Monday, August 31, 2009



Style, culture, architecture, food, wine and fashion all exist in multiple layers of excellence, with Paris in particular capturing and displaying these assets to great advantage.
This is the largest country in Europe, has an incredible diversity of soaring landscapes, gorgeous villages, world-famous resorts, beaches and spectacular romantic escapes.

 Nice, Promenade des Anglais, France

One of the two most outstanding buildings on the wide and wonderful Promenade des Anglais, Le Palais de la Méditerranée hotel and casino. Click to see more Nice Buildings.

Guide to Nice's main attractions:
***Promenade des Anglais - 6km [3.75 miles] long, wide and beautifully lined with palm trees, many elegant buildings, slowly moving cars and giving access to the attractive beach; the promenade is superb for people watching be they glamorous Milanese, stuffy Parisians, heavy Muscovites, overdressed Nicoises, or pasty and underdressed Londoners. Biking and inline skating along the prom is excellent, with a dedicated cycle track running past the airport and on to pleasant Cagnes-sur-Mer.

Nice, Cours Saleya, France

***The Cours Saleya, the huge, lively and mostly inexpensive outdoor eating and market area of Cours Saleya.

Most of the Cours Saleya establishments are busy but cheerful and serve good meals at reasonable prices, as do most in the pedestrianised - and touristy - Rue de France with the definite exception of the pretentious, ill-mannered, over-priced and incompetent Italian restaurant, Borraccio.
On the left side of the image above is the start of the Old Town [aka the Vielle Ville, photo below], to the right is the Promenade des Anglais and dead ahead is Castle Hill [Colline du Chateau] the city's best viewpoint. Mornings are market time, a totally awesome and very French experience, loaded with strange mushrooms, exotic flowers, 365 kinds of cheeses or more, 28 kinds of olives...

Nice vielle ville, old town, France

***Vielle Ville [Old Town], a narrow medieval ambience that's good for wandering, shopping, Irish pubs, Sky TV and wild night moves at a reasonable price. It's also conveniently close to the Cours Saleya market and dining area as well as the beaches and Nice's best shopping street ***Jean Medecin where there is terrific shopping, a wafting new tram system and attractive street redesign. We give the city council a 10 for style and execution, even if it's completion was way overdue.

***Museums including Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain, Musée Chagall, Musée Matisse and Musée Archéologique, plus the nearby Gallo-Roman Ruins.

France Beaches

Arcachon beaches pictures, western France

Arcachon Beach, western France, Atlantic Ocean

France beaches pictures, Nice

Nice, with the curve of the Quai des Etats-Unis street becoming the 6km [3.75 miles] Promenade des Anglais and various pebbly beaches below them - all the beaches on the same shore but sporting different names.

The French mainland has water on more or less three sides - the Atlantic, the English Channel - or La Manche as the French prefer to call it - and the Mediterranean so France has beaches to suit just about everyone everyone, from families to super stars, world class surfers to naturists.
The Côte d'Azur [the blue coast] stretches the whole length of south-facing Meditarranean coast from Marseilles in the west to Menton in the east, while the French Riviera is the posh eastern section from Cannes to Menton.

Basic advice is travel to France's Riviera [east Mediterranean coast] to get a tan in a busy social hot-spot, around Brittany [north Atlantic coast] for family oriented holidays with lots of kid's attractions, to the south Atlantic coast [e.g. bay of Biscay] for space or surfing and to Corsica island [in the Mediterranean] for the France's best beaches, hiking and wilderness. See the Map of France.

The Alps, France, Europe

France is the largest country in Europe with an incredible diversity of dramatic landscapes, medieval hill villages, world-famous resorts and spectacular romantic escapes. Style, culture, architecture, food, wine and fashion all exist in multiple layers of excellence in France, with Paris in particular capturing and displaying these assets to great advantage.
There is no better place than France to fulfil your physical dreams, whether it's paragliding off the Alps, boating through the Dordogne, romancing your lover in Paris, hiking Corsica, staring open-mouthed at the Pope's Avignon Palace, skiing in Courchevel or stuffing yourself with foie gras and a bottle of Pouilly-Fuissé in a Nice beach restaurant.

Most of France's beaches are well-developed with plenty of amenities and few hazards, though northwest Atlantic beaches tend to have colder, rougher, less clear water while the Mediterranean [southeast] strands of sand - except Corsica - tend to be small, crowded and expensive with the best stretches taken by pay-parasol operators.

St Tropez beaches pictures, Côte d'Azur, France

Plage des Graniers, St Tropez, Côte d'Azur, France

***St Jean de Luz, an incredibly lovely old Basque town just 20 minutes drive south of Biarritz and about as far south as you can get on France's Atlantic coast, is tranquil and pedestrian friendly, sports an absolutely stunning sea front of ancient basque houses and fine sand. Downsides, however, as Biarritz.

***Seignosse is a newish beach resort 3 kms from old Seignosse village and stretches along 6 kms of surf-pounded, dune-embraced sand, offering all the necessary facilities for families and surfers alike, from surf schools, kid's beach club, water park and forested cycle trails to a fine golf course of the same name.
Seignosse is south of Bordeaux and north of Biarritz, accessed via TGV to Bayonne, then bus or taxi.

**La Rochelle, a charming Atlantic port town is one of the most handsome seaside resorts in France. The area has miles of safe sandy beaches especially on nearby islands, and with shallow water they are great for young families.

*La Baules, an 8 mile crescent beach in Brittany is the longest sand stretch in Europe. Nowhere near as elegant as the French Riviera, but its good value facilities are ideal for families.

*La Sauzair, at Bretignolles-sur-Mer on the Vendée coast is the best for surf, while the resort of Bretignolles has wide sandy beaches and rocky coves.

* Belle-île-en, an island off the coast near Brittany has fine sandy bays and charming coves.

Corsica beaches pictures, France

Saleccia Beach, Corsica, France [Mediterranean]

SYDNEY , Australia

More Sydney Pictures, Australia

Sydney from one of the Harbour Bridge support columns, 2006. To the right of the Opera House is the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens and to the right is Circular Quay [the harbour's main ferry terminal] and the business district.

The World’s Worst Airports

Charles de Gaulle Airport / Photo by kulp. Feature photo by xiaming.

Traveling can be fun, but not when you’re passing through these airports.

Passing through an area of sleep deprived, jet lagged and irate people is never pleasant, especially if you feel the same way yourself. While some airports are spending millions to improve the passenger experience, it’s clear that some airports are falling well behind.

The competition for the worst airport is plentiful, but here– in no particular order– are just a few of the front-runners:

Delhi, India

Overcrowded, dirty and literally falling apart at the seams, Delhi’s terminals are full of flies and mosquitoes with an overwhelming odor of bleach and raw sewage. Add in endless lines and disorganization and you’re guaranteed a long and unpleasant experience.

Delhi International Airport
Photo by saturnism.

Baghdad International

With a high chance of planes being hit by handheld ordinance, pilots land on a ‘corkscrew’ approach. This rapid, twisting loss of altitude is stomach churning at best, but still less nerve wracking than driving the ‘highway of death’ that leads into the city.

Charles de Gaulle (Terminal 1), Paris

As a gateway to one of the world’s most romantic cities you’d probably expect more than endless queues so disorganized that there is no start and the finish is often at the wrong check-in desk/customs point/boarding gate. This chaos is maintained in the drab interior of a terminal that hasn’t been modernized since the 70s.

JFK, New York

Despite the millions spent on rebuilding and modernization in recent years, the charm school graduates are few and far between in Kennedy. While immigration staff are notorious for their grim demeanor and rude comments even the staff at ‘Information’ has a hard time even looking in your direction without a scowl on their faces.

Lukla, Nepal

With the dubious title of one of the world’s most dangerous airports, Lukla is a domestic airport close to Mount Everest base camp. Carved out of the side of a mountain, the 527-meter runway has an incline of 20% and ends with a 700 meter drop to the valley floor. No space for error here!

Lukla Airport / Photo by chris1h1.

Simon Boliviar, Caracas

An aging terminal situated practically in the middle of the favelas of Caracas. Simply stepping outside has seen hundreds of travelers robbed or mugged and these are just the lucky ones. Kidnapping, stabbings and shootings have all occurred before passengers have even reached the taxi line. For this pleasure, a whopping $53 airport tax is charged.

Léopold Sédar Senghor International, Dakar

After battling through a three hour immigration procedure travelers are faced with an ancient terminal that is full of hawkers, touts, drifters and thieves. So many it seems that there is no space for any seating, or toilets, apart from a few select areas. With the departures area opening only two hours before flights, people leaving the city have little escape from the chaos.

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Voted world’s worst airport to sleep in by a popular website due to huge crime rates, terrible facilities and several travelers witnessing a gang shoot out that killed 7 people.

Security Officer in Ninoy Aquiano Airport / Photo by glenmcbethlaw.

Manila, Philippines

Watch your bags here, as even the airport employees are out to scam, steal or otherwise take your possessions from you. Many travelers talk of security and other airport staff asking for ‘donations’ (read: bribes) to allow you to pass through the airport ‘without incident’. The only positive side to the airport staff is that they are more desirable than many of the other characters who hang around the terminal.

Lagos, Nigeria

The odor of feces and urine abound in this airport, which no doubt attract the hoards of rats, cockroaches and other bugs that scurry around the departures and arrivals area. The stifling heat of an African summer only adds to the problems of a desperately crowded arrivals area with overflowing toilets. Several travelers have escaped the chaos only to be mugged or beaten on the tarmac.

The World’s 10 Most Technologically Advanced Airport Terminals

Feature photo by Micah Sittig. Above photo by Leduardo.

Airports are doing more than ever to cope with an ever-increasing number of passengers. Dealing with thousands of passengers on a daily basis has pushed architecture, engineering, and design to new limits. Here are a few notable examples:
Dallas Fort Worth (Terminal D)

Completed in 2005, DFW is capable of handling up to 37,000 passengers per day with the aid of Skylink- the world’s largest airport train. The first major American airport terminal to be built post 9/11, the terminal features the most advanced security features available with state of the art systems.

Photo by James Cridland.

London Heathrow (Terminal 5)

The world’s newest airport terminal cost £4.3 billion ($8.5 billion USD) and is going to revolutionize air travel with totally redesigned check in and departure procedures.

A state of the art baggage system works in partnership with computers at security, check in and departures, making sure your luggage only boards the plane if you do. So no more delays due to a late passenger’s bag being offloaded.

[Editor's Note: In spite of the airport's promise to revolutionize air travel, the opening of the new terminal was riddled with problems. Before passing through Terminal 5, you might want to check out some of the documented complaints.]

Denver International Airport

The white, peaked, fabric roof of the Jeppesen Terminal minimised the building’s impact on this stunning region with its backdrop of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains. With six de-icing pads- each capable of holding five planes – and with all de-icing fluids collected and recycled – the terminal operates in even the worst conditions.

Beijing Capital International (Terminal 3)

Built to meet the increased demand of the 2008 Olympics, passengers can expect to have their luggage just 4.5 minutes after the plane in unloaded, thanks to a $240 million luggage transfer system. With the dedicated Olympics Hall, passengers can expect a seamless journey.

Photo by Emrank.

Kansai International, Japan

Built on a man-made island in the middle of Osaka Bay, airport engineers had to deal with the high risk of earthquakes, typhoons, storm surges, sinking of the reclaimed land and the construction of a 3km long bridge to link the airport to the mainland.

The airport has sunk 8 meters already, so architects have placed adjustable columns under the terminal to compensate for the shifting land. Despite that sinking feeling, the airport has emerged unscathed from several severe earthquakes that have hit the region in recent years.

Singapore Changi

Stuck in the airport for a while? Why not take advantage of the free Singapore tour that will whisk you into the city to see the sights before your connection departs. Or you can relax in the spa, fitness area or pool, book into the in terminal hotel for a quick sleep or perhaps just wander around one of the nature trails.

If you have the energy, check out the 24 hour shopping, free Internet, and free movie theatre, or perhaps just grab a sunlounger for a nap before your flight.

Photo by Zionorbi.

Incheon International, Seoul

The only airport in Asia to have ILS Cat-IIIb– an instrumental-landing device that allows airline operation when visibility is as low as 50 meters–as well as a host of other incomprehensible software and hardware, Incheon suffers few diversions or cancellations due to extreme weather conditions and is regarded as one of the safest in the world.

East Midlands Airport, England

Named most eco friendly airport in the world, East Midlands has focused its technology on decreasing its carbon footprint. The airport is working towards carbon neutrality by 2012 and has installed ground-heating pumps, wind catchers, water recycling facilities.

Airport planners also hope to include wind turbines to fill up to 10% of its energy needs.

Madrid Barajas International (Terminal 4)

Photo by Philip C..

The world’s largest airport in terms of terminal area– 1 million square meters (11 million sq feet) — its new terminal was designed with a range of environmentally friendly techniques that allow natural light, and the associated heat, to reduce energy needs.

The 1km long wing shaped building is an open plan, allowing light and travellers to move freely from check in to departure.

Hong Kong International

In a city where space is at a premium, an entire mountain was flattened to create the 13km sq island on which this airport stands- increasing the size of the city by 1%.

With an integrated transport centre, the airport is linked not only to central Hong Kong but also to mainland China. The airport is also notable for its partly automated customs and immigration system on site (rather than at the border), to allow smooth passage onto the mainland.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico


The bay of Cabo San Lucas, at the southernmost tip of Baja, was once a base for pirate ships waiting to pounce on Spanish treasure ships. Even fifteen years ago, it was little more than a fishing and canning village occasionally visited by adventurous sports fishermen with the means to sail in or fly down, but it quickly earned a reputation for the marlin that could be caught here, and the once-quiet place found itself inundated with fishermen in search of El Marlin Azul, home to sleek, radar-equipped fishing yachts.

In recent years, it has rapidly become the focal point of Los Cabos: million-dollar condos have sprung up, palms have been transplanted, golf courses have been laid, water has been piped in from San José and everywhere is kept pristine. More like an enclave of the US than part of Mexico, preserving almost nothing that is not geared to tourism, it can be fun for a day or two, unless, of course, you want to fish or dive. Though prices are higher than in neighbouring San José, there's more of a party atmosphere, with a younger crowd. Currently there are some 3000 rooms for rent, and the local feeling is that 10,000 is the next feasible "goal" that would equate the town with the long-established resorts such as Mazatlán or Acapulco. Upcoming developments include an enormous mall that will comprise a convention centre, a theatre complex, a bowling alley, a huge parking outlet and condos, and there are even plans for an artificial island to sit in the bay, complete with restaurants and bars.

Miami, FL

Far and away the most exciting city in Florida, MIAMI is a stunning and often intoxicatingly beautiful place. Awash with sunlight-intensified natural colors, there are moments – when the neon-flashed South Beach skyline glows in the warm night and the palm trees sway in the breeze – when a better-looking city is hard to imagine. Even so, people, not climate or landscape, are what make Miami unique. Half of the two million population is Hispanic, the vast majority Cubans. Spanish is the predominant language almost everywhere – in many places it's the only language you'll hear, and you'll be expected to speak at least a few words – and news from Havana, Caracas or Managua frequently gets more attention than the latest word from Washington, DC.

Just a century ago Miami was a

swampy outpost of mosquito-tormented settlers. The arrival of the railroad in 1896 gave the city its first fixed land-link with the rest of the continent, and cleared the way for the Twenties property boom. In the Fifties, Miami Beach became a celebrity-filled resort area, just as thousands of Cubans fleeing the regime of Fidel Castro began arriving in mainland Miami. The Sixties and Seventies brought decline, and Miami's reputation in the Eighties as the vice capital of the USA was at least partly deserved. As the cop show Miami Vice so glamorously underlined, drug smuggling was endemic; as well, in 1980 the city had the highest murder rate in America. Since then, though, much has changed for two very different reasons. First, the gentrification of South Beach helped make tourism the lifeblood of the local economy again in the early Nineties. Second, the city's determined wooing of Latin America brought rapid investment, both domestic and international: many US corporations run their South American operations from Miami and certain neighborhoods, such as Key Biscayne, are now home to thriving communities of expat Peruvians, Colombians and Venezuelans.