Thursday, December 17, 2009


Milan has a reputation for having one of the highest standards of living in whole Italy. This is the biggest city in Northern Italy, home of its stock exchange and yet – not driven by tourism, capital of fashion and design, and not to forget the local religion called football – the city is home to Milan and Inter, two of the top Italian teams that drive the crowds to San Siro stadium on Sundays during the season.

Most of the sights of Milan are in the city center. Must-see attractions are: Milan Duomo - the third largest cathedral in the world; the Castello Sforzeco - a fortress built in 1368 that later became an elegant and stunning Renaissance residence of the family; the Teatro alla Scala Opera House - built in 1776 and hosting some superb theatrical productions; Santa Maria delle Grazie - the church where Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting 'The Last Supper' is on display; Santa Maria presso San Satiro – a church with a very interesting sound effect – the choir singing seems to come from the sanctuary where there is noone indeed.

For the art lovers, there are large numbers of galleries and museums, such as the Pinacoteca di Brera Gallery - housing one of Italy's most important art collections; the Villa Reale and Civica Galleria d'Arte Moderna - featuring masterpieces by famous artists such as Matisse and Picasso; Palazzo Bagatti-Valsecchi - considered to be one of the finest museums in the whole of Europe, with many outstanding displays and collections; Milan's Civic Archaeological Museum - home of the world's oldest wooden plough still in existence, dating back around 4,000 years.

The city also harbors some less-known attractions such as the Navigli’s canal-side cafés and old-fashioned gelaterie (ice-cream shops) and the funky design district of Isola.

Milan is a major European city therefore you can easily reach it by plane, train, bus or car. Once you are there, the city is relatively easy to get around. The centre is fairly compact and most of the sights are within walking distance of one another. There is an excellent bus network and local railway in Milan. The metro consists of four underground lines which run from 6 am to midnight. If you choose rent-a-car, have in mind that traffic in Milan is often heavy and driving in the city centre can be quite an experience due to Italian temperament. Instead of a car, you can also rent a bike for just €10 per day. Alternatively, if you prefer to be driven around, there are plenty of taxis. Official Milan taxis are generally white, although there are also some yellow and other color taxis. You should only use the official licensed taxis – with taxi sign on roof and numbered shield on the side. There may be some supplements such as luggage or late night charges so it might be better to ask for these before leaving.

As for staying - there are plenty of places to stay in Milan – over 400 hotels with rates ranging from €10 per person in hostel up to over €1500 per suite. As Milan is the business center of Italy, it is natural that here are the most expensive hotels in whole Italy and also – the largest number of business hotels.

If you have a limited budget – choose “backpackers hotels” where rates normally are as low as possible. Best offers you can find in the area of the Stazione Centrale, on the Piazzale Loreto and the Corso Buenos Aires. For a business trip you may prefer a more convenient hotel in the business center of Milan. As in every other major city in Europe, here you would find famous hotel chains such as Hilton, Marriott, Holiday Inn, Best Western, Ritz, Plaza, etc. providing all kind of services and facilities for your stay.

Milan may be famous for its shopping, trading, and amazing designers, but it is also a great place to enjoy a good meal. Milan restaurants are usually very expensive. For one complete dinner take count of at least 25€ per person. A 15% service charge is usually added to the bill at the end. Additional tip is customary.

If you want to keep it cheap and simple, there are many ethnic restaurants, pizzerias and trattorie in the city where you can enjoy local food on reasonable price. Typical antipasti include ‘nervetti’, a local specialty of boiled calves’ shank seasoned with onion. This could be followed up with the city’s signature dish, a filling ‘risotto alla milanese’ which is flavored with beef broth and saffron.

In terms of where to eat, the golden rule applies in Milan as it does everywhere else: stay away from the main tourist streets and attractions, especially the Piazza del Duomo, where the restaurants offer multilingual menus and over-priced food.

For cheap meals, the best place to head is Navigli – with wide variety of cafés and pizzerias offering simple, low-cost food. Other way to keep the costs down is the local version of the Happy Hour known as ‘aperitivo’. Usually from 18:30 to 21:30 in most of the bars with 5-8 € you can have a drink with an open buffet with a large variety of food. Many places offer not only pizzas and snacks, but also pasta, vegetables and sometimes meat.


France is the largest state in the European Union and is divided into 26 regions – twenty one are on mainland France, one is the island of Corsica, and four are overseas. The capital and the biggest city in France is Paris. It is situated on the scenic River Seine and is one of the leading tourist destinations worldwide.

Why go to France? Because it has it all - major tourist attractions like Paris, beautiful coastline and countryside, winter sport resorts of the Alps, lovely cities, culture, great food and drinks, old towns full of ancient buildings with narrow streets, lively markets and a range of different climatic zones.

The country is famous for its cheese (over 350 kinds; among them Camembert, Brie, Roquefort, etc), wine (the legendary Chateau Margaux, Pétrus, Romanée Conti and many others), perfume (Chanel, Dior, Givenchy) and cars (Renault, Citroen, Peugeot). It is also famous for the Tour de France and the Tour Eiffel.

France is known for its fine food as well. French cooking is thought to be the best in the world. Chefs prepare dishes such as quiche, soufflés, mousse, pâté, croissants, crêpes, and French bread. Many people in France like to drink their hot chocolate from bowls and dip their bread into it.

Other remarkable thing for France is the technologically advanced rail system. It utilizes some of the fastest trains in the world. It also connects the country with England via fast train passing through the Channel Tunnel, in French - Le tunnel sous la Manche, known simply as the Chunnel. The tunnel carries high-speed Eurostar passenger trains, Eurotunnel roll-on/ roll-off vehicle transport - the largest in the world - and international rail freight trains. In 1996 the American Society of Civil Engineers identified the tunnel as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

Not only railroads but a network of various modes of transportation blankets the whole country, including air, land and rail transportation as well as via rivers. There are a total of 474 airports in France, many of which serve international traffic. There are 31,939 kilometers of rail lines in France, approximately 828,000 kilometers of roads (all paved) and about 47% of the waterways are heavily used. The major port cities are Dunkirk, Bordeaux, Marseille, Nantes, Rouen, Le Havre, Boulogne, Cherbourg, Dijon, La Pallice, Lyon, Mullhouse, Paris, Saint Nazaire, Saint Malo, and Strasbourg.

Paris is of course the hub of France with around a quarter of the population and there are excellent travel connections fanning out to the rest of France. Symbols such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Latin Quarter, Montmartre, the Georges Pompidou Center, the Arch of Triumph and Disneyland Paris make the city one of the most visited places in the world.

France is the home of many other big and renowned cities. Some of the most popular ones are: Lyon, Marseilles, Lille, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Nantes, Nice, Toulon, Strasbourg, and many others. Excluding the monuments in and around Paris, the most visited historic sites in France include the Mont St.Michel (Brittany), the Châteaux de Chambord, Amboise and Chenonceaux (Loire valley), the Palace of the Popes at Avignon, the Hospices de Beaune (a medieval hospital) in Burgundy, the medieval city and ramparts of Carcassonne (Languedoc), and the site of Rocamadour in the Lot. Popular destination in France is also Côte d'Azur or Azure Coast, also known as the French Riviera – the charming beach resorts such as Saint-Tropez, Cannes (home to the famous international film festival), Nice, Antibes, Villefranche, etc. Convenient roads and regular train service provide easy access to every single corner of French Riviera as well.

Regardless the purpose of visit and trip direction, you would most probably stay in one of the thousands hotels in France. Generally speaking, hotel rates are quite reasonable by international standards. Prices are always quoted per room, never per person, though some hotels may have variable prices on a room, according to the number of people using it. Until 2009 classification went from 0 stars to 4 stars but in 2009 a new five-star ranking was introduced. The largest luxury hotels in France are the Sofitel and Pullman hotels, both part of Accor group hotels. Each of them has a number of outlets in the main cities and on the Riviera. A large chain of three star hotels is Novotel, also part of Accor group, with hotels in most large towns. However, 83% of French hotels are independent establishments, not part of any hotel chain. They are suitable for travelers wishing to stay in city centers, small towns or the country. And for adventurers with limited budget, throughout whole France hostels can be found on very cheap rates starting from €10 per person per night.

However, the rates usually are twice as higher during holidays and fairs. Therefore, it would be useful to know that the official holidays in France are:
- New Year – 1 January;
- Easter – moveable, usually in April (Roman Catholic);
- Labor Day - 1 May;
- Victory in Europe Day (end of WWII) - 8 May;
- Bastille Day (Independent day) - 14 July
- Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - 15 August,
- All saints day - 1 November;
- Remembrance (or Veterans) day (end of WWI) - 11 November
- Christmas - 25 December.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


There are many beautiful places in the world. One of them is London, an absolutely gorgeous city.
London is the capital of the United Kingdom and England and it is the biggest metropolis in the European Union. Along with New York, Paris and Tokyo, London is one of the most important global cities and one of the world`s largest financial centres. London is influence in politic, education, finance, media, fashion, entertainment, art and culture. London has population of 7 556 900.
The sights of London are a lot. Some of the most popular and interesting are: Tower Bridge, Big Ben, London Eye, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey.
Tower Bridge is a bridge in London, over the River Thames. It is close to the tower of London, which gives its name. It has become an iconic symbol of London and sometimes mistakenly called London Bridge, which is actually the next bridge upstream. The bridge is 800 feet (240 m.) in length with two towers, each 213 feet (65 m.) high, built on piers. Tower Bridge is a busy and vital crossing of the Thames.
Big Ben is the name for the great bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster. Big Ben is the largest four-faced chiming clock and the third-tallest free standing clock tower in the world. It celebrated its 150th anniversary in May 2009.
The British airways London Eye, also known as the Millennium Wheel, opened in the 1999 and it is the largest observation wheel in the world. It stands 443 feet (135 m) high. The wheel caries 32 sealed and air-conditioned passenger capsules attached to its external circumference. The wheel does not stop to take passenger: the rotation rate is so slow that they can easily walk on and off the moving capsules and ground level.
The Tower of London is a dominating landmark in central London - in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets - on the eastern border of the City of London, beside the northern bank of the River Thames. It is often identified with the White Tower, the original stark, square fortress built by William the Conqueror in 1078.
Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the British monarch in London. The Palace is a setting for state occasions and royal entertaining, a base for many officially visiting Heads of State, and a major tourist attraction.
The Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster, which is almost always referred to by its original name of Westminster Abbey, is a mainly Gothic church, on the scale of a cathedral (and indeed often mistaken for one), in Westminster, London, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster.
Transport is one of the four main areas of policy administrated by the Mayor of London. The public transport network is administered by Transport of London and is one of the most extensive in the world. London Underground is one of the longest, oldest and most expansive metro systems in the world. The system serves 270 stations. London's bus networks is one of the largest in the world, running 24 hours a day, with 8,000 buses, 700 bus routes, and over 6 million passenger journeys made every weekday. Although the majority of journeys involving central London are made by public transport, car travel is common in the suburbs. The inner ring road (around the city centre), the North and South Circular roads (in the suburbs), and the outer orbital motorway encircle the city and are intersected by a number of busy radial routes—but very few motorways penetrate into inner London.
There are many hotels in London, some of them are very expansive but there are some cheaper hotels.
If you like expensive and luxury hotels you can stay in: “Courthouse hotel”(for 122 euro per night). The hotel offers safe deposit box, airport transfer, room service, baby sitting, sauna, indoor pool, etc. Another opportunity for luxury lovers is “Treadneedles hotel”(for 185 euro per night) The hotel offers all services. There are other expensive hotels as: “The Royal Park Hotel”, “The Leonard Hotel”, “The Landmark Hotel”, “Dukes hotel” etc.
If you looking for cheaper hotel, you can visit: “Queens Hotel” (for 36 euro per night), also you can visit “Sleeping Beauty Hotel”(43 euro for night), “Vegas Hotel” (49 euro for night), “Ashley hotel” (53 euro per night), etc. These hotels do not offer so many services as expensive hotels, but are good places, where you can stay during your holiday in London.
There are a lot of good restaurants, you can eat in London, but you have to remember that London’s restaurants are the most expensive in the world. If you don`t have much money to spend on food, it`s better to eat in fast food restaurants as “MC Donald’s”, “KFC”, etc. But if you want to go in a good English restaurant, you can go in: “The Dining Room”, “Aston Bar & Restaurant”, “Blue door bistro”, in these places you can try real British cuisine.
This is London – large, beautiful, with a great history and many tourist attractions!


Italy is a nice country, located in Sothern Europe and comprises a long, boot-shaped Italian Peninsula, the land between the peninsula and the Alps, and a number of islands including Sicily and Sardinia. The territory of Italy covers 301 308 km2 . With 60,157,214 inhabitants, it is the sixth most populous country in Europe, and the twenty-third most populous in the world. The capital of Italy is Rome since 1870. Italy is a founding member of what is now European Union, having signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957, and it is a founding member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The country has a high public education level, high labor force, high charitability.
Italy has much tourist attractions, most of them are in Rome, Venice, Pisa and Florence.
If you decided to go in the capital of Italy – Rome, you will be impressed by Colosseo (Coliseum). Probably Rome’s most recognizable sight, its official name is the Amphiteatrium Flavium. The venue held up to 50,000 spectators at once for gladiator fights, battles with wild animals, and (though some historians dispute it) naval battles when the arena was flooded.
Another sight in Rome is Roman Forum. This area was the heart of Ancient Rome for thousands of years.
Probably, Venice is the most romantic city of the world. There you can see Basilica della Salute (Santa Maria della Salute) - This church was built after the 1630 black plague as a thank you offering to God. The “St. Mary of Good Health” is a baroque landmark at the end of the Dorsoduro neighborhood across the Grand Canal from St. Mark’s Square.
If you are in Venice, you should go to Ponte di Rialto, the most famous of the 3 bridges that cross the Grand Canal. The original was built of wood but started rotting, so it was replaced in 1588 with the current stone structure. The area around the bridge is where ships would unload their goods for the Venitian local markets. Today the bridge and surrounding area is loaded with tourist souvenir shops.
Florence has very beautiful architecture. There you can see Santa Croce Church- This 14th century church was started by St. Francis of Assisi and today holds the tombs of great Florentines. Included are Michelangelo, Machiavelli, the composer Rossini, as well as a memorial to Dante. The square in front of the church is popular with street vendors.

In Florence you have to visit also: Uffizi Museum (The oldest museum in Florence); Ponte Vecchio (lined with shops that sell gold and silver).

One of the most popular attractions in Italy is The Leaning Tower of Pisa. Although intended to stand vertically, the tower began leaning to the southeast soon after the onset of construction in 1173 due to a poorly laid foundation and loose substrate that has allowed the foundation to shift direction. The tower presently leans to the southwest.

The prices of hotels in Italy are different. It depends on you, whether you want to stay in a luxury hotel or in a cheap hotel. If you want to stay in a luxury hotel in Rome, that will cost you from 150 euro to 350 euro per night. Some of the best hotels in Rome are: “Hotel Santa Maria”, “Artemide hotel”, etc. If you want to spend less money on hotels, you have to choose something cheaper, where you will pay from 18 to 30 euro per night. Some good cheap hotels are: “Hotel Martino ai Monti”, “Hotel Virginia” etc.
Prices of hotels in Venice, Florence and Pisa are almost the same as the prices in Rome.
Italian holidays, festivals, and feast days reflect Italian culture, history, and religious practices. Some Italian holidays are similar to those celebrated throughout many other parts of the world, while others are unique to Italy. January 1, for example, is Capodanno (New Year's Day), while April 25 is the Festa della Liberazione (Liberation Day), an annual national holiday commemorating the 1945 liberation ending World War II in Italy.
Other Italian holidays include November 1, Ognissanti (All Saints Day), a religious holiday during which Italians typically bring flowers to the graves of their deceased relatives.
I n addition to national holidays (when government offices and most businesses and retail shops are closed), many Italian towns and villages celebrate the feast day of their santo patrono (patron saint), which differs from place to place.
There are many ways to travel in Italy. First of all, if you decide to travel with your car, you have to remember that Italy recognize driving license that are valid in other countries. But only use a car in Italy if you are visiting the countryside (Tuscany for instance). However, in cities such as Rome, Florence, Milan, and, of course, Venice, you have no need for a car. You can travel also by buses, trains, four wheeled rickshaw and of course by gondola (in Venice).
Every year, millions of people come to visit the famous paintings, architectural buildings, and sample all of the wonderful pasta. Italy is one of the main tourist spots because it has so much history and adventure. There is no end to the learning when you visit Italy.