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Rome, the Winter Olympics, Wine, Ferrari, beautiful beaches Italy has it all. If you are considering traveling to Italy, here are some things you should know.

An Overview of Italy for Travelers

An Overview of Italy for TravelersRome, the Winter Olympics, Wine, Ferrari, beautiful beaches Italy has it all. If you are considering traveling to Italy, here are some things you should know.An Overview of Italy for TravelersFrom a European perspective, there is little doubt that Italy is the foundation of modern society in the West. This is conclusion is primarily due to two facts, the reign of the Romans and the Roman Catholic Church. In more modern times, Italy became a nation-state in 1861 when the city-states of the peninsula, along with Sardinia and Sicily, were united under King Victor Emmanuel II. An era of parliamentary government came to a close in the early 1920s when Benito Mussolini established a Fascist dictatorship. His disastrous alliance with Nazi Germany led to Italy's defeat in World War II. A democratic republic replaced the monarchy in 1946 and economic revival followed. Italy was a charter member of the European Economic Community. It has been at the forefront of European economic and political unification. Persistent problems include illegal immigration, organized crime, corruption, high unemployment, sluggish economic growth, and the low incomes and technical standards of southern Italy compared to the prosperous north.If you are going to Italy, here are some basic things you need to know. 1. Northern Italy is wealthy while the south is not. 2. Italy is slightly larger than the state of Arizona.3. Italy's climate is predominantly Mediterranean with Alpine in far north and hot, dry areas in the south. 4. Vatican City in Rome is considered an independent country. 5. You cannot get into any area of the Vatican wearing shorts. 6. Rome had the first paved streets in the world in 170 B.C. Vehicles had to be banned because of traffic jams!7. Roman gladiators were the first athletes to endorse products.8. Considered one of the oddest Emperors, Caligula appointed his horse to a senate position among other more infamous actions. 9. Roman statutes were very utilitarian. The heads could be removed and replaced to reflect the changes in political climate. 10. When the Roman army lost a battle, they really took it hard. Commanders would kill every tenth soldier under their command. This act is the root of the word decimate.11. Surprising to many is the fact there were significant time periods where ancient Rome had no Emperor. The senate would rule. In times of threat, the senate would elect a person as Emperor. He had absolute power, giving rise to the term dictator. 12. Vast percentages of Romans died from lead poisoning. They used is as a sweetener! 13. In the early 1900s, Prince Piero Ginori Conti invented the geothermal pump. He is considered the father of modern geothermal power.14. 20 Italians have won the Nobel Prize.15. Michelangelo's real name is Michelangelo Buonarroti.16. The population of Italy as of 2005 was 58,103,033 people.17. The flag of Italy was inspired by the French flag brought in 1797 by Napoleon. 18. Lehman Brothers owns seven percent of Ferrari. 19. Italy trails only Brazil in World Cup wins. Italy is an amazing country with colorful, animated people. From ancient culture to a bustling modern country, a trip to Italy is hard to beat.

Ten Free Attractions For The Las Vegas Bride And Groom

Ten Free Attractions For The Las Vegas Bride And Groom

If youre getting married in Las Vegas, here are some free attractions to help make your wedding trip even more memorable.1. Bellagio FountainsThe Bellagio Fountains on the Strip put on a show that anyone can watch for free. Music plays and the jets of water dance to the tune. The shows last two to three minutes, depending on the music. Its even better at night when the fountains are lit with beautiful lights, adding to the magic of the fountains.Showtimes: Monday-Friday 3pm-8pm every half hour, 8pm-12am every 15 minutes. Saturday-Sunday: 12pm-8pm every half hour, 8pm-12am every 15 minutes.2. Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical GardensYoull find the Botanical Gardens past the Bellagios lobby. Enjoy strolling among the wonderful seasonal display of plants and flowers. You can even take photos there.3. MGM Grand Lion HabitatInside the casino you can view lions daily from 11am-10pm. Its a wonderful experience and there are plenty of Lion Habitat souvenirs you can buy at the gift shop.4. White Tigers at the MirageView Siegfried & Roys white tigers in their specially designed habitat at the Mirage. The public are able to see these majestic creatures throughout the day and evening. 5. Volcano at the MirageOn the hour from 7pm-12am daily, you can watch the volcano erupt. Its located at the front of the Mirage and looks really impressive against the darkness of the night sky.6. Aquarium at the MirageLocated behind the front desk and a must see for aquarium lovers is a 53 foot long aquarium which boasts over 1,000 creatures from all over the world including Australia, Fiji and the Caribbean.7. Sirens of TIDaily at 7pm, 8.30pm, 10pm and 11.30pm, the Sirens of TI live show is a seventeenth century battle between attractive sirens and a group of pirates. Located at the front of Treasure Island and featuring music and dancing, its a fun show.8. M&Ms WorldM&Ms World is next door to MGM Grand. You can watch a free 3D movie and have lots of fun exploring the four floors that make up M&Ms World.9. Circus Acts at Circus CircusEvery half hour from 11am-12am daily you can see exciting live circus acts at the carnival midway.10. Ethel M FactoryOnly 15 minutes from the Strip, the Ethel M Factory offers a free self guided tour, viewing of the Living Machine and a stroll through the Botanical Cactus Garden. See www.ethelm.com.The above information was current at time of writing. Las Vegas is ever changing so it might be a good idea to check that these free attractions are still available when you plan your trip to Las Vegas.

On Oregon's Coast: Lewis & Clark and the Holidays

On Oregon

Sometimes, the best holiday celebrations aren't the most famous or obvious ones. This is especially true on Oregon's coast, where one big secret is that this time of year doesn't just mean the area's notoriously stormy and wild weather, but that it has many days that are unusually dry and warm compared to the rest of the state. But the most delightful secrets lie in the realm of holiday celebrations, which make for some memorable discoveries along this famously pristine stretch of shoreline. On the northern Oregon coast, the holidays begin not with the usual celebrations, but with a major wine event and loads of signature Lewis & Clark commemorations. On November 7, it will have been exactly two hundred years since William Clark wrote "Ocian in view! O! the Joy!" as he spotted what he thought was the Pacific Ocean (it was actually a big bay just before the ocean). For the next five months, staring in 1805, the Corps of Discovery spent their time in this part of the Northwest. The "Lewis & Clark" Bicentennial marks this, and things kick off at Fort Stevens (between Seaside and Astoria) on November 11, with the "Opening Ceremony - Lewis & Clark Veteran's Day Commemoration." Oregonian and former Miss America, Katie Harmon (2002), will sing the national anthem, and the event will feature banners from local tribes and other remembrances of the Corps of Discovery. November 14 brings the Dedication Of The Fort To Sea Trail at Fort Ctatsop (near Fort Stevens), marking the trail from the crew's winter quarters to their time on the beaches of Seaside.Fort Clatsop - the replica of the Corps' winter camp - will feature various "Wintering Over Events" between the Fort and Cannon Beach. This replica tragically burned in early October, but the visitor center there is still the center of many of the winter events, including a living history program about their Christmas at the camp on December 25. On January 7, the celebration comes to "Cannon Beach" (some 25 miles south), marking the day that Clark, Sacegawea and others traveled to the ocean to see a beached whale.The adorable resort town of Seaside - which boasts broad, immaculate beaches, the "million dollar walk" of Broadway Ave., and a cove famous for surfing - will be one of the few cities to host a major traveling exhibit on Lewis & Clark. From November 19 to November 22, you'll find the "Corps of Discovery II, 200 yrs. To The Future," with a mobile 250-seat auditorium showing multimedia programs on Lewis & Clark's troupe of travelers. Free. 503-861-4403. www.destinationthepacific.com.Also on November 19, Seaside will abound with the bounty of the vineyard with the holiday-themed Seaside Downtown Wine Walk. The now-annual event features hundreds of folks wandering throughout the downtown area and taste-testing Northwest wines. $5 for the wristband. 503-717-1914 or www.seasidedowntown.com. By late November, Seaside really gets lit up with the "Yuletide at Seaside," where the entire town is decked out in all sorts of light configurations. Highlights include the Holiday Gift Fair on November 25 - 27 at the Seaside Civic & Convention Center, the famous Holiday Caroling & Lighted Float Parade on November 26, the Holiday Lights Tour aboard a bus on December 10 and 11, and the Seaside Children's Christmas Party at the Seaside Convention Center on December 11. Call 800-394-3303 for more information on all these, or go to www.seasideor.com. If you want to stay in a castle on Oregon's coast and enjoy some special holiday events, you need only look about 15 miles south of Seaside to St. Bernard's Bed & Breakfast. This stunning beauty is built to look somewhere between a medieval structure and a Swiss ski lodge, filled with antique furniture and a spicy sense of romance and adventure - in an exceptionally upscale way. Every morning means gourmet breakfasts made by the able hand of owner Barbara Dau. Thanksgiving means Dau's talents will create a special traditional dinner with her artistic flair. It's open to in-house guests only, and cost is $65, including fine wines as well. The highlight here, aside from the food and wondrous surroundings, is the engaging, convivial atmosphere created by gathering to dine with others you haven't met before. This, and St. Bernard's special New Year's Eve traditions, are becoming an increasingly popular addiction for Oregon and Washington residents.On New Year's Eve, Dau puts together a six-course gourmet bash, which features dishes from around the world and matching wines for each. It's a culinary and wine-tasting trip across the globe. It all ends with champagne by a beach bonfire that is breathtaking every year. www.st-bernards.com. 800-436-2848.In Newport - the town with two lighthouses - the ancient Bayfront gets gussied up in an incredible array of lights. Nearby, the historic Nye Beach district (known as the "Honeymoon Capitol of the World" for various reasons) has an antique charm that's somewhere between old Europe and turn-of-the-century America with its tiny cobblestone streets. For those who want to celebrate with more than a little finery, the stunning bistro-style eatery Village Market & Deli goes into overdrive with its legendary cuisine, offering special holiday dishes to its partial ocean view, sometimes to the shimmering sounds of guest musicians. This pleasure, and the owners' sister business, Blu Cork Wine Bar, are one of Newport's hush-hush holiday knockouts. Blu Cork will feature a stunning sourdough bread pudding and chocolate cake for the season that contains a multitude of taste layers, as well as specialty holiday meats, spreads, terrines, pates and champagne - all surrounded by its famous wine-themed dcor and selection of memorable northwest wines. (541-574-9393 for Village Market & Deli).

Mexico's Unknowns

Mexico

Mexico... The place to party. It's the perfect destination to relax on the beach, barter with locals, drink tequila, and get a tan. For the most part, Mexico is considered a fairly safe place to visit if you will be in the safety of an all inclusive resort. This was the attitude of Pamela Woods, just 3 months ago, on her trip to Mexico which was drastically different than she expected. I dont want to be costing the resort all kinds of money and give them a bad reputation, so I will keep the name of the resort confidential. But what I will tell you is the story of Pamela Woods. Pam is a family girl, as she is married to a nice doctor, and has 2 wonderful daughters. Her life went in a spin 3 months ago, during her visit to an all inclusive resort in mexico. One of her daughers, and her husband, drove down from canada, to meet the other daughter and herself at the resort. All was well when the family was together again, but the second evening of mexico wasn't so spectacular. Pamela Woods, mother of 2, was beaten and raped on the shores of the resort, by a local mexican around 7:30pm. She left her sandals at the beach that afternoon, and remembered to go and get them after dinner. When she didn't come back to the room, the kids and husband began to panic.The threesome set out in search for her, and found her lying on the beach, bloody, bruised, and naked. This was a devistating trip for the Woods family.This story is not supposed to be a scary or disgusting, it is intended to inform you tourists of the threats that are there, even in a 5 star resort. I'm not saying "Stay away from mexico", because it can be a fun time just take into consideration that the worst CAN happen, and it did to Pam Woods. Travel together, and never go out alone.

Sunderland City guide, including Sunderland Hotels

As one of England's newest cities, Sunderland is a city with a difference. It combines a modern, bustling centre with a relaxing green environment, stunning coastal scenery and a refreshing attitude to life. In Sunderland, quality of life and quality of environment go hand in hand. The rapidly improving city centre has an enviable location, set right on the mouth of the River Wear, next to an award-winning coastline and surrounded by easily accessible countryside. Add to that a range of outstanding heritage, cultural and sporting attractions and you'll find that Sunderland has everything you need for an ideal short break.Places of interest:Sunderland has one of the few national museums based outside London - the National Glass Centre. It has a Winter Garden, a 21st century palm-house in a city-centre park; one of Britain's earliest Christian churches; and a university that is a fashionable destination for young film-makers.Penshaw Monument is one of the North East's most prominent landmarks; it was built in 1844 in honour of the first Earl of Durham, John George Lambton. Located opposite Herrington Country Park, Penshaw Monument stands magnificently above the city on a limestone hill in the middle of the Great North Forest and affords views as far as Durham Cathedral and the North Pennines.Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens was awarded second place in the Large Visitor Attraction category, Excellence in England awards, Sunderland's museum is hugely popular with visitors of all ages. A range of fascinating multimedia presentations tell the city's story from its early foundations to the present day. One of the galleries boasts an extensive collection of paintings by LS Lowry, who considered Sunderland his second home.The National Glass Centre is based in an innovative new building on the north bank of the River Wear. It is dedicated to promoting glass and all its uses; in design, technology and as a vehicle for artistic expression. Here you can explore the history of glass making in the UK and see examples of the contemporary glass maker's art. It is a fascinating experience for visitors of all ages.Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art is located on the top floor of the City Library and Arts Centre. It has received critical acclaim for its changing exhibitions programme, featuring the current work of local, national and international artists.Fullwell Mill is the most complete windmill in the North East and is located just north of Roker. Built in 1821 from the magnesium limestone from nearby quarries, it features a purpose-built visitor centre that offers a glimpse of the workings of a 19th century windmill. The ancient art of corn milling is demonstrated during the guided tour of the mill's five floors.Things to do:The award winning beaches and nearby parks play host to a number of Sunderland's annual outdoor events. These include the annual international air show and the Waterfront Weekend featuring world music, art and theatre. There are some spectacular coastal walks to suit all ages and the sands of the city's beaches at Roker and Seaburn are the perfect place for walking and jogging. The cliff-top parks to the north of the city, allow you to walk the Bede's Way or follow the Walney to Wear cycling routes.Roker & Seaburn Beaches just north of the city centre provide a wonderful seaside playground for adults and children alike.Washington Wildfowl & Wetland Centre is a great family day out. This recreated wetland provides a 'stop over' and wintering habitat for migratory water birds after their passage over the North Sea. It is a haven for curlew and redshank and a breeding ground for flocks of herons. The Wetland Discovery Centre offers a view of the wide range of wildlife and a programme of art exhibitions.Marine Activities Centre is Sunderland's main focus for all types of water-based sports and leisure activities, from sailing and canoeing to pleasure fishing or a river cruise. Take a boat trip out along the Wear to enjoy the varied riverscape or try out more water sports and other activities at the centre.The Sunderland Wall is Europe's premier indoor climbing centre, where the facilities and courses cater for everyone from the novice to the die-hard crag rat.Sunderland International Air show attracts over a million visitors every year to the seafront at Seaburn to watch the thrilling displays by jet fighters, vintage aircraft, helicopters and aerobatic teams, including the world famous Red Arrows.Food & Drink:You will find that Sunderland offers the visitor the choice of world cuisine. From Italian cuisine to the latest Japanese sushi bar, you'll find a huge range of restaurants sure to get your taste buds tingling and your mouth watering.Marine Activities Centre boasts an Italian restaurant with panoramic sea views.The Roker Hotel/Restaurant is one of the most popular venues in the area, providing great service and food, along with a private bar for all dinner parties.Chaplin is a traditional pub in every sense, benefiting from a prime city-centre location and outdoor picnic tables during the summer months.Vivaldi is near the Winter Gardens. It is a plush, modern venue offering.Italian dishes from seafood risotto to spinach gnocchi, and more exotic dishes such as Szechuan cured beef with crisp rice noodles and duck on garlic mash.Throwingstones restaurant serves the needs of visitors to the National Glass Centre. This ground-floor restaurant is where you can relax with a cappuccino or tackle a full three-course meal.Hotels & Accommodation:Sunderland offers a range of visitor accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets. Available accommodation ranges from three and four star hotels to cosy guest houses and bed & breakfasts.Quality Hotel SunderlandThe Balmoral & Terrace Guest HousesChaise Guest HouseEntertainmentIn the evening enjoy Sunderlands theatres, bars and clubs.Chase is a retro-styled bar complete with large leather sofas and a grand spiral staircase. Downstairs there is a large L-shaped bar while upstairs there are two bars and a wood-floored dance floor. DJs play R&B, soul and house every night. The blend of music fits the venue perfectly.The Point opened September 2005 and is Sunderlands newest entertainment complex, comprising of four venues in one. The building itself was once the Citys cinema but lay empty and derelict for many years before its multi-million pound re-development.The Sunderland Empire is the North East's largest theatre and a splendid example of Edwardian architecture. Recently refurbished, the Empire boasts 21st Century facilities and is the only theatre between Manchester and Edinburgh capable of staging large West End productions.Sunderland has everything you need for an ideal short break. Whether you are after relaxation, invigoration or both, Sunderland's distinctive mix of city, coast and countryside will definitely be a breath of fresh air.This Article may be freely copied as long as it is not modified and this resource box accompanies the article, together with working hyperlinks.

South Africa - Basic Overview

South Africa was once divided into two British Colonies, namely the Colony of Natal and the Cape Colony, and two "Boer" Afrikaner Republics, namely the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. The Union of South Africa was formed in 1910 after 8 years of negotiations after the Anglo-Boer War of 1899 - 1902. The Republic of South Africa as it is today was form in 1961, which covers the southern tip of Africa and an area of 1,2 million square kilometers.The country was divided into 9 provinces (states) in 1994 when we had our first democratic elections and Mr. Nelson Mandela became president. The provinces are: Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu Natal, Mpumalanga, North West, Limpopo and Gauteng. Each province has its own capital and the country has three capital cities, namely Pretoria the administrative capital, Bloemfontein the judicial capital and Cape Town the legislative capital.The population is about 45,3 million people and is made up of 13 different groups, namely the Zulu, Xhosa, Shangaan, Ndebele, Swazi, Pedi, South Sotho, Tswana, Venda, Khoisan, Coloured, Asian and White. To mix things up even more, we have 11 official languages of which English is the most commonly spoken. Afrikaans is mainly spoken between your white and coloured people and it is derived from Dutch, German and French.South Africa has 6 neighbouring countries, namely Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho and unfortunately poor old Zimbabwe. Its 2700-kilometer coastline includes four of Africa's largest harbours - Durban and Richards Bay along the Indian Ocean and Cape Town and Saldanha Bay along the Atlantic Ocean. South Africa has a moderate climate with three rainfall regions, the majority of the country has summer rainfall, the South Western Cape has a Mediterranean climate with winter rain and a very small area along the south eastern coastline know as the "Garden Route" has all year round rainfall. Summer is basically from October to April and winter is June, July and August. South Africa has a two tier government, a national government with a democratically elected president and each province has its own provincial legislature. Since the political change of 1994 the South African society has made great strides towards a democratic, socially more equitable and economically more globally competitive country. It has, in fact, become a leader in many spheres of international north-south relations. Recent growth of the South African economy is largely based on the tourism sector, a gradually diversifying and increasingly competitive manufacturing sector, value-adding beneficiation of mineral and agricultural raw materials and a sophisticated trading, financial and professional services sector.Internationally South Africa can be ranked amongst "upper middle income countries" like Chile, Portugal, Korea, Malaysia, Turkey, Brazil and Poland.

Summary

Rome, the Winter Olympics, Wine, Ferrari, beautiful beaches Italy has it all. If you are considering traveling to Italy, here are some things you should know.