A Land of Beauty – Top Tuscan Sights

Tuscany is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful regions in Italy. Its stunning countryside and historic towns and cities attract tourists throughout the year, and it is very popular with holidaymakers booking Italian villas. If you’re tempted to stay for a week or two in Tuscany, here are some of the most beautiful sights to enjoy.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is the most famous bell tower in the world and is a must-see for anyone staying in Italian villas in the Tuscany. It is famous for leaning to the side, a trait that began during its construction because the foundation was too soft. It carried on tilting for centuries, until it was stabilised fairly recently, and now it leans at about four degrees.

Florence Cathedral

The cathedral or ‘duomo’ in Florence is one of the most beautiful and famous in Italy. Work began on the cathedral in 1296, but it was not completed until over a century later. Its impressive dome is the highlight, and at one time it was the largest dome in the world. It makes up part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that covers the centre of the city.

Elba

Elba is an island in the Tuscan Archipelago located just off the coast and it is the third largest island in Italy. It is famous for being the place where Napoleon was exiled and his old summer and winter homes can still be visited. There are dozens of stunning beaches to enjoy, including Procchio and Fetovia, and the beauty of the island is renowned.

Michelangelo’s David

Michelangelo’s statue of David is one of the most famous sculptures in the world, and if you’re staying in one of the Italian villas close to Florence, it is not to be missed. Created at the beginning of the 14th century, the five-metre statue represents the biblical character of David and is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture. It was previously located in a public city square but now has a permanent home in the Galleria dell’Accademia.

San Gimignano delle Belle Torri

Tuscany is not short on beautiful medieval towns but San Gimignano is certainly one of the best. This small town is famous not only for its beauty but also for its impressive towers. In fact there used to be many more, which were built by residents as a display of their wealth and power, but only 14 remain. The cobbled streets are a joy to wander around and the views of the countryside from the town perimeters are breath-taking.

Tuscany is a land of staggering beauty and you do not have to go far to feast your eyes on some very impressive sights. If you’re staying in one of the Italian villas in the region these are just a few of the attractions, but there are so many more to discover for yourself.

Five Top Sights on the Trans Siberian Express

The Golden Eagle Trans Siberian Express is one of the most incredible rail journeys on offer today. Taking you halfway around the world, you will be able to experience a range of different cities, cultures and landscapes during the same trip. And while it can be difficult to narrow down what its most impressive sights are, read on to discover the top five.

Travelling over 6,000 miles and crossing some eight time zones, your rail journey is set to be a real adventure. Starting out in Moscow and finishing in Vladivostok, you will find yourself seeing amazing sights both on and off the train.

The first top sight to see during a journey on the Trans Siberian Express Railway is at your point of departure – the city of Moscow. This exciting destination is home to world-famous landmarks and buildings which are crucial to the city’s history.

As you explore the sights before boarding, you will be able to see Red Square and St Basil’s Cathedral, as well as visit the Kremlin. Situated in the heart of the city, the Kremlin is home to the Russian President and is famed for being a colossal complex. With several towers, palaces and cathedrals, it is certainly an impressive sight and sure to be a highlight of your trip.

After you’ve explored the city, you can board the Golden Eagle to start your rail journey. And it’s the first scheduled stop that forms the next top sight – Kazan. This city is the capital of Tatarstan and sits on the River Volga and is replete with stunning architecture, such as the Kul Sharif Mosque.

This beautiful building was considered the country’s largest mosque upon its completion in the 16th century and it still makes a spectacular sight today.

Because of the volume of amazing structures this city has to offer, it’s the ideal destination for budding photographers and architecture enthusiasts.

Further down the line on your railway odyssey, you will find yourself alighting in Novosibirsk, another of the route’s top sights. The capital of Siberia, it too is home to some fascinating and important buildings. Indeed, here you will be able to see the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre, which is the largest opera house in the world.

Hugely important to the city, the opera house sits at its centre, in Lenin Square. And of course, the square itself is a major attraction for visitors – especially those keen on history.

You will also be able to travel to nearby Akademgorodok during your trip, where you can visit the Siberian Railway Museum – something which you may find particularly interesting given the nature of your trip.

A few days later, you will come to the next top sight – Lake Baikal. This is both the largest and the oldest freshwater lake in the world, as well as one of the clearest. An incredibly beautiful sight, you will find yourself able to stare for hours at this wonderful natural phenomenon.

It is also home to a vast number of different wildlife and plants, some of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. If you’re lucky, you may be able to spot some rare creatures during your visit.

And as you’re speeding on towards your final destination, you will be able to enjoy the amazing sight of the Siberian permafrost, which could be one of the most impressive of your journey – and you’re likely to be glued to your window as you cross this expanse.

Arriving in Vladivostok, you will be able to see the last of the top sights of your epic journey. Having travelled some 6,000 miles, you may feel like you must have seen all there is to see. However, this great city has so much to offer. It is home to a blend of European and Oriental architectural styles, making it a fascinating destination to discover.

By taking a coach tour through Vladivostok, you will be able to see the best the city has to offer. And you can also take a cruise on the Golden Horn Bay, which is the perfect way to close your adventure.

Rail tours on the Trans Siberian Express are more than just a holiday – they are an epic adventure. During your trip you’ll travel halfway around the world and see countless sights, making it perfect for those keen to see as many places as they can in one journey.

The Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in North Wales

North Wales is incredibly lucky when it comes to spectacular landscapes and beautiful sights. Wales as a whole contains five Areas of Outstanding natural Beauty, places which have been recognised for possessing such attractive or unique scenery that they’re to be preserved for future generations and visitors. Three of the five Areas of Outstanding natural beauty that Wales possess are in North Wales.

The first is the island of Anglesey, which is off the north-west coast of the country. Though the majority of the land that isn’t by the coast is used for farming, the coast presents a totally different side to Anglesey, and it is that which is protected. Large cliffs, beaches and rocky outcrops provide a huge amount of different habitats in which various species have made their home, and it was in order to protect this diversity that Anglesey was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Being right at the west of Wales, the island is only accessible by bridge from Bangor, which itself requires a journey across the entire North Coast of Wales to reach. Although it is the coastal area that is protected, the land around the cliffs also contains moor land and heaths that wouldn’t be out of place in Yorkshire or the South West. These totally different environments right next to each other have created a fascinating ecosystem which experts from around the world still study year after year.

Lleyn is the second Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and consists of the peninsula which sticks out on the west coast of Wales just below Anglesey. The area is hemmed in by Snowdonia to the east and the Irish Sea to the north, west and south. The isolation that this provides it with has meant that the welsh culture and language have thrived there, but it’s not the people that make it an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; the hills of the area used to be volcanic, and the coastline is home to a huge amount of small offshore islands or rock stacks.

The third Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is close to the English border, and is a set of hills that run from the coast by Prestatyn down to the small village of Llandegla. From the top of this range of hills it is possible to see all the way to the Snowdonia mountains, into England to Manchester and Liverpool, and across everything in between. This is only on a clear day, of course.

Add a Touch of Beauty to Your Pool Area

If you have the luxury of having a pool right outside your back door, chances are you and your family spend most of your summer enjoying it. For many, a pool is a wonderful and fun investment, but if your kids have gotten older and the pool has been ignored by you and your family – don’t get ready to re-do your backyard just yet. Sure, you may no longer have a use for the water noodles and the inflatable alligator anymore, but you can easily turn your water hole from kiddie pool to luxurious get-away by making some small adjustments.

o First of all, get rid of all of those old and worn pool toys. Keeping them around for the “neighbor kids” or your friend’s children is not a good idea. Old and dirty pool toys are more of an eyesore than anything, and storing them can be a real pain. If you’re looking to upgrade the look of your pool – clearing them out is the first step. If you’d like some inflatable rafts for you and your friends (and even the neighbor kids) to lounge on, head to the local pool store at the close of the summer. Your new inflatables will be much cheaper at this time of year.

o If you have a freestanding, above ground pool in the backyard, chances are it’s not the most beautiful sight to look out on. By building a deck spanning from a back door that connects to the pool area, you’ve instantly made your above ground pool look as though it’s built into the yard. You can do great things when you have a deck and pool area combined into one. Pool parties, barbeques, and other family gatherings can be held on the deck while kids (and adults) can splash in the pool a few feet away. It’s also a great way to hide the worn down lawn that may have suffered from the years of wet feet drudging across it to get to and from the free standing pool.

o If building a deck isn’t on your agenda, consider the landscaping around the pool area. If the grass surrounding your pool has suffered, consider adding some bushes and shrubs around the base. It will add an instant frame to the pool area and will also help hide any eyesores. Buying some larger potted plants or ferns for on the pool deck (if you have the space) will also help create a luxurious and tropical feel for swimmers.

o Keep your pool area well lit. Whether you like to night swim now or you’ve always liked the idea of it – a well-lit pool area creates a beautiful and serene scene in the backyard. If you’re entertaining at night, throwing some light on the pool can create a beautiful, twinkling back drop. Installing some ground level spot lights on the pool will help you to instantly throw some light on the area without being too overwhelming.

o Finally, the best way to create a beautiful pool area in your backyard is to make sure you keep your pool well maintained. Having a pool is a luxury, but it’s also an investment that needs care. By keeping up with maintenance and routine cleanings, you can be sure that when you go to do the job – nothing gets too built up – causing you more work than necessary. If you know you’re going to be out of town for a few weeks in the summer, invest in an electronic pool cleaner that will help you while you’re gone. By keeping your pool clean and following some of the other guidelines spelled out in this article – you’ll be doing you, your home, and your family a favor.

Creating Beautiful Christmas Traditions That Last a Lifetime

Christmas is truly a magical and enchanting time of year, where holiday traditions never fade with time.

It is filled with beautiful sights and sounds: A candle glowing in a frosted window, hanging stockings on a festive mantle with care, hot chocolate, eggnog and hot buttered rums served after an evening of caroling, neighborhoods filled with colorful, twinkling lights. The warm feeling of joy we feel when giving gifts, snowflakes dancing merrily in the air, romantic sleigh rides and sneaking a kiss beneath the mistletoe. These are just a few of the charming time-honored traditions families have to celebrate Christmas and break away from all the hype of the holiday.

Some of my most precious moments in time from my childhood are my memories of our year end holiday festivities. We helped our friends celebrate Hanukkah, and they helped us celebrate Christmas. My parents created our own custom traditions and I cherish the memories to this day. Some have been passed down to the next generation, and we have created a few of our own with our children along the way.

Creating your own special memories will help make your holiday joyful, less stressful, and revive your family’s festive spirit, bringing you closer together. Here are some favorites that with a few tweaks can be adopted by your family to make them all your own. They are sure to make your Christmas merry and bright, and chase old Scrooge away!

Deck the Halls

Decorating your home for the holidays doesn’t need to fill you with the humbugs. Trimming your Christmas tree, mantle and windows can be a fun family tradition. When I was young, my parents gave their three daughters a pair of special ornaments each year, infusing a tradition that kicked off our holiday festivities, and were given to us when we left the nest. I still have many of the ornaments to this day.

Back then, bazaars and craft shows were not the popular events they are today. You don’t have to buy the standard glass globes each year at the local store. Make it a tradition to attend an annual holiday show and purchase unique ornaments, or if you are crafty yourself, have an ornament making party with your children and neighbors. As your children look at the tree from year-to-year, the ornaments of Christmases past will mean more to them and you’ll find yourselves sharing stories of each ornament. Look for a holiday event that also supports a local school, charity or holds a food drive. It will help teach your child the gift of giving to others. Change it up and select a theme for the ornaments.

As you deck your halls, don’t forget to involve your children in helping with the windows, exterior lights and mantle. While the kids can’t hang the outdoor lights, they can help you decide on your “theme” and flip the switch when it’s time to unveil this year’s theme. Decorate your mantle with boughs of holly and your favorite manger scene, caroler characters, holiday village, snowmen, reindeer or other festive decor. My sister’s family began collecting a Christmas village for their mantle, adding a new piece each year. I have a friend who collects train cars for his Christmas train set that they place around the base of their tree each year. They take great pleasure making an annual trek to find unique train cars to add to their collection. My other sister collects nutcrackers that she places throughout her home.

Cookies for Santa & Friends

There’s nothing like filling your home with the scent of Christmas cookies and baking. This is a fun activity to involve your kids in, and makes great gifts for co-workers, neighbors, friends, and, of course, Santa! Choose new recipes each year, and maybe select one that you traditionally prepare every year. My mother use to make my dad’s favorite icebox cookies every Christmas, as well as her pumpkin bread.

Host a yuletide or caroling party and invite your neighbors and their children. They will enjoy spending time with you and have a cup of eggnog, hot buttered rum or hot chocolate along with your handmade baked goods. Take homemade cookies and bread to the local homeless shelter or nursing home, so they can share in a holiday treat along with their meal.

Gift Giving

It’s important to teach children the great joy one receives when giving gifts, and not just focus on what Santa will bring. One of the most magical things about Christmas is it is the one time of year mankind tries to put aside their differences and help those less fortunate. With so many families losing their home and job right now, it is vital we bring hope and joy to those in need.

One tradition I embarked on when I was a teenager, was participating in the Sub for Santa program. Today, there are many local stores and charities that offer giving trees or other ways to help bring Christmas to those who have no home, have lost a parent or whose family is suffering from a loss of income. Take your child shopping specifically for another child, or donate gently used toys, books and clothing that your child no longer uses. Your little one will find it an uplifting tradition and benefit as much as the child your family will help.

Another tradition our family has done in more recent years: drawing names for the annual holiday shopping. Some call it “Secret Santa.” While we are not as large a family as some, it does make holiday gift giving fun to concentrate on one special family member. For large families this is particularly beneficial, as it is far easier on the holiday budget to buy a few gifts for just one person than the entire family. It adds a touch of mystery all wrapped up in love, and colorful paper and bows. You can add a touch of humor too, by creating a theme for one of the gifts that each person must shop for in addition to standard gifts. One year we held a sock exchange along with our regular gifts, and found ourselves quite amused by the variety of funny, funky socks we found for our gift giving. Another year it was pajamas, which really produced a lot of laughter!

Our family always read a holiday story on Christmas Eve, and our parents had us open one special gift that night. Typically, it was our holiday pajamas, though not always! I remember a Christmas teddy bear or two, as well as new holiday storybooks. On Christmas morning, each person opened one gift at a time by going around the room, and we each had to guess what was in the brightly wrapped package. It was always fun to try to guess what the present was before ripping open the paper.

The Sounds of Christmas

Whatever traditions your family decides upon, don’t forget the music of the season! One of the most beautiful things about Christmas is the songs and melodies.

Each year, our family would find and add a new holiday album to our collection of music. Over the years, we’ve found some special songs, some funny, some that are so beautiful they bring tears to the eyes. We often create a compilation of our favorite songs and put them on a CD to play whenever we have guests over during the holiday or give as a gift to friends. These days, you don’t necessarily have to buy an entire album to create a great compilation, since you can now download single songs or full albums from web sites.

It seems Scrooge has done away with caroling! These days you don’t often see caroling in the neighborhoods, which was one of our favorite holiday traditions. When I was young and involved in Job’s Daughters, we often went caroling at local nursing homes and hospitals, and in the case of nursing homes, we brought treats. Many folks in nursing homes have no family or their family is far away, and they truly love to have young people around to share the holidays. Host a caroling party with your neighbors and family. You’ll find it a wonderful tradition!

As you celebrate the birth of the Son of God this Christmas, add a little spice and magic to your holiday festivities. Traditions all have to start some place, and there is nothing wrong with adding your own touches to time-honored traditions to bring magic into the holiday and make memories for your children that will last a lifetime.

Car Donation – Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder

Ever heard the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”? An eyesore in your eyes may be a picture of perfection for another. Never has this principle rang more true than when someone donates a car to charity.

Maybe that old clunker that that’s been sitting around since your son or daughter graduated from school and moved out of the house has become a nuisance and you’ve been wondering what to do with it. You’ve toyed around with the idea of trying to sell it or calling someone to tow it away, but just don’t know which route to go. If you don’t already know about car donation programs, they can be an ideal solution to your problem.

Most charity car donation programs will sell your vehicle at a public auction once they have received it. Once the vehicles are sold, the proceeds generated from the sale go directly to funding the charity’s important mission and programs.

A great thing about charity car donation programs is their ability to cater around your schedule. Usually, you can call the charities 7 days a week and someone will always be there to answer your questions and guide you through the car donation process.

Charities have really made an effort in the recent past to fine tune the whole car donation process and make it as painless as possible. Once you call them, your vehicle is picked up, free of charge, within a couple of days – most often within 24 hours of your call. Then the charity does the rest – from selling the vehicle at auction to delivering you your receipts for tax time.

That ugly vehicle that has been taking up driveway or garage space, when donated, will look like a new showroom beauty in the eyes of the charity when they pick it up. That eyesore will in turn go to help countless people through the charity’s efforts.

Visit Beautiful Lancaster and Enjoy Life

Lancaster is a historic city with lots of cultural heritage. This English town offers something for everyone: the sightseer, the explorer, the history buff, the couple seeking romance, and the family searching for fun.

One of Lancaster’s main attractions is theatre. There are a variety of old theatres hosting regular programs of plays, concerts, orchestras, comedy artists, lectures, dance, and other musical events. Lancaster’s Grand Theatre a beautiful auditorium to visit, and the well-known Dukes produce annual summer productions outdoors amidst the beautiful Williamson Park. If the weather is cooperative, this is very enjoyable and beautiful to see.

If you are touring with a family, your children will love Happy Mount Park, which features a new Aqua Splash Park. A fun play area and picnic ground in the local area has trampolines and swing boats for children to enjoy. Williamson Park is a great place for anyone to visit, but children will love the Butterfly House and Mini-Beast Centre where you can examine the world’s most beautiful and in some cases rare species of butterflies.

There are many places where you can rent bicycles and the Morecambe Beach offers miles of beautiful sand dunes and a nearby Salt Ayre Sports Centre. Morecambe is world-renowned for it’s beautiful sunsets, so if the weather cooperates, take a stroll in the evening and enjoy the sights.

If you are into nightlife, there is plenty to choose from here. Local restaurants and pubs offer up vibrant nightlife or quiet romantic settings, whichever you prefer.

If you are searching for relaxation and quiet, you may prefer the peaceful beauty of River Lune Millennium Park or Lancashire Coastal Way. Here you can take a stroll or hire a horse for an escape. If you wish to enjoy a taste of country life, there are winding rivers and villages surrounding Lancaster with beautiful sights and scenery.

Discover the Beauty of the Island Landscapes While on Oahu

One of the most beautiful things about Oahu that is often overlooked is the landscape itself. Beautiful rainforests, waterfalls, mountain cliffs, volcano craters and mountain ranges all contribute to the beauty of Hawaii. In this article I’m going to share with you some of the spots that you can go to and observed these scenes and fully appreciate all the beauty that Oahu has to offer.

The island of Oahu is made up of two Mountain ranges, the Koolau Range and the Waianae Range. These ranges were formed by volcanoes and carved by years of erosion. On the windward side of the island you can clearly see the evidence of what the tropical trade winds can do to a mountain range. Deep gouges covered with lush green tropical vegetation cover the sides of the range. To view this, all you need to do is drive north on Kalanianaole Highway from Makapuu through Waimanalo. It is truly a fantastic sight to see. If you want a closer view, just drive onto the H3 freeway from the windward side heading back to Honolulu. The freeway takes you up the side of the range and actually through the range via a tunnel.

On the leeward side of the island we have the Waianae Range. This Mountain range can best be viewed by taking a drive down Farrington Highway. The highway takes you along the coastline to where it ends at Yokohama Bay. Another way to view this range is to take Kunia Road which runs from the town of Waipahu to the town of Wahiawa which is located roughly in the center of the island. The range is not as weathered by the trade winds but is still a beautiful site to see. The range is probably best known for a famous pass that runs through it. It was the pass the Japanese planes used to enter the island and bomb Pearl Harbor. The pass is called Kole Kole pass.

These mountain ranges play a big role in what makes the island of Oahu so beautiful. They are probably the first thing that is noticed on any the plane ride here but it is often also the most overlooked feature of the island. To really get an appreciation of Oahu, take a drive around the island and take the time out to see these mountain ranges that make up our island landscape. They really are beautiful sights to see and will give you a better understanding and appreciation of what makes Hawaii so beautiful.

When visitors come to Hawaii to enjoy a well earned family vacation, the first island that they come to is the island of Oahu. Oahu is, by far, the most populated island in the Hawaiian chain and holds many of the attributes that make Hawaii a favorite destination spot for vacationers. Unfortunately, many of the visitors that come to Oahu, end up leaving here frustrated and disappointed. Being rushed around by tour guides everyday and having to deal with the hustle and bustle of Waikiki is not the best way to spend a Hawaiian vacation.

To truly enjoy and appreciate everything that Oahu has to offer, you need to have inside information on where to go, what to do and when to do it. Being born and raised on the island, I have access to this type of information and I’m ready to share this information with everyone through my articles. Armed with this insider’s knowledge, anyone visiting Oahu will be sure to have a great time and will then pass along the word on how beautiful and relaxing it was to spend their vacation on Oahu.

Seven Wonders of the World – A Treasure Trove of Beauty

Living in the daily routines, there is no time with people to think about the outside world and the beauty that is present all around us. Even the wonderful creations of man are not discovered mostly because of either the lack of time or awareness. If you want to create some amazement in your life, then going and seeing one of the Seven Wonders of the World is something that can really be a great achievement and also an unforgettable experience.

The Seven Wonders of the World are chosen by authorities internationally only after proper feedbacks from people around the globe. The new seven wonders selected some time back include the Great Wall of China, Petra in Jordan, Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, Machu Pichu in Peru, Chichen Itza pyramid in Mexico, Colosseum in Rome and Taj Mahal in India.

All these man-made creations which are located in different parts of the world have a very spectacular sight. The Great Wall of China stretches over 6400 km all along the country’s border. The statue of Christ the Redeemer in Brazil is also 39.6 m tall and weighs 700 tons and is placed at the peak 700 m high. An archaeological site in Jordan, Petra has always wooed people who come and become spellbound. A very spectacular view is provided by the Machu Pichu in Peru. A very different and surprising structure is the Chichen Itza Pyramid in Mexico which was made by the Mayan civilization. The Colosseum in Rome and Taj Mahal in India are also two amazing sights that are included in the Seven Wonders of the World.

All these beautiful sights have to be seen to be enjoyed thoroughly. The Seven Wonders of the World have some great magic to them. One can visit them and have a memorable experience for life.

Cedar Window Boxes Give Your Home a Beautiful Sight That Steals Everybody’s Heart

Your home is a reflection of your personality. Anyone who walks inside your dwelling will definitely be in the know of your love for antiques, or perhaps, your penchant for modern things. Guests don’t need to be a psychic in order to identify this. Just by looking upon your choices of furniture and decorations, they will see right through your personal tastes and likes.

If the inner sections can prove to be a great indicator of your preferences, don’t set aside the outer areas of your dwelling. Your home’s façade is pretty much like your face. You want it to look friendly and welcoming to people you know. A good paint can help in making it look pretty. But if you wish for more charming touches, adding cedar window boxes can give your home a beautiful sight that will steal everybody’s heart.

Indeed, using these pieces of equipment can strike a chord on everybody. At first sight, people will immediately find them pretty and graceful. Having them around filled with lush flowers or ferns can soften any straight or steely architectural elements of the house. The gazes of people passing by in the streets will be immediately drawn towards them. And, often the first thought that will come to their minds is how welcoming the house looks. Consequently, they’ll think that probably the residents within it possess the same qualities, too. Indeed, they can greatly help in creating good impressions.

Aside from the inviting effect they render, seldom can you find decorative pieces these days that serve added functions. Cedar window boxes are, first and foremost, plant boxes. As such not only can you embellish your place but you are given the opportunity to cultivate a hobby.

Growing herbs and flowers is very easy in these units for you have only a small area to tend with. Weeds can be contained to a minimum. And, you can quickly water them everyday especially for the ones stationed near your kitchen sink.