Corfu

Corfu is a island that is the second largest of the Ionian Islands. This Greek island covers an area of two hundred and twenty-nine square miles and has a population of one hundred and eight thousand residents. The name Corfu means "city of two peaks", which is a direct reference to the peaks of Palaio Frourio. The island is divided into three districts by two ranges. The first range is Pantokrator and traverses from east to west from Cape Psaromita to Cape Falcro. The second range is Santi Jeca Mountain. The coastline of the island spans one hundred and thirty-five miles and its highest location is Mt. Pantokrator (which stands at almost three thousand feet). Its second highest point is Stravoskiadi, which stands at twenty-seven hundred feet.

Corfu was originally known as Scheria and was most likely inhabited by the Phaeacians. Its strategic position between the West and Greece encouraged its growth. This continued until the seventh century, when the island was captured by the Corinthian leader Periander. His occupation of the area was fleeting, however and the island was soon able to regain its independence. In the fourth century BC, the island was once again engaged in a conflict with Corinth and asked Athens for assistance. This alliance between Athens and Corfu directly caused the Peloponnesian War. During this war Corfu became very valuable to Athens as a naval port. Over the course of the next few centuries, Corfu was besieged by several factions which included Cleonymus of Sparta, Agathocles, Illyrian corsairs and eventually the Romans. The Romans used the island as a naval station and in 31 BC, Augustus used it as a base of operations against Mark Anthony. After Nicopolis was founded, Corfu would pass for many years without much notice from the powers of the time. But, when the Italians built up their naval forces and the Norman Kingom rose in Sicily, then Corfu would once again become a pawn in many power struggles. From the eleventh century through the thirteenth century, it would be conquered and occupied by several forces. These included Robert Guiscard, Roger II, the Genoese and the Venetians. During the beginning of the fifteenth century it would become a possession of Venice. The Venetians stamped their influence of the island and this can still be seen to this day in some of the architecture. In May of 1864, Corfu and the rest of the Ionian Islands became a part of Greece.

A popular attraction on the island of Corfu is the village of Kassiopi. Kassiopi is located on the northeastern coast of the island in the Kassopaia Municipality. This village has been transformed into a resort town over the past few years and has a whole host of amenities to offer the traveler. It has plenty of restaurants and cafes, as well as internet cafes and bars. Motor boats can be rented during the day for use on the harbor and plenty of people come to this village to scuba dive. This village has become the major social center for the island, especially among teenagers. Another popular attraction on the island is the Archaeological Museum of Corfu. This museum sits on land that was donated by the city and its original purpose was to display items that were recovered from Corfu's Artemis Temple. During the 1990s, it was expanded with a couple of more exhibit halls that display the items recovered at Corfu Citadel. Items in its collection include Artemis Temple's Gorgon Pediment, The Lion of Menecrates, Bacchus' Pediment, Artemis' Terracotta Statues and various excavations from around the city.

Another interesting and fascinating attraction situated on Corfu is the Achilleion. The Achilleion is a palace that was erected by Elizabeth of Bavaria. This Kaiserin was a very powerful women who suffered severe emotional problems after the death of her only son, Prince Rudolf of Austria. A year after his death, she erected the palace to be used as a summer home in the Achilleion Municipality which lies about five mile south of Corfu City. It was built around the theme of Achilles and showcased the great love that the Kaiserin had for the Greek culture. When she died in 1907, Achilleion was bought by Kaiser Wilhelm II and used as his summer home. He expanded on the central theme of the palace and had sculptor Johannes Gotz make him his own statue of Achilles. Gotz made a bronze sculpture of Achilles that now stands in the gardens of the palace . During the first World War, Achilleion played the role as a military hospital and housed Serbian and French wounded. After the war, the palace was passed to the Greek government under the Treaty of Versailles. Between the great wars, the palace was used for various governmental offices and during World War II was used as headquarters for the Axis powers. After World War II ended the palace fell under the control of the Hellenic Tourist Organization. In 1962 it was leased to a private company who turned the top level into a casino and the lower level into a museum. It was during this time that the casino scene of the James Bond film ''For Your Eyes Only'' was filmed. Two years after the movie was filmed, the Achilleion was returned to the Hellenic Tourist Organization.

Other popular attractions on the island of Corfu include Ermones Beach, Kalamionas Beach, Arillas Beach, Pelekas Beach, Mirtiotissa Beach, Agios Gordios Beach, Sidari Beach, Aqualand, Airsea Lines, Paleokastritsa, Trailriders Horse Trekking, Church of Saint Spiridon, Grotto Boat Tour, Museum of Asian Art, Paleo Frourio, The Petrakis Line, The Kalypso Star, Spianada, Zoodochos Pigi Monastery, Mathraki Island and Kaiser's Bridge. Corfu is also home to some really spectacular restaurants and hotels. Restaurants on the island include Aegli Garden, Latsas, Restaurant of Yacht Club, Toula's Taverna, La Cucina and Rex Restaurant. Hotels on the island include Hotel Dalia, Hotel Iberostar Kerkyra Golf, Konstantinoupolis Hotel, Bretagne Hotel, Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel, Corfu Chandris and the Hotel Corfu Holiday Palace.

Kauai

Kauai is one of the main Hawaiian Islands and is also incidentally is one of the oldest. The island has an area of approximately five hundred and fifty-two square miles and has a population of about sixty thousand people. Kauai is the twenty first largest island in the United States and is the fourth largest of the Hawaiian Island chain. The geography of the island is volcanic and the highest peak of Kauai is Kawaikini, which stands at fifty-two hundred and forty-three feet. The second tallest peak is Mt. Waialeale which stands at fifty-one hundred feet. Kauai is one of the wettest locations on the planet and has an annual rainfall of over four hundred and sixty inches. The island was the last of the Hawaiian Islands to join the Kingdom of Hawaii. Tourism is by far the biggest part of Kauai's economy. In 2009, over one and a quarter million visitors came to the island. Eighty-four percent of them were from the United States and three percent were from Japan. The largest cities and towns on the island include Wainiha, Wailua, Kaumakani, Anahola, Waimea, Hanamaulu, Hanalei, Kalaheo, Kekaha, Princeville, Lihue, Hanapepe, Kapaa, Koloa and Kilauea.

A popular attraction of Kauai is Allerton Garden. This is a botanical garden that is situated on the southern shore of the island. It covers an area of eighty acres and sits beside Lawai Bay. Queen Emma of Hawaii lived over this valley and her house was moved to the floor of the valley and rebuilt. During the nineteenth century, the entire area was used as a sugar plantation. During the 1930s, the plantation was bought by John Allerton and renovated it as a garden. He took flora and fauna from around Asia and began to incorporate it into the garden. He also added plants from other Pacific Islands and statues. Today, the garden has breathtaking natural beauty and has waterfalls, statues, fountains and pools. Another prominent botanical garden on the island is Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens. This botanical garden covers an area of two hundred and forty acres and was founded by Edward and Joyce Doty in 1982. Seventeen years later, it was organized as a nonprofit organization and opened up to the general public. It now has thirteen gardens, a canyon, farmland, hardwood plantation and a meadow. The hardwood plantation covers an area of one hundred and ten acres and contains a variety of trees which include African Blackwood, West Indian Cedar, Palu, Big-leaf Mahogany, Moreton Bay Chestnut, Sandalwood, Zebra Wood, Blue Mahoe, African Mahogany, Narra, Brazilwood, Lignum Vitae, Caribbean Pitch Pine, Pheasant Wood, Queensland Maple, Indian Rosewood, Cocobolo, Teak, Rainbowbark, Iroko, Indian Blackwood and West Indian Mahogany. Other features of the botanical garden include Bog House, Poinciana Maze, Shower Tree Park, Wild Forest Garden, Children's Garden and Ka'ula Lagoon.

Waimea Canyon is not only another popular attraction of Kauai, but is also one of its most spectacular natural features. This canyon is ten miles long and three thousand feet deep. The canyon was dug out by the flow of the Waimea River over eons. It is part of Waimea Canyon State Park, which covers an area of eighteen hundred acres. In the park there are various hiking trails where visitor can enjoy the scenic beauty of the park and the canyon. Opaeka'a Falls is another attraction that is worth visiting while on the island of Kauai. This waterfall is situated in Wailua River State Park on Wailua River. It is over one hundred and fifty feet tall and is formed from basalt that resulted from volcanic eruptions. The name of the waterfall means "rolling shrimp". Though there are a fair number of waterfalls on the island, Opaeka'a Falls is one of the few ones that can be seen from a road. Opposite of the falls is the Poliahu Heiau Temple. Also close to the falls is the bell stone. The bell stone is a pillar that makes a sound when struck. It is believed that the ancient Hawaiians used this to warn of approaching danger. Nearby is Wailua Falls. This waterfall is eighty-three feet tall and will be recognized by most people as the waterfall that is featured in the opening scene of Fantasy Island.

In the town of Koloa is a fascinating attraction that is listed on Hawaii's Register of Historical Places. Its called the Old Sugar Mill of Koloa and was built in 1835 by Ladd & Company. This is the mill that would kick start the sugar industry of Hawaii. All that remains of the sugar mill are its foundations and an old brick chimney. Na Pali Coast State Park is another beautiful attraction on the island. This state park covers an area of sixty-one hundred acres and is situated in the center of northwest side of the island. It was founded as a way to protect the Kalalau Valley. This state park is inaccessible to cars, but visitors can still enjoy it via helicopter, boating or by using one of the hiking trails. The only access to the park by land is Kalalau Trail. Kalalau Trail crosses five valleys and runs a distance of over eleven miles.

Other attractions that are noteworthy on Kauai include Alakai Wilderness Area, Kipu Falls, Camp Naue, Fern Grotto, Hanalei Bay, Kee Beach, Iraivan Temple, Kauai Coffee Company, Kokee State Park, Princeville Ranch Stables, McBryde Garden, Queen's Bath, Limahuli Garden and Preserve, Koke'e State Park, Makeleha Mountains, Moloaa Bay, Na Pali Coast, Moir Gardens, Polihale State Park, Nounou Mountain, Spouting Horn, Princeville North Shore, Grove Farm Homestead, Wings Over Kauai Tours, Hanalei Day Spa, Anini Beach, Kauai Aadheenam Hindu Monastery, Kiki a Ola, Hanalei Beach, Kilauea Lighthouse, Limahuli Garden and Preserve, Puakea Golf Course, Na Pali Sea Breeze, Kukuiolono Golf Course, Salt Pond Beach Park and National Tropical Botanical Garden. Kilohana Plantation Estate, Brennecke's Beach, Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens, Kokee Natural History Museum, Evolve Love Artists Gallery of Kauai and Kauai Lagoons Golf Club.