Friday, November 28, 2008


Tunisia's beautiful beaches and historical treasures attract millions of tourists from all over the world.

Nearly 5 million tourists visited Tunisia in 1999.In 2004 they reached more than 6 million.

American and most European tourists do not require visas to enter Tunisia. There are more than 722 hotels in the country, totaling 191.955 beds. Seven international airports, and eight passenger ports connect Tunisia to the United States and Europe. The capital city, Tunis, is a two-hour flight from Paris and London and a fifty- minute flight from Rome. Daily flights connect Tunisia to virtually all European, African and Middle Eastern destinations.


Visitors sunbathe, dive, sail, and fish along the vast stretches of glistening, white sandy Mediterranean beaches covering a 810- mile coast. Beach resorts include Tabarka, Hammamet, Sousse and Jerba.

El-Kantaoui's 27-hole golf course and Andalusian style marina is a fully-integrated tourism complex.Tunisia's Saharan tourism attractions includes an international golf course situated under Tozeur's lush palm groves as well as many desert festivals.

The perched village of Sidi Bou Said offers a unique scenery of domes, arched doors and balconies in blue and white set against a sparkling sea.


Punic and Roman archaeological sites can be visited in Carthage and other historical areas around the country. They include second century Roman temple in Dougga, the Phoenician port of Utica, Sbeitla's Roman temples and arches, Bulla Regia's Roman villas and El Jem's Coliseum, which is second only to Rome. The Bardo Museum, near Tunis, boasts the largest collection of Roman mosaics in the world.


Masterpieces of Arab-Islamic architecture attract the attention of visitors. Among them: the Great Mosque of Kairouan, the Moslem World's fourth holiest city, and the Great Mosque of Ezzitouna, at the center of the old city (the Medina) of Tunis.


Tunisia, a melting-pot of different civilizations, has always had a rich cultural activity, as testified by its prestigious museums and cultural institutions and by the various international festivals held throughout the year. Sustained efforts have been deployed to promote the cultural sector. The Heritage Code grants companies important tax breaks to encourage investments in restoration and protection of archaeological monuments (e.g. Cathedral of Carthage;) promulgation of legal texts allows free importation of books and paper destined for cultural purposes and the exemption from customs duties of musical instruments.

A whole strategy has been put in place to set up institutions serving as points of reference in the various domains of cultural activity. Among them, the National Dance Center of Borj El Baccouche, the House of Baron d'Erlanger converted into a Center for Arab and Mediterranean Music, and the Husseinite Museum (covering the period of the Beys) in the Palace of Ksar Said.

Other projects are in the process of completion, such as the Museum of Modern Art, located at the Palace of El Abdellia, and the National Cultural Center of Tunis. In addition, the International Cultural Center of Hammamet has been refurbished and transformed into the House of the Mediterranean, specializing mainly in theatrical arts. The institution of "Beit el Hikma" was converted into an Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters in order to better contribute to the cultural and intellectual activity of Tunisia. The academy also welcomes distinguished scholars wishing to conduct research in various fields and serves as a meeting place for debates and exchanges between researchers, scholars and artists.


Tunisia hosts numerous international film, arts, and historical festivals, including the Summer festivals of Carthage, Dougga, and Hammamet, which host top international artists, the International Festival of El Jem for classical music, the Andalusian Music Festival of Testour, the Sahara Festival in Douz, the International Film Festival of Carthage, the Mythological Films Festival in Jerba and the Theater Festival of Carthage.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


The capital of Portugal sits at the point where the River Tagus feeds into the Atlantic, just about as far west as you can go without getting your feet wet. Being built on seven hills, it has plenty of vantage points from which to contemplate the distant horizons that called the Portuguese explorers in the country’s golden age during the 16th century, when it was the hub of commerce with the far east and gold poured into Lisbon’s coffers from the new west. Devastating earthquakes and loss of empire left the city a little threadbare, but 21st-century commerce took a hand, sprucing the place up for Euro 2004. Portugal may have been the runners-up, but Lisbon emerged a winner.

The grid-like Baixa, or downtown, was laid out after the devastating 1755 earthquake, and is a candidate for being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is flanked by two squares: the riverside Praça do Comércio, framed by arcades and dominated by a triumphal arch and, at the northern end, Praça Dom Perdo IV (Rossio). The Elevador de Santa Justa, an outdoor cast-iron lift that first opened in 1901, offers a panoramic view of the streets in between.

The Alfama district east of Baixa, where black-clad widows potter in tiny squares, retains the layout and atmosphere of Moorish times. The Romanesque cathedral, or Sé , was founded on the site of a mosque, after the 1147 Christian Reconquest. Further uphill there are fine views from the Castelo de São Jorge. The castle was built by the Moors on the site of a Roman fort, but what you see today is almost all 20th-century mock-up. West of Baixa, the shops and cafés of Chiado district give way to the more raffish Bairro Alto, a nightlife haven.

The city’s main axis is Avenida da Liberdade. Lined with cafés and fashion chains, it leads from Rossio to the formal Parque Eduardo VII. Beyond that is the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian , with fine Western and Oriental art.

Tourists also flock to Belém, a half-hour tram ride west. The 15th-century explorers sailed from here into what was then still very much the unknown, as the Monument to the Discoveries reminds you. The Tower of Belém and Jerónimos monastery showcase the exuberant Manueline (late Gothic) style of the time. Nearby, the delicious custard tarts at Antiga Confeitaria are almost as big a draw for visitors.

Lisbon’s eastern waterfront was of little touristic interest until 1998. Staged on reclaimed industrial wasteland, Expo 98 gave Lisbon its biggest facelift in two centuries and a slew of new attractions. Now renamed Parque das Nações , the site has an Oceanarium ; the Pavilhão do Conhecimento , with science exhibits; and – the district’s architectural highlight – Alvaro Siza Vieira’s Portugal pavilion, with its remarkable concrete canopy.


This region is a fish heaven where you can find fresh bass and cockle, and the mussels from Ericeira and Cabo do Roca; the red mullets, clams and oysters from Setúbal; the swordfish from Sesimbra and the crustaceans from Cascais.
Other specialities typical of this area include the goat and sheep cheeses from Sobral de Monte Agraço and from Azeitão, the pastries from Malveira and the "pão de ló" from Loures, the nuts and egg dainties from Cascais, the "zimbros" (gin cakes) from Sesimbra, the "queijadas" (little cheese cakes) from
Sintra; the wines from Colares, Bucelas, Setúbal, Carcavelos and the famous "muscatel" wine from Setúbal. In Lisbon itself, you can try all the specialities of Portuguese cuisine. In this city, you will mainly find typical country dishes like grilled sardines, clams "à Bulhão Pato" style, fish soups "à fragateira" style ... and varied and tasty dishes cooked with codfish. Apart from all the desserts available to you, do not forget to try the local Belém custard pies.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Laos has a rich history stretching back 10,000 years. At its height, it ruled over present day Laos and much of neighbouring northern Thailand. Landlocked and laid-back, it’s a unique spin on the Southeast Asia experience.
Here Buddhism permeates every facet of life, change comes slowly, and cities bed down early. The perfect place to break from office politics or put a pause in a hyperactive travel agenda, this land of mountain, mists and untamed natural beauty tempts with unrivalled peace and serenity.
Open your heart, open your mind, and let the genuine faith and generous hospitality of Laos replenish your soul.

The mighty Mekong in the west and the Annamite Mountains in the east offer natural borders with Thailand and Vietnam respectively, while Laos also shares borders with China in the north, Myanmar in the northwest and Cambodia in the south.
With over half of this landlocked country's 236,800sqkm densely forested, and 70% of it mountainous, it is hardly surprising that a profusion of rare flora and over 1,200 species of wildlife find a home beneath its tropical canopy.

One of the lowest population densities in Asia, at 19 persons per square km, and an estimated population of only 5.4 million people, belies the fact that Laos is home to 68 different ethnic groups. These fall into three groupings, based upon language, culture and traditions.
The fertile Mekong River valley and lowland plains are where 68% of the total population live and this group is classified as the Lao Loam.

-Luang Prabang

The ancient capital of the Lam Xang Kingdom wakes up every day to the sound of bells gongs and drums from the local temples.


The tranquil capital of Laos is beginning to expand, but its city streets are still dominated by quiet temples and slow rhythm of everyday life.


Tropical river islands and the World Heritage Site of Vat Phou lie in Laos southern regions. Part of the rich geographical tapestry of the country.

-Xien Khouang (Plain of Jars)

In the north of Laos, lying across a flat high plateau is the province of Xieng-Khouang, where you will find the intriguing Plain of Jars.


Located along the Mekong river, in the heart of golden Triangle opposite Chiang Rai province in Thailand and sharing the border with Myanmar, "Bokeo" means the Land of Sapphires.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower (French: Tour Eiffel) is an iron tower built on the Champ de Mars beside the Seine River in Paris. The tower has become a global icon of France and is one of the most recognizable structures in the world.

Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower is the tallest building in Paris. More than 200,000,000 have visited the tower since its construction in 1889, including 6,719,200 in 2006, making it the most visited paid monument in the world. Including the 24 m (79 ft) antenna, the structure is 325 m (1,063 ft) high (since 2000), which is equivalent to about 81 levels in a conventional building.

When the tower was completed in 1889 it was the world's tallest tower — a title it retained until 1930 when New York City's Chrysler Building (319 m — 1,047 ft tall) was completed. The tower is now the fifth-tallest structure in France and the tallest structure in Paris, with the second-tallest being the Tour Montparnasse (210 m — 689 ft), although that will soon be surpassed by Tour AXA (225.11 m — 738.36 ft).

The metal structure of the Eiffel Tower weighs 7,300 tonnes while the entire structure including non-metal components is approximately 10,000 tonnes. Depending on the ambient temperature, the top of the tower may shift away from the sun by up to 18 cm (7 in) because of thermal expansion of the metal on the side facing the sun. The tower also sways 6–7 cm (2–3 in) in the wind.As demonstration of the economy of design, if the 7300 tonnes of the metal structure were melted down it would fill the 125 meter square base to a depth of only 6 cm (2.36 in), assuming a density of the metal to be 7.8 tonnes per cubic meter. The tower has a mass less than the mass of the air contained in a cylinder of the same dimensions,[7] that is 324 meters high and 88.3 meters in radius. The weight of the tower is 10,100 tonnes compared to 10,265 tonnes of air.

The first and second levels are accessible by stairways and lifts. A ticket booth at the south tower base sells tickets to access the stairs which begin at that location. At the first platform the stairs continue up from the east tower and the third level summit is only accessible by lift. From the first or second platform the stairs are open for anyone to ascend or descend regardless of whether they have purchased a lift ticket or stair ticket. The actual count of stairs includes 9 steps to the ticket booth at the base, 328 steps to the first level, 340 steps to the second level and 18 steps to the lift platform on the second level. When exiting the lift at the third level there are 15 more steps to ascend to the upper observation platform. The step count is printed periodically on the side of the stairs to give an indication of progress of ascent. The majority of the ascent allows for an unhindered view of the area directly beneath and around the tower although some short stretches of the stairway are enclosed.

Maintenance of the tower includes applying 50 to 60 tonnes of paint every seven years to protect it from rust. In order to maintain a uniform appearance to an observer on the ground, three separate colors of paint are used on the tower, with the darkest on the bottom and the lightest at the top. On occasion the colour of the paint is changed; the tower is currently painted a shade of brownish-grey. On the first floor there are interactive consoles hosting a poll for the colour to use for a future session of painting. The co-architects of the Eiffel Tower are Emile Nouguier, Maurice Koechlin and Stephen Sauvestre.

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