Monthly Archives: March 2017

Fly with the world’s largest Airlines

United Airlines is the third largest airline of the world in terms of revenue, extensive domestic and international route and prime presence in Asia-Pacific region. Founded 90 years before on April 6, 1926 as Varney Air Lines, it commenced operations on March 28, 1931. It is a major American airline with its headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. It is a founding member of the largest global alliance Star Alliance and operates its services from nine hubs, namely, Chicago, Denver, Guam, San Francisco, Tokyo, Washington D.C, Houston, Los Angeles and Newark. The company for “flying the friendly skies” has a total size of 738 fleet responsible for serving 342 destinations across the world. United Airlines booking flight is possible from all airports and online booking sites.

KLM Airlines, known as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, is the flag carrier of the Netherlands with its headquarters in Amstelveen. Founded 97 years ago on 7 October 1919, it is the oldest air carrier of the world that is still in existence with its maiden name. Its primary hub is Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. It operates scheduled passenger and cargo services to 130 destinations globally. Once you make a KLM Airline reservation, be sure to fly with the air carrier that inspires your journey to be an enriching experience.  It is a member of the global airline Sky Team alliance and also a part of the Air France-KLM group. If you’re looking for last minute travel deals, KLM Airlines has them in store for you throughout the year.

With a fleet size of 115, KLM Airlines cover a range of 145 destinations in 70 countries over five continents globally round the year. KLM Airlines has a frequent flyer program for its loyal customers and frequent passengers to redeem miles and earn rewards. If you’re looking for international long-haul flights, you get to choose from three cabin classes which include World Business Class, Economy Comfort and Economy.

Explore The Cheap Hotel Rooms: Finding the Right Balance

It is troublesome for any business sector to make due in unfriendly financial conditions without conveying positive changes to adapt up to the circumstance. Modest lodgings have taken after a comparative approach. They accepted it as an opportunity than a setback. It basically focuses on the quality aspect. It was not an easy task to compete with the industry giants. There is a developing rundown of cheap hotels getting established in each zone or neighborhood. It offers more alternatives to its visitors than any other time in recent memory.

The objective is to treat each and every visitor with love and romantic. People love to go back to the spots where they feel happy and valued constantly. This is the main business methodology you ever need to work on. In an industry like hospitality, there are abundant chances to give great services to the visitors. There is every possibility that they would come back after spending quality time with you. The most ideal approach to discover modest hotels is by perusing through various sites.

It broadens the horizon by offering various alternatives to look over. You should spend some time browsing through various classifications to locate the best arrangements. The mystery is to have the right kind of attitude or approach towards it. You can’t expect that it will give every one of the services at no additional cost. This is the place the majority of us fall into the trap. We erroneously recognize cheap rooms to be without basic comforts. The respective management of cheap hotels or resorts rooms is set for change the perception.

Tips For Acclimating To High Altitude

Taking up bike tours in Italy to explore high altitudes means your body needs to adapt to an environment where there is less oxygen. For bike tourists who have not quite adapted to the altitude, it is common to experience altitude sickness. The fitter one is, the faster one will acclimate to high altitudes. There are an array of cycling trips available in Italy, where the high altitude can simply affect someone’s cycling ability, especially if one comes from low elevation areas.

Altitude Preparation

Throughout the process of acclimatization, your respiration and heart rate begin to normalize. However, this process does not happen overnight. It may take a few days to acclimate, but you can start preparing yourself for this process before you even arrive. Of possible, start with short cycling workouts and build up to longer workouts over several weeks to boost your endurance.

Having boosted endurance will certainly help you acclimate much more quickly to high altitude than without. You can even just give yourself more time to acclimate before you ride in high elevation. Both methods work wonders in helping you acclimate to high altitudes.

Acclimatization

In the case you happen to feel dizzy, weak, or even sick at high altitudes, you are likely experiencing altitude sickness. You tend to feel this way, as a result, your body is trying to adapt to the thin air by breathing faster and more deeply. With this increase in oxygen, your heart rate increases to pump more oxygen to your muscles and your body also creates a hormone called erythropoietin (EPO). Essentially, this hormone stimulates the production of red blood cells. As a result, your body has more red blood cells at its disposal to increase the oxygen carrying capacity of your blood.

Ancient Greek Agora

From the moment people began to organise themselves into groups they had to have a place where they could meet and make decisions on matters of common interest. Such places demonstrate the existence of a community life: they were the public squares. We don’t know what they were called in pre-historic times; we do know that the Greek word for such a place is agora, from the verb agorevein (speak), which shows clearly its initial function. With the growth of trade and the use of speech in buying and selling, the verb agorevein lent its form to agorazein which acquired the meaning of “purchase”, to reflect new needs. Similarly, the movable table for transactions was then called “trapeza”, the modern Greek word for bank.

In pre-historic times, when the first settlement was established on the protected southern side of the Acropolis, the northern side was used as a necropolis, or cemetery. In a well from the neolithic period, a statuette representing a headless semi-reclining woman was found dating from the 3rd millennium BC. It is a marvellous example of primitive sculpture with the characteristic abundant flesh indicative of fertility. Many examples of Mycenean pottery were found in the same vicinity as well as a number of large jars (pithoi). Among the funeral customs of antiquity was that of enclosing the bodies of very young children in such jars, which were then buried; older children were laid straight in the ground. Only after puberty was the cremation of the body permitted. As the city grew, the graves were moved to the Dipylon area which was the potters’ district, Kerameikos, so that very few graves remained in the area around the Areopagus hill after 1000 BC.

Thus were the Agora and Speech related. Plutarch reports that the Agora first began to function as a meeting place for the residents of the federated townships during the rule of Theseus, when a Prytaneion was established. The altar bearing the sacred fire of this first official building became the symbol of newly constituted state. Other important buildings were the Bouleuterion, the Eleusinion sanctuary and the temple of Aphrodite Pandemos. The latter was a tribute built by the municipalities to the goddess with the great power over human nature. There was a great deal of traffic in the area, making it suitable for the practice of the oldest profession; the women were dedicated to the goddess thereby giving the term “pandemos Aphrodite” its meaning of prostitute. We do not know the precise location of these early sites, although they must have been somewhere in the clearing between the Areopagus and the northwestern corner of the Acropolis.

After the monarchy was abolished and the citizens acquired the right to express their opinion, a need clearly arose for more public buildings and a larger place in which the citizens could gather. The level ground east of the Areopagus was regarded as being the most suitable location for the Agora which was to have several new sanctuaries and public fountains. While the Acropolis was devoted exclusively to religion, the Agora from the very beginning assumed the function of a civic and administrative centre. No trace of these first public buildings has survived up to our time, since they are underneath the present, densely populated district of Plaka.

The establishment of colonies, which the orator Isocrates would later refer to as the best possible solution to political problems, and the resultant growth of trade made it absolutely essential to have a more convenient place to do business. Thus, early in the 6th century, Solon selected the most appropriate spot for the Agora, i.e. the site we know today. The flat ground north of the Areopagus formed a triangle with its apex facing northward and its western side protected by a plateau. On the east was the main road which started at the Dipylon Gate, the entrance to the city, and ascended to the Acropolis. In addition, the roads from the outer townships ended in this lowland near a little creek called the Eridanos.

From the first moment, it proved to be an excellent choice. The plateau was named Agoraios Kolonos, and on its slopes the first public building was erected, very possibly a council chamber. Small temples followed, as did a Bouleuterion (Council House) and a Prytaneion. Solon chose the entrance to the city as the best position for a portico and gave orders for the written laws to be kept there. The Agora was beginning to take shape.

In the second half of the 6th century, during the tyranny of Peisistratos, the site was provided with a water supply and drainage system. A monumental fountain and rainwater duct were built. Like all dictators, Peisistratos was not especially keen on the idea of increasing space for meeting and voting; instead, he filled the city with projects to benefit the public. During the years of his rule, the great road followed by the Panathenaic procession took on its final form. On the south side of the Acropolis, the people’s courthouse of the Heliaia was built and, at the northern crossroads, the Altar of the Twelve Gods.

The Persian campaign left much of the city in ruins which began to be cleared away after 460 BC, when Kimon was in power. Many new buildings were put up then, including porticoes with shops, a large Bouleuterion, special places for meetings of military leaders (strategoi) and civic administrators (prytanes), as well as altars and monuments honouring local heroes. On the highest point in the Agora, the temple of Hephaestos, the blacksmith god, was built. This Doric temple preceded the Parthenon, and also housed a statue of Athena, goddess of wisdom. Thus were the two gods brought together showing the association between philosophy and art, teaching that intellectuals and artisans cannot live one without the other.

During the years that followed, the Agora became the true heart of the city. Although decisions were made in the Council of the Deme and in the neighbouring Pnyx, the draws to determine who would take part in the administration of the state were held in the Agora. The laws, their enforcement, the penalties imposed on violators, the minting of currency, buying and selling – all had their own particular spot in the Agora. Processions, races, auctions and feasts were all characteristic of this political, civic, cultural, commercial and sometimes religious centre. The streets of the growing city may well have been narrow and full of hazardous potholes and the wooden houses may have had but one ground floor room with perhaps a wooden addition above. The walls of these houses may have been brick and susceptible to thieves. Cooking fires may have been lit on the road and the lack of proper sewers may have been responsible for epidemics. But when the Athenian citizen entered the Agora, he felt that he was participating in and contributing to the miracle of his times. Philosophers, orators, politicians and citizens caused Demosthenes to say, in the 4th century, that the customary greeting between Athenians meeting in the Agora was: What’s new? At the end of the Hellenistic period, the Agora was crowded with buildings, including a recent graceful portico donated by Attalos of Pergamum. The Romans who followed began competing to build other edifices which caused the Agora to spill out beyond its initial bounds. Altars, temples, a library and gymnasium, porticoes and colonnades, all of which were open to the public, made Saint Paul say that the Athenian citizens and metoici did nothing but stroll around the Agora discussing politics. Athenaios from Egypt was also highly impressed, and wrote in his Deipnosophists that in the Athens Agora, one could find with equal ease: fruit, false witnesses, complaints, pap, pedlars, honeycomb with honey, peas, trials, lotteries, roses and irises, laws, hydraulic clocks, pimps, informers, myrtle branches…

The weakening of the Roman Empire brought barbarians. In 267 AD, the Agora was sacked by the Herulians who respected only the temple. A wall was built from the rubble of the buildings, but it could not save the Agora from Alaric’s Goths in 396. This total devastation was followed by reconstruction which kept the site functioning until 529. This was the year of the final blow against Athens, when the Byzantine emperor Justinian ordered the closing of the philosophical schools, which the new religion regarded with such hostility. The Agora was abandoned, its monuments fell into disuse and then decay, the site was gradually covered over by earth and mud because there was nobody to keep the drainage ducts cleared. During subsequent centuries, houses were built of the plentiful debris. On top of the buried antiquities, the lovely Byzantine church of the Holy Apostles was built in the year 1000. Meantime, the ancient temple of Hephaistos had already been consecrated to St George.

Throughout the 400 years of Turkish rule (1456-1829), the Athenians lived perched on the north side of the Acropolis, where the heart of the Polis had once beaten most proudly. Many houses were destroyed during the Greek War of Independence, especially during the siege of Athens by Kiutahi Pasha. But with the designation of the city as capital of the new Greek state, new homes were soon built on top of the ruins of older ones. The architects Kleanthis and Schubert, who had been assigned to reconstruct the capital, vainly proposed that the new city be built some distance away from the old one so as to leave the ground free for future excavations. Short-sightedness, pettiness and profit, however, proved stronger than reason. The first traces of the ancient Agora were revealed in 1859, when foundations for houses began being dug. Much later, in 1931, the American School of Classical Studies undertook regular excavations which continued until after 1945, with constant appropriations of property. It is estimated that more than three hundred thousand tonnes of earth and rubble were moved in order to bring the Agora to light. Today the ancient heart of Athens, spread out as far as permitted by the surrounding modern buildings, reveals its beauty, its eloquent ruins and its rich memories of days past, days of eternal glory.

The most impressive monument in the ancient Agora is indisputably the great Doric temple which dominates the site. Built on the top of a plateau, known as the Agoraios Kolonos, this temple is the best- preserved ancient building in Greece, having survived a great number of adventures, threats and changes including the alteration of its original name. For centuries, this temple was known as the Theseion, as it was believed to have been a temple dedicated to Theseus, a conclusion drawn from its sculpted decoration depicting the hero’s feats. This restless prince of prehistoric Athens was mythified by the Athenians, as the Attic counterpart of the Doric Hercules. Tales were invented about his birth, his achievements, his wanderings. It is said that he fell in love with the beautiful Helen when she was still a child and he an old man, and that this love pitted him against her brothers the Dioscuri, which forced him to seek refuge on the island of Skyros. There the local king Lykomedes killed him by throwing him off a cliff. After an oracle from Delphi, Kimon went to the island in 469 BC to fetch the bones of the founder of Athens and bury them properly in his ancestral city. A temple was built on Theseus’ grave and was called Theseion, which Thucydides mentioned as a place where hoplites would gather. Aristophanes used the mocking name “Theseion-frequenter” to denote people who, having nothing to do, would wander about aimlessly. Plutarch wrote that the Theseion was a refuge for slaves, but its precise location is unknown.

Pausanias refers explicitly to the large temple in the Agora as being dedicated to Hephaistos and indeed he even described the cult statues there: one of Hephaistos and one of Athena with eyes. The celebrated Roman orator Cicero greatly admired the bronze statues which had been sculpted by Alcamenes just after 421 BC, praising the artist for his skill in presenting the lame Hephaistos standing upright without showing his physical disability. This testimony is the only trace of these statues that remains today.

The temple was built after 449 BC, based on plans by an unknown architect, similar in size to the temple of Poseidon at Sounion and that of Nemesis at Ramnus, near Marathon. It is indeed remarkable that, despite all the disasters that befell the Agora during the years of the barbarian invasions, the temple was left intact. Later, under Byzantine rule, it became a church consecrated to St George. An apse was built on the eastern side, and a door was opened on the west. In about 1300, the original ceiling collapsed and was replaced with the present-day vaulted brick one, which stands in sharp contrast to the rest of the building. It may even have been due to these changes that the temple escaped destruction, particularly during the years of Ottoman rule. It used to be said that in order to permit services to be held in the church, the Turkish governor would demand the weight of the key to the building in gold. At that time, keys were huge and gold rare, which was why the building only opened once a year. Services were held solely on the feast of St George, a fact which lent the building its picturesque name: St George the Akamatis (Lazybones).

In the early 19th century, during the Revolution against the Ottoman Empire, the temple was called “thirty-two columns”; it was used to chant the Te Deum when King Otto arrived in the capital in 1834, signalling liberation from the Turks. A marvellous painting of the period shows us the young king being welcomed by the awestruck crowd, as he started out unsuspectingly along the road to his destiny. Services were held in the church for the last time in 1934, on the 100th anniversary of the new Athens; two years later its restoration as an archaeological monument began.

The temple of Hephaistos stands firmly on a foundation of three steps, the bottom of which is poros stone, the other two are Pentelic marble; the columns are of the same material, 13 on each of the long flanks and six on the facades. Outside the columns there are traces of pedestals of votive offerings and statues. On the east side, is a carved representation on the floor beside the columns which shows that some lazy people used to spend their time either playing something like modern board games or scratching the marble with the age-old destructive mania of bored people.

Although the external dimensions of the building are typical of the classical age, the interior was an unsuccessful effort to achieve the perfect symmetry of the slightly later Parthenon.

The pronaos which once existed had two columns which were removed when the building was converted into a church, and was more spacious than the corresponding opisthodomos on the west side. Another equally unsymmetrical element could be seen inside the temple, where the inner Doric columns, five columns on the flanks and three on the west, were very close to the outer walls, and appeared to diminish the space. In front of the three columns on the west side a base of grey stone shows where statues of the gods had stood. Nothing has remained of the initial marble flooring, since for some centuries now it has been the custom to bury famous citizens here. On the interior wall of the north side one can still see an Englishman’s gravestone bearing an epigram by Lord Byron.

The sculpted decoration of the temple has not been well preserved since for centuries it has been exposed to the weather and changes of season. The pediments have suffered most of all: on the east the sculptures have been lost altogether, while on the west some animal hoofs have remained which might have been part of a representation of the battle with the centaurs, a subject directly related to Theseus. The eastern metopes narrated the labours of Hercules while on the north and south side there are four relief slabs again depicting the feats of Theseus. On the exterior wall of the temple proper, there was a frieze on the facades alone, not on the flanks. On the eastern side Theseus was presented fighting against his kinsmen the Pallantides, who had disputed his hereditary right to the throne of Athens. To portray all these fighting figures, the sculptor used the entire width of the cella facade. By contrast, on the opposite, western side, the classical battle of the Centaurs and Lapiths occupied considerably less space.

Around the temple there were two rows of shallow pits at regular intervals. Even today, on the south side one can see traces of enormous clay jars half-buried in the ground; they were flower pots for the ornamental plants that adorned the site during the Hellenistic and Roman age. In a dry city like Athens, plants have always been welcome; we know that in an earlier age, Kimon himself had taken care to plant myrtle and plane trees in the Agora. There was once an enclosure round the sacred precinct of the temple, but not a trace of it remains. The same is true of the access point from the Agoraios Kolonos plateau to the lower level of the Agora; the grand staircase which used to be there has been completely destroyed.

Just north of the temple, but at a somewhat lower level, traces were found of an enormous colonnaded structure which had been almost entirely hewn out of the natural rock. Archaeologists believe it to have been a 4th-century building that was either related to the Athenian army or, because of the large number of Panathenaic amphoras found there, a storehouse for sacred oil. But the existence of strongly- built walls and a system for collecting rain water in underground cisterns makes it difficult for scholars to identify this strange building and its function. There was another building, too, on the Agoraios Kolonos: the little temple dedicated to Urania Aphrodite, the ruins of which were discovered accidentally in 1890, during the building of the railroad that was to link Athens with Piraeus.

We know that Aphrodite was a very ancient deity. The personification of love and fertility, she began in Babylon where she was worshipped as the all-powerful Ishtar. In addition to temples, the inhabitants of Babylon with its mythical wealth, had dedicated even the main entrance of this heavily walled city to their powerful protector. This is the gate which we can see restored today in the Museum in Berlin. The same divinity was called Astarte in Phoenician regions while the monotheistic Semites feared her as Ashtaroth: a divine but extremely dangerous woman who made it difficult for them to observe the strict rules in their lives. Herodotus reported, in the third book of his history, that in the land of the Phoenicians the all-powerful goddess had another name as well: Alilat. The Sumerians called her Inanna and the Persians Anahita for whom she was protectress of the water, which in their dry country was life itself. The influence of this supreme goddess spread throughout the entire Mediterranean, carried by Phoenician seamen who brought her as far as the city of Eryce on the western tip of Sicily, where she was worshipped on top of a steep rock. In the other great Phoenician colony, Carthage, she was called Tanit.

This goddess with the many names was worshipped according to the needs of the society in which her sanctuaries were located. Not only were her names different, but so were her rites: orgies, sacred prostitution, even the sacrifices of first-born children, as was the case in Carthage in the worship of the bloodthirsty Tanit. It is worth noting that the symbol of this Carthaginian goddess can be seen in Delos, on the threshold of the house of the dolphins, like a magic charm to keep misfortune away from the householders.

From clay slabs found on the coast of Syria, we learn of the correspondence of an Ugarit chief with his counterpart in Alasia, as prehistoric Cyprus was called. These relationships explain the way in which the Eastern divinity was carried to the island of Cyprus, where as early as the 12th century BC, there was a sanctuary dedicated to her near Paphos. But here the insatiable goddess changed form. She became identified with the sea and was named Pelagic.

In his Cosmogonia, Hesiod wrote some strange things about how this universal heavenly power came to be in the Helladic world. He said that Kronos castrated Uranus and threw the immortal parts of his divine father into the sea somewhere near Kythera. On that spot, a great foam was created out of which emerged the beautiful goddess. This accounts for her name in Greek, as Aphrodite means “arisen out of the foam”. The waves embraced her and brought her gently to Cyprus where she acquired yet another name: Cypris.

Associated with humankind’s most powerful emotion, Aphrodite was worshipped everywhere with zeal, as her cult conquered one region after the other. She enchanted both gods and mortals, accompanied by a retinue consisting of the mischievous Eros, the Graces, Desire and Lust. She was by her nature a fateful goddess, who could not stand to be spurned; she punished the unloved harshly, as she did Hippolytus, son of Theseus. The proud goddess tormented him and led him to his doom because the rash young man dared to prefer to worship the virginity of Artemis. In Sparta, Aphrodite was worshipped as a martial goddess, in keeping with the paramount local values, and in Athens she was exalted as Urania, heavenly protectress of the noblest form of love. There was of course the other sanctuary, in her Pandemos form, but it was as Urania, her refined form, that she was honoured on the Agoraios Kolonos, alongside the temple of her husband Hephaistos who had gone through so much during their married life. Pausanias referred to the sanctuary of the goddess and to its cult statue, a work by Phidias from choice marble, but today only a few stones have been saved on the slope of the hill beside the train tracks. In order to build this central communications line, the ruins of the greater part of this ancient building were sacrificed.

Some Fun and Fascinating Facts

The LAX airport, or the Los Angeles International Airport, was originally named Mines Field and was a general aviation base during World War II. LAX is located in none other that Los Angeles, California. It is ranked as the fifth busiest passenger airport in the entire world. It also is ranked sixth for the world in carrying cargo. Even if you never travel through LAX, (although chances are good that you will) you may find the following facts and information interesting and fun.

Fun And Interesting Facts About The LAX Airport:

1. There are more than 50 million people who travel into or out of LAX every year. But, not only people travel through. An additional 2 million tons of cargo passes through this airport every year as well.

2. The LAX airport employs over 59,000 people to get you and your luggage safely and comfortably to your destination.

3. A U-shaped road with two levels connects the 9 terminals at this airport.

4. The airport has four parallel runways and a 277 foot control tower. The original control tower was only 172 feet tall.

5. LAX has the only Coast Guard Air Station located right on the premises. They provide 24-hour service to the passengers and employees of the LAX airport.

6. One unusual feature is the Encounters restaurant, which is located in the Central Terminal and is 70 feet above the ground. It is a space-themed restaurant and has an observation deck that is located on the roof of the LAX airport.

7. Worried about parking? The airport has over 21,000 parking spaces at the terminal including long and short term parking and the outdoor economy lots.

8. Transportation to and from the LAX airport and its vicinity is simple with shuttle buses, taxis, rental cars, the airport and public buses and even light rail.

9. While many airports today are located on the outskirts of town LAX is located on 3,425 acres right in the heart of Los Angeles.

10. How many airports do you know that have their own song? LAX airport has a song that was written by Leann Scott and performed by David Frizzel in 1970 called LA International Airport. Then, in 1971 Susan Raye, a famous country singer redid the song and it shot to number 9 on the country charts and 54 on the pop chart. Just recently, in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the LAX airport, it was sung again by Susan Raye and then it was given new lyrics by Leann Scott and sung again by Shirley Myers.

11. The Los Angeles International Airport also supports the public arts programs of the community. Right at the entrance of the airport are 100 foot high pylons and 32 foot high letters that spell out LAX. This is the work of the artist Paul Tzanetopoulos. There is also a program at LAX airport which allows high school students from the area to display their works in the airport in a revolving display. The students not only gain some notoriety and recognition, but they also can get university credit for participating.

12. You can also find all of the typical airport services at LAX. You will find bookshops and restaurants, lost and found, shoe shine stations, baggage storage, banking machines, and first aid stations.

Your trip to (or through) Los Angeles International airport can be enjoyable and relaxing if you know what is available to you. The airport is working to become more easily accessible and passenger friendly. To get you in the mood for your trip, take a listen to the theme song. You can find it online.

Environmental Issues Affecting the Travel Industry

Protecting the environment is now one of the most talked-about and hotly-debated topics across the globe. Many companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to create products or make their products environmentally friendly. An example is the electric car that is being looked at as a viable option to that of the present gasoline powered car. In 2009 world leaders met in Copenhagen to discuss ways in which they can prevent global warming and reduce on the effects of climate change, in effect protecting the environment. The travel industry too has not been left out of this issue. In an industry where the number of people engaged in international travel has been predicted to reach the billion mark in 2010, there is concern about its contribution to the damage done to the environment. Also like every other industry the travel industry needs to be concerned about ways of doing business that are environmentally friendly. Outlined below are some of the environmental issues affecting the travel industry which stakeholders need to address and in some cases seek out long term solutions.

1. Aviation which ferries hundreds of thousands of tourists across the globe is of great concern to those seeking to protect the environment. A major concern for the industry is greenhouse gas emissions and their implication for climate change. Aviation produces at least two percent of emissions. One way the aviation industry is working on this problem is by rolling out newer planes that have fuel efficient engines which means less carbon emissions. However not all airlines especially in the poorer countries can afford buying new aircraft.

2. Mass tourism. With the cost of travel becoming cheaper and more and more people venturing further away from their countries to places that were previously inaccessible but can now be reached because of air transport, areas of environmental and historical significance are becoming crowded. This is putting pressure on ecosystems within these areas and threatening the flora and fauna. Also climate change is going to mean that certain places will not favour visitors because of weather conditions becoming extreme which will lead to overcrowding in other places with more favourable weather conditions. Again this presents a danger to the ecosystems in the overcrowded areas and to the tourism of the area.

3. Deforestation. In spite of the worldwide call to protect the environment there are still areas where massive logging is taking place. This is also contributing to destruction of flora and fauna and is a threat to the tourism in those areas.

4. With the call to go green affecting all industries across the globe the tourism industry has not been left out. There is pressure on those who are in the industry to find methods of doing business that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. For example can the hotel industry build hotels that are more environmentally friendly? What methods can they use to conserve energy and reduce on chemicals that are used in the dry cleaning of tons of laundry used in the industry?

5. Human encroachment. With populations continuing to grow worldwide there is now competition between man and animals for space. Humans are now encroaching on areas like National Parks that are protected and marked for wildlife. This has led to reports of people and their livestock being killed by wild animals which in turn leads to people hunting and killing these animals that are considered to be a threat. This is a threat to the tourism of the area. Human encroachment is also forcing animals to move away from their habitat to other areas where they can not survive leading to the extinction of certain species.

Greek Facial and Hand Gestures – Does “No” Mean “Yes”?

As many Greeks will tell you, the Greek language is a very rich language and when a native speaker is in action, it is often also accompanied by a rich variety of facial and hand gestures. These serve, both consciously and unconsciously, to give emphasis to that which is being said, or can be used on their own as a non-verbal response.

“No”

Greeks do not usually shake their heads from side to side to indicate a negative response i.e. “no”. Instead they tilt the head upwards and backwards, and then back down to looking directly ahead. This is done only once. This should not be mistaken for a nodding of the head meaning “yes”. Sometimes the tilting of the head is accompanied by an audible click of the tongue against the teeth. There are also variations on this. For emphasis, meaning something like “no, of course not” or “no, you’re way off the mark” the head may be tilted up and back in a very slow deliberate movement sometimes with a partial or full closing of the eyes. On other occasions, the whole movement can be reduced to a very slight and quick raising of the eyebrows. This can be very hard to detect, therefore leading you to ask your question repeatedly to that person until the movement becomes more perceptible or they lose patience with you and actually tell you their answer. Non-verbal responses can be surprisingly powerful and can elicit an interesting reaction from a foreigner who is not used to it. For example, you may think that the slow deliberate “no” movement indicates that your listener believes what you have said or suggested to be completely ridiculous and not worthy of a verbal response – you would be mistaken.

“Yes”

For “yes”, the head is tilted downwards and slightly to one side. As with “no”, this is done only once. Again, this can be done slowly and deliberately for added emphasis.

Shaking the head

As we have seen this does not mean “no”. It serves to indicate that someone does not understand what is being said to them or alternatively, the reason it is being said. This is sometimes accompanied by an extension of the hand outwards with palm facing down to the floor and then rotating it, with the thumb and first two fingers extended, until the palm is facing up.

Impolite and vulgar hand gestures

Come on, I have to cover at least one or two. As in many countries, there are impolite and vulgar hand gestures that are more expressive than any words in certain situations. The Greeks have an expression which literally translated means “I am writing you on my testicles”!. This actually means “I am totally ignoring what you are saying”. It would take too long to go into the many Greek sayings, but I have also heard an interesting variation on this one uttered by a woman, which goes “I am going to grow testicles just so I can write you on them”! Anyway, the related hand gesture, which is often used alone without the expression, is a swift movement of both hands downwards, palms facing up, and fingertips almost touching forming a v-shape over the stomach, as if indicating the location of the genitalia. Finally, another hand gesture which is a rude way of telling someone to “go away” (I’ll let you use your imagination and creative talent), is to extend your arm in the direction of your target with a closed fist. Then as the arm is fully extended, the fingers are spread widely revealingly the palm at a 45-degree angle to the ground. It is done in one movement and is similar to the action of throwing a ball. This is probably most frequently seen on the road between drivers. However, this will be considered a strong insult if used on a stranger, so be prepared to deal with literally any consequences before resorting to it!

How Did Punta Cana Get So Popular?

Punta Cana, located on the east coast of the Dominican Republic, has become internationally renowned as a beautiful tropical vacation paradise with luxurious, eco-chic, value-priced, accommodations. In fact, Punta Cana has now become the # 1 tourist destination in the entire Caribbean – and this amazing transformation has occurred over just 28 years! This news has been reported in many of the popular travel magazines and travel websites. I want you to know that this stat is based on REAL data, not just marketing hype. The stats are gathered by the Caribbean Tourism Organization, a non-profit which keeps close tabs on 29 countries in the Caribbean Region.

Below, I will discuss this data in more detail. My discussion will center around the data released in 2010 as the Caribbean Tourism Organization has not yet published the December stats for 2011 so there is not yet a complete data set for that year. However, if you study the data available for the first 11 months of 2011, the overall trends remain the same.

The Dominican Republic received more non-resident airport arrivals than any other country in the Caribbean, easily beating out Cuba, the second most popular tourist destination. The following is a quick reference list for you to view the top 10 Caribbean destinations along with the total number reported for non-resident airport arrivals:

1. Dominican Republic – 4,124,543
2. Cuba – 2,531,745
3. Cancun Mexico – 2,106,485
4. Jamaica – 1,921,678
5. Puerto Rico – 1,369,814
6. The Bahamas – 1,368,053
7. Aruba – 825,451
8. The US Virgin Islands – 691,194
9. Martinique – 476,492
10. St. Maartin – 443,136

Now, let's break these stats down even more into European travel, US American travel, and Canadian travel. Europeans pick the Dominican Republic overwhelmingly as their # 1 favorite Caribbean vacation spot. Their next favorite is Cuba. The United States has a close 4 way race between Cancun Mexico, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. Cancun edges out the other 3 but the Dominican Republic gained 6.8% in just one year and this trend is continuing. Punta Cana is now the # 1 destination within the Dominican Republic for US Americans, replacing Puerto Plata on the north coast, which used to be # 1. Canadians also seem to really like the Dominican Republic, especially Punta Cana, choosing it as their second favorite Caribbean vacation spot after Cuba. Please note that United States residents are not allowed to travel to Cuba.

So, with this convincing data in mind , let me ask:

How did Punta Cana get so popular?

With many popular tourist destinations, it would be difficult to pin-point one specific thing that made the area soar in popularity. Not so with Punta Cana. On the Punta Cana coast, which stretches for about 39 miles from Bavaro in the north to Cap Cana in the south, there is one easily identifiable event that took place in 1984 that changed literally everything and completely transformed this region into the mega-popular tourist destination it is today.

Do I have your curiosity piqued yet? Keep reading …

Punta Cana is absolutely gorgeous. It offers expansive silky white sandy beaches with a warm sparkling sea lapping along its shoreline. It is so inviting it calls you in – some say it even "seduces" you. When you add to that the thick grove of coconut palm trees swaying in the tropical breeze along the entire coast in this region, you have the iconic Caribbean paradise seen on post-cards sent to those back home who were not lucky enough to go on the trip but who will surely wish they had.

However, before 1984 few people really knew about this tropical gem. It remained largely undiscovered by most world travelers until the construction of the Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ). In Spanish, the official language of the Dominican Republic, this international airport is called, "Aeropuerto Internacional de Punta Cana."

You see, no matter how spectacular a place is, if you have no convenient and reasonably priced way to reach the area, it will not be seen by many people. Before the Punta Cana International Airport was built, the tiny air strip that had been built in 1971 could not handle the large size jet planes. Furthermore, in order to get there from another country, you had to fly into Santa Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, and then endure a 4 hour bumpy bus or taxi ride to Punta Cana. The unpaved road was narrow and full of gigantic potholes. The road would also wash out in heavy rains and motorized vehicles were sometimes held up by horse traffic, making the pace miserable for weary travelers wanting to get to their hotel.

The air traffic of the PUJ has grown by leaps and bounds and is on course this year (2012) to serve more than 4 million people! It now receives far more traffic than the next busiest airport in the capital of Santo Dominigo. There is no other privately funded airport in the world that even comes close to this degree of business success.

People come to Punta Cana from all over the world now. International airlines that serve the Punta Cana Airport are Air Canada, AirTran, American Airlines, British Airways, Continental, Delta, JetBlue, KLM, Spirit, United, US Airways, and Westjet. USA 300, recently defunct (as of January 30, 2012), was established by Apple Vacations and served PUJ for a long time as well. Canadian charter airlines to the Punta Cana Airport include Air Transat, Sunwig, Skyservice, and Canjet. They run during the cold bleak Canadian winters.

So, an area that began with very humble beginnings about 4 decades ago, now commonly provides beds for more than 70,000 people at one time. Punta Cana has definitely established itself as one of the top places world travelers think of going. And … there's no end in sight for the growth of this area. The approximately 39 mile Punta Cana coast has essentially been a "gold rush" for the major hotel corporations, especially the Spanish owned ones, since the area was opened up by the international airport. Classy high rise resorts, perfectly sited to take advantage of the view, have sprung up almost overnight. The infrastructure has also vastly improved as money for big projects has poured in.

The Europeans and the Canadians seemed to have "discovered" Punta Cana before the US Americans did. However, over the last 10-15 years, the US Americans have been rapidly catching up. In fact, this has happened at such a quick rate, entire resorts have been built to cater specifically to the US Americans as the customs of the Europeans and the Americans sometimes clash a bit within the resorts, although some US Americans prefer the European ambiance.

US Americans and Canadians in the Eastern Standard Time Zone can depart on a direct flight in the morning and arrive in Punta Cana by mid-day with no jet lag as the time zones are the same, except during daylight savings time when it is only one hour different. Even a trip from the west coast of the United States or Canada is a relatively easy trip when you compare it to other equally exotic destinations.

The Punta Cana Airport also fits in nicely with the Dominican landscape and makes a nice first impression when tourists enter the country. It has an open-air design with a picturesque thatched roof made of palm fronds. All of the materials used to build the airport were brought in from local sources including palm, local wood, and native coral. This was a very intentional effort by Frank Rainieri and the other investors in Grupo Punta Cana who privately funded the airport. Since they were under-funded for a project of this magnitude, Frank Rainieri approached a Dominican architecture major at Pratt University. He agreed to do it at no charge to establish a name for himself. He has since become quite famous and has been paid well for other projects in the Dominican Republic.

Originally, Grupo Punta Cana attempted to get the Dominican Republic government to fund, or at least partially fund, the building of the international airport but after 8 years they found they had to fund it privately entirely on their own. They should be credited for their vision and persistence because a privately funded airport of this magnitude had never been built before. They did have the much needed approval and cooperation of the Dominican Republic government though or the project would have never gotten off the ground.

So, there you have it. The tourism success of the Punta Cana coast hinged on one thing: building an international airport capable of giving tourists easy and affordable access to this beautiful paradise. It took incredible vision and perseverance.

History of Travel & Tourism

2000 years Before Christ, in India and Mesopotamia

Travel for trade was an important feature since the beginning of civilisation. The port at Lothal was an important centre of trade between the Indus valley civilisation and the Sumerian civilisation.

600 BC and thereafter

The earliest form of leisure tourism can be traced as far back as the Babylonian and Egyptian empires. A museum of historic antiquities was open to the public in Babylon. The Egyptians held many religious festivals that attracted the devout and many people who thronged to cities to see famous works of arts and buildings.

In India, as elsewhere, kings travelled for empire building. The Brahmins and the common people travelled for religious purposes. Thousands of Brahmins and the common folk thronged Sarnath and Sravasti to be greeted by the inscrutable smile of the Enlightened One- the Buddha.

500 BC, the Greek civilisation

The Greek tourists travelled to sites of healing gods. The Greeks also enjoyed their religious festivals that increasingly became a pursuit of pleasure, and in particular, sport. Athens had become an important site for travellers visiting the major sights such as the Parthenon. Inns were established in large towns and seaports to provide for travellers’ needs. Courtesans were the principal entertainment offered.

 

This era also saw the birth of travel writing. Herodotus was the worlds’ first travel writer. Guidebooks also made their appearance in the fourth century covering destinations such as Athens, Sparta and Troy. Advertisements in the way of signs directing people to inns are also known in this period.

The Roman Empire

With no foreign borders between England and Syria, and with safe seas from piracy due to Roman patrols, the conditions favouring travel had arrived. First class roads coupled with staging inns (precursors of modern motels) promoted the growth of travel. Romans travelled to Sicily, Greece, Rhodes, Troy and Egypt. From 300 AD travel to the Holy Land also became very popular. The Romans introduced their guidebooks (itineraria), listing hotels with symbols to identify quality.

Second homes were built by the rich near Rome, occupied primarily during springtime social season. The most fashionable resorts were found around Bay of Naples. Naples attracted the retired and the intellectuals, Cumae attracted the fashionable while Baiae attracted the down market tourist, becoming noted for its rowdiness, drunkenness and all- night singing.

Travel and Tourism were to never attain a similar status until the modern times.

In the Middle Ages

Travel became difficult and dangerous as people travelled for business or for a sense of obligation and duty.

Adventurers sought fame and fortune through travel. The Europeans tried to discover a sea route to India for trade purposes and in this fashion discovered America and explored parts of Africa. Strolling players and minstrels made their living by performing as they travelled. Missionaries, saints, etc. travelled to spread the sacred word.

Leisure travel in India was introduced by the Mughals. The Mughal kings built luxurious palaces and enchanting gardens at places of natural and scenic beauty (for example Jehangir travelled to Kashmir drawn by its beauty.

Travel for empire building and pilgrimage was a regular feature.

The Grand Tour

From the early seventeenth century, a new form of tourism was developed as a direct outcome of the Renaissance. Under the reign of Elizabeth 1, young men seeking positions at court were encouraged to travel to continent to finish their education. Later, it became customary for education of gentleman to be completed by a ‘Grand Tour’ accompanied by a tutor and lasting for three or more years. While ostensibly educational, the pleasure seeking men travelled to enjoy life and culture of Paris, Venice or Florence. By the end of eighteenth century, the custom had become institutionalised in the gentry. Gradually pleasure travel displaced educational travel. The advent of Napoleonic wars inhibited travel for around 30 years and led to the decline of the custom of the Grand Tour.

The development of the spas

The spas grew in popularity in the seventeenth century in Britain and a little later in the European Continent as awareness about the therapeutic qualities of mineral water increased. Taking the cure in the spa rapidly acquired the nature of a status symbol. The resorts changed in character as pleasure became the motivation of visits. They became an important centre of social life for the high society.

In the nineteenth century they were gradually replaced by the seaside resort.

The sun, sand and sea resorts

The sea water became associated with health benefits. The earliest visitors therefore drank it and did not bathe in it. By the early eighteenth century, small fishing resorts sprung up in England for visitors who drank and immersed themselves in sea water. With the overcrowding of inland spas, the new sea side resorts grew in popularity. The introduction of steamboat services in 19th century introduced more resorts in the circuit. The seaside resort gradually became a social meeting point

 Role of the industrial revolution in promoting travel in the west

 The rapid urbanisation due to industrialisation led to mass immigration in cities. These people were lured into travel to escape their environment to places of natural beauty, often to the countryside they had come from change of routine from a physically and psychologically stressful jobs to a leisurely pace in countryside.

Highlights of travel in the nineteenth century 

·        Advent of railway initially catalysed business travel and later leisure travel. Gradually special trains were chartered to only take leisure travel to their destinations.

·        Package tours organised by entrepreneurs such as Thomas Cook.

·        The European countries indulged in a lot of business travel often to their colonies to buy raw material and sell finished goods.

·        The invention of photography acted as a status-enhancing tool and promoted overseas travel.

·        The formation of first hotel chains; pioneered by the railway companies who established great railway terminus hotels.

·        Seaside resorts began to develop different images as for day-trippers, elite, for gambling.

·        Other types of destinations-ski resorts, hill stations, mountaineering spots etc.

·        The technological development in steamships promoted travel between North America and Europe.

·        The Suez Canal opened direct sea routes to India and the Far East.

·        The cult of the guidebook followed the development of photography.

 

 

Tourism in the Twentieth Century

 

The First World War gave first hand experience of countries and aroused a sense of curiosity about international travel among less well off sector for the first time. The large scale of migration to the US meant a lot of travel across the Atlantic. Private motoring began to encourage domestic travel in Europe and the west.  The sea side resort became annual family holiday destination in Britain and increased in popularity in other countries of the west. Hotels proliferated in these destinations.

The birth of air travel and after

The wars increased interest in international travel. This interest was given the shape of mass tourism by the aviation industry. The surplus of aircraft and growth of private airlines aided the expansion of air travel. The aircraft had become comfortable, faster and steadily cheaper for overseas travel. With the introduction of Boeing 707 jet in 1958, the age of air travel for the masses had arrived. The beginning of chartered flights boosted the package tour market and led to the establishment of organised mass tourism. The Boeing 747, a 400 seat craft, brought the cost of travel down sharply. The seaside resorts in the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Caribbean were the initial hot spots of mass tourism.

A corresponding growth in hotel industry led to the establishment of world-wide chains. Tourism also began to diversify as people began to flock alternative destinations in the 70s. Nepal and India received a throng of tourists lured by Hare Krishna movement and transcendental meditation. The beginning of individual travel in a significant volume only occurred in the 80s. Air travel also led to a continuous growth in business travel especially with the emergence of the MNCs.

Athens Propylaea – The Legendary Entrance of the Acropolis

We enter the Acropolis from the western side which has always been the only point of access to the great rock. We enter through the gate, which was probably built in the 3rd century AD, and excavated in 1853 by the French archaeologist Ernest Beule. We don’t know precisely where the entrance was in ancient times, owing to the many alterations and the constant use of pieces of the ancient marble in later buildings. The Acropolis is somewhat like the Greeks who, even though they carry memories of and have been marked by the different conquerors over the centuries, are always solid, with the traditional virtues and vices of the Hellenic race. There is just enough to confuse the historian striving to trace the roots of their family tree, to learn whether it ever stopped and to identity the ancestors whose traits can be seen so vividly in their descendants.

What is reasonably sure is that in classical times the entrance was a climb similar to today’s. The Romans built a broad ramp leading up in a straight line to the central doorway of the Propylaea (monumental gateway). During Frankish rule, other gates and fortifications were built; under the Ottomans, whatever was located outside the main Propylaea was used to build up the defensive bastions. The present day main entrance was restored during the last century.

Ascending the stairs to the Acropolis we can see, on the left, the massive boulders of the prehistoric wall supporting the plateau at the beginning of the later ramp. To the right is a solid square tower, memory of an ancient bastion, and to the left is the heavy base of a monument by which the Athenians paid homage to the Roman consul Agrippa, benefactor of their city in the 1st century BC. It appears that during the years of Roman occupation, flattery took precedence over aesthetics and thus this stone structure, so alien to the beauty of its surroundings, still offends our eye.

But if this vestige reminds us of the Roman legions, facing it is the light, elegant temple of Athena Nike (Victory). Pausanias called it the temple of “Wingless” Victory, relating that the Athenians had cut off her wings so that she would remain always with them. A very ancient wooden idol was kept in an older, square little temple which was destroyed in the Persian wars; that temple was approached from the side, from the point at which today we can see the remains of a staircase suspended in the air. It was replaced in the 5th century BC by this charming Ionic temple which, with columns on its facades alone, is the most elegant building on the sacred rock.

The entire temple rests lightly on the marble flooring over the required three steps of the crepidoma, i.e. the permanent foundation of temples in the classical age, which served to make them look as though they were floating in the strong Mediterranean light. The marble, cut into pieces of equal size, as they are throughout the Propylaea, was certainly painted so as not to reflect its whiteness too strongly in the bright sunlight. Around the frieze of the little temple, there were battle scenes, and around its enclosure was a low wall of marble relief sculptures. There the goddess Athena was depicted in a seated position, while in front of her was a series of winged Victories sufficient to ennumerate the feats of the Athenians at war. It is worth keeping in mind that both this and all the surrounding buildings were built when the memories of the Persian wars and the dizzying sense of victory were still vivid in the minds of the citizens. Thus, the correct name of this little temple is the sanctuary of Athena Nike, a glorious stone hymn dedicated respectfully to a triumphant divinity.

The whole complex of the Propylaea is the embodiment of magnificence, even today. The ancients themselves used to call it the brilliant preface to the Acropolis. Five years and enormous sums of money were required to construct it. Constructed on two different levels, it comprises three parts: the central structure and two recessed wings. The facades, in the form of a temple, are about twenty-five metres apart. Each one has six Doric columns which, on the western side, rest firmly on a base with the usual three steps. On the contrary, on the east side looking toward the Parthenon the columns appear to have grown out of the natural gray rock.

The transverse wall of the main Propylaea building is not entirely of white marble, as part of its foundation consists of gray marble blocks which continue their colour up to the fifth step separating the two levels. The architect, Mnesikles, took advantage in the most functional way of the natural slope of the hill, creating two different structures under the same roof.

Although the exterior was built in the Doric Order, the central passage ascends through two rows of Ionic columns that support the roof. This marble slope passes through a monumental porch flanked by two smaller ones to the right and left, and by another two even smaller openings near the walls. The result was a pleasant symmetry to the eye of the visitor ascending to the temples with his offerings.

Once again, symmetry is found in the wings which have three Doric columns each. Although the south side of the plateau contains only the temple of Athena Nike, the corresponding north side was totally covered by the severe Pinacotheke (art gallery) building. Not one of the painted works which we know to have been housed in this building has come down to us. They were, it appears, painted on wood or on stretched fabric and were completely destroyed. All we have are Pausanias’ vivid descriptions of the scenes from the Homeric epics and the marvellous portrait of Alcibiades, the enfant terrible of Athens, which showed him to be more beautiful than the goddesses who accompanied him. What a strange creature was this handsome aristocrat! An Olympic victor, as well as being an arrogant, cultivated opportunist, he frequented philosophers’ symposia and hedonistic orgies with the same ease. He was at once devout and profane; he fought like a hero, acted like a traitor and was finally murdered.

On the eastern side, the outer walls of the Propylaea are full of projections (lifting bosses) which the masons left on purpose when they were quarrying the marble, to be used as handles to help carry the huge boulders up to the Acropolis and set them in their place. Then the technicians would plane off these projections before smoothing the whole surface and giving the building its final finishing. But the Propylaea began being built in 437 BC and just a few years later, in 431, the fateful Peloponnesian war broke out. It was for this reason that this technical detail remained unfinished. One may well wonder how many technicians worked on these stones and how many were fortunate enough finally to see the day of the brilliant opening. A pedestal, which once housed a votive offering to Athena Hygeia, right next to the eastern right side, allows us to imagine that there were several casualties; since, according to Plutarch, the goddess revealed to Pericles in a dream that she would cure the master craftsman who had fallen from a scaffolding and was in danger of death.

Leaving the eastern porch of the Propylaea, one might expect to come face to face with the most important temple on the sacred rock, the Parthenon, since this magnificent entrance is but an introduction to the glorious shrine of the city’s patroness. Instead, the splendid structure is situated to the right of the Propylaea, near the south wall, and of course, this is not accidental. If the Parthenon had been built right on the foundations of the old temple of Athena, then the approaching visitor would see the narrow side of the building with only eight columns visible. But on its present site, we can see the corner where the two sides converge, with a total of twenty-four columns in a changing perspective, which thus gives us a full feeling of its architectural perfection. There is nothing more majestic than the austerity of a Doric temple: such beauty expressed in the strength of such simple lines.