The Loire Valley, France

29 Mar


The Loire Valley with its exquisitely mild climate and the beauty of its landscapes will delight you.

The ‘Garden of France’ through which flows the Loire and its tributaries, unfolds an architectural variety that will amaze you. More than 120 castles, each of them a jewel, are waiting to be admired. You will discover medieval fortresses, sumptuous Renaissance residences, and classical palaces of the 17th and 18th centuries. The “Light and Sound” spectacles, achievements and dramas of the past performed in their original surroundings, bring entire pages of French History back to life.

15 trains leave daily from Paris for the Loire Valley, at an average speed of more than 60 mph, in two hours you arrive in the important tourist center of Tours. Travelling by train you can stop in Blois, Amboise, Chenonceaux, Azay-le-Rideau, and Angers, and visit famous castles and monuments; churches, dioceses, old houses – witnesses of an artistic past unequalled in wealth and variety.

Places of interest:
Ainay-le-Vieil. furnished Renaissance castle (Illuminations). Amboise. Castle (15th-16th C.) Sound and Light Spectacle; Le Clos Luce (15th c. manor); Church of St-Denis (12th c.) Museum. Angers. Castle (13th c.) Sound and Light Spectacle; Cathedral of St. Maurice (12th-13th c.); Ancient episcopal Palace (12th c.); Museum (Tapestry of the Apocalypse, 14th c.). Azay-le-Rideau. Renaissance Castle: Sound and Light Spectacle. Church (9th-13th c.)
Beaugency. Castle (15th c.); Museum Donjon (11th c.); Renaissance Town Hall.
Blois. Castle (Louis 12th and Francois I): Sound and Light Spectacle. St.Louis Cathedral: Crypt (10th-11th c.). Church of St.Nicolas (12th-13th c.). Alluye Mansion (16th c.). Old Diocese (18th c.). Bourges. Cathedral of St.Etienne (12th and 15th c.) (Illuminations): portals, stained glass windows, crypt. Palace of Jacques Coeur (15th c.) (Illuminations), Old mansions, Museums. Candes. Church of St. Martin (12th-13th c.).

Menu of the Loire Valley
Rillettes from Le Mans, Tours, and Angers, Chicken breast sausage.
Pike cooked in butter, fried Loire fish and eel stew.
Game of Sologne, coq au vin, Berry Chicken, capon or fowl from Le Mans.
Cheeses: crottins from Chavignol, olivet “a la cendre”.
Almond cake from Pithiviers, pastries from Tours.
Loire wines: Bourgueil, Cabernet, Chinon, Montlouis, Saumur, Vouvray.

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Salak Mountainery Highland, West Java

26 Feb

Want an Escape from your borings life to Heaven? Its no need a long road to heaven. Here, take a short cut. Come to Salak mountainary highland, West Java, Indonesia. Salak mountain has some peaks, they are Salak-One peak 2,211 m above sea level, Salak-Two peak 2,180 m above sea level, and Sumbul peak  1.926 m above sea level. There is Salak-Halimun Mountainery Park, down the mountain. Salak mountain is an A type strato mountain. It had  a couples of eruptions since 1600 AD, it happened between 1668-1699, 1780, 1902-1903, and 1935. Last eruption was happened in 1938.

This highland area has beautiful and awesome views, where the villagers live in serenity of nature beauty. The temperatur is mostly nice of 15 to 18 celcius degree, feel like stay in an air conditioned office building. There are famous spa houses around this highland.

There are some old stories and myths about Salak mountain. The mountain area recognized as a holy places among Wiwitan Sundanesse people; besides treasures from the Dutch era in 1750s, gold in the trunks, and the trunks were buried in different places among this mountain area. These treasures were burried by VOC in order to avoid Japanesse troops take it over at the time they invade Indonesia in 1942. “The VOC dont want these golds they collect took by Japanesse at the time Japanesse troops kick them out from this land,” said local elder of Cidahu, Sukabumi. “After buried these trunks, the Dutch write a treasure map with guidance and physical sign to the location. They expecting they could take it back while they revisit Indonesia.” Rumours also said that some trunks were buried next to crater, local folks of Cidahu whose also hunt those trunks, and dig lots of old Dutch sites, lots of them were died and never succeeded.

Wild Forest of Salak mountain is one of the most beautiful and botanical richest in the world. You’ll find trees of Merkusi Pines, Altingia excelsa, Schima wallichii, Castanopsis sp., Lithocarpus sp., and some varian of Suku Lauraceae. You also find some endangered of Rafflesia rochussenii, Calliandra calothyrsus, Erythrina variegata, Maesopsis eminii, Paraserianthes falcataria, and lots of bamboo varian.

Rich fauna is also found around this wild forestry, you’ll found lots of frogs species, reptiles, birds and mamals. You can find 11 species of frogs, they are: Bufo asper, B. melanostictus, Leptobrachium hasseltii, Fejervarya limnocharis, Huia masonii, Limnonectes kuhlii, L. macrodon, L.microdiscus, Rana chalconota, R. erythraea and R. hosii, exclude of tree frogs and other mountain frog species like antler frogs (Megophrys montana) and flying frogs (Rhacophorus reinwardtii).

Many species of reptiles were also found in this National Forest of Salak mountain, snakes and lizards. Some Bronchocela jubata and B. cristatella, garden lizard Mabuya multifasciata and Varanus salvator. Various of snakes around this mountain area were yet unnamed, but some of them were known as Calamaria sp., snail snake (Pareas carinatus) and flower phyton snake (Python reticulatus) which is a couples of meter in length.

Salak mountain area is famously known as a birdland, as recorded by Vorderman (1885) in his papers. Hoogerwerf (1948) had also found at least 232 bird species in this highland (total species in Java: 494 species, 368 species are local origins). The famous origin species is Java eagle (Spizaetus bartelsi) and some other species of eagles, Forest Red Rooster (Gallus gallus), Cuculus micropterus, Phaenicophaeus javanicus and P. curvirostris, Sasia abnormis, Dicrurus remifer, Cissa thalassina, Crypsirina temia, Garrulax rufifrons (horse bird), Hypothymis azurea, Aethopyga eximia, A. mystacalis, and Lophozosterops javanica.

Other than reptiles and frogs, datas on Salak mountain’s mamals is not much recorded. Some tiger species (Panthera pardus), java monkey (Hylobates moloch), surili monkey (Presbytis comata) and (Manis javanica) live in this wildforest. Some eco centers and colleges are also found for those eco lovers, especially in Salak-Two mountain area, the virgin forest area where hikers were reluctant to reach because of its tough area.

Anyway, visiting a place like this, feels like coming home to heaven on earth.

Khajuraho, exotic temples of India

20 Feb

Khajuraho is known for its ornate temples that are among the most beautiful medieval monuments in the country. These temples were built by the Chandella rulers between AD 900 and 1130. The first recorded mention of the Khajuraho temples in the accounts of Abu Rihan al Biruni (AD 1022) and the Arab traveller Ibn Battuta (AD 1335).

Local tradition lists 85 temples in Khajuraho, out of which only 25 survive in various stages of preservation. But for the temples of Chausath-yogini, Lalguan-Mahadeva, and Brahma, which are constructed of granite, the other temples are built of fine-grained sandstone of varying shades.

The Khajuraho group of temples has been inscribed on the World Heritage list for their ‘outstanding universal value’ and ‘human creative genius’. To make this important destination more tourist friendly and to give emphasis to the sustained development of the environment, a large tract of vacant land has been acquired for setting up an interpretation center and for falicitating a better visitor movement plan. Effective signage and landscaping is a part of the new Master Plan, along with modern public conveniences. Archaeological excavations of the ancient mounds to unravel the hidden history of the site will also be taken up on a large-scale.

Khajuraho is one of the few sites in India where a large number of loose sculptures of different pantheons have been found. A state-of-the-art museum is being planned at a site close to the Western Group of temples.

Khajuraho is located next to north borderline of Madhya Pradesh just about 60 km from Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.

 

Auvergne, Gorges du Tarn, France

18 Feb


This region extending from the Loire country to the Garonne and Languedoc basins, includes the provinces of Limousin, Auvergne, and Perigord, all of them picturesque and varied tourist areas; rocky mountain ranges, waterfalls, canyons, precipices, caves, mineral springs, and extinct volcanoes – the “puys”. Over the centuries man has enriched these regions with prehistoric paintings in the caves, remains of gallo-roman art, fortresses of the Middle Ages, many romanesque and gothic religious monuments, Renaissance buildings, as well as modern constructions, such as huge dams forming artificial bodies of water.

The important railroad line Paris-Toulouse crosses this area in the north-south direction. The “Capitole”, equipped with the new “High-Comfort” passenger cars, reaches speed of 125 mph, linking Paris to Limoges in less than three hours at an average speed of 90 mph., and Paris to Cahors in less than five hours, at more than 75 mph.

Convenient connections take you also to Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, or Poitiers, and various other lines make it easy to travel to all the popular tourist centers.

Monuments and places of interest:
Aubazine Site. Church (12th century): stained glass windows, tomb (13th century), Old Abbey. Aurillac Churches of the Cordeliers (14th-17th century), St-Geraud (15th-17th century), and Sacre-Coeur (20th c.), Chapel of Aurinques (16th century), Old houses. Aven-Armand Giant stalagmite cave. Besse-en-Chandesse Church of St-Andre. House of Queen Margot, shops (15th c). In the outskirts: Pavin lake, “Puys” of Monchal and Bessolles. Beynac Castle (13th c.): site and panorama. In the outskirts: Castelnau Castle (11th-12th-15th c): site and panorama. Brioude Basilica of St-Julien (romanesque): cornices. Town Hall (17th c). 16th century houses. Cabrerets. Castle (15th c): Prehistoric Museum. In the outskirts: Cave of Pech-Merle. Valley of the Lot. Cahors. Cathedral (11th-16th c): Portal (13th c), monastery (16th c).  Valentre Bridge (14th c). Barbican and Tower of St-Jean. Valley of the Lot.

Komodo Dragons Island

20 Mar


“Visitor‑friendly” might not be the first description that comes to mind when talking about an island swarming with giant, carnivorous lizards. But Indonesia’s Komodo, the en­tire area of which is a World Heritage Site and national park, is becoming just that, thanks to an array of new visitor facilities that make seeing the fabled Komodo dragons more enjoyable.

Komodo lies between the islands of Flores and Sumbawa. Overseas visitors typically take a go‑minute flight from Bali to Labuan Bajo in the western part of Flores, then charter a boat to Komodo‑the closest you’ll ever come to Jurassic Park.

More than 2,500 Komodo dragons still roam freely across the island, with some measuring up to 10 ft. (3 in) in length. There are 37 differ­ent types of reptile species besides, as well as 32 species of mammals. The waters off Komodo are diver heaven ­home to more than 1,000 species of fish, 385 species of reef‑building corals and six species of whales.

These kinds of natural as­sets have prompted the U.S. based Nature Conservancy (TNC), in partnership with the International Finance Corporation (a World Bank offshoot) and the local gov­ernment, to develop Komodo into an ecotourism destina­tion that will eventually become self-supporting, they hope, through visitor reve­nues. Some 17,000 visited the park in 2007 but TNC hopes to double that number over the next few years.

“We are trying to create tourism with a sense of re­sponsibility,” explains Marcus Matthews‑Sawyer, director of tourism, marketing and communications at Putri Naga Komodo, a private‑sector partnership set up in 2005 to manage the park. “This is a world‑class destination that needs the right facilities to make it attractive to more than just adventure travelers.”

The badly needed new additions include a visitor­ reception building, decent toilets, a combined restaurant and retail outlet with great souvenirs, and information panels detailing the flora and fauna on the island. “Our vision is to position Komodo National Park as a World Heritage Site in Indonesia and the region as a whole,” says Rili Djohani of TNC. “Hopefully, when people think ecotourism and nature, they will think of Komodo National Park.”

Detailed information, including a guide to alter­native transport arrange­ments, can be found at www. komodonationalpark.org. Do note that July and August is mating season, which makes it more difficult to catch a glimpse of the dragons‑and even if you do spot one, a mating Komodo dragon is disturbed only at your dire peril.