More Tour Destinations Below:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Seychelles "The African isolated island paradise"

This isolated island paradise offers fine beaches, turquoise seas and warm weather. As a result of their extraordinary history, the Seychelles are also rich in rare plants which flourish nowhere else on the planet. No less than 81 species are unique survivors from the luxuriant tropical forests that covered the islands until humanity's belated arrival two centuries ago. Outstanding amongst these is the coco-de-mer (sea coconut), native to Praslin, which grows in the Vallée de Mai. Its seed is the largest in nature.

The Seychelles are also a major attraction for birdwatchers. Up to two million sooty terns nest on Bird Island, and on Aride can be found the world's largest colonies of lesser noddies, roseate terns and other tropical birds.

After French colonial rule, under which the islands were named after the royal accountant Vicomte Moreau de Séchelles, the islands were annexed by Britain. For 150 years, isolated from the rest of the world and all but ignored by the major European powers, the Seychelles developed their own traditions, language and culture. The islands became a Crown Colony in 1903. Internal self-government was granted in 1975 and independence a year later.

To see many species of coral and fish, board a glass-bottomed boat from Victoria to nearby St Anne Marine National Park, which encloses the islands of St Anne, Beacon (classified as a nature reserve), Cerf (renowned for Creole food), Long (closed to the public), Round (reputed for its tuna steaks) and Moyenne (privately owned, but open to visiting tourists).

Tour Mahé island taking in the market, the Botanical Gardens (with coco-de-mer, giant tortoises and orchids), and a replica of London's Vauxhall Bridge Tower Clock in Victoria, before setting off around the island to visit colonial-style mansions in graceful decline and plantations of cinnamon and vanilla.

Discover fine displays depicting the history of spice cultivation in the National Museum in Victoria, which celebrates Seychellois history, folklore and music.

On Praslin, the second-largest island, head for the famous Vallée de Mai, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, which contains the double-nutted coco-de-mer palm.

On Aldabra, the world's largest atoll, and listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, see the giant land tortoises (150,000 tortoises in total, reputedly five times more than on the Galapagos Islands). The atoll consists of 13 islands which make up about one-third of the Seychelles' land mass. Some tortoises have been exported to Curieuse, now a reserve for giant tortoises.

In La Digue, just over three hours by schooner from Mahé or 30 minutes from Praslin, see the black paradise flycatcher, a beautiful little bird endemic to the Seychelles. See old plantation houses, such as Château Saint-Cloud, as well as a vanilla plantation, copra factories and superb beaches.

In Frégate, the most easterly and isolated of the granitic islands, look for the almost extinct magpie robin.

Photograph more rare species at the nature reserve of Cousin. The brush warbler, the Seychelles toc-toc and the fairy tern all nest here. The best time to visit is April or May, when 1.25 million birds nest on the island. All visits to the island must be made as part of an organised tour.

On Bird island, see the millions of sooty terns that migrate here to breed between May and October. In Aride, the most northerly of the granitic islands, see vast colonies of seabirds from October to the end of April.

Discover the rock-pools and tortoise colony of Thérèse, accessible from Port Glaud by a five-minute boat trip.

Relax on Mahé's numerous powdery white sandy beaches (there are almost 70 beaches on Mahé alone) while enjoying its lush vegetation, rising through plantations of coconut palms and cinnamon to forested peaks that afford unparalleled views of neighbouring islands.

Go waterskiing, windsurfing and sailing in Desroches, the largest of the Amirantes archipelago. The diving is particularly good: there are sea cliffs, tunnels and caves - and, of course, multitudes of fish of many different species. Visibility is best from September to May.

Take to the water in the St Anne National Marine Park, a favourite for snorkelling, which encompasses six islands off the coast of Mahé.

Go deep-sea fishing in Denis. Marlin may be caught from October to December. The minimum stay is three days. The location of Bird island, at the edge of the Seychelles continental shelf (the sea floor drops rapidly to 2,000m/5,000ft), also makes it a favoured destination for fishermen. The best spots for salt-water fly fishing are Alphonse and Desroches islands.

The clear water of the Seychelles makes conditions perfect for underwater photography. The coastal waters are a haven for 101 species of coral and over 920 species of fish. The annual SUBIOS underwater festival is held in the Seychelles over a three-week period in November and attracts underwater experts from all over the world.

Hire a power boat, cabin cruiser or yacht to explore the islands at your own pace.


No visa is required for all nationalities, though all foreigners must have passport valid for at least 6 months, and must have proof of accommodation bookings before arrival. An initial entry permit is granted for 1 month but can be extended for a maximum of 3 months at a time up to a maximum of 1 year in total. See the official travel web-site for more details.

By plane

The only international gateway to the Seychelles is Seychelles International Airport (SEZ) near Victoria. Air Seychelles flies to London, Paris, Johannesburg, Rome, Milan, Frankfurt, Mauritius and Singapore via Boeing 767 aircraft. International service is also available from Nairobi (Kenya Airways), Dubai (Emirates) and Doha (Qatar Airways), and regular charter services from Frankfurt (Condor) and Amsterdam (Martinair).


The strict controls imposed on cruising yachts in the early 1990s have been gradually lifted and rules and regulations are no longer so complicated. However, some restrictions remain in force, mostly for the sake of environmental protection.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Meteora "In the heavens above"

The Metéora (Greek: Μετέωρα, "suspended rocks", "suspended in the air" or "in the heavens above") is one of the largest and most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos. The six monasteries are built on natural sandstone rock pillars, at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Pineios river and Pindus Mountains, in central Greece. The nearest town is Kalambaka. The Metéora is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List under criteria I, II, IV, V and VII.

In central Greece and particularly in the North Western part of Thessaly, between North East of Hasia and West of Pindos, where the plain of Thessaly ends, gigantic rocks raise, that create a spectacle which might be unique worldwide.

U.N.E.S.C.O has characterized the Holy Meteora as a "monument of Humanity that has to be maintained". They don't belong only to Greece but also to the entire world. The same is valid for the Mount Athos, the Mistra, the Holy Monastery of Saint Lucas etc. So, the monasteries of the Meteora are included in the Monuments of world cultural Heritage, because they are a unique harmonious matching of Byzantine architecture and natural beauty.
In central Greece and particularly in the North Western part of Thessaly, between North East of Hasia and West of Pindos, where the plain of Thessaly ends, gigantic rocks raise, that create a spectacle which might be unique worldwide.

The buildings of the monasteries seem like a continuance and a natural ending of the rocks. Furthermore, because they are a priceless artistic and heirloom treasure. Moreover, the presence of many monasteries in such a small place, as well as the Orthodox spiritual life and exercise have provoked the admiration and the interest of people all over the world. Finally, because the monasteries are conveyors of culture, which "as we know" is not restrained in any country.

One of the most ancient cities of Thessaly. A town, which is called in ancient times, Eginio.

In Byzantine times, during the 9th century Eginio is called Stagi as a site of the episcope Stagon,(it belongs to holy people) as some people explained, (wheat tube) as some others explained, (caves or holes of the rocks) as other people have explained. During the turkish domination the name changed to Kalampaka and took its name from a Byzantine family, Kalampaka family as some people believe or (took its name) from the turkish kale mpak meaning prestigious castle as some others believe. It is a prestigious castle as it is surrounded by the imposing place of Meteora An enormous group of rocks about 30000000 sq. m.

It is a place which is imposed, having a wonderfull view, as spiritual place and cult towards god, since the ancient times till today It's a place full of natural beaty and harmony of such rugged and imposing rocks. On the feet of the rocks there is Kalampaka, a town of 15000 people today.

The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron

This is the largest of the monasteries located at Metéora. It was erected in the mid-14th century AD and was the subject of restoration and embellishment projects in 1483 and 1552. The building serves as the main museum for tourists. The Katholikon (main church), consecrated in honour of the Transfiguration of Jesus was erected in the middle of 14th c. and 1387/88 and decorated in 1483 and 1552.

The Holy Monastery of Varlaam

The Holy Monastery of Varlaam is the second, after the Great Meteoro, big in size monastery. The church, honoured to the three Bishops, is in the Athonite type (cross-in-square with dome and choirs), with spacious esonarthex (lite) surrounted by dome as well. It was built in 1541/42 and decorated in 1548, while the esonarthex was decorated in 1566. The old refectory is used as a museum while North of the Church we can see the parekklesion of the Three (Bishops) built in 1627 and decorated in 1637.

The Holy Monastery of St. Stephen

It is one of the most attainable as we don't have to cope with innumerable stairs to reach it. The small single-nave church of St. Stephen was built in the middle of 16th and decorated in 1545 or a little later. The 'Katholikon', honoured to St. Charalambos, was built in the Athonite type, in 1798. The old refectory of the convent is used as a museum nowadays.

The Monastery of Holy Trinity

The Monastery of Holy Trinity is very difficult to reach. The visitor has to cross the valley and continue high up through the rock before we arrive outside the entrance. The church is in the cross-in-square type with the dome based in two columns, built in 1475-76 and decorated in 1741. The spacious barrel - vaulted esonarthex was founded in 1689 and decorated in 1692. A small skeuophylakeion was added next to the church in 1684.

The Holy Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas

It is the first to meet on our way from Kastraki to Meteora. The 'Katholikon' dedicated to St. Nicholas, is a single - nave church with small dome, built in the beginning of 16th c. It was decorated by the Cretan painter Theophanis Strelitzas or Bathas, in 1527.

The Holy Monastery of Rousanou

It is dedicated to 'The Transfiguration' but honoured to Saint Barbara. The 'Katholikon', in the Athonite type, was founded in the middle of 16th c. and decorated in 1560. Both, the Katholikon and the reception halls are in the ground floor while the 'archontariki', cells and subsidiary rooms are scattered in the basement and the first floor.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Reykjavik "experiencing how Icelanders live their lives"

Reykjavík is the capital and largest city of Iceland with a population of 117,706. The greater Reykjavik area has a population of 196 564 and the majority of Iceland's total population.
Reykjavík is the capital of Iceland. It is the center of culture and life of the Icelandic people. It is also the tourist capital of Iceland. Reykjavík is a city that wasn't built up for tourism, so tourists can get a nice view of tourist things at the same time experiencing how Icelanders live their lives.

Day tour to Gullfoss waterfall and Geysir geyser.
(The golden circle)

Known as the Golden circle tour, is a day tour that departs from Reykjavik daily. The Golden circle refers to the route of the tour, and the great attractions that are along the way. During the tour you will explore Thingvellir national park, Gullfoss waterfall and the famous geyser, Geysir. If you only plan to take one tour during your trip – this is the one.

Blue Lagoon

Located between Keflavik International airport and Reykjavik is the Blue Lagoon. This wonderful natural spa is perfect way to relax and enjoy the breath taking scenery at the same time. There are trips available to and from The Blue Lagoon, from Reykjavik and Keflavik airport.


Hallgrimskirkja church is visible from almost anywhere in the city. The high tower is among the city’s highest building and offers a great view of the city. The tower is open to guest daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Admission is 400 Isk for adults and 100 Isk for children 7-14 years old.

Reykjavik city

Reykjavik Weekend

Looking over Reykjavik city you see houses and trees just like many other cities. On this bright November day I want to invite you to a short mini weekend in Reykjavik. Think of it as a snapshot of interesting places or as if you were on a guided tour :)

The weather is nice today. In Iceland the weather is never to be trusted. Sometimes you are lucky and get a few good days in a row and sometimes the wind blows and the rain pours.

As the days are short I will have to hurry so there is enough daylight for all the places I want to show you.

East Reykjavik

Reykjavik Weekend - Elliðaárdalur

Reykjavik as you will notice is fairly clean for a city. It has many open areas where people can get closer to nature. In Elliðaárdalur there is even a salmon fishing river flowing right through it.

Reykjavik - Árbæjarsafn

On the other side of the river is the Árbæjarsafn museum. There you can see how Reykjavik houses looked like in the early 20th century. Ideal for a visit and there is even a tiny little church where people can get married.

Reykjavik - buildings

Over the past years there has been a lot of growth in building new houses and offices.

Reykjavik - Laugardalslaug

Swimming pools are a hugely popular pastime for Icelanders. The pools are heated with geothermal water, just like all the houses. It is not expensive and you could easily spend the day in the Laugardalslaug pool.

Reykjavik - Soccer field

The Laugardalur valley hosts a number of sporting facilities like this soccer field. Close by is the Laugardalshöll for handball as well as the tennis courts where I play regularly. In addition there is the family and animal garden where you can take the kids and have a barbeque.

Reykjavik - Höfði house

The Höfði house where Reagan and Gorbachev met in 1986 marking the beginning of the end of the cold war. The Höfði house stands close by the seaside and is a beautiful building even though it is said to be haunted.

Reykjavik - Kaupthing

Right next to it is the headquarters of Kaupthing the last bank to fall in big bank crisis in Iceland. In the last years banking has grown to become 10 or 12 times bigger than the Icelandic GNP. That is about to change.

Reykjavik Centre

Reykjavik - Laugavegur

Going downtown be sure to walk the Laugavegur shopping street. Loads of small and friendly little shops and a relaxed atmosphere. This is also where the famous Reykjavik nightlife is at its best.

Reykjavik - Althingi

The house of Althingi on the right where the Icelandic parliament resides with its 63 parliamentarians.

Reykjavik - Ráðhús - Town Hall

Not far is the Reykjavik pond full of ducks and swans as well as the recent Reykjavik town hall.

Reykjavik - Iðnó

The charming Iðnó where the Reykjavik theatre held its shows for great many years.

Menntaskólinn í Reykjavik

Menntaskólinn í Reykjavík, "Reykjavik education school" is the oldest school still in full use. Considered by many to be the best pre-university school in Iceland.

Reykjavik - Stjórnarráðið

Stjórnarráðið is the Icelandic Government house. Originally it was built as a prison.

Reykjavik - Bernhöftstorfan

Bernhöftstorfan is a group of very old houses right in the center. In the 70's there were plans to demolish all the houses and build huge concrete boxes. Lucky for us the houses got saved and now they are used for restaurants and a tourist information center.

Reykjavik - Aðalstræti

The oldest street in Reykjavik is Aðalstræti ("main street"). This is close to where the first Icelandic settler, Ingólfur Arnarson is thought to have had his farm...

Reykjavik - Early Settlement

...and a few years ago they even found building remains dated from around 870, just about when the sagas say Ingólfur settled in Reykjavik.

Reykjavik - Aðalstræti

A number of the old houses have recently been restored just the way they originally looked. The small black house on the right side is the oldest house in Reykjavik, still sitting on the same turf it has always been.

Reykjavik - Centre

Here is the very centre of Reykjavik.

Reykjavik - Range Rover

One of the many Range Rovers you can see in Reykjavik. The jokers now call them "Hang Over" or "Game Over" in light of the recent economic collapse. The cars are still here although a number of them are being sold to other countries.

Reykjavik - Catholic Church

The catholic church.

Reykjavik Harbor

Reykjavik - Whalers

Boating and fishing has always been a big part of the Icelandic economy. Although these whalers have been tied to the piers for decades, still waiting.

Reykjavik - Whale Watching

On the other side of the pier you can go whale watching.

Reykjavik - Harbor and Light House

The entrance to the harbor is protected by this wall with a small lighthouse. The unruly winter waves are constantly beating against it.

West Reykjavik

Reykjavik - Fishermen huts

When I was a little boy there were old fishermen on tiny boats fishing right off the coast. The fishermen are long since gone but a couple of their huts are still standing as a souvenir of an era long past.

Reykjavik - Nordic House

The Nordic house was architected by a famous Finish architect, Alvar Aalto. He is known in the Nordic countries as the father of modern architecture. The Nordic house in Reykjavik was built in 1965-68 and is therefore much older than it looks and is in my opinion one of the most beautiful houses in the city.

Reykjavik - University of Iceland

The University of Iceland main building is close by.

Reykjavik - At The End Of The Day

Reykjavik - Perlan

Perlan or the Pearl sits on a small hill overlooking most of Reykjavik. It is an excellent idea to stop by and enjoy the view from the balcony. Perlan is a group of six hot water tanks that are used as part of the geothermal water distribution system in Reykjavik. Under the big glass dome is a revolving restaurant.

Reykjavik - Kringlan

When shopping in Reykjavik you can also go to one of the two big malls. The Kringlan is the older and in my opinion a little friendlier place to shop.

Places to see in Reykjavik

At the end of the day the color of the sky and the lights of the city.


By plane

  • Keflavík International Airport (Icelandic: Keflavíkurflugvöllur, IATA: KEF, ICAO: BIKF), +354 425 0600 (fax: +354 425 0610). Keflavík International Airport is Iceland's main international airport, and is located 30 miles (50 KM) from Reykjavík in the town of Keflavík.
  • Reykjavík Airport (Icelandic: Reykjavíkurflugvöllur, IATA: RKV, ICAO: BIRK). Located in the center of Reykjavik and mainly used for domestic air traffic

Icelandair is the main international airline of Iceland. Nonstop flights on Icelandair are available from the U.S. and Canada, with gateways in New York City, Boston, Halifax, Toronto, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Orlando (Sanford), and, beginning July 22nd, 2009, Seattle. Destinations beyond Iceland include most major European cities (i.e. Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Helsinki, London, Oslo, Madrid, Manchester, Milan, Munich, Paris, Stockholm, Bergen and Gothenburg), with Icelandair's hub-and-spoke network connecting via Keflavik in Iceland. (Please note that some destinations are seasonal.) You can also stopover in Iceland for up to seven nights at no additional airfare on your way to or from Europe.

Iceland Express is another international airliner which serves many European cities.

The main domestic airline, Flugfélag Íslands (Air Iceland) has daily domestic flights to Akureyri, Egilsstaðir, Ísafjörður and Vestmannaeyjar, including international destinations to Faroe Islands, Kulusuk, Narsarsuaq, and Constable Point.

SAS also has flights to Iceland from Scandinavia

German Wings flights to Keflavik from Cologne during the summer.

By car

There are rental car services all over Iceland, and many in Reykjavík such as Hertz, Avis, and National Rent-a-car. The cheapest car at the cheapest dealer you may find would average out to about 5500 ISK each day. If you intend to just stay in Reykjavík, renting a car is not necessary as the bus system is great and it is easy to walk around. But if you plan to leave Reykjavík to the countryside, then renting a car is the best way to experience Iceland.

By bus

Once you have landed at Keflavík, the most common way to get to Reykjavík is by the FlyBus (Coach). Its first stop in Reykjavík is the main bus terminal, called BSÍ (45 minute ride), which is within walking distance of the city centre. The coach then takes you into the city and drops people off at the major hotels. It is neccesary to tell the driver that you are intending to go to a specific hotel before the bus leaves from Keflavík. If, for some reason, the FlyBus does not stop at your hotel, you can take local buses nr. 1, 3, 6, 14 and 15 from just across the street from the BSÍ bus terminal (which is only a terminal for the nationwide bus system, not the capital area bus system, called Strætó).

By boat

If you have an abundance of time, it is possible to take the Smyril Line (a cruise company based out of the Faroe Islands) from Bergen to Seyðisfjörður (a small town on the east of Iceland), via Tórshavn. This service is on the expensive side, and puts you on the other side of the country. However, it offers the possibility of bringing a car, which can be one of the best ways to travel around Iceland, and Reykjavík.