Scenic Kitzbhel is everything an alpine resort should be: a charming village with a medieval center, a world-famous aprs-ski mecca, and a ski run regularly used on the World Cup circuit. Whether you go to Kitzbhel to ski the Hahnenkamm or to party all night (or both), Kitzbhel doesnt disappoint.The village is situated at the southern foot of the Kitzbheler Horn, about 100 kilometers (63 miles) from Innsbruck. The area around Kitzbhel has turned up archaeological evidence of human habitation as far back as the Bronze Age. During the time of the Roman Empire, it became a major crossroads for merchants and travelers. The first records of the village of Kitzbhel date back to 1271. The area didnt become a tourist destination until 1902, when construction started on a major hotel. Franz Reisch organized the Association of Winter Sports and staged Kitzbhels first public ski race.Thats the old news in Kitzbhel. Heres whats new: improvements in lifts and snowmaking facilities for the 2005/2006 season. Old T-bars are being replaced with a state-of-the-art chair lift equipped with child safety devices. Also new this season is the Panoramabahn Kitzbheler Alpen, an eight-seat mono-cable circulating gondola. The resort is also increasing its snowmaking system. Work is underway on a new water reservoir. Man-made snow will cover the ice increasing the amount of terrain by 30 hectares and improving the condition of the snow at the Resterhhe ski area.Now, back to the basics Kitzbhel offers over 145 kilometers (90 miles) of trails with 39 percent designated for beginners, 46 percent for intermediates, and 15 percent for advanced skiers. There are four main mountains: the Hahnenkamm, theKitzbheler Horn, the Bichlalm, and Pass Thurn. While it is a great resort for intermediates, experts are not left out. They can test their skills on the famous World Cup Streif run (on Hahenkamm) and there is plenty of off-trail terrain to explore. Skiers can even have their speed clocked with radar on the Pengelstein. There are also steep trails around the Ehrenbachgraben bowl and also on the Rettenstein at Pass Thurn.Kitzbhel is home to the popular Ski Safari circuit, marked by elephant symbols. The circuit allows skiers to explore the entire area between Hahnenkamm and Pass Thurn. A recently installed 3S (tri-cable) continuous loop cableway allows skiers to complete the circuit in both directions without taking off their skis. The Ski Safari covers 35 kilometers (22 miles) of runs.Snowboarders are most likely to head for the Kitzbheler Horn. In addition to free-riding terrain, theres a half-pipe and funpark. Theres a boarder-cross near the Brunellenfeld lift with a 95-meter (312-foot) vertical drop and at least 14 obstacles. The Red Eagle Snowboard Academy in Kitzbhel is a great place to learn and perfect snowboarding skills.The Kitzbhel area is a good choice for cross-country skiers. Kitzbhel offers 30 kilometers (19 miles) of groomed trails. With the trails of the surrounding towns added on, there is a total of 120 kilometers (75 miles) of groomed trails to explore. Snow hikers and snowshoers find over 100 kilometers (62 miles) of well-maintained hiking trails. Free guided hikes are available during the week as well as special torchlight and photography hikes.Visitors enjoy other winter activities, as well. Tobogganing, indoor and outdoor ice skating, tubing, and sledding add to the fun. Riding in a horse-drawn sleigh is a romantic way to see the spectacular scenery surrounding Kitzbhel. There are a lot of things to see and do in Kitzbhel. In addition to shopping, visitors can tour several medieval churches. There are spas, the Cable Car Museum, a casino, art galleries, and an alpine zoo.The village is filled with brightly painted houses, many dating back to medieval times. Visitors can browse through trendy shops and stop for coffee and pastry at one of the many cafs. The only hard part about dining out is deciding where to go. There are more than 100 restaurants in Kitzbhel. Food choices range from Tyrolean, Mexican, and Chinese to Italian, Swiss, and even American. Many great restaurants are found in the towns four-star hotels.Some people choose Kitzbhel just for its party atmosphere. Famous for its wild aprs-ski, the town draws the rich and famous from around the world. Bars and discos keep the fun alive all night. There are, however, quiet pubs for those looking for a more romantic evening.Kitzbhel is preparing for its opening celebration, with special events planned for December 8 11, 2005. Whether you come to ski and snowboard, party or shop, Kitzbhel is the ultimate fun alpine resort.
Catalonia shares it's northern border with the countries of Andorra and France in the mountainous Pyrenees. The Mediterranean Sea forms it eastern border with the coast running south west down as far as the region of Valencia. The eastern border is shared with the region of Aragon. Throughout history Catalonia has struggled for greater autonomy in it's relationship with Spain. In attempts to gain full independent it has on more than occasion revolted. Few Catalonians today aspire to have any real expectations of independence but the struggle for greater autonomy within Spain continues.History - Greeks and Romans established trade along this part of the Mediterranean coast. In the middle ages Catalan art and literature flourished and the now established coastal trade saw merchants become very powerful rivalling those of Venice and Genoa. In 1461 Catalonia rose up in protest at it's alliance with Aragon but the rebellion was crushed. The subsequent union of Aragon with Castile side lined Catalonia. Trade routes were moved, commercial income fell, famines and plagues all contributed to it's decline. But the Catalonian desire for independence continued. It rose against Philip IV during the thirty year war of 1618-48 and followed that by taking the side of Archduke Charles in the War of the Spanish Succession against Philip V. It was a centre for socialist influence at the turn of the 19th Century. 1931 saw the Catalans establish a separate government which went on to win autonomy from the Spanish Cortes in 1932. Two years later a revolution for complete independence failed, but in another 2 years autonomy was restored. In the Spanish civil war of 1936-39, Catalonia once again picked the wrong side and following Franco's victory over the republicans the region suffered badly and the cherished Catalan language was banned in public life. In 1978 it was restored and is now an official language of the region along with Castilian or Spanish. It elected its first parliament as an autonomous region in 1980. By the mid-1990s Catalan nationalists had become a force in both the region's and the nation's politics.Catalonia comprises four provinces, Girona, Barcelona, Tarragona and Lleida, all are named after their capitals.Girona or Gerona in the north sits on the Onyar River. Dating from pre-Roman times, the old town has preserved its medieval aspect. Girona was ruled by the Moors from 714 to 797. During the Peninsular War of 1808-09 the town resisted the Napoleon's French forces. Industries today include chemical production, machinery, paper making and textiles. Outside the city and on the coat the beaches and coves around Begur and Palafrugell and particularly attractive. Or take in a sunrise at the Cap de Crues, Spain's most easterly point. Just to the south is the enchanting whitewashed village of Cadaques built around a rocky bay. The artist Salvador Dali spent the holidays of his youth there and later lived in the nearby village of Port Lligat. The barren shorelines, odd formations of rocks and desolate moonscapes so typical of his paintings can be seen in abundance throughout the locality. The Teatre-Musea Dali is located in the town of Figueres and contains a great deal of the artist's works. The Pyrenees, in the north of the province, offer many opportunities for walking and hiking, the Parc Nacional d'Aiguestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici being one of the most attractive areas. There are several ski stations operating throughout the winter months.There is evidence of some settlement in the area going back to the 15th century BC but Barcelona is reputed to take it's name from the powerful Carthaginian family of Barca who founded the basis for the city as we know it today. Under the Romans and Visigoths the city flourished. In the 8th century it fell to the Moors and in 801 it was taken by Charlemagne, who included it in the Spanish March. The March became independent under the leadership of the powerful counts of Barcelona in the 9th and 10th centuries, They won lands from the Moors to the south and acquired all of Catalonia. In 1137, following the marriage of Count Raymond Berengar IV to the heiress of Aragon the two regions became united. The city of Barcelona became the capital as it was for future kings of Spain. A well ruled Barcelona expanded trade in the Mediterranean. Its cloth industry flourished and it became a powerful centre of banking and commerce. Around 1400 saw the peak in it's fortunes, decline followed along with the rest of Catalonia. The French occupied the city on three occasions in 1640-52, 1715 and 1808-14. Catalan separatism centred on Barcelona and the city was the scene of many insurrections. It revolted against Philip IV of Spain from 1640-52. It also became the Spanish centre of socialism and other radical political doctrines around 1900. Barcelona was the capital of the region's autonomous government from 1932-39. During the civil war the Spanish Loyalist government sat in Barcelona until it fell to Franco's forces in early 1939. The region saw demonstrations against Franco's dictatorship throughout the 1950's. Today Barcelona is Spain's second largest city and the claims to be cultural centre of the country. It is the capital of the Catalonian region and more than one third of region's population reside there. Barcelona is also Spain's largest port and its chief commercial centre with international banking and finance houses. It is a major industrial centre and production includes aviation, chemicals, electrical equipment, foundries, locomotives, machinery, textiles and vehicles. The city itself is modern, with wide avenues, bustling traffic and striking new architecture. By contrast the well preserved old city, Roman walls can still be seen, is filled with narrow, winding streets and ancient structures, including a cathedral, many churches, the city hall and the Lonja or exchange. Barcelona is the site of a reputed opera house, the Contemporary Art Museum, the Fine Arts Museum of Catalonia and the Picasso Museum. In 1992 it hosted the summer Olympics. The remainder of the province of Barcelona is in the main hilly or mountainous. But it also home to some highly fertile plains where cereals grapes and olives are grown. The province also produces one third of Spain's wine. Much of the area's power is generated by hydroelectric plants built on the Ebro, Cinca and Segre rivers. The coastline, stretching nearly 400 kilometres has many good harbours and marinas, excellent fisheries and an buoyant tourist trade. West of Barcelona you will find the vineyards of the Penedes area. Also the mountain of Montserrat, on a clear day the peak at 1236m above sea level offers views of the Pyrenees to the north and to Mallorca in the Balearic Islands to the south east.Tarragona sits on the mouth of the river Francola on the Mediterranean. It was formally known as Tarraco and in 218BC was captured by Roman forces. They built up is fortifications against attack by the Carthaginians. The ruins of Roman walls and an aquaduct remain still. It fell to both the Visigoths and the Moors in the 5th and 8th centuries respectively. The Christians recaptured it in the 12th century but when it's trade was captured by either regions Barcelona or Valencia it fell into decline. In 1903 Carthusian monks settled in the city having been expelled from La Grande Chartreuse in France. Their famous liqueur is produced here to this day. Today it is important as both a commercial centre and port. Industries include flour mills, an oil refinery and wine production and export. Some of the countries finest wines are made nearby in the Priorat region.Lleida lies on the river Segre. Formally known as Llerda, Julius Ceasar defeated the generals of Pompey here in 49 BC. The Moorish invasion from the south saw Lleida fall in 714. It was liberated by Christian forces in 1149. By tradition a strategic, fortified city, Lleida became a key defence point for Barcelona in the Spanish civil war. It eventually fell to Franco's forces in the April of 1938 having withheld for nine long months. A castle, whose ramparts enclose a Romanesque cathedral, dominates the old section of the city. Lleida is the centre of a fertile farm area and agriculture predominates. There is little in the way of a manufacturing industry.
The Federative Republic of Brazil is the largest country in South America. Following is an overview of fun loving Brazil for travelers.Overview of Brazil for TravelersIndigenous peoples have populated for a long, but undetermined, period. European influence began with Pedro Alvares Cabral when he claimed Brazil as a Portuguese colony in 1500. In a little known development, Brazil actually became the location of the Portuguese government in 1808 when Napoleon chased the royal family out of Portugal. While in Brazil, the family ruled from Rio de Janeiro until 1821 when it returned to Europe. This move was motivated by a declaration of independence by Brazil, led by Dom Pedro.As with many South American countries, Brazil has seen its ups and downs from a political perspective. In 1989, it finally completed a transition to a popularly elected government when Collor de Mello won the popular vote. Less than three years later, he was forced to resign under the cloud of corruption charges. In 2002, Luiz Inacio da Silva rose to the position of president. Lula, as he is known, represents a major change in Brazilian politics. He is the first leader from the working class. Brazil covers just under 3.3 million square miles of South America. The climate in Brazil is mostly tropical, particularly in light of the Amazon River basin.With a population exceeding 186 million, Brazil is the fifth most populous country in the world and largest in South America. Despite covering a vast area, most of the population lives in urban cities such as Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte. If you think traffic is bad in your location, keep in mind over 18 million people live in greater Sao Paulo! The people of Brazil are called Brazilians. The population is 186 million people and growing at a rate of .1 percent a year. 74 percent of Brazilians consider themselves Roman Catholics. The official language is Portuguese and the literacy rate is 86 percent. Average life expectancy is 71.3 years. Brazil is one of the world's leading producers of hydroelectric power. Over 75 percent of its electrical power is generated via dam projects. If you are considering visiting Brazil, you should keep in mind that crime can be a problem in certain areas. Use common sense and you will have no problem. Brazil is a blast, very cheap and gets a big thumbs up as a travel destination.
The Life of Luxury (green with envy)It is always nice to see how the other half lives, take for instance there is theLife of Luxury: the George Hamilton way.This is a TV show which looks at the lives of the Super Rich in which the first episode looks at the PlayBoy Mansion, a collection of multi-million dollar homes, hip-hop half-billion dollar empires and some queens of shopping.Tom Delay's Life of Luxury over the last six years:Public documents reviewed by The Associated Press document his 48 visits to golf clubs and resorts; 100 flights aboard private company planes; 200 stays at hotels, many world-class; and 500 meals at restaurants, some averaging nearly $200 for a dinner for two. Not all paid for by Tom Delay.ARCHESTRATUS: THE LIFE OF LUXURYARCHESTRATUS was a Sicilian Greek who wrote a poem that was an actual cookbook describing styles of Greek food in antiquity In travelling throughout the Greek world - Greece, Southern Italy and Sicily, the coast of Asia Minor, the Black Sea - Archestratus shows us how the ancient Greeks were extremely cosmopolitan. His influences - ingredients, combinations of flavours, techniques - are drawn from a wide Mediterranean background, taking in a diversity of ideas unrestricted by the topography of the Greek mainland.The Life of Luxury: Check out the Robb Report: Luxury HomesThe Robb Report features this Beverly Hills house. The owners, a retired industrialist and his wife, who is a trustee of Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, wanted the architect to maintain a simple palette that would not compete with their art collection, which includes a beautiful collection of contemporary art.The Life of Luxury's Most Expensive ZIP CodesFrom Beverly Hills to TriBeCa, from notorious enclaves of mansions and lush lawns to little-known niches of wealth, this is where the most expensive real estate in the country can be found.Many of these neighborhoods are rarified places, of course. They are close to beaches and golf courses and prime yacht moorings--or at least within spitting distance of the power centers that are the sources of great wealth. they have high tax bases, expensive private schools, exclusive restaurants and they are not all located close to Rodeo Drive.The Life of Luxury; Some Expensive Must-Have ItemsWe must be getting richer. Designer items are becoming more and more popular, we are no longer happy with a cheap watch but want an Omega or a Tag Heuer.According to the Federal Reserve, the net wealth of American households hit a high at the end of last year, increasing from $46.59 trillion in the third quarter of 2004 to $48.53 trillion in the fourth quarter. Rising real estate and stock prices helped push the country's household net worth up 4% between the third and fourth quarters. You can now buy a $67,000 hand-crafted bathtub; Luxury is no longer confined to the affluent. To enhance people's lives they are willing to pay more for luxury items like expensive perfumes and designer handbags. Sometimes it's hard to justify spending much more on an item when something considerably less expensive offers the same functionality.You can, for instance, buy a watch for $10 and you can buy a watch for $20,000 that offers the exact same functionality so where is the rationale for buying the expensive watch? Still, the expensive watches get sold and people are proud to own them. The exclusive maker of mattresses for the British royal family will reject a container of cashmere if it is deemed to be clumpy or defective in any way, says the director for the American division. For each bed, workers cover thousands of springs in calico cotton; the damask cases are hand-woven in Belgium If you have to ask how much these mattresses cost you can't afford them.Life of Luxury: living on your own Cruise ShipThe World is the only private luxury community at sea. It is a Cruise Ship built with apartments and studios for long term residency rather than vacation cruises.For sale originally were 106 apartments, 19 studio apartments and 40 studios, with square footage starting at 675 for studios and maxing out at 3,242 for a three bedroom apartment with optional jet pool. With the exception of studios, which have more limited amenities, The World's residential accommodations include fully-equipped kitchens, living room, veranda and all furniture and audio/video equipment. Studios an Apartments can be had from 1.4 million to 4.8 million dollars and annual maintenance costs start at $100,000.This is a 40,000-ton ship which could easily carry 1,500 passengers but the World Residensea carries an average of 285 guests plus a crew of 252. The passenger distribution is about 40% Americans, 40% Europeans and 20% from other nations. The price of a "home" on board the ship includes furniture, appliances, carpet, draperies, linen, china, cutlery and crystal. Maintenance charges will cover daily housekeeping service, repairs and replacement of appliances, fixtures and fittings supplied by the builder.
A visit to the catacombs is a fascinating part of any trip to Rome. The catacombs in Rome are a place where art meets history and religion in a very powerful way. There are several catacombs along via Appia Antica, but not all are open to the public.The catacombs are located on the ancient way that connected Rome to southern Italy Via Appia Antica. This ancient road was opened in 312 B.C. and went all the way to Brindisi on the Adriatic sea.At the time, there was a law against burying the dead inside the city, so Via Appia Antica became the place of choice for burials. The catacombs and fantastic burial monuments are located along the way from Casale Rotondo to Cecilia Metella's tomb.If by now you imagine yourself spending your day in dark, gloomy caves, staring at bones, you can forget about it. Via Appia Antica has a great view. It is one of the most luxurious areas in Rome. The rich people of modern Rome live nowadays next to the burial location of their ancient ancestors, so while you admire the art work of the tombs, don't forget to take a glimpse at the houses and gardens of the area.Inside the catacombs you will not see bones, but the work of art that decorated the ancient tombs of the rich and important.Entry to the catacombs is only possible with a guide, for safety reasons. The guide, a priest or friar, will explain you all about the history, art and symbolism of the place, and then walk you through the catacombs.The Catacombs of San Callisto (or Callixtus) The burial location of the Bishops and Popes, are named after Callisto who restored and enlarged them.Until the third century, Christians in Rome had no official grave yards. At the beginning of that century, the Pope nominated St. Callisto to be in charge of the burial lands on Via Appia Antica. This was the beginning of the custom of burying Christians in lands that belonged to the church. As time passed, these underground grave yards that were dug in a soft rock, evolved to a maze of canals, layer upon layer.Whenever the room in one layer was exhausted, another layer was dug, so the most ancient layer is at the top.Santa Cecilia was buried in one of the graves here. Later, her tomb was moved to the church of Santa Cecilia, and a copy of her statue now stands in the place of the grave.The tunnels here resemble a dark labyrinth, so stay close to your guide. The guides walk rather quickly through the place to make room for the next group. A tour takes about 40 minutes.Continuing on Via l'Appia Antica, we find the catacombs and church of San Sebastiano. There are four floors of catacombs here, and a statue of St. Sebastian by Bernini. These were the first to be named "catacombs" after the greek words "Kata Kymbas" that mean "by the graves". These catacombs are the only ones that are easily accessible to visitors. Of the four floors only the second is usually open.In the Tricila area of the catacombs there are hundreds of graffiti writings on the walls, mentioning St. Peter and St. Paul. Those are probably from the time their relics were kept here, until they were transferred to the Vatican. Christians used to gather here in order to commemorate them.