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by Bonnie Carroll


Belfast was the heart of the embittered battles during the 70s, and continued to be thus until 9/11 when funding from sympathetic supporters dwindled. However, the story of this graveyard of patriots from both sides remains highly visible throughout certain areas, and can be seen in art and in physical barriers that mark separation zones of the past.  


There is a long wall of buildings along a main boulevard that is covered with protest art, located just a few blocks form the Sinn Fein (“We Ourselves”) headquarters. These paintings include issues on sympathetic international causes, as well as satire on people like George Bush and the economic woes in America. This is not really garffitti, in that it is attractive artwork.


Many of the houses have plaques indicating that a dead hero or supposed criminal lived on these premises during their life. This was a bloody and horrible time in Belfast, when so many innocent women and children became the targets of historic hatred from both sides in a fairly small geographic area. Young gangs of protestant boys would beat a Catholic to death with bricks if they mistakenly wandered into the wrong sector, and vise versa. I remember seeing a documentary on a mother who described identifying her son at the morgue following one of these beatings, and felt sick hearing her describe that her child was bashed in so badly that only one foot was recognizable as being a human body part. According to our Guide Ken McElroy, the peace agreement has changed all of this.


This is a thriving city, with lots of traffic, is home to some wonderful hotels and restaurants, and appears highly populated. The people are friendly, in a reserved fashion, and the arts are alive and visible throughout. Visiting the art galleries and shops offers an opportunity to experience the talent of the Irish and also enjoy and purchase original paintings, glass work and hand crafted jewelry created by local artists to add to your collection..







Book a minimum of 2 nights before January 31, 2009--for travel before April 30, 2009--and enjoy the third night free at one of Mexico's premiere hideaways. Offer also includes:  welcome cocktail upon arrival, tropical Fruit Platter & Beautiful Bouquet of Flowers freshly placed in your Suite, welcome romantic montage in your suite, Early check In & Late Check Out, Exclusive Las Alamandas amenities and complimentary use of all facilities: Fully-Equipped/Air-Conditioned Gym with Ocean Views, Lighted Tennis Courts, Beach  Volleyball, Half Basketball Court, Croquet, Lawn Chess, Mountain Bikes, Horseback Riding on the Beach, Kids' Club, Art Gallery, and more.

This exclusive offer also includes great savings on roundtrip airport transfers from either Puerto Vallarta or Manzanillo airport in an air conditioned Suburban/SUV. Only $280 USD++ instead of the normal rate of $500 USD++.

Package price starting at $390 USD per night.


 Dynamic site features event listings, multi-media content,

comprehensive neighborhood descriptions, interactive maps and more


Chicago's convention and tourism industry is among our city's most important. With that in mind today, we're announcing a great new website – ExploreChicago.org – that will increase out visibility all around the world and make it easier for visitors and residents alike to take advantage of the great things our city has to offer,” Daley said in a news conference held at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.

The website is a highly useful planning tool for both visitors and residents alike. Highlights of the new site include:  

  • Listings of hundreds of current events, tours and attractions, searchable by date, neighborhood and area of interest;
  • Multi-media content, including audio tours, slideshows, podcasts, video clips and an itinerary builder;
  • Orbitz.com, the provider of comprehensive travel booking services, conveniently allows site visitors to book their flights to Chicago, make hotel reservations and more
  • “Insider Profiles” of real Chicagoans, who share their favorite things to see and do in the city;
  • Comprehensive information on each of Chicago’s many distinct neighborhoods, complete with interactive Google™ maps;
  • A Virtual Visitor's Center with downloadable brochures, maps and resources for international travelers including information on using public transportation, tipping, using emergency services and exchanging foreign currency.

Explorechicago.org provides visitors with a highly-personalized experience of Chicago. It features a rich repository of up-to-date content, written in a compelling, conversational tone, combined with effective interactive tools.

Chicago’s Graphics and Reproduction Department.

Explorechicago.org is expected to have more than 190,000 visitors each month. Beginning in Spring 2009, the site will be available in Spanish and French, as well as English. Translation and localization services will be provided by Translations.com, the travel and tourism industry leader in website and ecommerce translation services, featuring their GlobalLink language management technology.

In creating explorechicago.org, several city agencies, including the Chicago Office of Tourism, Department of Cultural Affairs, Mayor’s Office of Special Events, and the Chicago Park District, worked with Crowe Horwath LLP.




-Enjoy deluxe accommodations, a candlelit dinner for two with live music, a “Loving Couple” massage, champagne & strawberries and buffet breakfast as Italy’s Hotel Raito offers a special Valentine’s Package with rates starting at €320-


Hotel Raito invites couples to enjoy a lover’s respite along the shores of Italy’s romantic Amalfi with its special Valentine’s package. With rates starting at €320 or $429* (U.S. dollar is based on exchange rate as of January 13, 2009), the hotel’s “Valentine’s Package” features luxury accommodations in a Sea View Double Room, a romantic candlelight dinner for two accompanied by live music, an intimate “Loving Couple” massage at the hotel’s Expure SPA, champagne and strawberries and a daily buffet breakfast.  Rates are per room, based on double occupancy and include VAT.  This package is available Saturday, February 14, 2009. Coast

To set the mood, Hotel Raito’s intimate Luna Vietrese, which overlooks the spectacular Bay, will feature a romantic candlelight dinner for two. The meal will feature exquisite Mediterranean dishes including Angler in lard of “Colonnata” with chick-pea cream and mousse of carrots and oranges, “Raviolini” stuffed with sea bass and nettles, seafood sauce, spinach, tuna cubs aromatized with Cyprus Salt and a Turbot with red lentils, celery soup, black olives and potatoes. To top off the sumptuous meal, guests will enjoy a dessert “Kiss”a sphere of mascarpone, amaretti and coffee with passion fruit.  As guests enjoy the romantic dinner, music will fill the air as the local Agorá Band performs a variety of well-known love songs. of Salerno

Originally opened in 1958, Hotel Raito continues to be the crown jewel of the Amalfi. Located in the quaint town of Vietri sul Mare, which offers mild temperatures year-round, hotel guests will enjoy the historic Etruscan village overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. After completing a recent renovation, the hotel now features Italian-contemporary décor, luxury amenities such as Frette linens, Expure SPA bath products, custom-tiled spacious bathrooms and plasma televisions. Many of the 77 guest rooms and suites offer balconies and terraces with stunning views of the Bay and the villages of Vietri sul Mare. of Salerno Coast

 In addition to its luxurious guestroom accommodations, the hotel features three sea-view dining rooms including Il Golfo, offering a-la-carte Mediterranean cuisine, the Restaurant Luna Vietrese, for formal dining, and the casual and charming Exlounge Bar & Grill restaurant, which offers a selection of light Mediterranean fare. Hotel Raito also offers exquisite SPA facilities in its Expure SPA. Treatments included Turkish baths, sensory beds, hydromassage seats, coiffeur, relax area, solarium and massage rooms. The hotel offers a complimentary shuttle service to and from both Vietri sul Mare as well as the beach, and boat rentals, with or without a sailor, are also available for a cost.

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© 2008 Bonnie Carroll, All Rights Reserved