The Mediterranean island of Malta is one of the major tourist destinations for many West-European countries and is gaining popularity outside of Europe as well.About MaltaMalta is a small island state, with a population of around 400,000. The countrys official languages are Maltese and also English, which is a language most Maltese speak as a result of a period of British rule that ended in 1964. The Maltese are known as friendly (but temperamental) people and are renowned for their hospitality. The vast majority of the Maltese are Catholic and the Church plays an important role in Maltese culture.Being one of the latest additions to the European Union, Malta is quickly developing into a top tourist resort and is competing with other South-European destinations for a larger share of tourists who seek out a holiday in the Mediterranean. Tourism is one of the main pillars of the Maltese economy and the island nation depends heavily on this sector. While investments are made to promote Malta in the rest of Europe, no single advertising slogan can bring across the benefit Malta offers over other Mediterranean destinations.Accommodation: Plenty of choiceSo what benefits are we talking about here? For starters, the various types of accommodation offered in Malta are suitable for different budgets and holiday experiences. Theres an abundance of 3- and 4-star hotels that are ideal for family holidays, being of good quality at very reasonable package prices. For travellers who prefer to enjoy luxury there are several high-class hotels available in Malta, with global appeal, such as Maltas Hilton hotel and the Radisson hotels in St. Julians and Golden Bay. Lastly, for adventure travellers there are plenty of lodgings available that are ideal for overnight stays and excellent for budget travel.Accommodation tips: For family holidays, consider Karanne Aparthotel in St. Pauls Bay very decent hotel at reasonable package prices, also offering self-catering hotel rooms. For the more high-quality accommodation, the Radisson Golden Sands Hotel at Golden Bay is highly recommended. Its one of the latest additions to Maltas high quality hotels and overlooks one of the most idyllic bays the island has to offer.Maltas beachesMalta offers plenty of sandy beaches, which are clean, family-friendly, easy to reach and each offer a unique ambiance. Forget long stretches of flat beach and dunes and enjoy the amazing views that most beaches in Malta offer. Most bays are surrounded by hillsides, sometimes even towering cliffs and the splendour of it all is just marvellous and a beautiful sight while floating around in the summer sun.Beach tips: Ghadira (pronounce: Adeera) is the largest sandy beach in Malta and is situated in the Northern part of the island, nearby the town of Mellieha. This beach is shallow and makes it an ideal beach outing for the family. The best tip is probably to ask the locals about the more secluded beaches. These might be a little bit more difficult to reach, but are less popular amongst fellow tourists and therefore much quieter. Ask for directions and you will be rewarded with a chance to view some of the more exotic beaches around.A unique destinationFinally, one benefit that is unique to Malta is the fact that nowhere in the world there is such a high concentration of historical and culturally significant places of interest. Fascinating sites can be found lying literally minutes away from each other, and they all offer unique experiences and impressions of days gone by. Malta is soaked in history and shows many traces of the various cultures that were introduced to the Maltese by the various rulers that Malta has seen over the ages.Sight-seeing tips: To start off with, a visit to the capital city of Valletta will offer you plenty of sight-seeing fun. As you enter through the city gates, Republic Street stretches out in front of you and its side-streets are pathways to several historical sites and buildings. Look for: The Malta Experience, the Upper Barrakka and Fort St. Elmo. Another must-see is Mdina, the former capital city, which is surrounded by bastions and which has a unique ambiance that is hard to forget. Stepping into Mdina is almost like going back into time and recent renovations have given the village back its splendour and offers an experience not to be missed, and not just for those who are particularly interested in cultural trips. Finally, the site of the Neolithic temples at Hagar Qim is another interesting place to visit. The Hagar Qim temples are the oldest free-standing structures in the world and youll get a unique view of how the early inhabitants of Malta lived, what their culture was like and how religion was an important part of their life.
The Costa Blanca is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Spain. Its' wonderful beaches are one of the main attractions and ideal for water sports for most of the year. Denia and Javea are both located to the north of Alicante and are wonderful towns found at the bottom of a mountain. The holiday town of Moraira is also a favourite choice. Some of the coastal towns such as Gandia, Denia, Alicante and Cartagena have lovely old quarters, which are worth visiting. One of the principal resorts in the north of the "Costa Blanca" is the holiday resort of Benidorm. It has the attraction of the Terra Mitica theme park, as well as the beaches and the very lively nightlife.Valencia is Spain's third largest city and is situated among a plain of orange groves. Along with the city of Murcia they both have universities, picturesque cathedrals and an abundance of museums.The south of the Costa Blanca extends to Torrevieja and La Manga del Mar Menor. Torrevieja, which is approximately 45 minutes drive south of Alicante, is much expanded and before tourism the town's main source of income was sea salt from the large salt lakes which surround the area. There is a huge selection of accommodation to choose from along this coast from luxury Costa Blanca villas overlooking the towns of Denia and Javea in the north, modern holiday apartments in Benidorm at the heart of the nightlife to more rural cortijos and fincas just inland from the coast, yet close to all the activities.A Costa Blanca holiday offers so much to do, the area is only second to the Costa del Sol in the number of Golf Courses it has, and we have a large selection of golf properties at the Villamartin golf resort and at La Manga. The courses at Villamartin, Las Ramblas and Campoamor offer exciting fairways with each golf course within 5 minutes drive of the other. The other famous golf course at La Manga is situated just to the south of the Mar Menor near to the sea whereas the golf resort of Ciudad Quesada lies inland from Torrevieja.The Costa Blanca is served by 2 airports, 3 counting the one at Valencia. Alicante is the main international airport with numerous flights per day and the smaller airport of Murcia, next to the Mar Menor is well served with flights from the UK.
Venice is an old and somewhat eccentric city in Italy. Built long ago on marshlands, I was surprised to find myself spending my first night in the city with the bird lady.Rent a RoomAs is common with many cities in Europe, one can rent a room in a private home at the train station. The advantage of renting a room is you get to live with a family and the costs tend to be a lot cheaper than a hotel room. If youre lucky, the family will take a liking to you and haul you around to see the real city you are in.I had just arrived in Venice on a train from Paris. It was late, I was tired and in no mood to be picky about lodging. As I walked up to the "rent a room" desk, I had two priorities: sleep and a shower.The elderly lady at the desk smiled at me and we got down to business. Apparently, arriving in Venice around midnight in the middle of August wasnt a wise move. I was told most everything was sold out, but there were two rooms still open. The first was 45 minutes outside of the city while the second was just off Piazza San Marco, the central square you see in all the movies. I booked the San Marco room, given a map and off I went.As it was late and I was tired, it never occurred to me to ask why a room so close to Piazza San Marco was open when everything else was taken. As I walked through the very narrow streets of Venice, I was too tired to really care.Following the map, I walked into the square and started heading toward the glass shops at the far end. The walk through the otherwise delightful square was a killer on my headache as the mini-orchestras dueled the night away. Reaching the end, I found the little alley indicated on the map and through I went into more winding little streets.Eventually, I found the door and gave it a knock. Like a bad Monty Python movie, a little viewing slot opened, eyes looked at me and my backpack, the door opened and I was literally pulled inside. Before me stood a little older lady with wild hair. At this point, I started to understand why the room was available. Turns out I was wrong, as Michelle turned out to be very sane and nice.Michelle gave me the run down on the house and her basic rules. She went into a long diatribe about keeping the doors closed because of something she didnt know the English word for. I kept nodding and we proceed to the door that would let us into the house proper.Inside the door, the house took on an entirely new atmosphere. Michelle was a big fan of birds. She had little yellow birds, red birds, black birds and I swear a few humming birds. None of them were in cages. I had booked a room in an informal Aviary!Fortunately, my room had been bird-proofed by keeping the door closed. As I lay in bed, however, I could hear chirping and wings flapping as the other guests flew around the rooms. Over the next two days, I never got use to opening the door and seeing birds whipping by or perched and staring at me. I imagine this is where Alfred Hitchcock picked up some of his ideas.As far as I know, Michelle is still in Venice and still renting out rooms. If youre a bird enthusiast, just ask for the bird hotel at the "train station" in Venice.
The majestic island of Sardinia is located off the west coast of Italy just below the island of Corsica. The second largest island in the Mediterranean it runs approximately 250 kilometres from north to south and 110 kilometres from east to west. Italian is the main language of this vastly diverse island although various regions of the island have traditional languages of their own from Catalan in the region of Alghero through to Campidanese in the south. The landscape of this stunning island is incredibly varied, from white sandy beaches on the coast to the mountainous terrain in the central parts of the island. From cities like Cagliari in the south to old coastal towns like Alghero in the north you will find a varied array of architecture and culture. In the region of Nuoro, at the heart of Sardinia, you will find villages and towns 800 metres above sea level that have been completely untouched by the course of time. In the northeast of the island lies the famous Costa Smerelda (the emerald coast) playground of the rich and famous. The island is also peppered with a vast array of archaeological remains including the Nuraghes, (a stone tepee like structure) which are among some of the oldest constructions known to man.The cuisine of Sardinia is just as varied as its terrain with an as expected abundance of seafood dishes to be found in coastal regions including what is said to be some of the finest lobster in the world. All this having been said though the traditional delicacies of Sardinia are to be found in land where your taste buds will be tantalised with wood roast suckling pig, wild boar and traditional Sardinian sausage.Famous the world over the beaches of Sardinia are truly something that must be seen to be believed. Crystal clear waters and white sand that runs for miles, Sardinia truly is a touch of paradise in the Mediterranean. Sardinia has always traditionally been a place of holiday for Italians and a very well kept secret due to its lack of connectivity to the rest of Europe. Ryanair has changed this. Now with flights daily from London (two flights a day in the summer months) to Alghero and connections to Barcelona and Frankfurt, Sardinia has opened its doors to the rest of Europe. With a very short winter and long summer the potential for tourism throughout the year is immense. There are though strict laws in place within Sardinia to preserve the landscape and not allow the island to be over developed. For instance construction of new property on the coast line has been restricted to not allow any building within three kilometres of the sea and there are also many other stringent regulations as to the height of constructions so as not to interfere with the ambient of the terrain. All of this means that what already exists in Sardinia can be used to its full potential without the tranquillity of the island being ruined. Property in Sardinia is still fairly cheap compared to prices around Europe but they are on the rise. Coastal regions are among the more expensive regions to buy but have the added benefit of being a fairly certain rental investment. Inland there are many fantastic bargains to be found immersed in the tranquillity of the Sardinian countryside with the added knowledge that you are never that far away from the coast. Whether you are looking for a new home or merely the holiday of a life time, Sardinia has it all. Go scuba diving amongst the coral in Alghero, sailing in Porto Conte or even rock climbing in Barbagia here you will find a little piece of paradise for everyone.For more information take a look at Sardinia - tourist information
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.