Preston: A market town with a historic past

21 September, 2007

Preston, a small cosmopolitan city has always been a center of trade and commerce – even during the Middle Ages.

Located halfway between London and Glasgow, the city is still carrying out its commercial duties acting as not just as a shopping center for the whole Northwest England region but also as an exporting center, trading goods, with many mainland European countries.

Preston, a small town with a population of 129,000 souls started out as what can easily be described as a Church Town, or as historians would have us believe, Priest Town; hence, the name, ‘Preston’.

Situated on River Ribble, Preston is the administrative center of Lancanshire and was recently inducted in the ‘city hall of fame’, when it became the nation’s 50th city. This honour was bestowed in 2002, the Golden Jubilee Year of Queen Elizabeth II accession to the throne. Since then, the city is known by its new title, “Queen’s Golden Jubilee City”.

Preston has always been a significant town during the ages. In the Roman times, a major road ran just north from the then city. In 1179, the village of Preston, received the Royal Charter, and thereafter became a town. The Middle Ages saw the town developed into a major commercial center as it sat on a main route from England to Scotland, contributing to its growth.

Then later on during the 16 and 17 centuries, it got embroiled in a political situation due to which it became the scene of the last major civil war fought in England in 1715. Aptly named, ‘Battle of Preston’ took place when Preston town-folk, sympathizers of Scottish Army loyal to James III of Scotland and England took on English army who were against his accession.

Preston during the ages, has not just been a commercial centre but also a tourist destination. It is more so evident as mentioned by an 18 century writer who visited it and described the city as a pretty town with lots of rich people.

Preston has a lot to offer to visitors. It’s main attractions are St. Walburge’s Church, Miller Arcade, Town Hall, Harris Building, St. John’s Minster, former Corn Exchange, Fishergate Baptist Church and beautiful Georgian buildings at Winckley Square.


Yap Islands: Where giant stone money rules the roost

21 September, 2007

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One of smaller islands of the Caroline Islands, Yap Island lies in the western Pacific Ocean. It is part of a cluster of islands that collectively called Yap Islands. These four islands are though, appear as separate islands to a naked eye but are joined together underwater as a large coral reef.

The islands are mostly covered with local flora, dotted with mangrove swamps and surrounded by reefs. It encloses a lagoon that is part of the giant coral reef on which the islands are based.

Though, it is one of the most traditional of the four main states of Micronesia, it is popular in the region for its one unique item – stone money. Giant, hollow, carved stone disks are used as currency in this tiny nation.

These ‘stone money’ are like every other world currency includes different sized-disks indicating different denominations. Not only the size but the stone and the age of the disk also determines its worth. And like everywhere else on earth, the more disks a person or a family posses, the higher is his status among the locals.

The islands’ locals called Yapese are one of the most expert navigators of the Pacific region. There are legends of locals travelling in canoes thousands of kilometres navigating only by starts and patterns in ocean waves.


Lichtenstein Castle: A very fairy-tale styled castle

21 September, 2007

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One of the most impressive, not to mention beautiful structures and among the stately homes is Lichtenstein Castle in Germany.

Located atop a cliff in the hills of Swabian Alb, in the province of Baden-Wurttemberg, the castle is only about 165 years old. Though, the current castle is quite young in terms of the general age of mainland European Castles, it is built on the site of the original castle that was constructed during the 1200s.

Unfornately, the original castle was twice destroyed in wars but during the reign of city-state Reutlingen in 1381, it was allowed to fall into despair by its then owners.

During the 1800s the land came into possession of King Frederick I of Wurttemberg who constructed a logde on the site. Then it passed down to his nephew who later on in 1842 reconstructed the current castle in a very fairy-tale style.

Currently its owners are the family of Duke of Urach.


Gotland Island (Sweden) – ‘Pearl of the Baltic Sea’

21 September, 2007

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If anyone ever wishes to cycle along the coast during night-time at 10 pm in the shade of the setting sun, all the while enjoying the solitude of the serene environs, then Gotland Island is just the place to be at.

Often called the ‘Pearl of the Baltic Sea’, Gotland is truly a magical place. It is a natural wonder, with miles long bicycle tracks, limes gravelled road, dramatic coastlines, sandy beaches and flowery meadows.

Part of Sweden the island is about 75 miles long and 35 miles wide at its widest point and it boasts more sunny days in the year than the whole of Scandinavian region.

For those interested in history, would be happy to note that it is rich in historical monuments including magnificent stone churches from the 12 & 13 centuries that bear testament to the islands’ once glory.

According to a local legend, a man named ‘Tjelvar’ discovered the island. At the time of discovery the island was jinxed, such that that it used to sink into the sea at day and rise out the water at night. The man, Tjelvar on discovering it, brought back ‘life’ into the island and it never sank again.

Gotland gained a lot of prominence during the Viking age, when it became a major trading port of the region. There are boulders marking graves in the shape of old Viking Ships visible even today along the roadsides.


Homely tourists’ destination at Mafia Island, Africa

21 September, 2007

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One of the major islands off the eastern coast of Tanzania in Africa is the Mafia Island.

Mafia Island is a cluster of islands, one major island and numerous islets. Apart from the main one, only a few islets are inhabited, with approximately 41,000 locals calling these islands home. Many of which are fisherman and others subsistence farmers cultivating various spices.

With its deep-water anchorage and numerous sandy beaches, the Mafia Island cluster is an excellent place for scuba diving, game fishing and other water sports.

For all those thrill seekers and active gamer fishing enthusiasts, these islands provide the ultimate experience. These visitors on arrival can find these great accommodations:

Pole Pole Bungalow Resort:
Mafia Island, Tanzania

Kinasi Lodge:
Mafia Island, Tanzania

Mafia Island Lodge:
Mafia Island, Tanzania


Some of the Iceland’s beautiful waterfalls

21 September, 2007

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Iceland, the island literally, middle of nowhere, is ideally suited for waterfalls. The rocky island, which is home to countless glaciers that melt, in summer, feeds equally countless rivers and streams, it is only natural that somewhere along the routes of the river, there will be ravines, and hence, a waterfall.

Some of its spectacular waterfalls are:

Dettifoss: Located in the northeastern Iceland, Dettifoss Waterfall is one of the largest waterfalls of in the country. It is situated on the Jokulsa-a-Fjollum River, which flows from the Vatnajokull Glacier. The Glacier, which itself is the largest glacier in Iceland is situated on the southeastern coast of the country.

It is also said to be the most powerful waterfalls among all of its mainland European counterparts.

Selfoss: A few hundred meters downstream from Dettifoss lie the Selfoss Waterfall whose width is 100 meters and the fall, 44 meters. The water comes from the Jokulsa-a-Fjollum River that originates from the Vatnajokull glacier. After passing through a gorge, it flows into the Artic Sea.

Gooafoss: One of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland is the Gooafoss Waterfall. Located in the north of the country, in the Myvatn district, the water of river Skjalfandafljot falls from a height of 12 meters, spread over range of 30 meters.


Anchorage: Alaska’s largest city

21 September, 2007

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When people think of Alaska, they visualize, snow peaks, skiing, polar ice caps, frozen tundra, frozen lakes, etc.

But that is now the whole picture of Alaska, especially, if you visit Anchorage, Alaska’a largest city, which surprisingly, is quite warm. Though, the winters can be harsh, but summer time, when it is the prime tourist season, the temperature falls to 65 degrees F, ideal for all those touristy activities.

With its rich culture and tradition, the city offers a good opportunity to learn about the history of its natives Indians as well as history of the city itself. There are museums, and events take place regularly to enthral the visiting tourists.

Then there are the outdoor activities such as visits to see the fjords, glaciers, and or viewing the local wildlife in their local habitats. No matter, what you choose to do, there is something for everyone at Anchorage, Alaska.

Hence all those visiting this city, can choose from any one of these hotels:

Homewood Suites by Hilton Anchorage:
140 W Tudor Rd, Anchorage, AK 99503

Anchorage Grand Hotel:
505 W 2nd Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501

SpringHill Suites Anchorage Midtown:
3401 A St, Anchorage, AK 99503

Dimond Center Hotel:
700 E Dimond Blvd, Anchorage, AK 99515

Voyager Hotel:
501 K St, Anchorage, AK 99501