The grandeur of a caliph’s palace, sybaritic sun-drenched Mediterranean beaches, the staccato stamp of a flamenco dancer’s heels, the awed hush of pilgrims entering the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela after weeks of walking El Camino. You can find the soul of Spain in tourist attractions such as these, which represent the country’s tumultuous history, rich culture, and enchanting natural beauty. From the sunlight playing endlessly off the “scales” of Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum and the throbbing street life of La Rambla and Plaza Mayor to the forest of columns and Moorish arches disappearing into the silent expanse of Cordoba’s Great Mosque, Spain exudes a vibrant energy and a captivating blend of past and present.
From sea to shining sea, as the song goes, the USA is large, diverse, exciting, action-packed and full of things to see and do. It’s got huge cities (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles) filled with people. culture, history, nightlife and shopping; medium-sized cities full of all that plus regional appeal; and thousands of small towns and rural byways for those seeking backroads America.
It’s impossible to experience all of the USA in one visit. Indeed, most Americans never get around to visiting every corner of this large and endlessly fascinating country. The best advice for potential visitors is to pick one or two destinations or points of interest and budget enough time for in-depth exploration and adventure.
Americans are, for the most part, a friendly lot. Proud of their country and proud of the part of the country where they live, people will never be shy in recommending places “you’ve got to see,” be they historical monuments, excellent local restaurants, scenic beauties or a good shop.
The American people love to show off their country, the “land of the free,” a place that’s simultaneously laid-back and hard-charging, easy to get around yet so large that getting around takes time, urban-centric yet rural in attitude. Yes, the USA is a mass of contradictions, which is what helps make it the premiere travel destination in the world.
The official language of the United States is English, but Spanish is increasingly a second tongue. Unlike other international destinations however, few people will understand anything but English, even in big cities.
The official currency is the US dollar, which is divided by 100 cents.
Voltage is 110-120V, 60 Hz.The electric plug has two flat pins, sometimes with a round ground prong.
Internet connections and WiFi spots are found throughout the country. Most major hotels provide good accessibility.
The United States requires a valid passport and a travel visa for all non-residents entering the country. Contact an official U.S. consulate or embassy for information.
Tap water throughout the United States should be considered safe for drinking or washing.
There are four time zones in the USA: Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific. The USA observes daylight savings time from mid-March to early November.
Although visitors arrive year-round, the USA’s peak tourist season is in its summer months: May through October.