Sardinia – Home to Emerald Coast

30 April, 2007

sardinia-2-resized.jpg

One of the largest islands and the second largest overall in the Mediterranean Sea, Sardinia is an autonomous region of Italy. It is also one of the most oldest, inhabited islands, with recent discoveries proved that people (our forebearers) were living here some 150,000 BC or even from before that.

Sardinia is one of Italy’s two regions whose native inhabitants are categorised as ‘popolo’ or ‘distinct people’, that is, they are culturally and genetically different from those at Italian mainland and even from residing at other islands. The other region, whose people are also known as distinct people is Veneto.

One major recognition that this island is bestowed upon is that it is home to one of the oldest forms of Vocal Polyphony, more generally known as Canto a Tenores. Several notables of music like Frank Zappa, Ornette Coleman and Peter Gabriel had found this genre irrestible.

Home to another unique instrument, called the launeddas which is a triple clarinet – a wooden wind instrument consisting of three pipes. It at least, dates back to 8 century BC. Sardinia also contains numerous and brilliant tourist areas that include Costa Smeralda and Gennargentu.

Costa Smeralda or the Emerald Coast, is a coastal area in the north of the island. With countless number of quaint villages and beaches, it is a very alluring region. A number of rich European and Arabian VIPs are frequent travellers to this region. It is also an archaelogical-rich area with sites inlucding Li Muri, Nuragici People’s ‘Tomba Dei Giganti’ (Giants’ Tomb).

Gennargentu on the other hand is a mountainous area, in the province of Nuoro. The highest peak is called ‘Punta La Marmora’ and is also the highest point on the whole island.

Overall, Sardinia is particularly famous for its countless beaches, and other various places such as small coastal towns and archaelogical ruins.


Malta – The southern-most EU state

30 April, 2007

malta-3-resized.jpg

One of the oldest inhabited islands in the Mediterranean Sea and the smallest of all European Union member-states; Malta has, had the honour of being collectively awarded the George Cross for Gallantry during the World War. No other nation had this distinction.

Lying on the other side of Sicily, Malta is an archipelago of seven islands. It lies just north of Libya and east of Tunisia. It is one of the densely populated islands with a population of 0.4 million.

One of the oldest monuments found on Malta is the temple of Hagar Qim, which probably dates back to over 3,000 BC. Though, it is not sure which civilization owns the credit of constructing it, but the oldest record of inhabiting this island goes to the Phoenicians.

Apart from them, it came under Roman rule, after which it passed into the hands of Byzantine rulers. After the Arab conquest of the Mediterranean area in the eight century, the island was briefly occupied by them. The islands’ main architectural style also owes it splendour to the occupying muslims.

The Great French Emperor and General Napolean Bonapart also confisicated this island during one of his conquest. Later on, it was captured by the British and hence till this day, it remains part of the British nation, with QE II, its head of state.

In 1989, Malta was the venue for a political summit, between the Presidents of US and USSR that finally brought down the threat of the cold war.

Though, officially part of the EU, it remains hasn’t adopted their common currency, Euro.

The best part of being a Mediterranean Sea island is, that is gets year-round sunshine and is surrounded by crystal clear. Likewise, Malta and its sister islands of Gozo and Comino too, with their natural treasures, coupled with the unique cultural elements including the rich, local cuisine promises to deliver a unique and a unforgettable holiday experience.


Paradise Island (Bahamas): A private paradise

27 April, 2007

paradise-island-2-resized.jpg

Home of the Atlantic Beach Resort, Paradise Island is part of the Bahamas archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. Atlantis Beach Hotel is one of the largest hotel/resorts in the world, employing a large part of the local population.

Paradise Island is one of the few islands in the world, which remains in private hands. It has seen its fair share of private owners. From supermarket A&P heir Huntington Hartford to entertainer Merv Griffin, from actor Richard Harris to real estate developer Donald Trump.

The island is located close to Nassau or New Providence and is connected to it two bridges that cross Nassau Harbour. The first one was built in 1966, the later one followed in the late 1990s.

The island and its main resort, Atlantis has been featured in James Bond early film, ‘Thunderball’ and also in later one, ‘Casino Royale’. It was also featured in Beatles’ film, ‘help’.


Prince Edward Islands: Home to the King Penguins

27 April, 2007

prince-edward-2.jpg

Lying almost halfway between South Africa and Antarctica, the two islands that form part of Prince Edward Islands are a spectacular cluster of volcanic rocks and peaks.

Home to four types of Penguins and many other types of birds including Petrels, Albatrosses and King Cormorants, both the islands, Prince Edward and Marion are barren except ferns and mosses growing, as the sub-antarctic winds also call the ‘roaring forties’ doesn’t allow for growth of trees.

With limited sunshine and rain and strong winds, both islands are more suitable for winter retreats than sunny resorts. The two islands are nothing but clusters of volcanic peaks and small lakes. Though, they have sandy strips along the coast, most of their coastline is rocky and home to thousands of Elephant Seals and King Penguins.

Both islands were recently designated as ‘Special Nature Reserve’ by the South African Government.


Los Cabos (Mexico) – A secret hideout of rich and famous

26 April, 2007

los-cabos-2-resized.jpg

‘Hidden’ from public view for centuries, this newly discovered sea-side resort has been a secret get-away resort of the rich and famous for over a century. Movie stars and movie moguls used to come here to escape the paparazzi and hectic lifestyle that they were accustomed to, to spend a few days enjoying the sun, surf and solitude.

Los Cabos, meaning the ‘Capes’, lies at the southernmost tip of Mexico’s Baja Sur California peninsula. The Sea of Cortes, separates it from mainland Mexico. On the other side of the peninsula lies the Pacific Ocean.

Supporting near-perfect weather of low humidity, cool sea breezes and an endless source of sunshine has made this resort a favourite destination for many. Those, who are in constant search of thrilling adventures, can get up close and personal with whales, sea lions and dolphins that along with countless number of fauna, has made Los Cabos, one of the richest biological wonderland in the world.

The Sea of Cortes, formed millions of years ago, by sliding away from mainland, opened up a rich nutrients filled zones, that supports some 800 marine vertebrates species, not to mention rich and colourful underwater flora.

One of the most enduring images of Los Cabos is the rock arch formation, called ‘El Arco’ that looks like a four-footed animal drinking water. It is here, that the warm waters of Sea of Cortes, meets the cold water of Pacific.


Sicily (Italy): Home of the ‘Mafioso’

26 April, 2007

sicily-2-resized.jpg

Lying at the ‘toe’ of Italian peninsula, Sicily as some wrongly believe is not a province but an autonomous region of Italy. It is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, with a population of 5 million inhabitants.

With early settlement going back to some 8century BC, Sicily has a long and rich cultural diverse history. The very first settlement was at Syracuse in 734 BC. The first settlers were the Phoenicians and early Greeks.

From its early times, Sicily has seen tug of war over its possession by many empires of the region. It has swayed between Roman and Greek empires, between Italy and even Spain. It even changed hands from the Byzantine Empire into Arab conquerors during the ninth century AD.

The island is hence, dotted with architectural treasures and monuments, a testament to its rich history. It is also quite famous for being the ‘home’ of the Mafia or Mafioso.

Due to its rich historical background, it was only natural that the land gave birth to many artists of various types. Many poets, writers, artists, and sculpturers were born here. Notably among them were Luigi Pirandello, Giovanni Verga, Salvatore Quasimodo, Gesualdo Bufalino, Sigismondo d’India and Salvatore Sciarrino.

The other famous Sicilians were: Archimedes, ancient scientist; Frank Capra, actor and director; Giuseppe Sergi, anthropolist; and Vincenzo Bellini, opera composer.


The Garden Isle – Kauai (Hawaii)

26 April, 2007

kauai-valley-2-resized.jpg

The oldest and the greenest islands of Hawaii, Kauai is at number 4 in terms of land mass. And being the least commercially developed of all the Hawaiian Islands, it is also the most pristine of them all.

Called the ‘Garden Isle’, by the natives, due to its lush greenery, which is also due to it being one of the wettest areas on earth, Kauai is crowded with some wonderful natural attractions. It has excellent beaches with great diving and snorkelling sites, lush-green valleys, deep canyons and volcanic peaks that tower above 5,000 feet.

Initially, Kauai was a separate kingdom, but later on joined the Kingdom of Hawaii, under the leadership of King Kamehameha. Much later on, it became part of US’s 5o state, when the government bought the whole Hawaiian chain of isles.

Like many of its counterparts, it too has seen its fair share of Hollywood fame. Parts of it have been featured in films, ‘Raiders of Lost Ark’ and ‘Jurassic Park’; musical ‘South Pacific’; and animation feature film, ‘Lilo & Stich’.