Japan: Land of the Rising Sun

A ‘Western’ country, Japan is located in the Far East, in the Pacific ocean, and has China, two Koreas and Russia as the neighboring states. This country and its people have very peculiar features, original culture, rich history and amazing landscapes.
The main feature that the tourists immediately notice in Japan is the carefully looked after natural environment. Any territory, even the smallest strip of land among the skyscrapers, should necessarily be decorated with a tiny lawn. Any pond can be turned into a tiny nature reserve that the residents of the community consider their shrine. Carefully preserved historic monuments and temples are scattered all over the country, and that is why Japan makes an unforgettable impression on everyone, who decides to visit it.
The symbols of the country are the biggest ‘holy gate’ in Japan called Wooden Door, Itsukushima shrine on the ‘sacred’ island of Miyajima, standing in the water in a small bay, and the famous beautiful volcano, Mount Fuji, surrounded by picturesque landscapes. Another icon of the country is Seto Ohashi Bridge, erected in the end of the 20th century over the Inland Seto Sea, from Honshu to Shikoku. Many ‘pearl farms’ in Japan are also interesting as tourist sites visited by thousands of tourists every year.
Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world and the capital of Japan. It was founded in the middle of the 15th century following the outlook of the ancient Chinese capital Xi’an. This giant metropolis has many old wooden buildings and churches. They interestingly contrast the ultramodern neighborhoods. The center of the city is the Imperial Palace, former Edo Castle, which was constructed in the 15th century and was surrounded by picturesque parks. A lot of tourists also visit the temple of Toshogu Shrine, the Tokyo National Museum, the National Science Museum, the temple of Cannon goddess and many other places. In Tokyo, one will also find a complex of skyscrapers called Three Towers and the largest Harumi Yoyogi Park in Tokyo. Some of the minor, but no less interesting museums include the Museum of Subway, the Museum of Glasses, the Museum of Plumbing, the Museum of Bags etc.
To the northeast of Tokyo, there lies the Nikko National Park, located among picturesque lakes and known for the splendid Kegon and Shirakumo waterfalls and hot springs. The pearl of the resort is the Toshogu Shrine temple complex, which includes 23 monuments of architecture, including the famous pagoda and Yakusido temple. Numerous picturesque bridges are stretched over the waterways, and the most beautiful of them is the "sacred bridge" of Cinque. Mount Nantay is the place of the Buddhist temple Tachi-ki-Kannon and Kazaana caves, known as the caves of the winds.
The second largest city of the country is Yokohama. In the past, it was repeatedly destroyed by earthquakes, but today the city amazes with its ultra-modern architecture and the high speed of life. Yokohama is often called the city that never sleeps. Its main attractions are landscaped parks and an outdoor museum, which has gathered samples of traditional wooden buildings, temples and houses from all over the country. Here one will also find the largest and most renowned commercial district of the coutnry, the water park called the Island of Entertainment, and the Maritime Museum. However, it is difficult to stay in Yokohama for a long time because of the strong gas pollution and extremely high density of population.
Nara is the first imperial capital of the country, often visited because of its open-air museum, which houses the most important Buddhist temples and pavilions, pagodas and gardens. Located 70 km from Nara, the famous Horyuji Temple is recognized as the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lake Biwa is located in the central part of Honshu Island, north-east of the former capital of Kyoto. It is often mentioned in Japanese literature, since it lies close to the ancient capital. The lake has three islands, where big cities of Hikone and Otsu are located. Biwa is also known as the paradise for fishing.

San Francisco – So Much to Do!

The ‘city by the bay’ is one of the most culturally diverse cities in America. The diversity is what lends to the overwhelming charm and beauty of this tiny six-mile square piece of land that sits nearly surrounded on all sides by water. A person could walk, drive or ride a bus, train or trolley all day and never run out of things to do. In fact if you walk you can entertain yourself for the day without spending a dime.
There are of course many landmarks not to be missed, The Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Fishermans Warf, Union Square, Coit Tower, Lombard Street just to name a few. But what makes San Francisco so much fun and so exciting are the people. Street performers can be seen almost anywhere in the city. Some are extremely talented and some are just trying to make a buck. But in the end they all want your money so pace yourself.
Fisherman’s wharf alone could take up half your day. If you start at Pier 39 you’ll get some of the best performances of juggling, comedy, singing etc. and it might even be on a real stage. Pier 39 is a tourist shoppers paradise in a beautiful setting right on the water. There are a few decent restaurants here and some sweet shops with candy, ice cream and crepes, although they’ll set you back a bit.
Walking west along the sidewalk you’ll see sunbathing sea lions and views of Alcatraz the famous prison which housed such criminals as ‘the Birdman of Alcatraz’, Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly in the 30’s and 40’s. You can also get a view of Angel Island and the Golden Gate Bridge.
As you get into the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf you see open air cooking stations with fresh crab being tossed into huge boiling pots. It’s a bit disturbing if you don’t think of them as food. Other than that though the atmosphere is fun and energetic. Anyone who is going to San Francisco will end up here so expect large crowds at all times.
If you’re into architecture just walk the streets of the city and you will be amazed at the variety and styles of buildings. Many of the old Victorian mansions on Knob Hill were destroyed in the 1906 earthquake but some of the less expensive Victorians in the western and southern parts of the city survived. Haight-Ashbury still has many of the beautiful homes in a brilliant array of colors. At 710-720 Steiner Street, across from Alamo Square you can see one of the most photographed sets of Victorians known as ‘the painted ladies’. Although their colors are more subdued compared with their Haight counterparts, their location and stunning background views leave you in awe.
Lombard Street is most famous for its stretch between Hyde Street and Leavenworth Street. Back in the day of horse drawn carriages and early automobiles the steepness of the street made it impossible to go either up or down. So in the 1920’s the city had it paved in brick in a zigzag pattern to make the decent possible, it is one way only. It is a beautifully landscaped street lined with stunning homes. Known to most as the ‘crookedest street’.
A trip to San Francisco wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Chinatown, not too far from Union Square it’s like stepping into another country, like maybe China! It has an impressive Chinese styled arch that almost says ‘it’s official you have left San Francisco’ that leads you into the sights sounds and wonders of Chinatown.
As you would imagine there are a plethora of shops where you can buy the coolest, most unusual vacation trinkets. Unfortunately every shop will have the same thing just in a different color. But the whole scene is just fun. You can even buy Chinese weapons such as Ninja stars and swords. Be brave and pop into one of the authentic Chinese eateries and try something you’ve never heard of. Don’t miss the whole ducks hanging in the windows. Chinatown completely shuts down at night but you can get a different perspective of the countries oldest Chinese community by joining the SF Chinatown Ghost Tour.
The heart of San Francisco’s upscale shopping is in Union Square, where you will find Bulgari, Saks Fifth Avenue, Louis Vuitton, Gump’s, Marc Jacobs, Gucci and more. Amongst all the high-end retailers you can also find such favorites as Victoria’s Secret, Niketown, Lush, and William Sonoma.
If shopping isn’t your thing there are many great restaurants and bars (Lefty O’Douls is a favorite with great old fashion food in a cafeteria/piano bar setting), and there is something going on in the square at almost any time of the year. In the winter there is usually an ice skating rink and of course a beautifully decorated Christmas tree. Many of the stores decorate their windows at Christmas time, most notably is the Macy’s windows, which are adorned with scenes involving adoptable animals. The St. Francis hotel also has a giant gingerbread castle in its lobby along with a dozen uniquely decorated trees.
Golden Gate Park is 1,017 acres, 175 acres larger than Central Park in New York City. It is 3 miles long and 1/2 mile wide.
The park is home to a number of interesting attractions that would take more than a day to see them all. One is the Academy of Sciences which has an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, 3D theater, lecture hall, two restaurants, gift shop, and relaxing adjacent garden and aviary.
The Conservatory of Flowers, is only $3.00 to get into with a student I.D. The white dome building itself is awe-inspiring but with 2,000 plants and many waterfalls within the Conservatory it’s well worth the $3.00. The de Young Museum is an interesting building to look at and houses thousands of artifacts and art from all over the globe.
The Botanical Garden is a symphony of plants, flowers, and trees from around the world stretching over 55 acres. This is a great way to spend a sunny day in San Francisco.
The Japanese Tea Garden, Buffalo Paddock, Beach and Park Chalet, or boating on Stow Lake can round out a great day at Golden Gate Park.
Golden Gate Bridge is 8,981ft long or 3 km, so crossing it on foot is quite a challenge, but there is a sidewalk that will take you from one side to the other. The bridge is designed to sway with the wind so on extremely windy days it’s quite an experience. The Golden Gate Bridge is located at the Presidio Park and can easily be reached by bus or car. The most pleasant way to reach the bridge however is by walking either from the Marina District to the east or from Baker Beach to the west of the bridge. Both routes will lead you through a park, and especially the route along the east is very popular. Mile-long Baker Beach lies at the foot of the rugged cliffs on the western shoreline of the Presidio.
It’s a clean beach with a gorgeous view of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s known as a nude beach but you rarely see any nudes there. It is also one of the places in San Francisco where you can have your dog off leash. Crissy Field is another great beach where dogs can run free. The two beaches are on either side of the bridge.
When the sun is out a day in San Francisco is gorgeous, although don’t expect temperatures to ever be very warm. Of course a lot of the time the city is under a beautiful layer of fog, which of course is part of its charm.

Top Ten Sights in Pompeii, Italy

Nowhere else in the world can you get the expansive feel of walking back in time as in Pompeii. Although archeologists have only excavated a small slice of the area, today visitors can enjoy abundant sights within the ancient Roman city. Here are my picks of top ten sights to see in Pompeii.
The Forum: Walk from the ticket entrance through the Sea Gate and you reach the Forum. Mt. Vesuvius is in the distance. In 79A.D. this active volcano spewed pumice into the sky and created the frozen city we see today. The Forum is surrounded by public buildings, including the Temple of Jupiter, the Temple of Apollo, a storehouse with pottery and plaster casts, as well as a market where the woolen cloth guilds once sold their wares. The Temple of Apollo is the oldest in Pompeii, dating back to the 6th century B.C. The largest edifice in the Forum, the Building of Eumachia, was sponsored by a wealthy female priestess of Venus.
The Brothel: Situated on Brothel Lane, the brothel has a small hallway with several bedrooms to the right and left. Inside these bedrooms are broad slabs. This was the largest brothel of the city, run by a woman (known as a leonine), but prostitutes in Pompeii were everywhere. Prices ranged from two to eight sesterces (a portion of wine cost one sesterces) and the earnings usually went to the leonine. The frescoes show many different sexual positions and it’s thought that perhaps a man would point to one of the pictures before entering a bedroom, letting the prostitute know what kind of service he would enjoy for the night.
Via dell’Abbondanza: The liveliest street in Pompeii, the name was made up by archeologists along with every other street name in the city. We don’t actually know what the Romans called these roads. Follow this street to see the dolia (terracotta receptacles) in shops that sold all manner of food. Pompeii was most famous for its garum, or fish sauce.
The following ‘must-see’ houses are along this road. (But remember, there are more you can discover along your walk.): The House of the Chaste Lovers is named for a fresco depicting two couples reclining and dining. The front of this building was a bakery and the mules lived in the house. They drove the millstone for grinding wheat. A mule carcass was found in situ, showing how the owners ran in haste during the eruption, leaving their animals behind. House of the Painters had a cadre of professional painters were in the middle of painting lavish frescoes in this home when Mt. Vesuvius erupted. They hopped up and left without their brushes and paints. From this we catch a glimpse of how painters created their frescoes. The Thermopolium of Vetutius Placidus was a restaurant and the owner’s house was in the back. You can walk inside to see a Rape of Europa fresco in the garden triclinium. (A triclinium was the place where Romans ate their meals, probably reclining on long couches.)
The Amphitheater: At the far end of Pompeii, the earliest stone amphitheater in the ancient world could hold up to 20,000 spectators. Adjacent to it was the training space for gladiators, surrounded by porches, and a swimming pool in its center. Gladiators were often slaves or condemned criminals. A lanista or a troupe manager controlled when the gladiators performed. He also scouted for new recruits and acquired animals from distant parts of the empire. Behind the Amphitheater, the Via dei Sepolcri was lined with tombs. Marble statues of families can still be seen above their tombs along with Latin inscriptions. The priestess Eumachia’s tomb is the largest.
Garden of the Fugitives: A vast number of plaster casts lie next to these vineyards in a large glass case. Giuseppe Fiorelli, director of the Pompeii digs in the late 19th century, invented the plaster cast method. He poured liquid plaster into a cavity left in the bed of ashes by the gradual decomposition of the victim’s body. As the plaster solidified, it reproduced the body’s shape.
The Great Theater and Small Theater: Pompeii was a theatrical town. Many houses were decorated with images from the stage. The pantomime was a major attraction in Pompeii and busts of Caius Norbanus Sorex, a mime actor, can be seen throughout the city. These two theaters are mammoth and still impress visitors today.
Temple of Isis: The number of gods and goddesses in the ancient world likely numbered more than the living human population of Pompeii. The debates Romans would have with each other over religion would revolve around whether they did actually take human form and when & why they intervened in human lives, but generally there were no tenets of belief. Instead, religious worship centered around communal animal sacrifice. The Isis temple here was built at the end of the 2nd century B.C. and two other Egyptian deities were honored within the niches.
The Forum Baths: Wherever there is Roman culture, there is a Roman bath. Here, Pompeiians exercised, steamed, swam, gamed, or enjoyed barber services. The baths were a social leveler too, only the richest having their own private baths at home. The baths had a changing room (apodyterium), a room for a cold bath (frigidarium), lukewarm bath (tepidarium), and a hot bath (caladium). Just across the street from the exit of the forum baths, make sure to see House of the Tragic Poet that has an impressive mosaic of a barking dog with the words Cave Canum – “Beware of Dog.”
House of the Faun: The largest of all the villas and the most famous, this wealthy dwelling had airy rooms and some indications of indoor baths, toilets, and kitchen areas. Visitors can see an accurate copy of a 2nd century B.C. dancing faun in bronze. Most impressive is the mosaic – using somewhere between 1.5 and 5 million tiny stones or tesserae – depicting a battle between Alexander the Great and the Persian King Darius. This house is also the oldest, built in the late 2nd century B.C.
Villa of the Mysteries: Frescoes with deep red colors depict Dionysian or Orphic initiation rites at the Villa of the Mysteries. Interestingly, recent research at La Sapienza University in Rome has revealed that many of the reds we see in Pompeii were once yellow and turned dark red as a result of exposure to hot gases during the eruption.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit France

With over 80 million tourists a year, France is the most visited country in the world. Here are the top five reasons why people from all over the world visit France – the very same reasons you should be planning your own French holidays, too.
1. The Most Romantic Place on Earth
France arguably has more romantic spots than anywhere else in the world. These include stunning gardens such as the world-famous gardens of Versailles, where kings and queens once walked, the gardens of Latour-Marliac in Giverny, which provided the inspiration for one of Claude Monet’s most famous paintings and the Loire Valley, which, with all its golden sunflowers, is a huge garden in itself – all of which are perfect places for a stroll with your loved one. There are also many fairy tale castles for you to tour, such as the Chateau de Chambord, Cheverny Castle and Fontainebleau Castle and you can even spend the night in one if you like.
Of course, you should also spend some time in Paris when you visit France on a romantic getaway. After all, the city is synonymous with romance. Savor the breathtaking views from the top of the Eiffel Tower, walk hand in hand along the Seine – while stealing a French kiss or two, or simply sit side by side in a small cafe and watch the city go by.
2. Gourmet Dining
It is a well-known fact that French cuisine is one of the world’s most popular cuisines, as well as one of the most refined. True, you can easily find a French restaurant in many corners of the world, but nothing still compares to eating fois gras, coq au vin, ratatouille, bouillabaisse, souffle, eclairs or ganache in one of the best restaurants in France. For a truly gourmet dining experience, reserve a table at one of the country’s Michelin three-starred restaurants, like Guy Savoy, Le Meurice or Plaza Athenee.
Be sure to order wine with your meal, since France also produces the best wines – whether red, white, or sparkling wines. You can also visit various wine estates and cellars during your French holidays in the regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne so you can see how wines are made while treating your tastebuds to a wine-tasting escapade. And if you like cognac, you should try it at the town where it originated.
3. World-Class Art Museums
France is home to the Louvre, the world’s most famous museum, which, in turn, is home to over 30,000 priceless works of art. Its collection of paintings is the most impressive, containing masterpieces by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Caravaggio and Rembrandt, although it also has various sculptures and artifacts from ancient Egypt and Greece. Aside from the Louvre, you should also drop by the Musee d’Orsay, which houses Monet and Renoir masterpieces among others, as well as the Musée National d’Art Moderne at the Centre Georges Pompidou, when you visit France. You can view exceptional works of art at the Palace of Versailles, too, and in many galleries outside Paris such as the Musee d’Unterlinden in Colmar.
4. Shopping
For the ultimate shopping experience, you should definitely come visit France. You will find many fashionable shops on the streets of Paris, particularly world-famous boutiques selling the best and latest in shoes, bags and clothes and fashion accessories. The specialty food shops are just as popular, such as the pastry and cheese shops, although you won’t be able to bring these home as souvenirs. For more unique finds and better bargains, don’t be afraid to try the Saint Ouen Flea Market and other flea markets in Paris and other cities, though you should be mindful to come early and be on guard against pickpockets.
5. Beautiful Beaches
Many tourists visit France for its beaches, and why not, when its beaches offer fine sands, sparkling Mediterranean waters, spectacular scenery and great facilities? Most of the fine beaches in France can be found on the Cote d’Azur or the French Riviera, particularly near the cities of Cannes and Nice, such as the St. Tropez Beach and the Villefranche sur Mer, although you can also find great beaches on the coasts of Brittany and Normandy, as well as on the Atlantic coast, like Biarritz.

Advantages of Drinking Beer

For years, people always praised drinking wine for being able to provide health benefits. It was not until recently that beer came in the limelight as a health-giving beverage. Being the third most popular drink in the world after water and tea, beers are also one of the oldest alcoholic drinks that are still in production to this date. For those of you who are beer drinkers, fret not as drinking beer in moderation has been proven to have the same health benefits as wine. There are several reasons why beer still remains such a popular beverage. Chilling with a bunch of friends with a beer in hand is considered by many a good way to relax and unwind after a long day’s work. Brewed with only four ingredients namely water, barley, yeast and hops, the production of beer is quite simple. The variations in beers depend on how much of each ingredient is used as well as the brewing procedure. Some beers are fermented for a shorter period as compared to others.
In contrast to its tarnished reputation of being able to cause intoxication, a person who drinks beer in moderation can actually acquire more health benefits than damages. One obvious advantage that we all know is that beer helps to reduce stress very well. Getting a couple of beers at the local bar after work with a few buddies can help you to take your mind off all the stressful tasks that you have to do. Beer can also be good for your heart. This was proven through a study conducted on a group of elderly who drank at least one-and-a-half portions of beer a day from 1982 – 1996. They had a 20 to 50 percent lesser chance of having heart failure as compared to those who did not drink. Beer also has the capability to improve blood circulation. High-density lipoprotein, also known as the “good” cholesterol in your body, is also found to have an increase. It is basically a kind of a blood fat that reduces the risk of blood clots. Fibrinogen levels, a protein that is thought to cause strokes, are also decreased with consumption of beer.
If you are the kind who has a hard time falling asleep, drinking one portion of beer can help you fall asleep more easily. It contains nicotinic and lactoflavin that help to promote sleep. A study that was conducted at Harvard University in Cambridge revealed that if beer is consumed in moderation, it could help to preserve the mental capacities in older women. Drinking beer can also increase the amount of vitamin B6 in your body at twice the rate at which gin and wine can. Vitamin B6 aids in the prevention of hearts diseases.
If beer is consumed moderately, it can prove to be very beneficial to our health. Drinking beer can be used as a socializing tool at bars and clubs or a way to relax and get away from the daily hustle and bustle of life. Now you can enjoy your beer without having to worry about your health. But remember, drink moderately.

Famous Places to Visit in Slovakia

The Slavic, Central European nation of Slovakia may not be at the the surface of the list of preferred holiday destinations, but it’s not with out specified charms. With its mountainous terrain, it can be ideal for skiing, hiking, mountain climbing and snow boarding. Particularly, the High Tatras in Slovakia, which form an area of the encompassing Carpathian mountain range, provide wonderful opportunities for these pursuits. Chairlifts and cable cars ply the alpine valleys, helping to make it become a fashionable traveler spot.
In addition to its impressive mountain haunts, Slovakia likewise has numerous castles with medieval exhibits, and wooden churches and ancient log cottages treasured as heritage websites. It too boasts of quite a few zoological gardens, parks, museums, spa retreats, folk theaters and old-town cafes. Holidaymakers are slowly discovering these attractions, and many are pleased to learn that exploring Slovakia just isn’t as pricey as touring the more liked destinations in Europe. Thus, much more and more visitors appear each year in Slovakia, averaging half a million annually recently.
The funds of the Republic of Slovakia is the quaint town of Bratislava. This beautiful town has a wealthy cultural existence however untainted with commercialism. Here, a single can happily go on his way without having jostling by means of noisy throngs of holidaymakers.
There are some 50 museums in Slovakia, the best known of that is the Slovak National Museum in Bratislava. Its exhibits on Slovak history and archaeology will certainly fascinate the visitor, who will then discover, among other things, the country’s rich folk arts and crafts. Slovakian craftsmen excel in glass painting, woodcarving and fabric weaving, which over several centuries are popular rural activities. Folk architecture is another cultural achievement, as evidenced by Slovakia’s wooden churches and vividly colored houses that dot the countryside.
Other than museums, Slovakia has many theaters that promote traditional conventional music and the operatic arts. Folk music has prolonged been an important part of Slovakian tradition. It really is touted as one or more of the earliest and most original of all Slavic and European folk traditions, with its roots going all the way back towards the ninth century.

10 Reasons to Visit the Czech Republic

If you’ve been tempted to visit the Czech Republic, then you might already have been. If you haven’t been yet, this is what you’re missing out on.
1. Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. With over a millennium of history it’s not surprising there are many museums, and galleries to see.
2. Thanks to it’s history, this country is home to 12 UNESCO sites, which goes to show how important the unique heritage of this country really is.
3. There are lots of castles and churches to visit too, and no matter where you are in the country, you’ll be able to find incredible architecture and impressive buildings.
4. Natural parks are important here too, and if you like wildlife, and enjoy walking or just watching, then there are lots to choose from all over the country. This could be the perfect place for you.
5. As well as the history and the culture, there are over 70 golf courses, so you’ll want to bring your golf clubs with you.
6. Thanks to the outstanding scenery, cycling holidays in the Czech Republic are increasingly popular. No matter whether you’re looking for a leisurely ride and want to take in the views, or will be leading your cycling club on a more demanding ride, if you’re a cyclist, you’ll definitely want to ride whilst you’re here.
7. As well as the golf and cycling facilities, there are several ski resorts in the country. If you’re fed up with expensive and overcrowded winter holidays, why not come skiing here for a change?
8. If you want to get away from it all, or perhaps recover after a round of golf or a day in the saddle, why not visit one of the many spas in the country? You’ll find it the perfect way to relax, especially if you think that a holiday is time to do less, not more.
9. Czech beer is legendary, and if you’ve never experienced it in it’s home country, then you really are missing out. You’ll also find great food and wines here, as well as a warm welcome.
10. Because there are lots of things going on at all times of year, you’ll find plenty to see and do no matter what time of year you decide to fly to the Czech Republic.
Now you know more about what there is to see and do here, perhaps now is the time to book your flights to the Czech Republic, and experience this amazing country for yourself.

Maria Tallchief, America’s Most Famous Prima Ballerina

Although she became one of the most famous prima ballerinas in America, Maria Tallchief was a young girl much like many other young girls her age. She loved horses and exploring the wide, open spaces of nature. She was born in Oklahoma, the daughter of a Native American Indian Chief of the Osage Nation. Her mother had dreams for Maria and her sister, Marjorie, to become famous entertainers. When Maria was three, she was sent to ballet class. Even when she was young, she was already working very hard. Her days were filled with schoolwork and ballet and music lessons. She and her sister often performed at local events and rodeos.
In 1933, when Maria was eight, the family packed up the car and drove to Los Angeles to start a new life. Maria was amazed to see huge groves of orange trees and the Pacific Ocean, which scared her a bit, since she had never seen so much water before. Before she knew it, her mother had found a new place to live and a new ballet school, right in the neighborhood where they made their first stop after arriving in Los Angeles.
Maria never really committed to being a ballerina until she was twelve, when she began classes with the famous Russian ballerina named Bronisalva Nijinska, who had a powerful personality, and was a very demanding teacher. From her, Maria learned to be disciplined and precise and that being a dancer requires hard work. It was at this time that she made the choice to become a ballerina and dedicate herself to her art.
Her burning desire to dance brought her to many places, including Europe, where she danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and the Paris Opera. While she was in Europe, she met George Balanchine, a Russian choreographer. She became his wife, and they returned to America, where he founded the New York City Ballet. Maria became the company’s first prima ballerina. She danced as many as eight performances a week, and her legend grew because she was such an energetic and powerful dancer. Balanchine created more than thirty-two ballets for her, including The Firebird, and the Sugarplum Fairy in the Nutcracker. The ballets she danced were very difficult, but her dancing looked effortless. Her complete devotion, discipline and hard work made her incredibly famous.
Tallchief danced with New York City Ballet until 1960, although she was a guest artist in the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo from 1955-1956, where she was paid the highest salary a dancer had ever received. In 1962She was Rudolph Nuryev’s chosen partner for his first televised American performance after he defected from Russia. She continued to dance with New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater and other groups until her retirement in 1965. The announcement of her retirement came as a shock, since she was only forty-one years old, but she made the decision to retire while she was still in her prime.
She chose to share her considerable knowledge and love of dance with other young dancers, teaching them to devote themselves with a single point of focus as dancers. She founded the Chicago City Ballet with her sister Marjorie in 1981, and served as artistic director there until 1987 and artistic advisor to Chicago Festival Ballet from 1990 through present day. She has received the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts from the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington D.C.

Traveling to Spain Is Incredible

Located on the west side of Europe, Spain is a beautiful country; diversified and filled with attractions, Spain shares the famous Iberian Peninsula with Portugal, Andorra and Gibraltar. Spain is a nation of massive cultural and geographical diversity, commonly a shock for vacationers who are hoping to come across a country mostly recognized for its beach tourism. If you choose to travel to the Spanish territory, you’ll meet in your way much more than you would expect. The green valleys, snowy mountains, beautiful hills and lush meadows will surely manage to impress you. Its seashores are likewise well-known and really worth traveling to. The western and south part of Spain is entitled with beautiful coasts and famous beaches, while the North side is more compact and relaxing entitled with creeks and appealing wastelands.
Every year Spain manages to gather millions of international travelers. The amazing places of interest, engaging activities and welcoming accommodations have really turned Spain into an ideal summer spot. Madrid, the capital is positioned in the center of the country. Also known as the heart of Spain, Madrid is directly linked to the main provinces. It has a well developed cultural and financial history and it is a city worth admiring. Moving a bit south, we get to Barcelona, the favorite city of tourists from around the world. Aside from being extremely developed, Barcelona is the perfect combination of urbanism, technology and beach resort. Here tourists have a lot of activities to try out and most of them are linked to water sports. So as to describe Spain in a couples of words, you should know that the territory is just magic; topped with flamenco dancers, bullfighters and sangria drinks, the country is definitely a place to take into account whenever you’re getting ready for a summer retreat. Yet, Spain is not just about the coastlines. The north side of the country is covered in emerald mountains beautiful castles and interesting medieval towns.
Some of Spain’s most famous destinations apart from the main land are islands of the Canaries, Mallorca and Ibiza. As part of the Canary Islands we distinguish Tenerife, the biggest island and the most famous. Some beautiful places to admire in Tenerife are Puerto de la Cruz, Los Cristianos, Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Playa de las Americas. Tenerife is a beautiful summer destination with breathtaking landscapes and appealing places of interest. Within the island, you’ll come across numerous engaging resorts and summer spots to take advantage of.
Another popular destination in Spain is the island of Gran Canaria, also a part of the Canary Islands archipelago. With nearly 8 million inhabitants, the destination is a fabulous location for a summer getaway. Additionally called a continent in miniature, Grand Canaria comes along with endless beaches, beautiful dunes, picturesque village and abundant vegetation. Las Palmas and Play del Ingles are 2 of its most crowded locations. Every year millions of travelers come to Grad Canaria to enjoy the weather and try out the array of water activities. For family enthusiasts, the best locations on the island are Maspalomas- an old fashioned touristic town and Meloneras. Enjoy your retreat, have some real fun choose to come back some day to Gran Canaria. The location is indeed mesmerizing. The beautiful natural attractions and the breathtaking scenery will convert your adventure into the ultimate experience.
Teenagers and young people who want to party all night long should definitely check out Puerto Rico as well. Here the beach parties, water activities and thrilling sports are constantly attracting more students every year. Additionally, you can rent a boat and go off shore to enjoy dolphin watching, wind surfing or sailing. Fuerteventura is also an exceptional island of the Canaries you might want to take a closer look at. The UNESCO reserve is ideal for tourists who want to explore the hails and esteem the unusual beaches. Caleta de Fuste is a beautiful summer resort in Fuerteventura. Mostly preferred by couples, the place is quiet and tranquil usually appropriate for those who want to be alone.
Although all the above mentioned destinations were pretty engaging for a summer escapade, Spain’s centerpiece in terms of beaches is definitely Mallorca. Entitled with numerous clubs, luxury resorts and smooth coastlines, Mallorca is a paradise of Spain that gathers unlimited tourists every year. As soon as you get here, remember to visit the most important places, namely Santa Ponsa, one of the best beaches and Palma, the main city.

Portugal – A Country For Every Kind of Taste

If you are thinking about visiting this beautiful country on southern Europe, you need to know which regions should be in all Portugal vacation packages. If you aren’t able to visit all of them in one trip, even better because it means you will come back.
North – Besides its colorful villages, this region of Portugal is known for its natural beauty, with a lot of green areas, perfect for those who like Nature. This part of the country is ideal for people that enjoy good food and wine. The origins of the internationally famous Port wine lie on northern Portugal. On the river Douro’s shores, you can enjoy the harvest and even participate in the jam of this superb wine.
Center – The center of Portugal has so many different regions that it seems almost impossible that they all belong to the same country. From Coimbra, the city of Roman origin, to the coastline with magnificent beaches where you can eat delicious fish caught every morning by Portuguese fishermen and Serra da Estrela where people around the country go to ski in winter, this country has everything to make your stay memorable.
Lisbon – There is so much to talk about Lisbon that it’s necessary to dedicate this city a whole article, so we are going to focus on the region where the capital of Portugal is situated, which can’t be left out of a journey around the country. Up north, we find Fatima, a mandatory place of pilgrimage for those who are Catholic but even those who don’t believe in God or have other religion, can overlook the mysticism of this sanctuary. Other place you can’t miss during your vacations is the magical town of Sintra with a marvelous view over the ocean and over Lisbon close to the river Tagus.
Alentejo – This quiet region is known for the high temperatures in the summer and the calmness of its inhabitants. With lovely and almost desert beaches along the coastline, the Alentejo has plain fields covered by olive trees, vineyards and flocks of sheep. Evora, famous for the Temple of Diana, which proves the passage of the Romans through the town is classified as World Heritage by UNESCO. All over the town you can see gothic and renaissance churches which show the mix of cultures that were in the origin of the town.
Algarve – The southern coast of Portugal is a touristic place being much visited both by Portuguese people and foreigners during their vacations. Bathed by the Mediterranean Sea, the Algarve is known for its mild weather almost all year and for its fantastic beaches. One of Algarve’s main attractions is the large offer of golf courses, which makes this region one of the favorite destinations for those who practice this cities and villages reflect the heritage left by the Arabic presence in the territory, present in the architecture, namely on the chimneys of the houses known for its geometrical shape.
Islands – Besides the mainland, Portugal possesses two archipelagos, the Madeira and the Azores. The island of Madeira is a charming holiday destination mainly because of the mild weather, which results from the Golf water currents that bathe the region. Amazing landscapes characterized by mountains contrast with the exuberant green of the vineyards, the bananas plantations and other crops. The archipelago of Azores has nine islands where you can discover a superb flora of European and Mediterranean origins. The Azores is a paradise of forests, which cover great part of the mountains of almost all nine islands.