END: November 13, 2011
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How much does your schooling influence your holiday habits? It’s perhaps an obvious point to make, but surely the countries and the peoples we learn about are those which we’re more likely to seek out when it comes to putting money down to go on holiday. True, many of us go on holiday to relax and the history of a place may not have all that much to do with our poolside habits. But ultimately, behind our eventual destination is the question: why should I care about this place?
Education – for better or worse – answers this question for us. The problem, if it is one, is that each nation prioritises certain aspects of history over others because they have something more pertinent to say about that country’s history. It’s quite common for people to journey to Rome simply because the Romans were there. But Italy’s great wealth of Renaissance sites are perhaps slightly overlooked by, say, British travellers because education focuses on the domestic Renaissance triumphs. Shakespeare and Henry VIII, as opposed to Leonardo Da Vinci and Rodrigo Borgia.
The Mediterranean is probably most illustrative of this point. Perhaps it’s because they truly are the major players in European history, but the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians have gifted their successors with irreplaceable tourist currency whilst other nations of similar contemporary significance find themselves somewhat overlooked...
Perhaps the cultural heart of Europe for millennia, Rome remains an incredible tourist attraction with it modern realities and historical magnificence both on display. Everyone surely has to go there once.
Image via Flickr user: MiGowa
For hundreds of years, Rome was the capital of the Romans (first as a republic, later as an empire). But the centrifugal political strife that would eventually tear the empire into two different halves saw Rome lose its importance. In the last years of unification, Rome wasn’t even the capital: Constantine established a new capital in the near East, the city we now call Istanbul but was then known as Constantinople. In fact, this eastern Roman Empire, which we know as the Byzantine Empire continued on a thousand years after the fall of Rome, picking up its own unique cultural adornments during this time and in the subsequent Ottoman and Turkish eras.
In Istanbul, you will find many of the typical vestiges of a Roman capital. The 4th Century Valens Aqueduct still stands, along with the Column of Constantine and significant sections of the city walls (which proved impenetrable until the invention of gunpowder). There’s also the Hagia Sophia, the current incarnation dating back to the 6th Century, having seen use as a Cathedral, Mosque and Nation museum. With a grand mix of public buildings from every age of the city, Istanbul is a place that deserves as much tourist interest as Rome. I enthusiastically encourage you to correct this mistake.
The Romans are notable for uniting most of Europe and building the first great Empire, but the Ancient Greeks are perhaps most notable for being conquered and copied by the Romans. Oh, and for being an significant cultural force whose writings and thoughts have proven invaluable millennia later. We go to Villas in Greece for all the romance of this world: The Acropolis, Parthenon and surviving temples.
Image via Flickr user: isawnyu
Whereas the Greeks were revered by their conquerors, the Romans never quite forgave the Carthaginians. And when they conquered Carthage, they destroyed its culture and records, leaving us only with a dim and hostile impression of what the great city was once like. The ruins do remain, however, and the district of Carthage within the Tunisian capital of Tunis is the place to glimpse what little is left: an excavated bath-house and a few freestanding pillars.
Later Roman ruins of temples, ampitheatres and bathhouses are to be found around the same site. Again, another nation we often know too little about, with a colourful and exciting history all on display.
There are surely many more examples besides these, but hopefully they have made you question where you instinctively think to go on holiday. There are countless cultures we’re never taught about, and many even more diverse than those of the Mediterranean coastline...
Steph Wood is a writer for Simpson Travel with a soft spot for destinations with plenty of history. Turkey Holidays beckon after penning this article.
The life is really expensive nowadays, and I love the idea that I Feel Richer with Android - Straight Talk because I cut my cell phone bill in half. You have to be crazy to be on a contract these days when you can get everything you need without one. Imagine the amount of money you could save switching to Straight Talk. There are no contracts, no surprise bills and no credit checks. (This is very good considering that lots of companies try to trick people). Great nationwide coverage and excellent reception/connectivity are also a good point. Finally, Straight Talk only uses trusted phone manufacturers like LG, Motorola, Kyocera, Nokia and Samsung. How great! I'd like to know what you would buy with the extra money you save? Think about it :)
Straight Talk will provide you with all the apps and games you need. It's a smart phone with a smart plan, and as always, no contract. You will have The power of Android phones, at only $45/month for unlimited use.
The “All You Need Plan” meets even the needs of heavy phone users with 1,000 minutes, 1,000 texts and 30 MB of web data. Unlimited Monthly service is only $45, and includes calls, text, picture messaging, and web. I think it's a fair price for these services. Imagine unlimited calls, text, picture messaging and web for a whole year, for only $499.00! Also, 411 calls are included at no extra charge. This is free from activation, reactivation, or termination fees.
And now, the people who have relatives or friends abroad should read this! Straight Talk International Long Distance Service is a flexible prepaid calling service that enables you to make international calls from your home, cell or office phone at low rates.
Reconditioned phones are available from $10.00 with camera, mp3 player, mobile web access, and blue-tooth capability. Great for young users! The choice is hard among the amazing smart phones, touch screen phones, and app capable phones with features like voice navigation, camera, video recorder, music player, instant messaging, and Bluetooth®.
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New Manly Metals Make Great Wedding Bands
Congratulations! You pulled off the proposal. Now she’s on a mission to plan the perfect wedding, and you’re relieved to know that the details of your Big Day are pretty much all about her. But don’t get too relaxed, because there’s one major detail at the top of your “to do” list, namely choosing your wedding band. If your idea of the right wedding band is the first one that fits your finger and her budget, then go for it. But if you’re looking for a ring that, like you, has a style all its own---and you’re thinking that the best place for gold is in your portfolio---there’s a whole new breed of Contemporary Metals that you’ll want to check out. Here’s a look at the four contemporary metals that can make your wedding band manly and memorable.
1. Titanium: If you’ve ever flown on a commercial jet you’re already acquainted with titanium. Due to its light weight and exceptional durability, Titanium is a perfect fit for both airplanes and ring fingers. Active guys like Titanium bands because when they slip them on they hardly know they’re there, and they don’t get in the way during workouts. If your job description calls for physical labor, your titanium band can take the punishment right along with you. Although the finish is difficult to scratch, titanium does show signs of wear over time. But a trip to the jeweler for a quick polishing will make it look new again. Aside from the properties of durability and wear ability, the cool gun-metal look of titanium bands makes a distinctive and masculine statement. And you’ll find more style choices with titanium than the other metals in its class. Another benefit of this unique metal is that, compared with bands in the “precious metal” category like gold and platinum, titanium is very affordable. One word of caution, though. If you choose titanium, take your time during the fitting process, as titanium rings can’t be resized.
2. Tungsten: With a melting point of a whopping 6,100 degrees Fahrenheit, and a hardness rating of 9.5 out of 10 on the mineral hardness scale, rings made from tungsten carbide are, for all intents and purposes, indestructible. Based on that symbolism alone a tungsten carbide wedding band is worth considering. But the coolness factor doesn’t end there. With more heft than titanium and the look of fine polished steel, a tungsten band speaks boldly of your individuality and appreciation for things that last. And with a variety of color options such as black, white and gray, along with a myriad of band styles including flat, faceted, domed, brushed, beveled or concave, even the most discriminating groom should find just the right look. For an even more personalized statement, consider adding carved designs, grooves or custom inlays of wood or carbon fiber to your tungsten band. Even with these extras you’ll be glad to know that tungsten bands are still budget-friendly.
3. Cobalt-Chrome: With a bright white color that trumps titanium and tungsten as a prime contender to take on white gold and pricy platinum, Cobalt-Chrome is gaining rapid popularity in the category of alternative wedding bands. Being harder than stainless steel and 5 times harder than gold, cobalt-chrome’s color and luster are timeless. By comparison, white gold needs to be re-plated from time to time to keep up appearances. Another nice advantage of cobalt-chrome is that it’s bio-compatible, meaning that those with allergies to precious metals can wear bands made from this striking contemporary metal with no worries whatsoever. Should you go with cobalt-chrome you’ll be glad to know that your ring can undergo future size adjustments should the need arise.
4. Ceramic: Don’t let the word “ceramic” throw you. This is not about Pottery 101. In the world of alternative wedding bands, ceramic has taken on a whole new meaning. Created using space-age technologies, exotic materials and special bonding processes, Hi-Tech or Black Ceramic has properties that rival tungsten. Unlike black tungsten, which is created by covering grey tungsten with an industrial coating that can eventually scratch and chip, wedding bands made of Black Ceramic are incredibly durable, boasting hard, high-gloss finishes that are impervious to scratching, chipping, crazing or fading. Along with being light-weight and super comfortable for daily wear, Black Ceramic bands are flat out stunning to look at. Think of the ring that Christian Bale’s “Batman” would wear if he ever tied the knot and you’ve got the picture.
While the goal in choosing any wedding band is to make sure it’s something you’ll feel good about wearing for the rest of your life, going with a contemporary metal band is a great way to please, not only yourself but your bride to be. After all, no woman wants a bland band on her man’s hand.
Carlos Delgado is a freelance writer for Men's Tungsten Online.