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Hawaii Vacations: 7 Great 4-Star Hotels

Here's several 4-Star Hawaiian hotels that offer first-class accommodations and beach front views.

Sheraton Moana Surfrider - This historic hotel has been lovingly restored and maintains it's circa 1901 charm. Located on Waikiki beach, it offers high tea and sunset buffets.

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Portugal A Basic Guide

Portugal is a small country, only 560km by 220km, and is situated at the westernmost edge of Europe. Covering an area of 92,000 sq km, it is divided up into seven traditional provinces (províncias). These are (from the north) the Minho (after the Rio Minho river), the Douro (where you will find the town of Porto, named after the Rio Douro), Trás-os-Montes (by the mountains), the Beira (border), the Estremadura (containing Lisbon), the Alentejo (past the Rio Tejo) and finally the Algarve (from the Moorish for 'west country' al-gharb).

Whilst the climate in Portugal has both Atlantic and Mediterranean influences, the coastline is formed entirely by the Atlantic ocean, a fact that some visitors are surprised to learn because we tend to think of Portugal as Mediterranean. This may be due to the bright colours, long days of sunshine and influences from cultures that have also become a vital part of the culture in Spain and along the south coast of France for example. The Mediterranean influence is particularly evident in the southern parts of Portugal. The River Tagus (Rio Tejo) divides Portugal into its distinctly different northern and southern halves.

In the north the population has Celtic and Germanic origins, more traditional farming methods and a cooler climate. South of the Rio Tejo people have darker skin as this area was Roman and then Moorish territory, and farming tends towards figs, cork and oranges rather than the potatoes and corn of the north. In fact, Portugal produces more than 50% of the world's wine corks, around 15 thousand million each year.The main cities in Portugal are the capital Lisbon, with its diverse selection of Portuguese culture; the second-largest city of Porto, which is also Portugal's economic capital; and university towns such as Coimbra and Évora, and the ancient capital of Guimarães.

There are few really large cities in Portugal but a plethora of small, provincial towns that are worth visiting. Essentially, the beaches in Portugal are the main draw for tourists, especially in the Algarve. There are beaches all the way up the west coast, but the sea tends to be cooler and even cold as far north as Viana do Castelo.Apart from the mainland, Portugal consists of Madeira and the Azores, islands colonized in the 15th century. Madeira is 900km southwest of Portugal off the west coast of Africa, and the Azores archipelago consists of nine islands 1440km west of Lisbon. Both are too far away to form part of a trip to Portugal but are popular tourist destinations in their own right.

.Jeanie Leigh is a freelance writer and has contributed to a number of publications, both on and offline. Most recently she has written articles for The Pink Fridge and IndigoGuide.com.

By: Jeanie Leigh

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