Monday, July 30, 2012

Things to do in Ottawa Canada

Written by Lucy Corne

Must do
Ottawa is often cited as the second coldest capital in the world (Mongolia?s Ulaan Baatar claims the top spot), so if you can brave the sub-zero temperatures, you really should visit in winter. From January to early March the Rideau Canal opens as the world?s largest ice rink (almost 8km long) and joining the locals for some skating is an absolute must. Warm up afterwards with a hot chocolate and a beaver tail ? insanely sweet doughy snacks that were created in the capital.

What do you like best about your city?
I love the small city/big town feel of Ottawa. There?s always plenty going on, but you never have to walk far to get from one attraction to another. I never cease to be amazed at just how beautiful the skyline is ? or at how few people outside the city seem to know about it. I love the parliament buildings as viewed from the opposite riverbank, or from one of the bridges crossing the Ottawa River.

Best Walk
Ottawa is a delight to wander, with its flat and compact city centre. To get a real feel for the city, start at the Parliament Buildings and head west along Wellington Street. Cross the Portage Bridge, pausing for photos of the inimitable skyline, then head east along Rue Laurier. Allow a couple of hours to visit the superb Museum of Civilisation before heading back to downtown Ottawa over the Alexandra Bridge, passing the National Gallery and Notre Dame Cathedral en route to the city?s shopping district.

Best Restaurants
The Byward Market is full of places to eat, though many of them are chain restaurants offering identical and uninspiring fare. For something special try Beckta, just out of the city centre on Nepean Street. They serve exquisite Canadian cuisine, including seared Quebec duck and Alberta tenderloin. Main dishes cost around $30. Close to the Byward Market is the Sweetgrass Aboriginal Bistro, a pricey but worth-it place with a menu heavy on game meat.

Best Music/Festival
Ottawa hosts a couple of festivals close to Canadian?s hearts. Winterlude happens in February and celebrates what the city does best ? coping with arctic temperatures and tons of snow. Skate on the canal, watch artists sculpt masterpieces out of a single block of ice and then warm up afterwards with a live concert and a much needed cup of hot chocolate. The other major festival is Canada Day on July 1st, when revellers take to the streets for beer and fireworks around Parliament Hill.

Best Nightlife
I love the laid-back fun to be had around the Byward Market, especially in the summer months when each bar opens an outdoor terrace. The Honest Lawyer is a local favourite and has lots to do for ADD types, including air hockey, basketball hoops and punch bag games. For a cheap night out head to Minglewoods, with its well-priced pitchers and nightly meal deals. It?s a nice pub and the prices are right, but the techno music from 11pm can get a little irritating.

Best Day Trip Out of the City
Just a couple of kilometres from central Ottawa is Gatineau Park, a vast expanse of hills and woodland. In summer the park attracts hikers and campers as well as history buffs keen to visit the one-time home of former PM William McKenzie King. In winter the hills become ski slopes and the hiking paths are transformed into 200km of cross country skiing trails.

Something that not many tourists would know about
Quebec is just a 15-minute walk away. You wouldn?t expect the single kilometre between Ottawa and its French-speaking neighbour across the river to make much of a difference, but as soon as you venture over you?re struck by the absence of English and the European-inspired bistros lining downtown Gatineau?s main street, Promenade du Portage.

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Top 5 Hottest Destinations for Newlyweds

Written by - David Cronk 
Your dream wedding is just a few weeks away and you are busy planning all the details to make your big day special. How about for after you have said your I do's? Have you picked out a honeymoon location that will bring lasting memories or have you put off planning in lieu of picking place settings, a caterer, etc. For those of you that are still planning your honeymoon, here are the five hottest destinations for newlyweds.

Las Vegas
Images of gambling and high stake poker games come to mind when one thinks of sin city, but the reality is that Las Vegas is much more than casino gambling. Vegas is home to many of the world's top performers with acts like Garth Brooks, Penn & Teller, and even Celine Dion regularly frequenting the Vegas stage. Other unique attractions include the downtown Vegas Zip line, the Excalibur's Tournament of Kings, and the city is just a short drive from the majestic Grand Canyon.


While it may appear cliche, France is still one of the top romantic destinations for newlyweds. With numerous choices in the form of mountain resorts, beaches, quaint towns, museums, and more, there is something for every type of couple in France. Of course, who can resist the charm and beauty of Paris and the outstanding views of the Eiffel Tower.


The sun worshipers among you will surely flock to Aruba as the Caribbean destination is robust with powdery beaches and natural scenery. While many will spend their days taking advantage of the many outdoor activities such as snorkeling and deep sea diving, others will enjoy the plethora of nightlife options available for couples.

Italy ranks #2 on many couple's list for romantic honeymoon getaways and is considered by many couples to be a better choice. Whether you are relaxing on Italian beaches, strolling through the many streets of Venice, or even enjoying a gondola ride in the same, Italy is a beautiful and serene environment to spend the waking moments of one's marriage.


For those that want a destination with seemingly non-stop nightlife, Jamaica is a destination that should be on one's list. The natural environment of the island draws in many newlyweds while amenities like all-adult resorts makes it an ideal spot for newlyweds of all ages. Some of the activities couples can enjoy together in Jamaica include cave exploration, bamboo rafting trips, and more.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

What makes Australia's Gold Coast Golden ?

I flew into Sydney just as autumn was settling across Australia’s idyllic landscape. But I wasn’t staying.
I couldn’t help but wonder if the long flight, and skipping the appealing cities of Sydney and Melbourne to fly straight to the Gold Coast in Queensland, would be worth it. But the answer turned out to be a resounding yes. As a New Yorker, I knew nothing about the Gold Coast except that it had an enticing name. Turns out it’s the No. 1 vacation destination for gorgeous, gregarious Aussies. And now I can see why.
The world’s eyes were cast here in 2000, when Palazzo Versace, the world’s first fashion hotel, opened up next to the yacht-filled harbor and the Marina Mirage shopping center. Since then, commercial and residential development has boomed, fallen, and boomed again.

Witches Chase Cheese Company.

But the Gold Coast’s real allure lies in its pristine tropical rainforest, where bright crimson rosella birds fly and alien-like booyang trees grow (rumor has it that a visit here inspired James Cameron to create the lush world of Pandora in Avatar).
I was happy to cozy up here for a few days, focusing my attention on the outdoors, health and wellness, and a buoyant market for local, wine, beer, and cheese.
Here are my recommendations on what not to miss if you follow my lead and take a chance on the Gold Coast:
Witches Chase Cheese CompanyI would make the long flight back to Australia just for another taste of the simple yet sophisticated cheese (and beer) I had at Witches Chase on artsy Mount Tamborine. Owners Andre and Meredith Morris brought Lush cosmetics to North America and sailed the world on a yacht before settling on the Gold Coast and opening this award-winning operation. With their business brains, I wouldn’t be surprised if their signature triple cream brie and inventive libations gained global recognition soon.
O'Reilly's has been operating for more than 100 years.

O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
The reward for braving the twisty road to this family-run retreat? Incredible views over Lamington National Park, which essentially guarantees family-run O’Reilly’s will remain in beautiful isolation.
This is a place I want to bring my future kids, so I can take them on rainforest walks and enjoy the wildlife (then hire a babysitter so I can go to the Lost World Spa). The family also owns nearby Canungra Valley Vineyards, a perfect stop for a tasting on your way down.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
You can’t leave the Gold Coast without holding a blissed-out, cuddly koala bear, which is illegal in most of Australia. My first thought when I saw the koalas sleeping: there’s a stick up their butt! Koalas do curl up into funny positions that only look uncomfortable to us, but getting your picture taken holding one is well worth it. You’ll also see kangaroos, lorikeets, and other native species at this world-class preserve.
Don't miss your chance to nuzzle with a koala.

Surfers ParadiseBeyond the recovering real estate market, I was happy to discover an emerging hub of culture and creativity — with a bevy of new art galleries, shows, international events, and restaurants (even if one of the best ones is named Lauxes – “sexual” spelled backward) popping up all over Surfers Paradise.
Water babies will want to go surfing and swimming, but there is also great bike riding to be had along the coast. Sea Temple Surfers Paradise is one of the newest hotels to the area, and with rooms equipped with full kitchens and washer-dryers, you’re sure to make yourself at home. The tricky part is leaving.
Get away from it all at Gwinganna.
Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat
The fact that Hugh Jackman is part-owner and a regular visitor is surely a draw. So are Gwinganna’s spa (the largest in the Southern hemisphere) and panoramic views of the coast and surrounding valleys.
But to me, the true star is resident gardener Shelley Pryor, who has a melange of fruits, vegetables, and herbs for almost any ailment. She doesn’t have a computer or email, and has the healthiest, kindest glow.
I guarantee you’ll leave inspired to live a healthier life.

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Going on Galapagos Tours

When it comes to going on a Galapagos tour, you want to make sure you have all the information you need to have the time of your life. They come with a lot of different extras for you to choose from. All you have to do is make a decision on what one you would like to go on.
You have the option between staying in a hotel and going on the tours through that, or even going on a cruise and doing the tour that way. This is because there are tour guides that lead you through some of the most interesting parts of Galapagos that you would love to see in person.
Look into the price of the tour, the stay and any extras that you might need to purchase. This will give you an idea of how much you're going to end up spending. This is because you want to be prepared when the time comes to go on your tour and your vacation. This means you should budget for the trip as well.
You also want to make sure that everything is of the best quality. This is because you do not want to spend too much on the tour that you take. This might be a bad thing if you have low quality products, but spend a lot of money on the entire trip. You do not want this, so shop wisely.
You will want to know about any extras that might come with the cruise. This will give you an idea of how much extra money you might have to bring with you to cover anything that does not come with the ticket price. You want to also make sure you have enough money to bring back gifts for those at home. This will give them something from the area that they will love.
You should look into the specifics of the tour. You want to make sure you get a lot out of it, and that it is not boring. You should look at what is included and the schedule for the tour to find out what you get from it. You do not want to spend your money on something that is boring and a waste of time.
You can look into so much when it comes down to it. This is because you can make sure to get the most, take your time, and have the time of your life. All you have to do is make sure that you cover all aspects before you head out on the vacation.
You can always know that you will have a great vacation when it comes to Galapagos tours. This is because you chose the destination and all of the extras. Now you can go on your vacation worry free and have a great time while meeting new people in faraway lands. Everyone wants this when they go on vacation, so why wouldn't you?

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Tips for Planning Your Maui Family Vacation

Have you and your family recently decided to take a Maui vacation? Hawaii is a great destination for family vacations, although some parents do get overwhelmed with the planning. To help make sure that your next family vacation is as smooth as you imagined it would be, please continue reading on.
For starters, it is important to make your family vacation travel arrangements well in advance of your trip. When you do so, you should be presented with more options. For example, if you want your family to all sit next to each other on the airplane, your chances of getting your wish increases with the earlier you make your travel arrangements.
Speaking of your airplane ride, depending on your starting point, an airplane trip to Hawaii can be long. For that reason, you will want to bring lots of activities, which can help to keep your children occupied. These items can include small toys, a portable movie player, a music player with headphones, books, or magazines. Snacks are also a good idea. Drinks can usually be purchased at the airport, but past security checkpoints. In fact, be sure to familiarize yourself with all airport security rules and restrictions before your intended dates of travel.
Next, it is important to examine where you and your family intend to stay while on the island of Maui. Be sure to make your decision wisely. For example, hotels are popular options for tourists, but some can be quite small in size. Make sure that you have enough room for all of your children to comfortable stay and sleep. Doing so can help to improve their satisfaction and yours as well.
In keeping with your overnight accommodations, also examine services, facilities, and other extras that you may be provided with. Look for those that are designed for kids or those that benefits parents, such as yourself. For example, does your hotel or vacation resort have an onsite gaming room? What about a child care service? Even if you intend to spend most of your time away from your hotel or vacation resort, it is still important to examine all of the features, services, and facilities you are provided with or gain access to.
If you haven’t already decided on a Maui car rental, you will want to do so. Despite the fact that public transportation is available, you may find a car rental to be a more convenient approach. The last thing that you want is to get two, three, or more kids into a taxi or on a bus. As a parent, you may know that this can be a frustrating and time consuming process. Instead, a car rental provides you with convenience and comfort. And, since car rentals come in all different sizes, it doesn’t matter how large or small your family is.
An important component of planning a family vacation is to make sure that everyone has fun. That is why your intended Maui vacation activities should be of great importance to you. While you do not have to have every minute of your vacation planned, you should still do a little bit of research first. This research involves determining which vacation activities your family may enjoy participating in and which attractions you should visit.
If your family consists of two or more children that are in different age groups, planning your Hawaii vacation activities may seem like a lose-lose situation. There are a number of steps that you can take. First, choose activities and attractions that are ideal for individuals of all ages. This may include swimming and visiting a zoo. You can also let each of your children pick one or more activities or attractions, which helps to make sure that everyone gets their wish.
The above mentioned points, when taken into consideration, can help to ensure that your next Maui family vacation is perfect. Although planning a family vacation can seem like a stressful and overwhelming process, the end result will be more than worth the time and energy that went into planning your trip.

Travel and Your iPhone

Do you like to travel? Are you on the road constantly for business? Then the Apple iPhone may be the phone of choice for you. The reason for this is that the iPhone has a GPS navigator built into it. If you are always on the go, a navigator is what you need. Fussing with maps and asking for directions is a thing of the past. Nowadays, tech savvy people have a navigation system in their cars. With an iPhone, you always have your navigator with you, no matter who is driving. Travel and your iPhone; it’s a match made in heaven (sort of).
Why would you need a navigator on your cell phone? Anytime you need directions, to a new club perhaps, just tell it where you want to go an viola’ directions are there. Even those of us who are no longer part of the club scene will benefit from having a navigation system with us at all times. You can use this to quickly find directions to the field your kid should be playing on. Perhaps the directions given to a friends party were vague. These are all situations where having a navigations system like the one included with the iPhone comes in very handy. Lost in the desert? (yes it happens) Then you really need the navigation system on your iPhone.
In addition to the navigation system there are other reasons to make sure you have your iPhone with you when you travel. Aside from the fact that you will always have a cell phone with you, another advantage is that all of your entertainment is with you as well. If you are taking a long drive and there is nothing to see but cornfields for the next 400 miles, having movies, eBooks and music to entertain you can be a godsend. With the iPhone, you can take your movies and television shows with you wherever you go. This is another reason for pairing up travel and your iPhone.
Are travel and your iPhone really a good match? Let’s take a look and see. For example, instead of stopping to ask directions, you can get the information that you need right there on your iPhone. The Apple iPhone is right there to help you find your way with the ability to view satellite images of major street names. The iPhone can help you find landmarks and other things that you might be interested in along the way on your trip. It’s like having a navigator right there with you in your car, letting you know what you need to know and getting you where you need to go.
Now that you know why travel and your iPhone make such a good pair, remember to keep this in mind for your next trip. Be sure to load up on plenty of movies, eBooks, TV shows and music. Use your Apple iPhone to plan your travel route. Check the navigation system for points of interest along the way and make sure that you visit some of them. You can even mark the gas station along or near your route so you can plan a fill-up before it becomes an issue. If Apple keeps making features like this built into their cells phone AAA Travel services may get put out of business.

Do You Need Travel Insurance in your Great UK Vacation?

Whenever you’re offered travel insurance, you probably can imagine yourself with broken legs due to a vehicular accident, eating a badshrimp, or having a mishap in a foreign rental car. If your from UK, a local weekend trip within the boundaries of UK may not need any travel insurance. But if your from not there and have plans of traveling to UK, you will definitely need travel insurance.
In reality, you will surely need travel insurance in UK. But it can be used in certain situations only. If you’re injured in UK, you don’t need to claim against your existing life insurance. You can use the travel insurance when you cancel or cut short a holiday trip. For instance, you’re on a holiday trip in UK for two weeks and halfway, you get injured and you have to stay in the hospital. Your holiday vacation is cut short and you have to take care of the hospital bills and the hotel accommodations. If you have travel insurance, the insurance provider will be the one to cover such expenses.
More and more people are now taking advantage of domestic flights because they are already cheaper. Road trips are too exhausting. Canceling holiday vacations will usually leave you without money but do not worry because your travel insurance can also take care of that. Lost luggage is also included because this usually happens in domestic flights. So even if you your MP3s, cameras, or other valuables are lost together with the luggage, you can easily replace them through the help of your travel insurance.
So whether you have plans of going to another country or to other parts of UK, travel insurance will always come handy. If you don’t know much about travel insurance, make sure that you consult a legitimate travel agent or your travel insurance provider. Check with them first before making any purchase of insurance policies. They are the ones who can educate and familiarize you with the different policies and their coverage for your country of destination. Don’t forget to check the emergency lines of the insurance claims since they are open 24/7.
Traveling in UK is much more relaxing and enjoyable if you have your own travel insurance. Although it is considered an additional expense, it will still be a worthy investment just in case you do get ill or injured. It is better to pay for travel insurance rather than exhausting your pockets for countless medical bills abroad or other local UK destinations. Unexpected circumstances can give you a terrible headache but if you have the travel policy, you don’t have to worry about a thing.
Having travel insurance is not considered a luxury but it is a necessity. Who says travel insurance is only for the rich and powerful? Even ordinary individuals can obtain travel insurance and you can purchase them online or in the local offices of the insurance providers. You can also get them in travel agencies when you book your travels. So the decision is entirely yours. If you want to pursue an unsecured trip, then so be it. But if you’re a smart traveler looking for peace of mind and an enjoyable trip, seek help first in purchasing suitable travel insurance.
Whether you’re in UK, in the United States, Canada, or anywhere in the world, the need for travel insurance cannot be denied. Get one now and feel safer when traveling.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Travel Medical Insurance for Worry-Free Trips

Do you like to travel? Busy and tight schedules can get you all exhausted and burned out. You will certainly need time to relax and unwind. You can book for pleasure trips or holiday trips to take a rest. Some people also travel for other reasons, as with business trips. Whether you’re on a holiday or business trip, you will surely need travel medical insurance.
What then is a travel medical insurance? This is only a temporary insurance policy. It covers your vacation travel or business trip. The travel medical insurance can be used independently or it can also be used together with your existing policy.
Usually, travel agencies offer this kind of policies. However, the policy can cost you huge money. But if you can go directly to the insurance provider, you can save a lot of money which you can use in your travels. The best way is to search the internet for the different websites of the popular and reputable insurance companies. You can get online quotes which you can compare with each other.
Insurance policies are costly but travel medical insurance is mostly cheap. Vacation is all about having fun and you can enjoy your vacation travel more if you’re insured. You’ll never know when accidents strike or if you’re going to get sick. If you do have a travel medical insurance, you can save a lot of money from paying medical bills. Insurance policies are worth it and it is a good investment.
Medical plans follow certain guidelines in their coverage. Of course, you can use the plans in different countries but it all depends in the circumstances. Like for instance, you get sick on board a ship. Some plans will not cover the bills in full but only in half. But if you have a travel medical insurance, the full amount can be covered and you get to enjoy other benefits as well.
Travel medical insurance can be obtained without securing medical examinations, so the policies are available to almost every traveler. However, pre-existing conditions are not covered but if ever you get sick or meet an accident while traveling, you can deal with the situation with ease.
Now, trips are far more enjoyable with the help of travel medical insurance. If you definitely need travel insurance, it’s high time you get one. But if you don’t need one because your medical plan covers your entire trip, you don’t have to incur additional expenses. However, do not assume that your existing policy covers your travel. Nothing would hurt if you consult your provider first; just to make sure.
Bad things can happen – it can happen to you or to a loved one. So before anything bad happens, don’t book a travel if you haven’t purchased travel medical insurance yet.
Travel medical insurance is not hard to find. In fact, you can find the offices of insurance providers in your local area. If you can’t find the local offices or if you’re too busy, make use of the internet. This is the fastest and easiest ways to obtain several quotes in minutes.
Make sure that you stick with the reputable and experienced insurance providers. After all, you’re going to pay for the policies and you need to ensure that you’re protected especially in an unfamiliar territory. Secure travel medical insurance now before it’s too late.

What is Inclusive in Adventure Sailing Vacation

Before there was air travel, people went from one place to the other by ship. Such voyages took days or even weeks. But these days, adventure sailing vacation is gaining popularity and if you are thinking of booking one, you should know what is inclusive in most packages.
The price tag of adventure sailing depends on the destination and how long you will be at sea. You might be shocked at first glance how much it will cost but if you think about it, you save money in the long run because one thing that is already included here is the food you will be eating.
Another thing that is included will be the cabin. It is not that big compared to the kind you often stay in at a hotel but it will do. You get clean linen sheets, a bed and a pillow which is all that you need to sleep peacefully until you wake up the following morning.
One thing you have to keep in mind is that although food is free, the drinks are not included. This means that you have to pay for whatever you order. You can avoid this though by bringing in some drinks like bottled water, soda or a bottle of wine.
The ship you will be chartering will already have a skipper and crew. Sometimes, if you are lucky which really depends on the mood of the crew, they can teach you a thing or two about adventure sailing so you can help them out or get you hooked into this as a hobby.
Depending on the size of the boat being chartered, you may have to pay for security deposit or insurance that will be retuned when the voyage is over.
Since the ship is not going anywhere just by using its sails, part of what you pay for is the fuel. This will keep the ship moving when there is no wind around otherwise, you will be dead in the water.
Unlike large cruise ships, one thing that is not inclusive here are airport transfers and airfare. With that, you will have to make the arrangements yourself especially if you are coming from out of town.
One thing that chartering companies cannot control is the weather so if it is bad, then your planned sailing adventure will have to moved to another date.
So you know what is inclusive in a sailing vacation package, it is best to look at one of their brochures or see what is posted in their website. If you don’t have time to do this, get in touch with your travel agent so he or she will fill you in on the details so you can decide whether or not you want to make a reservation.
Once you know that is inclusive in the adventure sailing vacation, it will be easy for you to decide which one you want to try. The only thing you have to do now is pack your bags and then head down over to the docks so you the voyage can get under way.
If this is your first time and you enjoyed it very much, you can plan another one in the future as these chartering companies sail to different destinations within the year.

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Visiting Mexico? Don’t Be a Victim to Crime

If you are planning a trip to Mexico, there are a number of important factors that you should first consider and prepare for. These factors are considered safety precautions. Traveling to Mexico is fun, but it can be also dangerous, especially if you don’t know what to do or how to protect yourself.
When visiting Mexico it is important to register with the United States Travel Registry to ensure that the government knows that you are leaving the country. This is the first step to staying safe while in Mexico. In the event that you become the victim of a crime, you will receive immediate government assistance. When using the internet to register with the United States Travel Registry, be sure to leave a detailed itinerary of your plans on your computer.
You should also make sure that you leave information regarding your travel plans with a close friend, family member, co-worker, or neighbor. You are encouraged to make copies of your airline tickets, as well as your passport. You want to take a copy with you and leave another copy at home. This will help verify your location if something should go awry. You should also designate someone you know as your emergency contact.
Use common sense in the hotels, on busses, or walking in the streets of Mexico. Don’t take taxicabs that you have just waved down on the streets. Many crimes are being reported of people who haven’t previously arranged for taxis. You should also never carry large amounts of cash, flashy jewelry, or extra credit cards with you. When you are a tourist, shady people will already notice you and single you out. Be on the lookout for and avoid these individuals at all costs.
If you think that you know all there is to Mexico you are most often wrong. Public drinking is often shown in films as the norm, however this is a crime and you can be arrested for being intoxicated in public. You should also use caution when drinking in nightclubs or bars during the evening hours. People who wish to victimize tourists often drug them.
You should always use caution, no matter where you are. Despite being cautionary at all times, you should also use caution when traveling by bus and other forms of public transportation. You should always stay alert during nighttime travel and while traveling during busy bus hours. It is becoming more common for tourists to be mugged while riding on the busses in Mexico. The busses where these crimes are taking place are often the cheapest forms of travel. You may want to ride first class and have someone that you know and trust with you.
If you need help while in Mexico you should contact the United States Embassy. There is also a twenty-four hour hotline for the Mexican Ministry of Tourism. There is also a Mexican version of 911; it is 060 for Mexico City, and 066 for other areas of Mexico. This will put you in contact with Mexican officials immediately. There is also a Mexican Red Cross that will help if you are injured and need medical help. The Red Cross is free of charge and they will provide basic medical attention.
The above mentioned precautionary measures and important phone number are just a few of the many that you should know. Despite what you believe, staying safe while on vacation in Mexico shouldn’t begin as soon as you arrive. You should start taking precautionary measures before you leave for your vacation.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Best Berry Recipes

Fresh, juicy, sweet, and tart berries are one of the best things about summer. I love to think of new and different ways to use them. These are the ten best berry recipes I know. It's funny; I use berries more often in main dishes than I do in salads or desserts!
When you buy berries, look for dry berries that are firm and brightly colored, without any mold or soft spots. They are very perishable, so must be used within a day or two. Turn them into salads, add them to salsa, use them to top ice cream, and mix some together to top a chocolate cake. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are the most common berries, but you can sometimes find boysenberries, currants, huckleberries, and gooseberries at farmers markets.

1. Best Berry Salad

Berry SaladA simple dressing of olive oil, raspberry vinegar, and honey bathes these berries in a sweet and tart mixture. Use any combination of the best berries you can find in this easy and refreshing recipe. It can be served as a side salad during the meal, or spoon it over ice cream for a twist on dessert.

2. Raspberry Mint Chicken Salad

Raspberry Turkey Mint SaladThis salad is simply sublime. You must make it at least once when raspberries, strawberries, and fresh mint are in season.



3. Fresh Strawberry Pie

Strawberry PieStrawberries and cream are a natural combination for a very good reason. The acid in strawberries makes milk and cream taste sweeter! This classic pie is a winner.

4. Chicken Strawberry Spinach Salad

Chicken Strawberry Spinach Salad A spinach salad is delicious. Add chicken to turn it into a meal. Then add strawberries to turn it into a treat! Using a rotisserie chicken, this is one of the easiest recipes in my repertoire. But it doesn't taste like it!

5. Raspberry Muffins

Raspberry Muffins Blueberries, blackberries, and loganberries also work in this fabulous muffin recipe. Be sure to mix the wet and dry ingredients until just combined, then fold in the delicate berries just before you scoop the batter into the muffin cups. Yum.

6. Melon Berry Salad

Melon Berry Salad Yogurt makes a perfect dressing for sweet, plump, fresh fruits. And I love to combine berries with melon. Since berries are slightly tart and melons are always very sweet, they're the perfect combination.

7. Easy Strawberry Shortcake

Easy Strawberry Shortcake This dessert couldn't be easier. Or more delicious. To jazz it up a bit, mix some different berries together, or pour a bit of blackberry liqueur over the strawberries before you spoon them over the pound cake.

8. Red, White and Blue Trifle

Cheesecake pudding mix, frozen pound cake, and luscious fresh berries combine for a sublime dessert in this easy recipe. Use whatever fresh fruits look the most succulent. And you don't need to make this a patriotic dessert; it would be gorgeous with gooseberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

9. Steak with Mango Blueberry Salsa

Steak with Mango Blueberry Salsa A homemade salsa is always a treat. When it's made from fresh and sweet fruit, it's even better. You can serve this delicious salsa with grilled fish, pork, chicken, or beef.

10. Raspberry Glazed Chicken Breasts

Raspberry Glazed Chicken This perfect recipe is one I serve often for summer entertaining. The combination of tender, juicy, and hot chicken with cool sweet berries is simply spectacular.
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Monday, July 16, 2012

Top 6 Texas Water Parks

As the Texas heat begins to rise during the summer, visitors to the Lone Star State will undoubtedly be looking for ways to cool off. Luckily, Texas is home to some of the biggest and best water parks in the nation.

1. Schlitterbahn New Braunfels

Texas' original - and best known - waterpark, Schlitterbahn, is located in the Germanic Hill Country town of New Braunfels. Taking advantage of the natural surroundings, most notably the hilly terrain and clear, cold Guadalupe River, Schlitterbahn offers visitors a unique and fun-filled way to cool off beat the Texas heat during the summer.

2. Splash Town USA

Splashtown USA offers over 20 acres of water slides and pools to help you beat the summer heat while visiting San Antonio. The park includes over 50 rides and other fun activities such as basketball and sand volleyball.

3. Schlitterbahn Beach - South Padre Island

One of the top waterparks in the country, South Padre Island's Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark is located right on the beach and offers a wide variety of waterslides, rides, pools and other ways to 'get wet.' Schlitterbahn Beach also features a restaurant, sports bar and evening entertainment during the summer season.

4. Wet-n-Wild Waterworld

It certainly gets hot in El Paso. When it does, cool off at Wet-n-Wild Water Park. The park has been entertaining El Paso area residents and visitors for over 25 years and boasts numerous pools, waterslides and more than 200 shade trees for keeping cool out of the water.

5. Lost Lagoon

Located inside of SeaWorld San Antonio, Lost Lagoon appears to be just that - acres of surf, sand, and palm trees right in the heart of San Antonio. It is a perfect spot to spent a little time in the tropics without ever leaving the Alamo City.

6. Schlitterbahn Galveston

Popular Texas waterpark Schlitterbahn has added a third location - Schlitterbahn Galveston Island. Like the other Schlitterbahn parks, Schlitterbahn Galveston Island features plenty of unique and innovative rides. However, unlike any other waterpark in the world, Schlitterbahn Galveston Island is 'convertible,' offering outdoor fun in the summer and indoor water rides during the winter.
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

America's best swimming holes

Havasu Falls (Photo: pommekiwi1/flickr via CC Attribution)Havasu Falls (Photo: pommekiwi1/flickr via CC Attribution)
In the dog days of summer, nothing beats a leap, wild and free, into a good old-fashioned swimming hole. Grab your swimsuit and head for the river. We've rounded up 10 refreshing pools where you can float behind plunging waterfalls, swan dive from rocky ledges, ride through chutes, and find skinny-dipping seclusion. C'mon in. The water's fine.

Havasu Falls, Supai, Arizona

This shocking Caribbean-blue pool—on the bottom of the Grand Canyon near the Native American community of Supai—is for the most tenacious of swimming-hole devotees. There are only three ways to get to Havasu Falls: hire a helicopter, hike 10 miles, or ride a pack mule. Plus, you'll need to purchase an entry permit, and, unless you're a hardcore trail runner, book a night at the Havasupai Lodge or campsite. But it's so worth it. Pancho Doll, who wrote two books on America's swimming holes, calls it the best in the world. After a long desert trek, even the mist from the 120-foot cascade is refreshing. Swimming behind the torrential falls or floating on your back and taking in the view is the real reward.

What's Nearby: Supai has a small grocery store and cafe. It's also one of two places in the country where U.S. mail is delivered by mules.
Sliding Rock (Photo: Transylvania County Tourism/Tracy Turpen)

Sliding Rock, Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

Break out your old cutoff jeans shorts for this 60-foot natural waterslide just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville. Each minute 11,000 gallons of water pour over a huge, mostly smooth boulder and into a seven-foot plunge pool. If the ride doesn't take your breath away, the water temperature will. The cool mountain stream that powers this Sliding Rock ride is only about 50 to 60 degrees in summer. Sliders of all ages shriek, grimace, and tiptoe through it but come back for more, even when long lines snake down the entire rock face. Lifeguards supervise in summer, and small kids can ride in an adult's lap.

What's Nearby: To see an authentic slice of Appalachia, check out Brevard, which was named one of America's Coolest Small Towns by Budget Travel magazine in 2010. The woods and waterfalls of DuPont State Recreational Forest were the film set for the arena in The Hunger Games.
Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve (Photo: Vlad Turchenko/Shutterstock)

Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve, Dripping Springs, Texas

When summer temps hit 100, Austinites have plenty of great swimming holes to choose from, including Barton Springs right in the middle of town. But the legendary get-away-from-it-all spot is Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve, about 25 miles west of Austin off Highway 71. A quarter-mile trail descends to the canyon pool. Rimming one edge of the clear blue-green waters are a limestone grotto and a 50-foot waterfall; here you can play in the shower or find a shady seat on the rocks beneath its overhang. At the other end is a sunny beach. On summer weekends, when the 75-vehicle parking lot reaches capacity, preserve officials manage the one-in, one-out system, which is not such a bad thing once you're in.

What's Nearby: Preserve trails lead to scenic areas along the Pedernales River. At Pace Bend Park on Lake Travis, swimming and boating are popular.
Diana's Baths, Bartlett, New Hampshire (Photo: Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce)

Diana's Baths, Bartlett, New Hampshire

Once the location of a sawmill operation and now a protected historical site in the White Mountain National Forest, the Diana's Baths swimming hole is best on a warm, full-moon night. Locals say it's the most romantic spot in Mt. Washington Valley: secluded, private, and perfect for skinny-dipping under the stars. By day, the cascading falls and pools, waterspouts, and granite basins are a family favorite. An easy half-mile trail leads from the parking area to Diana's Baths just past Echo Lake State Park near North Conway.

What's Nearby: A drive to the top of the park's Cathedral Ledge reveals a great view of the valley. The ledge is also a popular rock-climbing area. Take the kids on a Conway Scenic Railroad train ride or to the sandy beach at Echo Lake.
Lower Calf Creek Falls (Photo: Jed Sundwall/flickr via CC Attribution)Lower Calf Creek Falls (Photo: Jed Sundwall/flickr via CC Attribution)

Lower Calf Creek Falls, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

It's a parched land, Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. But the 126-foot Lower Calf Creek Falls are miraculously resilient, with a year-round flow into a lush oasis and pool. Set out early to beat the desert sun on the five-and-a-half mile round-trip trail. The loop, which starts at the Calf Creek Campground, cuts through a deep canyon and past Anasazi pictographs before coming to the falls. Here the water tumbles down and drenches the mineral-streaked Navajo Sandstone walls that surround a swimming hole too clear, cool, and inviting to pass up.

What's Nearby: See the monument area's sculptured slickrock and hoodoos at Devil's Garden or the petrified wood at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. In the town of Escalante, grab an outdoor seat at Kiva Koffeehouse and take in the incredible view.
Whiteoak Canyon (Photo: Yung-Han Chang/flickr via CC Attribution)Whiteoak Canyon (Photo: Yung-Han Chang/flickr via CC Attribution)

Whiteoak Canyon, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

For swimming-hole enthusiasts who think one is never enough, there's Whiteoak Canyon in Shenandoah National Park, 75 miles from Washington, D.C. Here, just off of Skyline Drive, you can go pool-hopping at the base of six different waterfalls that are linked by steep, rocky trails that wind throughout the canyon. Check out the trail map and envision working up a sweat on treks between plunges. The Upper Falls is the canyon's highest waterfall, but the huge pool at Cedar Run Falls makes a better end-of-day finale, with rocky ledges for jumping and, depending on the water level, a natural waterslide.

What's Nearby: In the park you can go trout fishing or arrange a guided trail ride on horseback. Explore heritage sites, including battlefields, presidential homes, and historical landmarks, on the Journey Through Hallowed Ground, a National Heritage Area along Route 15.
Baker's Bridge (Photo: Allison Ragsdale Photography)

Baker's Bridge/Animas River, Durango, Colorado

In the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 's famous jump scene, bank robbers on the lam, played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford, make a death-defying leap into a steep river gorge. The jump was filmed on the Animas River in Durango, just upstream from a popular local jump spot: Baker's Bridge, off Highway 550. For kids who grow up in the area, a bridge jump is a ceremonial rite of passage. The crazy feat requires channeling the tough-guy nerve of old Western movies. Jumpers wait for calm waters on summer days and usually show up in old shoes to show off with backflips.

What's Nearby: Go whitewater rafting on the Animas River or warm up with a soak at Trimble Hot Springs. Durango is also a popular mountain-and road-biking destination with its great trail systems and events.
Enfield Falls (Photo: Kristian Reynolds/Ithaca CVB)

Enfield Falls, Robert H. Treman State Park, New York

As this New York college town's popular green T-shirts proclaim, "Ithaca is Gorges." No doubt the landscape is stunning, but it also creates a picture-perfect backdrop for swimming holes. There are about 150 waterfalls within 10 miles of downtown, and Robert H. Treman State Park's Enfield Falls are a favorite among locals and undergrads. You can swim up and sit under a billowy curtain of water or soar from the cliffside diving board. Relax on a grassy patch or hike park trails to see 12 waterfalls, including the 115-foot Lucifer Falls.

What's Nearby: The parking pass ($7 per carload) is valid all day at three Ithaca state parks: Treman, Buttermilk Falls (with waterfall swimming and gorge hiking), and Taughannock Falls (three stories taller than Niagara). There are more than 100 wineries in the Finger Lakes region. For food lovers Ithaca boasts more restaurants per capita than New York City.
Johnson's Shut-Ins (Photo: Scott Sanders/Shutterstock)

Johnson's Shut-Ins, Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park, Missouri

A two-hour drive south of St. Louis, the East Fork of the Black River swirls around giant volcanic chunks at Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park, Missouri's favorite natural water park. You can scramble over the rocks, slip and slide through the chutes, and relax in your own private pool (or "shut-in"). Finding your footing can be tricky, so water shoes are a must. The hike to the shut-ins is only a quarter-mile, and non-swimmers in your group can watch from the observation deck.

What's Nearby: The popular Taum Sauk section of the 360-mile Ozark Trail runs through Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park. In Lesterville you can take a Black River float trip in a canoe, raft, kayak, or inner tube. Elephant Rocks State Park is only 15 miles from the shut-ins.
Firehole River Canyon (Photo: Thinkstock/Hemera)

Firehole River Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

In Yellowstone National Park all of the geysers and hot springs fall under the look-but-don't-touch rule. But this warm swimming hole, fed by distant thermal features, is one of only two spots in the park where you're allowed to take a dip. Near the park's western entrance, the Firehole River Canyon pool hits the spot after a long day of summertime sightseeing. Adventurous swimmers like to work their way upstream a bit before jumping into the rapids for a ride through the canyon. The main pool is shallower and better for younger kids.

What's Nearby: Old Faithful is a short drive south along the main park road. The uncrowded, one-way Firehole Canyon Drive takes you past 800-foot-thick lava flows and the 40-foot-high Firehole Falls. You can camp at Madison campground near the West Yellowstone entrance.
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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Traveling in Oman

Tourism is a priority sector in Oman, since its potential for growth and popularity has been recognized the world over. The country possesses amazing historic heritage, perfect environment, splendid folklore, and traditional industries like fishing, in addition to its natural beauty. All these tourist assets have given this country its own status on the travel map for the Middle East for decades, and now this great sea faring nation is all set to mystify the world. Before you get ready to visit any foreign land, it is crucial that you know how you can get around, thus is it helpful to have tips on traveling in Oman.

Whether you enter the country by means of air, land or sea, it is very important to read up on Oman. This way you can make a list of things you want to do during your stay, you can plan your itinerary well, and know how you will be traveling to all the destinations you have in mind. There are a large number of websites on the Internet that provide all information about the country. You can even know about the weather conditions, activities, sightseeing, and dressing norms here to pack your bags accordingly.

Internal travel in Oman can be undertaken by plane, bus, or rental car. If the places you want to visit are near Muscat or Salalah, there are regular flights between the two airports by the national carrier, Oman Air. To connect bigger cities in the country like Muscat, Sur, Nizwa, Sohar, and Salalah, there are daily bus services. Buses here are punctual and never crowded, providing inexpensive option of transportation. The state-owned bus service also has air-conditioned modern buses. Private or shared taxis are available in Oman, and are fairly cheap and convenient, but the best mode of transportation to explore the place is by renting a car.

There are plenty of car rental companies in Oman. Most of them have offices at the airport as well. These companies are equipped to give you multiple options in type of car, brand, amenities, etc. If budget is not a concern to you, then a nice four wheel drive with GPS is advisable to explore the rough terrains of the country. No matter what mode of transportation you choose, traveling in Oman is a pleasure. The people are friendly and helpful, and who knows you might go back home with not just memories of adventure and sightseeing but even some memories of new found friends.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Plan a San Diego Vacation for Your Family

Everyone who travels to San Diego for a family vacation must feel excited knowing what to expect. However, vacation such place must be planned with utmost care. The fact remains that this city offers so much it takes probably several consecutive vacations to see all there is to see. San Diego is a top choice destination for a family vacation filled with fun.

It does not matter what is the time of year once you reach San Diego. Its moderate climate is usually the same at all times. Apart from extraordinary beaches all around you, there are so many wonderful and attractive places you should visit with your family. Every family should make a trip to San Diego for excellent combination of amusement and combined historical and cultural contents.

When you plan vacation in San Diego with your family, your kids can feel a true touch of history in the remnants of Mexican architecture of the Old Town. The feel of old Californian times is all around you at this place. For yet another great experience, Mexico is just across the border and it is an excellent spot for a whole day visit.

San Diego is remarkable due to its legacies from the times of Mexican wars until present days. Since it’s historically related to the Navy, there is a perfectly maintained harbor on the Coronado Island. It is a very interesting for your kids to see the Maritime Museum display and USS Midway.

The variety of content in San Diego is a choice where no family will have time to rest. Many zoo gardens, especially the Sea World, are built and maintained up to the highest world standards. San Diego differs a lot from other tourist destinations with Zoo content because they care a lot for most accurate natural settings for their wildlife species. It is so easy to transfer yourself to entirely different world, whether it being Africa or the Polar Cap with rare, white bears.

If you know your wishes and study San Diego carefully, your every day will be an extraordinary adventure. Apart from visiting cultural jewel of the town, Balboa Park, you can simply walk to the beach and enjoy. Still the hottest spot on this coastline is La Jolla, though other beaches offer nothing less.

Most beaches you can take your family to will offer diversity of water sports and adventures. Visiting La Jolla Cove will enable you see the seals. If your kids love to surf, the Ocean Beach is excellent spot. The point you have to deal with in the beginning is that San Diego always offers more than merely beaches and you might not be able to see it all.

Rich in exquisite restaurants of Old City or Gaslight District, it will offer you opportunity to taste some of the best prepared meals you have ever tasted. With its fresh air, proximity to bigger centers and its wide offer, San Diego is a true sanctuary for families who want to escape ordinary and hectic city life.

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View Dubai by Night with a Cruise in Dubai

Dubai, more recently has been viewed as an upcoming tourist destination. It offers world class facilities in all spheres of tourist activities. Adventure sports have also become a big thing here. Among the activities on offer jet skiing, sand skiing, desert safaris etc are very popular. The 49 miles of natural coastline that Dubai has also offers many attractions. First there are pristine beaches with very clear waters. You can Jet Ski or for a more laid back option cruise in Dubai on the open waters of the Persian Gulf. The waters surrounding Dubai are known for being calm & sailing on this is a pleasure. No spilling drinks & motion sickness to spoil the occasion.

For those not on a budget you can cruise in Dubai on a yacht. There are yachts of all sizes available for a cruise in the waters around Dubai. These can be hired for a day or for a short duration, hire one for a cruise in Dubai for a group or just a romantic getaway. Cruises from Dubai have made their mark in the tourist circles. There is a lot of information on various sites on the internet with detailed information on the various options available. Tour companies, companies hiring out yachts & cruise companies have websites which give details on their offers.

The local fishing boats called Dhows are a unique way to take a cruise. These are handmade local boats that can take you across the Dire Creek that cuts threw Dubai. There are tour options of cruising in Dubai with a yacht or a dhow or any other vessel to view Dubai by day or by Night. The towering buildings in Dubai are magical at night when viewed from a vessel sailing past slowly.

Cruises from Dubai give you a feeling of luxury where time stands still when you are on the open waters. Dubai has almost 900 miles of coastline which includes the area around their man made islands placed in the shape of a Palm tree. These man made islands are also accessible with these cruises & are a definite must do.

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