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How to Make a Temporary Travel Last Will

This is an easy step for a bit of additional peace of mind. A temporary travel will before a vacation can help people know your wishes if anything should happen to you.
Make a Temporary Travel Last Will

Instructions

  1. A temporary will is not a replacement for a permanent Last Will and Testament drawn up with a qualified attorney at law. However it is usually considered legal and binding. When my wife and I travel on occasion without our kids we will always draft a temporary will in case of an auto or plane accident or something that would hospitalize or kill both of us. We don’t tell our young kids about it, we don’t want to worry them, but leave it with a parent, sibling, or close friend. Usually we leave it with whomever is watching our kids.
  2. A temporary will should be dated. It should spell out who you would like to be in charge of your children if you both should die. It should tell where important papers are and where a primary bank account is and who (by full name)should have access to those funds and documents in an emergency. It can also address your wishes as far as medical care. You can authorize someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if both you and your spouse or companion are unable. Where we had relatives of a different faith we even spelled out the church we desired our young kids to attend until they were old enough to decide that themselves. They fully understood and agreed.
  3. This type of will should be signed and dated by both of you, and ideally a witness or two as well. Once finished seal it in an envelope and leave it with instructions. It is of great use and will hold weight with a probate court if you don’t have a permanent will. A recent temporary will can actually hold some weight over a formal legally drafted will, as it would be of a more recent date. Use this if you need something clarified before a trip. If you would like to notarize your signatures that is an additional safeguard that your wishes will be followed but not necessary to make it valid.

Reasons for renting a bus for sightseeing in Philadelphia

Philadelphia is a historic destination in the United States as it is famous across the world for being the birthplace of United States of America. It is considered to be a haven for history lovers as it houses a number of historical places that are worth visiting. The city finds a special mention in the history of America. Owing to the presence of a number of historical sites and tourist attractions, it has become one of the most popular tourist destinations among the travelers to America. Today, it has as well developed into a prominent commercial hub with the presence of several large business organizations. It is also a popular destination for holding conventions. With so much to see and visit, most leisure travelers as well as business travelers prefer travelling by bus. But the question is when other modes of transportation is available then why do people prefer buses for sightseeing tours?

Here are some of the reasons that will answer the question. However one of the major reasons include that bus rentals in Philadelphia is much affordable as compared to other means of transportation.

For business organization renting a bus is more economical and financially viable as compared to other means. It is cheaper to organize a bus trip throughout the city. Moreover, you can choose from the various packages offered by the travel agents that will suit your business needs as it is more cost-effective in comparison to other means of transportation. The company from which you rent the bus will as well ensure that the bus is operated by a well-trained, experienced driver. A rented bus also arrives perfectly uncontaminated to provide their customers with the best sightseeing experience.

Also, the families that visit Philadelphia for vacation find renting a bus better as it allows them to enjoy family time. Dad is free from the responsibility of driving and can enjoy the trip with kids and other members in a more fulfilling way. Everyone can enjoy the sightseeing as well as move around, stretch out and relax. Even the inhabitants of Philadelphia rents buses for special occasions such as wedding, etc as it provides more convenience. They find that a bus is a great way of getting a church group, a sports group or some other special interest group from one place to the other. The bus rental service as well as Philadelphia trolley works is also used for party or wedding, nothing can be better than letting the whole group goes together to the destination. With special on the bus entertainment group, people on-board can get into the party mood and start having fun before they arrive at the venue. There are many more events for which people in Philadelphia rents out buses. It is not just cost-effective but also offers convenience to the people.

Most Famous Historical Places in India

Tere are usually many traditional places with India which are included beneath world history sites. A expedition to these historical locations would definitely leave this tourist mesmerized in what splendid beauty India holds inside it. The architectural mastery of Indian historical places in India is actually mesmerizing and once combined using hospitality as well as other touring destinations in your community, tours to India traditional places is totally magnificent. The most notable 5 historical invest India are usually:

1. The Taj Mahal- Taj Mahal is known as the token of appreciate. People variety different edges do the entire world come to find out this magnificent Seven Wonders of the World. A tour towards taj Mahal takes one to the enchanting city of Agra. The white-colored marble mausoleum was built with the great mogul emperor shah jahan with loving memory space of the wife mumtaz Mahal. It took nearly two decades to created and all around 20, 000 personnel were interested in construction that marvelous beauty.

2. The Khajuraho Temples- one can find the many beautiful sculptures in the kahjuraho temple that is certainly situated in the charming Madhya pradesh. The brow is commitment towards sexuality and sexual where each and every corner incorporates a sculpture in which depicts a few innocent appreciate form. Within khajuraho, you’ll find e wets that variety one collection. One is at the southern, other with west and the last you are in this east. The principle temples of the set have been in the developed region which includes the wonderful Kandariya Mahadeo Brow. All this temples are meant of marble and sandstone.

3. Your Ajanta along with Ellora caves: these caves were integrated between minute century B . C . and ninth century ADVERTISING. The caves include the most appealing destination with regard to tourism with India. It is amongst the main components of the Major 5 Historical Set up India. The Ajanta caves can be a reflection of Buddhist culture and the Ellora caves have a number of Buddhist, Jains along with Hindus. The paintings in the cave nonetheless look clean and lively and journey towards caves is actually mesmerizing.

4. Fatehpur Sikri – this is another magnificent beauty 50 kilometers clear of Agra. This place can be a tribute to Sheikh Salim Chishti. Diwan-Khana-I-Khaas, Diwan-I-Am, along with Daulat-Khana-I-Khaas, etc are a few of the magnificent attractions at Fatehpur Sikri.

5. Qutub Minar- among the heritage sites and the tallest stone minaret in the world. Situate din this Qutub difficult in Delhi, this minaret can be a beautiful construction that foliage one spellbound.

They were the top 5 historical invest India. India will be land that is certainly famous for the rich ethnic and historical heritage. Every corner in this country is stuffed with numerous web-sites of interest. One must trip to India at least once in the lifetime.

Have a Grand Vacation in Exumas with Cheap Flight Tickets

Exumas is a having an extended stretch of dazzling and pristine beach that runs 120 mile. The water at Exumas is the most beautiful in the world, and comes in every shade of blue and green. You will grow tired making queries on the actual watercolors. You can find great combination of seafood and friendly locals.

This is the great place and vacation destination in the Bahamas. Well you will love to know this one, Jimmy Buffett, who docked his seaplane in the Club Peace and Plenty and helps the islanders get amused by fishing from the cockpit, it was this place.

For the vacationers who love to enjoy the calmness on a beach, Exumas is perfect for them. They are uncrowded beaches that offer plenty of beach activities such as snorkeling, fishing, and enjoy a dinner at the restaurant by the beach.

Exumas is able to attract adventurers and huge number of fishermen who look for hunting bonefish. This feisty breed looks for shallow sandy flats and the environment is abundant in Exumas. You will find a healthiest coral reef and huge population of variety of fishes. The secluded beaches of Exumas will let you enjoy starry skies, and a couple of new friends.

While you are on the beaches of Exumas you cannot go wrong. They are some of the pretty beaches that have a sharp contrast of powdery bleach-white sand with glittery emerald and sapphire waves. You can even stake your umbrella directly overhead and the best of all is their wildest attractions.

You can enjoy here with your friend and family simply partying while daylong. You can spend a day or two hopping across the island through the 365 cays. You can get ready for iguanas, swimming pigs, and giant starfish.

So if you are planning for a great break to the island of Bahamas, then choose Exumas. It is none other than the best place that offers quite compact and ideal conditions to enjoy a great vacation in a secluded and iterative manner. Exumas is not just a beach destination but till now it has remained in the ignorance now it has come up as the best tourist destinations among the US vacationers.

To book your air tickets to Bahamas at FareDepot and choose the best price on the airlines that you like to step in. you can fly to your favorite destination any time but for that you just need to schedule the flight date and time.

Escaping the rat race: Yosemite therapy for the urban soul

The Tunnel View is a well-known scenic vista in Yosemite National Park.

The days are long for the average SoCal city dweller. Fighting traffic and surviving the workweek grind are unrelenting challenges that leave many longing for — and probably fantasizing about — some serious R&R.

This universal craving is the very reason why the weekend getaway was invented. Fortunately for those who live on the West Coast, there’s a place close by where nature is vast, the air is clean, and the solace of the wilderness abounds: Yosemite National Park.

Just a few hours in the car from every major urban spot in California, Yosemite is a quick and easy getaway (and maybe the best-kept secret) for weekend travelers in the know. While enthusiasts laud the national park’s wide array of recreational opportunities and endless displays of natural beauty, most say that only four or five days are required to experience the best the area has to offer and can provide an immediate renewal of the senses. At nearly 1200 square miles, the entirety of Yosemite offers much to explore.

“Standing in Yosemite Valley and realizing how very small we are in this world and in this universe helps calm my daily worries and fills my heart with gratitude for being able to be a part of it, even if my stay is brief,” avid Yosemite-goer Katrina Brown said.

Reconnecting with love

Aside from reconnecting with the self, for many, Yosemite’s slow-paced grandeur is also the perfect backdrop for reconnecting with a partner.

Worlds away from the usual distractions and stresses of day-to-day life, the park’s legendary hikes are a unique way for couples to rekindle romance, whether it’s facing the challenge of an 8.9-mile trek down the Panorama Trail as a team or lazily enjoying an easy walk on the idyllic, wildflower-filled Tuolumne Meadows together.

The Mist Trail is a happy medium in terms of difficulty, with the added bonus two breathtaking waterfalls. What better way to get the passion roaring again?

Feeling the rush

Adventure seekers can exorcise their workweek blues and get the adrenaline flowing with activities from ziplining just outside the park in Mariposa to mountain biking in the Sierra National Forest. Aspiring mountaineers flock to Yosemite, which is known to have some of the world’s best rock climbing.

Even novices can enjoy easy ascents with the help of certified experts through classes that are offered daily. A raucous day of whitewater rafting along the Merced River can reportedly also do wonders for the work-weary soul.

Communing with nature

For those who prefer to take it slow, Yosemite’s natural surroundings are ideal. While stream and river fishing is limited to April through November, lake fishing is a year-round pastime throughout the park, and a great opportunity for a waterside picnic.

With more than 150 species of birds making their home in the national park, bird-watching is also a relaxing way to spend the morning hours. You’ll spot woodpeckers, ravens and owls during different times of the season.

Communing with Yosemite’s abundant nature can bring an unexpected sense of peace for visitors and may even offer a new perspective.

“The first time I visited Yosemite,” said Angeleno Tamra Lucid, “I ran my hand across the long grass, and hundreds of tiny frogs leaped from blade to blade. It was one of the most surreal and beautiful experiences of nature I’ve ever had. On a later visit I was convinced to hike Mist Trail, which helped me overcome my fear of heights as I saw all the small rainbows refracted in the mist from the falls.”

And if that doesn’t work, you can always hit the Madera Wine Trail right outside the park.

San Francisco, the City of Dreams

Whether you’re a native Californian or a tourist from the other side of the world, San Francisco has something you’ll fall in love with. Much more than Fisherman’s Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge, Frisco is packed with things to do, places to visit, and awesome restaurants of every cuisine imaginable!

city of dream

Take a trolley ride to see the “painted ladies” of the old Victorian house district, or wander the hilly streets on your own. The San Francisco Botanical Gardens cover 55 acres, and can burn up an afternoon before you know it! Visit the aquarium, or one of hundreds of museums, landmarks, and historical sites. Spend a day in the most famous Chinatown outside of China, or spend some time shopping at Ghirardelli Square. Don’t forget to buy some chocolate!

San Francisco is also known for its nightlife, and as the springboard of many famous musical groups. Who hasn’t heard of The Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin being “discovered” at the Filmore? Not just rock and roll, but every genre of music from opera to symphony can be heard in the city. Take your pick, or enjoy a different one each night!

Speaking of different, you can eat a different type of cuisine at every meal, from Japanese noodles to the fish made famous at the wharf. Plan on trying something new each time you eat, and you’ll still have a month’s worth of meals to try!

When you’re tired of seeing the sights, kick back for a day at one of San Francisco’s beaches. As part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, they boast over 13 million visitors a year! From the famous Golden Gate Park to the over 200 city parks, they’re a great way to unwind when you’re tired of walking.

Another great way to relax is to schedule a massage, and San Francisco has a wide variety of services available. Before you decide to skip the expense, check out the great prices and online coupons that can make this very affordable. What better way to start or end your day than with a foot massage? Whatever way you choose to relax, San Francisco will be part of your memories and dreams for the rest of your life!

Pack Your Way To A Great Vacation

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Getting ready to travel to a destination is something that everyone can relate to, as is the feeling of getting ready to pack everything you need in your luggage. No matter where you are going, the feeling is the same, generally not enough room for everything that you need. If you are struggling with what to pack, there are a few things you can keep in mind to keep your trip running smoothly.Why Are You Going: There is a difference between going on vacation and going on a business trip, so the first thing any traveler should do is determine why they are leaving and to pack accordingly. If you are packing for a business trip then you won’t need the same clothing that you would for a regular vacation.

  • Pack The Right Clothing: Following up, if you realize that you are going on a business trip, then you should pack your best professional clothing. If you need to buy new ones, you can visit Last Call or a similar store. Similarly, if you are going on vacation, then you can bring more casual clothing with you. You can also use common sense in your packing, if you are going to a warm weather location, then you don’t need to bring a heavy coat. With a little thought you can save yourself a lot of space.
  • Leave The Electronics: You may be tempted to bring your electronic devices, like a laptop or tablet, with you but if you are short on space, reevaluate if you really need them or not. This devices can take up a lot of space so if you don’t need them for work, then it is probably a good idea to leave them at home. Besides, if you are on vacation, the last thing you need to do is be plugged in during your trip.

Traveling is a great experience no matter if you are going on vacation or a simple business trip. If you find yourself struggling to keep your luggage light, then take some time to evaluate what exactly you are bringing with you. Chances are you could cut is back some and save yourself some stress.

 

Why Travel in New Zealand Using a Campervan

New Zealand is an ideal place to explore because it’s one of the top holiday countries in the world. Seeing it in a campervan is especially recommended because it boasts a number of attractions that are best experienced through road trips. Driving for a couple of hours can lead you to clear roads, safe routes, and beautiful natural views that you just can’t miss. Not convinced? Here are other reasons why you should definitely try campervanning in NZ:

Affordability

Compared to other countries, New Zealand’s beaches, thick rainforests, and campsites are usually located close to each other, which makes them conveniently accessible via road trips. A good campervan hire in NZ can guarantee quality travel because it’s not that expensive and can get you from one place to another with less travel time and hassle. You don’t have to pay separately for accommodation and food as well because you will find all the necessities in the vehicle. You can either pack or cook your own meal.

Comfort

Travelling in a campervan can give you the advantage of having an instant camp. After long hours of driving, if you feel like resting for a bit, or if the sun has gone down, you can just park at a safe place. There are many campgrounds and holiday parks in NZ to choose from. You can then wake up to a white sand beach or wind the day down at a guarded cliff-side where you’ll have uninterrupted views of the stars. If you get hungry, you’ve got your kitchen with you, so you can always cook something quickly.

Experience

Road trips can be romantic, family-friendly, and worthwhile. The smooth roads and the various stops along the way can lead to precious moments that will strengthen relationships between you and your travel companions. Compared to top-notch hotels and luxurious spa resorts, campervans are a little more personal. There is no staff to provide you with your needs, so technically it’s more about self-service. Plus, being together in a small vehicle can make you focus more on the people with you and get to know them better. Those moments when you come across beautiful vistas, surreal places and share-worthy experiences will become instances that all of you will cherish forever.

Spontaneity

Holidays with strict itineraries have gotten too conventional. You have to wake up at a specific time so that you will get the free breakfast buffet, hurry through lunch so you won’t miss the tour bus, and then get back to your accommodation even if you’re not yet tired because the group tour has simply ended for the day. On the other hand, road trips offer freedom from obsessive planning. You can wake up whenever and wherever you want and you can drive for as long and as far as the road takes you.

 

Overall, there are many ways to enjoy travelling and exploring. When it comes to New Zealand, road trips in your trusty campervan can be one of the most satisfying ways to go about it. Give it a try today.

 

Claiming the compensation for the flight delay

In today’s world, air travel has emerged as one of the best modes of transportation for short, mid and long journeys. People who want to travel on the flight can get the tickets at almost one tenth of the prices charged a few decades back. Moreover, there are a large number of airlines are available in the world and they may cost differently for the services that they offer. However, the journey in the flight dive you more pleasant to your life, it has also some disadvantages. In that manner, the natural forces like a storm, rain or the cloudy weather can affect the running of the flight. Even though, it is most reputed airlines in the world, it does not give the assurance to these incidents. In these situations, the flight may arrive late to the airport or it can make the delay departure and so the travellers are affected.

Whatever the reason, it means you have to stay involuntarily longer in the airport before you can travel to the destination place or return back to home. In this situation, you may be entitled to the flight delay compensation or the refund. So, you should definitely know about the rights to claim your compensation. For this purpose, the Denied Boarding Regulation of the European Union announces the laws for the compensation of cancellation or the delayed flight. In this manner, you can claim the amount of 250 Euros as the compensation for the distance of the flight to 1500km. Then, you may also get 400 Euros for the distance of the flight between 1500km to 350km. In addition to that, you can also claim 600 Euros as the compensation for the distance of the flight from 3500k. You can search as http://flugverspaetungsrecht.de/ for getting more information about the flight travelling.

Hiring a Coach Service for Your Group Trip Makes Sense

Group travel is always a fun adventure for everyone that goes on these trips. No matter whether you are travelling for business, pleasure or for educational purposes, this is a great way to spend time with friends, associates, family members and classmates while you are being transported to your event.

Class Trips

If you are an administrator or a teacher in a school system, the chances are good that you already know how much students enjoy taking a class trip for educational or recreational purposes. These are the special occasions when they get outside of the traditional classroom, but are learning through hands-on experience.

This approach to education brings a higher level of understanding to the subject being studied. Sometimes it is great for both students and teachers to get outside of their usual environment and have a good time approaching education in a different way that can really have an impact on students.

Planning Your Class Trip

A lot of thought and care must be put into planning the perfect class trip. For starters, the school trip being planned must be age-appropriate for the children that will be going on it. As a planner or administrator, you will also need to know how many children have permission to attend the outing.

Knowing the number of students that will be taking part in the outing helps you organize the trip and recruit enough parent helpers to act as chaperones while you are on your adventure. In many cases, class trips are one-day events, so once you have all the basic details worked out, all you need to do is enjoy the day! In some instances, like a class trip for graduation, these trips could be longer. Popular places to take a class for the day in the Sydney area include a trip to the Sydney Tower, the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Tarragon Zoo, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

All of these attractions are great places to spend a day learning more about the culture, wildlife and architecture of Sydney.

By planning ahead, you may be able to qualify for discounted admission rates on the place you are visiting for the day. In some cases, venues offer free admissions for teachers, administrators and parent helpers that join the children for the day. To see if you qualify, be sure to contact the venue to ask about any applicable discounts on group admissions. If discounts are available on student admissions, these savings can be passed along to your students to make it more affordable for families with multiple children.

Group Charter Services

Group charter services work well if you have a group of people travelling to the same destination. These days, more people are turning to charter bus services as a safe and effective transportation option for everyone in their group.

If you are a business organisation that has to get your people to an event or conference, a group charter service allows all of your staff members to arrive at the destination at the same time. Staff members appreciate this because they are not required to drive their own cars or risk getting lost along the way there.

Transport Your Employees Safely

This is reassuring for business owners and managers that want to know that their employees are being transported by a trusted coach hire in Sydney.

All charter buses have comfortable seats that recline for long rides, air-conditioning and heating units to keep your group comfortable, CD and DVD players for entertainment along the way and an on-board toilet for the comfort of passengers while they are enroute to their destination.

Hire Services for Weddings

When you want to leave the responsibility of driving to someone else, hire services make a lot of sense for everyone in your travel party. This is especially the case for people who are planning on celebrating. When you have a hired driver, they are insured and have logged thousands of miles so you can trust that you and your friends are in good hands.

Your driver can transport you and your wedding party to any number of great locations to take wedding photos or enjoy a pre-reception drink at your favourite pub.

Attend Special Events

This is also a good idea for large groups that are travelling to concerts, sporting events.

If you have ever driven to one of these places or events, the chances are good you already have an idea of how maddening it is to have to drive and find a parking spot at the arena. If you are unable to fit all of you friends into one vehicle, then you have to go in a caravan of two or three cars, which adds even more costs to the overall cost of attending the event.

When you use a coach hire, you can get dropped off at the entrance door at the same time, and no one has to worry about driving around finding parking. Collectively, the money you save on parking fees and gasoline for several vehicles is enough to cover the cost of the hire.

If enjoy drinking wine, hiring a coach service to take you to the local wineries saves you a lot of time and hassle getting lost searching for the entrance gates. Since these businesses have large vineyards, this job is left up to your driver.

Schedule Your Trip Early

No matter whether you need to schedule a coach for a school trip, business engagement or a social event, it is always a smart idea to book your trip as early as possible. As more and more people have discovered the value and convenience coach hire, they tend to get booked quickly.

Coaches can be hired for day trips, evening bookings or late-night travel. Coach hire reduces risks associated with using multiple cars and drivers for people to get to where they are going. This alone is worth the cost of hiring a professional coach for transportation services.

It's Time to See New Zealand in a New Way

When you plan on seeing New Zealand you have a few choices. You can do the usual routine of renting hotel rooms and eating meals on the road. You can also consider hiring a motorhome as an alternative. The people who do that are finding it’s a cheaper alternative that offers a number of benefits. If you’ve never experienced seeing the sights this way, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. New Zealand is the perfect destination for motorhome travel. There are lots of little places you can stop and set up camp.

Travel on Your Own Schedule

Motorhomes are comfortable. You can seat your whole family comfortably. Check out Apollo Motorhomes in New Zealand for a wide range of affordable options for hire. You can find one that works for you. After you do, you have the option of taking a relaxed holiday where you get to decide what you want to see and where you want to stay. You don’t have to worry about anyone else’s agenda. It’s a great idea to just get up early and then head out on those wide open roads. Let your heart decide where you want to go. You are the captain of your ship and you get to decide on your course.

Discover the Joy of Motorhome Travel

If you interviewed people who use motorhomes for travel about their experience you’d get a pretty consistent story. Once they have discovered these vehicles, they tend to want to travel this way all the time. Who can blame them? There are fewer details to be concerned with. It’s a much bigger problem to travel and then check in and out of hotels. This way you don’t have to worry about all that. You are essentially able to set up camp where you want. Just follow the local regulations and you’ll be fine. There’s not a steep learning curve, either. You’ll need to get used to driving the larger vehicle, but other than that you should have no problems. The best part is that you’re completely connected with the “real world” while travelling. You have Wi-Fi access, which means you can easily connect to the Internet to make any arrangements you need. That means modern motorhome travel is extremely convenient. This type of travel has many benefits over traditional travel as you’ll soon discover.

The open roads of New Zealand are calling. There is a lot of this beautiful country you most likely have not seen. You can change that on your next holiday. Your motorhome tour is going to leave you wanting more. You can easily get addicted to this type of travel. You would not be the first person this happened to. If you have free time, it’s a great way to see the world. You don’t have to buy one, either, so overall costs are very low. It’s cheaper than doing things the old way. Good luck and have an amazing time.

 

Wine Tasting Excursions in the Adelaide Lowlands

For your next day trip, why not consider Barossa Valley winery tours? Explore this region that’s rich in history and offering some of the best tasting wines in the world. Experience this unique and visually stunning region in the comfortable environment of a guided tour.

Visit Beautiful Locales and Wine Tastings to Remember

You will enjoy the eclectic offerings of this one of a kind excursion. Combining the beauty of the area with the fruits of the local vineyards, your experience will be unique in many ways. Beginning your journey with an early start, you will arrive at your first destination of the day. If you have never visited the Whispering Wall or even if you’ve been before, you will find something new to discover at this nine-story wonder. With an ability to carry a whisper over a distance of 110 metres, discover the acoustic perfection of this structure that was over 100 years in the making.

Moving on to the next destination of your excursion, enjoy the views as your enter the lowlands of Adelaide. This incomparable region offers award winning vineyards and stunning vistas. While the area boasts dozens of operating vineyards, your tour will visit a handpicked selection of destinations to give you an opportunity to experience the many different varieties the area has to offer. When you arrive at your first wine tasting experience, you will enjoy hearing from the local owners. They will provide you with an informative talk about the production of the very samples you will be tasting.

After an invigorating experience in the morning, you’ll be ready to stop at the next locale. Arrive at the captivating gardens of Kies Winery. Here, you will enjoy a freshly prepared lunch, barbecued upon your arrival. Choose from many offerings such as steaks, sausages, and chicken. If you are feeling adventurous, try the marinated kangaroo filet. It is a local specialty. Enjoy the different wine pairings for your lunch and take some time to wander about the gorgeous gardens all around you.

When lunch is finished and you’ve had a chance to relax and enjoy your time at Kies, you’re next destination is sure to be enjoyable. Mengler’s Hill is the highpoint of the region, offering exhilarating views of the entire area. Several sculptures which reflect the environment and the spirit of the artists who created them are a wonderful addition to this locale which you will want to be sure to experience during your visit. This is definitely a place where you’ll want to take some photos. The views are varied and beautiful.

Leaving Mengler’s Hill isn’t the end of your journey. There are still two more vineyards to experience and enjoy samplings. Your guides will be sure to save the last location as a surprise so you’ll be able to enjoy the anticipation of wondering which vineyard will be last.

Enjoy Your All-Inclusive Experience

Booking a trip offering an all-inclusive experience adds much enjoyment to your day. There’s no worry about extra charges or hidden fees. Your destinations are all a part of your payment. The only expense you incur is your option to purchase bottles of wine or other products from the vineyards you visit. Enjoy comfortable transportation, convenient travel to each locale and delicious food to add a special touch to your day.

 

How to get last minute travel deals airline tickets and hotels CHEAP

Sometimes you just have to get away for some last minute travel rest and relaxation. Its easy to find last minute travel deals on the internet but where are those travel sites with the BEST last minute travel deals and super cheap airfare deals? As a last minute type of girl advance travel plans are not an option in my life, so I have spent hours searching for the best travel website with the lowest airfare available on the internet. The web sites mentioned below are the best web sites that offer the lowest airfare travel deals and discount flights that I have found. Before you jump on that great last minute international travel deal, PLEASE make sure your passport to travel is up to date!!

Instructions

  1. If you need to be on the beach, the slopes or somewhere in between ASAP head straight for the internet and have a look at the best last minute travel and vacation website, (see the “resources section” at the end of this article for the link) http://us.lastminute.com

    This is where you will find the best travel deals for airline tickets and hotel packages to get away today, this weekend or later this month! us.lastminute.com

  2. If your idea of last minute is more like next month check out http://www.lastminutetravel.com

    If you are looking for a last minute travel deal and you are not set on any particular destination go to http://www.shermanstravel.com/top25/
    “Shermans travel” offers very impressive cheap trip and vacation packages, including last minute cruise deals and useful travel information.

  3. Travel smart! If you are not sure if you should plan a trip in advance or wait until the last minute to purchase airline tickets and hotel rooms check out http://farecast.live.com

    When you submit your search request, farecast.com will predict if the price of a flight will go up, down or stay the same. Buy now or buy later? Low fares made easy.

    Living spontaneously is fun! Save time and money with cheap last minute discount flights. Travel the world! What are you waiting for?

How to Make a Temporary Travel Last Will

This is an easy step for a bit of additional peace of mind. A temporary travel will before a vacation can help people know your wishes if anything should happen to you.

Instructions

  1. A temporary will is not a replacement for a permanent Last Will and Testament drawn up with a qualified attorney at law. However it is usually considered legal and binding. When my wife and I travel on occasion without our kids we will always draft a temporary will in case of an auto or plane accident or something that would hospitalize or kill both of us. We don’t tell our young kids about it, we don’t want to worry them, but leave it with a parent, sibling, or close friend. Usually we leave it with whomever is watching our kids.
  2. A temporary will should be dated. It should spell out who you would like to be in charge of your children if you both should die. It should tell where important papers are and where a primary bank account is and who (by full name)should have access to those funds and documents in an emergency. It can also address your wishes as far as medical care. You can authorize someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if both you and your spouse or companion are unable. Where we had relatives of a different faith we even spelled out the church we desired our young kids to attend until they were old enough to decide that themselves. They fully understood and agreed.
  3. This type of will should be signed and dated by both of you, and ideally a witness or two as well. Once finished seal it in an envelope and leave it with instructions. It is of great use and will hold weight with a probate court if you don’t have a permanent will. A recent temporary will can actually hold some weight over a formal legally drafted will, as it would be of a more recent date. Use this if you need something clarified before a trip. If you would like to notarize your signatures that is an additional safeguard that your wishes will be followed but not necessary to make it valid.

How to Plan a Cruise at the Last Minute

Booking a last minute cruise is almost identical to booking a cruise in advance.
Cruising is a favorite vacation for millions of travelers each year; the ability to stay in one room without having to worry about packing, re-packing and transportation while traveling between tropical islands or cities is the kind of stress-free travel many people enjoy. Booking a cruise at the last minute is exciting because you don’t have to wait long to depart. Fortunately, any cruise ship with vacancies will let you book a room up until the very last minute provided you pay for your cruise and have the correct travel documents.

Instructions

  1. Visit your favorite cruise line’s web site and perform a search for a cruise. Choose a departure port and destination. Since you’re searching for a last minute cruise you will likely choose the current or following month when asked for your travel dates.
  2. View the search results for all last minute cruises with available staterooms provided to you by the cruise line. Choose the one that best suits your vacation needs by clicking on the link to begin booking your cruise.
  3. Enter your passenger information for everyone in your stateroom — name, address, birth dates – choose the type of stateroom you want and provide your payment information. Last minute cruises must be paid in full at the time of booking.
  4. Print your cruise documents and start packing.

How to Get Extremely Cheap Last Minute Flights

Extremely cheap last-minute flights are available if you’re willing to make a few compromises and search diligently. You might not get your seating preference and have to make a few plane changes, but if you are dedicated and adaptable, you shouldn’t have any problem finding those extremely cheap last-minute flights you want.

Finding great bargains on flights requires diligence and persistence.

Instructions

  1. Begin by calling the airline in question, because the operators that answer the phones have up-to-the-minute information about cancellations and seat vacancies. You won’t find the best seating arrangements or ideal conditions going straight to the airline, but when you’re coming in at the latest possible second, you’ll have to make some concessions.
  2. Check online and see what kind of deals you can find; this can often turn out to be beneficial. Print out a confirmation of your flight and ticket if you do this, especially if it’s done at the last minute. This will avoid any glitches or confusion once you get to ticketing at the airport, and provide you with proof you actually have the flight, because mistakes can easily happen when things are done with little time before departure.
  3. Be ready to leave at a moment’s notice when you’re looking for extremely cheap last minute flights, and don’t be too strict on your departure times. Sometimes vacancies pop up and you don’t want to miss an opportunity because you weren’t prepared.
  4. Keep looking constantly until you find what you need, both online and by continuing to call airlines. By adopting this attitude, and being ready to leave at the drop of a hat, you’ll be in the best position available to have success finding your flights.

International Freight Shipping Services Can Save You Time and Money

Companies need many services to manufacture, package and deliver their products to their end users. These services are specialized ones and there are service providers that offer them at economical prices. For any business to succeed, whether at a domestic level or on an international level, finding the right packaging and freight shipping solutions becomes an important aspect of their planning. There are many excellent services that offer international freight shipping at cost-effective rates. Their customized solutions make it possible for businesses to get the best value for their investment into these services.

Services offered by freight shipping companies

The companies that offer freight shipping services offer a range of services under one roof. Although they do not offer the actual transportation of the goods, they are responsible for keeping your goods in the best condition and arranging the right international transportation facilities to deliver them to their destinations in time.

This is a huge responsibility and requires a lot of careful planning. Their services include arranging for the export/import licenses, adequate transportation services, container management, etc. They offer freight quotation to their customers so that they know exactly how much it will cost them for the international shipping of their products.

Hiring a professional freight service is important

Many businesses tend to make the mistake of trying to do everything themselves in order to save some money. This happens mainly in the case of new businesses that are desperate to make some profit while at the same time saving on as many expenses as possible. However, this doesn’t really work well.

The fact that you are good at your own business doesn’t automatically make you an expert in every subject related to it. Freight shipping services are specialized fields and require special knowledge and experience in the field to offer the best and the most cost-effective alternatives to the customers. This is where the professional services gain points over our DIY businessman.

A comprehensive freight shipping solution

Whether the goods are shipped domestically or internationally, they need an expert handling to make their delivery safe and timely. This is the primary goal of a good freight forwarding solution provider. They take care of all the intricacies of the process of finding the perfect packaging and transportation facilities according to your unique needs.

If you have goods that are easy to get damaged or perishable, it becomes even more important that they are shipped overseas with utmost care. This calls forth the expertise of an experienced freight forwarding company that have a large network to find the best option for your needs.

If you are looking to find a good and reliable international freight shipping service, double check their past performance by contacting the owners or their representatives. Customer feedback can also give you a general idea of the quality of their service. Get details about everything, from what types of services they provide and the cost for each one, right before you hand-over your products to them. This will ensure that your valuable products are in the right hands and will be delivered intact to their final destinations.

Flights to Chennai: Gate Way of South India

Chennai Denoted to ” Gate way of South India”. Chennai as one of the top ten cities in the world to visit. Chennai is the capital Indian state of Tamil Nadu it is also known as Madras. It is the biggest commercial and industrial centre in South India. It is located on the coast of Bay of Bengal. Chennai is the sixth largest city in the world and the fourth most populous city in India. The city is the secondary financial hub of the country, after Mumbai. Chennai is the most populous city in India.

Chennai is the only city in South Asia and India to figure in the “52 places to go around the world” by The New York Times. Chennai has also been named in the ‘hottest’ cities among global cities with a mixture of both modern and traditional values. National Geographic ranks Chennai as world’s 2nd best food city. Chennai only as a growing metropolitan city in a developing country India.

Two major rivers flow through Chennai, the Cooum River through the centre and the Adyar River to the south. Cooum is one of the most polluted rivers in the South of India and serves as potential health hazard to the people living in and around the river. A third river, the Kortalaiyar, travels through the northern fringes of the city before draining into the Bay of Bengal, at Ennore.

Climate of Chennai is tropical wet and dry. The month of May end and June starting this place was too hot weather. The city gets most of its seasonal rainfall from the north–east monsoon winds, from mid–October to mid–December. Cyclones in the Bay of Bengal sometimes hit the city but in winter have a pleasant weather.

The city was once an important trade center of the British rule and has immensely developed since then. Despite having a strong colonial influence Chennai has managed to maintain its traditional Tamil Hindu culture. Popular with the gateway to the other important and charming cities of the South, Chennai provides many facets of South Indian heritage. Mostly peoples want to enjoy holiday in Chennai.

Sightseeing at Chennai

Museums = Government museums, Birla Planetarium Periyar, Science and technology.

Place to worship = Christ the king church, San thome church, Kapaleeshwar temple, Kali kambal temple, Iskon temple.

Monuments = Ripon building, Fort St. George, Vallu var kottaam, Pancha Mandapams.

Parks = Nages wara park, Natesh park, Sivan park, Mayday park.

All of these are best sightseeing of Chennai. Best time to visit of Chennai at winter time.
Chennai is also famous for art and culture and tradition, Chennai offers a blend of traditional music dance and art of Tamil Nadu. Being one of the top cosmopolitan cities in the country, Chennai is a concoction of various religions and cultures that stay together in peace.

Chennai also has a strong economy the highest GDP rate and best developed country in India After Bombay and Delhi. It is a second largest software exporter in India. Famous for its technology and industrial development many technical companies and industry in Chennai.

Chennai is also famous for its traditional food. There are variety of vegetarians and non-vegetarians dishes available in Chennai. Some of the famous south Indian dishes that are popular with the country include Dosa, Idli, Vada, Pongal and Idiyappam.

Mostly people wants to travel through air on the Cheapest price many ways to book flights tickets. The best way to book flight tickets from online websites and save your time one of them are Aironlinetickets.com provides cheapest flights to Chennai with major airlines. If you want to book Chennai flight tickets you can visit Aironlinetickets.com.

What is the role of trekking agency for trekking in Nepal?

If you love adventure then going for trekking is one of the best choices for you to have a memorable visiting to highest mounts of Himalayas. There are number of options for trekking to choose from and with the right decision for trekking location, it will be easy to make this journey hassle-free. You can relish the jaw dropping beauty of Nepal with the help of a trusted trekking agency which can facilitate complete travelling package for you. Having reference of a specialized trekking agency will never let you to bother and will definitely suit you to have unforgettable memory in life. Trekking in Nepal is the foremost choice for trekkers across the world as it is only a place that will make your itinerary wonderful. When it is time to trek then there are number of factors that you should consider and finding a trusted agency is the most important one. A leading company will definitely arrange a comfortable package for you as per your preferences.

 

Why Everest base camp trek is ultimate region for trekking?

 

If we talk about the Nepal then it is regarded as the most beautiful country with richness in culture and other geographical variations. Nepal has eight peak points which are from the top ten in the world and you can go for any trek here to enjoy the mounts of Himalayas. Everest base camp trek is the highly popular region in Nepal and it has high altitude as compare to other peaks across the world. There are number of good facts about the ultimate regions of Nepal and these huge peaks are also considered as the meeting point of the world’s great religions: Islam in the west, Hinduism to the south and Tibetan Buddhism to the north. To climb on highest peak will give you real feel of adventure which is the dream of every trekker so don’t miss to explore the beauty of Himalayas on your upcoming holidays.

 

When you visit to any trek then the professionals will guide you at every step of the way so that optimum security can be maintained. Your trekking agency will be responsible to arrange complete package including: safe travel, accommodation facilities, and professional guidance. Annapurna circuit trek is also popular option that is capable of attracting people across the world. A trusted or certified trekking agency like Experience The Himalayas will definitely suit you to plan successful trek. It is the highly dedicated agency with wealth of knowledge and expertise to arrange treks so you can trust easily for the most comfortable and enjoyable itinerary. So, if you are ready for trekking in Nepal or looking for a highly dedicated or trusted agency then feel free to contact Experience The Himalayas for full service support.

How to Get the Cheapest Last-Minute Cruise Deals

When it comes to cruising, last-minute travel doesn’t always mean buying a ticket in the days immediately before the ship sails, since itineraries can sell out months in advance. Instead, deals often pop up a few months before the departure date when other cruisers cancel on the last day reservations can be refunded. In other cases, the cruise line may cut the rate for less-popular cruises a few weeks before sail date if rooms are unsold. In order to get the cheapest last-minute deal, you must be flexible on your accommodations and be willing to travel in months other than those in the summer.

Last-minute cruise tickets may not be fully refundable.

Popularity

  • The cruise routes considered most popular, or most booked, are the least likely to have last-minute deals because staterooms sell out well before sail day. If you want to get the cheapest deal on a cruise, look for itineraries that don’t tend to book up months before. Call the cruise lines, browse online cruise forums, and ask friends who have traveled by cruise to determine which itineraries don’t tend to be as full. Focus on less-popular cruise routes to get the cheapest fare.

Inside Scoop

  • Cruising is more than just a mode of travel for some folks — it’s a culture. As a result, many online forums exists where veteran cruisers offer seasoned advice to new cruisers. Take advantage of these forums by asking which itineraries out of your port of choice are the least popular, and if anyone has gotten a spectacularly cheap deal. While forum users can’t speak for the cruise line, they may offer a wealth of knowledge based on years of shopping around for cheap trips.

Cruise Line Communications

  • If you have previously traveled on a particular cruise line, opt in for its past-guest communications. The cruise line will email you last-minute deals when it has a particular itinerary offering slashed prices out of your port of choice. Even if you haven’t cruised before, check out any newsletters or deal notification programs. This way, the cruise lines automatically alert you, and you won’t have to scour quite so hard for the cheapest deal.

Room Flexibility

  • Be flexible when it comes to cabin class. You are unlikely to get the cheapest deal if you are dead set on traveling first class. If you’re willing to stay in a stateroom on a lower deck, you often can get a much better deal on your fare.

Seasonality

  • Look for the cheapest fares in off-peak times, like right before the December holidays, and during the months of January and February. You also will find cheaper fares during hurricane season for trips to the Caribbean and other hurricane-prone destinations.

How to find last minute hotel deals

Last minute hotel deals are not hard to find if you know exactly where to look.
A hotel serves as both temporary lodging and the opportunity to get to know a surrounding neighborhood well. Some travelers plan their trips months in advance and know exactly where they’ll stay. Others, because of personal whim or emergency, must travel last minute. Hasty travel planning can be expensive. Fortunately even if you are planning to leave as soon as you can get your luggage packed you can still find last minute hotel deals.

Instructions

  1. Research online consolidators. An online consolidator is a website that allows you to book hotels, airline seats, car rentals and even meals via the web. Consolidators typically offer you multiple options when you input data into the site. Using a consolidator can be an excellent means of finding last minute lodgings. A consolidator such as Kayak lets you put in the dates when you expect to arrive and depart. After you’ve put data in the right fields, a list of available hotels will pop up on your screen for your intended destination as well as a list of prices.
  2. Contact hotels directly. Find out which hotels are in the area where you intend to stay. Call or email each one. Ask about which rooms are available at the present time. A hotel manager may be able to offer you a deal if you agree to take the room quickly.
  3. Be flexible with the type of accommodations you want. If the only room is available is a single and you have two people ask if hotel officials can make up a pallet on the floor for one of you to sleep on. Last minute visitors may find the hotel manager wants the room filled and will work with you and even offer you the room at a discount. Consider staying farther away from your intended destination. If you are traveling to an area with plentiful public transit you can save lots of money each night simply by taking the bus or train for a short ride each day.
  4. Travel in the off season. Visiting in the off season can help you save money on lodgings. Traveling during a popular season such as Rome during Christmas and you find yourself pressed to book any accommodations let alone a room at a discount. By contrast a traveler who shows up or calls when tourists are scarce is likely to be greeted with open arms and granted lower room rates simply for showing up.

How to Find Cheap Vacation Packages

Cheap vacation packages are not hard to find if you know how and where to look for the best travel deals. You can even find all inclusive vacation packages that offer discount prices on flights, hotels and even car rentals. Save yourself some money by booking a cheap vacation. Read the below article to learn how to find and get cheap vacation packages.

Find Cheap Vacation Packages

Instructions

  1. DO A SEARCH ONLINE TO FIND CHEAP VACATION PACKAGES:
    Search for cheap vacation package deals by doing a search online. A lot of companies will advertise vacation deals online and you should be able to find multiple vacation deals that fit what you want. Try using keyword phrases in your search such as: “Cheap Vacation Packages” and “Discount Vacation Packages”. A list of websites offering cheap vacation packages deals will come up in the search results.
  2. COMPARE CHEAP VACATION PACKAGE DEALS:
    View a few of the package deal websites and compare deals and prices. Are the cheap packages all-inclusive, do they offer both flight and hotel, etc… Compare multiple packages before actually selecting the first one you find. Try to find a vacation package that offers an all inclusive deal. This will help you to save money. After you have compared multiple package deals, select the best one based upon price and benefits.
  3. BOOK A CHEAP VACATION:
    To book your cheap vacation, follow the directions on the vacation package website. You will either be able to book your vacation online right on the website or you may even be able to book your cheap vacation by phone. Make sure to print out any confirmation emails that are given after you book your vacation.

How to Find a Last Minute Vacation Rental

You’ve just found out your office will be closed for construction next week, and your kids are out of school for a teacher’s conference. It’s the perfect unexpected opportunity for a family get-away, but how will you book a vacation home at the last minute? Don’t worry. With these helpful tips, you can find that beach home, condo or cabin for rent, and you won’t have to pay a bundle for booking at the last minute!

Find a Last Minute Vacation Rental

Instructions

  1. Check out vacation rental websites for last minute deals. When a landlord gets a last minute cancellation, she may be willing to talk turkey on price just to fill an empty gap in the schedule.
  2. Call area colleges to see if any of their faculty has left an empty rental behind when they left on sabbatical or to teach over the summer at another school.
  3. Find the local classifieds for the area you’re looking in by going online and looking up the newspapers in the town. You might just luck out with an owner listing that’s still available.
  4. Call the real estate and vacation rental agents in the area to find out if there are any last minute vacancies available due to cancellation. Sometimes there may be new houses that haven’t been put into the inventory yet, so ask about that, as well.
  5. Realize that when you’re booking last minute you may have to settle for less than you would ideally want. Be willing to take the house that’s three blocks from the ocean instead of right on the beach. The exercise will do you good!

Travel Profiles on Dubai and Abu Dhabi

The United Arab Emirates, or UAE for short, is a nation comprised of seven emirates (kingdoms) that are loosely aligned in a type of federalist system of governance. As each of the emirates has a fair bit of autonomy, they each also retain their own unique character. The two emirates that are most known to travelers are Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Let’s briefly take a look at the two emirates to see how they contrast from a traveler’s perspective.

Dubai

Dubai is the more glamorous of the two emirates. In fact, it’s famed the world over for its ostentatious displays of wealth, and for being an oasis for the incredibly wealthy. Luxury holidays to Dubai know no limits, and when it comes to luxury hotels, travelers have a ton of choices. The Burj Al Arab is situated on a private island a few meters off the coast and is easily one of the world’s most luxurious hotels. Another option is the Armani Hotel, which is housed in the Burj Kahlifa – the world’s tallest building – and is the only Armani Hotel in the world.

As one might expect, a visit to Dubai is not cheap, nor is it modest. High-profile conventions and events take place throughout the year, and jet-setters come in and out of Dubai’s stunning international airport at a breakneck pace.

The stunning architecture of the Burj Al Arab is only a tease of the wonders awaiting inside.

Abu Dhabi

For most of recent history Abu Dhabi has been in the shadow of its more glamorous cousin, as Dubai has attracted the vast majority of attention from international travelers. This, however, is beginning to change as Abu Dhabi is making a serious push for consideration as one of the world’s greatest cities.

Though inherently more modest than Dubai, Abu Dhabi has still managed to attract top-tier events like the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – an annual Formula One race. Some more incredibly impressive attractions are planned for the city, and construction is currently underway on the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. Once completed, these two museums will turn Abu Dhabi into one of the world’s principal cities of the arts, and make it difficult to imagine a trip to the UAE that doesn’t include at least a stop in Abu Dhabi.

The Grand Mosque is a reminder of Abu Dhabi's conservative and cultural past.

About Last Minute Cruise Deals With No Singles Supplement

Last-minute cruise deals are a great resource for the traveler who is able to make spur-of-the-moment decisions. The savings over the published rate for a cabin can be up to 80 percent. Ordinarily, the solo traveler is still almost always required to pay a “single supplement,” which can be as much as his fare was to begin with, or even more. But the nature of the “last minute” market means that the solo traveler can often avoid paying the extra cost of occupying a two-person cabin. Finding cruise deals isn't very hard; looking at various cruise websites can help you get the best last minute cruise deals.

Low Single Supplement

  • There are two places in the cruise market where there are low single supplements, and sometimes none at all: the high and the low ends of the market.

    The most upscale cruise lines often sell single cabins; this will often depend on whether a particular ship was built with single-occupancy berths in the first place. “Classic” luxury liners like the Queen Elizabeth II have many single cabins, for example.

    At the other end of the spectrum, Carnival Cruise Lines charges a relatively small single rate, usually 30 to 50 percent of the double-occupancy fare. The ready availability of Carnival cabins with last-minute deals means that even a single traveler, paying the single, can find a terrific cruise deal.

Last-Minute Deals

  • The traveler willing to book a cruise-ship journey on short notice has a tremendous bargaining advantage. The cruise line would rather sell a cabin at a deep discount than sail with it empty. So try to make the best deal that you can. If you don't want to pay the single supplement,rate then ask for it to be waived. A crucial part of negotiating—in a flea market or with a cruise line agent—is that you should be willing to walk away from a deal that you don't consider good enough. Cruise deals are the same, from big liners like Holland America Cruises to cheap European cruises.

Off-Season

  • Traveling at the times of highest demand means that you will pay the maximum for that travel. If you have any flexibility at all, use it to schedule your trip accordingly and you'll likely find good cruise deals. Midweek departures (and arrivals) are usually cheaper, and weekends, holidays, and popular vacation times are the most expensive. The cruise line may be unwilling to offer significant discounts for a sailing that will likely be full anyway; conversely, they will practically give away a cabin if they know the ship will be, say, only half full. This is the best chance you will have to persuade them to waive the single rate.

Timing

  • By law, the cruise lines have to have a complete passenger manifest 48 hours before sailing. This means that there is a limited time window for obtaining last minute cruise deals; if you wait too long for a particular departure, it may not be possible to buy a ticket at any price. The best time to negotiate is 48 to 96 hours before scheduled departure.

Where to Find Cruise Deals

  • There are two sources: cruise ship discounters, such as Cunard Cruise deals and Crystal Cruise Discounts, and the cruise lines themselves, such as Royal Caribbean Cruises and Disney Cruises. Both can be easily accessed on the Internet. If you wish to specifically negotiate to get the single rate waived or reduced, you will probably have to talk to an agent directly; the online booking engines don't allow you to disregard the supplement. The good news here is that none of the prices is carved in stone. Feel free to negotiate, and to do so aggressively. Time your negotiations so that the 48-hour window is about to close, and you may very well find yourself with a terrific cruise deal—and with no single rate, to boot.

Four Distinct Travel Destinations in Turkey

Turkey is a fascinating country with a rich past, a diverse landscape and some incredibly friendly people. Starting from the capital city of Istanbul, the only limit on travelers to Turkey is the amount of time they have to spend, as there are countless destinations and regions awaiting to be explored.

Istanbul

This will be the arrival point for most travelers to Turkey, which is fitting, as it’s a good introduction to the cultural mishmash that is Turkey. Literally spanning two continents, Istanbul has long been a melting pot for European and Middle Eastern cultures. On the city streets fashionable cafes are effortlessly juxtaposed against historic mosques, while shopping malls compete with exotic bazaars for shopper’s attention. Travelers will find no shortage of things to do, whether it’s spending the day in a Turkish spa or riding a ferry across the Bosphorus.

Shoppers exploring the exciting halls of Istanbul's Grand Bazaar. Photo credit Alexander Tolstykh.

The Turkish Riviera

Encompassing both the Mediterranean and Aegean costs, the Turkish Riviera is the premier destination for holidaymakers to Turkey. On the Mediterranean cities like Marmaris, Antalya and Bodrum host beachfront resorts and epic nightlife, but there are other things to do as well like paragliding in Oludeniz or hitting the links at the Gloria Golf Resort in Belek. On the Aegean side, Kusadasi is the gateway to the historic Roman city of Ephesus, which has some of the best preserved ruins in the ancient world.

The Blue Lagoon at Oludeniz makes for a beautiful view while paragliding.

Cappadocia

The interior region of Cappadocia – bounded by the towns of Urgup, Avanos, and Nevsehir – is home to an incredible and truly unique landscape. Giant rock “chimneys” rise vertically into the sky, with many having small homes or monasteries carved out of caves in the rock. The area was an early refuge of Christianity, so there are a lot of religious sites to be explored, otherwise visitors can simply enjoy the village life or visit a local winery.

A sunset look at the cave dwellings and monasteries of Cappadocia.

The Black Sea Coast

Turkey’s northern Black Sea Coast, which stretches all the way from Istanbul to Georgia, has an entirely different feel than the Turkish Riviera. Gone are the beach resorts and arid landscape, and instead ancient cities line a coastline dominated by old-growth forests and huge mountains. The area between the cities of Trebizond and Sinop is most interesting to tourists, who visit mainly for the laid-back vibe and beautiful scenery rather than for any “can’t miss” attractions.

The small, scenic town of Amasra  is halfway between Sinop and Istanbul on the Black Sea Coast.

Paris: A Romantic European Experience like No Other

It’s the subject of countless romantic movies, and the French capital is showing no signs of giving up its title as the City of Love. There’s no place like Paris for a romance, so whisk that special someone away for the weekend and enjoy our pick of some of the city’s most romantic attractions. It’s perfect whether you’re celebrating an anniversary, searching for a great place to propose or just fancy some time out together.

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower might be a cliché, but it’s a must-see if you’re spending a romantic weekend in Paris. But instead of following the other tourists to the top, take life at a slower pace and book a table at the Jules Verne restaurant. Located on the second platform of the tower, you’ll get all of the amazing views accompanied by a delicious plate of French cuisine. The tower looks particularly beautiful when it’s all lit up and sparkling at dusk, and one of the best places to view it is at the top of the Sacré Coeur. It’s also much cheaper and quieter!

If you’re on a budget, packing a picnic and cuddling up in the park below the tower is a fantastic alternative.

Paris isn't called the most romantic city in the world for no reason.

Enjoy a Seine Cruise

There isn’t much romance around on the Parisian metro system, so leave the locals behind and hop on a Seine river cruise instead. Beautiful at any time of the day or night, you could even combine your cruise with a romantic candlelit dinner for two!

Champs-Élysées

Strolling down the Champs-Élysées is one of the most romantic things you can do, and it’s no wonder. Often dubbed the most beautiful avenue in the world, this stretch of street from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde is lined with trees and is home to a number of restaurants, theatres and designer boutiques. If you flew to Paris withCheapFlights, you might even have some money left over to splurge in the shops.

The world-famous Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

Le Bilboquet

Like something out of a movie scene, the sultry atmosphere of Le Bilboquet restaurant and jazz club makes for the perfect romantic evening out. Recreating the Parisian jazz scene of the early 20th century, Le Bilboquet was opened with performances from Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and more, and nowadays you can still watch live music from the balcony.

Montmartre

The north of the city is one of the most beautiful areas in Paris. The Montmartre neighbourhood is packed full of narrow winding streets, cute shops and cafes, and offers spectacular views of the city. It’s perfect for a romantic afternoon stroll!

The Sacre Coeur and the neighborhood of Montmartre at night.

Jardin du Luxembourg

The French Senate might not seem like the most romantic place in Paris, but love is sure to blossom here. And that won’t be the only thing! The gardens surrounding the Palais du Luxembourg are home to some beautiful flowerbeds, fountains and statues, and famous loved-up couples who enjoyed a leisurely stroll through them include Napoleon and Josephine as well as Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.

Top Ten Mediterranean Cruise Destinations

Whether it was the ships of Cleopatra fighting alongside the Romans or today’s luxury yachts of billionaires in the South of France, the Mediterranean has been the lifeblood and playground for some of the world’s principle civilizations for thousands of years. One great way to explore the sea’s fascinating past is with a Mediterranean cruise. But though there are a countless number of beautiful and historic ports lining its shores, let’s take a look at the Mediterranean’s top ports of call.

10. Istanbul, Turkey

Exotic and teeming with life, Istanbul is a city that literally spans two continents, as half of the city is in Europe and the other half is in Asia, which is just across the Bosphorus Strait. Befitting its position as cultural crossroads, Istanbul is a city where one can move effortlessly between fashionable cafes and nightclubs to historic mosques and spice markets. The Blue Mosque is the city’s premier sight, but other attractions include the Hagia Sophia and the Topkapı Palace.

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, commonly known as the Blue Mosque, is an imposing feature on the Istanbul skyline.

9. Nice and Monte Carlo, France/Monaco

The French Riviera is known the world over for its azure waters, near-perfect weather and opulent abundance of yachts, villas and sports cars. And nowhere are these features more prevalent than in the cities of Nice and Monte Carlo.

Nice is the larger port of call of the two and tourists come year round to stroll along its waterfront Promenade des Anglais and to enjoy the many cafes and bars in its historic city center.

 

A cruise ship pulling out of the picturesque port in Nice.

8. Kusadasi and Ephesus, Turkey

Kusadasi is a charming seaside town on Turkey’s Aegean coast and an easy sail from the nearby Greek Islands. In the town travelers can relax and enjoy the views of the Greek island of Samos from the beaches and waterfront cafes or they can spend their time shopping in the town’s labyrinth of pedestrian shopping streets.

But the real attraction here is the ancient city of Ephesus, which is located just outside of the city. Once the most significant city in the Roman Empire’s Asian territories, today the well-preserved ruins of the city offer a tantalizing view of Roman and Christ-era in a picturesque countryside locale.

The Library of Celsus is the most famed ruin of Ephesus and dates back 1,900 years.

7. Valencia, Spain

Often overshadowed by Barcelona, its larger neighbor to the north, Valencia is one of Spain’s most pleasant cities and is an excellent port of call for any Mediterranean cruise. Besides the sun, beaches and sangria that make most Spanish cities so lovely, don’t miss the opportunity to try the paella, which is the city’s trademark dish. A combination of seafood and rice, it really can’t be beat.

The rooftops of Valencia conceal a charming city of sidewalk cafes, plazas and chic restaurants.

6. Bay of Kotor, Montenegro2

Montenegro is an up-and-coming destination on the Adriatic that is only now starting to get some of the positive acclaim that has been bestowed upon Croatia for years. Though there are a number of seaside resorts in the country, none make as appealing a port of call as the Bay of Kotor. This bay makes its way inland from the sea surrounded by mountains and winding past scenic villages and medieval castles to the historic city of Kotor.

A cruise ship pulling out of the city of Kotor and into the Bay of Kotor.

5. Barcelona, Spain

[Also see our other travel articles on Barcelona]

Barcelona, wow. There aren’t enough superlatives to accurately describe the joys of visiting this city. Its beach, Barceloneta, was named the top urban beach in the world by the Travel Channel. Its art museums are epic, as the city was the stomping ground of masters like Picasso, Dali and Miro. Its nightlife is otherworldly, as young and beautiful people from across the continent flock to the city to enjoy its seaside dance clubs and bars. Visit during the summer to get the most out of your stay, as it’s when the beach is its most entertaining and festivals like August’s Fiesta de Gracia and Fiesta Major de Sants are a lot of fun.

Parc Guell is just one of the wild and innovative designs in Barcelona of architect Antoni Gaudi.

4. Venice, Italy

It’s only fitting that a city built on the sea is such a great cruise-ship port of call. A lot of eastern Mediterranean cruises begin their journey in Venice before exploring the Adriatic coastline and the Greek Isles. However, don’t miss the opportunity to spend a few days in Venice enjoying gondola rides down the many canals, exploring the sights like the Piazza San Marco, and taking it all in. Sure, the city is overrun with tourists, but it is also incredibly beautiful.

A gondola ferrying tourists down the historic canals of Venice.

3. Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy

Though Rome is not on the sea, it is served by the nearby port city of Civitavecchia. Of course, travelers will want to spend their time in Rome itself and there are trains and cruise-ship arranged shuttles connecting the two cities.

As to Rome, the “Eternal City” really doesn’t need an introduction. In between visits to epic historical attractions like the Colosseum and Forum, take the time for quiet walks through the historic center and to enjoy the city’s many trattorias.

The Roman Forum, though now in ruins, was once the center of the Roman Empire.

2. Dubrovnik, Croatia

The small town of Dubrovnik is so beautiful that almost every cruise ship sailing in the eastern Mediterranean makes a stop in its port. Its old city dates back to the 13th century and has an impressive collection of fortifications, churches and palaces within its city walls. Popular culture fans will be interested to know that the city serves as the setting for King’s Landing on HBO’s Game of Thrones.

A cruise ship sailing by the walled city of Old Dubrovnik on the Croatian coast.

1. Santorini, Greece

The only Greek island to make the list, we’ve saved the best for last. Santorini is an island consisting of the remnants of an ancient volcanic caldera and its several villages, with their traditional white buildings, hug the steep cliffside and offer fantastic views of the protected bay, which was the center of the volcano. The traditional way to reach the main town of Fira from the port is to take a donkey or mule up the 588 steps, but there is also a cable car to make things a little easier.

The Santorini village of Fira and a cruise ship entering the bay.

The Top Four Things to Do during Your Holiday in Marbella

Marbella is one of the most popular resorts in the Spanish Costa del Sol region, and offers a range of things to see and do for those looking for an enjoyable, relaxing holiday. Over the years it has developed a reputation for being somewhere for the more discerning tourist to travel to, due to the fact it has a number of fine-dining restaurants, designer shopping boutiques, beautiful villas (see some examples here), an incredible yachting scene and excellent beaches.

If you are planning on taking a holiday to Marbella, here are four of the best things you can do while you’re there.

Enjoy the high life at Puerto Banús

If you are looking to mix with the real jet-setters in life then spending some time hanging out in Puerto Banús has to be top of your priorities list. This marina is where the rich and famous dock their superyachts to spend some time shopping in the exclusive stores like Gucci and Dolce & Gabana, before dining in the restaurants dotted around the harbour. The area also has a great nightlife scene – you are on holiday after all!

Luxury yachts and a mountain backdrop make  for a pretty Andalucian scene. Photo by Tomás Fano/Flickr.

Visit the beaches

Often the main reasons we go on holiday is to spend some time relaxing on the beach. Fortunately, Marbella is home to some amazing beaches – 24 in fact, dotted across a 16-mile stretch of coast. The best beaches to visit depend on where exactly you are staying – those in the city center should try El Faro and Fontanilla, while those to the east of the main resort should try Las Chapas and Cabopino. If you are looking for something a bit more exclusive you find that here too, with Ocean Club and Puro Beach a couple of the highlights.

On one of Marbella's many beaches. Photo by David Domingo/Flickr.

Walk around the old town

Still in the city but seemingly a world away from the more bustling areas is the Marbella Old Town. Here you will find a number of narrow alleys and streets dotted with cafes and restaurants, which allow you to relax and take in your surroundings. You’ll find more of the authentic Spanish dining experiences around here too, with tapas and a number of other Andalusian favourites being offered. It’s also a good area to pick up your souvenirs to bring home, as there are a number of fascinating boutique shops to be explored here.

On the colorful streets of Marbella's Old Town. Photo by HerryLawford/Flickr.

Go to the theme parks

For small and big kids alike, Marbella is home to a number of zoos and theme parks, all of which are worth paying a visit to. Tivoli World, located in Benalmádena is a great choice if for all the family with a number of rides, live performances, magic shows and restaurants. Then, the Costa Water Park, which is split into two locations in Marbella and Puerto Banus, offers a range of water slides and other attractions. If you want to travel a bit further afield, you can visit the Selwo Safari Park, which is home to a huge number of animals and creatures and is said to be the most stunning Safari Park in the whole of the country.

Review: Hot Air and Cairns

Traveler’s Digest travels the globe seeking out the adventures that will create excitement and motivate people to enjoy their life’s. Honestly, we have a lot of fun and want to share these experience’s with you, our readers. I learned at a early age that I was a child of the world, not of a city or a country, but a child of the world. It’s my home and I want to know it, experience it and explore every inch of it! This year, 2002, I took some of my fun loving staff and we toured the Hawaiian Islands, New Zealand and then on to Australia. Form the West, landing in Perth, across the continent, via train, to the beautiful city of Sydney.

In the second month we headed up the Eastern coast, stopping in every town, big or small, every park, walked and swam every beach, climbed or hiked every mountain and was awed by great rainforests. We sailed to every island and watched sunsets from dozens of hidden lagoons. Australia is surely the Disney Land of nature. There were hundred’s of times that I wanted to get lost, not caring to be found.

Our agenda was to reach the city of Cairns and explore this region of North Queensland. I knew that it was the gateway to the Great Barrier Reefs and the untamed wilderness, where the Rain forest meets the sea. I really didn’t know to much about Cairns, but I was anxious to learn.

There were so many tours, excursions and adventures to experience, we didn’t know where to start. I had always wanted to fly in a hot air balloon, but never got the chance. My staff and I searched out every adventure tour offered and there was many, but there was one that caught my eye…..ballooning. I had heard that a lot of skill was required to safely operate a hot air balloon and having never tried it, I didn’t know who to trust. All I knew was that I wanted to do it and was going to do it, no matter what.

I researched all of the different brochures and read up on ballooning to try and gather every piece of information I could before I selected a particular company. I found out there was only one with the experience and multiple choice of stylish balloons in this entire area. That company was “Hot Air Cairns.” It seemed an appropriate name. I contacted the company and met with the owner and founder. A big man with a gentle and no-nonsense character. I found myself comfortable with his demeanor. His name is Andrew Steel.

Cairns is the most popular place in Australia to balloon and Hot Air is recognized as the best ballooning company in the region. Hot Air is operated by a team of Cairns tourism and aviation specialists who have spent more than 35 years in the industry. Hot Air’s specially chosen location, provides ideal weather and climate conditions for this gentle activity and our beautiful region offers unrivalled panoramic views of our unique Australian landscape.

Have you ever dreamed of flying? Now you can! There is no other sensation like the quite, calm movement through the sky. The birds will just have to make way. Enjoy Australia, explore Cairns and the great Barrier Reef, but no not pass on this one. Experience the adventure that has enveloped the minds of man since the beginning of time. Enjoy Hot Air Cairns and ride the wind in the world’s largest balloon. It even has a giant kangaroo. Tell them Mike says hello.

We toured and flew with them on the 2nd of Sept.2002. We had the thrill of a lifetime. I recommend this experience, with this company of professionals, to anyone. An absolute must do!

Visit their website at www.hotair.com.au

Hot air balloons floating over the rural landscape of Cairns.

Hot air balloons floating over the rural landscape of Cairns. Photo credit Dai Fujihara / Flickr CC.

Review: Skyrail Cableway, Cairns, Queensland

We travel the world for ten months a year searching for adventure and beauty. We found more than we had hoped in this land called “Down Under.” Australia is a land of huge contrasts, vast deserts that continue for thousands of miles. Oceans so blue your eyes can’t absorb their brilliance. Wildlife that exists no where else on the planet. The world’s largest reef, the Great Barrier Reef. The oldest rain forest, it actually touches the beach. Most of these phenomena’s of nature can be found near the charming town of Cairns Qld. There is much to do and see in this area of Australia, so plan for a lengthy stay. You’ll have the time of your life. We toured and highly recommend ballooning with “Hot Air cairns” & going to the barrier reefs with “Seahorse Cruises” to snorkel, dive and enjoy the sand islands. The city also boasts an Aboriginal Cultural Center. While you are in Cairns, there is one tour that you must do, ride the Skyrail through the world’s oldest rain forest. It floats you above the ancient forest at treetop levels and takes you back to the time when the world was untouched. The Skyrail has won many awards for its design in protecting these life giving rain forests, while still allowing the world to embrace their beauty. The Skyrail is owned and operated by a six generation Australian family that take pride in sharing the heritage that Mother Nature has given to us all. Ride the wind and experience the thrill of a lifetime.

Traveler’s Digest toured this region of Australia for several months and fell in love with this raw beautiful land. We highly recommend Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef and soaring through the rain forest with the world’s safest and longest gondola….. The Skyrail

If you have ever had a dream to travel the world…… please do it! Life is precious and very short. It is a gift, so enjoy it!

Visit their website at www.skyrail.com.au

The Skyrail traveling over the rainforest from Kuranda to Cairns. Photo credit Kazuhiko Teramoto / Flickr CC.

The Skyrail traveling over the rainforest from Kuranda to Cairns. Photo credit Kazuhiko Teramoto / Flickr CC.

Delano Beach Club comes stocked with a chess board and hammocks

Ten Things To Do In Colorado Springs, Colorado

mt view 2Colorado Springs, Colorado is a bedroom community with a population of nearly 500,000 people including the surrounding areas.  Many people are attracted to the area due to being nestled in the foot hills of the Front Range of the Colorado Rocky Mountains.   Getting here is easy with the local Colorado Springs Airport and Denver International Airport 60 miles to the north.  Colorado Springs boasts 300 days of sunshine per year and even in the heart of winter, you’ll see people walking around in short sleeves and shorts as long as the sun is out.

With this much sunshine, there are a multitude of planned events going on year round and there site seeing is beyond compare and available all the time.

Which brings me to top ten list of things to do in Colorado Springs:

  1. Cog Railway up Pikes Peak.  Pikes Peak is one of the 54 Colorado Mountains with a summit above 14,000 feet in altitude above sea level.  The Cog Railway is open year round and offers the opportunity to enjoy the mountain without killing yourself trying to hike up.  Here’s more information on the Cog Railway: http://www.cograilway.com/
  2. Barr Trail. Of course, if you are a little more adventurous, you may want to try the hiking trail up Pikes Peak.  It’s a beautiful well maintained trail that offers sites you just can’t see any other way.  The views of the city of Colorado Springs are just gorgeous.  It’s a 13 miles hike up the mountain gaining 7,000 foot in altitude starting from the trailhead in Manitou Springs.  So make sure you’re acclimated to the altitude and have plenty of fresh water! You can choose to do a round-trip hike or have your ride take the car or van up the road to the summit and meet you at the Summit House for hot cider and donuts.  More about Barr Trail:  http://www.barrcamp.com/hike.php.  Barr Trail also is the venue for both the half-marathon Ascent Run and the full marathon round trip.  These races are held around 4th of July weekend and one of the greatest marathon enthusiast challenges you’ll find anywhere.  Barr Trail is just one of the many hiking opportunities available in Colorado Springs.
  3. Garden of The Gods. One of the most interesting geological areas in the United States.  Garden of the Gods offers hiking trails through a vast array of red rock formations.  You will be fascinated with the awe inspiring views at this public park.  Garden of the Gods Information and visitor center can be found here: http://www.gardenofgods.com/home/index.cfm
  4. Collegiate Sporting Events. Home to both the United States Air Force Academy and Colorado College, these two championship level colleges offer great football, basketball, hockey, baseball, and other sporting event viewing opportunities.
  5. Cycling. Cyclists from all over the flock to Colorado Springs each year for all the great cycling events.  Whether you’re a novice or a pro, there is no end to a wide range of cycling routes to challenge you at any level.  Whether it’s mountain biking on the Santa Fe trail or climbing the mountain roads, Colorado Springs has the cycling tailored made for your needs.  Organized cycling events can be found here:  http://bicyclecolorado.org/events/event-calendar/
  6. Microbreweries. With the increase in popularity of micro-brewing craft beer, Colorado Springs has spawned several microbreweries for your relaxation and enjoyment after a hard day in the mountain air and sunshine.  These breweries will surprise you with the quality of beer and the fine food.  More information at: http://www.beer100.com/brewpubs_a_to_k/colorado.htm
  7. Dining. With such a wide variety of cultures represented in mountain foothill community, you can find exquisite restaurant dining for any tastes.  Being the home to the U.S.  Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs greets many international visitors.  Many come for a visit and stay due to the climate and beautiful views.  With this infusion of cultures comes a tremendous variety of cuisines.  But, if you’re heading out to eat of Friday and Saturday, come early or be prepared to wait.  With such great choices in dining, you’ll find many folks with the same idea.  More info on Colorado Springs dining: http://www.visitcos.com/colorado-springs-restaurants
  8. Festivals and Events. You’ll find many unique and unusual events happening year round.  Ice carving in nearby Cripple Creek, the Hummingbird Festival in May, or the Colorado Balloon Classic.  Looking for a concert that’s off the beaten path, try the Blues Under The Bridge .  Find the event schedule here: http://www.visitcos.com/colorado-springs/travel/event-calendar
  9. Accommodations. Whether it’s camping in Pikes Peak National Park, staying at the 5 Star Broadmoor Hotel, Bed & Breakfasts, or anything in between, you’ll find rest and relaxation to meet your needs making your stay extra enjoyable.  The world famous Broadmoor Hotel is a fun place to visit even if you’re not staying there.

Just ten things to do in Colorado Springs.  You’ll understand why so many people choose to stay.  With all the amenities of city life, you still get daily mountain views and can get away to the fresh mountain air and wildflower meadows with just a quick drive.  And I didn’t even mention the Colorado skiing.  With champagne powder slopes, you’d be hard pressed to find better skiing and snowboarding conditions anywhere in the world.

Culture, science blend at Hawaii Volcanoes park fest on Big Island

Hawaii

A cultural festival and a serious scientific study will blend in May at the Big Island’s Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The park will join forces with National Geographic for a two-day adventure that will connect the dots between the park’s flora and fauna and the traditions of Hawaii’s native population.

The park, at the southern end of the Big Island of Hawaii, will hold a Biodiversity & Cultural Festival May 15-16 to coincide with the research to be conducted as part ofNational Geographic’s BioBlitz.

Working alongside more than 150 scientists and Hawaiian cultural practitioners, thousands of people are expected to fan out across the park to document its animal and plant life, both in recent lava flows and nearby rainforests.

Participants will learn about endangered endemic species such as the nene, a Hawaiian goose, and the Mauna Loa silversword, a plant that flowers only once during its lifetime.

Participation is free, but pre-registration is required. Children 8 and older can take part if accompanied by a grown-up.

The simultaneous festival will offer a variety of entertainment, plus hands-on activities that lead to “graduation” from “Biodiversity University.” The celebration will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 15 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 16 near the Kilauea Visitors Center. Admission is free.

Entrance fees to the park will be waived both days.

5 Stellar Volunteer Placements in Iceland

Icelanders are a creative and close-knit bunch, living on a land that boasts the largest glacier in Europe, the beautiful Aurora Borealis, numerous formidable volcanoes, and yes, surprisingly mild temperatures. No matter how you choose to volunteer abroad in Iceland, you won’t fail to notice the colorful and community-oriented spirit that rests at the core of locals, and the pride they take in their one-of-a-kind landscape. Volunteers who enjoy being part of a team, being pushed outside their comfort zone, and eating lots and lots of fish will be guaranteed a once-in-a-lifetime experience volunteering abroad in any of the following five stellar volunteer placements in Iceland.

Gulfoss, Iceland

Gulfoss, Iceland

1. Festival Assistance

Dating all the way back to their ancient saga days, Icelanders have always known for their imaginative and enterprising spirit. Whether a chosen career or creative outlet, writing, composing, designing, acting, painting and sculpting all play significant roles in the lives of Iceland natives. Not to mention, the naturally breathtaking and all-surrounding landscape of Iceland set’s one of the most pristine stages in the world. Between the numerous sustainability, film, music, and themed festivals that take place in Iceland each year, volunteers will have more placement opportunities than they can count!

Although festivals occur year-round, volunteers that have a specific festival in mind may want to check dates ahead of time and plan their volunteer program in Iceland accordingly. The length of volunteer programs in Iceland focused on festival work is generally just a couple weeks or so, since the work load coincides with the specific festival taking place and housing is almost always in the form of group living accommodations. Duties and volunteer activities will likewise vary based upon the festival you choose to volunteer on.

Reykjavík, Iceland

Reykjavík, Iceland

Saga Festival, for example, takes place on a farm and focuses on sustainability and community connection through music, art and food. On the other hand, independent and up-and-coming films and filmmakers from around the globe are featured during the eleven-day-long Reykjavik International Film Festival, while live bands and top DJs from all over the world perform alongside Iceland’s biggest names at Iceland Airwaves Music Festival.

Individuals who volunteer in festival prep in Iceland may be tasked with:

  • Building, design, and construction of festival structures and stages
  • Aid in the installation of festival exhibitions
  • Posting and handing out promotional material
  • Picking up international guests from the airport
  • Preparing venues and selling tickets
  • Helping with security and maintaining cleanliness of grounds

2. Trail Building

There’s not much better than living off the land, hiking infamous trails, and playing a vital role in sustaining Iceland’s incredible natural wonders. With three national parks and endless lush terrain, Iceland offers countless locations for volunteer work in trail management from one end of the country to the other. Some trail building volunteer programs in Iceland offer the chance for volunteers to travel Iceland while working on trail and conservation tasks for a few months, heading to a new location every one or two weeks. Other programs keep volunteers stationed in a set location, seeing specific projects through to completion (or nearly) and taking time to get to know the surrounding landscape.

While experience is not always necessary, physical fitness is almost always a must to join a trail team in Iceland. Accommodation while working in parks, reserves, and remote wilderness across Iceland usually involves camping and other rustic means of housing. Volunteers should take care to check if the necessary equipment is provided in-country or should be brought along.

Duties and activities of trail team volunteers in Iceland may include:

  • Boardwalk, bridge, and step construction
  • Resurfacing trails from lava-caused erosion
  • Improving drainage
  • Placing way-makers
  • Removing invasive plant species
  • GPS trail mapping and data collection
Iceland cuisine

3. Farming

Foodies passionate about sustainability will fit right involunteering abroad on the farms of Iceland. Only one percent of the land is currently being cultivated in Iceland, a process which is made even more difficult by the mighty volcanoes, geysers, and glaciers that inhabit this mountainous country. Volunteers will learn to differentiate between “want” and “need” and debate environmental hot-button issues while living and volunteering an organic farm in Iceland.

Farming volunteer programs in Iceland can last anywhere from a couple weeks to several months, and typically feature group housing. Natural pastures and practices offer various placements for volunteers with a sweet-tooth, soft spot for animals, or passion for the eco-lifestyle.

Daily duties of volunteers working on farms in Iceland may include the following:

  • Assist with the preparation for and birth of new baby animals
  • Build animal shelters and pens from recycled or repurposed materials
  • Grow organic greens and herbs in greenhouses and gardens
  • Participate in art workshops to decorate the farm and surrounding areas
  • Visit recycling centers or sustainable energy power plants (such as geothermal)

4. Dog Sledding

Volunteer abroad with a professional dog sledding kennel by joining a dog sledding tour across Iceland. Tours typically run all year long, so volunteers may mush through snowy glaciers the majority of the year or traverse drier highlands in the fall with the additional help of wheels. Volunteers will feel at one with nature as they chase the northern lights behind a sled of dogs and explore the incredible Icelandic scenery.

During these three to twelve month long adventures, volunteers will most often stay in rustic conditions alongside the dogs. Fit, healthy, and animal-loving volunteers can expect to perform the following tasks while volunteering abroad as a dog sled musher:

  • Dog care and training
  • Sled building
  • Kennel and equipment maintenance
Whale leftover

Whale leftover

5. Photography

Single images can capture a world of meaning, and those that volunteer abroad in Iceland in a photography placement will learn to tell a story, represent an idea, or make a point based upon the assigned topics given. Topics will explore various global issues, including the environment, peace, and intercultural understanding. Photography placements exist throughout Iceland, allowing volunteers to choose a date and destination that works best with their interests and schedule.

Many photography volunteer placements in Iceland require that volunteers bring their own photography equipment, although a generic digital camera will generally suffice. Volunteer work outside of taking photographers often coincides with photography placements as well, such as website or marketing assistance.

Expected volunteer activities may include the following:

  • Photograph locals to draw attention to issues and deliver messages
  • Share and learn photography skills as well as editing techniques
  • Submit photographs to be selected for a final exhibit
  • Assist in putting together the final exhibit
  • Community projects including beautifying gardens or working in recycling systems

Although these five stellar volunteer placements in Iceland may seem a bit off the deep end, where else can you have an experience like it? So, why not just jump in? Whether your passions lie in music and art, nature and animals, or somewhere in between, volunteering abroad in Iceland will be an experience you won’t soon forget.

Camelot Uncovered

King Arthur

Through the mist-swept castles and lush rolling hills of Wales, a literary lover sets on a quest for truth befitting a knight—Did  King Arthur Ever Exist?

Story by Ryan Murdock / Photos by Simon Vaughan
A journey through Wales is like waking up in a detective story. And in this episode we were travelling with the genuine article. Our guide, John Wake, had been a police officer for 27 years. He spent 23 of them as a detective in the Criminal Investigation Division, and seven as head of the Drug Squad. Today, he’s an expert on the legendary King Arthur.
The figure of Arthur casts a warm glow over the medieval history of the United Kingdom. He lived at a time when knights dreamt of rescuing damsels and roamed the land for the love of a quest. Arthur formed the Round Table, a meeting place of equals, where he ruled over a Golden Age the likes of which we haven’t seen since. Or did he…?
What about dragons and magicians and giants? What about the Holy Grail? Oh, they were just stories, you might say. Fables tacked on. Metaphors for something else. But could you dismiss one while accepting the other? What’s the truth in all of this? Was there any truth, at all? That’s what my friend Simon Vaughan and I have come to Wales to find out. We met detective John one morning over coffee at Cardiff’s Parc Thistle Hotel, and I asked him how he developed his rather odd hobby.
“It started as a fascination,” he said. “And then became an obsession. Now it’s back to being a fascination again.”
Ryan Murdock 6
John Wake
An awful lot of people have written about King Arthur. Academics have fought over him, England has transplanted and claimed him, and a wide range of tourist sites bill themselves as the “real” burial place, and the place of the round table and battlefields. But no one denies that the earliest references to Arthur come from Wales. The entire topic is so full of misinformation, hidden agendas, personal interest and competing national myths that you’d have to be a detective to figure it all out. And that’s where John comes in.
“Here’s my angle,” he said, cutting straight to the core. “Would a particular fact make it into a court of law? Not, would it prove the case—but would it even make it into court? If a story or a piece of so-called proof doesn’t meet these criteria, I dismiss it immediately. It isn’t relevant to the case.”
This was clearly a man with no patience for nonsense.
“So, what do you think?” I asked, determined to appear even more hardboiled than ‘Detective Wake for The Prosecution.’ Trust me, I know how to handle these things.
“Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, written around AD 1136, introduced Arthur to the world. There were a couple of obscure references to an Arthur in Welsh tracts before this, but they had no resemblance to Geoffrey’s embellishments. Every other Arthur story is based on the details of Monmouth’s fiction, and so everything that comes after it is false.”
Wait a second: Monmouth’s fiction? We’d barely been in Cardiff a day and a half, and this man with the nose of a prize-fighter and glare that’d cut through a thousand false witnesses had already torpedoed our quest? I have to admit I was shaken. I’d grown up on stories of Arthur and his Knights, and part of me still wanted to believe.
“So, was there a man behind the legend?” I asked. “Or was it all just an elaborate fiction?”
“Oh yes,” John said. “I believe there was a man. But he wasn’t the Arthur of these stories.”
And so the three of us set out to uncover this person, this mysterious Arthur. And there were many digressions along the way. Our first stop was Llandaff Cathedral, a 12th-century church north of downtown Cardiff. John briefed us on the case as we drove.
“There are a few things you guys have to know about Geoffrey of Monmouth,” he said, beginning with the source of all King Arthur legends—and the most questionable witness in the entire case. “Geoffrey was commissioned to write his History by Robert of Gloucester, and the book is dedicated to him.”
Robert of Gloucester was one of the powerful Anglo-Norman barons, the so-called Marcher Lords, placed in control of the Welsh-English border region at that time. In other words, Geoffrey wrote his book for the ruling class of his day.
“You’ve got to remember that the 12th century was a very corrupt time,” John continued. “The kings of Britain needed a back story, something to legitimize their rule. And Geoffrey wanted to please his patron.”
His book chronicles the kings of the Britons from mythical Trojan origins right up until the 7th century, when the Anglo-Saxons came on the scene. Geoffrey claimed to have based his Arthur chapters on “a very ancient book in the British tongue.” A book which has never been found, or positively identified. Monmouth’s History was one of the most popular books in the Middle Ages, particularly among British monarchs like the Tudors. It was accepted uncritically well into the 16th century, and it inspired the work of many other writers who extended the legends, in particular the Arthurian tales. Experts today regard it as a work of fiction, with a few facts sprinkled in. And yet, Arthurian scholars still treat it as the one definitive text on the real King Arthur.
King Arthur Ryan Murdock 3
Ryan surveys Three Cliff’s Bay from Pennard Castle
John Wake would have none of it. “You can’t pick and choose facts just to support your case,” he said, jabbing a finger into the air. “You can’t say Arthur set up his camp at Cadbury in one chapter, and in the next, Merlin flew in on the wings of a dragon. The person who wrote that is not a credible witness. All of his testimony must be dismissed.”
By questioning Geoffrey, John was casting doubt on the one source of Arthurian legend that is accepted as a baseline by academic researchers. In the world of Camelot—Arthur’s mythical kingdom where chivalry, peace and social justice reigned—this is serious business. And with that, we arrived at Llandaff, the first stop on our journey through a confusion of fact, fiction and hidden agendas.
“This place has real historical connections,” John said, as we walked through the church’s moss-covered lich gate. “The first religious community here was established by Saint Dubricius—St. Dyfrig in Welsh. Geoffrey of Monmouth claimed Dyfrig crowned King Arthur at a nearby Roman site called Caerleon. And Dyfrig was a real person. This places Arthur in the correct time frame, if he were real.”
Our detective wasn’t the type to mess around with sightseeing. We made our way straight down the vast, echoing centre aisle to a small apse tucked away near the altar. John pointed to a stained-glass window showing three figures: Tewdrig, King Arthur and Cadwaladr.
“Now have a look here. This is a Victorian-era window, so it obviously came much later and isn’t a historical source. But it depicts Arthur as a Romano-Briton, which would have been correct.” The Romans left Britain in AD 410, and the Britons still hadn’t come on the scene. “If Arthur did exist, this is probably the type of clothing he would have worn.”
Despite Hollywood images and later legends, suits of armour wouldn’t be invented for many hundreds of years. John pointed to the man in the centre of the triad. “I believe Geoffrey’s Arthur was the grandson of Tewdrig. And that the fragments he used to weave his fiction and tales were based on actual events and actual people who lived. I’m going to show you exactly who I think they were.”
Having set the stage with some rather stunning stained-glass visuals, Detective John turned and walked down the aisle. “Come on then. Our next set of clues is a bit of a drive.”
A journey through Wales is like a conversation in a bar. It’s filled with digressions. You never really stick to the point you thought you were trying to make. And you never know where you’ll end up, either.
It didn’t take us long to realize John Wake had a limitless ability to pull facts and odd places out of his hat like a conjurer pulling a rabbit. If there was ever a Merlin in Wales, this man is it. As we sped down the highway towards the site of our next clue, I asked him about the Roman occupation.
“Did you know we’re driving on one of their roads right now?” he said. “Pull into that parking lot on the right, just up there.”
The stone remains of a thick Roman wall stood behind a beer garden, covered in moss, with only a pile of rubbish to mark the spot. We were standing beside the ancient entry to the village of Caerwent, where the landscape still held signs of what was once a very large market town. It spread across a broad bowl of land, and I could clearly trace the sweep of the wall that marked the distant limits of the settlement. This was exactly the sort of place Arthur and his contemporaries would have known in the centuries following the decline of Roman Britain. It wouldn’t be the first such site we stumbled across in Wales. This is a place where you can’t throw a stone without hitting a 13th-century church, hilltop castle, or Roman site. Every square foot of the land has a story to tell, and in Wales, these legends are right around the corner. Our investigation continued at the nearby site of Meurig’s Well.
“You guys remember Tewdrig, the figure next to Arthur in the window of Llandaff Cathedral?” John asked. “This place is connected to him. And there are some very interesting parallels to the story told by Geoffrey of Monmouth.”
Tewdrig was a famous 5th- to 6th-century king of the region of Gwent, an area on the Welsh border with England. He became a holy man in his later years, willingly abdicating his throne to his son, Meurig, and retiring to a hermit’s life in the Wye River Valley near the present day site of Tintern Abbey.
“Tyn-Deryn refers to Seat of the King in Welsh,” John tells us. “It’s a direct reference to Tewdrig. Geoffrey would have seen the building of Tintern Abbey in his own lifetime, and he would’ve been intimately familiar with these stories.” The religious life was much to Tewdrig’s liking, but these were turbulent times. He was soon recalled to lead his old army against an invading Saxon force.
“Tewdrig won the battle,” John said, “but he was mortally wounded. His son Meurig carried him here, to this spot, where he washed the dying king’s wounds in a spring.” John pointed to a coffin-shaped concrete box where stagnant water trickled through a pile of fading litter.
“It’s now called Meurig’s Well. There were many holy wells in 5th-century Wales. And there really was a well here for hundreds of years. I don’t know why they replaced it with this when it collapsed.”
The old king died nearby, and was buried beneath what is now St. Tewdric’s Church in Mathern (Tewdric being Tewdrig), our next stop on the trail of clues. This was a very old site, indeed. The churchyard wall was round rather than rectilinear, indicating that the existing 15th-century church had been built over a much earlier Celtic settlement. John led us straight to a plaque on the wall near the altar.
“We have a plausible evidence trail pointing to the fact that Tewdrig really was buried here. The name of the nearby town in Welsh is “Merthyr Teryn”—Martyred King. And when the floor of this church was dug up in 1881, they discovered the bones of a very large man who died of a head wound. It doesn’t wrap up the case on its own, but it would certainly be strong enough to make it into a court of law.”
We stepped out of the sacred dimness, back into the gentle daylight road. The whole story sounded vaguely familiar, though I’d never heard of Tewdrig before, and had no idea what our detective was leading to.
King Arthur Ryan Murdock 5
Inside St Govan’s Chapel
“So why did Meurig bring his father here to die?” he asked—rhetorically, really. Court was in session, and I sensed he was going in for the kill.
“There’s an island just off shore called Flat Holm. A holy place. I believe Tewdrig wanted to be buried there.” John grabbed me by the shoulder and pulled me three steps down the road. “In Meurig’s time, the sea would have been much closer than it is today. In fact, it would have been just beyond that house. And the route we followed—from Tintern, to the village of Pwllmeyric and the well, to Mathern Church—would have been the most direct route to the sea and Flat Holm Island.”
The hair stood up on the back of my arm. The parallels to Geoffrey’s legend of Arthur were unmistakable: a final epic battle where the hero, a great king, was mortally wounded; and a dying king taken by sea to the magical island of Avalon to be healed of his wounds. At that point, of course, Arthur disappears into legend, perhaps to return when needed: the “Once and Future King,” as he is so often referred to in folklore. But things like that don’t happen in real life. Bodies leave traces and stories leave trails. And so I think we might have just found our Avalon.
John continued. “Meurig had a son called Athrwys, who also went on to be king. This would have made him the grandson of Tewdrig, and it explains why those two figures were placed together in the window of Llandaff Cathedral.”
Each element of the original Arthur story was falling into place. John fixed us with a glare that would wilt a hardened criminal. “I think this man—this local chieftain, son of Meurig and grandson of Tewdrig—was Geoffrey’s King Arthur.” It was a lot more plausible than versions locating Arthur in England. Later most writers based their stories on Geoffrey of Monmouth’s book. And one writer getting his information from another is not evidence. Geoffrey’s version is, indeed, the key to the mystery. But it’s a key that works on an oblique angle.
The rulers of the time needed a plausible myth of ancestry to increase their legitimacy. Even better if that ancestry included descent from an original hero. John Wake believes Geoffrey created the story of Arthur from known people and places. He added spice from real locations and established Welsh legends, and he wove in the propaganda of his patrons. Exactly the way any present day novelist builds a work of fiction. You write what you know, and you draw characters from real life.
It fit my own experience as a writer. And the evidence trail was based on verifiable facts. But several important questions remained unanswered. And so, on we went.
Our journey through Wales was a walk through the landscape of my childhood imagination. It was like travelling through the fragments of dreams barely remembered, with a constant haze of déjà vu hovering over my shoulder.
The day after tracing the story of Tewdrig, we were driving to the town of Hay-on-Wye, site of a famous literary festival, and home to more used bookstores than any place on the planet. It was a selfish detour forced by myself with threat of pen-point, and not even Arthur himself could stand in our way. Conversation naturally shifted to books, and that’s when John pulled another one of his conjuring tricks.
“Did you guys know Baskerville Hall is in Wales?”
I nearly slammed on the brakes, and I heard Simon’s jaw hit the back seat and bounce off.
“Yeah, it’s only a few miles from here. We can go if you like.”
Wales was proving to be one bizarre surprise after another. We were both avid fans of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, and The Hound of the Baskervilles scared the bejeezus out of me the first time I read it. It didn’t take long to locate the gate. As we pulled in the long winding drive and made our way towards the manor house, Simon spotted a man walking a little white Yorkshire terrier.
“My God, it’s the hound!” he cried, and a fit of giggling nearly sent us careening into some sheep. Baskerville Hall has been transformed into a hotel, but the atmosphere could have been copied from the book. The coat of arms above the door showed a hound’s head with a spear driven through it, and blood dripping from the end. Inside, the massive double staircase and cavernous entry hall were true to Conan Doyle’s description. The author knew the Baskervilles well, and was a regular visitor to the house. He’d heard the family legend, and built what is perhaps his darkest Sherlock Holmes tale around it. But the novel was actually set on Dartmoor in Devon—in England’s west country.
“I’ve heard two different stories to explain it,” John said. “One was that the family asked him not to set it here because they didn’t want notoriety and uninvited guests.”
“If that’s the case, then why use their name?” I asked.
“Exactly,” he said. “It’s not very plausible. The other story, which I believe, is that Conan Doyle’s editors advised him to move the location to England because no reader would be interested in a story set in Wales.” He turned to Simon and said with a wink, “Another example of you English stealing our stories for your own use.”
I think the truth might have had more to do with landscape. Baskerville Hall was imposing but it didn’t lack warmth, and the rolling green beauty of the Welsh hills was the farthest thing one could imagine from murder and evil deeds. At least, it looked that way from the front. A caretaker tipped us off to a cluster of graves on a forested hill behind the Hall. One of the older stones read: “Our well loved little doggie, Died 23rd January 1838.” Could this be the grave of the dreaded hound?
Even by day the forest cast a strange gloom. The hillside was alive with shadows, and the emptiness of the path tickled our backs with phantom eyes as we crouched beside the little circle of stones. At night this would feel like a very different place. The three of us vowed to return here next year to investigate the legend—and to read The Hound of the Baskervilles in the very house that inspired it. By night, of course, with the wind moaning low and a sound in the forest of footsteps coming closer.
Baskerville Hall wasn’t the only place John Wake pulled a Merlin, and conjured up images from my childhood. We made another roadside stop that day, at a ruin called The White Castle, hidden down a narrow winding detour just off our Arthur route.
King Arthur Ryan Murdock 2
Twelfth century Pennard Castle, a popular spot for poet Dylan Thomas
It started as so many of John’s stories did. “Would you guys like to see an out of the way castle no one ever goes to?” And we were off chasing the thread of another unexpected adventure.
Set on a low hill not far from the mid-Wales village of Llantillo Crossenny, The White Castle might just be the area’s best kept secret. The outer bailey is largely intact and the main fortification—six round towers joined by a high curtain wall—is surrounded by a deep moat complete with wooden drawbridge. Judging by the state of the remains, it never suffered the demolition visited on most Welsh castles after various civil wars and revolts.
Despite its military purpose, the castle was a peaceful place protected by birdsong. I climbed the stone steps of the gatehouse tower, where the sun warmed a summer-vacation scent into the air. On the grass of the outer bailey, three children were completely absorbed in an inner adventure of their own.
“Okay, you be Lord Voldemart. And I’m Hermione.”
In my day it would have been knights in armour—today, it’s Harry Potter. I was struck by how naturally they took these props for granted. They didn’t just have imagination, they had a castle to set it in. For a brief moment The White Castle transported me back to vacation days spent next to an open window reading Enid Blyton’s Famous Five stories. I dreamed of high adventure and my very own ruined castle on a private island in a lake. Of course, The Famous Five novels weren’t set in Wales. But it didn’t matter.
The landscape and ancient stones conjured up the visions just the same. Simon and John climbed the tower to survey the defences and earthworks, and our conversation once again turned to King Arthur.
“The seeds of Geoffrey’s story make sense,” I said. “But there are still unanswered questions that trouble me. Merlin, for example. Where did he come from?”
“Geoffrey again,” John replied. “There was a wizard, a sort of prophet and madman, who lived in the 6th century and became a figure in medieval Welsh legends. He was called Myrddin Wyllt in our language—Merlinus Caledonensis. No connection at all to Arthur, of course. Geoffrey made it all up. He would have grown up on these stories, and he used them as material like so much else.”
“What about the Lady in the Lake? Excalibur, and all that?” Simon asked.
“They find old swords in lakes all the time!” John replied. “They’re a dime a dozen.”
For a moment I pictured Wales as a place of watery maidens who spent their time chucking swords at passing knights.
“The ancient Celts worshipped water,” he continued. “They placed their weapons in lakes as offerings. It was such a common practice. Lake beds are actually one of the best places to find those sorts of artifacts.” He laughed at the clear disappointment on our faces. “Sorry guys. You won’t find any cute girls in these lakes.”
The sword in the stone is an easy legend to trace, said John. In Arthurian legend, a sword (called Excalibur) had been magically embedded in a stone, and only the true-born king could retrieve it. That king, of course, was Arthur.
“Stones were used as molds to cast metal,” John said. “The molten liquid was poured into the mold and allowed to harden. Of course it would have taken a strong man to pull it free!”
In his book Geoffrey had once again drawn his details from the practices of the times, padding out his narrative for authenticity just as any good novelist would do. The key, once again, was stories. And it’s a key that’s particularly Welsh.
Wales was magnificent in its treats. We explored the remote ruin of Carreg Cennen Castle, on its windswept limestone crag, and wandered through the perfect specimen of Kidwelly Castle, haunted by doves and the camera click of tourists. And as the pennants of forgotten armies snapped in the breeze, the soaring battlements always brought our conversation back to Arthur.
If what John Wake uncovered was true—and both Simon and I believed it was—then what value does Arthur have today? Can we still accept him if the entire story is founded on a lie, a complete myth? So many writers built on Geoffrey of Monmouth’s account of what Wake calls “the world’s first superhero.” And each author added strands of their own.
The Norman-French poet Maistre Wace (circa AD 1155) added the Round Table. Chretien de Troyes added chivalry and courtly romance. Robert de Boron developed the quest for the Holy Grail, bringing these tales into a Christian era. And Thomas Malory, in his Le Morte d’Arthur, pulled all the threads together into a complete narration. Victorian writers like Walter Scott and Tennyson had their say, too. They painted on a layer of their own ideals and values, using the chivalric past to educate the present. Today these legends of wizards and knights serve an age intent on escapism and fantasy.
The story of Arthur transcended its place in the kingdom of Gwent, at first intentionally, when it was co-opted by the English to enhance the lineage of their kings, and later unintentionally. Each writer placed Arthur in his own time, and projected his own ideas and values onto the characters. And, I believe, it’s that essence—that story—that really holds the key.
John Wake summed up my feelings on it precisely: “The way the entire narrative developed tells us more about the times in which the author lived, than the era referred to.”
The Arthur of legend doesn’t have to be real—any more than the protagonist of your favourite novel does. For me, it’s always been a story of adventures and castles and saving the girl. I didn’t care about grails and Christianity—and especially not chastity. Instead, Arthur inspired me to see my life in larger terms. To go out and do things that frightened me. And to hold firm to my truths, no matter what fantastic monsters I encountered along the way.
In the end it doesn’t matter if Arthur was a small Romano-British chieftain, or the Once and Future King. It’s the story that’s important, and what it teaches us about ourselves.
We came to Wales in search of the man behind King Arthur, but we found so much more: friendship, childhood memories, mystery, and many layers of the past. On the last night of our trip we shared a pint with John Wake in a quiet Cardiff pub. We’d covered a lot of ground together, and that, in itself, seemed to be the final clue.
“How much does all this have to do with landscape?” I asked him. “Not just the story of Arthur, but all of these stories?”
“It’s terribly important,” he said, setting his glass carefully on a coaster. “You can’t have a tale of wizards and dragons and mystical kings without mist, fog and hidden valleys. The landscape of these legends is the landscape of Wales. It is Wales.”
And that, I think, is the constant here. The green rolling hills, the torn-off coast, the music of place names, ruined castles and Roman hill forts, and above all the mist which conceals and transforms. These things are constant. Everything else, pliable.
Wales taught me that the future is vague and uncertain, but the past is fluid. Events from the past are not just cold hard facts, because we can interpret them. And, quite simply, they change over time.

Useful Tips on How to Find Egypt Travel Information

Are you planning to visit Egypt? If yes, then you need to consider a few things. Now, you may ask why? So, there are plenty of reasons to it – from finding real tourists attractions in country to how to get modern amenities while spending your days in wasteland.

If you don’t want to get into trouble, you must be guard with proper information. Visiting Egypt needs lots of preparation and of course details to deal with local inhabitants. If you are still confused on how to find details, you need to go through stated below useful tips on how to find Egypt travel information.

Internet Can Help You Great 

Technology, without any doubt, has changed contemporary lifestyle. Now, you can be able to order for any service or product even from great comfort of your own residence. You even don’t need to go out to choose a desired product. The same situation can also be witnessed when it comes to grabbing travel information about Egypt. Internet is surely the best platform to grab Egypt travel related information.

For this, what all you need to do is to visit or browse a reputed search engine. You need to write your query down in search engine box say for instance, travel attractions in Egypt. Once you submit your query, you will be provided thousands of relevant results to choose from. A little research on the internet can help you great when it comes to grabbing travel information about Egypt.

How to Determine Right Information 

However, internet is the best option to go with when it comes to grabbing information about anything, but since there are tons of sites available, you may often be confused on determining right information. If you too are struggling with this situation, you need to look for reliable websites. Visiting official website of Egypt Travel department can help you great in grabbing general information about the country its culture, inhabitants and of course history.

Visiting government website is a good option when it comes to finding general information about the country, but if you are looking for detailed Egypt travel information, you need to look for additional options. There are lots of websites available that can help you in this concern. They have plenty of proven information when it comes to revealing ancient history, culture and of course pyramid of Giza. Visiting such an informative site can help you great in terms of preparing for your Egypt visit.

Contact a Professional

Availing services of a professional can help you great when it comes to grabbing latest information on travelling to Egypt. There are plenty of tour and travel agencies available that can guide you on how to find Egypt travel information. They are capable of guiding novice visitors to country on several levels.

So, if you have decided to visit this mysterious Arab country, you first need to grab adequate information associated with it. Grabbing relevant, useful and latest information can help you enjoying your journey safe and hurdle-free.

What You Need To Know About Honduras Tourism

Are you planning for your holiday but do know the right destination to choose? Do you want to enjoy pleasure in the environment brimming with clear turquoise water? Or you are looking for the right country in Central American where you will enjoy perfect pleasure in a pristine beach? If these are what you desire and planning for, you are not to border anymore as the right destination you need to go for your nest vacation is Honduras. This country is blessed with lots of great and natural endowments and it has something to offer to any tourist from any part of the world.

What You Need To Know about Roatan Real Estate Market

If you are planning to visit any city in the abovementioned country, or you want to migrate to any part of the country to reside there permanently there are some things you need to consider. One of such things is the nature of real estate market of the city. That is why this article is about to intimate you more on Roatan Real Estate market. There are many real estate companies as well as brokers in this city through which you can buy or sell property in the city. You are going to find well built and designed houses, in case you want to buy one for your family when you go to this city.

Facts about Honduras Foods You Need To Know

This country is the largest as well as one of the most popular countries in Central America. It is among the countries known for their variety of foods which is among reasons why most tourists normally make the country their destination. You will eat both continental and continental dishes when you get to this country. You will like to visit this country again after enjoying Honduras food. The cuisine of this country is combination of the Spanish cousin, Caribbean cuisine as well as African cuisine. Some of the foods, you will enjoy when you get to this country include;  meat roasted with  carne asada and chismol, chicken with rice and corn, fried fish with pickled onion and lots more.

Visit the City Of Copan Honduras to Enjoy Pleasure in Full

The city of Copan is among the amazing cities in the country with lots of tourist attractions. There are lots of museums, galleries, sightseeing, historical and Archeological sites that will keep you busy and enjoyable when you make it to this city. You can easily find lots of pristine beaches where you can swim along side with shark and other sea creatures. If you also want to learn how to dive, this city is the best location for you.

The City of Utila the Best Destination for Honduras Tourist

If you are looking to enjoy yourself in the smallest bay in the abovementioned country, the best place you need to go is the city of Utila.  Due to the favorable diving conditions of most beaches in this wonderful city, lots of tourists are being attracted to the city every year. More so, it is one of the homes for annual festivals known as Sunjam. This is the largest electronic music events in the country and it used to attract people from different part of the word making it among the Honduras tourism.

TIOMAN ISLAND FOR ALL BUDGETS.

Just two hours off the coast of Mersing Malaysia, Tioman island is one of the few places in world that is simultaneously absolutely unique, pristine and caters to all budgets. It is irresistible thanks to its crystal clear aqua waters, thriving marine life below and that fact that unlike its neighbouring country Thailand, you can still find a deserted beach and have a corner of paradise all to yourself. With a large mountain peaking in its centre this is one island where a scooter won’t get your very far at all and boat is the only way to get around the island.

Each time we’ve been to Tioman it has been an entirely different experience with varying price tags. So here’s a list of spots and activities on Tioman for all budgets…

1. SALANG: FOR BUDGET SEEKERS, DIVERS AND BAR HOPPERS.

Salang is one of the more social spots on the island along with ABC and Tekek. Backpackers and snorkelers about to morph into certified divers come here to enjoy a slice of island life and party at beach bars in the evenings. This is one of the biggest hubs for diving schools and with good reason; the world beneath the surface is breathtaking. Multicoloured parrot fish, drifting sea turtles and clown fish explode in a myriad of colours in the turquoise blue. Whether you dive or snorkel, boats will take you out to Coral Island where you can marvel at the underwater world or sun on one of whitest sand beaches I’ve ever laid eyes on.

Salang Bay, Tioman

Stay
We stayed at Salang Indah. Whilst it worked well as a budget spot, it was certainly not my favourite beach hut. This will only work for you if you are keen to rough it, be without a basin in the `bathroom` and use the toilet floor as a shower and a place to brush your teeth. Plus the mosquito net was broken.

Lowlights
Salang is also known for its sand flies which I only discovered when my body as covered in large, itchy bites. Swim in the ocean, but tan and lie on the sandy beach at your own peril. We were told that the sand flies come out around low tide so steer cleer of all beaches around them and use oil on your legs to deter them.

Salang Bay, Tioman

Salang

2. JUARA: FOR TRANQUILITY-SEEKERS, PADDLE-BOARDERS AND SURFERS.

This may very well be my favourite corner of the island. Perhaps because we had the entire resort and beach to ourselves or we could fall out of bed and straight out into the ocean.

Juara, Tioman Island.

Juara, Tioman Island.

Stay
1151 Coconut Grove is really not the cheapest option of accommodation in Juara but I’m pretty sure it’s the best. These are more luxurious beach chalets with sea views, delicious breakfast included and a number of activities to enjoy. We rented Stand-up paddle boards for RM20 an hour and paddled our way on the calm seas in the rain. During monsoon season, the surf is good and you can rent surfboards from a resort close by. They also rent bicycles which you can use to explore the one road weaving along the bay.

Juara, Tioman Island.

Lowlights
If you are not here for the more secluded island life, then you may get itchy feet and wish to see more people and socialise. Getting here requires a 4×4 driven by one of the island local tax drivers who can navigate their way over the steep mountain road and back down at fast speeds. Once there, you can call the driver to take you back over to Tekek to the restaurants, shops and bars. So take snacks with you to Juara; there is a mini mart and local restaurants but they are not always open.

Juara, Tioman Island.

3. TUNAMAYA: FOR FAMILIES SEEKING A LUXURIOUS, ALL INCLUSIVE ESCAPE.

This place is definitely out of our usual price range but worth it if you have the money and want a place for the family to relax, swim in the pool and get all your meals from. Once everyone fell out of the ferry, we were the only couple to be fetch in Tunamaya`s private boat and taken directly to the resort.

TunaMaya Beach & Spa Resort12

Stay
Tunamaya has a wonderful enclosed area to swim in the sea and swim in the pool. You can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinners overlooking the ocean with candlelight and music drifting into the warm evening air. Staff are really welcoming, friendly and totally professional and the General Manager, Mohan, will make sure you are comfortable and have everything you need at all times. You can enjoy their spa out nestled between the tall trees and stroll beside the stream on manicured lawns. The housing is beautiful, stylish and for Asia, the bathroom is perfection.

TunaMaya Beach & Spa Resort2

Tioman Island Malaysia

Lowlights
The only way to reach the resort is with their private charter so getting around is not really possible. But with all they have at the resort, you won’t really want to leave. You can go on mountain walks but be well advised that we were attacked by tons of Aedes mosquitoes on our jungle walk so if you do walk, wear tons of mosquito repellent and light, long sleeve clothing as they are attracted to black clothing.

Tioman Island Malaysia

Note:

-Take extra cash with you to pay for boat transfers. If your resort doesn’t have charters from the ferry stops, you will have to pay extra for a boat trip to your resorts spot on the island. Also take enough cash for the few days you are there as ATMs can only be found in the busier areas.

-Between November and February, monsoon season, the ferry from Mersing still runs but quite sporadically and according to the weather and the tide.

-If you need a taxi driver in and between Tekek and Juara, call Azlan +60168740291 or +60136214241.

– This is not the best island for singles or women travelling alone as there have been a few fatal incidents involving European tourists who initially went missing on the island and found dead. Do not go wondering off to a waterfall or on a hike alone. It won’t be difficult for you to get lost and not be able to get signal to contact anyone for help. As a woman, staying out late at night and drinking excessively with or near locals is not advisable as multiple tourists have reported scary behaviour of locals towards them when drinking. Most locals are friendly but every place has crime, so watch out and keep your hotel/resort’s number on you in case of emergency.

HOW I TRAVELED TO EUROPE ON BUDGET.

When people find out that I spent almost three months traveling throughout Europe during my college years, I get a lot of the same reactions. In fact, I almost always hear, “Wow, I wish I could do that.” Or at least something along those lines, which is exactly why I’ve written this post.

Many people think that traveling in Europe is an unattainable goal unless you are very lucky or incredibly wealthy. However, I was able to have the trip of a lifetime on a college student’s budget.

If you’re going to travel to Europe on a budget, careful planning is absolutely imperative. First, the time that you choose to go travelling will make all the difference. You obviously want to stay away from busy tourist seasons. Since I was able to travel during a less busy time of year, I found my flights for almost half of the price that I would have to pay around major holidays – #Winning.

paris

Getting your expectations in line is another important part of budget travel. If you’re expecting to stay in five-star hotels and eat gourmet meals every day, you’re going to be disappointed, and you’re also going to run out of money faster than I can finish this sentence. Fortunately, Europe does actually offer many options for budget travelers.

I recommend staying away from hotels altogether and instead researching hostels (backpackers) before you arrive. I started my trip in London, and I spent six nights in a hostel. Most of the other people staying there were students like me, so I made some great connections. The hostel wasn’t fancy, and I shared a room with three other girls, but the property was clean, and I felt completely safe during my stay. What else can you ask?

You want to stick within your budget, but there is nothing more important than your safety. That’s why thorough research is vital. Thanks to the power of the Internet, finding safe hostels is easier than ever. You don’t have to plan your entire trip in advance, but take the time to check ratings and reviews of hostels before you book your stay. You certainly can’t trust every word that you read online, but steer clear of properties where a majority of reviewers have significant complaints. Read between the lines, common sense comes in handy here.

london

I’m not an expert in European travel, but I’m happy to share my experiences so that I can help others. Once I convince them that European travel just might be within their reach, my friends have a ton of other questions. They want to know what to do, what to eat, where to stay and what they should avoid.

In my opinion, one of the best things about traveling to a new area is tasting new food! When I visit a new place, I want to try local foods, especially things that I’ve never been able to try before.

In many European cities, fast food chains are present. Sure, I might be able to save a few dollars by getting a burger at McDonald’s for lunch, but I’d much rather enjoy the local flavor! You don’t have to eat only fast food during your trip to stick with your budget. In fact, I found plenty of delicious options that actually cost less than a normal fast food trip.

In order to get the most for your dining dollars, you need to determine your priorities. Do you love eating a big breakfast in the mornings? Would you rather save your money and deserve a sweet, late night snack? When you determine what’s most important to you, you can spend your money wisely.

Next, take advantage of local favorites! During my stay in London, I ate fish and chips almost every day for lunch from a cheap local stand. When you stick with foods that are popular in an area, you’ll be able to find great prices.

fishnchips

It would take way too long to list every delicious new dish that I tried on my trip, but I found plenty of delicious, budget-friendly options. While I was in Paris, I found that fresh bread accompanied by a wedge of cheese made the perfect breakfast. In Athens, this tiny souvalki stand was the perfect place to find a quick, fresh meal. My favorite was the lamb souvalki accompanied by plenty of fresh, local vegetables.

greekfood

Of course, I didn’t love everything that I tried in Europe. In Germany, for example, I tried Blutwurst, or blood sausage, and I was not a fan! I met the sweetest family in Sweden who invited me to their home for a traditional meal. While most of the food items were delicious, I couldn’t stand the smell, much less the taste, of the fermented herring that was placed in front of me. I choked down a few bites so I wouldn’t insult my hosts, but I’ll be happy to go my whole life without tasting that again!

blutwurst

I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on extra activities during my trip, but that didn’t stop me from seeing some of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever visited in my life. Many of my favorite afternoons were spent exploring local parks, gardens and other outdoor areas, and many of these places have no admission fees. I would pick up a quick sandwich, grab my backpack and spend several hours exploring, picnicking and snapping photos.

In general, you’ll be able to save a lot of money by staying on foot during your trip. That’s one of the best things about backpacking, because you already have everything that you need with you! Sure, it took longer to walk from Point A to Point B instead of taking a bus or taxi, but it’s a great way to experience the local culture while you save your money for something more important.

london2

My backpacking trip through Europe was more than just a vacation. It was a time that I was able to really find myself and figure out what is most important to me. That’s why I think that everyone should experience international travel at least once. When you get out of your comfort zone and comfortable environment, you’ll be able to discover new things about yourself and learn more about this huge world that we are all a part of.

Author Bio: Natalya Pobedova is a travelling nomad and backpacker from beautiful Brno Czech Republic. She is 27 and makes a living as a freelance web developer to support her traveling needs. She also runs a budget flight search website for backpackers as a hobby: http://www.travelsiders.com/. She dreams of visiting Brazil and speaks Portuguese fluently. She visited 14 countries already and most of them are in Europe.

STEER CLEAR OF KUTA, BALI.

After much excitement and minimal planning, our first trip to Bali saw us spending 3 nights in Canggu, North Kuta. While Canggu itself is really quite a wonderful place with its little coffee shops, brilliant breakfast spots and tasty restaurants at (ridiculously) affordable prices, just a few kilometres South lies the city (or swamp), a modern day “Sodom and Gomorah” that we were about to be violated by – in every sense of the word.

Whilst I am all for “eating the meat and leaving the bones,” there are some places in a country which you should just skip all together (especially if your time is as limited as ours was). Those familiar with the ‘real’ Bali will certainly agree with me.

So here’s why you should steer clear of Kuta – maybe not always – but definitely in December:

1. DECEMBER IS THE RAINY SEASON. AND THE HIGH SEASON.

The only reason I suspect people book holidays during rainy seasons is to enjoy off-peak tranquillity and good deals – which couldn’t be further from the truth here Kuta. Bali just happens to be one of those extravagantly beautiful islands in South East Asia where the monsoon collides with the peak travelling season of every Western country in the world – the December holidays.

So, while you may enjoy cooler weather, you’ll be trading sunshine for tons of tourists. Meh.

Kuta, Bali

Super amped for sunshine and a swim when we arrived here.

 

2. YOU’LL BE STUCK IN TRAFFIC FOR 50% OF YOUR HOLIDAY.

Incredibly, even on a scooter, the traffic is so thickly woven that you won’t be going anywhere quickly. We thought we were in Bali, but suddenly the streets had taken on a distinctly Bangkok (and even Manila-like) appearance.

We could not believe the sheer amount of cars clogging the roads leading to the beaches, restaurants, shops or anywhere in Kuta. At least, we thought, the beaches had to be brilliant to warrant this amount of traffic. *Roughly 10 km’s took us just over an hour on a scooter – we didn’t know local routes but neither will you.

In a car, you won’t get anywhere in less than 2 hours unless you live in the heart of Kuta and live close enough to be able to walk everywhere. Two things – who wants to sit in traffic on holiday? And who wants to live in Kuta? (Hint the answer coming to this question lies in the title of point number three.)

noormanwijaksana
Photo credit: www.latitudes.nu

3. YOU MAY GET LOST IN A SEA OF DRUNKEN AUSSIES.

Aside from their rugby and cricket teams I’ve got nothing but love for Australia. Vaughan and I both have family in Australia and Sydney has so many similarities to my beautiful Cape Town – BUT – I did not come to Bali to see, hang around with, get hit on by, and dodge the vomit of overly drunk Aussies.

I FINALLY understand why Australia is such a safe and compliant nation, most of their young citizens have abdicated to Kuta to completely lose their minds, bodies and brain cells to every kind of drunken debauchery out there.

It was as if they were let loose for the first time and had to take full advantage of the music, the sex tourism and drugs. Young men in search of young Aussie ladies probably won’t find many as for every one woman I saw, I saw eight males staggering by. It was, as they say, a *rooster*-fest!

I have to add that a great deal of this is due to (apparently) Bali becoming the place that Australian school leavers go to celebrate the end of their schooling career. I fear however that a trip to Kuta may render those years null and void!

Australian Holiday Makers Celebrate 'Schoolies' Week In Bali
Photo credit: www.dailytelegraph.com.au

4. IT IS PROBABLY THE SEEDIEST AND SADDEST CORNER OF BALI.

Very ugly things begin to rear their heads as a result of mass tourism and the downward spiral of a place almost cannot be stopped as mass amounts of people continue to feed their inner hedonists to the utter and complete detriment of the local population.

We’ve seen this kind of thing everywhere. I guess we were naïve to have thought Bali would be unaffected.

Whilst I love to dance and will never say no to a party, I dare say I’ll never return to Legian Street at night. This is the strip which houses some of Bali’s busiest clubs and where inhibitions come, in their thousands, to die.

Foreign men do full dance routines on bars, working Balinese girls grind and flash their boobs at drunken onlookers and worst of all was the behaviour it encouraged on the streets.

We couldn’t take a step (literally every 8-10 metres) without being harassed by drug dealers trying (but not very hard) to seem inconspicuous. Hell we were even offered drugs on our scooter, by a guy on his scooter – while we were riding!

Even sadder were the impoverished mothers who paraded their babies around to sell bracelets on corners and forcing their slightly older children to do the same at 3am in the morning.

Kuta, Bali

A wooden penis bottle opener for your key chain miss?

5. KUTA BEACH IS NASTY THIS TIME OF YEAR.

The traffic was so bad (and our time so limited) that we couldn’t get all the way down to Balangan or Padang Padang, the lovely beaches our friends pointed us towards, so we had to settle for Kuta beach.

From afar the water appeared so blue and we were so excited to just say we swam in the waters of Bali – until we walked down to the beach where everyone was swimming and beginners were learning to surf.

It was the dirtiest beach we have EVER set foot upon. We’ve lived in Asia for a while and the beaches here aren’t generally that great. But Kuta beach was lined thick with plastic packets, broken glass, light bulbs, packets and other horrible things – and this was only on the sand!

The boys were so desperate they decided that despite this, they must go into the water. I decided to follow (after much encouragement) thinking it couldn’t be that bad…

Kuta, Bali

A very small section of the beach.

…It was worse than I could’ve imagined.

When I was knee deep with plastic bags and packets wrapping around my shins, I called it quits fearing a disease would jump species. The boys persevered but after the baby diaper brushed past Vaughan even they had reached their limit.

Just next to us a surprising amount of people were swimming, literally wading in this filth. We couldn’t understand why. Most of these people were Australians that hail from a land of magnificent beaches.

I may be a beach snob, forever spoilt by Cape Town, but swimming here was an actual health hazard – this was confirmed by look on my husband face – a man whose definition of “dirty” is, at the best of times, questionable.

I spotted an empty condom wrapper and the scales finally fell from my eyes. I decided to accept the reality of Kuta and place the whole area into a box somewhere in the back of my mind. A box separate even of Bali.

6. CONCLUSION

We may have given Kuta a bad rap here. The truth is that it’s just not for us. We are over seeing tourism destroy a place. I think it reminds us how humanity is simultaneously innocent, fragile and also completely and utterly ruthless.

To have seen communities both pure and those affected is a learning experience that we’ll never regret but it’s not always easy to accept, especially when it’s gone this wrong.

So whether you have been to Kuta and loved it or are desperate to go there after reading our account is your own vibe. Please just be responsible and remember that after you leave life still goes on there, so build it up – don’t break it down.

We probably won’t ever return to Kuta and if we do, it definitely won’t be in December.

So now that we know better. Next time we’ll head straight here…

Ubud Bali

To magical, tranquil Ubud where you can find quiet corners, a table to sip coffee and cocktails whilst overlooking rice paddies and plantations and to catch a glimpse of the Bali everyone’s been trying to sell you.

HELP SAVE OUR RHINOS.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

MAHATMA GANDHI

I had the great privilege of growing up in South Africa, a country so rich in culture, diversity and wildlife. Sadly, for many years, I took it all completely for granted. Nearly three decades hurried by before I jumped on my first Safari!

Which means that, for nearly three decades, I lived within the same borders as some of the most majestic animals on the planet, and never once went to see them. Spoilt for choice.

That “choice” however that I grew up with is now in serious danger. In fact the entire Rhinoceros species is in danger of extinction and the merciless slaughter of these great beasts is escalating at a rate that is unnerving and can no longer be ignored.

Already the Western Black Rhino is gone. GONE. And there are fewer than ten remaining Northern White Rhinos.

You and I can no longer sit back while a Rhino is killed every 7 hours (that’s just in South Africa.) And for what – its horn!? Every once in a while this massacre makes the news and the scenes clearly depict the faces of defenseless Rhino’s hacked off all for but a piece of their bodies which has been proven to have none of the “mystical” properties for which it is so highly sought after.

I get so angry.

We all do.

But what do we do about it? What can we actually do about it?

The first Rhino I ever saw hardly even took notice of us. There he was between the long green grass, standing in a dry river bed and generally minding his own business. Having a munch. When, eventually, the clickety clacking of our combined cameras grew annoying he raised his head and stomped his feet at us. I was mesmerized.

Rhino Kruger Park

The thick folds of his prehistoric looking skin shook a cloud of dust up into the air before he turned and trotted away with a gait as elegant as you’ve ever seen. Filled with awe and in complete wonder I realised then that this had been one of the defining moments in my life…I instantly fell in love with the bush and later on when I saw a baby rhino for the first time…well you can imagine.

Rhino Kruger Park

It fills me with dread that our Rhino’s are under such brutal assault. They are truly one of God’s great creatures and we cannot stand to sit by and watch them eradicated for nothing better than a lack of knowledge.

Over the last five years this annual slaughter has increased by more than 200%. The Kruger National Park has been stained red with blood, and despite this we still don’t have resources to tackle this threat that comes from the East.

ENTER THE #JUSTONERHINO CAMPAIGN

Today, and over the past month, The Travel Manuel and over a hundred other bloggers are giving you the opportunity to get involved. To do your part. And possibly, to win a prize along the way.

Travelers Building Change and Green Travel Media have partnered with Rhinos Without Borders and have rallied us altogether to join in on the #JustOneRhino campaign which hopes to raise $45 000 to be put towards the translocation of 100 Rhinos from South Africa to Botswana.

Botswana has one of the lowest poaching rates on the African continent. The end goal being to increase the population of Rhino’s in Botswana and avoid further tragedy in South Africa.

Rhino Kruger Park

Rhinos Without Borders is run by Great Plains Foundation founders Dereck and Beverly Joubert whom are also National Geographic Explorers In Residence, acclaimed wildlife photographers/ filmmakers, and conservation advocates famous for their work in saving Africa’s Big Cats.

SO HOW ARE WE RAISING THE FUNDS? A RAFFLE!

Altogether, more than 20 corporate sponsors have joined in and are donating the most incredible prizes – up for grabs with your minimum donation of $20. We are talking over $30 000 worth of prizes and that includes tours or hotel stays in 11 different countries, spanning over 5 different continents! The winners will be chosen “Raffle style” and your $20 ticket gets you 10 entries in the raffle!

Winners will be announced on the 3rd of March (World Wildlife Day) which means you guys have a month get your tickets and support this fantastic initiative.

Here are some of the larger prizes you can hope to win:

10-day Galapagos Voyage for one with International Expeditions. Valued at $5,298.

9-day South Africa Safari Big 5 Safari in Kruger National Park and KwaZulu-Natal for 2 people from Adventure Life. Valued at more than $6,000.

10 nights’ stay at Yemaya Island Hideaway and Spa, Little Corn Island, Nicaragua, for two people from Yemaya Resorts. Valued at $5,241.

7 nights bed and breakfast in a Garden View Suite with Cobblers Cove Hotel, Barbados. Valued at $5,187.

5 vouchers for 3-night stays at various locations around Southeast Asia (Bali, Indonesia, Koh Samui, Thailand, Koh Kong, Cambodia and Palawan, Philippines) from Secret Retreats. Five winners, each for two people. Valued at $900-$1,500 each.

Other Prizes:
• eBag Luggage
• WeWOOD Watches
• Dinner/Brunch Cruises
• 2 nights in an Italian Villa
• 2 Tours in India
• ExOfficio Gift Certificate
• 2 nights Renaissance Asheville
• Travel Blog Success Lifetime Membership
• African Elephant Photo Pack
• HDR Timelapse Video Camera w/Lens
• Blogger Mentorship Package from Green Global Travel
& more coming soon!

So just to recap, if you want to get involved please head here to purchase tickets – Travelers Building Change

The raffle entries work like this:

$20 = 10 raffle entries
$30 = 20 raffle entries
$50 = 30 raffle entries
$75 = 50 raffle entries
$100 = 80 raffle entries
$250 = 200 raffle entries
$500 = 500 raffle entries

Enter before March 1, 2015 for your chance to win! Prize winners will be announced on World Wildlife Day, March 3

I just want to urge you one last time, prizes and raffles aside, to do help save our remaining Rhinos. If you’ve ever asked yourself “How can I get involved?” or have desperately wanted to do something but haven’t known how –  this is the perfect opportunity. 

“The rhino poaching crisis is one of the most horrific and unnecessary wildlife threats we’re facing today.”
– Jeremy Scott Foster, TBC Founder

sponsors

LEGOLAND MALAYSIA DAYTRIP

Recently we joined one of Lauren’s schools on an outing (or day-trip) to one of Johor’s best attractions (at least for kids) – Legoland Malaysia! When I say “kids” i’m totally including myself :) We had so much fun there and took sooo many photo’s that I thought i’d write a blog post about it.

PRICE OF TICKETS

At the time of writing tickets for foreigners cost RM 140 for just the Theme Park or RM 105 for just the Water Park. But forking out RM 175 will get you access to both for the day – definitely worth it if it’s a hot day. There are also different prices for seniors and children under 12 so check out the website for those.

Back home South Africa, where the cost of living is a fair bit higher than here in Malaysia, few, if any, themes park charge this much for a day of fun so I had no idea what to expect – except that it had better be worth it. Legoland has practically been built on the border of Malaysia and Singapore though so I suspect that their pricing system has been calculated with that mind.

legoland malaysia singapore border

Anyway, Lauren keeps telling me not to convert prices all the time so I just went with the flow and handed our money over. We decided that since we weren’t going to be there for a full day we would just get the Theme Park access. (RM 140 each for us “Non-Malaysians.”)

GETTING TO LEGOLAND MALAYSIA

The directions provided by Google Maps to Legoland work perfectly and though I know that Malaysia’s is more of a Waze country than a Google Maps one – I figure that Google owns Waze so therefore they work the same – which probably not true – but I’m stubborn. The point is that Google Maps work just fine.

Just smash “Legoland” into your Google maps or Waze or whatever GPS you fancy and you are sorted. For us the drive was just over two hours long (coming from Mersing) and by the time we got there we were pretty excited to get inside.

LEGOLAND MALAYSIA IS DEFINITELY WORTH IT!

As a blogger I’m supposed to leave my conclusion to the very end, to try and keep you reading, to keep you glued (anything more than a minute these days) to my website. But i’m not an amazing writer and to be honest, I was so pumped after our trip to Legoland that I just want to share the love!

In any case, you can keep reading. I certainly won’t stop writing here. But if you want to know my final thoughts on Legoland and whether it’s worth your money. It is. It just is.

Legoland Malaysia 6

So forging ahead, we arrived in the oddly laid out car park (still in the zoning stages) and found that the entire area surrounding Legoland is still in development – it looks clean and modern and Legoland will soon no doubt be the epicenter of a very swanky area.

Parking costs RM9 per entry, though you only pay when you leave. This caused some confusion as to enter Legoland you need to walk through the Medini Mall which has at least three or four parking validation machines between the parking lot and Legoland.

BUT you can’t use any of these to validate your Legoland parking. You’ll need to walk all the way to the parking lot and use the one machine there.

LEGOLAND MALAYSIA IN PICTURES

At some point we’ll put up a proper photoblog / gallery of this incredible place but for now we’ll leave a few pics here.

When we got to the entrance (after going through the Medini Mall and after ordering a Voltage from Gloria Jeans) we were greeted with a view of Lego – EVERYWHERE! (The kid in me instantly went bonkers!) To the left a huge Lego hotel rose up (this is actually a real hotel) and to the front a huge reception that led us to ticket sales etc.

Legoland Malaysia

The ticket buying process was very easy and we got through in no time. As I suspected they do cater for the Singaporeans and even provide facilities to accept Singaporean Dollars. No need to convert before coming over.

MINI-LAND

The park was much, much bigger than I expected and we had no idea where to start. A brief consultation with a Map board pointed us in the direction of Mini-land and I headed straight for it. I expected a representation of the Petronas towers and some Kuala Lumpur highlights but when we got there it blew me away. And despite being called “Mini-Land” it was huge!

Legoland Malaysia

There were large sections of KL, the mono-rail, popular streets, the KL tower, Putrajaya, KLIA, the harbor, government buildings, mosques and much more. It wasn’t even limited to Malaysia and we found incredible scenes from Indonesia, Brunei, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, The Forbidden City in China, the Taj Mahal in India, a huge section of Singapore, Wat Arun in Thailand and more attractions from Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Johor, the Philippines and more.

Legoland Malaysia

Mini-land was seriously cool and I could have spent hours there alone. In fact, because it’s in the center of the park, I found myself wandering back there quite often and every time I did, I uncovered whole displays that I had previously missed. I forgot to mention that most of these display have moving parts – certain boats, cars and even construction teams were fully animated – which brought it all to life nicely. I’m not sure who was more mesmerized – the kids or me!

DCIM101GOPRO

THE THEME PARK

The rest of the theme park is divided into Lego sections such as Lego Technic, Lego Kingdoms, The Land of Adventure, Lego City and of course the Water Park – which we didn’t go into this time.

Legoland Malaysia

There is also an “Imagination” section which we didn’t really explore as it’s geared more at younger kids – they can build Lego here, go on epic little-people rides, watch 4D movies and more. It’s really cool but we were limited by time and there was so much more to do like hit the rides and roller coasters.

Legoland Malaysia 12

If you weren’t aware – Malaysia is a piping hot country – we were on the verge of monsoon season when we went but it didn’t rain (thankfully) and turned out to be just another scorching day.

The first thing (after mini-land) that Lauren wanted to do was hit a water ride so we could get wet. After checking out the map again we headed to The Land of Adventure which was super cool. It’s actually set in Ancient Egypt and there are Lego statues of Pharaoh, camels and all those sorts of things (very very cool).

Legoland Malaysia

Before we got to the water ride we stood in a short line for what we thought was a roller coaster but ended up being a ghost train ride that you shoot haunted ancient Egypt artefacts on, or something. We were basically Tomb Raiders. It turned out to be super fun (and air-conditioned) so we were stoked.

Next we found the ride where we ended up getting drenched. Thankfully they point this out before you got so we had time to put our valuables away. The ride is called Dino-Island and is set in a time where humans and dinosaurs co-existed. The displays are just incredible and before we knew it our boat was headed up a steep platform with tribal chanting playing over the speaker. It was fascinating.

Legoland Malaysia

As you know, what goes up must come down and once we were through the dark display area in the boat the doors opened to reveal a steep drop down a ramp into water. We got soaked! Which was heavenly in the heat. If you want, there are “Body dryers” available but we were so hot that we didn’t mind walking around through the park drip drying.

Legoland Malaysia

IN CONCLUSION.

The rest of the day seemed to fly by. We posed with Darth Vader, went on Roller coaster rides, ate great burgers, laughed a lot, took way too many selfies and felt like a kids again. And we weren’t the only adults to feel this way. The sound of laughter and people smiling were all around us. I can’t even imagine how stoked the kids were.

Though we originally only intended to stay there for two or three hours we ended up staying for around 6 hours. Which speak volumes about the kind of place it is.

Legoland Malaysia pleasantly surprised me and I really can’t wait to go back and check out the water park. Even if it is going to cost my other arm and leg.

BUT

The one thing that irritated me (literally, the only thing) was that they didn’t let me take my Go-Pro on many rides for whatever reasons. Obviously I don’t take kindly to authority so I ended up sneaking it on many rides :)

Legoland Malaysia

Legoland Malaysia 13

 

DCIM101GOPRO

Legoland Malaysia 2

UNDERWATER WORLD: TIOMAN

Learning how to scuba dive is been one of things that has been on my wishlist my whole life but because I grew up lifesaving, surfing and trying my hand at pretty much every other water sport – or at least those which didn’t involve going too deep beneath the surface – (unless you count the hours I spent sitting with a brick on my lap in the swimming pool or holding my own personal “breath-holding” record attempts in the bathtub), I never really felt a sense of urgency to do it. Besides, strapping an air-tank to my back and descending into the cold, dark waters that surround Cape Town never really seemed that epic.

Salang Bay_Tioman Island.jpg

However, fast forward a few years and here I am living in South East Asia – a tropical wonderland filled with the most magnificent, *SPLAT*, underwater marine life (I beg your pardon, I just killed my 17th mosquito of the morning.) Yes, even paradise has its drawbacks, but crystal clear, warm waters are not among them!

In any case, we are currently living on the eastern coast of Malaysia and are positioned right at the hop-off point to some of the most dramatic tropical islands I have ever seen. In fact, they kill all the popular Thai islands dead. Easily. At least in terms of marine life.

Grahame Massicks_Tioman Island.jpg

So Lauren and I have decided that while we are here, we need to get our Open Water Diver’s and what better place than to do it here in Malaysia on Tioman Island in Salang. The best part of it all is that it’s still cheap here and there aren’t gazillions of tourists trampling the coral reefs into non-existence. The scuba diving instructors on Tioman are awesome, in fact we are doing ours with Grahame Massicks of Scuba Guru, and the water temperature is perfect – not too hot (yes, that is a thing!) and not cold at all.

Here are some more of Grahame’s pictures from the waters just in and around Salang Bay.

Salang Reef - Tioman Island.jpg

Hello Mr Clownfish

 

COTS Tioman Island .jpg

Feathery looking.

 

Tulai from Salang Beach_Tioman Island.jpg

This is the view from Salang Bay, that is Tulai / Coral Island in the distance.

 

Soyak Reef_Tioman Island.jpg

Majestic

 

Turtle_Scuba_South Reef_Salang_Tioman Island.jpg

A PERANAKAN CULINARY JOURNEY IN MALACCA.

First published in South African Airway’s in-flight magazine, Sawubona, in December 2014.

Peranakan Culinary Journey

In the midday heat of Malacca, my husband and I found ourselves cooking in the courtyard of an elegant 1920s mansion originally built to house Chinese tycoon, Leong Long Man and his family. Heating the oil in a saucepan, I sautéed shallots and until their fragrance slowly lifted and wafted away in the wet air.

Perspiration trickled down my forehead and I backed away from the flames before adding coconut, palm sugar and tauchu (a local preserved bean paste). I was about to make my first ayam pongteh, a favourite chicken and potato dish of the Peranakan people, also known as Baba Nyonya. Chinese and of noble descent, they’ve adopted a vast amount of Malay culture into their own.The Baba Nyonya are rich in cultural heritage, arts and fashion, but today I’d experience their fusion of Malay rempah (spices) and herbs with the best Chinese cooking techniques.

Peranakan Cuisine

We were under the leadership of The Majestic Malacca’s Master Chef Pow Chiah Kuan. Pow’s career has endured the fires of many a kitchen around the globe, including the UK, Asia and Singapore. My excitement grew as I added bite-sized bits of shitake mushrooms and potatoes to the pot. It was in this vibrant Malaysian port of Malacca that Arabic, Indian, Chinese and Javanese merchants and traders converged to sell their treasures.

It was in this city, which the Portuguese invaded, that the Dutch and their governor once resided, and where the British left their marks of colonisation. But most importantly, it was here that the Peranakan people originated. This fusion of cultures, industry and resourcefulness first began when Sultan Mansur Shah arranged to be married to the Chinese Princess Hang Li Po in an effort to strengthen trade relationships. Their marriage spurred many more unions between her Chinese male entourage and the local Malay women. Once the community increased in number, arranged marriages were organised among their own.

Once the potato was cooked, I added the chicken. Poh laughed knowingly at the fact that the Western world loves chicken breast for its lean and healthy qualities, but told us that the Chinese and Malay people have always preferred the fatter, tastier leg portions. I learnt that “Baba” is used to address men and “Nyonya” the women.

In the past, this cuisine required a lot of preparation and time, so the Nyonya women began cooking after dawn to start the midday meal. This hard work emerged as a great time for bonding and legend has it that a Nyonya could determine the culinary skill of her new daughter-in-law by listening to her preparing the spices with a pestle and mortar.

Once the chicken pongteh was finished, I scooped some of the hot gravy into my spoon and was surprised by how the sweet flavours overpowered the spice. Due to Malacca’s Eurasian influences, Baba Nyonya cuisine is far sweeter here than it is in Penang.

Only the day before, I’d braved scorching 38 degree C heat on the street in search of the sweet Baba Nyonya dessert of cendol: a delectable, Malay-influenced dish made of gula melaka (sugar), shaved ice, green noodles, yam and coconut milk, mixed with Chinese ingredients of red beans and glutinous rice. Chef Pow explained how the flavours of the pongteh are best once they’ve been allowed to infuse overnight, so most families refrigerate a large pot to reheat and eat with rice over the course of a few days.

It was only during the preparation of the second one that I became familiar with the staples of Malay cooking. We helped the chef make a prawn pineapple curry known in Malay as udang kuah pedas nenas. Before we began, he disappeared into the kitchen and gleefully returned with a plate of traditional Peranakan cakes known as Nyonya kuih. I enjoyed the orange and white glutinous rice cakes, but became instantly addicted to onde-onde, a green ball dusted with coconut flakes and filled with liquid palm sugar which burst in my mouth once the soft outer layer was broken.

Bowls of coconut milk, lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal (blue ginger), dried shrimp and large red chillies coloured the table; all ingredients that form the basis of most Malay dishes. We began with a paste made of shallots, ginger, turmeric, ginger, galangal, red and dried chillies, candle nuts and dried shrimp and fried it with lime leaves and lemongrass (mashed to release its true aroma). When it literally got too hot in the outdoor kitchen, we happily retired to our seats while Chef Pow took over.

When preparing Chinese dishes, it’s said none of the elements (such as aroma,colour and delicious flavour) should be excluded. This dish provided colour from the get-go, after a few minutes in the pot the spicy aroma hung in the humid air and as Chef Pow added the pineapple, I looked forward to tasting it. The Chinese love decorating their homes with porcelain items in yellow, green and pink.

Similarly,traditional Peranakan clothing, Nyonya kebaya, features bright, beautiful colours and comprises a blouse-dress style originating in Indonesia and worn by women from Malaysia, Brunei, southern Thailand,Cambodia, Burma and Singapore. Sadly, today, in the same way that Westernisation and modern appliances resulted in Peranakan dishes being created with more ease and speed, it’s said that younger generations of Baba Nyonya no longer adhere to the 12-day wedding celebration, speak pure Bahasa Melayu Baba or put in the time or effort to make traditional delicacies, which require tedious preparation.

However, one cultural aspect I noticed was still intact is the delicate scooping of food into the mouth with the right hand. The left hand is never used when eating. I added the diluted coconut milk for creaminess and cooked the curry over a low heat for 15 minutes, before adding the prawns. I was thankful for the blender,which allowed us to make this dish in a much shorter time.

Hours later, seated beneath giant wooden fans in the charming, colonial-styled dining hall of The Majestic Malacca, I was finally able to sample the fruits of our combined labour: sweet and spicy prawn curry. It was one of the most delightful dishes I’ve ever tasted in Malaysia and as I enjoyed the cacophony of flavours, I wondered whether the Baba Nyonya will survive, in the face of globalisation. Will this unique blend of two cultures be forgotten, or will it forever live on, reminding us of how beautiful life can be when we unite and blend the best of cultures, instead of separating and dividing, according to our differences?

WHERE TO STAY IN MALACCA

Find colonial elegance, a world-class spa and a central location at The Majestic Malacca. Take a dip in the heat of the day or join its historical city tour. 188 Jalan Bunga Raya. www.majesticmalacca.com

WHERE TO DO A COOKING CLASS

Sign up for a cooking class with The Majestic Malacca’s Peranakan master chef and learn how to cook the fine dishes described above in your own kitchen. +60 6 289 8000 travelcentre@ytlhotels.com.my Majestic Malacca Hotel

AYAN PONGTEH RECIPE

• 500g chicken, cut into bitesized pieces • 100g shallots, sliced • 100 garlic, crushed • 10ml (2 tsp) tauchu (preserved bean paste) • 15ml (1T) gula Melaka (coconut palm sugar), ground • 1 shiitake mushroom, cut into bite-sized pieces • 1 potato, cut into bitesized pieces • 20ml (4 tsp) cooking oil • 300ml (1-1/4 cups) water or chicken stock

SeaSoNINg: • 5ml (1 tsp) dark soy sauce • 1 pinch of salt

MeTHoD: 1. Heat the oil in a wok, then add the shallots and garlic. Sauté over a medium heat until fragrant. 2. Add tauchu and gula melaka to the mixture and stir until dissolved. 3. Add water and bring to the boil. add shiitake mushroom and potato and cook for three minutes, until the potato is half-cooked. 4. Add chicken and cook for five minutes, or until the chicken is cooked. add seasoning. 5. Transfer to a serving plate and serve with steamed rice or bread.

Peranakan

BRILLIANT TIMES IN BENIDORM

Benidorm is a playground for adults that refuse to grow up. It makes a great place for a couple’s first holiday together in the sun. Bustling, busy and bold, there’s everything from theme parks to karaoke bars to beaches to castles. Here are ten things to do together for the ultimate Benidorm experience.

1) Ride the roller-coasters of love

Scream if you want to go faster at Benidorm’s Terra Mitica Theme Park, which is divided into 5 theme zones and includes the Titanide – a roller-coaster with seven tummy-turning loops.

2) Swim with a sea-lion

Animal lovers (and those wanting to expose their sensitive side) should check out Mundomar Animal Park, where the stars of the show are the adorably affectionate sea-lions.

3) Sail away, sail away, sail away

Take a glass-bottomed catamaran to Benidorm Island for the ultimate romantic day trip. Peer through the glass at the marine life, or stay up top and recreate the Kate and Leo Titanic moment when no one’s watching.

4) Get wet and wild

Sick of lounging by the pool? Visit Aqualandia Waterpark for flumes, water slides and rapids.

5) Go back to nature

Make like Tarzan and Jane and explore the beautiful Parque Natural Sierra Helada within walking distance from the centre of Benidorm.

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6) Shop till you drop

Splurge on the delicious local oil and cheese and beautiful handmade lace. There are also recognisable high street fashion stores for if you want some serious retail therapy, like Zara and Mango.

7) Dance the night away

Experience Benidorm night life at its most vibrant at one of the resort’s fantastic cabaret venues. Benidorm Palace has everything from flamenco to can-can dancers, burlesque performers, comedians and a whole lot more – a great night out.

8) Enjoy a candle-lit dinner for two

Relax in the evening with a romantic meal at Duetto Italian Restaurant, where you can share a delicious pizza (or order one each!).

9) Sip a cocktail (or three)

Visit Amigos, Benidorm’s legendary restaurant, for the finest cocktails in town.

10) Run with a bull

There in July? Don’t miss the unforgettable Toros a la Mer festival, which sees locals (and a handful of very brave tourists) being chased by bulls through the small coastal town of Denia.

Get the most out of Benidorm by embracing your cheesy side and ticking as many of these top 10 off the list as you can. There’s a reason why so many holiday-makers keep going back – discover it for yourselves at one of Spain’s ultimate good-time holiday destinations.

RAILROAD ROMANCE ABOARD ROVOS RAIL.

In a time when rapid travel and technology is the norm, Lauren and Vaughan McShane relish a luxurious, slow  journey through the Karoo, discovering the beauty of a bygone era onboard the Rovos Rail…

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First published in Mango’s in-flight magazine, Juice, in May 2014.

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A few hours had passed since my husband Vaughan and I pulled out of Cape Town station. From our sleek suite I watched the cityscape transform into the green farmlands of the Hex River Valley. Rocky crags and vineyards began to replace the houses and streets.

Fuelled by my husband’s fascination with old trains and my secret love of luxury, we decided to start our month-long South African road trip with an opulent rail journey through the Karoo.

The lavish interior of Rovos Rail emulated?a grand Victorian style. Together with the framed paintings of London’s elite adorning our suite, we were transported to an era long passed. From my bed I surveyed South Africa’s driest region beneath the lifted shutters.

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As we enjoyed high tea in polished leather couches on the mint carpets of the observation car, no-one was using electronic devices. No radios, TVs or cellphones – only cameras. Rovos Rail rules dictated that we only use laptops and phones in the privacy of our suite where others aren’t disturbed. My initial panic at not being able to update the world through social media soon subsided as we got sucked into the world passing by the Edwardian windows.

“As the train continued its journey, I fell in love with the Karoo and its stark, barren beauty.”

>>> DAY ONE

Our two-and-a-half day journey from Cape Town to Pretoria wasn’t without stops. As the sun began its lazy descent over the Karoo, the train chugged into Matjiesfontein station. An icy wind mocked the sunny skies as we disembarked to the merry sound of three elderly minstrels.

The sleepy town seemed frozen in time. The only people in view were gathered outside the Lord Milner Hotel sipping Champagne in cream bridesmaids’ dresses. Grand vintage cars parked in patterned rows opposite as the wedding guests began streaming out the front gate to board a red double-decker bus. John Theunissen, a boisterous local in a bowler hat, urged everyone to join his 10-minute tour. It was the shortest I have ever taken but also the most entertaining. Every two seconds, John yelled “showtime”, sending us into fits of laughter.After the short-lived tour, we strolled beneath cast-iron street lamps and past an ancient red- and-yellow fuel pump. I discovered a garden?of succulents at Tweedside Lodge and watched the sun sinking behind the regal carriages parked in the station.

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Clambering back onto the train, we prepared for dinner in one of the classic, pre-1940s dining cars. A bell chimed to signal the time and couples emerged from their suites adorned in their finest attire. Gentlemen in jackets and ties escorted ladies in cocktail dresses to their tables.

Candles flickered to the rhythm of the chugging train. It was black outside; this was the only time the shutters were up, curtains drawn with a tassel tieback. Wine was poured and a starter of grilled queen scallops was served with hollandaise sauce.
There was quiet chatter as waiters dressed in black waistcoats, jackets and bow ties served the next course. The aroma of roasted Karoo lamb shank wafted from the neighbouring kitchen car before it reached our table. Like the languid journey aboard the train, the five-course meal was best enjoyed slowly.

It wasn’t late but guests strolled back to the suites lulled into a sleepy state by the gourmet meal and motion of the train. Not even the Kenyan coffee could save me; I was out for the count as soon as my head hit the soft pillow.

>>> DAY TWO

I awoke to find I was alone and the train was stationary. Pulling the shutters down with both arms, I saw a deserted old railway station with a sign reading Deelfontein. Vaughan had said that he wanted to catch a Karoo sunrise; I noticed the camera had disappeared too.

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In the ghostly quiet aisle, even the staff were out of sight. Red smudges swiftly began to shade the sky. Outside in the open-air car, I breathed in the chilly Karoo air and saw Vaughan standing on the tracks, shooting photos. I pulled my scarf and jacket tighter in an attempt to keep warm and together we watched the sun nudge its way over the arid landscape while impala sprang past.

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Over the next few hours, as the train continued its journey, I fell in love with the Karoo’s stark beauty. Fields of dry grass were interspersed with tiny shrubs along with sweet thorn, bitterbos and prickly pears.

Bright-coloured clothing hung out to dry on household fences. Construction workers in hard hats and neon vests waved us past. There was the odd patch of lawn with hay bales and horses but the scenes that prevailed were ones filled with faraway hills, stand-alone acacias and clouds above the Nama Karoo vegetation.

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After a pit stop in the mining town of Kimberley and a tour to the Big Hole, which once yielded countless amounts of diamonds and years of oppression for miners, we walked through the Old Town. The village included original buildings and reconstructed ones, mimicking those in existence more than a century ago. We passed pawnbrokers, churches, dentists, watchmakers, saloons and pubs.

Before our final night aboard the train, we watched as a shallow lake, home to about 23 000 lesser flamingos, passed us by. The red sun began to yield to the night, leaving a glowing ball along the horizon. The last of the windmills, cattle and trees became silhouettes once again as we drew to the end of our romantic journey.

THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN DURBAN: ACCORDING TO LOCALS.

Winter is coming. But not before Autumn.

So before your Facebook feed’s fill up with the same “What to do this winter” listicles about fireside dining and hibernation tactics, we thought we would chat to some actual Durban / KZN locals about some the best things to do there between autumn and spring.

It’s debatable whether Durbs even has a “winter” at all but we thought we’d go ahead and create a season for South Africa’s tropical fish (ok, shark) tank where nobody but the locals really has any idea as to what goes down there.

So we hit the virtual highways, knocked on digital doors and stood on the corner of the street with our loudhailers (ok, our smartphones) and asked the Durban locals what their favourite things to do between April and October are.

Amongst others, markets, the greatest foodie trend to hit South Africa since Twinkies, seem to be a huge hit in Durbs. We’ve gotten a sneak peak into the best of what Durban has to offer during it’s cooler months and we can’t wait to go back and try them all.

So, in no particular order here they are:

Danielle Carrilho: Durban has loads to offer, my favourite would have to be all the markets during that period. I Heart Market, Wonder Market and The Play Market to name a few. They are all held in different parts of the city and have their own special magic.

Kendall Kay Marwick: The Moses Mabhida Skywalk is a must during autumn / winter, conditions are clear & the weather is great during that time. There’s the I Heart Market on the first Saturday of the month.

The Old Mutual “Music on the Lake” series also kicks off around then & makes for a great afternoon out.

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Deborah Londt Elston: My spouse and I have three sons all born in Durban during April and May, they are the best months of the year as the weather is warm with little rain. Picnics in the Botanical Gardens, or fun days on the beach and riding bikes on the beachfront!

These are my most nostalgic and best months in Durban! No humidity and glorious warm, winter days!

Sara Essop: I took my kids to the Tongaat Hulett Sugar Terminal. We found it fascinating. We also enjoy Mini Town on the beachfront.

Romona L Moonsamy: My favourite thing to do is visit the Shongweni Farmers Market! (Any time of year actually.)

Bethel Pillay: An uShaka shark cage dive.

Lynsey Anne Hughes: Riding bicycles along the promenade is always good fun! There are plenty places to rent bikes if you don’t have one.

Skycar things to do in Durban

Debra Hargreaves: A visit to the KZN Sharks Board is a unique experience. www.shark.co.za

Julie Holborn: For families with children, the People’s Park near the Moses Mabhida Stadium is an awesome place to spend the day. Pack a picnic and take the kids bikes, scooters or roller skates.

The jungle gyms and equipment keep kids happy for hours. Best weather in Durban too!

Daniel Andrew King: The Durban July, Comrades Marathon and Super Rugby matches at Kings Park Stadium. Fishing is at its best with the sardine run happening then and hiking in the mountains as summer storms have subsided – to mention but a few things.

Lauren Pretorius: I love to cycle or trail run at Giba Gorge MTB park. They also have a market on Sundays!

Dean Wallenkamp: Durban is wonderful during those months because it is not as bitterly cold as other places. Cycling along the Durban beachfront promenade is a must, stopping at uShaka for lunch and then cycling back to Moses Mabhida Stadium, which has so much to offer.

Peoples Park is great for children with an awesome playground, and while you are at the Stadium take a ride on the sky car or even bungee jump from the top. There is also a tour of the stadium using Segway’s which is a lot of fun.

Segway tour things to do in durban

Natalie Bowden: A visit to the Phansi museum

Kerri Gillitt Rademeyer: A bike ride on the beachfront (start at uShaka and head either to Moses Mabhida, or if you’re feeling stronger, to the bird park and back,) followed by a swim at uShaka Beach (the sea is usually calm and crystal clear over winter time.) Then, a delicious pizza from Surfriders before heading home.

No better way to spend a day!

Oh, and at least one session at the Taste of Durban is non-negotiable!

Rachel Dorothy Wilson: Watching the Comrade’s Marathon and the Durban July! And, of course, a North Beach Parkrun during winter is bliss (the free weekly 5km run on Saturdays at 8 am outside sun coast casino.)

Chelsea Strachan: Visiting The Morning Trade Market.

Dill McInnes: The market scene in Durban is growing and it so great to see all the talented souls showing their ware! So I think I Heart Market, The Play Market, The Shongweni Farmers & Craft Market and Wonder Market are all great things to do.

The beachfront is a must for the family! Cycling, running and walking are some of the activities that one can do their safely.

SARAWAK FROGGING SAFARI

Part of our Amazing Sarawak adventure was a night time frogging safari or just “frogging” as they say. Neither Lauren nor I had ever even thought of frogging as something we’d ever contemplate doing nevertheless something we’d ever put on our travel itinerary. But here we were in Borneo, and if you think you can experience the heart of Borneo by hanging out in your hotel, reading magazines & sipping on WiFi coffee, then you’ve got it backwards.

Borneo, Sarawak in particular, is an endless bounty of the most pristine rain-forest on this planet. This island, the third largest in the world, is home to thousands of species of flora and fauna that are endemic to the region. That means that this is the ONLY place in the world that they are found. Queue the excitement.

FROGS OF KUBAH NATIONAL PARK

The actual item on our itinerary said that that evening we were off to a “frog race” which had us scratching our heads as to what exactly that was, and what the rules could possibly be. Do we each get a frog? Do they race in a straight line, or to the corner of a ring like the famous snail races? Can we paint them? Kiss them for luck? The questions were flying. It turns out the race is actually between photographers and how many frogs you capture during the evening! Capture on film, that is.

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Kubah National Park contains has an impressive amount of frogs and pitcher plant species.

We left Matang Wildlife Centre with the crew from Sarawak Tourism, Michael and the ever friendly Angela, to head to another part of the Kubah National Park. Having Angela with us proved invaluable as she comes from a long line of native Bornean people (the Iban tribe) that are just supremely comfortable amongst the insects and animals of Borneo. Even in the inky dark of night.

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We met Dominic from Kubah National Park, who gave a brief introduction to the evening’s activities, and then headed to the “frog pond” which is an expanse of shallow water surrounded by a wooden walkway fairly high up the mountain.

Once we got to the top Dominic, the ultimate frog man of Sarawak – in my opinion – taught us how to find these little guys with our flashlights. The trick is to hold the end of your torch / flashlight on the tip of your nose and move it with you as you pivot your heading and look for the reflections of the frog’s eyes.

Reflections immediately began to light up my line of vision, hundreds of them, and immediately I headed off to investigate. Turns out frog’s eyes aren’t the only eyes that reflect back at you and more than once I found myself in close encounters with some serious spiders!

Sarawak Frogging
My first mistaken frog.

Sarawak Frogging
Dominic was pretty “hands on” when it came to giving us a closer look. The frogs didn’t seem to mind.

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What a…beauty?

Sarawak Frogging
Mostly frogs were just croaking and chilling out in the trees. Like this guy. Very laid-back.

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Night time foliage.

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Angela and Lauren cornering a leopard frog by the looks of it.

Sarawak Frogging
Looking down on a frog that’s also looking down, while hoping nothing reptilian is looking down on me.

Sarawak Frogging
This frog never even blinked. Excellent model.

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Just chilling.

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This is the second smallest frog in Kubah National Park, look at the size of Dominic’s thumb nail compared to his body and it is fully grown.

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Matching him up to our lists.

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Another excellent model.

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Michael from Sarawak Tourism getting some awesome Instagram shots.

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You guessed it, a Zebra frog!

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This was one of the bigger and slippery ones. Perhaps a future prince for some of you ladies?

Sarawak Frogging
Some of the other creepy crawlies we bumped into.

Sarawak Frogging
Pitcher plants! We were actually looking for a very rare and tiny frog that lives inside them but weren’t lucky.

Sarawak Frogging
After we left the pond we headed to some rock pools.

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Bloggers blogging :)

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My favourite image of the evening. Cute bugger.

Sarawak Frogging
And finally, we set out to find the Bornean Horned Frog. He’s pretty good at blending in. Can you spot him?

Sarawak Frogging
I’ll make it easier for you. Look at those eyes!

We ended up having such a fun time that we lost track of who took what and even what the names of all the species were. I found myself lying on the floor taking pictures, balancing on rocks and stepping off the already “unbeaten track” into caves and hideaways to get closer to these incredible frogs.

This experience ranks really high up and is one of my favourite memories of Sarawak. It’s a unique combination of doing something you’ve never done before, the fact that the location is teeming with never-seen-before wildlife and that not many people have ever done it. Plus we honestly just had loads of fun. If my torch batteries held up I definitely would have wanted to stay longer. Up there in the mountains it’s just you and the frogs in the dead of night. And they make an wonderful sound.

DURBAN BACKPACKERS – ON THE BEACH.

Having just spent the week prior to our arrival hiking in the Drakensberg, Durban Backpackers On the Beachturned out to be exactly the relaxing haven we desired. And although dreams of sunning on the beach and surfing under the sun were all but dashed due to miserable weather we eagerly replaced them with hours under the comfortable blankets.

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Soon after checking in and hooking up the Wifi (which was thankfully offered at very reasonable rates) the sound of the waves breaking less than 50m away lulled us into a long afternoon nap.

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Situated in Durban North, the guesthouse / backpackers is ideally located, right between the City Centre and Umhlanga, which meant that over the next two days we never had to drive for more than 15 minutes. Shopping lovers will appreciate the close proximity to the Gateway Theatre of Shopping mall and beach lovers have their pick of the coast.

The next morning we awoke to a wonderfully decked out continental breakfast buffet where scrumptious muffins, mueslis and fruit salads were laid out for us to enjoy. Another thoughtful touch I enjoyed was the constant availability of coffee and rusks and they went down extremely well in the cold and wet weather.

Next on the agenda was Stand-Up Paddle Boarding (SUP’ing) in the canals near Point, a 15 minute drive away. After Justin Bing from Xpression On The Beach had shown us the ropes we spent the next hour having loads of fun paddling the oversized boards down the canals around uShaka Marine World.

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The trendy Florida Road, and more specifically the famous Bunny-Chows (a half a loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with Durban-made curry), was in our sights next and we headed towards the House-of-Curry’s for a lunch I’ll never forget. That evening we wrapped up our time in Durb’s with dinner at Gateway Theatre of Shopping to see what all the fuss was about & found that it’s really just a big mall.

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All in all we really enjoyed our time at Durban Backpackers. In summary I would say that it’s definitely more of a guest-house but with backpacker undertones – or at least it felt that way when we visited. Everything worked, everything was clean & the shower was to die for, albeit it a bit small.