The many attractions of ancient Cusco, Peru

8 August, 2008

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The ancient city of Cusco and its ancient monuments plays host to whole lot of ancient and not-so-ancient monuments.

Some of these are:

Sacsayhuaman: This ruined complex of a military fortress dating back to the Incan civilization is a marvel of construction. It is composed of large boulders, some weighing more than 300 tons each, fitted together without the use of cement.

San Blas: This is an old living area of Cusco, that is home to narrow and steep streets, colonial-styled houses and various art workshops.

Santo Domingo Church (Iglesia de Santo Domingo): This is a 17 century church which is located on the site of the Incan’s Temple of the Sun.

Temple of the Sun (Coricancha): This ruin was once the most important temple of the Incas, which was later used as a base for the Church of Santo Domingo when the Spanish plundered the city.

Cusco Cathedral: This magnificent renaissance-style, 16 century building is built in the shape of a Latin cross and contains about 400 colonial paintings including the famous ‘Last Supper’ by Marcos Zapata. It dominates the skyline of the Plaza de Armas.


‘Bon Bini’ – or “Welcome to Bonaire”

10 May, 2007

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Bonaire is an island in the larger group of Netherlands Antilles, which themselves are governed by Netherlands. Within the larger group, Bonaire, together with Aruba and Curacao, forms the sub or lesser Antilles, called locally, ‘Leeward Antilles’.

Situated at the southern part of the Caribbean, though much closer to the South America, it was also inhabited, initially by the local indian tribe, Caiquetios, a sub-tribe of the larger nation of Arawak Indian who were also the main settlers of nearby islands.

Bonaire, among other activities, has been ranked, consistently, as the finest snorkelling and scuba diving destination in the Caribbean. And all these lie in the Bonaire National Marine Park that hugs the island from almost all sides.

But there are other activities to do as well. The fast winds over the island, provides ample chance for the daredevils to thrill themselves with windsurfing. For the other mortals, there is an assortment of wildlife and natural landscapes to enjoy.


Got a good deal on your ticket? Think again!

5 May, 2007

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Have you ever had that particular feeling of being ripped off by some unforeseen powers-to-be? Or, maybe there have been times, when you thought, that ‘wow! I have got a good deal’, but then on closer inspection, your short-lived exhilaration, literally, vaporizes into thin air on discovering that what you thought was a good deal, was actually, a rip-off.

Well, this is what happens every year to thousands of Aussies and even to our brothers and sisters across the Tasman Sea who chose to travel via air through their local national as well as regional airlines.

All airlines, even Qantas, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Malaysian Airlines, can be blamed for not advertising certain hidden charges that are part and parcel of the cost of an airline ticket. These charges are often slapped onto your face, when unsuspectingly you think that you have secured a good bargain on an air ticket.

These charges include Federal Government taxes, aircraft landing fees, airport charges or duties and fuel surcharges, which, unfortunately, on almost every occasion depend on the fluctuating US dollar. These hidden charges are as much as 60 percent on top of the actual ticket price.

Those who travel frequently are well aware of this ‘deceptive’ promotion. It is only the other category that gets caught unaware in the net. And they end up feeling being ‘ripped off’ by the airlines.

For example, you may think that you may a received a great deal on a return ticket from Sydney to Auckland for only AU$450, but by the time, you go and pay for the ticket, you will be further slugged AU$200 for these hidden expenses.

Thus, the final amounts on these charges vary, often and accordingly. But the sad part is that there is no way out of these charges. These have to be paid by every traveller, irrespective of the airline and the destination.


Galápagos Islands: Charles Darwin’s ultimate discovery

2 May, 2007

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Often called Darwin’s Biological lab, it is here, that Charles Darwin, the great Biologist made his famous conclusion – ‘the theory of evolution by natural selection’.

These islands are home to a range of endemic species (native only to this set of islands) that include the Land Iguana (giant lizards), Marine Iguana, the famed Giant Galapagos Tortoise, the Giant Galapagos Green Turtle, Vampire Finch (specie of birds) and the Sea Cucumber (marine species) – a delicacy among many South Asians.

Galapagos Islands is an archipelago, made up of 13 volcanic islands, 6 isles and 107 rocky outcrops or islets. With the oldest one dating back to some 5 – 10 million years ago. This group of islands are part of South American country of Ecuador.

During the centenary year of Charles Darwin’s main publication of ‘The origin of species’ in 1959, the Ecuadorian Government preserved the 97.5 percent of archipelago’s land as a natural park. The remaining part was left to the locals who inhabited them.

Later in 1986, about 70,000 sq. km of surrounding ocean was declared a marine reserve, second only to the size established by the Australian Government for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.