shining in Rome. The people are all tan, gorgeous and their accents sound like a singing voice. In Rome you can see precious treasures of the ancient world in the morning, lounge at an outdoor cafe by afternoon and dance all night at one of the many clubs. Although I had not planned to visit this imperial city, I will always treasure every minute that I spent in Rome.

The Top Ten Things to Do In Canada

Canada is a large and diverse area and there is so much to see and do in around the country and it is so underappreciated by both Canadians and Americans. Whether you come for a day, a week or a month or if you decide to pick up stakes and move here, there are a myriad of things to do and see and well, you will never get bored when you visit here!

1) The CN Tower. The CN tower was and still is the tallest free standing structure in the world. Built in the 1970s, it was a feat of engineering and still is today. Take the elevator to the top (the Sky Pod), you will truly be at the top of the world! Complete with 147 stories, in 1995, it was listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

2) Taking The Via Rail Through The Rocky Mountains. This picturesque mountain range is located in the western provinces of Canada. The mountains get their start in Saskatchewan and make their way to the coast. Via Rail runs from Toronto, Ontario to Winnipeg, Manitoba and from there, it runs all the way out to British Columbia. It is a sight that is unparallel in view and one that you will not soon forget.

3) Found right in the centre of the Rocky Mountains is a beautiful lake called Lake Louise. Found in Banff, Alberta, in the heart of the Rockies, this lake is designated a World Heritage Site by the UN. It is an amazing thing to see pretty much anytime of year. If you go during the winter, there are areas around there that you can go skiing at and well, if you go during the summer, there is much to do and see.

4) Stanley Park is the pride of Vancouver and the largest park in the city. Found on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, the park measures over 1,000 acres and size and offers a plethora of things to do for just about any age group. The park is surrounded by a walking, rollerblading and bicycle route that stretches over eight kilometres around the park and is known as the seawall. The park also boasts a farm for kids; an aquirum and a miniature railway along with the usual beaches and the like. It is something to see should you find yourself in Vancouver!

5) At the other side of the vast land known as Canada, you will find the Atlantic Ocean and along with that the infamous Cabot Trail. The trail is located in Nova Scotia and loops around Cape Breton. The trail is 298 kilometres long and loops through several small communities including a national park. On a clear day, from some of the higher elevations, you can see much and receive a great ocean view (the day we visited however, it was rainy and foggy, so you could not see much)

6) The Bruce Trail is one of the longest and oldest hiking trails in Canada. It is approximately eight hundred kilometres long and stretches from St. Catharines, Ontario on Lake Ontario all the way up north to Lake Hurron at Tobemorry, Ontario. As it runs through part of the city I live in, I have had the opportunity to hike part of it and it takes you past waterfalls and other gorgeous scenery and if you are a hiker, well this is a must!

7) The Parliament Buildings. The parliament buildings of Canada and is home to the federal government of Canada and are loosely modeled after the Parliament buildings in England. When you visit Ottawa, you can go see the buildings for free and see where important decisions that are made by government are made. If you are lucky, you can even get a peak at the senate and House of Commons while they are session.

8) The Quebec Winter Carnival is a must see if you are in Quebec City at the end of January for two and a half weeks, it is one of the largest carnivals in the world and certainly the largest winter one. Everything that you would associate with winter is available such as dog sled rides, night parades and snow and ice sculptures, but even more than this. There is even an ice hotel that you can stay in It is truly and experience!

9) The Calgary Stampede and Rodeo is held in Calgary, Alberta and features rodeos and chuck wagon rides and races and turns the whole city into a town from the old west. It is held during the month of July and runs for ten days that celebrate the way of life of a cowboy.

10) Algonquin Provincial Park is located in northern Ontario (about 210 kilometres north of Toronto, Ontario. The park features 7,725 square kilometres of forest, lakes and rivers and is a popular escape and a snapshot of the true Canadian wilderness. There are many lakes for kayaking and portaging along with areas for hiking, camping and fishing. It is the great Canadian outdoors at its very best!

Of course, this short list just skims the surface of the amount of beautiful sights, both man made and natural that Canada has to offer, that one should not miss when visiting Canada and since Canada has so much to offer, so why not think of Canada as your next holiday destination.

Undiscovered Paris: Little-Known Destinations in the City of Lights

Few people would consider going to Paris without seeing at least four things: The Seine River, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre. They might even plan their whole trip around these fantastic destinations, but after they’ve seen all there is to see at these big places, travelers are fuzzy about what comes next.

There is certainly more to Paris than the hugely popular attractions, and you may be surprised to find that you enjoy the smaller, out-of-the-way places even more. Paris is crammed full of history; even the least history-oriented person will be shocked to learn how old it really is and how many centuries of strife and tragedy have passed through the city.

One such place that many travelers most likely miss is the Luxembourg Gardens. This is a great place to go to escape the hub-bub of the main city and marvel in our ancestors’ creative genius. Look out for the sculpted trees, walkways, Roman-style architecture, and small enclaves of different kinds of flowers. You may even see a few potted palm trees, which seem to stick out in the City of Lights.

Besides the quaint gardens, you will also see Luxembourg Palace, constructed in the early 17th century and once the home of France’s elite. The palace is a beautiful work of art, symmetrical and romantic. Even if kids don’t appreciate the history and culture behind the palace, they are sure to love the bright colors and open-air experience of the gardens.

Paris’ Latin Quarter is a great place to go if you like a crowded, homey atmosphere. Kids and adults alike will enjoy the variety of shops. To picture the Latin Quarter, think of a place like New York City, with tall white buildings standing shoulder to shoulder, seemingly flowing together like one big structure. Don’t forget to look up as you stroll along this artsy walk; you may see the huge Notre Dame Cathedral looming overhead.

This is the section in which you will find the Musee d’Orsay, which may not be as famous as the Louvre but which will certainly not disappoint you. If you can think of any great artists with connections to France or the art world in general, chances are you will find their work here. The Musee d’Orsay might not be the best attraction for kids, so if you’re traveling with children, you may want to have a backup plan.

If you like old churches, you will certainly find more than Notre Dame to satisfy your love of beauty and reverence. Paris’ Sacre Coeur is a terrific destination for many reasons. It’s nowhere near as old as the famous cathedral (Sacre Coeur was built in the 1800s) but it is special in different ways. The overall style is almost Middle Eastern, and its grand domes and peaks bring the Taj Mahal to mind. A tour through the church will amaze you. Take a moment to see the art, enjoy the views, and soak in Paris’ religious history.

While you’re in this section known as Montmartre, don’t forget there are other things to do here as well. This is a great place to buy art, since it’s a huge painter’s haven. The rows of paintings and street vendors may very well be what most people think of when they ponder Paris. Also in this area, check out the windmill known as Moulin de la Galette; this is certainly an odd sight in the city.

The River Seine is one of Paris’ biggest attractions, but it’s more than a pretty face. It is part of the charm that makes Paris picturesque, so naturally you will want to take a cruise on the river. Remember to capture the terrific views you will see from the water. Paris’ natural beauty is just as much an attraction as the vibrant streets and historic buildings you will see.

Paris is full of various quarters that hold streets of shops, restaurants, artist havens, churches, and many other ways to pass the time. Those who have only a few days to visit the City of Lights should choose wisely; by all means, if you have a very little amount of time in Paris, make sure to see “the greats” like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, but if you’ve seen these things and want to really delve into the city of Paris, make sure to get the whole experience by exploring the little-known places as well.

By Lacie R. Schaeffer

Walking in Buenos Aires (By 4Ernesto)

There are two fundamental reasons why Buenos Aires is so inviting to those who enjoy exploring on foot. First, it is a city which evolved as a cluster of almost self-contained villages; each with its own particular airs and ambience, and it is a place where the walk or “paseo” is woven into the fabric of everyday existence. Strolling through a particular quarter will give visitors more than a glimpse of barrio life.

Each “barrio’s” main interests are highlighted: these include not only museums and monuments but the no less venerable shrines of pastries, wine and pasta.

The first stop is the city centre, the hub of hotels, steak houses and foreign exchange. The “Casa Rosada” (Government House) is the area’s heart; nearby are the Congress Building, the Colon Opera House, and some of Buenos Aires’ stateliest coffee houses, cinemas and bookstores, many of which are open all night.

The “barrio” of San Telmo is the city’s Soho, a charming quarter where old architecture serves as a backdrop to post modern art and attitudes. It is a neighborhood of cobbled streets and crumbling villas, of tango and jazz clubs and “underground” theatre.

La Boca is the old port area, settled by Italian dock workers at the turn of the century, renowned for its pizza parlors and flashy cantinas. The corrugated tin houses painted in bright primary colors give the neighborhood a carnival atmosphere, but it is a residential neighborhood still strongly influenced by its Italian heritage.

In glittering contrast is “Barrio Norte”, an elegant neighborhood built around a cemetery. This “barrio” of Parisian-style houses, boutiques and continental restaurants was built at the height of Argentina’s Gilded Age, and retains a good measure of its aristocratic grandeur. Adjacent is Palermo the home of Italiante villas, parks, a turn-of-the-century racetrack and a world-class polo field.

The “Costanera” is the river coastline at the edge of the city. It is too long to walk the entire route; a pleasant way to see it is to spend a late morning strolling on the old-fashioned promenades, then taking a taxi to one of the riverside restaurants for lunch.

Suggested day or weekend trips from Buenos Aires include an excursion out to the villages and ranches of the “pampas”, to the river delta at Tigre, or to neighboring Uruguay by river ferry.

City Centre
Inside every “porteno’s” head is a picture of Buenos Aires which resembles the famous New Yorker drawing of Manhattan. Looming large in the foreground is his “barrio”, his favourite cafe and the 24-hour “kiosko” (sweet shop) nearest his front door. On the horizon is Avenida General Paz, the city limit, beyond which are endless pampas and foreign countries. In the middle distance is El Centro, the city centre, where he spends a large amount of his spare time.

Buenos Aires is a city of fervent neighborhood loyalties, but the centre belongs to everyone. No matter what the “porteno’s” political persuasion or economic situation, there are certain landmarks – the bright pink Government House, the gilded and crumbling Cafe Molino, the closet-sized book-stores on Corrientes – which he loves passionately. Never try to tell a porteno who is showing you around downtown that the landmarks do not belong to him personally, or that there are other citizens of Buenos Aires who love them equally. He will only smile at you in disbelief. He is not just pointing out buildings; he is telling you his version of the city’s history, which is as vivid and as intimate as a wonderful, recurring dream.

The following walking-tour encompasses four important aspects of life in the city centre: politics, entertainment, cafes and shopping. Begin at the Plaza de Mayo, follow Avenida de Mayo to the Plaza de los dos Congresos, then double back down Corrientes and Lavalle to Florida, the main shopping promenade. The walk takes about two hours, but you should allow a bit more time for coffee and pastry in one of the old confiterias along the way. This tour also takes advantage of the flow of traffic. So if need be, you can take a taxi or “colectivo” up Avenida de Mayo and then back down Corrientes to Florida.

The Plaza de Mayo: Buenos Aires began with the Plaza de Mayo. Today it is a strikingly beautiful plaza with its tall palm trees, elaborate flower gardens and central monument, set off by the surrounding colonial buildings. The plaza has been and continues to be the pulsating centre of the country. Since its founding in 1580 as the “Plaza del Fuerte” (fortress) many of the most important historical events have had physical manifestations here.

The most eye-catching structure in the plaza is unquestionably the “Casa Rosada” (Pink House), the seat of the executive branch of the government. Flanking it is the Bank of the Argentine Nation, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the City Council and the “Cabildo” (Town Council).

Pink House: The Casa Rosada was originally a fortress overlooking what is now the Plaza Colon, but was at that time the river’s edge. When the Indian attacks subsided, the plaza became “Plaza del Mercado”, a marketplace and social centre. The name and role of the plaza changed again with the British invasions of 1806 and 1807, when it became the Plaza de la Victoria. Finally, following the declaration of independence, the plaza assumed its present name, in honor of the month of May, for it was in May 1810 when the city broke away from Spain and became an independent democracy.

The date also marks the first mass rally in the plaza, when crowds gathered to celebrate independence. Subsequently, Argentines have poured into the plaza to protest and celebrate most of the nation’s important events. Political parties, governments (de facto and constitutional), and even trade unions and the Church, use the plaza to make addresses or appeals to the people, and to gather support for their various causes.

Salient events in the history of “Plaza de Mayo” include the 1945 workers’ demonstration organized by Eva Peron to protect her husband’s brief detention. Ten years later, the airforce bombed the plaza while thousands of Peron’s supporters were rallying to defend his administration from the impending military coup. In 1982, Argentines flooded the plaza to applaud General Galtieri’s invasion of the Malvinas/Falkland Islands. A few months later, they were back, this time threatening to kill the military ruler for having lied to the country about the possibilities of winning the war with the British. More recently, on Easter Sunday, the population responded to President Alfonsin’s call to defend democracy with a turn-out of more than 300,000.

The mothers’ vigil: but the most famous rallies have been those of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, whose Thursday afternoon protests, demanding information on the whereabouts of their “disappeared” children, and punishment of those responsible for the kidnappings, still go on today. Their presence in the plaza is perhaps the best illustration of the symbolism of rallying here. During the last years of the military regime, young people accompanying the mothers would chant at the menacing army and anti-demonstration units: “Cowards, this plaza belongs to the mothers…”

Leaders traditionally address the masses from the balconies of the Casa Rosada. This building was constructed on the foundations of earlier structures in 1894. Sixteen years earlier, President Sarmiento had chosen the site for the new Government House. There are several versions of why he had it painted pink, the most credible of which is that it was the only alternative to white in those days. The special tone was achieved by mixing beef fat, blood and lime. Some insist that Sarmiento chose pink to distinguish the building from the U.S. White House. Still others say that pink was selected as a compromise between two feuding parties whose colours were white and red.

There are many more you can see in Buenos Aires but I will talk about them later. One thing is sure; you will never feel bored in this city!!!

Ice Cream on Maine’s Coast

The state of Maine is known for its summer vacation lure. Visitors travel to Maine from all corners of the globe to take advantage of the mild summer temperatures, the fresh, clean, and unspoiled landscape, the uncrowded beaches, the thick woods, the many lakes, and all the summer outdoor recreation opportunities. But that is not all. There is of course the plethora of tourist attractions, including various lighthouses along the Maine coast, quaint, family-owned restaurants that serve fresh lobster right out of the Atlantic, and the many historic landmarks that show Maine’s place in American and World history. But one of the lesser talked-about features found in the state of Maine are the large number of ice cream establishments that can be found in just about every small town. While Maine summers are mild, they still get hot temperatures in July and August, sometimes well into the 90s. Mainers like to keep cool in their above-ground swimming pools, the various swimming ponds and lakes, and at the local ice cream establishments. Following are a few favorite ice cream places in Maine.

Dairy Frost is a drive-up ice cream shack located in Brunswick, Maine, just across the street from the Brunswick Naval Air Station. Visitors park in the small parking lot and order their ice cream through a window. There is a huge variety of ice cream and ice cream related treats. From the more than thirty flavors of soft-serve to the many varieties of locally made Gifford’s ice cream. Dairy Frost offers banana splits, malts, sundaes, and everything in between. Visitors will enjoy sitting on the lawn on picnic tables as they enjoy their cool, summer treat!

Just down the road from Dairy Frost is one of the world famous Cold Stone Creameries. New to the Brunswick area, Cold Stone has made a huge splash and is nearly as popular as the local establishments. Cold Stone offers its signature ice cream complete with a huge variety of toppings and mix-ins, and the staff entertains guests with singing and friendliness.

Just across the Androscoggin River in the small town of Topsham, is a Dairy Queen that has been in business for many years. Located on Main Street in Topsham, the old-fashioned, drive-up Dairy Queen only serves ice cream and related treats; no burgers or hot dogs at THIS Dairy Queen. A sign atop the roof claims that many years ago, Lyndon B. Johnson ate there; but visitors do not care. They love to order their blizzards and other treats to enjoy as they walk down the main street of town, or lounge on the picnic tables on the lawn behind the building.

More inland is the town of Wayne, Maine, just north of Maine’s capitol city of Augusta. Wayne has a tiny walk-up ice cream shack called Tubby’s, which serves its own delectable home-made ice cream to eager visitors. Tubby’s makes all its ice cream from scratch, right on site, and uses only natural ingredients. Set just on the edge of a scenic pond, visitors will enjoy sitting on benches, strolling around the pond, or hanging their feet off the footbridge, as they enjoy their creamy treats.

Farther up the coast in beautiful Bar Harbor is Jordan Pond Ice Cream; some of the creamiest ice cream to be found on the planet. Here, visitors can walk inside to order, but there is no place to sit. After purchasing their decadent ice cream and perhaps a slice of homemade fudge, visitors will want to walk across the street to the scenic park just on the edge of the harbor. Some of the favorite flavors at Jordan Pond Ice Cream are the coconut and peach ice creams.

In the bustling shopping town of Freeport, Maine, there are several ice cream shops which will tempt visitors’ taste buds, but one of the favorites lies just outside the front doors of the world famous L.L. Bean Outdoor Store. After tourists have shopped to their hearts content, they will want to step outside next to the waterfall and visit the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop. Known across American for having hilarious names for its ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s in Freeport lives up to its famous name and offers decadent ice cream for everyone who passes through its doors.

While most visitors do not travel to Maine solely for its ice cream, they will definitely want to take advantage of these and other ice cream shops while traveling in the pine tree state. Bon Voyage!

Christmas Concerts in the Eastern USA

Handbell Concerts Around the USA.

If you are a fan of handbells and handbell choirs, or if would like to find out more about this beautiful musical instrument, then you may want to attend any in a realm of special events to be held in the eastern part of the United States this Christmas Holiday Season.

Some of the major handbell events are listed here for your traveling information. Handbells have gathered increasing respect and appreciation in the last decade, moving form the church choir loft into the symphonic symphony house. Christmas is a great time to travel and enjoy concerts of many kinds, including handbells, with your friends and families. Visit some of the following venues for lasting Christmas memories.

St. John’s Bells of Praise.
St. John’s United Methodist Church in Springfield. Virginia

St. John’s will present a concert for a fund-raising event on Sunday, December 17, in preparation for a musical mission trip to Taiwan at the end of 2006. This trip will spread the Gospel good news through music and promote handbell music throughout the nation of Taiwan. This is an exciting undertaking, so come and support this mission project and enjoy a tremendous concert at 4:30 p.m. at

St. John’s UMC
5312 Backlick Road
Springfield, VA 22151

The Anacrusis Duet for Handbells and Harp presents a series of Pre-Concerts with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra during the annual Boston Holiday Spectacular Concerts at

Joseph Myerhoff Symphony Hall
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Baltimore, Maryland
Fri. Dec. 15th at 7:30 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 16th at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Sun. Dec. 17th at 2:00 p.m.
Wed. Dec. 20th at 2:00 p.m.
Thu. Dec. 21st at 7:30 p.m.
Fri. Dec. 22nd at 7:30 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 23rd at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The exciting Pre-Concerts start one hour before the regularly scheduled concert begins.

Alpha 4 handbell group of Gaithersburg, MD
Contact Pamela Ion at
Saturday, December 2, 2006: Urbana Library from 3:00-3:30 p.m.

Saturday, December 2, 2006: First Saturday Gallery Walk in Frederick from 6:00-9:00 p.m. On the corner of Patrick and Market Street

Saturday, December 9, 2006: Alpha 4 Duo will perform at the Frederick Library between 2:30-4:30 p.m. for the Museums by Candlelight.
Friday, December 15, 2006: Alpha 4 Duo will perform at the Oral and Immunology Branch of the National Institutes of Health from 12:00-1:00 p.m.

Other Alpha 4 handbell group dates for 2007 are the following:
Saturday, March 31, 2007: Alpha 4 will ring in the new museum season in Frederick at the Schifferstadt for Bell & History Day between 10:30 am & 12:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 31, 2007: Alpha 4 will continue to ring in the afternoon with patriotic selections at the C. Burr Artz Library.

Capital Ringers in the state of Delaware

Saturday, November 25- “Red Kettle Ring” for Salvation Army in Dover, Delaware.

There will be numerous handbell groups and choirs performing in the Kent County area to ring Christmas music at KMart for the Salvation Army from 10am-9pm. This whole day long event is organized by the Capital Ringers.

If you want to join in for an hour or two of ringing for this worthwhile humanitarian cause, please call 302.677.0187 for more information.

More Capital Ringers!

Saturday, December 2, 5:30-8:00
Dover Downs Hotel Lobby
Dover, Delaware

Friday, December 8, 6:30-9:00
Dover Downs Hotel Lobby
Dover, Delaware Chocolate Festival

Saturday, December 9, 5:30-8:00
Dover Downs Hotel Lobby
Dover, Delaware Chocolate Festival

Sunday, December 10, 1:00-3:30
Dover Downs Hotel Lobby
Dover, Delaware Chocolate Festival

Ring In Christmas! A Combined Holiday Concert

Sunday, December 17, 4:00pm
Christmas Concert at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church
425 N. Dupont Hwy
Dover, Delaware
Capital Ringers, the Bells of St. Andrews, and the RAD Ringers in concert.
Suggested donation is $5 per person, $10 per family.2nd Annual Young

Young Musicians Workshop
Saturday, February 3, 8:30am -12 pm
St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church
425 N. Dupont Hwy
Dover, Delaware.

This is an exciting half day long workshop for musical instruction and special activities for children in grades 2 through 8. Participants will learn how to ring handbells and choirchimes, how to play Boomwhackers, and how to enjoy rhythm games and movement activities, plus a lot more. For more information call 677-0187. The very reasonable workshop fee is 25 dollars for each student. This wonderful event is sponsored by the Capital Ringers.

Virginia Handbell Consort group December concerts

Friday, December 1, 7:30 PM
Mary T. Christian Auditorium
Thomas Nelson Community College
99 Thomas Nelson Drive
Hampton, VA 23670

Sunday, December 3, 4:00 PM
Bayside Presbyterian Church
1400 Ewell Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23455

Monday, December 4, 7:30 PM
Concert with the Virginia Wesleyan College Choir
A part of the VWC Concert Series
1584 Wesleyan Drive
Norfolk, VA 23502

Friday, December 8, 7:00 PM
Concert with the Fort Monroe TRADOC Band
Fort Monroe Theater
Hampton, VA

Saturday, December 9, 2:00 PM
Concert with the Fort Monroe TRADOC Band
Fort Monroe Theater
Hampton, VA

Saturday, December 9, 7:00 PM
Reformation Lutheran Church
13100 Warwick Blvd.
Newport News, VA 23602

Sunday, December 10, 7:00 PM
Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church
6400 Newport Avenue
Norfolk, VA 23505

Saturday, December 16, 7:00 PM
Millfield Baptist Church
11225 Ivor Road
Ivor, VA 23866

Sunday, December 17, 5:00 PM
Old Donation Episcopal Church
4449 N. Witchduck Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23455

Sunday, December 31
First Night Williamsburg 2007!
Downtown Williamsburg, VA

Tapestry handbell group Christmas schedule

30 November: Magnolia Manor
Concert at 10:00 a.m.
Contact person Millie Dixon, work, 357-073
2101 John Ross
Smithfield, VA 2343

07 December: Province Place
Concert 10:00 a.m.
Contact person Laurie Perron, work, 686-9100
Bon Secours Way
Portsmouth, VA 23703

14 December: Nansemond Point Rehabilitation and Retirement Community
200 West Constance Road
Suffolk, VA 23434
Concert:10:30 a.m.
Contact person Tamika Hammond, work, 539-8744

18 December: Monumental UMC Noonday Concert Series
450 Dinwiddie Street
Portsmouth, VA 23704
Concert 12:00 noon
Charm Peterman 757-766-8658

Mitchell Ringers of St. Matthews UMC
Annandale, VA
Friday, Dec. 8th at 7:30

Chesapeake Bronze handbell group

A Christmas Concert
Sunday, Dec. 10th at 4:00 PM
Huntingtown United Methodist Church
Huntingtown, MD
Joyce Terry 301-855-2461

Virginia Bronze handbell group

Sunday, Dec. 3rd at 3:00 PM
The Lyceum in Alexandria, VA

Friday, Dec. 29th at 7:00 PM and 8:00 PM
The Mormon Temple Festival of Lights
Kensington, MD

Mitchell Ringers of St. Matthews, UMC, Annandale, VA
Friday, Dec. 8th at 7:30 PM
Market Square Christmas Tree in Alexandria, VA
Nancy Cappel 703-978-3500

Wednesday, Dec. 13th at 7:00 and 8:00 PM
Mormon Temple Visitors Center, Kensington, MD
Nancy Cappel 703-978-3500

Senior Singers Chorale of Arlington and
The Polymnia Bells of Arlington

Saturday, Dec. 9th at 4:00 PM
Westover Baptist Church of Arlington, VA
Melodie Feather 703-283-2604

Monday, Dec.11th at 6:00 PM
Millennium Stage, Kennedy Center, Washington, DC
Melodie Feather 703-283-2604

Celebration & Jubilee Ringers of St. Matthews UMC, Annandale, VA

Sunday, Dec. 10th at 2:00 PM
Market Square Christmas Tree in Alexandria, VA
Nancy Cappel 703-978-3500

Handbell concerts in Raleigh, NC

Friday, December 1, 2006
8:00 pm Concert
Dunn Center
Rocky Mount, North Carolina

Saturday, December 2, 2006
3:00 pm Concert
7:30 pm Concert
J.E. Broyhill Civic Center
Lenoir, North Carolina

Sunday, December 3, 2006
3:00 pm Concert
Carolina Theatre
Greensboro, North Carolina

Saturday, December 16, 2006
3:00 pm and 8:00 pm
Sunday, December 17, 2006
3:00 pm
Meymandi Concert Hall
Raleigh, North Carolina

Tickets for all events are available at the Progress Energy Center Box Office and at all Ticketmaster outlets. Early bird tickets are available for $10 directly through The Raleigh Ringers through December 1st.

Spring Festivals 2007
March 9-10, 2007
Ocean City, Maryland

April 20-21, 2007
Hampton, Virginia

Arnold Sherman will serve as Guest Conductor at both concerts and Zana Kizzee will be the Genesis Track Conductor.

Capital Area Young Ringers Festival
March 10, 2007
Edenton Street United Methodist Church
Raleigh, North Carolina
The Guest Conductor will be Tim Waugh.

Follow the Star – arranged by Martha Lynn Thompson, CGB 450
Kolyada – Tim Waugh, Jeffers Junior High School 9196
Proclamation – Kevin McChesney Jeffers Junior High School 9044
This is My Father’s World – arranged by John Carter, Agape 1841

Holidays In The Queen City

Although the Thanksgiving holiday is just around the corner, family and friends are already scurrying to plan their Christmas get-away. Some my travel across the globe and visit their family in Italy and others my dread the cross-town drive to have dinner with their folks. Other’s, like myself, have little options for family yuletide fun, so exotic destinations for the holidays is my rule of thumb. If you are in the same boat as myself and do not live in the mid west, I would suggest an unconventional winter holiday in the Queen city of Cincinnati, OH. Though not most people’s first choice of a winter get away, I assure you that if you visit this city, you will have plenty of money left over to throw a great New Years Eve bash.

Cincinnati may be known for such holiday fares as the annual Thanksgiving Day Race, but did most of you know that you could actually ski here in the city of Flying Pigs? That’s right. If ice skating is not your thing you should take I-275 just on the other side of the border to Indiana (though a different state, it is still considered the Greater Cincinnati area) and spend a weekend at Perfect North Slopes. The ten slopes that are geared towards everyone from beginner to advanced will keep the entire family entertained for the entire weekend. They even give ski and snow boarding lessons if you are a true novice.

Who said that amusement parks are only fun when it is warm outside? One of the largest amusement attractions in the Greater Cincinnati area does not limit itself to the warm summer months. Paramount’s King Island located just a few miles north of Cincinnati in Kings, Ohio, this amusement park dazzle its patrons with a marinade of holiday scenes. All of these scenes and festivities are illuminated with thousands of white lights that cascade from the top of the multiple storied miniature Eiffel Tower down to the skating rink. Though this is not a free event, the twenty minute jaunt from downtown should not be a problem. Hey, you can even sing “Jingle Bells” all along the way there!

Kings Island is not the only place where a bevy of white holiday lights can been seen. While in Cincinnati for the holidays, make sure you travel to the oldest zoos in the country. At Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, you can take in the Festival of Lights where you can match your wonderment for animals with the wonderment of light.

Moving back a little closer to the heart of the city, we see that during the days following Thanksgiving and running all the way through the New Year, Fountain Square, located in the heart of downtown Cincinnati, boast being a Mecca of Christmas cheer. Everything from a lit 3 story Christmas tree to the newly placed 2 story video screen atop of Macy’s will certainly keep you entertained. I would suggest traveling to this downtown hot spot to partake in the holiday ritual of ice skating. This Rockefeller Square-esque skating ring attracts the young and old and is a great way to rock your winter blues away.

Fountain Square and the skating rink are not the only beauties to behold while you are trotting around the downtown Cincinnati area. By walking, just a few blocks sought of the magnificent square, the sprawling downtown vision opens up to a natural masterpiece of the Ohio River. The view is stunning of you partake on a cloudlessly sunny day, but if you want to experience e the true wonderment of the rushing river, you should wait until the night falls upon the city. The lights reflected from Covington, KY’s (Cincinnati’s southern neighbor) skyline off the Mighty Ohio is seen by few, but enjoyed by all.

As said in the beginning of this lament, when you think of places to vacation during the holiday season the first cities that come you mind may be Miami or Los Angeles. Though these cities are warm and a great get away from the cold Midwestern snowstorms, please do not forget about Cincinnati. Remember, it was Samuel Clemmons who wanted to be in Cincinnati if the world ends.

Traveling Smartly in Vietnam

A trip to Ho Chin Minh City should learn these useful tips before traveling or planning to go to Vietnam.

1. Beware of taxi drivers. If you are staying in a hotel, I strongly suggest that you arrange for a hotel pickup at the airport. It is safer and sometimes even cheaper since some taxi drivers would not use their taxi meters and ask for an unreasonably high taxi fare. Did I also mention that hotel cars are more comfortable and more luxurious?

In case your hotel pickup did not arrive (which happened to me once), look for one of major taxi companies, like Vinataxi, stationed at the airport. Do not take the smaller fleets of taxis whose drivers coerce you to ride in their cabs. You will feel unsafe throughout the journey and end up paying at least two times more.  Of course, you can always take then easy route by signing up for preplanned private tours.

Traveling within the city is easier since taxis can be seen everywhere. However, you still have to carefully choose your taxi. Again, take the bigger taxi fleets to get you around the metropolis.

2. Learn to count in thousands. One American dollar is equal to 15000 Dong, which is how Vietnam ‘s local currency is called. This makes you literally a multimillionaire once you change your $200 to Dong! In addition, most of your retail transactions will be in thousands – you’ll pay your cab driver in thousands, you’ll pay your cup of coffee in thousands, you’ll purchase your personal supplies in thousands, among others. If you’re like me who is used to counting money in tens and hundreds, be prepared to go big time and count in higher multiples.

Luckily, the Vietnamese Dong usually come in denominations of 5000, 10000, and 50000 instead of 10, 100, and 500. While you need to count 30000 VND as you pay a street vendor, you’ll have a strong head start with your 5000 and 10000 bills. Just imagine what it will be if you only have 50s and 100s.

3. Speak slowly, Mr and Ms. Like some countries in Asia , majority of Vietnamese people speak in their native language. For those people who can understand and speak English, you have to talk to them slowly. I have a general impression that Vietnamese are mild-mannered people so they expect other people to behave in the same way. They will speak to you slowly and often softly, so you have to respond slowly as well. Pay extra attention to their facial expressions too when you’re talking. When they seem to be looking for someone or something else, you have to pause and check understanding. Most probably, they are already finding it hard to understand you.

You also address Vietnamese people with Mr or Ms followed by their surname. This may be quite formal for some cultures but that’s just the way it is. People really would not find it offending if you fail to do this but when you’re in a foreign country, it’s best to follow what the locals do. People will address you as Mr and Ms too.

4. Your credit is good but they need cash. Unlike other developing nations, most business establishments in Ho Chi Minh only accept cash. I personally learned this lesson the hard way when I had to skip dinner for a couple of hours. I went shopping to a local market once and spent most of my cash buying local finds. I then chanced upon a nice restaurant afterwards. Feeling exhausted and hungry, I went inside. Knowing that my money may not be enough, I first asked a waitress if they accept credit cards. To my dismay, they don’t and I ended up going back to the hotel for a late dinner. Well, I’m still happy I inquired first – I sure don’t want to be in big trouble in another country.

All major hotels accept credit cards but anywhere else, better bring your cash.

5. Find the best buys at the local markets. Souvenirs from Vietnam are expertly crafted and aesthetically pleasing. The most common keepsake items include lacquer vases and plates, ceramic dolls, charcoal, watercolor, or oil paintings, and fabrics and handicrafts. Where to find them? Go to the nearest local market. The most popular in Ho Chi Minh is called Ben Tanh, where you can find the best bargains for local products. They are exactly the same as what you’ll see in the department stores but they cost significantly less. The items are also somewhat unique to Vietnam , which make them perfect gifts for yourself and your loved ones.

Give these ideas a try and make your next trip to Vietnam a memorable one!