Sardinia, very nice

sardinia

Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the geologically oldest in Europe. It’s a close neighbour of Corsica to the north, Italy, and Sicily. Its capital city is Cagliari.

The island is mountainous with high rocky coasts and several bays, inlets, and rias. The island has a Mediterranean climate on its coasts, plains, and lowlands while a continental climate exists in the centre.

The island has come under influence from RomansByzantinesItaliansAustrians and theSpanish and some of their traditions are still practised in Sardinia today. Sardinian and Italian are the main languages spoken on the island. It is also site of several megalithic structures and aUnesco World Heritage Site.

The Sardinian diet relies heavily on meat, dairy products, grains, and vegetables. Sardinians also drink more beer per capita than anywhere else in Italy.

Sardinia has three international airports connecting it to the mainland of Italy and other parts of Europe. There are ferry companies which operate between Sardinia and cities in France and there is a rail network which connects towns across the island.

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Bond parachutist dies

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Mark Sutton, the stuntman who parachuted into the stadium dressed as James Bond during the 2012 Olympic Games in London has died in a freak accident in Switzerland.

The 42 year old Sutton died while wingsuit flying on Wednesday, August 14 in the town of Martigny in the Swiss Alps near the border with France. Police said it appeared that Sutton died after crashing into a ridge of rock.

The stuntman was one of the 20 top wingsuit pilots in the world who had been invited to participate in a non-competitive gathering of similar pilots who are filmed as they jump from helicopters. The accident happened on the first day after several successful jumps had already been made.

The stuntman jumped from the helicopter at an altitude over 10,000 feet.

Sutton and another jumper flew close to the mountainside in the Valais region and were supposed to land close to the village of Le Peuty.

Sutton stirred up the London Games Opening Ceremony as part of a stunt featuring Queen Elizabeth II and Daniel Craig as Bond. Craig reprised his role up to the point of the jump flying into the Stadium as Sutton as Bond parachuted in.

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Corsica, Napoleon’s birthplace

corsica

Somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea, west of Italy, southeast of France, and north of Sardinia is the French island of Corsica.

The island, an departement outre-mer or overseas region of France, is dominated by amountain chain which comprises two-thirds of the territory. Corsica is the most mountainous of the Mediterranean islands.It has three separate climatic zones – hot coastal zone, temperatemountains, and an alpine zone.

For the nature lover there is the Parc Naturel Regional de Corse which boasts several protected species while the Scandola Nature Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Ajaccio, the capital is in Corse du Sud while the second largest city Bastia is in Haute Corse. The Corsican culture is a unique blend of French and Italian.

The French general and emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Corsica and his home is currently a museum while the town of Calvi claims to be the birth place of the explorerChristopher Columbus.

Along with French, Corsica has its own language which is recognised as an official language by the French government.

Corsica has interesting cuisine which includes wild boarseafood and river fishficatellu coppalonzu made from Corsican pork and cheeses such as brocciucasgiu merzucasgiuand veghju made from goat or sheep milk.

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Google tackles the UK Internet music

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Internet Company Google has decided to tackle the United Kingdom music streaming market.

The company has launched Google Play Music All Access in the UK, entering an already crowded market in an attempt to challenge Spotify, Deezer, Rdio, Xbox Music, Sony’s Music Unlimited, and Rara.

The new service will cost £9.99 per month but new customers will get it for £7.99 until September. The other services have free options while All Access does not.

All Access has already been launched in the USA, New Zealand, and Australia and there are plans to launch the service in other parts of Europe such as Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain.

The service will offer a range of features including unlimited “on-demand” access to millions of tracks; Smartphone apps; recommendations for new music, and a personalised radio feature.

The UK is the fastest growing market for streaming music in the world. Over 20 million people paid for subscription music services last year.

People in the UK streamed more than 3 billion tracks in 2012 earning more than £49 million in income for British record labels.

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Crepe suzette, desert with a twist

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Nothing says “France” quite like a crepe. The wafer thin pancake is a staple of French cuisine as a desert that can be enjoyed at home or away.

The crepe Suzette adds a little more romance to the classic crepe with its sauce of beurre Suzette made from caramelised sugar and butter, tangerine or orange juice, zest, and Grand Marnier or orange Curaçao liqueur served flambé.

The crepe can be made from scratch or store bought but for a more authentic flavour homemade is best. All that is needed are 2 large eggs, 3/4 cup milk, 1/2 cup water, 1 cup flour, 3 tablespoons melted butter, 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons of liqueur, and butter to coat the pan.

Blend eggs, flour, milk, until it will pour smoothly from a mixing bowl. Put batter in the fridge. Heat a frying pan with sweet butter and pour in batter to cover the bottom of the pan. Tip the pan from side to side to allow the batter to spread thinly. After a minute, turn the pancake upside down, then turn it again, until brown. Fold crepes in a triangular shape and store.

To make the Sauce Suzette, melt 1/4 butter in a saucepan, after it has boiled, add combination of liqueurs and orange and lemon zest.

Pour sauce over crepes, add brandy and light. When crepe is cool it is ready to serve. 

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St. Martin, a double dose of delight

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The island of St. Martin in the Caribbean is unique. It is the smallest island in the world that is governed by two sovereign nations.

One side of the island is ruled by the Kingdom of The Netherlands and is called Sint Maarten while the other is governed by France and is known as St. Martin. It is the only land border shared by those two nations anywhere in the world.

The Dutch side’s main city is Phillipsburg while the French side’s capital is Marigot. The island is served by one airport – the Princess Juliana International Airport.

The island of St. Martin/Sint Maarten is hilly and tends to by dry. Like most of the other islands in the Caribbean it has a dry season from December to April and a wet season from June to November.

The Dutch side of the island is quite festive. A cruise ship port sits in Great Bay near Phillipsburg and tourists can enjoy fine restaurants serving French, Chinese, and Indonesian cuisine.

There are also loads of little shops where interesting jewellery and clothing can be purchased. The € is the unit of currency on the French side while the guilder is used on the Dutch side.

The main languages spoken here are English, Dutch, and Papiamento. French is the main language spoken in the other half of the island. Here is like a little slice of France in the Caribbean with exotic boutiques, cafes and patisseries all around the narrow streets. Duty free shopping with high-end brands makes St. Martin very attractive to visitors.

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Le Havre, where to see a little of the old and a little of the new in France

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Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime Department in Haute-Normandie on the North Western coast of France. The name Le Havre means harbour and indeed the city is set on a harbour.

Founded in 1517 by the French king Francois I, it was named Franciscopolis in his honour.

The German-occupied city was destroyed by allied forces during World War II and was later redesigned and rebuilt by Brazilian architect Auguste Perret. The rebuilt city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

The Le Havre port is the second busiest in France after Marseille. For travelers who wish to move between England and France it is possible to take a ferry from Le Havre to Portsmouth in England. The trip takes five and a half hours.

For the traveler who wants to see a mixture of the old and the modern in France then Le Havre is the place. Several pre-war structures still exist such as the Musee du Havre, the Abbey de Graville, while the more modern include the Church of St. Joseph, arguably the most recognizable sight in the city with its bell tower rising over 100 feet.

Other modern buildings include the Hotel de Ville and the Musee des Beaux Arts Andre Malraux. Getting around Le Havre can be by done by bus or tram and the city is two hours from Paris by train.

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