Adonis Diaries

Archive for October 18th, 2013

What are you favorite cities? Even the Ugliest in the eyes of the beholders?

And Beirut was selected 20 of the top 25? Ahead of Paris? Looks like the French hate to vote on anything?

Frances Cha, CNN, posted this October 17, 2013 : And the Best City is...?”

How many cities have you been to? And do you agree with the rankings?

Condé Nast Traveler announced the winners of its 26th annual Readers’ Choice Awards yesterday.

As they do every year, this year’s results introduce new categories, new hotels and re-ordered lists of the world’s best destinations.

The magazine said this year’s list was the most comprehensive ever, with 1.3 million votes cast for a whopping 16,000 properties around the world.

World’s best cities

The “Top 25 Cities in the World” list had refreshingly surprising additions and rankings — Paris came in at a lowly 22 while Bruges (Belgium) and Cape Town (South Africa) tied for 11th place.

Budapest and Florence tied for second, while the very top spot was seized by the colonial city of San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico, which took the crown from last year’s favorite of Charleston, South Carolina (which was tied for fifth this year) and voted the top city in the United States for the third year in a row,.. for its “sand, sun, history, good food and friendly people.”

Italy snapped up five of the top 25 cities, while Spain managed to take three.

Top cities in the world

1. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
2.= Budapest, Hungary
2.= Florence, Italy
4. Salzburg, Austria
5.= Charleston, South Carolina, United States
5.= San Sebastián, Spain
7. Vienna, Austria
8. Rome
9. Siena, Italy
10. Québec City
11.= Cape Town, South Africa
11.= Bruges, Belgium
13. Vancouver, Canada
14. Kyoto, Japan
15.= Prague, Czech Republic
15.= Kraków, Poland
17.= Victoria, Canada
17.= Sydney
17.= Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States
20.= Seville, Spain
20.= Beirut, Lebanon
22.= Paris
22.= Melbourne, Australia
24.= Venice, Italy
24.= Barcelona, Spain

Top cities in the United States

1. Charleston, South Carolina
2. Sante Fe, New Mexico
3. San Francisco
4. Honolulu
5. Chicago

Top hotels and resorts in the world

1.= Lodge at Kauri Cliffs in Maturi Bay, New Zealand
1.= La Residence, Franschhoek, South Africa
3.= Singita Sabi Sand, South Africa
3.= Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve, South Africa
5. Grand Hotel Timeo, Sicily

Top U.S. airlines

1. Virgin America
2. Jetblue Airways
3. Hawaiian Airlines
4. Southwest Air Lines
5. Alaska Airlines

Top international airlines

1. Singapore Airlines
2. Emirates
3. Virgin Atlantic
4. Etihad Airways
5. Air New Zealand

What are you favorite cities, hotels and airlines? Did the Condé Nast Traveler readers get it right? Tell us below!


We’ve made the list of the world’s 10 most beautiful cities, now we present the ten ugliest.

There may be countless ugly small and medium-sized cities around the world, but these are the 10 least attractive of the world’s capitals and major cities. If you live in any of these places, you’ll surely disagree, but here is our unbiased list:
Amman, Jordan



This fumes-and-crime-filled city is the capital of an otherwise beautiful country. It looks more like a slum than a capital city, with most buildings appearing on the verge of collapse.



It’s currently known as one of the world’s most dangerous cities, but even if it was a safe haven, it still would not be a very inviting city. It’s one of the world’s most polluted and there isn’t much to look at.

Mexico City, Mexico



The capital of the country with one of the world’s most fascinating historical sites (magical Petra) should simply be an arrival and departure point on your travel itinerary. Unless you enjoy dirty, chaotic streets and ugly buildings looking like they’re crumbling on top of each other.


Venezuela is known for its extraordinary success at international beauty pageants and Venezuelan women are famous for their plastic surgery-enhanced bodies, but the country’s capital sure is no beauty. Not only is it surrounded by shantytowns, its most central districts seem devoid of planning and style.

Caracas, Venezuela



It’s undergoing a spectacular boom as the capital of Africa’s recent economic success story, but let’s hope the new development creates something more attractive than what we see now: ugly apartment buildings dotting the skyline of what incredibly is the world’s most expensive city.

Luanda, Angola



Moldova’s capital is an eyesore. It’s an industrial city mostly made up of very ugly Soviet-style apartment buildings, most of them decaying (and not very clean either). There are many unattractive Soviet-era cities in Eastern Europe, but we expect more from a capital.


Houston, we have a problem: You’re ugly. This is the United States’ fourth largest city when it comes to population, but the attraction sure isn’t scenery. There are many other ugly American cities (let’s face it — American metropolises aren’t exactly beauties: Atlanta, Cleveland…), but this one should win the title of ugliest of them all, with a large impoverished and homeless population (close to one in five families live below the poverty line) and a cityscape with no formal zoning regulations.



Here’s the ugly truth: Detroit is ugly. Not just aesthetically but also in quality of life, which explains why it lost a quarter of its population in a decade. One of the highest crime rates in the country may have contributed to that, but this is also a dirty, rundown city mostly made up of brick, concrete and glass. Not pretty.


Nature seems to have concentrated all of its efforts on Rio and completely forgotten Brazil’s other big metropolis. São Paulo may be one of the world’s most exciting cities when it comes to dining and shopping, but there’s no question that it’s one big ugly concrete jungle.

Sao Paulo, Brazil



A city known for its congested highways is enough to make it unattractive, but then there isn’t much to look at walking down the street either (if anyone actually walks — this is one of the world’s least pedestrian-friendly cities). Despite the allure of Hollywood and the beaches nearby, Los Angeles is simply not the prettiest place on Earth. As one of the world’s most famous cities there is no excuse for lack of beautification year after year

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Masters in Agriculture, Wine and Beer making, Food preservation, Textile, Dying, paper production… The Phoenicians

It is reported that Marcus Porcius Cato the Elder, after visiting Carthage and returning to Rome with the most exquisite and delightful crops of the orchards in Carthage, he exclaimed with raging indignation:

“Carthage is back to its former glory and power. I am of the opinion that Carthage must be destroyed…”

And Carthage was sacked in 149 BC, let burn for 17 days, and perishing 50,000 inhabitants…

The Roman senate ordered to retrieve from the ruins the 28 volumes of Mago masterful “Treatise on Agriculture”.

This treatise of the “Father of Agriculture” was translated into Latin. The Phoenicians considered agriculture as a precise science.

The Roman scholar Silanus translated the chief parts of the volumes.

St. Augustine, who spoke the still living Punic tongue in the 4th century AC, wrote: “On the word of many scholars, there was a great deal of virtue and wisdom in the Punic books…”

Even in the 20th century, many illustrious chemists did their best to decode the Phoenician purple color  and their dying processes and failed.

The Phoenician textile industry was traded in every corner of the world, and silk, and cotton were common elements in the fabrics…

Papyrus and paper are derivation of the Phoenician term babir, and the City-State of Byblos, renowned for book production gave birth to  Bible, bibliotheca, bibliography…

The Roman Strabo wrote:

“In Sidon and Tyre, one could learn astronomy and arithmetic, which are necessary for navigation… And one could also study all branches of philosophy…”

Paul Valery wrote in “Architecture, 1923”: “This audacious Phoenician ceaselessly agitated the Ocean…

When archaeologists and paleontologists … claim that mankind civilization has the Near East as its hotbed, they mean:

“The Phoenician and Chaldean immigrated everywhere around the world and traded their goods, language, alphabet, industries… and left their imprint of high level civilization to future generations of mankind…”

Note 1:  Colonized the Americas?

Note 2: Inspired from “6,000 years of peaceful contribution to mankind” by late Charles Corm 

When the ultimate of thieves is to pay us a visit? Have we gathered the tiny bits of great memoirs?

Lately, many close older relatives of mine and of my parents are dying, practically handicapped, bed-redden, losing their memories, and spending more time in the emergency rooms than at home.

This getting old condition is extremely exhausting physically, emotionally and financially to the sick and to those taking care of them.

I paid a visit to one of my “uncles”, the husband of one of my mother’s sisters, and my aunt was again in the hospital. My aunt has undergone many surgeries of all kinds in the last 20 years and is confined to walk in her house using a walker.

My uncle looked depressed and blurted out “Here we are. When the ultimate of thieves is to pay us a visit?

The French author Pivot wrote:

“Most of my old classmates, when they lose their parents, and even more when their grandparents disappear, regretted not having had the time – in truth, curiosity – to ask them about their childhood, their youth, their debut in existence, their joys, their disappointments.
They have let go the older close people, retaining only what was considered the most essential of their life, but leaving out to nothingness the thousand small grains which are the sugar, salt and pepper (of what is living).
They lament their too late inability to answer the questions they failed to ask: it never crossed their mind to ask when there was still time.
They regret to have breached the duty of remembrance (of collecting and gathering their memoirs) and to have missed so many opportunities to add to the truth and the Romanesque of the family saga.
I’ve known of inconsolable persons, who after the funeral, considered themselves as negligent and idiots.” End of quote
When I started by blog in 2008, and after getting the hang of posting at least one post every day, I wrote my autobiography and published my diary.
It dawned on me that no autobiography is worth writing if I fail to collect the bits and pieces of my parents’ remembrance.
Particularly that they lived the hard way in Africa, when Africa lacked electricity and running water, and far away from any family members or relatives.
Although I don’t recall sitting with dad and having any useful conversation or discussions, I tried twice to extract a few bits of information, especially names since his memory is intact and vast on ancient people and the town.
My major source of intelligence pieces is mother. Her memory is failing, but I pay close attention to her constant rambling when she sits down to rest from a busy day, and feeling bored for not having enough energy to create tasks in order to fill the time.
I don’t mind listening to mother, as long as she don’t start asking questions on people, where they are, how they are faring, and complaining of the tight financial conditions we are reduced to, and the thousands of worries she has about every one she recalls, the dear dead ones she dream of,  her sleepless nights recollecting the dead ones…




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