There Is a Lot More in Goa Than Pristine Beaches!


When people think about Goa, seldom they can imagine anything more than beaches, churches and temples. However, this pristine place offers much beyond it. The only thing is, you have to look around with curiosity and interest.

It is a cultural place

Today, Goa is known as a predominant Christian state but it was a prominent Hindu state before that. Mangeshi Temple is the prominent religious place to visit in Goa. The other important place is Shanta Durga temple. Millions of Hindus visit every year and take the blessings of the deities.

Christmas in Goa gets the worldwide acclaim, but Hindu festivals are also celebrated with great joy. Since fun and follic are the core characteristics of Goa, it is the best place to spend a gala time.

Carnival is the most colorful and joyous event where almost everyone participates. You have a series of events in Goa during that time. There are fun fairs, colorful processes, sports events, cultural programs and many more. Those who experience once wish to go there every year.

It's party time!

Want to enjoy most exciting parties? There is nothing better than Goa. Those who seek for an unforgettable beach party in Goa will not be disappointed either. Clubs in Goa offer unpretented fun and full night bash with unlimited boze and platters of mouthwatering Goan food.

Spend holidays in Goa and get mesmerized by the scenic beauty of this place. The houses are amazingly beautiful, and the people are extremely adorable. The hospitality and warmth of Goa are beyond compare. It is impossible to come out of the charisma of this place.

Explore the unseen in Goa

If you are an explorer who wants to feel and experience Goa beyond the seashore, then there are so many things to do. Enjoy a scenic cruise in the beautiful river Mandovi that flows through Goa and submerges into the Arabian Sea near Panim.

There is a small island called Divar where you can see a beautiful Portuguese villa. Divar church a prominent place to visit. You can have the feel of the Portuguese era in this ex-capital of Goa. You can find houses reflecting the genuine Portuguese architecture with exotic colors and textures and sensational architectural excellence.

Goa is the jewel in the crown. It is one of the finest places where you spend every single moment with incredible joy. Spending vacation there gives memories to cherish forever.


The Dordogne Valley – The Real France


France is a magnet for tourists, especially Paris, which is everyone's romantic destination. There are other areas of France that draw the crowds – the Cote d'Azur, or French Riviera, centered on Nice, and the fabled cities of Provence.

But much of France is best savored in more remote countryside, and one of the most beautiful of these areas is the Dordogne Valley, in southwest France.

This is where one experiences the real France, the off the beaten track France, the slower rhythm, the ancient villages, extraordinary food; and, at the same time, magnificent medieval castles and chateaux dotting the countryside.

The best of the Dordogne is to be found along the Dordogne river in a grouping of small villages and bastides, centering around the towns of Sarlat, Domme, La Roque Gageac, Beynac and Castelnaud. These towns are all only a few miles apart, so one can settle in at a local hotel or bed and breakfast, and explore this great area at one's leisure.

Sarlat is the largest town here, a lovely medieval town of winding streets and ancient stone houses. Sarlat is especially well known for its Saturday market. Here you will find wonderful displays of local food, cheeses, fresh vegetables, and foie gras, the famous goose liver pate, for which the region is renamed.

Beynac and Castelnaud are two villas at the foot of two remarkable castles. Castelnaud was a stronghold of the English, while Beynac was held by the French, and they warred with each other for centuries. They both overlook the beautiful Dordogne river and valley, and are only about a mile apart.

At both Beynac and La Roque Gajeac, you can take a boat and drift lazily down the river, viewing other castles along the way.

Speaking of castles, there is one of great renounced nearby – Chateau des Milandes. It is a beautiful chateau overlooking the Dordogne River, and this was the home for many years of the great American song and dance star, Josephine Baker. She lived here for many years with her 12 adopted children – one each from a different country of the world. The chateau is open to visitors, and the interior of the castle is a beautiful living museum dedicated to the memory of Josephine.

Just north of this area of ​​the Dordogne are the famous Lascaux caves, the site of extraordinary wall paintings done by our ancestors 17,000 years ago. This connection with the long-past past permeates still the atmosphere of the Dordogne. There is a softness, a glow here, and a sense of continuity with even the most remote past that adds a real beauty to the living here.

This is a part of France where you begin to experience the real essence of this great country.


Buzzing Nightlife in Alicante


You will find literal thousands of people partying in Alicante every weekend all year round. There are a variety of bars and clubs for all ages including some gay bars and clubs and all music tastes are catered for.

On a typical Saturday night out, you will find pockets of young people drinking on the streets all over Alicante, and the most spectacular area is the Barrio, where you find lines of bars with outdoor seating. The atmosphere is unreal, everyone having fun and laughing, and the small bars just packed with people dancing. Unfortunately this all comes to an end a about 3 in the morning, when the local police move in and make sure that everyone leaves the area in an orderly fashion.

Almost everyone then heads down to the harbor area where there are several large pubs with plenty of room for dancing as well as exterior seating looking onto the sea. The port area is very popular with youngger people and they really do know how to have a good time and have no problems to keep going till about 7 in the morning, when the pubs begin to close.

At the very end of the Alicante Postiguet beach you will find a very relaxing "Chill Out" open air pub, right by the sea. There is a Tram stop within 200 meters of the pub and you normally find the people that frequent "Isla Marina" are 25 and the Chill out atmosphere that allows you to even remember down and be, and it really is a memorable night out to be repeated .

Traditionally in the summer, Alicante closed down for nightlife and everyone headed up to the Playa San Juan, but that is not the case any more. Even though the Playa San Juan does still have a loyal fan club in the summer, most people now just stay in Alicante, or there has been a new opening in the area of ​​Alicante Golf, where you will find about 15 medium to large size pubs , that pump out the music till about 7 in the morning and the place really is heaving at the weekend, and well worth a night out.

Of course you also have the option of going to Benidorm for a great night out, and the entertainment etc is more geared up for the influx of Northern European tourists, who never seem to stop arriving. You will find anything you might miss from the UK in Benidorm and nowdays it really is the only place to go for a nice portion of fish and chips or a traditional pint of ale.

There is a great variety of nightlife in Alicante and there is somewhere different to go to every night. The locals tend to go out to dine at about 10, so the time they have finished, the time is perfect to start swinging those hips.


Parc Guell Barcelona


Park Guell in Barcelona was created by Gaudi – Spain's famous maveric artist and architect. The Parc Guell area has recently been marked by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It is without doubt Gaudi's most colorful and off beat creation.

Gaudi was commissioned in the 1890's by Count Eusebi Guell to design and build a garden city on about fifty acres of the Guell family land near to Barcelona. He came up with a grand plan for incredibly decorated buildings set in a landscape of unique looking gardens. Only a small segment of his dream became reality and the bit that can still be visited today was finished between 1910 and 1914. This of course echoes the long term building project that is the cathedral of Sagrada Familia – Gaudi's other great dream building.

Inside Parc Guell the most unique area is the Room of A Hundred Columns – a huge hall with crooked pillows supporting the roof. There are eighty four pillows in all and the room sparkles with pieces of cut glass and colored mosaics.

A climb to the top of a flight of steps bounded by fierce looking animal models takes you to the Gran Placa Circular. This is an open space with a bright colored balcony area and an intense long mosaic covered bench. This bench is serpent shaped and designed to allow those who sit on it to speak privately – even though the area around may be bustling and busy.

Near the entrance to the parc sits the Casa-Museu-Gaudi – a house that looks for all the world like a gingerbread house. Gaudi lived there for twenty years but ironically it was not designed or built by him – although there is no doubt that it follows his stylings. The internal works and art and the furniture was designed by the great man himself and the house now provides a pilgrimage point for those who enjoy and are entertained by his work.


How to Pack For Your Next Trip!


Packing for your trip – for women .

What to pack and how to pack it, two of the most asked questions on vacation planning. It seems that most people are now beginning to pay attention to their packing with the new restrictions and costs involved in taking provisions on planes (weight allowances have dropped and check in costs have risen).

For the most part people are happy booking packages and even going to specialist travel agents to book safaris or other adventure travel, many go the independent route and book it all themselves, so although there are still plenty of questions related to travel planning with respect of actual travel, more and more people ask about packing!

So what are the best tips?

Let's start with what you pack your blessings in, invest in a good quality lightweight case, either a holdall type or suitcase, which is your preference. Because you do not want to have to carry it, even if you have packed light, get something with wheels and make sure it's stable on those wheels!

Now let's look at what you're actually going to put in this ultimate of cases! Questions to ask yourself before you decide.

  • Where am I going, is it hot, cold, changeable?
  • How long am I going for, a weekend, a week a month?
  • What sort of trip is it, business, pleasure?
  • Will there be activities, swimming, surfing, golf, walking, climbing, hang gliding?
  • Who am I going with, family, friends, work collections, romantic partner?

The weather at your destination, will dictate a lot as to what clothes you pack, other considerations are if it's a beach or camping / hiking trip will there be bugs? If so which and is there anything I need to do to counteract them?

Think about whether you need 'smart' clothes, casual, or a mixture. If it's a business trip then you probably need both business smart and casual smart. Take a look at your wardrobe and sort out the colors you have, aim for a basic building block color like black, gray or white, you can then team these with brighter colors and mix and match.

One basic pair of tailored black pants can be the basis for both business and casual smart, ring changes with tops and accessories, not too many though, you're packing light remember! Shawls are a good way to ring the changes, besides being light and easy to pack.

A simple shift dress in either gray black or white can be dressed with a jacket, a shawl, or a lightweight cardigan. The pants with a top and jacket, top, top and shawl, or sweater can give you many different looks.

All primary colors and many pastels work well with these three basic colors so you certainly will not be drab! Shawls come in a myriad of designs and two should see through you most occasions, a bright bold one color pashmina type wrap will see you through both day and evening, for more dressy occasions, something with decoration will dress up your basic shift, add jewelry and a small evening purse and away you go. Oh, that's right, shoes !! We can not forget shoes! 1 each of elegant sandals, flip flops, and business boots should be enough without you're going walking in which case some leisure shoes will be needed, boots or trainers, the choice is yours.

Let's see what we've got so far:

  • Black tailored pants.
  • Gray shift dress.
  • White shift dress.
  • 3 tops – different colors.
  • 1 Jacket.
  • 1 sweater.
  • 3 pairs of shoes.
  • 2 wraps
  • Shoes

But what if business is not on the agenda and you're going purely for a beach vacation, planning to lie around the pool and soak up some sun, or lie on the beach and soak up some sun, sit at a beach bar and soak up some sun!

Trip Check List

Passport – make sure it's valid! Take 2 photo copies, leave one at home with your emergency contact person, take the other with you and keep it in a different place than your actual passport. On the beach and in bars etc, carry the copy not the original.

Take copies of all important documents and keep them in separate places, that way, if you lose one lot, you still have the information.

Prior to travel make a list of any emergency numbers you might need, these may include the number to call if your credit card gets stolen, emergency numbers to call in the country you're visiting in case of accident, illness or crime. The number of the local Consulate or embassy, ​​while it's very rare to need these, when you do, you want them to hand.

Chargers for your phone, iPod and any other electronic entertainment devices you may have (eBook reader, PSP, Nintendo etc).

Travel Documents – plane, boat, train tickets, visa's, car hire voucher and any medical certificates to prove vaccines where applicable.

Driving license if you're picking up a hire car, make sure it is the original and not a photo copy, if you hold a UK 2 part driving license you will need both parts. If your driving license is not in roman letters (Arabic, Cyrillic, Greek, Kanji etc) then you should bring an international driving license as well.

If you are hiring a car and will be the lead driver you will need a credit card in your name, with sufficient credit for the car hire company to 'hold' the deposit.

Do you take any medications? Be sure to bring enough for your trip and do not forget to bring original packaging in case of emergencies (where you may need to replace them). Also put together an emergency medical kit, pain killers, plasters (especially Compeed blister relief plasters), antibiotic cream, diarrhea pills, indigestion pills and of course vitamin c!

With the restrictions on liquids in hand luggage and the weight restrictions on checked bags decant toiletries into 100ml bottles, you can always buy more at your destination, this also applies to sun block and insect repellent. Although I would always take travel sized hand sanitiser, toilet paper (small roll) and wipes, as well as aloe vera gel in my hand baggage.

With those restrictions in mind, if you're staying in a hotel or self catering accommodation, check to see if they provide hair dryers etc, if they do, it's one less thing you have to carry.

If you need glasses, take a pair pair, you just never know what can happen and you do not want to be stranded half blind now do you?

If you're going to a hot country take two pairs of sunglasses (in case of breaks) plus a hat to keep the sun off your head, it's surprising how many people, especially those with fair hair get sunburned heads!

If you want / need to take a towel, take a micro fiber one, they weigh a lot less and dry much more quickly too.

Do not take your best jewelry unless you're staying in a hotel where you have access to a safe and even then think twice because nothing can spoil a holiday quicker than losing a favored piece of expensive jewelry especially if it has emotional significance.

Beach Trip

Going to the beach? Then you need to pack some sun block! Add some aloe vera gel for soothing sunned and sanded skin, dark glasses and a hat! Of course you'll need a couple of swimsuits, sarongs work well on the beach and are so light and easy to pack. Take several in exotic prints and they can double as party time dresses too! will show you just how versatile sarongs really are, and what's more, they leave plenty of room in your case to bring home lots of lovely bargains!

What clothes to take, think about it, will you be going to glitzy nightclubs and restaurants or relaxed beach bars and discos? Pack as lightly as you can, take wash and wear items so you do not have to carry lots of dirty clothes home with you. Sarongs make a good choice for women as they come in a multitude of colors and patterns, are light and easy to pack and so versatile that with only a couple you could go from beach to restaurant effortlessly.

You can even make your own, in colors to suit your taste, a sarong or pareo is about 6 feet in length and the width is whatever you want it to be! If you want to you can wear them as a skirt with a favorite top, wear them as a dress, or even a jacket how versatile is that? !!

If sarongs are not your thing then think about taking just some basic items that you can dress up or down with accessories, a shift dress (yes even though this is not a business trip) always works well because it can be dressed up or down as needed.

As it's not a business trip take as few shoes as you can because they take up a lot of room, weigh a lot and most of the time on a beach trip you end up wearing your flip flops all the time

A string bag for the beach to take all your 'stuff' to and fro, your own water bottle to keep refilling, not forgetting a good book or whatever you take to the beach to do whilst you're not in the water or ordering another Mai Tai!


Fun Things to Do in Or Near Cancun


What are the most popular things to do in do in Cancun? Well, this is a list of the exciting possibilities with something to offer any taste and personality. I consider myself to be fairly well rounded, but I like a bit of excitement on land or sea and the list of things to do in Cancun never leaves me feeling bored.


Ok, so maybe food is not the most obvious place to start but that is exactly why I start there. There are so many places to eat, drink and snack that you could spend your whole trip eating and still miss out on some of the greatest taste sensations Cancun has to offer.

One tip I have is to select a couple of eateries from several different cuisines and price levels. Limiting yourself to American, Mediterranean, or even authentic local foods is a sure fire way to cheat your taste buds. In the same vein, dine in restaurants of all price ranges. I was surprised to learn that a five star establishment may not always be my favorite experience, but it is still worth the price of the entrée.

Sea Offerings

Ok, so this is where the 'things to do in Cancun' list gets really prolific. The outdoor activities involving the ocean are almost endless. You can snorkel, scuba dive, sail the waters in a boat, yacht, jet ski or even a submarine, and of course there are always the beach side recreational activities such as surfing, boogie and body boarding as well as parasailing and oceanfront horseback rides . This list does not include ocean sports like beach or deep sea fishing or catamaran voyages and wind surfing. There are also more sedate activities like beach combining with a metal detector and deep sea treasure hunting.

The list goes on, but I will stop there because as great as all these activities are it is only one one sided offering. The Lagoon side of Cancun offers many of these same activities but being in the waters of a sheltered mangrove forest to translate them into a completely different experience. Then widening the circle of water recreation even farther there are water filled caves for diving and cenotes filled with green-turquoise waters where unique species of fishes live.

Jungle outings

For the truly adventurous there are many jungle excursions including Mayan ruins galore and the new adventure park Xplor Cancun that encourages the Tarzan in all of us to swing through the jungle tops on zip lines, drive on 4×4 trails and even head into the water to float down a subterranean river as stalagmites rise up and tower over head.

Fun for the City bucketer

If being outside all day sounds more like a hassle than a hurrah there is so much to do in Cancun proper that you never need leave the hotel zone and could still have a rich and full vacation.

The night club selection is unreal. If you want a slammin 'club with the loudest and latest music you are in luck. Cancun hosts several hotspots enjoyed by the glitterati as well as the everyday vacationer.

Some prefer a quieter night life. Cancun has quiet little hide a ways; from secluded cafés and bars to smoke bars and ocean front clubs that will fill your need for a quiet night on the town. In addition to famous night clubs Cancun boasts some of the finest shopping facilities in all of Mexico.

When you plan a trip to Cancun the real question is wherever you will be able to find enough things to do in Cancun but trying to decide how much you can include.


Las Vegas' Best Grand Canyon Motor Coach Trips


If you're one of the millions of people who vacation in Vegas, a Grand Canyon bus tour might be the perfect getaway from Sin City's glitz and glamour. Motor coach trips head for the canyon every day of the year, and depending on the season and your physical condition, they can be expanded to include several terrific activities. Plus, bus tours give you a great way to relax and enjoy the journey to and from the National Park.


Vegas travelers have several options when it comes to Grand Canyon bus tours. Many tours are all-inclusive and come with free Strip hotel pickup and drop-off. Some of the other Vegas hotels offer a free hotel shuttle that transports tour passengers to their departure point. Some hotels may even offer discounts on tour packages as a perk for their guests.

Located on land owned by Hualapai Native Americans, the West Rim is the most popular part of the canyon with Vegas vacationers. Most motor coach trips stop along the way at Hoover Dam for a quick photo-op. West Rim highlights include Eagle Point, Guano Point, the Grand Canyon Skywalk and Hualapai Ranch. Some tour packages take you on a smooth-water rafting trip down the Colorado.

Like West Rim motor coach trips, Grand Canyon bus tours from Vegas to the South Rim stop briefly at Hoover Dam. A portion of the route runs on fabled Route 66. Highlights at the South Rim itself include Mather Point, Yavapai Point, a new Visitor's Center, Bright Angel Lodge and Grand Canyon Village (that's where you'll find interesting museums and gift shops).

How Big?

The Grand Canyon is one of the most remarkable places on the planet. Its size is staggering – 277 miles long, more than a mile deep, and up to 18 miles wide. The canyon's design as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World makes it a proud member of a very exclusive club. You've probably seen photos of the Grand Canyon, and yes, they're beautiful. But the only way you can truly appreciate its jaw-dropping beauty is by seeing it in person.

The buses used for these tours are safe and comfortable. The climate control is effective, the windows are designed for sightseeing, and the seats are spacious and comfy. All drivers are trained, experienced professionals. Beside driving your bus, your driver will share interesting tidbits of info about the sights you're passing.

You can book a standard bus tour package, or you can pop for an optional extension to make your visit even better. I've already mentioned the optional rafting trip, but hiking along the rim trails is another possibility.


A Grand Canyon motor coach tour could have the perfect change of pace from the constant hustle and bustle of Las Vegas. Most people are speechless the first time they see the magnificent canyon vistas spreading out before them. I've been there many times, and I still can not find the words to do it justice and describe the Grand Canyon ideally – you'll just have to go there to see what it's really like.


Halloween Party in Transylvania With Vlad the Impaler! – Dracula Holiday in Transylvania


The guest's are welcomed with a traditional Romanian drink prepared especially for the cold season – a shot of Romanian "water of fire" boiled with pepper will increase the interest in the delicious mouth-watering traditional dishes prepared for the Halloween party. The Master of Ceremony, one of Dracula's many subjects, will introduce the guests to the program of the evening making sure every one will meet his fate!

The first event you'll enjoy is performed by the Transylvanian Knights. The "Witch Trial" will reveal the medieval rituals of judgment for a witch testing the courage of the guests. Should anyone dare to handle the sword and fight along with the knights to save the damned woman, will be anointed as a knight.

There can be no Halloween Party without Dracula; the Count will simply not tolerate such a thing! His majesty will join you and even make a few confessions about his wedding. "Dracula's Wedding" is a show set on stage by a professional band of actors. This is a non verbal performance. It's very easy to understand that Dracula did not need words to charm a girl. The first time they met he appeared as a respectable noble, the second meeting revealed his true dark nature … Find out if the story has a happy ending.

Since we're all very familiar with dramas, we'll then focus on having a fabulous time, and water better way to do this than dancing! A band of folk singers performing live at traditional Romanian instruments will introduce the guests to the gypsy rhythm as well as the melodious and cheerful Romanian songs. The traditional "Scarf dance" will bring everyone to the dancing floor!

Close to midnight will all step out to watch the moon and count down the minutes to 12 o'clock, a time of powerful magic when all bad wishes come true! (let's just say that your neighbors' cat will not bother you anymore). A glass of champagne and the traditional Rest in Peace song will delight us afterwards.

The culinary event of the evening is the Halloween cake, shaped as a coffin and delicious as fresh blood. This might just be the first coffin you have tried and you will like it!

The Count's witch will be at your disposal. She'll open her office for you to be able to purchase After Life Insurances (something will know for sure you will use!)

The Master of Ceremony will reword the ones who really did their best for the Halloween Costumes! The Best Female and Male Costumes will receive rewards (Romanian genuine handcrafts to remember you of this incredible night). The Count has also a gift prepared for the Best Howl at the Moon (after a glass of strong red wine boiled with cinnamon you will not lack courage or strength!)

The DJ will then take over the party! Devilish dancing to the dawn. The last person standing will receive a bottle of wine courtesy of the house and Romanian tips on how to handle the hang over.

If you want to learn the truth, be charmed by the legend and enjoy the best Halloween party ever, join us along narrow winding roads, deep in the Carpathians, into the heart of Transylvania for a fascinating holiday!

The prestigious Fodor's travel guide placed Halloween in Transylvania with Vlad the Impaler, The Dracula Tour in Top ten must-do adventures.
Special events experienced in this Halloween tour:

– Killing of the Living Dead ritual – Help a haunted spirit to gain his peace
– Learn how to make a vampire killing stake from the Vampire Wooden Stake Specialist, a famous woodcraftsman from Maramures
– Visit legendary castles in Transylvania with plenty of good stories for a Halloween tour: Bran, Peles, Corvinesti and Savarsin Castles
– Halloween Party in Sighisoara – Dracula's birth place
– Special accommodations, the finest selections of "Dracula Hotels" including Dracula's Castle in Transylvania – Bram Stoker's imaginary castle in Borgo Pass where, he placed the Bloody Count Dracula, accommodation and candlelit dinner,
– Discover Dracula's descendents – pay a visit to Misiuga, Baron of Dracula in his windswept tower in Bistrita citadel
– Enjoy Jonathan Harker's Menu – the same meal Bram Stoker's hero served when in Bistrita citadel
– Vampire menu for dinner in Turda to find out why it's worth killing for a meal!
– During latewell dinner a Survivor's Certificate will be handed over (collect stamps all along the itinerary to prove your courage)


Finavon Castle in Forfar Scotland and It's Legends


The passions triggered by infidelity and jealousy are not modernventions. Men and women have struggled with the emotions and repercussions of infidelity for ages. In dealing with couples, the stories of those struggles often provide new insights into the problem of adultery. When I come across historic accounts of adultery and how it was deal with, they have a poignancy that modern stories do not convey. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Finavon Castle in Scotland which was the location of several sordid events. Finavon Castle is located in Angus, four miles northeast of Forfar. The city of Forfar is known for its meat pies known as 'brides'. The ruins of Finavon castle are located just west of ridge where a Pictish fort once rested. The area was once known as Forafshire. Nearby are also the ruins of an ancient church as well. Finavon is also known as Fine Haven or Finhaven castle as well. Seeing the physical remains of the castle served as a testimony to the events that transpired there and the fruits which such passions produce.

The first earl to occupy the castle was a jousting champion. His formal title was "Earl of Crawford". He remained so steady in his saddle during jousts, that rumors began abounding that he had to have been fastened to it somehow. In order to disprove the rumors, at one tournament, he leapt down from the saddle. After having landed, he jumped back onto his horse, while wearing his armor. For any athlete to accomplish such a feat was extraordinary. From this feat, it is clear that the Earl of Crawford was exceptionally fit and talented. He also married the daughter of Robert the Bruce's grandson. This is the medieval equivalent of a sports superstar having a celebrity wedding to the national nobility or first family.

The Earl started a long line of occupation at the castle. His grandson, the third earl, was mortally wounded trying to prevent a family quarrel between the two families that were entitled to the castle. Many times, those who intervene trying to keep the peace between warring factions are the ones hurt. The fighting was severe, with many on both sides being wounded or killed. In those medieval times, disagreements were not limited to verbal abuse. Those who disagreed often engaged in physical violence against each other. In his wounded state, the third earl returned to the castle. His brother in law who fought against him, was also wounded and brought to the castle. When the earl died, his wife was so enragged at his death, that she went through the castle, found the brother in law who was recovering from his wounds and immediately smothered him to death.

The fourth earl also known as the "tiger earl" had been deeply involved in the black arts and was known for his pronounced cruelty. His disposition led to the wealthy monastery at Abroath to depose him as their justicair (judge). He had a ferocious appearance with a long beard, hence the other title of "Earl Beardie". He attended a dinner party where a fellow earl (The Earl of Douglas) was stabbed in the neck by his attacker. Those at the party soon joined in by stabbing and striking the lifeless earl. The episode led to bigger things and the tiger earl joined other nobles attempting to overthrow the rulers in favor of the house of York. He and other lords incited an uprising, which was routed at Brechin (1452). After the battle, he returned to Finavon, exclaiming the he would "gladly pass seven years in hell to gain the honor of victory. It was also as a result of this battle that the saying" A Lindsey in green, shall never be seen " had its origin.

In another instance of cruelty, he hung a minstrel outside his castle on iron spokes protruding from the castle walls. He also cut out the tongue of a local errand runner known as 'Jock'. The young man had made the mistake of cutting off a branch of the local chestnut tree the earl often used as a tree for hanging people. The episode led to the following rhyme being generated:

" Earl Beardie ne'er will dee,

Nor puir Jock Barefoot be set free,

As lang's there grows a chestnut tree " .

When King James II heard of his tiger Earl's attack on a fellow earl, and selective rebellion he took action. The enraged king threatened casting the castle, by making the highest stone the lowest. It is not know what transpired when the king arrived. What is known is that he went to the top of the tower, took a stone and dropped it to the ground, thereby fulfilling his pledge. Earl Beardie is also the subject of a legendary game of cards that he is reported to play through eternity. He reportedly lost his soul to the devil in the process of the game and continues playing at nearby Glamis Castle in a secret room. The legend has it that servants were killed who told about the room. During the course of the card game, the room was forever sealed off. Although the story makes for entertainment, and is kept alive by reported sightings of Earl Beardie at Glamis Castle, the reality is that he died and was buried in a nearby community. The tiger earl's son distinguished himself as a man of accomplishment. He earned several titles and the respect of the nation.

The ninth earl imprinted the eighth earl within the castle dungeon. He was known as "the wicked master" due to his cruel acts. His land, position and office were removed from him on accusations of attempted murder.

The castle served as the site for the marriage celebration of the daughter of Cardinal David Beaton to the 10th earl of the Castle. The cardinal kept his mistress at a nearby Meglund Castle. On one side of the story, Beaton was legally married to the woman staying there, but had demoted her status from wife to mistress in order to take a high position in the church, since a Cardinal was not allowed to have a wife. The reformers claim that Meglund Castle was home to not one, but several mistresses along with concubines associated with the Cardinal. The reformer John Knox often referred to the paramour / lady of the castle as Beaton's "chief lewd". Cardinal Beaton was determined to suppress was saw as heresy among the Scots for raising to question his authority and his interpretation of Holy Scriptures. Beaton's actions were often harsh and brutal as was the response to them.

The marriage of Beaton's daughter to a near earl added some social acceptability to his illic relations, although not enough to redeem his reputation. The earl's family, had their own reputations to be concerned with. So please the lavish wedding celebration and party, both the wife and husband had families with considerable baggage in their past. The picture of having a marriage feast on the same grounds where men had had their tongues cut out or hung is a hard one for my mind to wrap around. In many ways, it is a metaphor for many families. They try to make a new life and do the best they can to overcome the harsh histories of their families.

The castle was also immortalized by it being the subject of a passage from Thomas the Rhymer. Thomas was regarded as a Celtic seer or prophet. Thomas the Rhymer (who lived about 1200AD-ca 1298 AD) was reportedly a man with special powers. Contemporaries often compared him to the legendary Merlin of Arthurian legend. (Some legends have Merlin being buried in the same region of Scotland). Many of the prophecies of Thomas were quoted by reformers promoting Scottish independence in Scotland in later centuries. Many of his prophecies came to pass regarding people's lives, battles and other events. Legend has it that he never died, but was taken to fairyland. The location where he disappeared was an Eilden tree near the Eilden Hills of Scotland. Some legends claim that the hills are hollow and Thomas was taken to that location. The hills are located south of the city of Melrose, Scotland in the Borders region. He was known for telling the truth so much in his sayings, that one of his nicknames was "true Thomas". His rhyme concerned the castle was " When Finehaven Castle rinds to sand, the warld's end is near at hand ".

Wandering through the castle ruins, I considered what can be learned from the lives of those who lived here in previous generations. After all the lavish celebrations or harsh acts, all that remains are ruins and memories. The reputations of some people, like Cardinal David Beaton and the tiger earl live on through the ages.


The Best Places to Ski in France


The list of the best places to ski in France should probably be headed by Chamonix, which probably has the most outstanding reputation for destination ski resorts in France. It may have something to do with its placement right in the shadow of Europe's highest peak, Mont Blanc. But, that's not to say there are not a lot of close competitors when considering ski holidays in France.

Courchevel is right up there, ranking 10th in a 2005 article entitled, "50 Places to Ski This Winter" in The Independent. (Chamonix actually came in 18th in that same article.) A place called Les Gets actually ranked # 1 in the article, and the writer cited its great instructors, and it being "as charming a ski village as you're likely to find. "

But when considering ski holidays in France, you've got so, so much to consider. There is the famed Val d'Isere, which sports 97 lifts and high-altitude skiing up to nearly 3,500 meters. There are kids clubs, kindergartens, and ski schools, and apres skiing that's both laid back and luxuriant. Where else could you find "fun family fondue," afternoon tea, and 3-course dinners, and £ 389 per person ski holiday packages?

Now, back to Courchevel. This place has it all, from quaint, multi-level linked villas, to extra powder for all skiing abilities, to ice skating, tobogganing, skidoo-ing, ice climbing, as well as some steaming nightlife.

And, we must tell you about what Chamonix has to offer the discerning skier or snowboarder. Contender for the title of the world's greatest ski resort hotel is most likely Hotel Mont Blanc. Staying here in alpine style, you get Chamonix at your feet, er, skis, along with the most stunning range of intermediate and advanced skiing – certainly in the Alps, if not all of Europe. Instead of afternoon tea and evening champagne, you get your pick of 100 restaurants and some of the Alps' best nightlife.

Sauze d'Oulx, France also ranks right up there with the best, offering alpiners nearly 400 kms of ski trails. This is the place to come if you want to party down and do some skiing, too. Its Irish and British pubs, dance clubs, cocktail and wine bars, and being one of 5 majestic villages that form the "Milky Way", this resort plays down the extreme skiing for a more Epicurean approach.

And there you have it – the best Ski holidays in France.