What to See in Eureka Springs Arkansas

If you plan to visit Eureka Springs, Arkansas, you shouldn’t miss Historic Downtown and the Ghost Tour at the Crescent Hotel.

Take good walking shoes for your tour of Historic Downtown, included in the National Register of Historic Places, because you’ll want to see everything. There are over 20 art galleries, a wide variety of gift shops (one with bunnies on staff!), and plenty of restaurants to stop in when you need to rest and refuel, all in an exquisitely preserved Victorian setting.

The galleries and shops offer a stunning variety — original paintings, framed and unframed prints, sculpture, pottery, handmade jewelry — something to fit every taste and budget. Even better, the owners are friendly and knowledgeable. After an initial greeting and offer of help, they will leave you to browse in peace, but are happy to answer questions and chat about the artists, the artwork, and Eureka Springs in general if you like.

All that shopping may make you hungry. If the weather is nice, consider lunch at the Balcony Bar and Restaurant at the Basin Park Hotel. The Balcony overlooks Spring Street, so you can continue to observe the downtown hustle and bustle and perhaps decide which shops to visit next.

Another excellent choice would be DeVito’s on Center Street. Featured in Bon Appetit, Southern Living, and the New York Times, DeVito’s serves Italian dishes made fresh from family recipes and trout dishes made with fish from the family’s nearby trout farm.

After lunch, you’ll probably have plenty left to see downtown, but if your feet are getting tired, save time to relax and recharge a bit for the evening. After dinner, get thee to the Crescent Hotel for the Ghost Tour. And don’t forget your camera! Featured on Sci-Fi Channel’s series Ghost Hunters, this is the real deal. During the tour, you’ll learn the haunted history of the hotel, see the video clip from Ghost Hunters, and get advice on where and when to take pictures for the best chance of having a few surprises show up.

The Crescent acquired its first ghost, Michael, during the building’s construction. The young man fell to his death into what is now room 218. Many of the other ghosts seem to date from the Crescent’s years a cancer hospital. Norman Baker, who presented himself as a doctor despite no medical training whatsoever, claimed to be able to cure cancer. Unfortunately his patients found ineffective treatment, horrible experiments, and painful deaths.

Many people have reported seeing nurses in the Crescent, sometimes pushing a patient on a gurney.In addition to sightings, guest frequently report happenings such as trouble opening the door to their room or possessions being moved.

Tour Guides recommend not deleting any of the pictures you take during the tour until you’ve looked at them on your computer screen. Look carefully for orbs and faces, particularly in mirrors.

Enjoy your time in Eureka Springs, and don’t forget those walking shoes.

Review of HoteLumiere in Saint Louis Missouri

On a recent visit to Saint Louis, Missouri we stayed at HoteLumiere in downtown St. Louis. The hotel is an all suites hotel adjacent that also offers a casino, plenty of dining options, and nightlife.

The hotel itself is a very nice hotel but it does have its downsides. We had never visited St. Louis before and were quite shocked at what we discovered. To us St. Louis, or at least the part of St. Louis we were in, seemed very run down. There were homeless and panhandlers everywhere you turned, and you definitely had the feeling that you were in the most dangerous city in America. Due to this we decided to take advantage of the hotel’s valet service, which is available for $20 per night. If you do not use valet service you are automatically charged a $10 per night self-parking fee.

The lobby of the hotel is gorgeous, with a huge waterfall, lounge area, and bar in the center of it. The hotel’s pool is also located in the main lobby. The rooms are nice in size, and each room offers a separate sitting area and sleeping area. What I disliked about the hotel rooms were you could tell they were in need of a serious cleaning. We actually had to be moved to a second room in the middle of the first night due to an issue with our air conditioner so we were able to see two separate rooms and both rooms had the same issues. There was only one garbage can in the entire room and it was located in the bathroom, without a trash bag in it. Both rooms were dusty, and just really needed cleaning. For the cost of the rooms my expectations were much higher.

In the pool area there are no chairs or places to sit if you are not in the pool. The pool water is very cold. You must have a wristband from the hotel and these are limited to four per room. There is a pool attendant on duty while the pool is open to enforce this.

Before visiting the hotel I had encountered several reviews that stated the hotel staff was very unfriendly. I must disagree here. During our visit the hotel staff did treat us with respect, and did go out of their way to help us with any concerns, or needs we had. In this area they did a superb job.

So here are my thoughts on the hotel. If you are visiting Saint Louis HoteLumiere is a nice hotel to stay at, it’s conveniently located to downtown, and does have several good amenities to offer. I do think the hotel staff does need to focus more on the details when cleaning the guest rooms, and should definitely consider investing in some comfortable furniture in the pool area because not everyone will always wants to be in the pool.

You can learn more about HoteLumiere by visiting their website.

Hotels in Brunswick Georgia that Allow Pets

Many difficulties can arise when traveling with a pet. From airline regulations to rental car policies, pet owners face many challenges when planning a vacation. While many hotels have a no-pet policy, there are several hotels in the Brunswick, Georgia area that are more than willing to accommodate pet owners and their pets. When traveling to any hotel, be sure to call and check the hotel’s pet policy before traveling to make sure there have not been any changes.

Jameson Inn accepts cats and dogs under 20 pounds for a fee of $15 per night, per pet. Guests staying in the hotel can enjoy a complimentary breakfast, swimming pool and fitness center. The rooms at the Jameson Inn are also all equipped with free wireless internet.

Jameson Inn

661 Scranton Road

Brunswick, GA 31520

800-526-3766

jamesoninn.com

The Red Roof Inn in Brunswick allows pet owners to check in one pet per room. There are no additional fees or charges, but pet owners are responsible for any damages that happen during their stay. The Red Roof Inn also states that pet owners must not leave their pets in the room unattended, as a courtesy to other guests and hotel staff. To make guests feel right at home, the Red Roof Inn offers fresh baked cookies in the lobby every night between six and eight.

Red Roof Inn and Suites

25 Tourist Drive

Brunswick, GA 31520

912-264-4720

redroof-brunswick.com

The Brunswick Knights Inn allows pets with just a $5 per day charge. The hotel also offers free continental breakfast and an outdoor pool. Guests can take advantage of the grassy lawn to walk their pets (on a leash) during their stay. The hotel is located right off of Interstate-95 and is within walking distance of several restaurants in the area.

Brunswick Knights Inn

450 Warren Mason Blvd.

Brunswick, GA 31520

912-267-6500

knightsinn.com

La Quinta Inn accepts pets with no additional fees or deposits. Cats and dogs under 50 pounds are accepted in all guest rooms, as long as the hotel is made aware of the pets ahead of time. If the hotel guests want housekeeping services, they must remove their pets from the room during the day or secure them in a crate.

La Quinta Inn

165 Warren Mason Blvd.

Brunswick, GA 31520

912-265-7725

Planning List for Vacationing with Your Dog

Most people take plenty of time to plan out their vacations, choosing the right hotels and the perfect destinations for a fun and relaxing journey. But when you travel with a pet, there are other things you need to consider from a small and fury perspective. Here are some things you should think about when traveling with your dog. The do’s and don’ts, planning and preparation.

Identification and Records – The first, and most important thing to remember is identification. This is important not only for your pet’s health, but also in case the dog becomes lost. All tags should be firmly attached to your dogs collar, and keeping a couple photos on hand is also a good idea. Vaccination records should always be on hand when traveling with a dog, in the event that an emergency arises.

Remember the Obvious – Surprisingly enough, the things that are the most obvious, are the things you most often forget. Leashes, collars, kennels, and even first aid kits are some of the important must-have’s that can be forgotten. Also don’t forget food and water! Even if your destination supplies it for you. Travel bowls and containers can make this job easier and can be found at most pet supply stores. While food is important, if you are traveling by car it is also important to let your pet travel on an empty stomach during the ride to avoid motion sickness. Water should always be provided though, keeping your pooch hydrated is extremely important.

Extras – Other things to remember are the extras. Things like dog treats and favorite toys should also be remembered. It is a good idea to bring something from home, like a blanket or a bed that smells like home and will comfort your dog while traveling to a strange place. This helps to keep the stress levels to a minimum and keep your dog happy.

Lodging – Remember to always check for hotels that accept dogs, and ask what the rules are for keeping pets in the hotel. Also keep your dog on a leash at all times,(unless in a private room) and never leave your pet unattended. When walking your dog, make sure you are aware of the places this is allowed by asking the hotel management, and never forget to pick up after your dog.

The Intercontinental Hotel in Sydney

The Intercontinental stands mighty and tall against other buildings surrounding the Circular Quay in Sydney. We heard that Oprah treated her 300 guests to a room here during her Sydney visit and the likes of presidents of the U.S.A have also enjoyed its luxury that we felt it was time we also basked in its glory too.

I had booked an internet special of a Bayview King Room and was given a room on the corner of the building looking onto Elizabeth Street and the Conservatorium of Music. There were bay views; however the water can only be seen by turning our heads sideways toward the awkward corner of the window for a glimpse of the bay.

The room was spacious, with ample lounge space between the bed and flat screen TV. The pillow was oh-so fluffy, however the bed was slightly stiff and minutely uncomfortable. The bathroom was small and had the shower over bath-tub layout, which was disappointing compared to hotels of its class in the city which had separate showers and baths.

Being 13 floors above ground the room was surprisingly noisy. Noticing that the windows were not double glazed and soundproof, we were woken up a few times by loud music and shouting from the streets below.

The pool area was located on level 31, with great views of the harbour in a small indoor heated room. Do not expect to be able to lie down on a bench and relax the hours away, as the air is filled with strong sense of chlorine and the heat makes the place feel more like a roman bath area. The size of the pool is nothing to write home about, you would feel more comfortable sitting in the small bathtub in the privacy of your own room.

Breakfast was included in our room rate, which was great considering it comes with a price tag of AU$45 per person. The buffet had plenty of fruit and cold cut choices, but the hot food section lacked imagination. Nevertheless, the dining room at Cafe Opera was clean and orderly, and things were done when requested.

Throughout our stay, staffs at the hotel were courteous yet distant. They greeted us like a machine, saying what they have memorized from their hospitality handbook, lacking warmth and rapport. A mechanical smile and a cold “have a nice day” after our check out was immediately followed by a quick glance behind us and a sharp “next please”, leaving us scrambling with our bags, feeling like we’ve over-stayed our welcome by 2 seconds.

Luxury as it may be, the hotel really lacked personality in every way. After a bit of research we realized that perhaps all the rich and famous have not stayed in a Bayview Room, but in their Australia Suite instead, a full level suite located on the 29th floor with its own access elevator, complete with a baby grand piano. Perhaps the service provided to customers in those suites would be different, and perhaps we simply just have to admit that commoners like us should never be expected to feel special, no matter how much we think we’ve paid – unless you can pay the $7000 per night price tag, you are just another customer.

Intercontinental Hotels – www.intercontinental.com

What to Consider Before Booking a Hotel in Bangkok

Living in Bangkok for seven years, I often get friends ask me which Bangkok hotel they should book for their upcoming trip. Booking a hotel in Bangkok can be a frustration as not only are there thousands to choose from but there are important things to consider, before booking a hotel,that unsuspecting tourists don’t always think about. If you’re planning a trip to Bangkok, Thailand, don’t book your hotel until you’ve considered the following things. Making just a small mistake in which Bangkok hotel you choose can mean the difference between a so-so Bangkok vacation and a spectacular one.

Location, Location, Location – The most important thing you must consider before booking a hotel in Bangkok is the location. Where is it? Bangkok is one of the world’s largest cities. With almost 13 million people in the Bangkok area and an administrative area covering over 600 square miles, Bangkok is enormous. If you book a hotel near somewhere like the Crocodile Farm, sure, you’re close to one of the most popular tourist attractions but more than 30 miles away from downtown Bangkok. In Bangkok traffic, that can equate to more than 2 hours in a taxi. More in rush hour. So, before you book a hotel find out exactly where it’s located. An ideal location should be within walking distance or a quick taxi ride of a BTS sky train station or an MRT underground station. Once you’re near one of the train systems, you can get around much of Bangkok quickly. Further away, you’ll spend half your Bangkok vacation sitting in public transportation. And that’s boring.

What Do You Want to Do in Bangkok – Before you book a hotel in Bangkok decide what are the most important places to see and things to do, then find out where they are on a map. For instance, if shopping is your main goal, book a hotel near Siam Square, the Pratunam area or close to Chatuchak Weekend Market. All these areas are close to the sky train and underground train system as well as within a few minutes walk to some of the largest shopping malls in south east Asia, tons of small shops, street markets or, in the case of Chatuchak, near the largest outdoor market in south east Asia. If museums are more your style, stay near the Grand Palace/Sanam Luang area. Want to be near the Chao Praya River? There are numerous hotels on the river itself or within a couple of minutes walk. Figure out where you’re likely to spend most of your time while in Bangkok and book a hotel room accordingly.

A Must Have in a Bangkok Hotel – Air Conditioning – Some of the budget hotels in Bangkok offer ‘fan rooms’. These are rooms without air conditioning, just a fan. If you’re 18 years old and traveling as a backpacker, maybe sleeping in a hot, stuffy room is okay for you, particularly if you’re saving $5 a night (which is often the difference between fan and air conditioning). For most of us though, we don’t want to stay in a hot hotel room that, quite frankly is slightly musty due to the extreme humidity in Bangkok. Think of it this way. On most days of the year, the temperature in Bangkok is at least 90 degrees and it doesn’t cool down much in the evening. Spend the extra bucks on air conditioning and scrimp somewhere else. Really.

Safety Issue in Bangkok Hotels – Before I even start with this segment, let me say, Bangkok is one of the world’s safest cities. It’s highly unlikely you’d ever be in a dangerous situation in a Bangkok hotel as, even the cheaper ones, are safe enough. If unsure though, always make sure you’re booking a room that has an electronic lock where possible and also has security guards, particularly in the evening. Most Bangkok hotels do but the occasional one doesn’t and you don’t want to stay there. If unsure, e-mail the hotel and ask before you book a room.

Hotel Location Close to Restaurants – There are some wonderful world-class hotels in Bangkok. Most are in incredible locations, but a few are not. Before you book a hotel stay in a Bangkok hotel, be sure your hotel is close to several restaurants. Sometimes, after a long day schlepping around in the intense heat, you just want to grab dinner and relax at your hotel. If there are no restaurants or food stalls within a couple of blocks of the hotel, you’re going to have to take a taxi or the train system to find somewhere to eat. Check the hotel’s website and see if they mention the hotel being either close to restaurants or having a restaurant in the hotel itself. It will make your life easier.

These are the most important things to consider before you book a hotel room in Bangkok. Once you’ve narrowed down these things, then you can factor in price, the hotel atmosphere, hotel amenities and go from there. Without them, you may find yourself in a lovely hotel but in an inconvenient part of town and that can add untold stress onto your vacation in a city the size of Bangkok.

Tips for Efficient Airport Travel

Airport Travel is notoriously a hassle. Some of the headaches are self-induced, however, or at least self-preventable. You have no control over most of the inconveniences, but some you do. Make your travel as efficient and streamlined as possible to reduce your chances of getting hassled by airport or airline personnel. Your goal from packing to getting through security to reaching your destination should be to do so in as an efficient manner as possible. The following are tips for maximum efficient airport travel.

Efficient Packing and Check In

Do this as early as possible. Last minute packing is not efficient and you will make mistakes. Check the weight allowances of the airline. How many bags will the airline allow you to check and how many carry-ons? Whether to pack a checked bag or a carry-on depends on many factors, and packing the right suitcase is very efficient. If you are going home, you don’t care about lost luggage, as you have more clothes at home, therefore checking your bag would be efficient and you won’t have to lug a suitcase around the airport. If you are going on a short trip, then taking only a carry-on can be very efficient as I will discuss later.

Pack nothing of value unless you absolutely must. Packing irreplaceable or expensive items is not efficient as it will cause you to worry and influence your packing. Pack only what you absolutely need for the trip. It is efficient to pack toiletry items in the checked bag to avoid hassle at security, and if they are lost, you can always buy more at your destination. Packing expensive creams or any toiletries in your carry-on is not efficient.

Weighing your bags before leaving home is efficient. You can use a bathroom scale by weighing yourself first without the bag, then hold the suitcase and get back on the scale and subtract the difference. If your suitcase is even a couple pounds overweight, they may make you repack or pay more money. Either way, this is not efficient and will increase your stress level at the airport.

Filling out luggage tags before you go to the airport is efficient and is one less thing you have to do while checking in. If you print your itinerary, it is efficient to keep it to one page, folded and in your pocket to refer to it easily until you no longer need it.

Efficient Airport Security

Wear a shirt with a front pocket. This is the most efficient place to keep your passport or other ID and your boarding pass. You will have to present them possibly multiple times, and it is not efficient to be searching in a bag each time. Keeping them in a front pocket is efficient because you can easily glance down and check that they are still there instead of searching through another pocket. Never set your passport and boarding pass down anywhere. If you set it down somewhere, especially while you are flustered going through airport security, then you increase your chances of forgetting to pick it back up again. It might also get stolen or lost. When the airport security person hands it back to you, put it immediately back in your front shirt pocket.

Wearing a watch, jewelry or having change in your pocket is not efficient. This will be an extra hassle going through airport security. Prior to even getting into the airport security line, remove your cell phone, wallet, keys, change, jewelry and watch and put them into your carry-on or backpack. Fishing things out of your pockets while you are being rushed through the metal detector is not efficient.

Wear pants that don’t require a belt. Removing a belt and then having to put it back on again is not efficient. Wear shoes that easily slip on and off. Having to re-tie your shoes or squeeze into them is not efficient.

Going through airport security with an entire family, especially with small kids is not efficient and could be a nightmare. Try having a trial run at your home with the whole family. Make sure everyone is packed and wearing the clothes they will wear at the airport. Have one of the adults pretend to be airport security and each person should pretend to put his or her bag on the conveyor belt and go through the metal detector. This can identify problems ahead of time, such as a kid’s shoes being not efficient to remove or someone wearing too much jewelry.

Efficient Layover

The most efficient layover is about two hours in duration. Any more is a waste of time. Any less and you run the risk of a delay causing you to miss your connecting flight. One efficient advantage of not checking a suitcase is if your first flight lands on time and you can catch an earlier connecting flight, you can talk to an airline agent about getting on an earlier flight. They will only do this for you if you have no checked bags. Federal law requires that you be on the same flight as your luggage, so if your luggage is already tagged to be on your original flight, you cannot board an earlier one.

When you land at your connecting airport, it is efficient to find your next gate as soon as possible. Once you find it and ensure that nothing is wrong or that your next flight isn’t taking off early (yes, that does happen sometimes) then you can do something else like shop at the nearby stores.

In your carry-on, it is efficient to only pack one book or one iPod or one thing to work on. Many people pack multiple things to keep themselves entertained or busy but only end up using one thing. Decide on only one thing to pack to keep yourself occupied in order to be most efficient.

Packing a sandwich or two in your carry-on is efficient as it will prevent you from having to waste time and money buying costly food at the airport. The days of being fed a good meal or any meal on each flight are over. Packing sandwiches might not work if you are traveling internationally and are forbidden from transporting food items.

Getting thirsty while traveling is not efficient. It can give you a headache and cause you to make mistakes. Since you are not allowed to bring water with you through security, and buying bottled water is very expensive, maximize drinking water on the flight. Each time the flight attendant comes by asking if you want anything, get a glass of water. Ordering water only will keep you hydrated and on top of your game. The other drinks may be tempting, but anything with caffeine or alcohol will dehydrate you and make you lose your edge. Even juice contains a lot of sugar. To be the most efficient at proper health while traveling, hydrate as often as possible on the plane.

If you follow all these tips for efficient airport travel, then you will reach your destination having experienced less stress than you would have otherwise and will be ready to start the real part of your journey. All you have to do now is pick up your luggage, if you checked any, and find a way to get to where you are going. Making an inherently troublesome experience into a more efficient one will get you to your destination safer, healthier and happier.

Florida Travel: A Day Trip to Downtown St. Petersburg

Hop, skip or walk from one museum to another in downtown St. Petersburg, Fla. The city is full of cultural treasures including dozens of art galleries and numerous museums.
If you can only afford to spend a day, head to the waterfront to tour the new Dali Museum, be wowed by the Chihuly Collection, enjoy a leisurely lunch, and shop in unique boutiques while experiencing the casual-chic vibe of St. Petersburg.

 

Visit the Dali Museum During a Day Trip to St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Dali Museum in downtown St. Petersburg is a celebration of Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali. Housing 96 oil paintings and more than 2,000 other pieces of art, this is the largest collection of Dali’s work outside of Spain. The new museum opened in January 2011 and its most striking feature is the building’s Glass Enigma, a large glass sculpture made from more than 900 glass panels framed in steel and wraps around the building. Inside the museum, look up the spiral staircase to see how the Glass Enigma looks like an eye.

The best way to tour the Dali Museum is with a docent who will explain a few pieces of the artist’s sometimes complicated work as well as provide history about the museum and man behind the art. Tours are included in the admission price and are offered hourly on the half-hour.

Dali Museum
One Dali Blvd.
St. Petersburg, Fla.
Tel: 727-823-3767
www.thedali.org

Be Wowed at the Chihuly Collection Presented by Morean Arts Center
Vibrant colored glass crafted into slim cones, globes, and peculiar shapes in the Chihuly Collection will amaze visitors. Located less than a mile north of the Dali Museum, the Chihuly Collection opened in July 2010. This is the only permanent installation in the world dedicated to renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly. In addition to traditional displays of artwork, some of it hangs from the ceiling or carefully placed overhead. Pieces in the Collection include Ruby Red Icicle Chandelier, a striking piece composed of what looks like fire engine red icicles, and Float Boat, a wooden rowboat filled with glass floats of varying colors and sizes.

The Chihuly Collection is best experienced on a docent led tour. Time permitting, add a visit to the Hot Shop for demonstrations by local glass artists. Or, create your own piece of glass art by indulging in the Hot Shop Personal Glass Experience.

The Chihuly Collection
400 Beach Dr.
St. Petersburg, Fla.
Tel: 727-896-4527
www.chihulycollectionstpete.com

Eat at The Garden Restaurant for Lunch
St. Petersburg is home to delicious dining options. I enjoyed lunch at The Garden Restaurant, the city’s oldest restaurant. The restaurant is located in the old Detroit Hotel, has a relaxed atmosphere and hotspot for jazz. Dining is available indoors or outside in a courtyard. The menu is extensive and I enjoyed a tasty grilled Portobello mushroom sandwich.

The Garden Restaurant
217 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg, Fla.
Tel: 727-896-3800
www.thegardendtsp.com

Room for Dessert? Enjoy Gelato from Paciugo
St. Petersburg’s waterfront has a European with galleries, parks, and outdoor dining. Taste a bit of Italy with gelato from Paciugo. Traditional flavors are available along with the not so usual as strawberry balsamic vinegar, limoncello and violet.

Paciugo
300 Beach Dr., Ste. 120
St. Petersburg, Fla.
Tel: 727-209-0298
www.paciugo.com

Located about a 90-minute drive west of Orlando and less than 30 minutes from Tampa, a day trip to St. Petersburg is worth the drive. The variety of museums, galleries and boutiques makes it an attractive destination to visit often.

A Guide to Sightseeing in Budapest

One of Europe’s most popular travel destinations, Budapest is experiencing a renaissance after decades behind the Iron Curtain. Internet hotspots abound in this city filled with culture and cafes on every corner. One of the first areas a tourist should visit is Vaci Utca, one of the most popular shopping streets in the city. It is pedestrian-traffic only, making it a tourist mecca. Restaurants, bars, and shops mingle amongst the ever-present carts peddling souvenirs and postcards. There are a number of currency-exchange booths on this street. Vaci Utca runs into Vorosmarty Ter (Square), a famous square in the city. It is home to a number of cafes, most famous is the Gerbeaud kavehaz, famous for their pastries and decor since 1858.

From Vorosmarty Ter, head to Szent Istvan Ter and the St. Stephen’s Basilica. It is Hungary’s largest church and home to the preserved right hand of King Stephen I, Hungary’s first Christian king. The area surrounding the church is a pedestrian-only square. Next stop: Heroes’ Square, bordering Varosliget (City Park). Heroes’ Square is home to a monument honoring Hungary’s greatest leaders, in statue form. Behind the square one can see the architecturally-significant Vajdahunyad Castle, built in honor of the millenial exhibition in 1896. It combines multiple architectural styles and houses the Agricultural Museum. Directly outside the castle sits a statue of King Bela IV’s anonymous scribe, to whom credit is due for knowledge about medieval Hungarian life.

Walking through Varosliget, it is difficult to miss the yellow domes signifying your arrival at the Szechenyi Baths, one of my favorite spots in Budapest. If you are visiting the city, be sure to carve out some time in Budapest’s world-famous baths. The thermal waters of the city have healing benefits. The Szechenyi boasts three outdoor pools that can be used year-round, as the thermal waters never get cold. One can play chess on one of the floating chessboards, or get a deep-tissue massage on a wintry day. The baths cost from 700-2000 forints, but are well worth it.

A short Metro ride later, you can find yourself on the streets of the Castle District, home to Buda Castle and Matyas Templom(Matthias Church). The district is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is accessible by foot or shuttle bus, as no cars are allowed. There is a mixture of architectural styles in this area, all of which are breathtaking to view. The Buda Castle is home to a number of museums. The Ludwig Museum, located in the Castle, is a must-see. It houses a vast modern art collection. Matyas Templom is one of the city’s most popular tourist sights. King Matthias was married twice in the church during his reign as ruler of Hungary in the 15th century.

To the left of Castle Hill is Gellert Hegy (Gellert Hill), almost 800 feet above the Danube River. Named in honor of Bishop Gellert, who became a martyr after pagan worshippers killed him by rolling him down the hill in a barrel, the hill is home to a large statue of him. Also on the hill is the Citadel, built by the Austrian Army in 1849, and a small church inside the caves of the hill.

A boat ride down the Danube is something to experience while visiting the city. Many floating restaurants and nightclubs also call the banks of the Danube home. The Dunakorzo is a promenade on the Pest side of the river that is perfect for a lovely afternoon stroll. Budapest is a city that is coming into the 21st century without letting go of its rich, storied history.

The Unique Experience of Visiting Venice Italy

Venice is a city in north east Italy known for its canals and its role in the Renaissance. Many a tourist has taken a ride in a gondola and visited San Marco Square with its famous cathedral. Venice is also famous for its richly ornate Venetian glass.

Venice is a city where most people traverse the city either by walking or by the many canals and water ways. Instead of your regular buses on city streets, Venice has motorized water buses. The routes are well known by the locals and it is the main mode of transportation. However, the gondolas are still a favorite of tourists. They are not meant to be a replacement for the water buses but more like a carriage ride on the water. They are richly furnished with crushed velvet seats and Persian rugs. They are also used for weddings, funerals and other kinds of ceremonies. There is a smaller but less known Sandolo which can also have a singing driver. There are 177 canals that the water buses or the gondolas can take you through connecting 117 islands through the area.

The Basilica di San Marco was the personal chapel for the Doges for most of its history but in it became what is known as the Cathedral of Venice. This Cathedral is ornate, Gothic and spectacular. It attracts many tourists throughout the year. It is adorned with Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic art and it sports many details from antiquity to the middle ages. Once inside it is hard to miss the gilded mosaics which span 8000 square meters of the vault and copulas.

The floor of San Marco is equally impressive. It is from the 12th century and is a mosaic of marble in animal designs and geometric patterns. A red medallion on the floor inside the main door marks a holy spot. It is where in 1177 the Doge arranged the reconciliation between Barbarossa, who was the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope.

The altar piece is the Pala d’Oro (Pall of Gold) and is a long panel of gold adorned with jewels. It was commissioned in 976 and added onto over time to create its current ornate beauty. It is Byzantine in origin. It is rumored that Napoleon stole some of its jewels but as an tourists can see he left plenty behind.

This cathedral is probably the most fantastic of cathedrals second only to the Vatican in all of Europe.

Another attraction when visiting Venice is actually a place called Murano where the famed Venetian glass is made. This art of glass blowing actually came from the middle east and the far east. Venice had been trading with these areas of the world for centuries and thus had “picked” up this art of glass blowing. The art form made its way to Murano due to the risk of fire. That way the main island of Venice was not put at risk from all the hot furnaces that had to be employed in making the glass. In modern times these factories/museums are not far from the beaten path and are a definite “must see” when visiting Venice.

Venice is a unique city that attracts many tourists not only for its canals and different mode of transportation but also for its formidable role in the Renaissance. A visit to Venice is not complete without touring the Basilica di San Marco and making a side trip to Murano to capture a picture or two of the famous glass blowers of Venetian Glass.