Sunday, April 27, 2008

10 unsual places to stay !

Idaho: Pull into the Dog Bark Park Inn outside Cottonwood, Idaho, and you’ll be greeted by the world’s largest beagles, Toby and Sweet Willy. While Toby is a 12-foot-tall wood carving, Sweet Willy is literally a dog house — a comfy, modern and kitschy place to crawl into and lay your head for the night. As Dog Bark Park artists and owners Dennis Sullivan and Frances Conklin write on their Web site, “At Dog Bark Park Inn, sleeping in the doghouse is a good thing!”

Chile: Elqui Domos is a collection of geodesic domes in the Elqui Valley of Chile’s Coquimba Region. The valley is renowned by astronomers for its arid, rarefied air, which is why a number of top-notch international observatories are located there. The night sky is what endows Elqui Domos with its magic; each of the seven domes with detachable roofs is equipped with a telescope as well as astronomical charts and books.

Netherlands: The Harlingen Harbor Crane stands on spidery legs next to the Wadden Sea in Harlingen, Netherlands, a testament to what technological creativity can accomplish. Once used to offload timber, the crane now serves as a sleek and modern lodging for two. A unique feature is the guest-controlled view: Stay in the Harbor Crane and you’ll be able to turn thousands of pounds of steel to rotate the crane in the direction of your choice.

Turkey: The Anatolian Cave Suites are located in the heart of the fantastic canyonlands of Cappadocia, home to some of the earliest Christian communities. Since prehistoric times, humans have burrowed into the soft, volcanic rock near Goreme-Nevsehir, Turkey, creating complex structures that honeycomb the earth. Today, travelers can stay in unique luxury, surrounded by art and history in well-appointed cave suites.

Kenya: Ngong House in Nairobi, Kenya, is a former hunting lodge built among the verdant, rolling hills that provide the setting for Karen Blixen’s novel “Out of Africa,” written under the pen name Isak Dinesen. The lodge is airy and warmly welcoming, and despite being secluded in the bush, it’s only a short drive from the heart of the capital city. Note: Recent violence in Kenya has sharply reduced the number of tourists visiting the country; be sure to check the State Department’s Web site for the latest information.

Sweden: Fulfill your desire to have your own little house on your own (tiny) private island with a stay in the Utter Inn. Sleep soundly while surrounded by fish almost 10 feet below the surface of Lake Mälaren, in Västerås, Sweden. Be like the inn's namesake, the otter — dive in and frolic in the water and explore all that the lake has to offer.

British Columbia: Tucked into a harbor on Princess Royal Island in northern British Columbia, the King Pacific Lodge floats amid the Canadian wilderness. Come aboard for a rustic yet refined adventure, which could include kayaking near orcas, fly-fishing or bear viewing, any of which can be followed by pampering in the lodge’s spa.

New Mexico: 70 feet below the ground near Farmington, N.M., is a luxurious burrow called Kokopelli's Cave Bed & Breakfast. The cave may be underground, but it is also 280 feet above the La Plata River, a setting that affords expansive vistas of the entire Four Corners region and the surrounding mountain ranges.

Florida: Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Emerald Lagoon, Key Largo, Fla., is described as being like a comfortable clubhouse on the bottom of the sea. The lodge, originally a submerged research station in this mangrove lagoon, embodies a balance between adventure and relaxation. The main benefit of sleeping under the waves is the plethora of marine life that serenely swims or sways outside the porthole windows. Guests who wish to scuba dive can take advantage of an unending supply of air for their tanks, and even order a pizza that can be delivered from the surface.

Sri Lanka: If seclusion and romance are what you crave, it doesn't get much better than a fabulous Palladian-style mansion set on 2.5-acre Taprobane Island, the only privately owned island in Sri Lanka. Wade through the surf like the many statesmen, artists and adventurers before you to reach the airy, octagonal abode and the tranquil, lush gardens that surround it.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Interesting Olympic Facts !

The Official Olympic Flag
Created by Pierre de Coubertin in 1914, the Olympic flag contains five interconnected rings on a white background. The five rings symbolize the five significant continents and are interconnected to symbolize the friendship to be gained from these international competitions. The rings, from left to right, are blue, yellow, black, green, and red. The colors were chosen because at least one of them appeared on the flag of every country in the world. The Olympic flag was first flown during the 1920 Olympic Games.

The Olympic Motto
In 1921, Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, borrowed a Latin phrase from his friend, Father Henri Didon, for the Olympic motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius ("Swifter, Higher, Stronger").

The Olympic Oath
Pierre de Coubertin wrote an oath for the athletes to recite at each Olympic Games. During the opening ceremonies, one athlete recites the oath on behalf of all the athletes. The Olympic oath was first taken during the 1920 Olympic Games by Belgian fencer Victor Boin. The Olympic Oath states, "In the name of all competitors, I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules that govern them, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams."

The Olympic Creed
Pierre de Coubertin got the idea for this phrase from a speech given by Bishop Ethelbert Talbot at a service for Olympic champions during the 1908 Olympic Games. The Olympic Creed reads: "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."

The Olympic Flame
The Olympic flame is a practice continued from the ancient Olympic Games. In Olympia (Greece), a flame was ignited by the sun and then kept burning until the closing of the Olympic Games. The flame first appeared in the modern Olympics at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. The flame itself represents a number of things, including purity and the endeavor for perfection. In 1936, the chairman of the organizing committee for the 1936 Olympic Games, Carl Diem, suggested what is now the modern Olympic Torch relay. The Olympic flame is lit at the ancient site of Olympia by women wearing ancient-style robes and using a curved mirror and the sun. The Olympic Torch is then passed from runner to runner from the ancient site of Olympia to the Olympic stadium in the hosting city. The flame is then kept alight until the Games have concluded. The Olympic Torch relay represents a continuation from the ancient Olympic Games to the modern Olympics.

The Olympic Hymn
The Olympic Hymn, played when the Olympic Flag is raised, was composed by Spyros Samaras and the words added by Kostis Palamas. The Olympic Hymn was first played at the 1896 Olympic Games in Athens but wasn't declared the official hymn by the IOC until 1957.

Real Gold Medals
The last Olympic gold medals that were made entirely out of gold were awarded in 1912.

The Medals
The Olympic medals are designed especially for each individual Olympic Games by the host city's organizing committee. Each medal must be at least three millimeters thick and 60 millimeters in diameter. Also, the gold and silver Olympic medals must be made out of 92.5 percent silver, with the gold medal covered in six grams of gold.

The First Opening Ceremonies
The first opening ceremonies were held during the 1908 Olympic Games in London.

Opening Ceremony Procession Order
During the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, the procession of athletes is always led by the Greek team, followed by all the other teams in alphabetical order (in the language of the hosting country), except for the last team which is always the team of the hosting country.

A City, Not a Country
When choosing locations for the Olympic Games, the IOC specifically gives the honor of holding the Games to a city rather than a country.

IOC Diplomats
In order to make the IOC an independent organization, the members of the IOC are not considered diplomats from their countries to the IOC, but rather are diplomats from the IOC to their respective countries.

First Modern Champion
James B. Connolly (United States), winner of the hop, step, and jump (the first final event in the 1896 Olympics), was the first Olympic champion of the modern Olympic Games.

The First Marathon
In 490 BCE, Pheidippides, a Greek soldier, ran from Marathon to Athens (about 25 miles) to inform the Athenians the outcome of the battle with invading Persians. The distance was filled with hills and other obstacles; thus Pheidippides arrived in Athens exhausted and with bleeding feet. After telling the townspeople of the Greeks' success in the battle, Pheidippides fell to the ground dead. In 1896, at the first modern Olympic Games, held a race of approximately the same length in commemoration of Pheidippides.

The Exact Length of a Marathon
During the first several modern Olympics, the marathon was always an approximate distance. In 1908, the British royal family requested that the marathon start at the Windsor Castle so that the royal children could witness its start. The distance from the Windsor Castle to the Olympic Stadium was 42,195 meters (or 26 miles and 385 yards). In 1924, this distance became the standardized length of a marathon.

Women were first allowed to participate in 1900 at the second modern Olympic Games.

Winter Games Begun
The winter Olympic Games were first held in 1924, beginning a tradition of holding them a few months earlier and in a different city than the summer Olympic Games. Beginning in 1994, the winter Olympic Games were held in completely different years (two years apart) than the summer Games.

Cancelled Games
Because of World War I and World War II, there were no Olympic Games in 1916, 1940, or 1944.

Tennis Banned
Tennis was played at the Olympics until 1924, then reinstituted in 1988.

Walt Disney
In 1960, the Winter Olympic Games were held in Squaw Valley, California (United States).

In order to bedazzle and impress the spectators, Walt Disney was head of the committee that organized the opening day ceremonies. The 1960 Winter Games Opening Ceremony was filled with high school choirs and bands, releasing of thousands of balloons, fireworks, ice statues, releasing of 2,000 white doves, and national flags dropped by parachute.

Russia Not Present
Though Russia had sent a few athletes to compete in the 1908 and 1912 Olympic Games, they did not compete again until the 1952 Games.

Motor Boating
Motor boating was an official sport at the 1908 Olympics.

Polo, an Olympic Sport
Polo was played at the Olympics in 1900, 1908, 1920, 1924, and 1936.

The word "gymnasium" comes from the Greek root "gymnos" meaning nude; the literal meaning of "gymnasium" is "school for naked exercise." Athletes in the ancient Olympic Games would participate in the nude.

The first recorded ancient Olympic Games were held in 776 BCE with only one event - the stade. The stade was a unit of measurement (about 600 feet) that also became the name of the footrace because it was the distance run. Since the track for the stade (race) was a stade (length), the location of the race became the stadium.

Counting Olympiads
An Olympiad is a period of four successive years. The Olympic Games celebrate each Olympiad. For the modern Olympic Games, the first Olympiad celebration was in 1896. Every four years celebrates another Olympiad; thus, even the Games that were cancelled (1916, 1940, and 1944) count as Olympiads. The 2004 Olympic Games in Athens was called the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad.

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