Tourist Guide For London

London is an exciting, vibrant city, offering a whole host of things to do and see. It is also one of the safest cities in the world.

In order to make your experience as enjoyable as possible you should exercise the same amount of caution as you would at home.

London Transport

Avoid using unlicensed cabs. Safe cabs to use are those licensed by the Police. The driver will wear a badge and the cab will have a licence on display.

When using a hire car, be sure to fully check the car over for any damage prior to signing the forms.

Accommodation in London

Accommodation in London is given a Star and Diamond rating by official tourist organisations. The greater the number of stars or diamonds, the higher the quality.

Crime

As with any major city, crime can be a problem. However, if you follow the same basic principles as you would at home, you will be perfectly safe. Keep purses and wallets in zipped compartments. Avoid using rucksacks. Keep cameras hanging round your neck, not over your shoulder. Never put your bag on the floor of a restaurant or bar, keep it with you at all times.

Your Money

It is not always cost effective to change your money up at your Hotel. Try to shop around for the best rate. Banks and Building Societies often offer the best rates.

Once you have changed up your money, be sure to store it in the safe at your hotel.

Eating And Drinking

Be wary of young ladies inviting you into bars for a drink. These ladies are often escorts and you may end up paying hundreds of pounds for one drink and the privilege of the ladies company for the evening.

It is now expected that diners will tip their waitress or waiter in a restaurant. Before doing this, check your bill to see if service is included. It is accepted that a tip of around 10% of your total bill is reasonable. However, don’t be tempted to tip if the service or the food is poor.

Weapons

It is illegal to carry a knife, a gun or CS spray in London.

Important Holiday Dates

Holiday dates for 2010 are as follows:

New Year’s Day – 1 January,

Good Friday – 2 April,

Easter Monday – 5 April,

May Day – 3 May,

Spring Bank Holiday – 31 May,

Summer Bank Holiday – 30 August,

Christmas Day – 27 December,

Boxing Day – 28 December.

Our Banks are closed on Bank Holidays however the most popular shops now open between the hours of 10am to 4pm.

Bank Holidays are classed as family days, therefore there are usually plenty of activities organised to keep everyone entertained.

Shopping

It may distress American ladies to know that you will gain a dress size during your stay in London, and it won’t be down to the food. If you are a size 8 in America, you will be a size 10 over here and in Europe. Let’s hope that doesn’t put you off your shopping! If it’s any consolation, you will need shoes 2 sizes smaller, a 7 in America is a 5 over here for ladies. Mens clothes sizes are no different. Their shoes however are 1 size smaller over here.

Driving In London

We could write a book about driving in London. It is of course much easier to say, “don’t do it!” Driving in London is not a pleasurable experience. You may be interested to learn that in 1898 the average speed of cars in London was 11mph, in 1998 it was also 11mph, so much for progress. It may be some comfort to you to know that there is an excellent underground system, which is cheap and fast. If driving is your thing we have a wealth of information for you to read and digest.

  • It’s a fact, we are obsessed with roundabouts. Roundabouts are placed at junctions where typically traffic is heavy. Love ’em or hate ’em, they work well. On approach to a roundabout look to your right, if there is nothing coming there is no need to stop. You must give way to the right and travel round the roundabout in a clockwise direction. You should indicate your intentions to assist other drivers.
  • A valid (full) European, US or Canadian licence is needed to drive in the UK.
  • Seatbelts must be worn by all passengers.
  • You must come to a complete stop where you see a stop sign and a solid white line in the road, even if you can see your way is clear.
  • Unlike most other countries, drivers have to stop at zebra crossings if a pedestrian is waiting to cross.
  • On pelican crossings you must come to a complete stop on red. On amber you must wait until all pedestrians have safely crossed prior to driving off.
  • Traffic lights follow the following sequence; red (stop), red and amber (get ready), green (go).
  • We overtake on the right, and quickly move back to the left hand lane after overtaking.
  • To cope with the mass amount of traffic visiting London on a daily basis the Mayor has introduced a congestion charge. This charge applies to vehicles entering central London by car between the hours of 7am-6.00pm Mon-Fri (excluding Bank Holidays). The charge is £8 daily. This can be paid in advance by visiting http://www.cclondon.com you’ll also be able to pay at garage forecourts, in shops, by post and actually in and around the congestion charging zone. You can now also pay by text message although you have to register online first. Simply text the last four digits of your credit/debit card to 81099 on the day of travel and they will text you back your receipt number within 30 minutes. A hefty fine applies to those that do not pay the charge by midnight on the day of travel.
  • Parking in London is neither cheap nor easy. If you have parking at your hotel, we suggest you leave your car there and use the tube. Traffic wardens in London have a habit of popping up when you least expect them, and following closely behind them is the clamper van. The release fee is a bitter pill to swallow.
  • When driving in London, always lock your car doors. Gangs have been known to strike when vehicles are stuck in traffic.

A Tourist Guide to Lake George, Adirondacks

INTRODUCTION

Like a blue diamond, which shimmers and shakes with the invisible hands of the wind, Lake George, some 200 miles north of Manhattan, is nestled in a bed of green crushed velvet officially designated the Adirondack Mountains. As a destination, it can be considered a jewel.

One of eleven New York State tourist regions-including Long Island, New York City, the Hudson Valley, the Catskill Mountains, the Capital District, Central-Leatherstocking, the Thousand Islands, the Finger Lakes, Greater Niagara, and Chautauqua-Allegheny-the Adirondacks themselves are part of the Great Cambrian Shield. Composed of Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rock that was thrust upward some ten million years ago, it was once the hunting grounds of the Iroquois and Algonquin Native Americans.

In order to protect its wildlife and preclude depleting forestation, however, the State of New York created the six million acre Adirondack Park-2.6 of which are federally owned and 3.4 of which are privately owned-in 1892, and two years later the Adirondack Forest Preserve was established, a constitutionally protected Forever Wild Area for the purpose of “preserving (its) exceptional scenic, recreational, and ecological value.”

Measuring 9,375 square miles, it is today a refuge of vast, silent forests, 46 rugged, green-carpeted peaks-of which 5,343-foot Mount Marcy is both the highest in the park and in all of New York State-3,000 gleaming lakes, and 30,000 miles of rushing rivers and streams. Containing the headwaters of the Hudson River, Lake Champlain, the Black River, the St. Lawrence River, and the Mohawk River, it offers abundant, nature-based activities, from hunting, fishing, skiing, hiking, and camping to mountain biking, and attracts more than ten million annual visitors. It is the largest park preserve in the United States.

“In the mid-1800s, the Adirondacks were an undiscovered natural treasure,” according to the “Visit the Lake George Area in New York’s Adirondacks” guide (p. 1). “Hidden peaks with mirror surfaces are teamed with native rainbow trout. White-tailed deer roamed the shores of silent waterways. Towering mountains stocked with ridgelines climaxed at stunning panoramas of the wooded landscape below. Boundless forests of sugar maples and American beech trees stretched as far as the eye could see, painting the autumn hills and valleys a medley of deep oranges and flaming reds. Lake George was the glistening jewel in the treasure chest that is the Adirondacks.”

LAKE GEORGE VILLAGE

Having been designated by three names, Lake George began as “Andia-ta-roc-te,” so-called by Native Americans; progressed to “Lac du Saint Sacrement,” or “Lake of the Blessed Sacrament,” a title bestowed by Father Isaac Jogues, the first white main to have seen it in 1646; and ended with the current “Lake George.”

Although the area’s pristine nature would suggest serenity, its early history was marked by conflict, as evidenced by the three forts, including Gage, George, and William Henry, that once rose from the shores and were integral to the French and Indian War.

Revolutionary War activity also played out there. In May of 1775, Ethan Allen and 83 of his Green Mountain Boys captured Fort Ticonderoga, 32 miles to the north, without releasing a single bullet from their muskets, capturing it from the British. Lake George served as a strategic waterway during the war for the next eight years.

During the winter of 1775 to 1776, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Knox transported artillery from Bolton to Fort Ticonderoga via oxen for ultimate use by George Washington in defense of the British in Boston.

The following year, British General Burgoyne traveled southward from Lake Champlain and then through Lake George with his entourage and supplies, culminating in defeat in Saratoga. Other historically significant figures also frequented the area: in April of 1776. Benjamin Franklin and Philip Schuyler passed through Bolton’s waters while journeying northward to the military situation in Canada, and seven years later General George Washington visited the head of the lake during his own post-Revolution inspection. Thomas Jefferson, exploring the area in 1791, paused to express its pristine quality when he wrote that the lake was “the most beautiful water I ever saw” in a letter to his daughter.

Formed after combining Queensbury, Bolton, and Thurman on August 2, 1810, the 32-mile Lake George is Warren County’s smallest town.

While the early-1800s were characterized by lumbering, as once evidenced by the proliferation of sawmills, its beauty, coupled with the lake’s steamboats, began attracting tourists, and wealth, like a physical language, expressed itself through the increasing number of homes and mansions rising from the eastern shore.

By mid-century, stores, schools, restaurants, and court houses assembled into a cohesive town, and access via the New York State Thruway (I-87) became the final infrastructural aspect that ensured its vacation destination transformation, particularly during the summer months.

Today, Lake George Village, with its single main artery locally called “Canada Street” (Route 9) and accessibility via Thruway exits 21, 22, and 23, serves as the southern base for Lake George residents and tourists alike with its services-shops, ice cream parlors, restaurants, banks, libraries, and an historical association. For young travelers, there are arcades, fun parks, haunted houses, and the House of Frankenstein Wax Museum.

LAKE GEORGE ACCOMMODATION

Accommodation in Lake George takes many forms, from the known, such as the Best Western, the Holiday Inn, the Quality Inn, the Hampton Inn, and a significantly sized Courtyard by Marriott, to the long-established properties comprising Motel Row at the north end of Canada Street. Since it divides into Routes 9L and 9N, the latter, because it hugs the lake, continues to feature cabins, cottages, and complexes for a considerable distance as it winds its way to Bolton.

Of particular significance is the Fort William Henry Hotel and Conference Center on the lake’s southern basin. Historical staple of the area whose roots were planted more than a century and a half ago, and now in its third rendition guise, it had originally been propped on a bluff overlooking the southernmost portion of the then-named Village of Caldwell. To its basic, three-story structure, which stretched 115 feet on either side and protruded 235 feet to the lake, were added two additional floors with a tower on either side, almost tripling its capacity from 350 to 900 guests. Turn-of-the-century modernization took the form of private bathrooms.

Although a June 24, 1909 fire consumed the property, it once again rose from the ashes two years later when new owner Delaware and Hudson Railroad opened a smaller, but just as lavish facility, accommodating 150 on three floors. Externally it sported white stucco and red tile roofs.

1912 marked the first year that it remained open throughout the winter and toward that end activity centered on skiing, skating, and sledding. Yet the Great Depression, not conflagration, proved its enemy a second time and the railroad divested itself of it.

The Fort William Henry Corporation, founded in 1952 to resurrect the property and construct a replica of the original one, along with changing tourist profiles, obviated its purpose by 1969, prompting its demolition and leaving, at least on a temporary basis, the Fort William Henry Motor Inn.

Yet history, as has been proven on countless occasions, often repeats itself and the dynamic became reality here. Employing the original 1911 footprint and incorporating many of its design features, a new five-story, all-suite hotel, attracting the higher revenue business sector, was constructed, opening on July 18, 2004. Located on 18 acres and offering luxury accommodations in the main hotel, medium-range rooms in its Premium East Wing, and budget ones in its Standard West one, it offers numerous facilities: a fireplace and gift shop-equipped lobby, the White Lion Restaurant for breakfast, the Tankard Tavern, and the Lookout Café, and close proximity to attracts such as the Fort William Henry Museum, Battlefield Park, and the Lake George Steamboat Company.

LAKE GEORGE VILLAGE ATTRACTIONS

Because of the village’s compact nature, all of its attractions, which are historically-based, are within walking distance of one another.

Lake George Visitor Center:

Located on the corner of Canada Street and Beach Road, the Lake George Visitor Center offers a supply of brochures and maps, and an area diorama. Staffed, it affords tourists an opportunity to speak with representatives to facilitate trip planning and provide recommendations.

Lake George Historical Association and Museum:

Located on the corner of Canada and Amherst Streets in Lake George Village, the Lake George Historical Association and Museum is housed in the three-floor, 1845 Warren County Court House and its first act of preservation was to save, from demolition, its very housing.

“The museum is a popular attraction and provides a means of discovery to the rich past of this historical region,” it advises.

Of its many exhibits, the basement located jail cells, dating from the court house’s 1845 construction, area shipwrecks, and photographs of earlier, lake-plying steamboats are significant.

Fort William Henry Museum:

Both historically significant and symbolic is the red, log-formed Fort William Henry Museum, which, in original form, played a role in the French and Indian War. The conflict, an extension of the Seven Years War between France and England, was ultimately transferred to North American soil.

Wrestling for land dominance, the English built Fort Edward, considered “The Great Carrying Place” and the third-largest settlement after those in Philadelphia and New York, while the French planted their own roots north of the St. Lawrence River in areas that would later become the states of Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Yet sparks, when ignited between two sides, have a way of closing the distance between them, and this occurred when the French commenced construction of Fort Carillon on the southern tip of Lake Champlain in what would eventually become New York State. The physics principle of “every action has an equal and opposite reaction” is perhaps more applicable here, because the British “reacted” with a fortification of their own-specifically, Fort William Henry at the southern tip of the still-designated Lac du Saint Sacrement, so that they could protect their own colonies. As a staging point against French entrenchments, it additionally served as protection of the inland waters between New York and Montreal.

The fort itself, ordered by Major General William Johnson and tasked to his chief engineer, Captain William Eyre, was designed in the Vauban style-that is, rectangularly configured with corner bastions and 30-foot curtain walls initially consisting of log facings and earthen fillings. It was externally surrounded by three dry moats and a fourth side that sloped toward the lake. Capacity was between 400 and 500.

Christened “Fort William Henry” to honor the two royal grandsons of King George II, it was intended to protect British interests to the south and serve as a military launching point against the French and their Native American allies to the north.

Enemy siege, under General Marquis de Montcalm and comprised of 3,000 French regulars, 3,000 militia, and 2,000 Native Americans, occurred on August 3, 1757, as their progressively tightening lines began to choke the fort. Numerically disadvantaged, Lieutenant Colonel George Monro, its commander, sent couriers to Fort Edward to request reinforcements, but Major General Daniel Webb considered the route too dangerous for his soldiers and “kept them home.”

Consistent hammering, artillery depletion, and structural damage predictably forced Monro to surrender six days later, yet the Articles of Capitulation, the title of Montcalm’s surrender terms, were both humane and generous: the British troops were permitted to retain all their possessions and weapons, sans ammunition; the garrison could leave with one cannon; and they agreed that attacks against the French would be suspended for an 18-month interval. The French regulars marched the British to Fort Edward the following day.

But ironically, the “enemy” proved, in many ways, to be the silent, uncompensated third party Native Americans, who gained nothing from their participation and hence took matters into their own hands.

Anger, expressing itself through the shooting, scalping, and bludgeoning of the wounded and sick who had been left behind, culminated in the snatch of guns, clothing, and implements, and the Fort Edward marching column was attacked by marauding Indians. Because of both language and customs barriers between Montcalm and his local allies, he was unable to thwart their efforts or adequately retaliate.

Nevertheless, he ordered Fort William Henry to be burned to the ground on August 11.

Occupying its original footprint, a replica, based upon the original British plans, was built in 1955, or 198 years after the actual fortification was destroyed by flame. Today, the visitor can catch a glimpse into British solider life in the area through its barracks and bastions, casemates, emergency hospital, guard room, sutlery, Monro’s quarters, 18th-century food and frontier exhibits, powder magazines, and tailor shops. A military crypt, an 18-pound cannon recovered from the lake, and the original well from 1756 are located in the courtyard.

“Hear the report of musket fire and the roar of the cannon as you step back in time to 1757 at Fort William Henry,” the museum proclaims. “Listen to stories and see artifacts from the daily life of this British outpost in the wilderness, defending the colonies during the French and Indian War.”

Across the fort and fronting the lake is a life-size wooden sculpture made by Master Wood Carver Paul Stark of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Rogers in a canoe, highlighting the area’s history.

Battlefield Park:

Located at the southern end of Lake George, 35-acre Battlefield Park marks the area where engagements between Algonquin and Iroquois tribes and American Colonists and British soldiers occurred. Aside from the remnants of Fort George, there are three significant statues.

In the first, dedicated to the region’s Native Americans, a North American is depicted dipping his hand into a pool of water. In the second, King Hendrick, a Mohawk chief, demonstrates the danger of dividing his forces to General William Johnson. And in the third, Father Isaac Jogues represents his attempt to spread Christianity to the Huron Indians during the 1630s and 1640s.

Delaware and Hudson Railway Station:

Although now only housing the Steamboat Gift Shop, the Delaware and Hudson Railway Station, located across from the Lake George Steamboat Company and constructed between 1909 and 1911 in the Revival style with a stucco frame, a stressed brick tower, and a terra cotta upper section, is symbolic of the role it once played in the area.

Transportation between New York City and Montreal had initially consisted of waterway travel-in this case, those waterways consisted of the Hudson River, Lake George, and Lake Champlain-yet a more direct route, resulting in shorter travel times, was attainable with land-based methods, specifically track-plying trains.

While it had its origins in the Saratoga-Fort Edward Rail Road chartered in 1832, the line, which never materialized, was replaced by the Saratoga and Washington Rail Road Company that was formed 16 years later and transported passengers between Saratoga Springs and Whitehall. Freight was carried as of 1851.

After ownership changes, resulting in the Saratoga-Whitehall Railroad Company in 1855 and the Rennselaer-Saratoga Railroad in 1856, the Glens Falls Railroad line opened in 1869 and was extended to Lake George in 1882. When the Delaware and Hudson assumed control, it made intermodal transportation possible by connecting with the Lake George Steamboat Company’s vessels for continued carriage to Ticonderoga.

The railroad station, as testament to it today, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.

LAKE GEORGE

Lake George, considered the Queen of American Lakes, is the glittering centerpiece of the area.

Formed between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago, it is 32 miles long, three miles wide, 200 feet deep, 320 feet above sea level, has 108 miles of shoreline, occupies a 233-square-mile area, has 183 islands, and its surrounded by 2,665-foot Black Mountain, its highest peak. Beyond Bolton Landing, it divides into Northwest Bay and the Narrows.

Three southern-end engagements between British and French forces in the Battle of Lake George resulted in the first major victory of the former over the latter. Yet the blood of yesterday’s wars was transformed into the beauty of today’s topography.

“Lake George is without comparison the most beautiful water I ever saw,” Thomas Jefferson once wrote. “Formed by a contour of mountains into a basin 35 miles long and from two to four miles broad, finely interspersed with islands, its water limpid as crystal, and the mountainsides covered with rich groves of silver fir, white pine, aspen, and paper birch down to the water; here and there precipices of rock to checker the scene and save it from monotony. An abundance of speckled trout, salmon trout, bass, and other fish with which it is stored have added to our amusements the sport of taking them.”

Aside from its recreational activities, which encompass swimming, fishing, and parasailing, there are several cruises that cover a portion, or all of, the lake.

“Lake George is beautiful to behold from any vantage point, but to realize her true majesty in all its forms, there’s nothing like gliding along the shimmering surface of this ‘Queen of American lakes,'” advises Paul Tackett in his article “Giants of the Lake” (“Visit the Lake George Area in New York’s Adirondacks,” Warren County Tourism Department, p. 24). “… Any one of several spectacular cruise ships stands ready to escort passengers through the Lake George experience of a lifetime.”

“Spend an hour or enjoy an unforgettable day aboard one of the magnificent vessels that ply the crystal clear waters of Lake George… ,” he continues (ibid, p. 24). “The captain discusses the colorful history of Lake George while guests gaze upon the same shoreline and forested mountains that inspired George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and James Fennimore Cooper.”

Two companies offer a variety of excursions and both are located at the southern end on Beach Road.

Lake George Shoreline Cruises, the first, has two boats in its fleet: The 115-foot, tri-deck, 400-passenger “Adirondac,” constructed in 2004 and modeled after the late-19th century touring ships; and the 85-foot, dual-deck, 150-passenger “Horicon,” which was built almost exclusively of mahogany, teak, and yellow pine in 1988.

The company has its own Shoreline Restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the lake.

The second cruise concern, the Lake George Steamboat Company, was instrumental in the area’s transportation history and hails from more than two centuries ago.

Because of the success of steamboat services on northerly neighboring Lake Champlain, the Lake George Steam Boat Company planted its own aquatic roots on April 15, 1817 after the New York State Legislature approved commercial shipping on it.

The canal boat-resembling “James Caldwell,” powered by a third-hand engine and sporting two long boilers and a brick smokestack, constituted its first vessel, which commenced service that year, and required a full day to traverse the lake’s length. But the inauspicious beginning to the service had a mysterious ending: it was inexplicably consumed by flame four years later while moored at his berth.

It was quickly succeeded by three other boats: the 100-foot-long, six-mph “Mountaineer” in 1824, a side-wheeler; the 140-foot-long, 13-mph “William Caldwell” in 1838; and the 145-foot-long, 13-mph “John Jay” in 1850. In 1857, the 400-passenger, wood-burning “Minne-Ha-Ha” joined the fleet.

As subsequent owner, for 72 years between 1871 and 1943, of the Lake George Steam Boat Company, the Delaware and Hudson Railway built some of the finest side-wheeler steam vessels used in its track-and-water intermodal transportation system, particularly the 223-foot, 20-mph “Sagamore” and the 230-foot, 21-mph “Horicon II.”

A post-World War II ownership change to Captain Wilbur Dow in November of 1945 preceded the company’s resurrection, which entailed the addition of the “Mohican” two years later, the “Ticonderoga” in 1950, and the construction of the present Steel Pier on Beach Road.

Three boats constitute its fleet today.

The “Lac du Saint Sacrement,” its flagship, was specifically designed for large groups and conventions. Stretching 189.6 feet and accommodating 1,149 on four decks, it was christened on June 15, 1989 and has a top, 18-mph speed.

The “Minne-Ha-Ha,” whose name was given to the wife of Hiawatha and means “laughing waters,” is one of the last steam-powered paddle wheelers and resembles the Mississippi River boats. Lengthened in 1998, it now stretches 137 feet and carries 500 passengers on three decks.

The “Mohican,” the third vessel in the fleet, was built in 1908 and is thus the oldest continuously operating tour boat in the country, listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Converted from steam to diesel in 1946, it is 117 feet long, accommodates 350 on three decks, and cruises at 15 mph.

Both the Lake George Shoreline Cruises and the Lake George Steamboat Company operate a variety of cruises, from the lakefront to Paradise Bay, Islands of the Narrows, and full-length ones to Ticonderoga, with an equal number of dining options: self-purchase snack bar and grill items, afternoon lunch and evening dinner cruises with entertainment, St. Louis rib Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, mac ‘n cheese Wednesdays, Pizza Thursdays, Fiesta Fridays, and Prime Rib Sundays.

“For that one-of-a-kind cruise adventure,” concludes Tackett (ibid, p. 25), “step aboard any one of these gleaming white marvels and kick back awhile. As the sounds of Lake George Village fade, the ship becomes a world unto itself: the playful breeze rolls over the passengers as the sun warms them, body and soul.”

Article Sources:

Tackett, Paul. “Giants of the Lake.” “Visit the Lake George Area in New York’s Adirondacks.” Warren County Tourism Department, 2019.

Travel Guide To Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Isla Mujeres is one of the most visited travel destination for tourists visiting the Cancun area in Mexico. The island is a great escape for those looking to get away from the busy beaches that Cancun gives them. You do not have to go that far after you get off the ferry to realize that the experience that you will get here is very different. The island is small and the interior is not populated by people, but you will find salt water marshes where once upon a time the Mayans got their salt from.

Getting Around

Though there is a small airport at Isla Mujeres you will not be able to land there as it is for military and private planes only. Though you could hire a taxi service in reality renting a scooter or even a golf cart will prove to be enough. If you decide to go with a taxi service you can choose to pay one per hour which should run you at about 15 dollars an hour or you can pay per trip which should not cost more than 5 dollars from one end of the island to the other. Renting bicycles is also a possibility when you travel here.

Pirate History

If you like pirate history then you should make it a point to visit Laguna Makax in Isla Mujeres. This is the place where pirates would anchor and wait for ships to ambush. Today, there is another use for the Lagoon and that is to protect ships and vessels during hurricane season. If you head to the salinas, the lagoon is not too far from there. You can also follow the signs if you did rent a scooter, bike or golf cart. The island also gave buccaneers the seclusion they wanted.

Paradise For Divers

When it comes to diving, not too many places will give you as good a chance as Isla Mujeres. You have many places to choose from including El Jigueo, Barracuda, La Bandera, Arrecife Manchones and Ultrafreeze. Sea life is abundant especially close to the corals. Another activity which has taken off in the last few years is snorkeling with whale sharks; it started by Isla Holbox which is to the north west, but now you can do so right from Isla Mujeres. Make sure that you have a certification card and remember that there is a fee of 20 dollars per dive.

How To Get There

As stated earlier there is no airport available to tourists in the Island so you will need to take a ferry. From the Zona Hotelera in Cancun you can look for two spots to take you there: The first one is Playa Tortugas and the second one is Playa Linda. If you are staying at the resorts then you can ask the concierge service to check the schedule for you. There are also another couple of spots in Punta Sam and Puerto Juarez which you can reach from the city of Cancun.

Kiev City Guide For Travelers

You are planning thoroughly your trip to Kiev, surfing the web for information on Kiev best sights, restaurants and night clubs, and thinking how to plan your stay the best, what to see and where to go to… You are packing your new camera in order to make beautiful photos of golden domes, Khreschatik Street and Kiev parks… You are thinking what to wear and checking weather forecast for the days of your visit… In a few days or weeks you will get to another world with smiling people, ancient brick streets, monuments and cathedrals…

Quick facts:

Status: capital of Ukraine

Number of regions: 10

Date of foundation: fifth century AD

Area: 839 km2

Elevation: 179 m above sea level

Geographical coordinates: latitude 50°27’N; longitude 30°30’E

Climate: moderate continental with mild winter and warm summer

Temperature: average Kiev temperature in January is 6 degrees below zero Celsius, average in June is 20 degrees above zero Celsius; lowest temperature in winter is 25 degrees below zero Celsius; highest temperature in summer is 32 degrees above zero Celsius.

Population: 2,6 million (2005)

Density: 3178 people/km2

Car code: AA

Phone code: +380 44

Kiev Mayor: Leonid Chernovetskiy (since 2006)

Kiev history

The legend says that there was a prince family of three brothers named Kiy, Schek and Khoryv and a sister Lybid. Kiy ruled a powerful Slavic tribe and was looking for a place to settle a new home for his people. When they came to the beautiful hills upon Dnepr river and saw wonderful panorama of blue river and seven hills covered with chestnut trees, they liked that place very much and decided to settle there. They established a city and gave it the name Kiev in honour of their oldest brother Kiy more than 1500 years ago. Prince Kiy and his family lived on one hill, Schek settled on another hill which got the mane Schekavitsa, and Khoryv settled on the third hill called Khorevitsa.

Since 882 Kiev became the capital on ancient powerful state called Kievan Rus. In 998 Kiev Prince Vladimir introduced Christianity in Kievan Rus by baptising Kiev population in Dnepr river. In 1240 the city was demolished by mongol-tatars who invaded Kievan Rus, and later it was rebuilt. Since 1362 Kiev and major part of Ukraine belonged to Lithuania and Poland and in 1654 it became part of Russian Empire and then USSR.

In 1991 Ukrainian people voted for independence of Ukraine and Kiev became its capital. Since that time it is the center of Ukraine’s political, economic and cultural life.

In November 2004 Kiev was the central place of Orange Revolution when hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian people protested against election falsification in the streets and later elected another ruling party and the President of Ukraine.

Kiev accommodation

Most visitors to Kiev prefer apartment or hotel accommodation. Kiev hotels provide security and a certain level of service according to their level (three star, four star, five star), Kiev apartments allow greater privacy and flexibility. Average single room in Kiev hotel will cost $100-130 per night, while a 1-room apartment with all amenities will cost $40-60 depending on its location, space and extra facilities like jakuzzi, home cinema, etc.

Kiev sights rating

I recommend you to visit:

Golden Gate of Kiev – the ancient gate to Kiev, which is now located in its very center, it is made of wood and stone with a small golden dome above

St Sofia Cathedral – one of the most beautiful Kiev cathedrals with Bell Tower and chestnut trees around the cathedral

St Michael Cathedral – newly rebuilt cathedral with beautiful blue walls, ornament and large golden domes

St Vladimir Cathedral – cathedral in Kiev center where official orthodox religious ceremonies take place

St Andrew Church and Andrew Descent (Andreevskiy Spusk) – a popular place with tourists with numerous souvenir booths, old brick descent, art galleries and museums

Kiev Cave Monastery (Lavra) – the ancient monastery where you can see the caves where monks lived in ancient times, several churches and the largest Bell tower in Kiev

Russian Art Museum and Ukrainian Art Museum – art connoisseurs will get much pleasure seeing masterpieces of world art in Kiev museums

Kiev Opera and Ballet Theater – an enjoyable experience of listening to live classical music and watching dances

Pirogovo ethnic village – an opportunity to see old village houses, windmills and household appliances of different Ukrainian regions

War Museum – you can see there numerous tanks and war airplanes and the gigantic metal statue of woman symbolizing Homeland

Kiev Botanic Garden – in spring and summer you can see there beautiful trees and blossoming flowers

Mariinsky Palace – a majestic palace where official government ceremonies take place, it is surrounded by green park with panorama of Dnepr and its left bank

Independence Square – the very central part of Kiev, from which the distances to other cities are calculated, it has a large underground shopping center, central Post office, banks and restaurants

Khreschatik Street – main street in Kiev where people can walk on the highway on Saturday and Sunday

Vladimir Mount – a park on the mount with large statue symbolizing Prince Vladimir with cross when he introduced Christianity and baptized Slavic people.

What to wear

If you come to Kiev in summer, it would be nice to take a summer jacket, jeans and T-shirts, sandals or baskets and probably shorts or dress for the case of heat. For spring or autumn it is better to take a few warm things and a jacket. For the winter you will need a winter coat or a warm jacket, a few sweaters, a scarf, gloves and cap.

If you go inside a church or cathedral, women have to cover their head with a shawl, while men need to take off their hats.

Eating out in Kiev

To try delicious Ukrainian cuisine we recommend you the following Kiev restaurants:

Pervak restaurant – a medium-price restaurant located in 2, Rognedinskaya St. You can taste borsch and vareniks, small pies and various meat and fish dishes. The dinner will cost you about $30-50 per person depending on the food and drinks you choose.

Taras restaurant – located in Shevchenko park near major Kiev Museums, close to Kiev University. You can order various pancakes as well as national cuisine dishes. The dinner will cost you $35-55.

USSR restaurant – located near Kiev War Museum and Kiev Lavra Monastery in 42/1 Sichnevogo Povstannya St. and decorated with USSR symbolics. The dinner will cost you $35-55.

Puzata Khata (Big Bellied House) fast food restaurant which combines original interior in peasant house style, tasty Ukrainian food, vast choice of dishes and low prices. It is located in very center, 1/2a Basseinaya St., in the beginning of Khreschatik. Here you can try traditional Ukrainian pampushky, Chicken Kiev, different salads and main courses. On the first floor you can also choose one numerous cakes and even order fresh made juice. The dinner cost is $3-10 per person.

Zdorovenky Buly (Good Health to You)

That’s a very popular fast food restaurant located near Khreschatik metro station which probably has the largest choice of different foods: salad bar, pancakes, varenyky, pizzas, soups, tasty desserts. Its comfortable rooms are decorated in various styles: Chinese, Indian, Egyptian and Greek. It also has Tea bar with cakes where one can sit and talk. Dinner: $3-10 per person.

Ukrainian souvenirs

You can buy various Ukrainian souvenirs on Andrew Descent (Andreevskiy Spusk): embroidered towels, matrioshkas, wooden painted plates and eggs, glass souvenirs, small dolls in national clothing, paintings and clothing. There is also a souvenir section in Kiev central magazine (Tsum), located in Khreschatik St and a souvenir shop near St Sofia Cathedral.