I soaked up the personalities of boutiques as I walked among the streets, I glided along the Seine River on a luxurious dinner cruise, and I almost fainted when I finally saw the Eiffel Tower in person. I fell in love with a city. I fell in love with Paris, France. I have no doubt that you would, too.Paris in the summer was most enchanting. There is always a celebration or an event that will perk your interests. From the three-day Paris Country Fair to the Nuits de Feuto, one of the largest fireworks spectaculars in the world, these events are sure to please especially if you like the outdoors. Or, if you prefer the indoors, with 140 theatres and show venues, there are major theatrical productions and musicals galore!What woman could possibly visit Paris without wanting to experience the joy of shopping? I sure didnt as I roamed among different neighborhoods to visit boutiques and cafs. Le Marais district is best to explore many fashion and design boutiques. Its hard to resist making a purchase of some sort along the way! A unique caf youll want to check out is Pomze in the Opra/Grands Boulevard area, which offers apple-themed cuisine.I thought the view of some historical landmarks along the Seine River while on a night-time dinner cruise was stunning! The Bateaux Parisiens/Seino Vision cruise is unforgettable. I saw the spectacular night view of Notre-Dame, the Eiffel Tower (nicknamed the "guardian of Paris in golden apparel"), the Muse du Louvre (The Louvre Museum), and more historical landmarks of France.You absolutely dont want to miss visiting the Eiffel Tower in the day as well. A 59-foot trek up the tower takes you to the top to overlook the city of Paris that will leave you breathless!During the day, the Louvre Museum was just as delightful. As a former royal palace, it features a large, glass Crystal Pyramid near the front entrance. The museum itself features paintings and artifacts of architecture, history, and archeology of Frances rich heritage. The Louvre hosts the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci, the Mona Lisa. The palace was first opened to the public during the French Revolution.In July you dont want to miss the famous bicycling race, Le Tour de France (The Tour of France). Even though Lance Armstrong may not be entering the race again, it is worth experiencing the national identity and pride of France.But before youre able to experience Paris to its fullest, I strongly recommend not leaving home without planning well in advance. Advanced lodging accommodations are much needed. Booking travel dates ahead of time and your hotel stay will save you hours, if not days of stress headaches while trying to plan the perfect Paris vacation. Since the summer weather in Paris ranges from fairly cool in the day (lower to mid-70s) all the way up to 95 degrees, plan to bring a variety of apparel to keep cool and warm. A few light sweaters, jeans, shorts, and cotton shirts would work best. For the colder evenings (mid- to upper-50s), plan to bring a coat to keep warm. Other essentials to pack before leaving Paris include:* a digital camera* a small bag to carry a water bottle, maps, paper and pen, and the digital camera* comfortable walking shoes* a light rain jacket (just in case)Besides the typical items you should bring with you, an absolute consideration must be made when planning to travel overseas; knowing what type of ID you will need while in France is most important. Only a passport is required for entry into France. For stays up to 90 days, a visa will not be needed.Understanding at least some of the "language of love" is most appreciated by the French. So, taking some beginning French lessons before you leave for Paris would be useful or simply finding a good English-French dictionary may work well to start. Learning some basic phrases helped me around the city or guided me to someone who spoke English. For example, there were several friendly question and greeting phrases I used repeatedly throughout my trip:* Hello (good day). --> Bonjour.* Good evening. --> Bonsoir.* Excuse me, do you speak English? --> Excusez moi, parlez vous anglais?* Where is -? -->O est -* In what direction do I have to go? --> Dans quel sens dois-je aller?* How much is it? --> Combien est-ce?* No, I dont understand. --> No, je ne comprends pas.* Thank you. --> Merci.* Bye. --> Au RevoirAnd when you do get to Paris, its best to do three things to make your trip most enjoyable. First, knowing that Paris is partitioned by districts, which are located on the street signs, will make your travel easier. Second, for a very low price, purchase whats called a "Paris City Passport" from the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau which includes over 45 museum, attraction, excursion, and shopping discounts and also includes a map of all Paris districts. Third, knowing a little about all transportation options would be ideal, usually the Metro bus or taxi are good choices. Knowing what district your hotel is in also helps. And dont forget to use your new French skills!To endure the everlasting spirit of Paris is not difficult. Once I visited Paris, I never knew such beauty could exist in a thrilling European adventure like this. I have not left the memories behind me and I have not forgotten the experience of falling in love with a city. Paris will continue to fascinate you too, even after youve said, "au revoir!"
Most travel stories are of the happy-go-lucky variety. Every once in a while, however, one visits a place that evidences the vicious, dark side of mankind. Khmer Rouge Prison 21, known as Tuol Seng, is one such place. It is a stark reminder of the cruelties humanity can visit upon itself.Tuol SlengIn 1962, the high school of Ponhea Yat was opened in the center of Phnom Pehn. The school consists of three buildings in a horseshoe layout with each building having three stories. In the 1970s, the name was changed to Tuol Svay Prey High School. In May of 1976, the school became the headquarters of the Khmer Rouge genocide campaign in Cambodia.The infamous Khmer Rouge was the ruling party of Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, with fighting going on for many more years. Led by Pol Pot, also known as Brother Number One, the party is estimated to have killed as much as 1/3rd of the population of Cambodia through murder and starvation. The Khmer Rouge has justly been compared to Hitler for its brutal genocidal actions. Tuol Sleng represents the most brutal example.Tuol Sleng covers roughly a city block, but is tucked back among alleys in Phnom Pehn. During the Khmers rule, two folds of iron sheets encased in electrified barbwire to prevent escape enclosed it. Prisoners were chained to walls and tortured on a daily basis until they admitted crimes against the state. The prisoners were required to follow ten regulations. A shocking sampling include:1. Do not try to hide facts by making excuses. You are strictly prohibited from contesting me.2. While being lashed or electrocuted, you must not cry at all.3. Disobey any rule and you will get 5 lashes with an electric wire.Much like the Nazi concentration camps, the Khmer Rouge documented ever prisoner and atrocity. Upon arrival, each prisoners picture was taken and a detailed biography was documented. Prisoners were then confined to cells approximately the size of a closet by chaining them to iron posts. Daily torture was undertaken through beatings, electric shock and other atrocities. At the end of their imprisonment, prisoners were marched about two miles to the killing fields. To save bullets, the Khmer Rouge beat them to death.The atrocious numbers for Tuol Sleng:From 10,500 to 14,500 adult prisoners.Another 2,000 children prisoners.7 survived.Yes, just 7.Only 2 Khmer have ever been prosecuted for the atrocity.Today, Tuol Sleng is a genocide museum. The walls are full of pictures of the prisoners. Men and women. Boys and girls as young as 5 years old. There are still bloodstains on the floors of the interrogation rooms.Why visit or write an article about Tuol Sleng? Traveling is about discovery, even if the subject is something horrible. Failing to recognize the dark side of humanity dooms us to repeat those failings. The Nazi concentration camps existed in the 40s, Tuol Sleng in the 70s, and today similar atrocities are occurring in North Korea and Darfur. Will we ever learn?
Six Flags Marine World is known as not just an amusement park, but also an animal park. The park offers a wide variety of roller coasters as well as some more traditional amusement rides. When visitors are done with the rides they can then enjoy animal exhibits as well as shows that feature the parks animals. Six Flags Marine World is in a league of its own, partially because there is great care and attention paid to ensure this, but also because there is simply nothing to compare the theme park to. Marine World is in the business of entertaining, providing a fun environment, and putting together a little bit of everything that people love to see.Marine World began as a nonprofit animal park in Redwood City, California in 1968. In 1985 the park relocated about 55 miles away to Vallejo, California and thought the move necessitated a name change to Marine World Africa USA. The old location became known as Redwood Shores. In 1996 after losing money and poor profits since its move in 1985, Six Flags purchased the park at which time the park attendance grew. Six Flags added some theme park attractions that were not related to animals such as the roller coasters to draw in bigger crowds. Over the first few years Six Flags Inc. added several major roller coasters, putting the park more in like with the Six Flags line of parks and so the parks name was then changed to Six Flags Marine World. Premier, now known as Six Flags owned the park for several years before adding the Six Flags name to the park name.The park has not abandoned its animal roots. The park continues to add animals, exhibits, and improve existing exhibits to make the park more attractive and visitor friendly. Its true that the park has become not just an animal park, but also an amusement park. Six Flags added huge roller coasters such as Medusa, Vertical Velocity, and Roar. The park is a haven for the Looney Tunes characters that entertain old and young alike. Medusa draws in many customers because it is the parks biggest ride and is the only floorless roller coaster in the regional area. Medusa is also notable because the first drop is 150 feet and the ride lasts over four minutes. The newest ride is known as the V2 and has been responsible for bringing in a lot of traffic to the park, as well. The Roar roller coaster is popular because it is the only wooden roller coaster in the park. With all of the additions of great exhibits, awesome rides, and a one of kind atmosphere the Marine World theme park brings in major revenue to the city of Vallejo. Not only is the park popular in and around Vallejo, the park is a competitor with the other big amusement park in the area, which is San Francisco Bays Paramount Great American that is located in Santa Clara.The park has been a huge success because it is one of a kind. No other park has been able to combine animals and amusement rides the way that Marine World has been able to. The great thing about the park is that it truly offers something for everyone. Even if members of the family do not like roller coasters, they can enjoy other amusement park rides and the animal exhibits some family fun attractions are the White Water Safari, Monkey Business, and Wave Jumper. Marine World also features many live shows and special events that will have the old and young alike excited and entertained for their entire visit. The park is considered the only one of its kind in the United States, offering more rides and attractions than any other theme park in California and perhaps even in the United States! Not only does the park offer one of a kind experiences, it also offers great prices for families to enjoy themselves without breaking the bank. When you purchase your tickets online you can get a one-day admission for $39.99, when you buy a kid online pass youll pay just $29.99, otherwise general admission is $49.99 for adults and $29.99 for children 48 inches and under. While these arent admission prices that you would want to pay if you were going to visit every day, they are well worth the price of family entertainment every now and again.If youll be traveling to the area to visit Six Flags Marine World, youll also want to think about where you will stay during your trip to Vallejo. There are many affordable options right nearby so that you will not have to worry about finding your way to the theme park or your hotel after a long day of fun and entertainment. Whether youre old or young or have a little of both in your group youll find your lodging options in and around Vallejo comfortable and affordable. Some great lodging choices may be:The Holiday Inn Napa Valley Gateway1000 Fairgrounds Dr.Vallejo, California 94589(800) 533-5733(707) 644-1200Best Western1596 Fairgrounds Dr.Vallejo, California 94589(877) 544-9655Quality Inn44 Admiral Callaghan LaneVallejo, California 94591(866) 643-1061(707) 643-1061Hilton Concord1970 Diamond BoulevardConcord, California 94520(925) 827-2000 A trip to Six Flags Marine World will be an unforgettable experience for the whole family. If you live around the area youll definitely make time to visit the park every year to visit your favorite attractions and see if there is anything new to entertain and delight you. Even if you dont live in the area youll find yourself wanting to return again and again because you just cant find this type of theme park anywhere else in the world. If you love roller coasters and classic amusement park rides and you also have a love of animals big and small, youll find that the Six Flags Marine World is your favorite theme park to visit.
No country embodies the grandeur of European travel quite like France. From the international artistic reputation of Cannes to the luxurious leisure of the Riviera, France has demonstrated a remarkable capacity to overcome a tumultuous history by enriching the quality of life with those experiences. The diversity of the country will leave you stimulated, satiated and asking for more when you finally treat yourself and travel to France!Throughout European history, France has been the undisputed pioneer of social revolution and cultural renaissance. An enlightened society with classic charm, France will guide your journey seamlessly through centuries of power and progress, defeats and suffering, all of which possess an essence of timelessness. Travel France in July and witness Bastille Day, a commemoration of the destruction of the prison that King Louis XVI and his predecessors used to quiet social disruption and censor or torture public irritants. The day is symbolic of the value of social freedoms and democratic governance to the French people. The main celebration takes place in Paris at the former site of the Bastille.Go further back in time and explore the French countryside, which is rich with Roman Ruins dating up until the 5th Century. Groux-les-Bains, in the south of France, is known not only for its hot springs but also for the ruins of Roman bath tubs and swimming pools that depended on these springs as a source for hot water. Aix-en-Provence is a well known town central to France's wine and art culture, but also shares a Roman past as an ancient city with two aqueducts demonstrating the technological prowess of the Roman people.For a more unique experience, travel to the Loire Valley, a bastion of medieval castles, and have yourself a true Chteaux experience. Many of the ancient and classical castles have rooms available for rent, mainly during the summer season. There is no better way to be immersed in French history; plus, the castles often offer the best of the surrounding wine region.French Travel: More Than a History LessonNot only is France a gateway into Europe's enchanting history, the country that is world renowned for its irresistible food, fabulous wines and sophisticated lifestyle does live up to its reputation. Visit Nice to enjoy the coveted Riviera way of life while avoiding the throngs of tourists that swarm to St. Tropez just up the coast. While in Paris, make sure to enjoy a quiche lorraine in a local caf somewhere on the outskirts of town in addition to scaling the Eiffel Tower or getting lost in the Louvre. However you choose to travel, there is no way to miss the robust culture and resilient history of France.For more information on travel to France and other regions in Europe, and discount airfare to France, visit www.cfares.com.
Vancouver is an incredibly vibrant, multicultural city experiencing tremendous growth in anticipation of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Considered one of the world's most livable and beautifully-situated cities, Vancouver offers a wealth of interesting experiences for the curious visitor. Here we present a few old favorites for travelers to enjoy, as well as one or two places off the beaten path for the curious adventurer.1) Canada PlaceThe first stop for anyone coming to Vancouver should be to walk along the spectacular promenade of Canada Place at Waterfront Station. Constructed as the Canadian pavilion for the World Expo 1986 and now housing the city's Convention Center, a stroll around Canada Place allows the visitor to take in the beautiful harbor of Burrard Inlet, with its vista of snow-capped mountains, Stanley Park, and the modern glass towers of Coal Harbour nearby.Canada Place also showcases the dynamism of Vancouver's economic might and place in the global market. The inlet seethes with container ships bound outward to China and parts beyond. In the summertime cruise ships from the world's major lines dock along the pier en route to Alaska. Floatplanes taking off for the wild natural coves of the Inside Passage and helicopters departing for Vancouver Island augment the energetic scene. It was here that the Canadian Pacific Railway completed the transcontinental railway in 1889, bestowing on Vancouver the nickname of 'Terminal City'. Since then Vancouver has changed from being the 'end of the line' and is now considered the 'Gateway to Asia' and the Far North. It's a perfect introduction to the city of Vancouver and shouldn't be missed by the curious traveller.2) Spanish BanksFor another perspective on the city ride out the beaches at Spanish Banks, on the north shore of Point Grey. In summer with the tide out, the golden sands of the lovely beaches seem to stretch out to infinity. The water remains shallow and warm with the tide in during the hot months, but at any time of year the view remains breathtaking, with the tall modern condominium towers of Vancouver sparkling in the distance like shards of light within the green jade bowl of the mountains beyond. Treat yourself to a visit at the Jericho Sailing Association and share an enormous platter of nachos served up on the delightful terrace. From your commanding perch you can watch boating hobbyists and windsurfers at play on the water or see stately craft from the nearby Royal Vancouver Yacht Club pull up their sails. Further inland, Ultimate Frisbee players sprawl out on the green fields and tennis courts attract some of the city's best players.The area of the park was once a seaplane base and military camp during the Second World War and now contains a youth hostel, with a local community centre and theatre. It's a perfect spot for a picnic or just to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and well worth the visit.3) Sushi in the West EndVancouver is world-famous for its venerable Chinatown and the hundreds of restaurants contained therein. The city has been a home for Asian immigrants since the construction of the railway in the 19th century. Those who braved the voyage to the 'Gold Mountain' brought with them culinary traditions that have enlivened the palates of generations of Vancouverites. In addition to Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean neighborhoods Vancouver once had a thriving Japantown along East Hastings, now sadly in decline.These days, thousands of English language students from Japan and Korea have turned the area along west Robson Street and Denman into a miniature Tokyo or Seoul. One of the best ways to sample some of the city's delights is to visit a few of the many restaurants offering affordable and delicious all-you-can-eat buffets of sushi and sashimi. Shabusen restaurant at the corner of Burrard and Robson is a great place to start, with its wide selection and wonderful Korean barbecue specials on the weekends, when you can cook spicy marinated chicken, beef and pork at your own personal brazier. Another great stop is Tanpopo restaurant near the corner of Denman and Davie streets, with its wealth of fresh wild salmon, tasty gyoza dumplings, salty spinach ohitashi salad and a marvelous outdoor patio where you can watch to world go by at nearby English Bay. Be prepared to leave both restaurants perfectly satisfied as you continue your exploration of the multicultural feast that is Vancouver.4) Nightlife in GastownFor a night on the town Vancouver has a lot to offer the adventurous. The Granville Street strip is where revelers head to dance and drink the night away under the flashing neon signs of the heritage Orpheum and Vogue theaters at such bustling nightclubs as Republic, Tonic, and Ginger 68, to name but a few.Gastown along Water Street is where the first European settlement was created back in the old lumber camp days and the locale saw one of Vancouver's first saloons opened up by legendary 'Gassy' Jack Deighton in the late 1800's. On the cobbled streets one may find some excellent watering holes that continue the tradition set by Vancouver's pioneers. Close to the original site of 'Gassy' Jack's own Deighton Hotel is the charming Irish Heather Bistro, home of the best pints of Guinness in the city. In the rear, built into the snug walls of the old city jail, is a cozy glassed-in patio that hosts live Irish and Scottish music most nights. The 'Heather' boasts a progressive menu which combines old pub standards together with modern flair.For a more raucous scene try the Blarney Stone pub across the street. A genuine Irish dance hall crammed with University Students on the weekends, the Blarney Stone is known throughout town as a wild and rowdy place to make new friends and have a good time. There's free foosball tables on the upper level and be prepared to hoot and holler along with the fiddles and drums all night long.These are just a few of Vancouver's many active hotspots. Recommendations for music venues, concerts and movies can be found in the entertainment section of the free weekly cultural paper 'The Georgia Straight', found everywhere downtown. Pick one up and you won't fail to find something for every taste.5) Sports in the CityVancouver boasts several professional sports franchises and a history of excellence. In 1915 the Vancouver Millionaires hoisted up the renowned Stanley Cup on the ice at the old Denman Arena, the first indoor artificial-ice hockey rink in North America.Since then the city's teams include the locally-beloved Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League and defunct Vancouver Grizzlies of the NBA. The 1994 and 2000 Grey Cup Champion British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League play at BC Place Stadium, site of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Throughout the year there is always a game on somewhere for fans of every sport and every budget.Some of the best fun can be had with Vancouver's minor league teams. The Oakland Athletics affiliate Vancouver Canadians of the Single 'A' NorthWest Baseball league play in a jewel of a ballpark at Nat Bailey Stadium near Queen Elizabeth Park. It's a fun afternoon of baseball in a lovely pastoral setting for young and old alike that will often end with music and fireworks, or a visit by the mayor.If Canucks tickets are too expensive or difficult to find a great alternative in the winter are the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. This young team plays at the historic Pacific Coliseum on the grounds of the P.N.E. fairgound and come off a championship 2006 season. Vancouver is also seeing a resurgence of interest in soccer, notably with the resurrected Vancouver Whitecaps. The team was champion of the North America Soccer League in 1979 during the height of 'soccernania' in Canada and the United States, winning the Soccer Bowl in New York City that year. They currently play at Swangard Stadium close to a Skytrain station in Burnaby and there is talk of a new downtown stadium in anticipation of Vancouver hosting the 2007 U-20 World Cup.Stanley Park is named after the Governor-General of Canada who donated the Stanley Cup to hockey and the city waits for its next championship and the eyes of the world in 2010 for the Olympics. With so much to do and see, a visit to Vancouver is more interesting than ever. It's a chance to share the excitement and enjoy the hospitality of this 'City of Tomorrow'.