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August 2007

Utah-A Playground for Nature Enthusiasts

08

August

As one of the western states Utah has a lot to offer with its colorful terrain, assortment of national parks and recreational activities. It boasts multihued mountains, plateaus and desserts as part of its landscape. Thousands of visitors are drawn to this state each year.

Utah, the 13th largest state in the country, was admitted to the union in 1896. Most of the state’s residents, known as Utahns, live in urban areas. Among these urban areas is the state’s capital and largest city, Salt Lake City. Utah, which means “People of the mountains,” is known for its religious and hardworking people hence the state’s motto “Industry.”

Activities

Each year Utah attract thousands of tourists looking to indulge in outdoor recreational activities. And Utah delivers just that. Among the outdoor activities are skiing, golfing, hunting, kayaking, fishing, whitewater rafting, houseboating, biking and hiking. Whatever you choose to do there’s an adventure waiting for you. For nature lovers the state offers a wide mountain terrain and beautiful scenery as most of the state’s land is uninhabited.

Museums

Utah is rich in history and culture as evident in the variety of heritage and art museums throughout the state. Many cities have museums that focus the state’s history, traditions, natural resources and art. Some of these museums include the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum, John Hutchings Museum of Natural History, Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Arts, Fort Douglas Military Museum, Hellenic Cultural Museum, Museum of Utah Art & History, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Springville Museum of Art, Territorial Statehouse State Park Museum and the John Wesley Powell River History Museum. Whatever your area of interest you’re sure to find a museum suited for your tastes.

Shopping

While outdoor activities are popular in Utah there are also plenty of places to shop. Those looking for shopping in Utah will find a variety of venues including quaint stores, specialty shops, malls and outlets. The state’s largest mall is the South Towne Center in Sandy, Utah.

Sports

Utah has all the competitive action sports enthusiasts need. Those in town for a basketball game can watch the Utah Jazz play at the EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City. Football fans can watch the Utah Blaze, the state’s newest professional team. The state also has a professional soccer team, Real Salt Lake as well as a hockey team, the Utah Grizzlies. There two minor league baseball teams as well as a variety of college sports.

Accommodation

There are plenty of places to stay during a trip to Utah. In addition to the traditional hotel accommodations Utah offers lodging at charming bed & breakfasts. For those looking for destination lodging try campgrounds and ski resorts. Popular hotels in Utah include the Stein Eriksen Lodge, the Garden Cottage Bed And Breakfast, Marriott Salt Lake City Center and the Canyons Resort.

Transport

If you are looking for a way to get around and enjoy all that Utah has to offer there are a variety of travel methods to suit your needs. Options include renting a vehicle, using a private transit service or taking advantage of the state’s public transportation system.


Montenegro-A Tiny Gem in the Adriatic

04

August

While the past is prevalent, the future has never looked brighter for Montenegro. This small, pristine country lying between the shores of the Adriatic and the foothills of the Balkan Mountains has seen its fair share of invaders and conquerors. At one time or another Romans, Greeks, Celts, and Ottomans (just to name a few) have all laid claim to this small nation, and not until very recently, June 3, 2006 to be exact, did Montenegro finally become an internationally recognized, independent country. These days, the invaders are a friendlier, less hostile group, made up of Europeans, Americans, and other holiday-makers. And why not? Montenegro is booming. Cheap (but rising) prices and incredible real estate bargains, mixed with stunning architectural wonders and gorgeous natural scenery have brought Europeans out in droves looking for the newest hot spot.

Montenegro, with a population of roughly 600,000, and an area just a little more than half the size of Israel, still boasts enough natural diversity, that even in this tiny country, travelers will be sure that Montenegro is much larger that its actual size. From snow skiing in the Durmitor mountains (the highest peak, Bobotov Kuk, reaching an impressive 2522 meters) to the roughly 300 km of coastline, Montenegro is a year-round destination for fun in the winter snow or summer sun.

The beaches are particularly impressive as in many inlets and bays the mountains descend into the Adriatic in an impressive fashion, leaving the water crystal clear, and giving the beaches a Mediterranean feel. The following are where you can find a few of the better beaches, and some wonderful towns:

  • Budva: Probably the most popular and metropolitan area along the coast, and boasts 17 lovely beaches. The city also has a beautifully preserved Old Town section full of narrow streets, historic monuments, and shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants.
  • Petrovac: A small town near Budvar featuring many ancient historical artifacts, small museums, and the Fortress Kastelo, built in the 1500s by the Venetians. The beaches here are second to none. Rocky cliffs drop down into crystal turquoise water, and finding a private cove to dip into is quite easy.
  • Kotor: This city is located at a gorgeous deep blue bay, and boasts incredible medieval architecture to go along with its idyllic beaches. In fact, the city was named a UNESCO World Natural and Historical Heritage Site for its cultural treasures. Kotor is an absolute must-see for any traveler to Montenegro.
  • Herceg Novi: The closest thing the country has to the tropics. With its blooming mimosa trees, abundant greenery, and numerous sun-filled days, tourists will enjoy taking in the medieval fortresses, museums, and other architectural wonders the town has to offer. Here boats rock peacefully in the harbor, and fishermen bring their catches in at the end of the day. Just outside town are plenty of secluded beaches to enjoy the sunny weather.

Although the jet set has known about Montenegro for years—Sophia Loren and Richard Burton came here quite often in years past—the recent independence and tourism interest has finally put this small gem back in the public consciousness. Offering great views, palpable history, and a diverse natural setting, Montenegro should be a popular destination for years to come!


Greece-History Mixes with Hedonism

04

August

There are few places in the world that truly do have something for everyone, and Greece is certainly one of those unique destinations. Even fewer of these can boast such a deep cultural importance, along with a (dare we say) perfect natural environment, first class lodgings, and a roaring nightlife, all of which Greece boasts in spades.

If you are looking for an idyllic location to come for inspiration, and contemplate the ways of the world like Socrates, Plato, and the other Greek heroes of old, then the peaceful surroundings certainly lend themselves to philosophical musings. Visits to the National Archaeological Museum, Delphi, and the Acropolis will get anyone’s brain going into overdrive. Here is a brief look at what these extraordinary sites have to offer.

  • National Archaeological Museum: Certainly one of the world’s greatest museums. You know that in a country with untold numbers of important archaeological sites, the major museum will be a fascinating place, and this one does not disappoint. Travel though the centuries of the different Greek civilizations from the Bronze Age up through the Geometric periods and into the 6th century through the collection of art, pottery, sculptures and much more.
  • Delphi: Listed as a World Heritage Site, Ancient Delphi is located on Mt. Parnassos on the Gulf of Corinth. The natural beauty is enough of a reason to visit this place, but the history and ruins make it a must see. The Temple of Apollo, where ancient Greeks gave thanks to the god for victory in war, along with a beautiful theatre, and the best-preserved stadium in Greece, will awe tourists, and allow them to imagine what it was like to live in the old times.
  • The Acropolis: No one can come to Athens without visiting perhaps the most well-known archaeological site in the world. Tourists who miss this wonder, should have their passports revoked! This important monument holds the Parthenon on its summit, and can be seen from almost the entire city. Especially breathtaking at sun up and sunset, the columns seem to change colors, and hiking up for a picnic is a great way to spend a day. Be warned, the hordes of visitors to this site are massive.

On the other hand, if it’s a party you’re after, then the resort island of Mykonos–frequented by every famous artist, movie star, sports figure, and celebrity for years—will certainly offer every chance to enjoy the fabulous restaurants, bars, clubs, and gorgeous beaches that has made Mykonos such a reknowned destination. Don’t forget that although the ancient Greeks are known for their deep respect and development of philosophy, arts, history, and other weighty subjects, they also worshipped Dionysus, the god of wine. Any trip to the Greek isles—and especially Mykonos—will assure travelers that this aspect is well-preserved in modern culture.

The town is a beautiful, whitewashed meandering idyll, full of interesting shops, bars, and restaurants, but for the night owls, the numerous clubs and discos are the main draw. Many of the hippest hangouts surround the harbor and dot the hills above the beaches, meaning that in addition to seeing the best DJs in the world, the scenery is absolutely breathtaking.

It’s easy to see why so many people who visit Greece, come for a vacation but end up looking for an apartment to rent or a villa buy! Greece is so well-known in the public consciousness that many people upon first arrival, feel that they’ve been here before. Welcome home. . .again!